Wednesday, August 12th 2020
The bird ringers have just completed a four day ringing course with some guest bird ringers from the South of England. The team went to various local sites as well as spending a day at Foxglove and as usual, there were some real surprises in store. The biggest of which was catching a Fieldfare as at this time of year they should all be in Scandinavia! Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush in general size, shape and behaviour. They are very social birds, spending the winter in flocks of anything from a dozen or two to several hundred strong. These noisy flocks over farmland are usually a winter scene in the UK.
It was an adult male so has it just arrived early (they usually arrive from October onwards) or could it have overwintered in the UK? There was much discussion amongst the team members however, we may never find out!
Other highlights included some young Tree Pipits that were caught on the Catterick Training Area.
They are very similar to Meadow Pipits but, on close inspection, may be distinguished by their heavier bill, shorter hind claw and fine streaking on the flank - they also have very different calls. Widespread summer visitors to the UK, they occur in particularly high densities in Western uplands. Their population has undergone declines over the past 25 years, especially in central and southern England so it was good to find a few.
Another summer visitor, the Redstart, can be seen in the UK from April to October. It is included on the Amber List of species with unfavourable conservation status in Europe where it is declining. This juvenile was ringed during the weekend course.
In the photograph below you can see the striking red tail feathers.
However, in terms of look there was competition from a male Redpoll still in its breeding plumage! This tiny finch - only slightly bigger than a blue tit - is streaky and brown with patches of red on its head and sometimes its breast. They like to hang upside down to feed in trees.
This Whitethroat was a different bird for the group to see as they are not found at the reserve. Whitethroats are medium-sized warblers, about the size of a great tit. They have quite a long tail which they flick as they dart rapidly in and out of cover. They are summer visitors and passage migrants, with birds breeding widely, although they avoid urban and mountainous areas. They spend their winters in Africa, south of the Sahara.
It was a successful few days with well over 300 birds being ringed in total and a great learning opportunity for the bird ringers to enjoy. Thank you to everyone involved in whatever way from strimming and pruning net rides and filling bird feeders to providing essential chocolate and ringing the birds!
Tuesday, August 11th 2020
The team at Foxglove are so busy that they rarely have time to stop and take photographs so it is always a treat when visitors share theirs. George Bond spent some time in the scrapes area on his visit and has very kindly shared these stunning pictures of young toads and frogs.
We are always grateful of photographs which can be used for the website, social media, displays in the Field Centre and calendars and leaflets and give credit to the photographers.
These are so beautiful that we had to share them!
If you have any pictures that you are happy for us to use please email them to us at email@example.com (for the blog they need to be at least 2mb).
Thank you again to George and keep up the good work!
Thursday, August 6th 2020
'Family bubble' minibeast safaris have been taking place this week. Much fun has been had searching around the outdoor classroom for invertebrates such as spiders, worms, woodlice, slugs and snails!
Other finds included frogs and newts.
If you would like to have a go then there are still limited sessions available to book on 12th August, for more details please see the events page.
Thursday, August 6th 2020
Government guidelines mean that anyone using the Field Centre from Saturday 8th August must wear a mask. Please bring one with you if you intend to come inside.
Thank you for your understanding.
Tuesday, August 4th 2020
The clearing of the duck trap by volunteers paid off and already three young Mallards have been caught and ringed. They were fitted with a BTO ring then weighed and their wing measurements were taken before they were released back onto the lake.
This brings the total of Mallards ringed at the reserve to 15.