Plenty To See

Tuesday, May 17th 2022

After what seems to have been a long winter flora and fauna are now appearing at Foxglove.

Dryad's Saddle is a fungus that appears in summer and can be seen through to autumn.  In warm weather it can decay very quickly to almost nothing.

St Mark's Fly, so called because it appears on 25th April, which is St Mark's Day.  They can be seen on the wing through to June.  Some years, and this looks like being one of those years, there are large numbers of this fly around Foxglove.  The larvae spend their time feeding on grass roots, leaf mould and decaying matter, whilst the adults feed on nectar and are pollinators of early opening flowers.

An insect finishing its life cycle at this time of year is the Peacock butterfly.  It has spent all winter in hibernation appearing in spring to feed on a variety of flowers.  After egg laying it dies.  By this time in spring they are looking a little worse for wear.

Large Red damselflies are the first to emerge from the water.  I am still waiting for the opportunity to take a good photo of an adult! They have flown off, been blown away and/or had plenty of vegetation between them and the camera lens!  However I was very lucky to take this photo of one just finishing emerging from its larval case, known as the exuviae.  Once emerged it walked away quickly to hide away from predators, whilst its wings lengthened and its whole body hardened.

Some flowers are just opening the petals others are almost ready to release their seeds.  This willow flower is developing tiny white seeds, that once released make it look like it has snowed in summer at Foxglove.

A photograph taken for one reason often shows other things once uploaded onto the computer.  This photo made me smile.  Food chains in action.  Cuckoo Flower is a lovely delicate flower and can be seen all around the reserve.  If you look closely you can see the orange egg of the Orange Tip butterfly, one egg per plant as there is only enough food on the single plant to support one caterpillar.  If you look even more closely you can just see a spider, waiting in the wings for dinner?

At this time of year there is a lot to watch out for.

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No Snow, No Hail

Thursday, May 12th 2022

No snow and no hail seems about the best that could be said about the weather yesterday!  Although it has not been of the best, flowers are still blooming and it is now the turn of the some of the trees.  Blackthorn is still in full flower, but in those areas where it flowered first the petals have dropped and leaves are appearing.  The Cherry trees are showing their white and pink blooms.  Now is the time of the apples.  The wild Crab Apple at the head of the Scrapes is covered in beautiful flowers.

Apple trees in the orchard and in the back garden are almost in full flower.  Bees and many other insects will feed from these flowers and pollinate them to ensure a good apple crop in the autumn.

The Wayfaring Tree has finally burst its buds to show a white dome of flowers.

In a glimpse of sunshine, a Green Veined White fluttered for shelter under some grasses.

Back at the Field Centre, under the shelter of the veranda, the nest box display was updated.  It is probably a little late for the Blue Tit type boxes but Robins and Wrens may still nest if a box is put up now.  Frogs and Toads appreciate a damp place to hide during the day, before heading off to feed during darkness.  

Hedgehogs will appreciate a safe home for hibernation.  If you would like to purchase a home for wildlife, please visit and call in at the Field Centre.

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Tawny Owls and Grey Herons

Friday, May 6th 2022

With the bird breeding season well underway the members of the Swaledale Ringing Team are extremely busy. Owl boxes have been checked and although the news is better than last year, the results are still disappointing. 

Inside some nests food was plentiful. Two of these chicks had already hatched an a third egg was just beginning to hatch as can be seen here!

Later on the same day, older chicks were found in a new box that has been kindly donated by the Hawk and Owl Trust. They were just big enough to ring and were in 'fine fettle'!

A Heron chick was also ringed thanks to Sean Stockdale from Yorkshire Tree Specialists who climbed a conifer tree to the nest. The chick was carefully lowered to the ground to be ringed and then was put safely back in it's tree top abode! 

Each year any information about breeding Grey Herons on the MOD land in Catterick is sent to the BTO as part of the Heronries Census. The aim of this longstanding project is to collect counts of 'apparently occupied nests' (aon) of herons, egrets and other colonial waterbirds from as many heronries as possible in the United Kingdom each year.  Its Grey Heron data represent the longest-running monitoring data set for any breeding bird in the world.

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More Flowers

Thursday, April 28th 2022

The species team carried out the end of month flower walk, checking which flowers were in flower.  The total was 35 species.  Althought the weather remains cool to cold flowers are still opening their buds almost from one day to the next! 

The beginning of April sees the moor being checked for Yellow Rattle, from mid April the hunt is on for Early Purple Orchids which only grow in two areas of the reserve.  Not even a glimpse of purple until yesterday and there they were.

In the sun Orange Tip butterflies have been recorded and one of the food plants needed on which to lay their egg, is Cuckoo Flower, one egg to each plant.  Cuckoo Flower was in flower in the Scrapes, not many but a start.

Bird Cherry has been in buds for some weeks but suddenly the trees are now covered in white blossom.

Some of the cherry trees in the orchard are in flower, the apples and pears will flower later.

Primroses are showing their lovely lemon flowers across the reserve, most growing where you would expect them to grow, in 'nice' soil.  These ones caught my eye as they were growing down the vertical side of Risedale Beck and did not appear to have much soil at all.

Wood Sorrel likes to colonise the moss covered old logs left on log piles.

Having just checked the weather forecast for the next 10 days it does look like warmer temperatures, but very little rain.  This will encourage the grass to grow, so the strimmers and mowers will be out keeping the path edges trimmed neatly and ensuring the paths themselves are clearly marked.  Thanks to the volunteers in anticiaption of mowing!  More flowers will burst their buds and the May flower list will be considerably longer.  Thanks to the species team for their work.

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Sunday, April 24th 2022

Andrew and Jan visited the reserve recently and sent us some photographs.  The first, and please do not get too excited, is of Red Kite flying over Harewood House.  One flew over Foxglove a while ago, but one flap of its wings (wingspan 1.8m) and it was out of sight so not even a splodge.  Whilst visiting it may be worthwhile to keep glancing up. 

Primroses are covering the south facing banks and now the Bluebells are beginning to appear in amongst them.

Glancing down may provide you with a possible story.  Very difficult to catch butterflies in flight, but could this be an Orange Tip chasing off a probable male Brimstone from its food supplies?  Or was he chasing it away from its territory as he tries to attract a mate?

Upwards again, and the Norway Maple is in flower.  These trees can often be seen in hedgerows.

Not all the trees are showing opening buds so there is still a chance to see a bird singing and get a clear photo.  This could be a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler.  A newly ringed bird or a returning summer migrant?

Some birds like to find the highest point to sing out its song, warning others that it is his territory.  This Song Thrush could not get much higher!  He was at the very top of the Grand Fir.

Lockdown during the pandemic brought Nature to many people's notice.  Walks in the countryside, parks, nature reserves and gardens became very important and brought people very close to Nature.  Watch and listen whilst you walk around the reserve and you never know what you might see.

Thanks to Andrew and Jan for the photographs.

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Friends of Foxglove

The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

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Upcoming Events

Jubilee Trail

Friday 27th May 2022 | During Reserve Opening Times

A trail around the red route (wheelchair friendly) to find all things red, white and blue! Pick up a clue sheet from the Field Centre for only £1 and learn some amazing facts about British wildlife as you stroll around the reserve.

No need to book a place as this is a self guided activity. Please bring your own pencil. You can check your answers back at the centre.

The clues will be out for the duration of the Whitsun school holidays (North Yorkshire dates).

Butterflies and Moths Treasure Trail

Friday 22nd July 2022 | During Reserve Opening Times

Enjoy a walk around the red route (easy access trail) and find the clues to learn all about these wonderful insects. 

Pick up a clue sheet from the Field Centre for only £1 and check your answers at the end.

No booking required as this is a selg guided activity! Please remember to bring a pencil from home.

The clues will be out for the duration of the school summer holidays (North Yorkshire dates).


Undergrowth Newsletter

Undergrowth Newsletter Autumn 2021 - Issue 56

The reserve's newsletter for Autumn 2021.

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Undergrowth Newsletter Winter 2020/21 Issue 54

Find out what has been going on at the reserve during the lockdown!

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