Blog Archive (22) Posts Made in November 2013
Beginning of Winter
Saturday, November 30th 2013
As autumn draws to a close and winter begins there are still things to be seen around Foxglove. Fly Agarics usually fruit in the warm, damp autumn conditions. This one was seen on the way to the wetland this week.
Most flowers have dispersed their seeds but Hemp Agrimony still has many left hanging on.
Bees were photographed feeding on the flowers of this apple tree, in the early summer. The result has been a tree covered in apples. Some are just falling from the tree now and no doubt will feed many animals over the next few weeks.
Thursday, November 28th 2013
As well as working outside on the habitat maintenance programmes, volunteers are involved in a diverse range of other activities to help keep everything at Foxglove running smoothly. Today Tony and Jacky were working in the Field Centre completing the monthly stock check for our shop and organising the new books on sale.
Yesterday volunteers were in helping to identify moths from our weekly trapping session and flowers for the monthly survey. Three species of moth were identified, along with 16 different flowers on the walk.
The Tuesday volunteers will be pleased to hear that the rest of the bird feeders have now been cleaned! All those that had dried by lunchtime have now been put back out around the reserve; Reed Bunting, Marsh Tit and Chaffinches were amongst the birds spotted enjoying a meal this afternoon.
Thank you to everyone for all of your hard work. If you are interested in volunteering here at Foxglove there is more information on our website.
Tuesday, November 26th 2013
The Tuesday volunteers were kept busy this morning raking and clearing the last of the cut grass and rushes off the wetland. The autumn work here is now complete and the area is looking fantastic. Snipe and Kestrel were amongst the birds spotted as we worked.
Later on in the day our volunteers started to clean some of the many bird feeders we have. While this is not one of the favourite jobs, it is very important to regularly clean any feeders to minimise the risk of infection or disease that can develop when large numbers of birds are attracted into an area to feed.
Thank you everyone for all your hard work today!
Monday, November 25th 2013
Water is fed onto the wetland from one of the moorland springs on the training area. The design of the wetland sends the water around the ponds via a series of pipes and sluices. The water then drains out into a beck running through the reserve, re-joining water from the original spring.
Regular maintenance of the pipes, sluices and bunds is needed; occasionally leaks can develop where old root systems might have rotted away or in areas where cattle have disturbed the ground as they graze. This alters the levels of the ponds and can send the water away down Risedale Beck rather than into the reserve. Two leaks were found and repaired this morning, ensuring the pools are kept at the optimum levels for wildlife and that the water flows around the wetland keeping the ponds healthy and finally re-joining water from the spring.
Sunday, November 24th 2013
It seems a while since we were busy, in the sunshine, surveying the species in Foxglove during the Bioblitz weekend. As I sit and write this blog the thought comes to me that it was a little like London Zoo doing their stock check of all their animals.
The weekend not only resulted in new species but also recorded some that had not been seen for many years. It was good to see that they are still around!
Many thanks go to Foxglove volunteers who carry out flower walks, rooting walks, butterfly transects, moth trapping and not forgetting bird ringing to gather data throughout the year. New species come to light through these activities. If we are unable to identify them we have people who very kindly do their best to help us - our thanks to them for this work.
Consequently over 150 new species have been entered into the Species Programme for 2013 and the grand total of species on the reserve now stands at 2433. These range from tiny flies to Foxgloves, Redwings to Roe Deer, not forgetting butterflies, moths and everything inbetween!
Moth trapping on the Bioblitz weekend saw a record catch. Our moth morning data still has to be entered into the species programme and it will be interesting to see the numbers and species trapped. There were many Brimstone Moths to be seen in and around our moth trap.
The butterfly survey showed some interesting results that will give rise to much discussion. The beginning of the season saw few Speckled Wood recorded but by late August and into September many were seen.
Surprisingly during the surveys when a particular route around the reserve was walked, only a total of six Red Admiral were noted during the recording season. Of course there were many more to be seen at other times!
Conditions during the late summer and autumn have encouraged fungi to show their fruiting bodies. Several new species have been recorded. Conspicuous by its absence was the large ring of Clouded Funnel in the conifer woodland. After the intial sighting of the Green Elf Cup a further two logs with this beautiful fungi have been found.
Work by the reserve managers and volunteers keeps Foxglove at her (!) best, to encourage a wide range of habitats for a great variety of flora and fauna. As new species are entered each year it almost seems that we surely can find no more, but we always do. Can we aim to reach 2500 by the end of 2014?
Friday, November 22nd 2013
There are several events planned at Foxglove over the Christmas period. We have our annual Festive Willow Weaving morning on Friday 13th December where we will be making and decorating a beautiful Willow wreath. This is a very popular event so be sure to book soon, below is the group and their wreaths from last year.
Our Christmas Party is on the 18th December, starting at 7pm at Wathgill Camp. You will be treated to a delicious three course dinner as well as entertainment provided by the Compass Rose Ceilidh Band and musical contributions from some of the volunteers and bird ringers! Glennis and Pat have been working hard putting a quiz together for the evening. Tickets for all this are only £12 per person.
On the 2nd January there will be a New Year Guided Walk. Walk off some of the Christmas excess as we try to catch a glimpse of our overwintering birds, Roe Deer and talk about projects planned for the coming months.
We will also have activity sheets and self-guided walks out in the classroom during the school holidays.
Woodland Work and a Goodbye
Thursday, November 21st 2013
Volunteers continued to work in the New Plantation today, brashing and thinning a stand of Corsican Pine. Although there is still room for more to be done the area has been transformed after the hard work of the past three days.
Today was Sophie's last day as the Senior Reserve Manager at Foxglove. She has accomplished much in the five years she has been here and will be missed by visitors and volunteers alike. Candidates for the vacant post have been whittled down to ten and will be interviewed on Friday of next week.
Thursday, November 21st 2013
There was a frost early last night and the leaves had fallen from the trees. Risedale Beck was sheltered from the strong wind that built during the day so the leaves were left on the ground, making the paths yellow.
Heavy rain had increased the amount of water in the beck, but not enough yet, to clear all the leaves.
Although bitterly cold today there were signs of life. This frog was slowly on the move.
The marker posts often provide good sites for invertebrates. A harvestman was a little difficult to photograph because of his long stripey legs!
Lichens, mosses and fungi can be seen on many of the log piles.
One of the jobs the volunteers regularly do is to cut down and pull up Silver Birch. They produce many seeds which easily germinate. This is one seed head and each of the tiny wings you can see surrounds a seed. These are very late in being dispersed. Another birch was found but the seeds were still to ripen. There could be a lot of birch next year!
Tuesday, November 19th 2013
A neglected area of Corsican pine received some much needed TLC today from more than twenty volunteers. The trees have all now been brashed to head height to allow more light through the woodland. By lunchtime the cutting was almost complete and the difference was plain to see. It is hoped that increased air flow around these young pines will help to prevent needle blight.
Out in a clearing the brash was put onto a fire. Thank you to everyone for working so hard on this project today and to the pupils from the Dales School who joined in with the volunteers too.
Monday, November 18th 2013
Autumn colours have come slowly to Foxglove but this morning, even with dull skies the colours were beautiful. Walking across to the far moor the golden Larch trees stood proud against the dark conifers.
Red Hawthorn berries, yellow willow leaves, brown Bracken and golden grasses could be viewed across the moorland.
This old Hawthorn tree lying along the ground still has vigour to produce a good crop of berries.
These berries are being eaten by the Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings that have flocked to the reserve over the last few days.
Last Sunday, not a Redwing was caught; today one was returned from the first net round - followed by others! There has also been an influx of Scandinavian Blackbirds and several were mist netted. They are bigger and the females a slightly different colour to the residents.
Each ringing day is different and we never know what we are going to see pass through the ringing room. Nuthatch, Siskin, Wren, Robin,Willow and Marsh Tit and Goldcrest all made an appearance. It was also a day for the not so young birds. Visitors to the ringing room were informed that not many Goldcrests are recaptured and that they rarely live longer than a year. Today one that was ringed on 02/10/2011, was processed, making it over two years old. It has not been caught between these two dates. Where has it been?
Other older birds included a Coal Tit and a Blue Tit both over five years old and a Great Tit, ringed in the nest box over two years ago.
There were many visitors to the ringing room and they had the opportunity to see the birds close up. Thank you to the bird ringers who explained the ringing process and the importance of ringing. Thank you also to the volunteers who as always, greeted visitors, made plenty of tea (some specially to order!) and of course helped to tidy up at the end of the day.
Tales of the Riverbank
Friday, November 15th 2013
Ken has completed his latest challenge of capturing a Water Vole on film with his remote camera. Although difficult to spot, these elusive mammals often leave behind footprints in the clay pads that are left out to monitor for presence of mink. During the winter months, the voles do not hibernate but their activity levels are greatly reduced making them even more tricky to see in the wild. As you can see from the footage below, they are considerably smaller in size than a rat and have much shorter tails.
At the other end of the 'tail spectrum', Long-tailed tits were caught and ringed this afternoon. These beautiful birds are easily recognisable with their distinctive colouring, tails that are longer than their bodies, and undulating flight. They rove about in flocks of about twenty and are often heard at Foxglove calling to each other in the tree tops.
In Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker writes that “outside the breeding season they rove through their communal territory enveloped in a perpetual cocoon of soft, bubbling contact notes”. When a party flew off, he said, “they resemble a succession of whirring sticks with globular, pink ping-pong ball foreparts”. John Clare referred to them as bumbarrels in his poems.
A Kingfisher was watched feeding on the lake today and a Common Darter dragonfly was observed in the scrapes this afternoon. Watch this space for the results of Ken's next challenge!
Thursday, November 14th 2013
The newly formed Team Cappuccino ran their first coffee morning at Richmond Town Hall today.
Volunteers not only organised and ran the coffee morning, but baked delicious treats for the cake stall raising £101.55; provided prizes for the tombola, bringing in £40. The raffle, combined with takings from the door raised £162. The bric-a-brac stall and Foxglove Covert stall raised £24.73 and £34 respectively. Subtracting the costs gives us a grand total of £331.59 raised at this event! This is a fantastic amount representing the tireless support and goodwill from our volunteers. We are all, as always ever so grateful for all of your hard work and dedication, without which Foxglove would not be the wonderful place you all know.
Wednesday, November 13th 2013
Visitors and volunteers alike enjoyed an informative slideshow given by Sophie this morning looking at the flora and fauna of Foxglove Covert. The talk highlighted some of the more interesting species observed on the reserve over the last few months - you can just see a Nightjar on the screen which was a visitor to the ringing room in August. Unseen footage of Water Voles feeding in the scrapes was also shown, don't worry though if you missed the presentation as the footage will be uploaded to the blog in the next few days!
More talks are planned for in the new year so keep an eye on our events page to be sure you don't miss out.
Work and Play
Tuesday, November 12th 2013
It was a busy day with almost 30 volunteers turning out to help in the glorious weather. Work continued on from the Worky Day last weekend clearing old growth willow around the new orchard area.
Some work is still to do to finish off, but with the majority of it now done the area has been completely transformed. The volunteers enjoyed a well deserved mid-morning break in sun admiring their hard work.
As you may have heard Sophie will be leaving the reserve at the end of the month to take up a post as a Teaching Assistant at Wavell School. Sophie has given a lot to the reserve over her five years here and will be missed by staff, volunteers and visitors alike. As a send off volunteers planned a lunch for her today to thank her for her hard work here and wish her luck for the future. We are sure that she will stay involved with the reserve helping on Worky Days and with the ringing team.
Thank you to the volunteers for your hard work today, both outside and inside the Field Centre. We also want to thank everyone who helped with the lunch, cooking the amazing variety of dishes, setting up the classroom, and washing up!
Monday, November 11th 2013
It is a while since the blog has started with - It was a cold but beautifully sunny morning when the bird ringers arrived to put up the nets. There were blue skies overhead and frost underfoot.
A thin covering of ice was seen over some of the ponds and raindrops had frozen on the pond leaves.
Even though the breeze was blowing across the lake from the moor, the brilliant autumn colours were still reflected in the lake.
The results from the day's ringing were a little strange in that there were no Siskin, Blackbird or Reed Bunting processed. (However one Reed Bunting did feed on the feeders outside the kitchen window! Sure it was waving its wing at us and smiling!!) Bullfinches, Greenfinches and Goldcrests were newly ringed. In total 123 birds came through the ringing room.
Some nets were placed in the area that had been pollarded and coppiced yesterday, in the hope that Redwings would visit. We waited patiently for the first Redwing to arrive in the ringing room. Some of the nets were taken down, then one or two more and finally the last net round was carried out. There were some nets missing. These were the Redwing nets, left up just to give them a last chance to make an appearance, unfortunately to no avail. Not a bird in the nets when they were finally taken down. We will just have to try again on the next ringing day.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
And finally it is a while since the blog ended with- It was cold and the frost was beginning to come down as moonlight lit the way down the access road as the bird ringers headed for home.
November Winter Worky Day
Saturday, November 9th 2013
Twenty four volunteers joined us on the first Winter Worky Day of the season. Several different tasks were completed including the annual maintenance of the dams on the wetland and inputting species information into our database. The main job for the day was coppicing and pollarding an area between the Sand Martin Bank and the new Orchard area.
Work was done here to open up views to the orchard and to create a flyway for birds between an area rich in autumn berries and the fruiting trees, hopefully encouraging in species such as Redwing and Fieldfare.
Volunteers spent time clearing the dense, old undergrowth opening up the area for fresh regeneration of the ground flora. This should encourage wildflowers to bloom in the spring and summer months.
By 1230 everybody had worked up an appetite for lunch - a chicken curry and some homemade cakes.
Work continued through the afternoon with the team focusing on clearing some of the cut brash. The fire was welcome during the short, sharp showers.
Adam found a suitable supervisory perch as can be seen after an exhausting day pollarding this willow.
Thank you to everyone who has given up time today to come and help us out with all of these different jobs. Your enthusiasm and willingness to get stuck into any task is greatly appreciated.
Ready for the Weekend!
Friday, November 8th 2013
Sean has been in today, working hard to clear the pile of brash created by coppicing and pollarding of some of the nearby net rides.
The shredder has been running all day and the car park is now clear ready for the weekend. The chippings have been moved near to Risedale Beck and in the next few weeks will be moved up into the woodland to improve the surface along some of the pathways.
There are going to be a lot of cars on site tomorrow with the first of our Winter Worky Days and a visit from the Northumbrian Badger Group; please be courteous to other visitors and make use of all available parking.
Whinging in the Willows!
Thursday, November 7th 2013
Team Thursday found themselves with another almighty mess to sort out! With the pollarding complete along one of the net rides, there was a huge quantity of brash to be moved to the car park ready to be shredded.
The branches had to be dragged about 200m uphill so a good workout was had by all.
Once at the car park there was a chance to have a quick rest.
The mountain of brash grew and by lunchtime filled most of the parking area.
There wasn't really any whinging and Team Thursday had a great time (honest)!
Tony even found quite a comfy seat and time to reflect!
Here is the 'before' photo taken on Tuesday morning.
The 'after' photo below shows that the height of the trees has been lowered sufficiently and although it looks quite drastic now, it will soon recover and grow back.
Finally, a plea to everyone to have a rummage about at home and find any unwanted gifts or items that can be used as tombola prizes for the coffee morning on Thursday 14th November. Please bring any prizes into the Field Centre where they will be gratefully received.
Thursday, November 7th 2013
As you walk along the Sycamore Avenue, the yellow/orange colours of the Larch trees can be seen.
Many of the boughs are covered in small cones. The seeds inside these cones may provide food for the Crossbills. Grey Squirrels prefer larger cones from other conifers.
This afternoon, the Lake was busy with Moorhen, Mallard and Kingfisher. The Kingfisher appeared to be fishing from a perch high up in a tree and from the sandbank, having left the perch put in for him.
In the Willows
Tuesday, November 5th 2013
The summer of 2013 provided perfect conditions for the growth of trees. The willow in particular has grown much faster this year than in previous years. If the height of the vegetation alongside the bird ringing net rides is too much then the birds fly over the mist nets and opportunities to catch and ring some species are missed. The photograph below shows how high some of the willow had become next to one of the rides.
Team Tuesday set to task to solve this problem by cutting back willow, birch and Hawthorn.
In the morning mist, volunteers soon created piles of brash. As the saying goes 'You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs'!
The area was soon tidied with additional help from pupils from the Dales School.
In forestry terms 2013 has been a 'mast year'. These years are a natural phenomenon where some tree species produce very large crops of seeds in some years, compared to almost none in others. It’s not known exactly why mast years occur, but they have been linked to various causes over the years, including weather and climatic conditions. The result at Foxglove has been an abundance of Hawthorn berries. The trees with berries have been left for now as a valuable food source for the wildlife.
The larger willows were cut with a pole saw to speed up the process.
Brian preferred a more traditional way of tackling the high branches!
By late afternoon, not only had the habitat improved but so had the weather and the tools were packed away in bright sunshine.
As you can see in the 'after' photo, a good start has been made on what will be a major job for the coming winter months. Thank you to everyone for all your hard work and enthusiasm and special thanks to Ann for the delicious treacle and syrup traybakes that kept energy levels high!
Villages in North Yorkshire Quiz Results
Monday, November 4th 2013
Many thanks, once again, to all those who supported the Quiz. This was the most successful in terms of those who purchased it, and well over a hundred were sold. So far, somewhere in the region of £500 has been raised to help towards the running costs of the reserve. Our gratitude to Pat Thistlethwaite who spends many hours compiling the clues, and is already thinking of the next one! Thanks to Glennis and Joan for all their hard work and sales tactics!
Tony and Lilian Cooper 39
Michael Fenwick 39
Viv Winter 38
Ted and Val Darwin 38
Mr and Mrs Whitehead 37
Trish Illingworth 33
As there were two people with 39, their names were put into a hat, and the winners of the £10 voucher are Tony and Lilian Cooper. Congratulations to you both!
Here are the answers:
22. Great Heck
29. Coniston Cold
37. Chop Gate
There will be another quiz in the New Year, and having listened to your comments, it will be a little easier. We hope that you will continue to buy them, and will inform you of the amount raised in the course of the year.
Finally, another winner, this time of the quarterly 100 club draw is Mrs Kathleen Wilkinson. Congratulations to you too.
Monday, November 4th 2013
Species from the Bioblitz weekend are continuing to be inputted into the species programme. The results of the Lichen survey have revealed a total of 44 new species! Part way through the invertebrate list, already three new species have been added. However it was the moths that amazed everyone, not only by the numbers caught in the traps around the reserve, but the number of species also. All the moths have now been entered and 53 new ones have been recorded. This takes the total number of species of moths to 494.
Some moths were only recorded once, others in much larger numbers:-
Mottled Beauty 109 Light Emerald 80 Large Yellow Underwing 62 Small Dotted Buff 146
Our weekly moth trapping from now on will depend on the weather. On 'good' moth nights, warm and damp, it is hoped to set the trap to try to record those moths that fly during the winter. Last Wednesday only two moths were in the trap, a Feathered Thorn and the first Sprawler of the season.