Tuesday, July 27th 2021
Winter work usually involves most volunteers working together on a single task. Summer jobs are so varied that volunteers are often spread across the reserve.
It is important to ensure that the bird feeding station can be viewed from the easy access hide. This means that the reeds, which have grown exceptionally well, must be cut, raked and removed.
The trailer was filled several times before the area was cleared of the cut reeds.
Bob used his expertise to make a repair on a bridge.
Emma did a great job cleaning the veranda and assisting Gerry in cleaning all the light fittings. (I bet some of the spiders weren't too happy!) We are starting to get ready for our QAVS presentation.
Ian also checked the mowers before the net rides were strimmed or mowed.
As always a big thank you to our valued volunteers for using their variety of skills to enhance Foxglove.
Monday, July 26th 2021
Last week, some guest bird ringers from the Army Ornithological Society (AOS) joined members of the Swaledale Ringing Group to train together over a three day period. This enabled the ringers to learn from each other and to ring in several different habitats. The first day was spent at the reserve carrying out the eighth Constant Effort Scheme (CES) visit of 2021. During the day over 100 new birds were caught of which 38 were Bullfinches! As to be expected at this time of year there was a high percentage of juveniles including this Goldfinch.
On the second day, the team headed to an area of maturing mixed plantation on the training area. Another 120 birds were ringed and one that had been ringed last year was retrapped. The woodland was teeming with juvenile Siskin and Redpoll.
Many of the young birds were in their post juvenile plumage such as this Goldcrest with the first hint of yellow showing on its crown.
A real surprise was a female Woodcock. When temperatures are high they are known to try and keep cool by flying in circles and this could explain how it ended up in our mist nets on such a sunny day!
Day 3 saw the creation of another field ringing station! This time at Bellflask Fisheries adjacent to the River Ure where the main habitat is reedbed.
The most abundant species to be ringed were Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting.
A highlight was a Grey Wagtail (a first year male).
The icing on the cake however was a Willow Tit that was caught alongside a few Marsh Tits. These two species are very similar with just a few subtle differences to tell them apart. The black crown on a Willow Tit is less glossy and slightly different shaped to that on a Marsh Tit. The former also has slightly off white cheeks (compared to white ones on a Marsh Tit). It also has more buff flanks and a slight flash of colur on its wing compared to the Marsh Tit.
In total 287 new birds were ringed over the three days.Our sincere thanks to the members of the AOS who travelled a long way to join us, Ian Tunstill for helping to prepare the net rides, the MOD for allowing access and to Brian Morland of Bellflask Fisheries for permission to ring on his site. Thank you to Janet for keeping looking after visitors to the reserve while the staff were off site!
Wednesday, July 21st 2021
It has been said before but we do have a fantastic set of volunteers. They look after Foxglove in all weathers, snow and rain, ice and wind, sun and heat! Peter and Brian spent a considerable time yesterday strimming. It is a very good growing season and all the vegetation is doing what it does best - grow!
All the hard work ensures that the habitats are maintained to the highest of standards so that flowers can blossom.
Harebells are yet another flower that is spreading its range and some were open on the moor.
Betony is now fully open and can be seen in the heath paddocks and on the moor. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies visit these flowers.
The gravel around the Field Centre is also 'growing'. Every seed seems to have found a comfortable spot to germinate, and has grown into a lovely plant, so much for needing special conditions for germination. Emma set about removing them.
An owl box was in need of repair. Bob used his skills and we now have a box that can replace one or be put up in a new area to provide a nesting site for owls.
The moth team had a huge number of moths to identify. The Swaledale Ringing Group were hosting visitors from the Army Ornithological Society and have been very busy ringing at Foxglove and on other sites. Once this blog is written and published it will soon appear on Facebook and other social media thanks to Katie.
A huge thank you to all our volunteers who work so hard for Foxglove.
A Little Round-up of News
Sunday, July 18th 2021
The Butterfly Count runs from Friday 16 July to Sunday 8 August. https://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/ It is important to check our butterflies and some day flying moths to help to keep a check on the health of our environment. Check the link and follow the instructions to record your butterfly sightings.
Jenny has been keeping a check on Foxglove's butterflies. During June 13 Small Heath butterflies were recorded along with 23 Speckled Wood. Her full list will be sent to the butterfly recorder of VC65.
Added to this information the moths recorded in the moth traps are also forwarded to the VC65 moth recorder. Thank you to all the volunteers involved in this work.
The Army Ornithological Society's visit starts next week and the Swaledale Bird Ringers were out at another site carrying on preparation. The duck trap was hidden completely in the reeds, so waders donned and work commenced.
Both members of the team were released on completion of the task - thank you for all your hard work!
Back at Foxglove a leisurely stroll spotted a 'dragon'. Photos were taken and as my ID on dragons is not brilliant I had to wait until I was home and downloaded the photos to confirm that I had seen a Golden-ringed Dragonfly.
These beautiful dragonflies frequent small becks and streams, sometimes in woodland sometimes on moorland. Returning next day I was lucky enough to catch the female egg laying in the small stream. She lays her eggs in the silt, where they hatch out and remain. They ambush passing food. In the colder, unproductive streams in the north, development can take between two to five years.
The Common Darters are beginning to emerge. Unfortunately they do not always sit in the best of places to take a photograph.
Volunteers at Foxglove have been busy with a variety of tasks during the week, repairing an owl box, strimming, cutting back and clearing invasive vegetation amongst other tasks. A huge thank you for all the work you have done, this is very much appreciated.
Thursday, July 15th 2021
The orchids, have yet again put on a splendid show, appearing in new places across the reserve. The Northern Marsh Orchids have completed their flowering and are now setting seed. Common Spotted Orchids are still standing proud, some are the dark pink colour you expect,
whilst some are much paler
Common Centaury usually only flowered on a path near a net ride and along the access road. It, like the orchids, has spread its wings and is growing in one of the heath paddocks.
Walking up to the moor, the white flowered Privet is releasing its powerful scent. Privet, which is often used as hedging is rarely allowed to flower, but at Foxglove we have two shrubs growing. The scent attracts many bees and also, right on the topmost flower, a Red Admiral.
Rayed Knapweed is blooming across the moor and is always alive with bees and other insects. Finally after watching a Small Skipper for some time, it landed on a Hardhead to feed. These flowers are a valuable food source for a variety of insects.
Many moths fly at night but some can be seen during the day. An Antler moth, so named because of the antler marking on its wings was feasting on a Rayed Kapweed. They can arrive in the moth trap in quite large numbers.
And finally a little bit of fun! There are not enough flowers and food on the moor so the bee and the butterfly had to share the same flower!