Blog Archive (29) Posts Made in August 2012
Macro photography Workshop
Friday, August 31st 2012
Saturday 8th September, 10.00am-3.00pm
Due to popular demand, photographer Richard Witham will be leading a second digital photography workshop at Foxglove. Learn how to get the best close up shots of wildlife using your own camera equipment. This one day course will be based at the Field Centre with the morning being spent in the classroom and the afternoon outside around the nature reserve. Packed lunch is needed but tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided. The course fee is only £25 per person. Booking essential as places are limited.
Stuck in the Mud
Friday, August 31st 2012
A small but eager team of volunteers arrived for the second of our Thursday volunteer days. We spent the day working at the top of the woodland steps thinning out Ash that has grown up under the canopy of the Larch and Sitka Spruce.
With a chainsaw on the go, the volunteers processed the brash ready for the first bonfire of the autumn work season.
David removed a patch of Blackthorn, here he is with it cleared just after lunch.
The woodland floor was saturated after the heavy rain, and soon some of the areas we were working in became rather boggy - as Bethany quickly found out! Luckily Garth was nearby to pull her out, minus one boot.
Thank you everyone for all your hard work transforming this area in the woodland.
Wednesday, August 29th 2012
During this month there have been a series of weekly family fun sessions called August Antics. Activities have ranged from minibeast hunting and pond dipping to learning about flowers and moths. Over fifty children have taken part and more than £100 has been raised for the reserve. Thank you to Elizabeth who has planned and run these events and spent a huge amount of time making worksheets for the children to take home. Todays group found all kinds of creatures in the ponds including an eft!
Staff and holiday makers from Low Mill Outdoor Centre visited and enjoyed a guided walk around the reserve.
Sightings today include dragonflies (during the few sunny spells) and this cheeky Heron. Captions please via the comments!
Finally, a special mention to Tony and Mike who worked out in the heavy rain showers to repair a gate and pull birch in the short time they had left after looking for the puncture repair kits (that were in their place all the time) and fixing the wheelbarrows!
Hints of Autumn
Tuesday, August 28th 2012
Painting the feeder station at the hide was one of the many tasks completed by volunteers today.
Jobs like this make such a difference to the reserve. Over behind the Field Centre, everyone else was busy pulling out Silver Birch saplings. This area is being cleared of scrub so that it can be re-planted with native trees.
This site was teeming with dragonflies and damselflies. This Emerald damselfly was well camouflaged on the brambles.
The Blackberries are beginning to ripen.
Common Darters are on the wing in hundreds and are easy to photograph as they sun themselves on logs.
This Horntail was flying close to the bonfire and decided that Garth's leg was a good resting place! The drill-like ovipositor looks menacing but is harmless as the female uses it to lay eggs.
Visitors to Low Mill Outdoor Centre came for a guided walk and did a bit of pond-dipping.
There was a photo call before they left to finish their action packed holiday in the Dales!
Finally, another hint of Autumn is the ripening of the Hazelnuts seen all accross the reserve.
Thanks to everyone for all your help and support in the many various different ways today.
Monday, August 27th 2012
Ann, Ruth and Elizabeth were in at Foxglove today doing the monthly flower walk through the reserve. 93 species were recorded, with some habitats still to visit.
This Devil's Bit Scabious was seen through the scrapes where the wet soils provide ideal growing conditions. Species of scabious have been used in the past to treat some skin conditions, including sores caused by the Bubonic Plague. In folk tales the short black root was bitten off by the devil, angry at the plants ability to cure these ailments.
Knapweed also known as Hardheads were seen across the reserve. The late summer plants provide a valuable source of nectar for many insects including the Small Skipper seen feeding here.
On Sunday Brian and Michaela spotted this unusual fungus down near the bullet catcher. Rose Spindles is found across the country, but is uncommon; normally found growing in grassland or open woodland in loose groups.
Late Summer Flowers and Bird Ringing
Sunday, August 26th 2012
Each season has its own flowers and as we progress into late summer, Knapweed (Hardheads) can be seen flowering across the reserve, providing food for this White Tailed Bumblebee.
Butterflies including Small Skippers also enjoy feeding from the nectar.
Grass of Parnassus is beginning to flower on the moor.
In the Scrapes Pepper Saxifrage, Fleabane and Meadow Sweet can be seen.
Many early summer flowers are now producing their seeds and fruits. Rowan are the first berries to turn red and ripen and it will not be long before the birds begin to eat them. Hawthorn berries are just turning red and the birds will have to wait a little while for the Blackberries to ripen.
The bird ringing team were ringing off site today. Juvenile birds were caught and ringed, some of these will soon be setting off on their long journey south.
This juvenile male Redstart is showing his new colours as he moults into adult plumage. But many of the migrants have already gone and numbers today were poor reflecting the disruption the weather seems to have caused.
Another bird caught was this Sedge Warbler. The last few of the Reed Warblers were also caught but they are not keen to be photographed and won't sit still!
A Resting Place
Saturday, August 25th 2012
Yesterday, whilst out measuring paths along Risedale Beck, that need to be repaired after the heavy summer rains, this darter decided that Sophie's hand made a good resting place.
It sat still for a while allowing photographs to be taken. You can just see a drop of rain right at the tip of its abdomen.
All In a Days Work!
Saturday, August 25th 2012
At the Rural Crafts Day Beth and Wade won the raffle prize of being a Warden for the day! Their first job was to check the cattle and sheep on the moorland with Elizabeth.
Then they helped to measure some of the footpaths that need to be repaired.
A family very kindly donated some trees that they had grown from seeds and the next job was to plant some Oak trees.
Everyone helped to plant the trees. From little acorns…
All before lunch!
After lunch some of the bird feeders were filled ready for the weekend.
Thank you to everyone involved today, what a great team!
Friday, August 24th 2012
This pale yellow moth was found on the outside of the Field Centre this morning.
This common moth is attracted to light and feeds at Ivy flowers and over-ripe blackberries. The larval foodplants include the catkins of sallows and poplars and herbaceous plants such as docks.
Another Busy Day
Thursday, August 23rd 2012
The Belted Galloways continued to eat the grass as children on the August Antics event, walked across the moor looking for butterflies and day flying moths, but there were few on the wing due to the strong breeze.
We saw Speckled Wood butterflies displaying in sunny sheltered spots. Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were found on Ragwort. The Puss Moth caterpillar showed off his true legs and his claspers, that he uses to help him attach to twigs. We also collected his 'breakfast', more willow leaves!
Hoverflies were feeding on the Teasels growing through the Scrapes.
Later in the afternoon another party of children went pond dipping and their catch included large pond snails and a leech that caused excitment as it 'walked' across the sink by contracting and relaxing its muscular body. Sticklebacks and caddis larvae were also caught. A surprise was a large divinbg beetle. The children were able to see it breath as it came to the surface of the water to collect a bubble of air just under the tip of its wings. You can just see the air bubble right at the tip of its body, in the photo below. Surprising as it may be these beetles can take to the wing.
Yesterday the volunteers worked on the heath clearing birch, willow, thistle and Blackberry and today it looked a picture as the purple Heather was able to be seen without being swamped by the other vegetaion. Bees, hoverflies and some butterflies will feed from the Heather as it is a rich nectar source.
Brian, Tony, Mike and Sarah volunteered today and carried out a varity of tasks, from sorting tree tubes to preparing wood to mend a gate and helping with the events. Thanks to all the volunteers who help Foxglove look so good!
Tuesday, August 21st 2012
Volunteers checked to see how well the trees in the Jubilee wood were growing.
Some of the young trees are doing so well that they are already a few feet above the top of their protective tubes.
The few that hadn't survived were removed and many of the tree tubes were weeded.
Later on, attention turned to the heathland which needs to be cleared of scrub. Whilst working, Eddie discovered a beautiful Puss Moth caterpillar which was well photographed by the whole group!
Here is one of Richard's pictures. Willow is the foodplant of this species which will pupate in September and hatch out in May. It pupates in a very hard cocoon spun on a tree trunk or post incorporating wood macerated by the larva.
There will be a coffee morning and car boot sale in Bedale on 29th September. Help is needed to run both the coffee and tea stall and the car boot stall. The coffee morning will be in the Chantry Hall and the car boot sale is held in the field opposite at the same time. Please get in touch if you can help out on the day. Any items for the sale will be greatly appreciated, please bring them into the Field Centre. Cakes will also be welcomed nearer the day!
Monday, August 20th 2012
Work started last week cutting and clearing the rushes and coarse vegetation up on the wetland bunds. As the last of the cuttings were raked up this morning House Martins and Swallows were seen swooping low over the water, Buzzards were circling over head; Moorhens were heard from the emergent vegetation, as well as a flock of Crossbills calling as they passed over.
The hard work of the volunteers last week has opened up the view from the hide across the wetland. The work in this habitat is important in order to control the growth of rushes and reeds, and to provide a short sward ideal for wading birds during the breeding season next year. Livestock will be moved onto the area in the next few days to graze, with a second cut of the rushes later in the autumn.
Keith took this outstanding photograph of a Common Hawker laying eggs in one of the wetland pools on Saturday.
The Army Ornithological Society
Sunday, August 19th 2012
The Army Ornithological Society visited Foxglove Covert this weekend. They enjoyed our birthday celebrations and joined the ringing team for CES 11 and a visit to the Crater on the nearby training area.
The weather continues to have an effect on bird numbers and CES 11 was relatively quiet, but there were Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps processed. Juvenile Bullfinches continued to make an appearance with 11 more new birds ringed. Among the retraps was a 7 year old Goldfinch and a 6 year old Coal Tit! At the Crater over 100 Meadow Pipits were ringed and a surprise was this young Stonechat.
Many Happy Returns!
Sunday, August 19th 2012
In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Foxglove Covert being discovered, a summer BBQ took place this evening. The Field Centre was decked out with bunting and balloons and an incredible 80 people arrived to join in the celebrations.
Namik and Damon did a splendid job with the catering.
In no time at all they cooked up a real feast!
The Compass Rose ceilidh band provided music and created a real party atmosphere.
Several dances were attempted (with mixed success)!
Terry from the band made a birthday cake for the reserve!
As can be seen here, the decorations were very delicate with amazing attention to detail (the chocolate sponge inside was delicious too)!
What a treat to be able to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy a meal with great company!
Volunteers from both 'Team Tuesday' and 'Team Thursday' enjoyed a drink together!
The children had a lovely time too.
Before the cake was cut, Tony thanked everyone for all their help and support.
Without volunteers and friends Foxglove would not be the special place that it is. Here's to the next 20 years!
Thursday, August 16th 2012
With over 50 net rides and several kilometres of trails to maintain, strimming, mowing and pruning is never done! The Forth Road Bridge springs to mind! David was back in today to help cut back Willow, Gorse and Hawthorn that may become tangled in mist nets.
At the end of one net ride is a special open space off the beaten track where, thanks to a lot of hard work in the winter by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and students from Askham Bryan College, Heather is thriving. A Dark Green Fritillary butterfly was seen in this area today.
Sneezewort is still out in flower along with a staggering 100 other species of native wild flowering plants! It is definitely one of the best times to visit the reserve!
With 80 people booked onto the weekend BBQ (to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Foxglove being discovered), this event is now fully booked as the food has been ordered.
In addition to the Tuesday volunteer day, it has been decided to offer a second day of practical conservation work to anyone who would like to take part. This is due to an increase in the number of volunteers and will help with the ever increasing work load as Foxglove continues to develop and grow. If you would like to become involved then please get in touch. No experience is required just old clothes, stout boots or wellies, a packed lunch and a sense of humour! Supervised children under 16 are welcome to join in so come and get fit, enjoy some fresh air and meet some new friends! The day begins at 9.30am at the Field Centre and no booking is required.
Thursday, August 16th 2012
Work continued on the wetland to control rushes and improve the habitat for wading birds. The bunds were strimmed by Adam and Sophie. Volunteers Tony and Brian raked the cuttings (in the heavy rain showers) which was a great help to the Reserve Managers and very much appreciated!
Colin re-painted the welcome blackboard back at the Field Centre.
There were 80 moths of 25 different species caught in the moth trap last night. Including this beautiful Gold Spangle.
Purple Thorn was another stunning visitor to the moth trap.
Tuesday, August 14th 2012
From out on the adjacent training area the wetland appeared to be full of activity as twenty people helped to manage this vital habitat,
Cut grass was raked from the bunds and barrowed to the trailer, a tedious task especially in the soaring temperatures.
Mid morning there was a break but no rest by any means as the farmer needed assistance to round up his flock so that he could check the health of his 'girls'! This was quite a task given the size of the field and all of the convenient hiding places.
Finally the sheep were in the trailer and pen ready to be dipped!
By the end of the day everyone was ready to down tools and enjoy a well earned rest!
Brian still managed a smile!
Green Woodworking Workshops
Monday, August 13th 2012
If anyone is interested in learning some traditional woodworking skills there will be a couple of 'taster' days in September with a view to setting up a regular group of 'bodgers'. Please get in touch with Sophie or Adam to register your interest. The group would meet once a month at Foxglove and as well as wood turning, members may have the opportunity to try out other rural crafts such as basket weaving.
Monday, August 13th 2012
It was mild, dry and very dark as the bird ringers set out to put up the nets at 0430. Initially the reserve was quiet, with not a sound to be heard. Even the midges were not biting! A Tawny Owl shouted, the Wood Pigeons cooed and then the Blackbirds woke up and joined in.
It is amazing that the tiny juvenile Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs have nearly completed their moult and will set off soon for their long journey to Africa. Many of them will return to Foxglove next spring. The resident Blue Tits and Great Tits are still in juvenile plumage - they will probably remain on the reserve all winter. No Garden Warblers were recorded today, they may already be on their way south. After many weeks with very few adult or juvenile Bullfinches, several juveniles were noted, presumably they have come to the feeding stations from outside the reserve. Thirty new Bullfinches were ringed and 29 new Willow Warblers.
All the data collected from CES will go to the BTO, they will then be able to analyse the breeding success of both resident and migrant birds. A quick glance at the totals for the year shows we have ringed just over half of the total of new birds we normally process by this time of the year, retraps are about 35% down and over all we are running at about 60% of normal no doubt due to the fickle weather we have experienced.
The nets were taken down after ten and a half hours; 229 birds had been handled during that time. Many thanks to the bird ringing volunteers who worked hard throughout the day and ensured that everything was checked and tidied before leaving.
The cloudy morning had eventually given way to sunshine and some insects appeared. The nectar of Angelica was providing a food source for this Hoverfly.
Some prefer the Knapweed. (Hardheads)
Of course not all insects like the flowers and the Cinnabar Moth caterpillar enjoys the leaves of Ragwort.
Warden for the Day
Friday, August 10th 2012
Grace came along today to help out with the jobs around Foxglove and to find out just what it is like to be a warden for the day.
She helped us with many of the weekly tasks, including filling all of the bird feeders around the site ready for the CES bird ringing this Sunday.
Grace even found a flower her Grandma Ruth missed on the monthly flower walk - Harebells, while checking on the sheep and cattle up on the moorland.
Thanks Grace for all you help at Foxglove today, we hope you enjoyed it!
Teeming with Life
Thursday, August 9th 2012
Eighteen months on from the re-profiling work at the lake and the area is looking beautiful. From the bridge at the head of the water, shoals of small fish can be seen. The Kingfisher has been sighted several times this week.
The wetland is teeming with dragonflies and damselflies and today three Buzzards were seen wheeling high above the reserve.
Work will begin soon to manage this habitat ready for the next spring when it is hoped that wading birds will be encouraged to return.
The Belted Galloway cattle are helping to manage the moorland just adjacent to the wetland. In a few weeks time the wetland will be grazed by livestock too.
China Mark moths are in abundance out on the wetland.
Eyebright is just one of the many flowers out on the moorland benefitting from the management practises.
This Orb Spider was seen again on a moorland gate.
The bird seed crop is growing well as can be seen below.
Mel was busy today varnishing the bird ringing room. This room will be put back together with all of the furniture being replaced by the time the bird ringers return on Sunday.
Tony and David continued their work on the re-wiring of foot bridges too
A Sunny Day
Thursday, August 9th 2012
August Antics for today was Beastly Goings On. After looking at the moths caught in the trap overnight we went hunting for caterpillars on the trees - unfortunately our catch was a few green fly and some spiders! So off to the middle moor to sweep net.
We found butterflies and frog hoppers, damselflies and flower bugs, spiders and dung flies! Grasshoppers were missing so we wandered about the moor and although a couple were seen they soon disappeared and even the eagle eyed children could not find them again!
As we walked off the moor a black cloud appeared but it did not drop one spot of rain!
To celebrate Foxglove's 20th birthday, an Oak tree was planted.
Many visitors were welcomed to the reserve. They enjoyed walking around and were able to see the flowers and insects showing off in the sunshine. A Buzzard was seen circling on the thermals over the moor whilst the Kingfisher was seen on the lake again.
Tuesday, August 7th 2012
After all the work on the reserve today John had a walk around with his camera and was lucky enough to see this Common Lizard sunning itself on a log.
Lizards can evade predators by losing their tail, and also the abiltiy to re-grow it if they live long enough. You can clearly see the re-grown tail in the photograph below.
Tuesday, August 7th 2012
After the storm on Sunday many of the stone footpaths were damaged. Work was carried out by volunteers to replace washed out stone in several different places. Firstly on the moorland.
With twenty people helping out, the work was soon completed.
The group then split down into several smaller groups. The 'wet' team removed Crassula helmsii (New Zealand Pondweed) from a pond in the scrapes. This is an invasive non-native species that is gradually being removed by hand. The coracle proved to be immensely useful! Ann and Elizabeth checked for another invasive species Himalayan Balsam and were delighted to find that it has been eradicated completely from the site thanks to their work in previous years. Meanwhile, two dedicated volunteers continued to pull out thistles on the wetland!
The 'Slasher' team headed off to the woodland armed with strimmers and slashing tools to target the bracken.
The 'Weedies' cleared out the scrub from the Beech hedge along the access road.
Hugh discovered that the best way was to climb inside amongst the plants!
Here is the 'after' photo!
Butterfly transects and photography were also undertaken by volunteers. A vast amount of work was achieved today; thanks to everyone for your time and effort.
Even More Rain!
Monday, August 6th 2012
The torrential rain over the weekend has washed out many of the footpaths at Foxglove. The deep gulleys in these will be filled and repaired as the weeks goes on.
Evidence can be seen all over the reserve of the amount of water that fell, with large areas of grass flattened by floodwater, and some footpaths still rather damp underfoot.
On a walk last week Elizabeth and Brian found several beautiful examples of fungi including this Dryads Saddle (Polyporus squamosus), which is more commonly found fruiting spring.
This mushroom is commonly attached to dead logs or stumps at one point with a thick stem. The body can be yellow to brown and has 'squamules' or scales on its upper side. One the underside are clearly visible pores; characteristic of this genus.
This cluster of Dead Moll's Fingers (Xylaria longipes) were found on deadwood up along the woodland walk. Some of the defining features for this fungus include its club-shaped head, and the way its surface develops cracks and fissures as the fruiting bodies age.
More Macro Photography
Sunday, August 5th 2012
These photographs were taken by Tim Randall (a particpant of the Macro Photography Course yesterday) as he wandered around the reserve.
Speckled Wood sightings have been rare this summer. This one sat on the leaf long enough for several people to take a photgraph.
Ringlets on the other hand, have been recorded in numbers. When John did the butterfly transect a fortnight ago he had to double check his figures, as he could not believe that he had actually counted 91 of them!
Yesterday it was mentioned that a Common Darter had posed for photographs on the gate and this close up shows its large eyes and the hairs covering its thorax.
Sunday, August 5th 2012
Twenty four people came to the Macro Photography course run by Richard Witham. The talk given included tips on how to take good photographs and when we went out into the reserve some of this advice was put into practice.
The weather forecast had been very poor so we were so lucky that it remained sunny, warm and dry all afternoon and consequently there was a lot to see and photograph.
The damselflies were reasonably co-operative and did stay still on the plant stems.
Other invertebrates photographed included hairy snails, spiders, butterflies, darters, ladybirds and their larvae. The plants were not left out and flowers of Blackberry, Meadow Sweet and Angelica were amongst those viewed in close up.
A visit to the wetland fringe proved very popular as the insects were present in large numbers and there were plenty of opportunities for photography. On leaving, ensuring that the gate was locked, hesitation, as there, perched on the top of the gate was a darter dragonfly, many more photographs were taken of this extra co-operative darter!!
It eventually tired of all the publicity and flew off allowing us to lock the gate.
Thank you to Richard for organising the day.
Saturday, August 4th 2012
It was warm. It was sunny. It was dry. It was not too windy! Ideal for a stroll around to update the invertebrates on the observation board.
Crossing the road, a brown twig turned out to be a small Common Newt, which was duly rescued and put into the undergrowth. Newts only spend time in water during the breeding season, the remainder of the summer is spent on land. Winter sees them hibernate under logs and stones.
Last year when Hurworth School visited in early July, we were able to show them nests of the spider Pisaura mirabilis with her young. We found our first nest with young today, many weeks later. Brian was able to take this photograph before she moved away to protect her offspring. Notice how she has her first two pairs of legs close together - it made them look thick and furry!
There are many more Teasels growing this year than last. The leaves meet the stem and form a cup that fills with water. Any insect that falls into here is digested and the liquid can then be absorbed by the plant. Goldfinches feed on the seeds.
Other observations included Blue Tailed, Large Red, Emerald, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies. Two large dragonflies were chasing each other across the ponds. Ringlet Butterflies and Small Skippers were on the wing. Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen on some Common Ragwort plants.
Back to Raindrops!
Thursday, August 2nd 2012
Pond Dipping was the first August Antics event. Children pond dipped at both platforms and their catch included tadpoles with legs, water boatmen of varying sizes, Pond Skaters, Pond Snails and 3 Spined Sticklebacks.
We also looked at land snails and slugs and spotted a Common Blue Butterfly. Back at the Field Centre they saw some of the moths caught last night and looked for the Queen Bee.
Amazingly the weather stayed dry for us, but the showers had left many water droplets on petals and leaves. Foxgloves have done well this year but now only have flowers at the top of their stems. These flowers were covered in rain drops.
A bright splash of red usually indicates a Red Poppy flower, today with its accompanying rain drops. Red Poppies often grow where the ground has been disturbed. They do not flower for long and soon the red petals fall, leaving behind a beautiful seed head.
And of course it was not just the flowers showing off their beauty after the showers, but the grasses too! The water droplets appear to defy gravity.
Foxglove volunteers are out in all weathers and today was no exception as Mike and Tony continued their work on the bridges, whilst other volunteers carried out a variety of different tasks. As always thank you for all your hard work.