Blog Archive (21) Posts Made in January 2013

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Women!

Thursday, January 31st 2013

The planned flower walk was put on hold first thing as the 'flower identifiers' lent a hand to unload a delivery of 60 sacks of bird seed (1200kg) in total!

Seed delivery

Out walking in the gale force winds, Ann, Sue, Elizabeth and Ruth found Gorse and Common Daisy only on their delayed wildflower walk. However, they came across this beautiful Scarlet Elf Cup.

Scarlet Elf Cup

The students from the Dales School went down to the lake and as well as seeing large waves created by the strong winds, they discovered the first Primrose out in bloom on their way back to the Field Centre.

Early Primrose

This flower must have been developing beneath the snow!


This time last year female Hazel flowers were out along Risedale Beck, there is no sign of them yet but the male catkins are starting to appear.

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Coppicing, Clearing and Constructing!

Wednesday, January 30th 2013

The main habitat management task this winter was to coppice a block of willow carr. This is now complete and the area has been transformed. It looks really professional and is a credit to the Foxglove volunteers.

Coppicing complete

With no more willow to coppice, attention was turned to clearing a patch of scrub that has been on the 'to do' list for many years!

Clearing scrub

Below is the 'before' photograph showing the invasive Silver Birch, Gorse and Brambles.

Scrub before

The 'after' photograph was taken in the early afternoon. The trees that have been planted here will hopefully thrive in the resulting open space!

Scrub after

Inside the workshop, Colin was hard at work, constructing nest box kits for the next eco club. The children will be able to build their own bird box to take away or leave behind for their feathered friends on the reserve. Booking is essential for this event, please see the events section for details.


What a lucky Local Nature Reserve Foxglove Covert is to have so many dedicated volunteers and helpers!

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Quiz Results

Monday, January 28th 2013

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the Foxglove Covert LNR Bird and Flower Quiz was Mrs. V. Darwin who got every one of the 50 questions correct!  Second place went to Lillian and Tony Cooper with 49/50, and third place to Viv Winter with 48/50. 

Thank you to Glennis and Pat who have spent much time putting the quiz together and to Pat for donating the £10 prize.  In total this has raised £90 which will directly benefit the conservation work here.

The answers to the questions are:


1. A cockney's abrasive - Sandpiper

2. Bread flour - Wheatear

3. Bad French fat - Mallard

4. It always goes into holes - Pigeon

5. One of many in a pie - Blackbird

6. Effect on the nerves of a noise in the dark - Nightjar

7. Bandage, skate, or just a canary? - Roller

8. Is this another name for a bee? - Buzzard

9. Short measure after chopped straw - Chaffinch

10. It spoils the fun; it does not rust - Martin

11. Horses and humans can suffer from it - Thrush

12. Spanish river in a dance cry - Oriole

13. Not a big assignment - Little Stint

14. Surely well equipped to read his music - Spectacled Warbler

15. Fool about - Lark

16. Put that in your pipe - Shag

17. Fiery circle - Flamingo

18. I've a doctor inside - Diver

19. Does the wall confine the pig? Quite the reverse - Swallow

20. Sorry! I've lost my head - Egret

21. Drunken wine god - Widgeon

22. Sounds as if you have to go round the corner - Tern

23. Tram in gap (anag.) - Ptarmigan

24. Cockneys deny its musical ability - Sparrow

25. Should be found near Whitstable - Oystercatcher


26. This prudish lady comes out at night - Evening Primrose

27. A jumper is the cause of trouble - Fleabane

28. Needed to sweep the floor - Broom

29. Scottish emblem for a pig - Sow-thistle

30. I need this to make gravy, right? - Bistort

31. She lives on the moors - Heather

32. About paramour - Clover

33. Not a tidy bird - Ragged Robin

34. Does Bob sprinkle this on his stew? - Herb Robert

35. She'd make a good dinner - Fat Hen

36. King's stamp of office - Solomon's Seal

37. Sounds reveille - Bugle

38. Be snug round about - Comfrey

39. Orczy says he's elusive - Scarlet Pimpernel

40. This girl's too young to walk - Creeping Jenny

41. Candle in E (anag.) - Celandine

42. If this happens, get out of the field quickly - Bullrush

43. She doesn't live on the hillside - Lilly of the Valley

44. What you feel if your train is on time - Traveller's Joy

45. Do they sit in the Upper House? - Lords and Ladies

46. A brightly coloured one for the baby - Yellow Rattle

47. Bovine Oops? - Cowslip

48. Marries with dandelion in a bottle - Burdock

49. You'd cross the Channel to put this in your stew - Herb Paris

50. Don't go to the doctors - Self Heal

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the quiz, watch this space as there is another in the pipeline already.

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Take Care!

Saturday, January 26th 2013

A reminder the AGM will take place on Saturday 9th February at 12.45 in the Field Centre.  There will be a light lunch to kick things off before presentations and reports.  Please let us know if you intend coming so we can arrange the catering accordingly.

Snow is still falling here as we type this, making an already icy track almost impassable.  Four cars have already been stuck in the last two days so if you are visiting the site we strongly advise that you park on the Parade Square and walk in to the Field Centre.

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Snow Bunting

Friday, January 25th 2013

Adam spent a training day with the Tees Ringing Group near Seal Sands, learning how to use whoosh nets.  A flock of Snow Buntings were the target species.  Once the net was set and baited with millet we waited and watched until the flock came in to feed.

Once the net had been released everyone rushed over and extracted the birds - fifteen Snow Buntings were caught.

It is rare to get the opportunity to ring these birds; only 207 were ringed in the UK during 2011.  While there is a small breeding population (70-100 pairs) of Snow Bunting in the Scottish Highlands, winter is the best time to see them as populations migrate south from Greenland and Iceland as well as Scandinavia.

Thank you to Eric and the Tees Ringing Group for setting up this great opportunity!

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A Helping Hand

Wednesday, January 23rd 2013

Pollarding and coppicing is the main focus this week as the work in this section of willow carr is nearing completion.

Pollarding with pole saw

Two volunteers from the Queen's Division at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) lent a hand today.

ITC volunteers

Some regular volunteers also put in a few extra hours to help with clearing the brash. All of this help is appreciated.

Helping Hand

Each day this patch of the reserve takes on a new look!

Coppiced area in snow

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Snow Deterrent To Keen Volunteers!

Tuesday, January 22nd 2013

Foxglove was shrouded in dense freezing fog first thing this morning.

Eight eager volunteers turned out to help in the coppice block on this dark and murky winter's day.

By mid-morning the fog had lifted and we were treated to a glorious sunshine!

After having so many wet days recently everyone decided it would be best to enjoy the sun and took a picnic lunch outside.

The work in the coppice block is now nearly finished, thanks to the hard work and effort of a dedicated team of volunteers.  Hopefully by the end of next week we will be able to cross this task off our job list.

At the end of day John walked back to the lake and took a picture from the same position.

The Robin came to inspect the work completed, looking around for any seeds or grubs to eat.

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Total Whiteout

Tuesday, January 22nd 2013

Foxglove, like most of the country, was covered in a thick blanket of crunchy white snow this morning.  Branches, frozen and laden with ice, hung over the paths. 

Many different bird species were seen around the feeders; this Robin was happy to come up close and pose for the camera.

Several Mallard, Moorhen and Coot were seen skating about on the frozen lake.

From inside the hide you can really see the depth of the snow.

Even an Earthworm was spotted on top of the snow, possibly dropped by a bird flying overhead?

Does anyone have another theory as to why this worm was out in the cold wintery conditions?

The next Winter Work Day is on Saturday 2nd February, if you are interested in coming along to lend a hand please let us know by the 28th of January so that we can order lunch for everyone and organise the jobs for the day.

The access track is already becoming very slippy - please take extra care when driving along it!

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Reed Bunting Roost

Sunday, January 20th 2013

The reed bed in the scrapes is a roosting site for Reed Bunting during the winter months. A few of the Foxglove ringers turned out this afternoon to try a catch in the snow. This was successful as can be seen in some of the pictures here.

Reed Bunting

The bird on the left hand side of the photos is female and on the right is a male. The breeding plumage of the males is starting to develop with a black crown and bib and white moustache (does that remind you of anybody) and white neck band!

Reed Bunting pair

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Greenwood Workers

Friday, January 18th 2013

Chris one of the Foxglove Bodgers is leading a group of volunteers on a greenwood working course. This group of volunteers began their project by harvesting willow from the coppice site. First they were kitted out with work gloves and tools.

Getting Ready

The tall straight stems of the willow will lend themselves nicely to the construction of a new fence panel.

Harvesting the willow

Working hard in the sub zero temperatures is a good way to keep warm! Thanks to everyone involved and watch this space to see how the natural materials are put to good use.

Working hard to keep warm

The snow has stayed all day but no more has fallen yet. The access road is becoming icy so please take extra care if you plan to visit the reserve during the weekend. You can park on the parade square and walk in but please don't park on the big letter H (Helipad)!

Snowy scene

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Feeding the Birds

Friday, January 18th 2013

The back garden has been especially busy with even more birds than normal visiting the feeders. These terracotta pots were kindly donated at the weekend and have been filled with a mixture of lard and seed, providing a high energy food source during this cold weather.  There are some of these pots for sale in the Field Centre.

Nyger seed is also used around the reserve. These have high oil content so are packed with energy, they are a favourite of Goldfinches, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll as you can see here!

Many species of birds are attracted to peanut feeders; tits, Greenfinches, Nuthatch and House Sparrows will all visit.

Some larger birds such as Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Jays may also visit these.

Thank you Richard for letting us use these fantastic photographs on our blog.

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Coppicing and Pollarding

Thursday, January 17th 2013

Volunteers were once again hard at work in the coppice block.  This job is now nearing completion; the area will look fabulous in the coming months as Spring flowers appear.

Pollarding involves removing growth at head height, promoting growth of a dense head of branches.  Traditionally these were cut to demarcate boundaries.  Here at Foxglove pollarding is done along net rides, to produce growth at the correct height for the mist nets used for bird ringing.

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Snow Place like Foxglove!

Tuesday, January 15th 2013

Snow didn't deter the Tuesday volunteers and fifteen people turned out to lend a hand with the coppicing of the willow. Some of the larger stems were cut with a chainsaw to help speed up the task.

Cutting the Willow

Bow saws and loppers were used to cut smaller trees.

Working Hard

The vegetation was so thick in one area that it was difficult to spot people before the work started.


Soon small teams had formed with some people cutting and others dragging and burning the brash.


Hot chocolate, cakes and pies all helped to provide vital energy! Thanks to Anne for all her delicious baking!


At lunchtime, the sun came out as promised by the met office.


Students from the Dales School helped out in the afternoon by chopping up cut wood and feeding the fire.

Students helping out

This patch of willow carr is starting to look very different now as the views open up. In the springtime it will look different again as the new growth starts to appear on the willow stools and the wildflowers benefit from the additional sunlight reaching the ground.

Coppiced area

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Let it Snow!

Monday, January 14th 2013

Heavy snowfall this morning coated the new stone wall outside the Field Centre. As you can see the snowflakes were large and settled quickly.

wall in snow

The back garden has been teeming with birds all day. Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin, Jay, Marsh Tit, Greenfinch to name but a few. This male Reed bunting was seen feeding throughout the day just outside the office window.


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Monday, January 14th 2013

Frost covered the vegetation this morning and turned the heath from brown to white. 

Frost on the heath

The Juniper trees were also white and if you look closely at the photograph you can see some strands of a spider's silken web coated in frost.  Are these the remains of webs from late autumn or is there a spider hidden deep in the prickly leaves?

Spider's web in Juniper

Frost and low temperatures can cause problems for the bird ringers as they put up the mist nets. The aluminium poles can become very brittle and break easily.

Outting up the nets

When the data from retrapped birds are entered into IPMR (the data handling programme) their first capture details are shown.  From this information we can work out the age of the bird.  Today we recorded a Blackbird that was six years old, a Long Tailed Tit that was at least 5 years old and a Coal Tit and Blue Tit both 6 years old. 

In recent weeks there have been large numbers of Coal Tits caught.  These birds have come in from the surrounding conifer blocks to feed.

Several Lesser Redpolls, some with bright red heads, were processed.  A Chaffinch whose wing length and weight were greater than usual, raised the question 'Was it a migrant from Europe?'

Great Spotted Woodpeckers can be very loud when being handled. It is unusual for three to be in the ringing room at the same time and for them to be so quiet!

3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the ringing room

Visitors to the ringing room were briefed about ringing and the information we can gain from ringed birds.  Children were encouraged to look closely at the birds and to try to identify them.  There were many interested visitors today.

A ringing day is not complete without many cups of tea, a variety of food, bag counting and tidying up - many thanks to everyone who contributed throughout the day.

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From Rakes to Rifles!

Thursday, January 10th 2013

'Varied' is definitely the best word to describe the volunteer activities at Foxglove. Tasks can vary from folding napkins for the Christmas dinner to herding livestock up on the moor. There really is something for everyone regardless of experience and ability. Volunteers never cease to amaze us with their wide range of skills too. Here is Garth checking out the stock market whilst raking up cut Gorse on the wetland!

Checking out the stock market

Several of the bunds on the wetland have been brushcut this week as they were becoming overgrown with rushes and Gorse. Here is the Thursday team tidying up. It is hoped that waders may return to this habitat in the spring as a result of this work.

Stock Market

Earlier in the week, as a thank you to volunteers, a session on the DCCT (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer) was organised. This involved a falling plate shooting competition involving the use of laser operated rifles all done by computer.


This was something completely different for most people in the group and a valuable insight into what goes on just on the other side of the fence from Foxglove.


Thank you to Tony for organising this session and to the instructors and operators who made it such an enjoyable afternoon.


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Then There Was One!

Tuesday, January 8th 2013

With the winter season slipping away, there are lots of jobs that need to be done as soon as possible. A section of reedbed needed to be cut before the frogs and toads awake from their hibernation. This was cut yesterday by the Reserve Managers and today's task was to clear away the debris.

Busy in the reedbed

Twenty volunteers toiled with rakes and wheelbarrows to tidy up the cut stems.

Reed bed

The reeds will grow again with vigour in the spring.

Raking About

With everyone working so fast, by eleven o'clock, the only task left was to pull out the debris from the bottom of the pond. Adam, John and Eddy were on a mission and continued to carry out pond maintenance while the others moved on to the willow coppice. Was it something Adam said or was it the beautiful silty aroma that left him on his own?!

All alone

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A Busy Weekend Continued

Monday, January 7th 2013

A beautiful sunrise followed by an amazing sky heralded the beginning of the day at Foxglove.

A beautiful sky

The bird ringers discussed how the birds appeared to know that the year had turned and the days were getting longer.  Birds can be heard singing in the dark, both morning and evening.  When everyone left this evening the Tawny Owls could be heard calling as they started to defend their territories and begin their courtship.

Further discussion was held over where the skeins of calling Pink-footed Geese were flying from and to.  General consensus was from the Solway to the east coast.  As an estimate there were about 150 geese.

Skeins of Pink-footed Geese

The area that was a hive of activity yesterday was peaceful and calm.  This photograph was taken from the top of the steps and shows how open this area is.  The bonfire site will be covered by logs to form a new habitat pile and in another 20 years will be covered with moss and provide homes for many invertebrates as well as other plant life.

Newly coppiced area

It was mentioned yesterday that coppicing would encourage spring flowers to thrive and amongst last year's Primrose leaves was the crown of new leaves.  These will show their yellow flowers by the beginning of April.

Crown of new Primrose leaves

Ringers were out doing a net round and all was quiet back at the ringing room when a call came in from Adam “There is a Sparrowhawk in the net, could I have some help please?”  These birds can very easily escape from the net. Tony shot off and soon returned with a beautiful young female Sparrowhawk.  As always the names of those ringers who had not ringed a special bird went into a hat and Sandra was drawn out.  After it had been ringed, Adam released it and it flew off quickly and silently

A young Sparrowhawk

There were several Coal Tits through the ringing room during the day, but this one was just a little different. It was an example of the rare Arctic sub-species, the Spotted Coal Tit.  Now that the end of 2012 has passed we can be more specific about the numbers of birds ringed - or not ringed - on the reserve during the year.  Due to a combination of poor weather and subsequent failed breeding the total of new birds ringed was the poorest since 2003 at 2278 birds. This is more than 1500 birds fewer than recent annual totals which is significant.  It brings the total of new birds ringed on the reserve by 31 December to 48,747.

Coal Tit

A very busy weekend at Foxglove and again thanks go to everyone who helped. 

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January Weekend Work Day

Sunday, January 6th 2013

An amazing 44 volunteers turned out this morning to lend a hand with some of the winter habitat management work.

The team set off to work along Risedale Beck, coppicing dense, overgrown Hazel and Alder.

Ringers, friends, regular volunteers and a couple of new faces all teamed up together to clear a woodland glade, which will burst with flowers in the Spring.

Many families joined in too.

From up on the bank the site was a hive of activity.

After lunch, the younger conservationists ticked off one of their '50 things to do before you're 10', rebuilding one of the dams along the beck.

Soon the water level was up and the feeder pipe filling the pond once again.

As the began to fade, the group reflected with justifiable satisfaction on a hard days work.

Thank you to all those who helped and gave of their time so soon after a busy Christmas and New Year.

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Foxglove Quiz

Saturday, January 5th 2013

A new brain teasing quiz has been put together by Glennis and is available to buy from the Field Centre. The clues are cryptic and the answers are all names of birds and flowers. Clue sheets cost £1 each. To enter just pick up a sheet from the Field Centre and return your answers to the Wathgill postal address or to the Reserve Managers by the 25th January. Please help to raise vital funds for the reserve by having a go and maybe selling some sheets to friends and/or family members.

There has been some exciting bird ringing feedback recently. To find out more check out the Interesting Recoveries section.

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Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 2nd 2013

Happy New Year to all of the Foxglove supporters from friends and volunteers to schools, businesses and visitors. 2013 already looks set to be a busy one with all kinds of events and activities in the pipeline.

The Association of Polelathe Turners and Greenwood Workers has provided the Foxglove Bodgers with a banner to display at shows and events. Here is Chris with the new banner.

Bodgers Banner!

The bodgers have many ideas for projects throughout 2013. The next planned meeting is on the Sunday 27th January at Foxglove when the group members will be starting to construct a pole lathe.

The next winter worky day is this Saturday (5th January), if you would like to join in the fun then please get in touch asap so that your hot lunch can be ordered. See the events section for further details.

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Help Support Foxglove

Friends of Foxglove

The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

More Details

Upcoming Events

Access to the Reserve: OPEN with limited access

Monday 18th March 2024 |

The reserve is now open, although again with limited access.

Visitors will be able to access the reserve with the use of key fobs provided at the pass office upon entrance to the camp, or will be provided entrance and exit through the access gate by an officer from the camp Guard Room. In this case visitors will need a mobile phone to call the Guard Room when they wish to exit the reserve.

Please be aware that due to these circumstances, entering and leaving the reserve might take a little longer than usual.

Dawn Chorus

Sunday 5th May 2024 | 5:30am-7:30am

A guided walk around the reserve to experience the dawn chorus and celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day.

Walk starts from the Field Centre at 5:30am.

Donation of £5 per person. Free for volunteers and Friends of Foxglove.

Booking essential. Fill in the booking form by clicking the link below. Pay via paypal or in person on the day.


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