Blog Archive (21) Posts Made in May 2011
Unidentified insect and ....
Tuesday, May 31st 2011
Brian found this tiny insect with very long antennae and managed to get a photograph. As yet it is unidentified. Books will be out to see if we can track down its name!
Wood Avens, also known as Herb Bennet, are growing on the banksides of Risedale Beck. Their flower is yellow and smaller than that of Water Avens.
The cooler weather was keeping the insects close to the ground. This Large Red Damselfly moved around the blade of grass but eventually sat still for this photograph to be taken.
Swallows and House Martins were feeding over the wetland this afternoon as the temperature rose.
Eco Club, Fish and Bees
Sunday, May 29th 2011
The weather continued very windy and cold as the Eco Club set out to look at various habitats. Ponds were the first to be investigated. On the first pond dipping platform we only caught a few tadpoles, a snail and fish. A fish with blue eyes and a red tummy was caught and the children were amazed that this was a male Three Spined Stickleback. However there was another fish in the sink, bigger, black and fast moving - this was a Nine Spined Stickleback! Although recorded on the species list it is rarely caught when pond dipping. The second pond dipping platform yielded more pond snails, another Nine Spined Stickleback and several Diving Beetle larvae who are carnivorous! In the photo below you can see the pincers it uses to catch and eat its prey.
Ash Trees around the Outdoor Classroom were found to be home to Kidney Spot Ladybirds and their tiny larvae. We also examined larger larvae on some other Ash Trees.
Another habitat investigated was Risedale Beck and the finds here included Bullhead, Caddis Larvae, (one who had used a piece of brown glass to make its case) and Mayfly nymphs. Thank you to everyone who helped this morning.
During the afternoon the Observation Beehive was taken away and a new colony of bees was put into it. Once returned and fixed in place the queen was observed. Thank you to David and Sandra for organising this.
And finally yet another ladybird has been found, the Eyed Ladybird. According to the information it likes conifer trees - this one was photographed on a Stinging Nettle!
Flowers and Insects
Saturday, May 28th 2011
A picture laden blog so you can see how beautiful it is here at the moment!
Firstly, the Northern Marsh Orchids are in full flower along the side of the Heathland.
Next the Ox-eye Daisies are billowing along the track opposite the heath.
Up on the Wetland the light was just perfect for this photo of the duck and ducklings. Just after this photo was taken a Water Vole was seen swiming along the edge of the water.
Earlier in the week this Coxcomb Prominent moth was caught in the trap.
Note the stripey legs and the funky hairstyle!
Brian took photos this afternoon of the Kidney-spot Ladybird babies…...
.....and this beautiful Common Blue Damselfly.
Other visitors today saw the Broad-bodied Chaser up on the Wetland along with Redshank, Curlew, Swallows and House Martins. A Roe Deer was seen near to the middle moor and Mayfly were hatching along Risedale Beck.
A Busy Day!
Thursday, May 26th 2011
There has been a lot going on at Foxglove today. Members of the Richmondshire Biodiversity Action Plan met this morning whilst we also held the annual Wild Flower Walk. This walk has been held in conjunction with Wild About Plants and was publicised in the Flowers of the Dales programme.
In a walk that lasted over three hours we recorded 71 plants in flower. This is more than was recorded two weeks ago but is a different set of flowers as some from then had 'gone over', whilst some new ones were just coming out! Highlights were the Butterwort (below - photographed by Elizabeth ) on the moorland and the Northern Marsh Orchids near to the heathland.
As well as the uncommon Butterwort there were plenty of the usual early summer flowers such as Greater Stitchwort (below) captured here this afternoon by Elizabeth as well.
Whilst all this was going on Tom and Emma were checking nestboxes and ringed this Tawny Owl chick.
The Dales School came this morning and used our magnifier attached to the whiteboard to look at various mini creatures that they found.
Meanwhile Trevor and his team continued work on the Easy Access Trail which goes through the Hazel and Blackthorn to the top of the lake.
Oh, and last but not least, Tony, after coming on the flower walk, completed this months' stock take for us! Thank you to everyone who helped around the reserve today. We hope you enjoyed yourselves!
Replacing the Marker Posts
Wednesday, May 25th 2011
Even though the winds have blown all day the volunteers kept on working. The trails are being re-marked and we have added a new trail to the Foxglove inventory. The Explorer Trail takes in the whole perimeter of the reserve and goes through all of our habitats. Below, John and Michael have installed yet another post.
Here is new volunteer Kyle (below) hard at work digging out a hole for a new post.
All the posts will be replaced within the next couple of weeks and shortly we will have some new Trail Guides which will reflect the new paths. You will be able to get a new copy at the Field Centre. We'll let you know when they arrive.
Insects after rainfall.
Sunday, May 22nd 2011
There was no ringing on the reserve today as, unfortunately, the weather intervened, but as the sun came out later in the afternoon there were many insects to be seen in the more sheltered areas around Risedale Beck.
The male Orange-Tip Butterfly is feeding here on Herb Robert, but can also be seen on other cruciferous plants such as Garlic Mustard and Cuckoo Flower.
This Soldier Beetle (so named because of its black and red colours) is a predator and hunts mainly on flowers but was seen basking on the Nettle. Also on the Nettles was a Vine Weevil. This is a well known garden pest as it eats vast amounts of vegetation.
The ringers have been out on the training area near the reserve and initial results indicate Pied Flycatchers are in better numbers than they have been for years, and also the size of the Great Tit clutches are bigger than they have been for some time with many exceeding 10 young. Some Jackdaws were ringed today as well as the first of the Kestrels.
Saturday, May 21st 2011
There are many white flowers showing their bright faces around the reserve. Daisies grow preferably in the short grass.
White May blossom, which is scented, is covering the Hawthorn trees. By autumn these trees will be heavy with red berries giving plenty of food for the birds.
Blackberry, Cotton Grass and Common Watercrowfoot can also be seen. However one flower that should not be white is this white Bluebell.
On an entirely different tack we had some unusual visitors to the reserve today in the form of government radio spectrum inspectors who had been alerted to Foxglove after it appeared as a red hot-spot on a satellite image taken from 800km up in space. The problem was reported by the European Space Agency! It appears that we have transgressed and were using a prohibited radio frequency to beam photographs of the lake back to the Field Centre. This frequency was having a detrimental effect on the imaging the satellite was conducting on soil structures!! We were ordered to disconnect the transmitter immediately so for the moment we have no pictures in the Centre at all until the frequency problem is resolved! A rather strange way to achieve notoriety but interesting to note that they were admiring pictures of the lake from their van parked at Scotch Corner!!
Thursday, May 19th 2011
Several butterflies are on the wing now and this female Orange-tip was photographed on Saturday by Len Shepherd from the Yoredale Natural History Society whilst on a guided walk.
A Small Copper was photographed on the reserve today and at least two others were seen. Three Water Voles were spotted swimming together in the scrapes which is quite unusual.
Due to the recent windy conditions time was running out for the ringers to complete CES day 2. So today was the day - and with the wind speed much more favourable than was forecast the session was completed successfully with a much reduced team. Many of the nest boxes on the reserve were also visited and more than 100 chicks were ringed by Tom and his helpers. The first recently fledged birds of the season were caught including Song Thrushes and Robins.
A Busy Day
Wednesday, May 18th 2011
It was a busy day at Foxglove. Two schools visited today and enjoyed finding minibeasts which were more active in the warmer and less windy conditions. This 7 Spot Ladybird was found amongst the leaves.
The Volunteers worked at a variety of jobs including building boardwalks in the Scrapes. “Mr and Mrs Blue Tit” are still busy feeding all their young. The chicks are growing with all the caterpillars and grubs being brought in for them. We hope that they will not get some extra food as the moths go into the trap overnight!
The wetland was full of animals today. The children saw a Roe Deer. Swallows and House Martins were hunting for insects over the ponds. Greylag Geese appeared to be on guard - possibly chicks? Moorhen and Mallard were seen in the ponds feeeding and this afternoon Lapwing were flying over the wetland.
Earlier in the day a Hare had been put up in the conifer plantation on the way to the wetland. It loped off towards the gate onto the moor. A short time later a Hare, (the same one?) was seen walking along the bund towards the hide. It disappeared for a short time before being seen feeding near the ponds. It finally, slowly, headed under the gate and off onto the training ground.
There were some showers today but this did not stop all the activity and the rain drops were caught glistening on this horsetail.
Thank you to everyone who contributed making the day successful.
Tuesday, May 17th 2011
The spring flowers are still showing their colours and joining them are the early summer flowers. Early Purple Orchids are still to be seen but soon their place will be taken by Northern Marsh Orchids. Each species grows in a different part of the reserve.
The Bluebells still carpet many banksides. Growing amongst them is the brilliant white Wild Garlic. (Ramsons)
Red Campion is in flower in the Scrapes. Another place to see this flower is along Risedale Beck but it is just in bud. As it flowers much later a pink splash of colour can be seen well into autumn here.
Sunday, May 15th 2011
Although the cool windy weather is not suitable for every creature it does mean that the insects are staying fairly patiently on the plants rather than flying around. This does give the photographer a little help!
A Stinging Nettle alongside Risedale Beck was the resting place for this Large Red Damselfy. Unusually it has its wings spread slightly open as it rests.
Cercopis vulnerata, common name either Black and Red or Red and Black Froghopper was spotted on many plants around the reserve. A much larger relative of the froghopper that makes the cuckoo spit on plants.
This cranefly like insect was one of several seen fluttering amongst the grass.
Birdsong and Flowers
Saturday, May 14th 2011
Our annual Birdsong Breakfast could not have had a more beautiful morning. As the sun rose over the Covert at 4.30am this morning, fifty-two early risers gathered to take part in a guided walk around the reserve, and then go up onto the moor to see the Black Grouse.
Tony, Tom, John and Paul led a group each, and among the birds heard this morning were Woodcock, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting and Blackcap. After we had all worked up an appetite the whole group repaired to Wathgill camp for a full English breakfast! Thanks go to everyone who came and who helped this morning. See you same time, same place, next year!
Later in the morning twenty-five members of Yoredale Natural History Society came for a guided flower walk.
Altogether we discovered sixty-four plants in flower. Highlights were the Northern Marsh Orchids, Water Crowfoot (which caused much discussion!) and Arum italicum or Italian Lords and Ladies (below).
Other flowers were Bog Stitchwort, Dove's foot Cranesbill, Pignut, a very late Coltsfoot flower, and lots of Bluebells!
Blue Tit Update
Thursday, May 12th 2011
The female Blue Tit in our camera nest box has laid 9 eggs in her nest and is waiting patiently for them to hatch! She can be viewed on the screen in the Field Centre foyer and people have enjoyed watching her turn the eggs over occasionally!
Meanwhile, work continues on the new boardwalk alongside the lake which had several pairs of Greylag Geese on it today!
Final work started!
Wednesday, May 11th 2011
Trevor and Darryl have come back to start the last of the work around the lake. They are installing a new boardwalk through the Hazel coppice and finishing the second bridge. The bridge and boardwalk will link up both halves of the Easy Access Trail, which will once again be a circular route.
The moth trapping last night was quite successful. There were eleven species in the trap this morning, including Water Carpet, Chinese Character, Brimstone, Pale Prominent and Scalloped Hazel. This Poplar Hawkmoth (below) stayed for a photo-shoot!
This common moth is found all over Britain.
Every day now there are more plants in flower. Lousewort and Common Milkwort are in flower on the moorland and the Northern Marsh Orchids are just beginning to show their colour.
Tuesday, May 10th 2011
For the members of the Swaledale Ringing Team it is a very busy time of year as nests and chicks of all kinds are monitored and recorded. It is also a time when some birds can be ringed as pulli such as Herons, Lapwings and Tawny Owls which are very difficult to catch as adults. Here you can see a young Grey Heron that was ringed at the end of last week.
The Owl boxes out on the training area have nearly all been checked now and it seems that the Tawny Owls have had a mediocre breeding season with some of their boxes occupied by Jackdaws and Kestrels. Here is a picture of one successful owl box. Tom described these owlets as being surrounded by an 'ermine' of rabbits! They were very snug and had plenty of food to keep them going! In fact more food than we have ever seen in a box before!
On Saturday, six people joined Tom and Paul as they checked some of the 170 nest boxes spread across the reserve. It is pleasing to report that the number of boxes occupied are at least as many as the last two years which means that Blue Tits, Great Tits and the Tawny Owls in Foxglove have managed to survive the winter. Nest making this year has started very early and there are already chicks in some of the boxes whilst other nests are still being constructed. There will be another walk in two weeks time to monitor some of these later nesters. If you would like to take part then please contact us at the Field Centre by phone or email (see events section for details).
Tree Climbing and Bluebells
Friday, May 6th 2011
The forecast rain didn't arrive and the Askham Bryan students, who were making their last visit before their exam leave and the summer, came to see a tree climbing demonstration.
Kit (left), Darren (right) and Garth kindly came over to show the students just how the professionals do it!
Before long Kit was climbing up, taking branches off on the way, and making the whole thing look really easy!
Then, it was the turn of the students. After much too-ing and fro-ing it was Jack who was brave enough to have the first go.
After that everyone else couldn't wait for their turn.
Michael (above) was a natural!
All in all everyone enjoyed themselves. Thanks must go to Kit, Darren and Garth for coming along and making the students' morning special.
Along the beck thousands of Bluebells are turning the banks into a blue haze.
A close up of this most beautiful of English wild flowers.
Thursday, May 5th 2011
There have been several chicks spotted at various places around the reserve over the last week. Moorhen chicks and Greylag Goslings have been seen at the lake and on Tuesday these beautiful Mallard ducklings (photographed by John) made an appearance in the scrapes!
New species plus
Wednesday, May 4th 2011
The Dales School students enjoyed the sunny weather today. Whilst they were orienteering they were interested to watch some of the volunteers finishing off one of the tasks from yesterday.
We have two new species which have been found in the last few days. Last week this Glaucous Shears was caught in our moth trap.
It is unusual in the fact of having quite a pale head. It is the first time this species has been recorded at Foxglove Covert.
Today, whilst installing the new steps in the scrapes, this little ladybird was found. It is noticeably different in pattern and, on checking our Ladybird key we found it to be Coccinella hieroglyphica (f. typica). Commonly known as the Hieroglyphic Ladybird, this lives in Heather heatland and, although it is widespread, it is in decline.
This brings our total number of species to 2055 and rising!
Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
Greylag Goslings are starting to appear at the lake, the tadpoles are developing in the ponds and the Bluebells are covering the banks along the beck. Meanwhile, volunteers are hard at work carrying out summer maintenance jobs. Dams were put in to regulate the water levels in the Scrapes.
We will wait to see tomorrow if the new dams work in the desired way! John and Brian made good use of the sunshine and painted the workshop with preserver.
Monday, May 2nd 2011
Not ideal conditions for the first day of CES, bright, sunny and windy. However the species list was interesting and those who braved the early reveille were rewarded with some nice birds including 4 Tawny Owls, Woodcock and Moorhen. The bright sunshine and strong winds had a significant impact on the catch and there have been only 4 poorer days for CES day 1 in 19 years.
Many of the large boxes were also checked around the reserve and although two young Tawnies were ringed there are many boxes to return to later. Some owlets were so large they were almost ready to leave the nest and others are still inside the egg shells! Above you can see Jenny, Tom and Stuart in one of the plantations and below Lesley and Martin in the ringing room.
The Woodcock ringed below by Emma was the 17th caught on the reserve although they are regularly seen roding at dusk. Perhaps it wasn't to be a day for quantity but it certainly was for quality - and there were many visitors to the ringing room who enjoyed what they saw. Our thanks to Whitfield for the photographs and Elizabeth for scribing.
Eco Club and Leaves
Sunday, May 1st 2011
The importance of leaves was the topic for Eco Club today. The children went leaf hunting for as many different shaped leaves as possible - without clearing the reserve of leaves! Many of the leaves were touched to discover if they were soft or smooth or prickly.
The children were very observant.
We stopped for our regular check of Kidney Spot Ladybirds on the Ash trees and found two. As we continued our walk the eagle eyed children spotted another two on a Hawthorn tree. The first time these insects have been found other than on Ash trees.
As the weather was sunny we observed many insects. The grasshoppers amazed the children with their mighty jumps! Tiny looper caterpillars were sheltering in and eating the new willow leaves. Butterflies were seen fluttering by and Red Damselflies were on the wing.
Thank you to everyone who helped during the meeting.