Blog Archive (24) Posts Made in June 2012
Views of Foxglove
Saturday, June 30th 2012
There was some trepidation this morning as Foxglove was opened up - after the rain and storms last night how had she fared? A site walk revealed no damage, the severe weather had travelled further north. Walking around during the day gave plenty of opportunities to view 'the weather'!
The lake was running over both parts of the weir and black clouds seem to suggest more rain on its way.
Black clouds but a spot of sunshine over the moor, where the Buzzard was calling and circling without any problems from the wind!
During the afternoon the wetland was checked. Grasses and reeds were bending in the strengthening wind, but there was some blue sky and white fluffy clouds!
In the centre of the reserve a few places were sheltered and the sun was warm and bright, giving these lovely shadows of the pond plants.
Late in the afternoon one gentleman who had visited Foxglove some time ago brought his friend and they walked around the red route. On returnng to the centre they were excited and checked the Observation Board saying 'You have not recorded them!' 'Them' were Crossbills, male and female. They had not seem them before and were really thrilled by this sighting.
Friday, June 29th 2012
The reed bed is continuing to thrive and is growing well. Next year the remainder of the area will be cut back. Very little water can be seen through the thick reeds now but the Moorhen has been heard calling. This habitat suits her and any chicks she may have.
After one of the rain showers this morning all the vegetation had their accompanying water droplets and some on the leaves of the reeds appeared to be defying gravity!
Filling in the rabbit holes along the paths and raking them, pruning the evergrowing branches was all work carried out by David who volunteered today. Thank you for your continued help.
Some of the Common Spotted Orchids may not be Common Spotted but may be hybrids? - observations, hand lens, photographs, discussions and reference books, will all be needed over the next few days!
The team heading north reported that it was very wet!
Thursday, June 28th 2012
Foxglove volunteers undertake a wide variety of work - yesterday they were building dams, checking tree tubes and carrying out the monthly flower walk. Ann, Ruth, Brian, John and Elizabeth recorded 88 plants in flower as they walked around various parts of the reserve. The fen was visited and Common Butterwort in flower and with its seed head was seen, along with many Common Spotted Orchids just beginning to flower. Early Marsh Orchid was flowering.
A strange looking 'bit of grass' was spotted on the fen and almost ignored until it was examined closely. Photographing it proved difficult as there was just enough breeze to keep it on the move. This is likely to be another new species to add to our list - Marsh Arrowgrass.
On the wetland Branched Bur-reed was also flowering and this photograph shows the pollen on the stamens.
Today the jobs included stock taking, fund raising, digging drainage ditches, strimming, helping with school groups and identifying the moths caught overnight.
There were more moths in the trap today than of recent weeks, 40 moths of 18 species, including this Elephant Hawkmoth. As it was warm and windy he was hanging on tight so allowing this photograph of his underside to be taken.
One moth proved difficult to identify, and just to help matters along it refused to open its wings! However after a lot of perseverance it was found to be a male Bordered White. It continued to be difficult and the best photograph is one taken inside on some vegetation. This moth can be a pest in conifer plantations. 2008 was the last time it was recorded on the reserve.
Many thanks again to all our volunteers who work hard to keep Foxglove looking so good and help visitors and school groups to feel welcome and enjoy their visits.
Members of the ringing team are heading to Cape Wrath in the morning. (For more information about Cape Wrath, visit the Bird Ringing Section on the web site.) We wish them a safe journey. If technology allows we should recieve photographs and updates of their activities.
Tuesday, June 26th 2012
The bird food crop is growing nicely and the latest wet and warm weather is perfect for the seedlings to develop.
People have been asking what the seeds are. They are a mixture of White Millet 25%, Spring Trilicale 15%, Quinoa 10%, Linseed + Chinook 25%,Mustard 5%, Fodder Radish 15% and Astera Kale 5%. Once the plants have gone to seed, it is hoped that flocks of birds will feed on them.
Volunteers checked the trees that were planted in the winter. The majority of them are doing really well. After lunch, the dams in the beck were re-built in order to ensure a good supply of water to some of the nearby ponds.
Cuckoo spit is now almost everywhere in the grasses along the path edges. Here is an adult froghopper Cercopis vulnerata.
The Wrong Weather Forecast
Monday, June 25th 2012
Rain hammering off the roofs and hitting the windows accompanied the bird ringers as they headed to Foxglove for CES 6 earlier today. The last 4am start! It looked like the weather forecasts were right - it was going to be wet! Heavy dark clouds, drizzle, dripping vegetation and biting midges were all present as the nets were put up.
However as the morning progressed the clouds broke up, the drizzle stopped, the sun came out and the temperature rose. A few spots of rain during the ten and a half hours of CES 6 but no heavy showers and no persistent rain. For once the wrong forecast was good!
The cold wet weather has caused many problems for ringing groups throughout the country. Invertebrate life is suffering and consequently the animals feeding on them are not having an easy time. We await with interest the results of CES to see how the birds have coped during the wettest June for 100 years.
Today 153 birds were processed including juvenile Robins, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldfinch. Thank you to everyone who helped today and again made it a success. It was the 234th time we had carried out our CES day and 22 different species were caught.
Early this morning the rain drops were stil hanging on the grasses and this enlarged photograph of Yorkshire Fog shows the droplets. If you look carefully you can see that one of them is acting as a magnifying glass.
The Common Spotted Orchids are finally beginning to flower and can be seen along the edges of some paths.
This beetle was seen on Cock's Foot Grass this afternoon. These carnivorous beetles are usually found in and near ponds although they readily take to the wing.
Hurworth Primary School
Thursday, June 21st 2012
Heavy rain did not dampen the mood of the children from Hurworth Primary School who visited the reserve today.
We braved the rain this morning with groups doing habitat walks, pond dipping and a minibeast safari. As the rain worsened over lunch we decided to stay in the classroom for the last hour of the visit. Here the children built a human tree, played animal guessing games and asked us many interesting questions.
Colburn Community Primary School
Wednesday, June 20th 2012
The sunny weather made perfect conditions for pond-dipping.
This Water Boatman was amongst today's catch. Other finds in the ponds included Great Diving Beetle larvae, tadpoles, pond snails and cased Caddis Fly larvae.
After lunch all the children built a human tree and learnt how a tree works! The outer layer was the 'serious bark' to protect the tree from invading insects!
A fun day was had by all.
First thing this morning, Elizabeth was watched by this Roe Deer!
The yellow Flag Iris is taking the place of the pinkish white Bogbean which has now finished flowering in the Scrapes.
Tuesday, June 19th 2012
A few of the ringers have spent several fruitless evenings looking for Golden Plover chicks on nearby moors. Last night we tried again, with luck on our side!
Golden Plover nests are found hidden on the heather moor, and the chicks are camouflaged almost perfectly with the yellow mosses on the ground. This makes spotting them from the car very difficult unless they are moving about.
Once released again after ringing they quickly run away to saftey hiding again in the heather, though after some persuading this one finally posed for the camera!
Meanwhile on the reserve today the volunteer team was out in force starting to clear an area of heathland that has become overgrown. John and Sophie decided to tackle this rather large Birch tree the old fashioned way. They made us wait until they had caught their breath back before we were allowed to take this celebratory photo.
In other news the money raised at Catterick Market has been counted, coming in at £366.04. This represents a fantastic effort from all those who gave up their weekend to help us raise this considerable sum.
Monday, June 18th 2012
Members of the Ryedale Natural History Society found a new species for the county whilst walking here yesterday! The Red-necked Footman moth, a first for VC65, is the only footman moth in Britain and Ireland with constant plain black velvety wings and a red collar. Here is Brian's photo.
Friends of Chenobyl Children, Northallerton visited Foxglove today. They enjoyed a walk, did some pond-dipping, had a go with a sweep net and played in the beck with the dams. The group had two translators with them!
Beetles, bugs and grasshoppers all turned up in the nets.
Finally, up on the moor the Foxgloves are starting to flower.
Monday, June 18th 2012
It was cold and breezy as the bird ringers arrived at Foxglove for another 04.00 start! The weather did not change much during the day although at times some sunshine was noted! Over 120 birds were processed and these included the young of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Long - tailed Tits, tiny Goldcrests and Willow Warblers. Great Tits and Blue Tits ringed earlier in the nest boxes were also processed. This juvenile Blue Tit looks angelic but even at this age can give the ringers a nasty peck! After all the recent rain, flooding and cold young Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are quite scarce and certainly behind the curve. But this is why we do CES and at the end of the season we will be able to say with some authority just how bad a year for the Foxglove birds it has been.
During the day members of the Ryedale Natural History Society enjoyed guided walks around the reserve, finding flowers and insects, fungi and spiders. A visit to the wetland finally revealed the Marsh Cinquefoil in flower.
Many thanks to the staff and volunteers who worked hard to make the day a success.
Sunday, June 17th 2012
Several volunteers braved the unusually cold June weather and collected funds for Foxglove at Catterick Market today.
Thank you so much to everyone who gave up their precious weekend time to help out with this event, the amount collected will be added up later and will benefit both wildlife and visitors on the reserve.
New Species - Four-spotted Chaser
Thursday, June 14th 2012
The first dragonfly of the year was spotted by Ann as she and Elizabeth were leading a guided walk for U3A. As identification was confirmed later in the day we realised it is yet another new species for the reserve!
This immature Four-spotted Chaser had only just emerged from her exuviae and can be identified by the tapering dark brown abdomen with yellow sides and the characteristic four spots on the wings.
Hunton and Arrathorne Primary School visited Foxglove today, and enjoyed pond dipping, a tree walk and minibeast safari. Volunteers were also at work repairing the damage to some of the paths from the torrential rain we have experienced over the past few weeks.
Thursday, June 14th 2012
A sunny start but the clouds soon arrived and the temperature dropped. The insects did not appreciate the fall in temeprature and so were hanging around on stems and leaves. Cold they may have been, but the insects could still spot a camera lens a good way off and move just out of focus! However with patience and a little persuasion Brian was able to photograph this Large Red Damselfly on a Nettle.
Another find in easier conditons, no Nettles, was this beautiful insect that Brain again photographed. No final identification has been made but we think this may be a mayfly. There had been a large hatching of another species of mayfly on the lake a little earlier in the day. These insects only survive as adults for 24 hours and are unable to feed.
This Green Veined White butterfly had found a cosy spot to settle.
Over the Fedge!
Tuesday, June 12th 2012
Volunteers cut back an overgrown net ride and made good use of the brash by weaving it into the dead hedge in the front garden.
Not quite a fence and not quite a hedge 'fedge' is a good way to describe it! It is made from Willow, Hazel and Birch brash. The pollarded Willow behind it is doing really well and looks very healthy.
Not only does the 'fedge' look great, it has recycled brash and will prevent people from taking a short cut over the lawn!
The new structure will be left for the leaves to drop off and then binders will be added to the top before the Hazel stakes are trimmed to the correct height.
Other tasks carried out today included strimming, pruning and rooting! Lunchtime was the annual 'Volunteer Summer Picnic' and what a feast was had! Thanks to everyone who contributed. This is to celebrate National Volunteer Week (which was last week) and to say thank you to all of the people who give up their time to keep the reserve ticking over!
Whilst working close to the lake John took this beautiful photograph of a female Roe Deer grazing in the sunshine.
Monday, June 11th 2012
Driving around the Parade Square, just before 04.00, the car was stopped, hazard warning lights on, and this prickly Hedgehog was ushered off the road!
Into the reserve and along the access road a few minutes later, another sighting of a Hedgehog - the same one had found its way under the fence! Hedgehogs have been recorded on the species list but are rarely seen. Another sighting today was of a Roe Deer with two young kids at her heels.
Midges made their presence felt in a big way as they attacked the ringers, not only whilst the nets were going up early this morning, but during the afternoon too! The reserve is about the wettest it has ever been and large areas of water are lying everywhere. The becks are in full spate and the full force of the recent endless rain has dislodged some very large boulders.
Ferns enjoy dampness and in an area cleared by the volunteers during the winter, they are doing extremely well. Some of these ferns will be quite old.
Northern Marsh Orchids are braving the rain and are flowering along the path edges.
The weather forecast had said no rain today, but it rained for over an hour during the late morning. Nets had to be checked constantly. It was concerning that so few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were caught and it may be that they have suffered due to the bad weather and the large concentrations of water on the ground. However it was good to see that some of the Great Tit chicks ringed in the nest boxes had fledged. 169 birds of 20 species were processed including the first juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Greenfinches. Thanks are due to all in the ringing team for their patience and forbearance in some unpleasant weather conditions.
After the Rain
Saturday, June 9th 2012
After the heavy and persistent rain yesterday this morning was warm and sunny! Two kittens (baby rabbits) were enjoying the fresh grass! These look lovely in the sunshine, but they can do a lot of damage by digging along the path edges.
Bees have been in short supply so far this year but this one was found on the moor and was so big and heavy the Red Clover was bending under its weight.
Walking around the reserve, flowers just opening were added to the observation board, including Sow Thistle, Wintercress (which had 5 bees feeding from it) Marsh Cinquefoil (nearly out in flower!) and Weld, shown in the photograph below.
Saturday, June 9th 2012
In most parts of the country the Bluebells have long been and gone but at the top of the woodland at Foxglove, they are in full bloom and looked beautiful in between the heavy rain showers!
If anyone can spare an hour or two on Sunday 17th June we would be very grateful of help at Catterick market where we will be collecting money on the gates. Please get in touch if you can lend a hand. Full details are in the events section.
Once in a golden hour…
Thursday, June 7th 2012
I cast to earth a seed, Up there came a flower, The people said, a weed. Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron (1809–92).
The area that was planted with a wild bird seed crop is doing well and the seedlings are already a few inches high.
Bird ringers were out again last night and ringed several wader chicks including this adorable Curlew.
This young Oystercatcher was also happy to pose for the camera!
Thursday, June 7th 2012
The bird ringers are continuing to check the nest boxes at Foxglove and ring chicks. This young Blue Tit was ringed and as it had few feathers and only a little fluff its ears could be seen quite clearly.
The gape appears to be very large and out of proportion to the rest of the chick but it is important as it encourages the parents to feed the young. Several days older, this Great Tit chick still has a bright yellow gape but is almost fully feathered and won't be long before it leaves the nest.
It is not only the birds with young, but some of the plants are also in the process of producing seeds that will germinate next year. Sycamore trees are in flower and some are beginning to show the wings that will help to disperse the seed away from the parent plant, in the autumn.
In the spring the tiny red flower of the Hazel was hunted and a few were found. The beginnings of the Hazel nuts can now be seen covering the Hazel trees! We must have been very unobservant to miss all these flowers!
The Bee Keepers brought some of their hives and put them onto the heath. Today in the sun and warmth the bees were really busy collecting food for the young grubs that will soon turn into bees.
Volunteers at Work
Wednesday, June 6th 2012
Although a Bank Holiday volunteers arrived at Foxglove early this morning. As usual a variety of work was carried out. Computing took place in the office. Strimmers and mowers could be heard cutting paths and net rides. Bracken was slashed on the moor.
The route for the flower walk on Saturday was checked and flowers were inspected!
However there was time to stop and admire the wealth of flora and fauna around the reserve. The middle moor is beginning to blossom and is rich in flowers which is vital for all the insects and other invertebrates.
Although the Bluebells on the moor are going over those in the woodland are just flowering. Risedale Beck, known for its Spring flowers, still has most of them to be seen. This beautiful Water Aven is an example.
A search through the Scrapes revealed no damselflies but one was seen in a conifer tree in the woodland and another on a Nettle along Risedale Beck. Brian managed to get this photograph before it saw him and moved away!
Many other fascinating insects were seen - unfortunately we are unable to identify them, but their beauty was thoroughly enjoyed.
Thank you to everyone who worked today, to keep Foxglove looking so beautiful.
Monday, June 4th 2012
The bird ringers certainly have been busy, with many nest boxes still to check, waders, Long-eared Owls, Peregrine Falcons, Buzzards and CES we are all being kept out of trouble! Emma and Rosie were out one evening last week on a grouse moor looking for Golden Plovers, about 6 pairs were seen, though even with five pairs of eyes spying for the chicks we still couldn't spot them hidden amongst the heather. We did however, find a clutch of Oystercatcher chicks (below) and several Lapwing.
Plenty to See!
Monday, June 4th 2012
Yesterday Brian and Elizabeth attended the talk about dragonflies and damselflies. Today they tried to put some of what they had learnt into practice. Looking around the water's edge and on plants close by, it was amazing how many damselflies were observed, sheltering from the cold, damp weather!
As we only have Large Red Damselflies recorded on site their identification was easy! This one was perched on a Gorse bush.
The next step was to find some of the blue damselflies and for identification purposes take a good photograph of the end of their abdomen. A really easy task? Well the idea was a good one, but everytime the camera got close, those huge eyes spotted it and around the stem the damselfly moved, so many blurred images! Back to the drawing board! With no positive identification the photograph below shows one of the blue damselflies.
Although it was cold and wet many invertebrates were recorded hiding amongst the plants, including soldier beetles, Alderfly, spiders, 7 Spot Ladybirds, Kidney Spot Ladybirds, Crane Fly, Caddis fly, sawfly larvae and an ant! Slugs were thoroughly enjoying the dampness. Gravel paths and Gorse prickles did not appear to give them any concern!
Whilst hunting for the invertebrate life of Foxglove, the flowers could not be missed. On the moor, Buttercups are open and this one was sporting several rain drops!
Bird's Foot Trefoil can also be seen on the moor.
Elder was in leaf early in the year but it is only now beginning to flower.
At long last the Wild Garlic has burst its buds and is making a beautiful show along Risedale Beck.
Swallows and House Martins were seen flying low over the ponds on the wetland. A Nuthatch was spotted on the feeders in the back garden. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard, along with Garden Warblers and Chaffinch.
Damsel in Distress
Saturday, June 2nd 2012
Keith Gittens, local dragonfly recorder for the British Dragonfly Society, gave a dragonfly identification talk to staff and volunteers. In spite of the cold weather for the time of year, the group went out after lunch to look for dragonflies and damselflies.
Several Blue-tailed and Large red damselflies were found sheltering amongst the marginal vegetation. In addition, a large number of exuvia (empty larval cases) were discovered. The one pictured here is from an emerged Large red.
Going in for a closer look, June got more than she bargained for!
Thank you to Keith and June for giving up their Saturday and sharing their knowledge.
For more information on these fascinating insects that have inhabited the planet for over two million years see the Yorkshire Branch of the British Dragonfly Society website www.yorkshiredragonflies.org.uk
Or why not become a member of The British Dragonfly Society
All Creatures Great and Small
Saturday, June 2nd 2012
The Foxglove team are concerned with all wildlife and not just the species that reside within the LNR boundary. Yesterday, bird ringers were out all day in numerous places across the wider MOD training area and even further afield! Many different birds of varying sizes were ringed ranging from these tiny Wren chicks whose parents had taken up redidence in a Dipper nest box.
At the other end of the scale, these three Peregrine Falcon chicks were carefully ringed and returned safely to their nest too!