Blog Archive (25) Posts Made in June 2013
Sunday, June 30th 2013
A jigsaw puzzle started Eco Club today - a home made one. Photos of flowers were cut into rectangles, and then each had to be put together to show the flower. Smaller rectangles made the puzzle just a little more difficult! Eventually all were completed and we set off to discover which flowers were in bloom. We also checked the scents of leaves and flowers such as mint, Hedge Woundwort and Wild Garlic. Creeping Thistle does have a sweet scent but for some reason, not today!
Zig Zag Clover was growing in the Scrapes,
as was Yellow Flag Iris.
Cotton Grass, with its white furry heads made quite a show. The seeds are not yet ready to be dispersed by the wind.
As it was warm and sunny insects were easily seen. Many insects rely on flowers directly for food, eating the pollen and nectar. Several bees were seen feeding amongst the Raspberries. Other insects use flowers as places to hide in wait for their prey.
This tiny moth, Nemophora degeerella, was seen and the children were amazed by the size of its anntenna, wondering how it managed to fly.
Of course there are always insects that do not conform to the rules and this shield bug was quite happy on the rail of the bridge.
Sweep netting on the moor yielded many insects some of which were suspected to be Horse flies! They can give a nasty bite but today they were more interested in flying out of the nets. Greenfly, spiders, sawfly caterpillars, tiny snails and flower bugs were all caught. Our walk continued along Risedale Beck where Water Aven, Daisy, and Herb Robert were examined and damselflies and Cercopis vulnerata were added to the list.
Thank you to everyone who helped this morning.
Saturday, June 29th 2013
Photographs were taken, the text was already being drafted for the blog and a pat on the back for being so well organised! Then the clear fell area came into view and the original idea went out of the window. It was windy, cool and threatening rain but the area was magnificent! Grasses were nodding in the wind.
Standing watching the movement of the grasses it became very clear that many Foxgloves were hiding there.
A conifer block covered this area and it was very dark and almost impenetrable. Very little grew under the trees. When the wind blew the trees fell. As part of the woodland management plan this area was felled during the winter of 2011/12. Volunteers spent many an hour clearing the brash and preparing the land for replanting. They then spent many hours planting trees and more recently checking all the tree tubes. (The trees are doing very well.) The habitat has changed and will undergo further changes over the years, as the trees grow.
An update from the north. The party have been ringing birds in the Loch Torridon area. There was a surprise awaiting them on an island in Loch Torridon, a Barn Owl! A photograph is on its way south!
First News from the North ...
Friday, June 28th 2013
Well it is just further North! The ringing team started their journey at 0615 and headed to the A66 via Arkengarthdale. It took them a little while as they ringed one Lapwing chick, 2 Golden Plover chicks and five Curlew chicks on the way. This was Fran's first Curlew. At this age they appear to be all legs and very long ones at that!
Last message said they were heading to Perth after a coffee stop.
Meanwhile back at Foxglove volunteers were busy doing a variety of tasks including mowing the lawn in the back garden, which was bee free, filling bird feeders, checking dams, checking tree tubes and pruning overgrown pathways.
Thank you very much for your help.
June Flower Walk
Thursday, June 27th 2013
The flower list on the observation board has been increasing over the last two weeks as the weather has been warmer and more settled. The volunteers set off to record those flowers in bloom, following the strict rules - they must be open! Some flowers required a closer inspection.
Various habitats were visited and the flowers recorded. Yellow Flag (Flag Iris), Greater and Lesser Spearwort and Ragged Robin can all be seen in the Scrapes. Orchids, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Dithery Docks (Quaking Grass) and Common Milkwort were noted on the heath. Marsh Arrow-grass was photographed on the moor. This was a new species last year so it was nice to see it again.
A visit to the wetland saw Marsh Cinquefoil in flower. Looking back at our records this is the latest date for the first record of this flower. It was photogrpahed on 2nd June 2009. It is late this year.
Bees were busy amongst the flowers.
The bees were also busy in the indoor hive - they decided to swarm this afternoon. Thank you to the bee-keepers who came to look after them.
Early tomorrow morning the bird ringers set off for Cape Wrath, where they will be mainly ringing sea birds. If technology allows we will record their activities on the blog. We wish them well and a safe journey north.
Butterflies and Blue Tits
Tuesday, June 25th 2013
Common Blue butterflies were seen for the first time this year by John on the regular butterfly transect. He captured this stunning photograph as evidence. The foodplant of this butterfly is Bird's Foot Trefoil which is out in flower all over the reserve.
He also took this picture of a Large Skipper. Several Green-Veined Whites and a Peacock butterfly were also recorded on the weekly round.
The very last chicks in the small nest boxes at Foxglove were ringed. Two Blue Tit chicks that were in a box close to the lake were ringed before being carefully returned to their nest.
Although still very small, it will be less than a week before they fledge. Maybe they will turn up in the ringing room on a Sunday soon!
Chicks, Flowers and Insects
Monday, June 24th 2013
The last 0400 start for the bird ringers saw them arrive with little hope of completing the ten and a half hours required; the forecast was for heavy showers from 0900 and strong winds all day. However the nets stayed up till 1430 with only a few very short drizzly showers in between. Again, the number of birds processed was lower than expected but in the gusty wind the nets were really visible. There were more juveniles handled including Bullfinches, Dunnocks and some Great Tits that had already been ringed in nest boxes.
Later than expected was our first 2013 juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, the red crown identifying it as a youngster.
Followers of the blog know that a Sedge Warbler has been seen and heard in the Scrapes for some time. Last week, the male was caught wearing a French ring. Today a juvenile was ringed which was very good news; it is some time since these birds have bred in Foxglove Covert.
Another youngster arriving in the ringing room was a Goldfinch, recognisable from the black and bright yellow markings on its wings. It will take a little more time before it develops the red pattern on its head.
Yesterday these Redshank chicks were left off the blog as the author was unsure of the species! (Incorrect ID would have resulted in a great number of emails!!) They were caught on the training area.
A change of subject. The Northern Marsh Orchids are beginning to set seed whilst the Common Spotted Orchids are beginning to flower and will certainly constitute an entry in the flower list at the end of June. Although the weather was very wet last year, the Common Spotted Orchids appeared in places we did not expect them to. This trend seems to be continuing this year.
Bird's Foot Trefoil is a harbinger of summer.
And finally the insects have to have their place on the blog. Eco Club found the last Wasp Beetle and it was a new species for the reserve. It has rarely been seen since until Brian's eagle eyes spotted it on a tree tube this afternoon.
Lacewings are often found in the hides over the winter. This one was waiting on a Raspberry leaf for its prey.
As always many thanks to the staff and volunteers who helped with ringing, tea making, washing up and many other jobs as well. Their help and support is very much appreciated.
Saturday, June 22nd 2013
Chicks come in all shapes and sizes. The Willow Warbler chicks ringed yesterday weigh less than 10g. At the other end of the scale are the Buzzards who will weigh about 800g when they are ready to fledge.
A Buzzard was seen soaring and calling over the reserve in recent days, we wonder if it is 'our' Buzzard that was ringed earlier in the year.
As has already been mentioned on the blog, Kestrel numbers are declining, so it was good to see these young chicks looking healthy and well fed.
The training area is good for waders and this Oystercatcher was caught and ringed. Already it has its black and white markings and its long red beak, which it uses to hunt for invertebrates in the mud.
Our bird ringers face midges, nettles, brambles and steep hills in order to ring chicks. The data collected by our ringers and those across the country is vital and will be sent to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) who are then able to report on the breeding success or failure of bird populations.
A School Visit and Ringing
Saturday, June 22nd 2013
This morning Leyburn Prinary School visited again. When pond dipping, they found some 'huge' diving beetle larvae and an adult diving beetle. Caddis larvae with their protective coats made from leaves, twigs or sand were also caught. At the outdoor classroom, we recorded midges by the hundreds! Slugs, Ground Beetles and spiders were also seen. Last year, a new species was found there, a Cardinal Beetle. It, or its offspring, was there again today.
The habitat walk along Risedale Beck covered many topics, including photosynthesis, seed dispersal, coniferous and deciduous trees, erosion, coppicing and the work of the volunteers. A question and answer session before walking back to the bus was just as varied, with one question being asked that we did not know the answer to - our homework over the weekend.
Work is always varied at Foxglove, so tidying the Activity Room, checking and putting away the equipment from the school activities, some preparation for the Cape Wrath visit and bird ringing were all on the agenda.
The birds to be ringed were Willow Warblers. It is often assumed that birds will build their nests in quiet, peacful places, away from noise, people and disturbance. As this photograph below shows, this pair decided the best place to build their nest was next to the perimiter fence. Not quiet and not peaceful!
The chicks were ringed carefully and quickly and returned to the nest. They were nearly ready to fledge. This one looked really attractive with its two little tufts of down! Within a couple of minutes the parents were back feeding the young.
Car Boot Sale Update
Thursday, June 20th 2013
The money has been totted up from the Bedale Car Boot Sale and the Coffee Morning - we raised a fantastic £305.22!
Thank you again to everyone who helped out by baking cakes to sell, making tea and coffee, selling and washing up!
Wednesday, June 19th 2013
The moth trap was set in a different location to normal this week and resulted in a fantastic catch with over 30 species recorded. This Elephant Hawkmoth is the first we have trapped this year, this beautiful moth can be seen flying throughout the summer months and feeds on the wing from tubular flowers such as Honeysuckle.
Several Beautiful Golden Y were also caught, these moths truly live up to their name with the Y-mark finely edged in gold. These moths feed on herbaceous plants at dusk and are frequently drawn to light traps.
Pupils from Leyburn Primary School also made a visit to the reserve for the day. They spent time exploring and discovering what creatures could be found in many of the habitats here.
Brushes and Butterflies
Tuesday, June 18th 2013
Volunteers arrived to bright sunshine this morning, perfect for sprucing up the verandahs at the front and back of the Field Centre. Once cleaned a fresh coat of paint was applied.
The back garden fence was also given a much needed new lick of paint.
The weekly butterfly survey turned up good results with the first Wall and Large Skipper recorded. The bright markings of the Wall could sometimes cause it to be mistaken for a fritillary, but its rapid dancing flight, interspersed with glides and rests on the ground is characteristic.
Michael Sydall Primary and a Mother Shipton Moth
Monday, June 17th 2013
Twenty four children from Michael Syddall Primary School enjoyed a class outing to Foxglove today. They had fun sweep netting on the moorland and one girl was lucky enough to discover a new species - The Mother Shipton moth, named after the 16th century Yorkshire witch. When viewed across the body, the large, irregular cream-edged dark brown blotch in the centre of the forewings resembles an old witch with a hooked nose and conspicuous eye.
The children also enjoyed pond dipping where the horrors of life beneath the water were revealed as Great-diving Beetle larvae ate tadpoles galore in the Belfast sinks!
A Busy Time
Monday, June 17th 2013
Spring just turning into summer is a busy time for the reserve managers and volunteers. The winter habitat management is complete (although the list for this coming winter is being compiled and getting longer!!) and summer strimming,' loppering' and 'secateuring' has taken its place. Volunteers have been drain finding and clearing. The bird ringers really appreciate being able to check the garden net without being knee deep in wet clay! Boardwalks in the wetter areas have also made access much easier. Thank you to everyone who nearly lost their wellies and ended up being thoroughly muddy. Other activities include CES, school parties, guided walks, meeting and greeting visitors - many who are new to the reserve.
The bird ringing team continue to check nest boxes and ring chicks at Foxglove and on the surrounding training area. They found this Ring Ouzel nest yesterday and hope to return to ring the chicks later in the week.
Kestrel numbers are decreasing and so it was good to find a nest with healthy chicks. Their numbers have taken a real dive over the past 5 years and are at an all time low locally. Not quite as cute and cuddly as owlets either!
Usually CES day 5 (today) sees increasing numbers of juvenile birds handled in the ringing room. However it is noticeable from the results of checking boxes that many young will not fledge for several more days. The breeding season is very late this year. Juvenile Robins and Nuthatches did make an appearance but the numbers caught today were the lowest in 21 years for mid June.
Ringers returning from their net rounds complained that a Sedge Warbler was sitting in a Hawthorn Tree laughing at them and going nowhere near the nets. Towards the end of the day though success; the bird was brought to the ringing room. As it was carefully being processed and the ring number recorded it was found to be wearing a French ring from the Paris ringing scheme. Just where it was ringed originally we do not know but will find out. It was certainly not ringed anywhere in the UK. This is the first time a bird wearing a French ring has visited Foxglove!
It must not be forgotten that this time of year also sees flowers bursting into bloom. May blossom is covering the Hawthorns. Hopefully there will be plenty of berries this autumn.
As part of our record keeping the first and last dates of butterfly sightings are recorded. Today it was the turn of the Small Copper to be photgraphed.
There were many damselflies to be seen and a possible sighting of a female Four Spotted Chaser in the Bogbean pond in the Scrapes. A Cuckoo was heard first thing this morning. In the afternoon the House Martins were hunting insects over the wetland ponds. Swifts were flying high over the Scrapes but not as high as the Buzzard that soared above them.
Many thanks to the reserve managers and volunteers who work so hard to keep Foxglove in such excellent condition and achieve so much.
Going Green with Carillion Enterprise Ltd
Friday, June 14th 2013
When staff from Carillion Enterprise offered to volunteer for a day at the nature reserve, decorating the workshop wasn't what they had in mind! However, the building that their company constructed for Foxglove back in 2008 (ish)! was in need of a new lick of paint.
It was decided to make the building match the others and so green was the chosen colour.
The first coat was applied in the morning by half of the team.
The paint was applied carefully around the doors and windows.
Luckily, the forecast rain held off.
The afternoon team took over after lunchtime and applied the second coat.
After several hours of hard work the workshop looked as good as new!
Our sincere thanks go to the Carillion colleagues who gave their time, to the company for providing the necessary funds and to Kevin Stewart for organising the day. Same time next year?!
Thursday, June 13th 2013
A group from Wetherby and Harrogate Open Country visited the reserve today. They spent time pond dipping during the morning, seeing hundreds of tadpoles, dragon fly larvae and leeches.
After a quick break they headed out for a walk along the beck and to visit the hides.
Volunteers were also hard at work in the back garden where drainage ditches were improved to help dry out some of the wetter areas.
Thursday, June 13th 2013
With the poor weather over the past few months opportunities for moth trapping have been few and far between; even when we have had the trap out numbers of moths caught have been very low. It was a pleasant surprise to come in this morning to a bumper catch!
Seventeen species were caught overnight, including a Scorched Wing, a species not seen in our trap since 2009 - eager to get away it flew off before we got a chance to take a photograph!
Poplar Hawkmoths were seen for the first time this year.
Along with Buff Ermine, making its first appearance since 2011.
And finally Pebble Prominent, a regular visitor to the trap last year. Thank you to Glennis and Joan for spending time this morning to identify all of the moths!
Not only was it a busy day for moths but also for people visiting the reserve. Richmond WI, Richmond ALS and Midget Gems Nursery all enjoyed walking around the reserve and looking at the Field Centre displays. The Dales School visited again and spent time pond dipping where they saw tadpoles and Sticklebacks. Volunteers led a flower walk for 13 people this morning, seeing the spectacular display of Bluebells on the moorland. The North Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society also enjoyed an evening guided walk.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who help in so many ways to keep everything running smoothly!
Tuesday, June 11th 2013
The Horticultural Project from MIND, Darlington are the latest group to enjoy a visit to Foxglove. The group spent a full day at the reserve and found a leech whilst pond-dipping!
Volunteers have been hard at work all day improving the reserve in many ways. Tasks for the Tuesday team included strimming, pruning, installing boardwalk and helping to ring the chicks in the small nest boxes on the site.
The bird ringers have also been very busy. Out on the training area over 100 chicks were ringed in the nest yesterday including 65 Pied Flycatchers, 9 Kestrel and 8 Nuthatch. Kestrel numbers locally are on a downward spiral though. Also addled eggs seem to be much more prevalent this year across the spectrum: Tawny Owls, Kestrel, Peregrines, Redstart and Pied Flycatchers to name but a few.
Thank you everyone for your continued support.
Monday, June 10th 2013
Late spring is always a busy time for the bird ringers and as already recorded on the blog, they are checking nest boxes. Depending on the age of the chicks they may have to be revisited in order for them to receive their rings. On Friday some owl chicks were ringed. The ringing of the chicks is done carefully but quickly and the chicks returned to their nest.
Friday also saw preparation for the Car Boot Sale and Coffee Morning at Bedale the following day. Thank you to everyone who helped raise funds for Foxglove.
A wet summer followed by a long winter, followed by a cold spring means that birds breeding, flowers flowering and insects appearing are not when we expect them to be.
Northern Marsh Orchid just making it into last year's May observations, is now in flower!
Marsh Marigold, usually associated with early spring is still showing its beautiful bright yellow flowers.
When the sun shines, Orange Tip butterflies can be seen feeding amongst the flowers.
Warm weather sees damselfies doing 'circuits and bumps'! Cooler weather has them sitting tight in the vegetation.
This morning was cold, as the bird ringers arrived, to clouds tinged with pink. The air was filled not only with songs from the Curlew and Cuckoo, but the barking of the Roe Deer.
'Red sky in the morning shepherd's warning' - we should have taken note. It clouded over and remained cold and damp until the afternoon. Usually by CES 4 the females are away from the nests and juveniles are coming through the ringing room. This late breeding season has resulted in only a few youngsters fledging as yet, mainly Greenfinches and Robins. A welcome surprise was the number of new Song Thrushes as well as retraps taking the total caught today to 9 which is unusual. It was the quietest ringing day so far this year though with only 85 birds caught. Many adults are still sitting and the results from the nest box visits amplify this.
CES means long, enjoyable days for the bird ringers. Information gathered is of vital importance, particularly in years when 'our weather' is not as we expect it to be. The report from the BTO later in the year will reveal how the birds have coped with the weather conditions. Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Friday, June 7th 2013
Whilst out on the training area this Lapwing nest was discovered with one egg intact, one in the process of hatching and one small chick.
Curlew chicks are also out on the moors now and many have been ringed by the Foxglove team.
Ringing chicks often demands other skills as illustrated by Johanna as she paddled around a large pond with her sister Eleanor to find Black Headed Gull chicks for the bird ringers to ring.
In total 20 chicks were caught and ringed before being released back onto the water. Mòran taing!
Thursday, June 6th 2013
A group of ladies from the Wensleydale Wives visited the reserve this afternoon to enjoy a guided walk in glorious sunshine!
The walk took in several of the different habitats found here at Foxglove and looked at the flowers, butterflies and birds found in these. We hope you enjoyed you visit and that you will be back to explore the reserve further!
Wednesday, June 5th 2013
Foxglove has worked closely with the Wensleydale Branch of the CPRE recently on a number of projects including the construction of a stone wall seating area outside the Field Centre, the establishment of reedbeds on the banks of the lake and the planting of two small orchards to benefit bees.
The reserve was presented with a plaque today by some of the branch members in recognition of this work which was the result of many voluntary hours of help from people in the local community. All of these projects have helped to enrich the rural environment locally.
After the presentation, the group went on a guided walk to look at the improvements they had funded. They also looked at some of the other work carried out by volunteers and the resulting diversity of plants and animals - they were lucky enough to see Grey Wagtail from the lake hide! All at Foxglove are very grateful to the CPRE members for their generosity and support which have helped to improve the quality and diversity of habitats as well as the visitor experience.
A group from the Ozelton WI also visited the reserve this morning and enjoyed a guided walk.
Bogs and Boardwalks
Tuesday, June 4th 2013
One of the many tasks volunteers worked on today was the installation of the boardwalks that were constructed last week. These are being used to improve the paths in some of the more boggy areas of the reserve.
The sections were secured in place after posts were sunk into the ground, care was taken to make sure each piece was level and now several of them are in place. We are hoping that over the coming weeks the remaining pieces will go in just as smoothly!
Gary and Colin worked hard to improve the drainage throughout this area, digging in new pipes under the pathways and creating ditches to channel the water away.
A couple of volunteers also worked hard strimming along the pathways to keep them clear and easily passable, with the final group checking saplings and weeding out some of the tree tubes from planting work last year.
Students from the Dales School enjoyed the splendid weather as they spent time pond dipping and then drawing the creatures they found - toad tadpoles, caddisfly and mayfly larvae were all found in good numbers.
Local farmers were also on site this afternoon to once again sow the Wild Bird Seed crop. This was trialled last year though due to the poor weather never really got away. The area was first harrowed to prepare the seedbed.
Once complete the crop was sown by hand. The seed mix we are planting contains a wide variety of plants which can all be found in conventional bird seed mixes such as, Quinoa, White Millet and Linseed.
There has been a lot happening at Foxglove today, without the hard work of our volunteers we would not be able to achieve and maintain the reserve to such a high standard. Many thanks to you all!
Latest Quiz Results
Monday, June 3rd 2013
There were five quiz entries with 100% correct answers. Congratulations to the following people who got 40/40: Ros and Dot, Viv Winter, Michael Finwick, Patricia Graham, Mary Ann Gilmoor. The winner was drawn out of a hat and Patricia Graham won the £10 voucher. Two entries had 39/40; Brian Hird and Lilian & Tony Cooper. Two with 38/40 were Mike & Anne Bacon and Ted & Val Darwin. If anyone else would like to know how they did just drop us a line, the results are in the office.
Here are the correct answers:
4. Norway Spruce
14. Gum Tree
15. Plane Elm
17. Silver Birch
32. Winter Aconite
37. Busy Lizzie
38. Canterbury Bells
Many thanks to all those who took part, and especially to those who sent back their solutions. A total of £75 was raised for Foxglove Covert. The total raised by quizzes for this year is £245.00 so far. The next quiz (subject Rivers) will be launched at the July BioBlitz weekend and summer BBQ. Our gratitude also to Pat Thistlethwaite for setting the clues and to Glennis Walton for co-ordinating it all.
A Busy Day for Insects
Monday, June 3rd 2013
Sun and warmth encourage the insects out from deep in the vegetation where they have been sheltering from the wind, rain and cold. The Large Red Damselflies were newly hatched last week but disappeared during the cold and wet days. There was concern that the first hatching may have died, however today they were flying strongly in many areas of the reserve, not just around the ponds.
On Friday there was a possible sighting of a blue damselfly but it flew so quickly and disappeared into the long grass, recording it was 'not allowed'! Today there was no doubt, a Blue-tailed Damselfly was photographed.
Along Risedale Beck, Mayfly were seen, as were butterflies, bees and hoverflies feeding amongst the Spring flowers.
A different movement saw a Scorpion Fly land.
Each year is different and the date of summer migrants returning, damsleflies hatching, frogs and toads spawning and flowers opening varies. The last day of May 2012 saw Northern Marsh Orchids making it into the month's observations. This year it will take a little while longer before they can be recorded.
Saturday, June 1st 2013
The monthly flower walk was started on Wednesday in the rain, cold, mist ...
and completed on Friday in warmth, sunshine and no rain. In total over 80 flowers were recorded across the reserve.
Walking around the reserve checking the flowers that are in bloom helps to highlight the similarities and differences of the varied habitats in Foxglove. The Bluebells and Wild Garlic are in full bloom along Risedale Beck.
On the moor the Bluebells share their habitat with Gorse. All the Bluebells have been helped by the habitat management during the winter, cutting down the Gorse on the moor and coppicing the Hazel and Alder trees along the beck.
In the woodland the Blubells are still tight in bud, this is always the last area to see them bloom.
Last year the Crab Apple trees struggled to flower and very few set fruit. This year despite the conditions, they are covered in blossom and on sunny warm days bees can be seen visiting the flowers.
Many flowers that open during early Spring have now set seed. This Coltsfoot seed head will have to dry out a little before the seeds can be dispersed by the gentle breeze.
As always at this time of year the conversation surrounds 'casting a clout' does it refer to the month of May or the May blossom or both? It is probably best not to put your wellies, winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves away just yet! The May (Hawthorn) blossom is still tight in bud!