Blog Archive (17) Posts Made in January 2010
Saturday, January 30th 2010
The wind was bitterly cold today and there were still a few pockets of snow and ice around the reserve but the sky was blue. The seed and peanut feeders were all filled and it didn't take our feathered friends long to discover our offerings! Almost immediately a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed on one of the peanut feeders close to the 'lake'.
The one pictured here was photographed by Danielle in the garden by the Field Centre. If you look carefully you can see that it has been ringed with a metal BTO ring.
There have been several Brambling in the back garden too and on a tiny peanut feeder outside the office there were six Long-tailed tits, a real delight to see. This image of a Brambling was also captured by Dani close to the main building.
Checking owl boxes
Wednesday, January 27th 2010
There was plenty of help with all kinds of jobs today at Foxglove. Here you can see Tom, Ray and Paul checking the Tawny Owl boxes in preparation for spring.
Several vounteers carried out other essential tasks such as clearing the inflow pipes to all of the ponds, re mixing clay for the mink rafts, painting fingerposts and clearing scrub from the heathland.
March into Spring
Sunday, January 24th 2010
At long last the snow is on the way out. The access road is drivable with care and we have had quite a few visitors today.
It's nice to see the green colour of the vegetation, even if it is all flattened down, and to walk along paths without crunching and letting all the wildlife know you are coming!
The beck is full of water again and ,although there are still some ponds covered in ice, in general we are definitely on the march forward into Spring.
Keith and the cattle
Friday, January 22nd 2010
The cattle were rounded up today thanks to Keith.
They are on holiday at a nearby field in order to give our moorland a rest. Here you can see them in the corral prior to being loaded in the trailer (two at a time).
Hector and MacDuff's transfer was as smooth as silk! As you can see they were keen to explore their new holiday surroundings.
However, it was too good to be true as MacGregor later jumped out of the pen and was swiftly followed by Fraser who attempted to jump the metal panels and knocked the whole thing over! It took another hour and a devious military manoeuvre by Sophie (which included vaulting head first over a fence) to catch and corner the mischievous pair! Finally, all four were reunited and settled into their new field.
Bonfire in the snow
Wednesday, January 20th 2010
We had 14 volunteers here today for the first proper workday since before Christmas. In the plantation the snow had almost melted so we felled some leaning Spruce trees and cleared up a large area.
The bonfire easily started and kept everyone warm. The work kept us warm as well. A good day outside at last even though later on the fog decended and the drizzle started to come down.
Gas delivered at last!
Tuesday, January 19th 2010
Thanks to a bit of road clearance by Ray, Elizabeth (and Tolly)!, the gas for the central heating in the Field Centre was finally delivered today! The snow is thawing at last although more is forecast for Thursday.
Some parts of the access track and many footpaths remain icy and it is still recommended that visitors park on the parade square and walk in to the centre.
Several Roe deer were glimpsed today as they flitted through the plantation and a Heron was spotted from the viewing platform taking off from Risedale Beck.
William and the caterpillar
Monday, January 18th 2010
The sunshine encouraged lots of people to venture out today. The access road remains icy and all visitors are advised to park on the parade square and walk in through the reserve.
On his walk in to Foxglove today William came across a caterpillar in the snow! It looks like the larva of a moth from the Arctiidae family which includes tiger moths, ermines and footman moths.
These all have hairy larvae but their hairs do not normally cause skin irritation. It could be the caterpillar of the Muslin Moth or Common Footman- watch this space for confirmation!
Saturday, January 16th 2010
It's been a very cold, damp and grey day here. As you can see the snow plough came to clear our road again. Joe and Dave did their best but the road is still not ideal to drive up in anything other than a 4 wheel drive vehicle!
The Askham Bryan students came for the first time since mid-December. They filled all of our feeders, checked the cattle and then cleared brash from an area of plantation. They even managed to get a fire going on the snow to keep themselves warm!
Remember - our January workday tomorrow has had to be cancelled because of the conditions. Hopefully by the next scheduled one on the 20th February we will be clear again!
Thursday, January 14th 2010
Today has been very cold and icy. There was no sneaking up on anything as the snow was covered in a thick layer of ice which crunched loudly everywhere we walked.
Each branch, seed head and piece of grass was sheathed in beads of icy pearls which have not melted all day!
Danielle has sent us some photos of Long-tailed Tits in the back garden. These have been flocking to our feeders as their normal diet of tiny insects and spiders are scarce in this freezing weather.
We have had another sighting of one of the colour-ringed Blackbirds. This bird, now called Bossy Blackbird! or BB, has a red over metal ring on his left leg and a red over green ring on his right leg. He has been coming regularly to the back garden and chasing the other birds away from the feeders!
The access road is extremely icy and a no -go area for anyone without the capability of a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Even with that extreme care should be taken.
Our January workday, which was due to take place on Saturday 16th. is unfortunately cancelled as Foxglove is snowbound, and unlikely to be other than that by the weekend.
Tuesday, January 12th 2010
We keep on mentioning the Brambling in the back garden and are often asked what they look like.
Here are John's photos of a male (above) and female (below). These pictures were taken whilst bird ringing on Sunday at Foxglove.
Fog, thaw and birds
Tuesday, January 12th 2010
Today's sound has been the constant drip, drip of thawing snow. Even though it has snowed on and off all day, and the moorland was shrouded in white freezing fog, under the trees it is pocked with the drip marks from the thawing snow above.
Risedale Beck is very low, possibly because the water is all caught up in the snow and ice. When the thaw starts in earnest we shall expect a lot of icy floodwater to fill it up.
The birds are flocking to our feeders. The usual suspects: Brambling, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Robin and Long-tailed Tit were all seen today in the back garden, along with a Sparrowhawk on the lookout for an easy meal!
Colour ringing scheme
Monday, January 11th 2010
Today was the first day of a colour band ringing scheme at Foxglove. This project will involve only two species: Blackbirds and Bullfinches. The ring combination will enable us to identify individual birds around the reserve without having to catch them again.
If you see birds with coloured rings on, please report them to us at the Field Centre. It is important to note the exact colour combination of rings on each leg. For example, left leg - green over metal, right leg - red over blue. In this picture the male Blackbird has red over metal on the left leg and red over red on the right. Each bird will have four rings allowing us to colour mark 729 birds individually.
This female Blue Tit was re-trapped today. She hatched in 2003 and was ringed at Foxglove in 2004. She seemed to be in fine fettle considering the fact that she is 6 years old and has just survived over three weeks of extremely harsh winter weather. Other species that spent a brief time in the ringing room today included Brambling, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch. The birds seem to be in good condition apart from being a little low on weight. A reminder to us all to continue feeding the birds who have hardly any wild food available at all now.
In 2009 a total of 3073 new birds was ringed on the reserve, the fourth best annual total ever. The best year was in 2007 when 3488 new birds were ringed and the poorest year 1998 when only 1351 were ringed. The all time total for new birds at Foxglove after today stands at 50 birds short of 40,000!
Snow and ice
Friday, January 8th 2010
The temperature today was very low indeed. Although there has been no wind the cold was intense if you stood still to look around. The snow plough came up our road this morning for the first time since it was built 14 years ago - which says a lot about the severity of the conditions. The road is still icy and not advisable to tackle unless you have a 4x4.
As you can see the snow gets ever deeper. The picnic benches are temporarily redundant, but many nice birds are feeding in the garden and being regularly targetted by the Sparrowhawks!
The icicles grow longer and we are wondering if they will reach the ground before the thaw begins!
Thursday, January 7th 2010
Another gorgeously snowy day here. The skyscape on the moorland was spectacular this morning when we went to check the cattle.
Whatever the weather your two reserve managers are here working away.
Sophie still managed to get £1 each way on a pit pony at Catterick Racecourse whilst Marion spent the morning with moderate success learning to sledge.
Wetland and more snow
Wednesday, January 6th 2010
After another day of slight thawing and then freezing again the icicles on the field centre are getting to be very spectacular.
4 of our volunteers managed to turn up today. Andrew and Raymond cleared the paths at the front of the centre and then wheelbarrowed more feed around for the birds.
Anne came in and helped check the wetland and the cattle. The boys and Bobbie have plenty to eat courtesy of Tom and Gillian.
The wetland looked wonderful. All the ponds are not only frozen over, but are covered with snow as well.
A Lapwing and Snipe were seen whilst we were up there.
With more snow forecast this week our access road looks like being accessible to 4 wheel drive vehicles only at the moment. Visitors are parking on the parade ground and walking in through the middle of the reserve.
Monday, January 4th 2010
Yet more snowy pictures from Foxglove today. It was a monochrome world that awaited this morning as the whole of Foxglove seemed white with varying shades of grey! This view onto the moor is a very good example.
The only snippets of colour came from the jewel feathers of the Robin, Blue Tit and Bullfinch who were seen at the feeding stations. They really caught the eye as they flashed by. The birds need all our help at this time of year. The Holly trees have almost been stripped bare as the birds are looking everywhere for food. Remember, you can put out stale cake crumbs and cheese as well as the usual seeds in your back garden. They will really appreciate this as the cold snap continues.
This dramatic picture was taken along Risedale Beck underneath the big, old Ash tree above one of the bridges.
The last photo is of Hector squeezing himself over one of the narrow bridges on the moor! The boys have plenty of food at the moment and seemed right at home in the snowy weather.
Sunday, January 3rd 2010
Just when you thought it was safe to venture back up the access road! Several more inches of snow fell at Foxglove today.
The snow hasn't put off visitors who are managing to park on the parade square and walk in through the reserve but care needs to be taken where water bodies are frozen over and children and dogs really must be carefully supervised.