Blog Archive (26) Posts Made in January 2014

Work in the Orchards

Friday, January 31st 2014

Woodland maintenance generates an incredible amount of brash.  While we try and use as much of the cut material as possible -edging paths, as wood chip to create path surfaces, for willow weaving sessions and as habitat piles for our invertebrates - some brash ends up on the bonfire.  The ash from the fires is normally is raked over and covered with a log pile.  Following recent advice, we have this year put some of the wood ash to good use fertilising the fruit trees in our two small orchards.

Wood ash provides macro-nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and manganese, as well as micro-nutrients such as zinc, boron, chromium and molybdenum.  This age old practice has long been used to help orchard trees grow healthy crops.  Hopefully we will see the fruits of our labour this autumn.

Channels were also cleared in these areas to help drain the worst of the surface water.

Thank you to everyone who helped us with this task in such awful weather!

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Work continues on the reed bed

Thursday, January 30th 2014

Work continued today on the area of reed bed which we cut yesterday. There was a lot of material to move across slippery ground and it was a slow start to get the fire going with everything being so wet, but by the end of the day the team had done a great job, all the reeds cleared and the site looking nice and smart again.

In the workshop volunteers spent time mending a part of the quad bike and fixing a nest box for Goosander.

Thank you all for your hard work.

We've had two new volunteers this week, so to welcome Ken and Pete to the Foxglove team. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer on the reserve please contact Adam or Lizzie on 07754 270980 or on

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Work in the Reed Bed

Wednesday, January 29th 2014

Today the Adams and Lizzie have been working on the reed bed. This is a continuation of work to improve the quality of the reed bed habitat by cutting it back on a three year rotation. Since we started managing it we have seen an increase in sightings of Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting, it is hoped that with continued improvement we might see Reed Warblers in this area in the future.

Here is a selection of photographs to show how the work was done.

Before work started.

Before we started the work

We used hedge-cutters and strimmers to cut through the reed. Some sections of the reedbed were deeper than others; fortunately Adam had his waders on!

Once the whole area had been cut we raked off the loose cuttings to prevent them from building up in the channel which would in time cause it to dry out.

We left the cuttings on the edge of the reed bed to allow any toads and insects to make their way back to the water. Tomorrow we will go back and remove it ready to be burnt.

The finished article…

The Wednesday flower walkers were out in force today searching for any early bloomers. They came across Daisy, Gorse, Greater Spearwort, Ragwort Spear Thistle (just!!) as well as a Buzzard displaying which drew their eyes upwards temporarily.

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January Ringing Recoveries

Monday, January 27th 2014

This interactive map below shows some of the ringing recoveries we have received from the BTO this month.  Red lines represent birds ringed elsewhere and controlled (re-caught) by the Swaledale Ringing Group, while blue lines represent birds ringed by the Swaledale Ringing Group and controlled elsewhere.  You can zoom into the map and to find out more information about a recovery click on the coloured line.

View January Ringing Recoveries in a larger map

From just one session ringing at a Sand Martin colony along the banks of the River Swale we have had three French recoveries.  Two of the Sand Martins had been ringed along the French coastline in 2012, and the third was ringed by the Swaledale Ringing Group and then controlled in France as it migrated to its African wintering grounds.  In addition to this we have also had a French recovery of a Sedge Warbler.  This was ringed as a juvenile bird on the French Coast in 2012 and then controlled at Foxglove Covert on the 16th June 2013.

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Bird Count in the Back Garden

Monday, January 27th 2014

Yesterday the RSPB Garden Bird Watch was carried out in the back garden at Foxglove.  Sixteen species were recorded.  Chaffinch headed the list with eleven being seen at one time.   Bullfinch were second, with eight.  Lesser Redpolls are increasing in numbers, but the Bramblings are only making an occasional appearance.  That may change with easterly winds forecast for later in the week.

Thank you to Glennis and Joan for doing this and sending the information to the RSPB.

The back garden is now well established.  Mice, voles and a weasel have been seen there and the amphibians enjoy the pond.  Bees, caterpillars, butterflies and sawfly larvae feed on the many shrubs and flowers that grow there. 

However it was not always such an excellent habitat.  These photos show how it was initially started, nearly thirteen years ago.

The back garden being developed

The back garden being developed

Things have changed.

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More Nest Boxes

Sunday, January 26th 2014

Members of the bird ringing team were out again replacing nest boxes on the training area.  The weather changed from blue sky to heavy downpours.  Sophie has just added the final touch to this nest box, a nice layer of sawdust.

Blue sky as Sophie adds sawdust to the nest box

A heavy downpour as another box is fixed in place.

Heavy downpour as another next box is put up

Over the years that the nest boxes have been on the training area, 1010 Kestrels have been ringed and 759 Tawny Owls, adults and chicks, have been processed.  Let us hope that it is not too long before chicks like these are being found in the new nest boxes.

Tawny Owl chicks

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Dates for your Diary

Friday, January 24th 2014

Winter Worky Days are a great opportunity to come meet the team at Foxglove Covert and help us in the management of the reserve. They are suitable for all the family and are a great way to spend a day.

Our next Worky Day is on Saturday 8th February. Arrive in time for a 10am start; we will then break for lunch at 12.30pm with the day finishing at 3pm with a well earned slice of cake! A cooked lunch will be provided as a thank you for all your hard work.

Here is a selection of photos from coppicing work done on previous Worky Days.


If you would like to come and join us please give Adam or Lizzie a ring on 01748 831113 or drop us an email at, with your name, the number of people in your group and any dietary requirements.

Foxglove's AGM will be held in the Field Centre on the reserve on Tuesday 28th January from 2pm. It will be an opportunity to hear what has been going on around the reserve in the last year and find out about our plans for 2014. Tea and cake will be on offer for those attending.

Don’t forget you can keep up to date with all that is going on at Foxglove Covert on Facebook Foxglove Covert LNR and Twitter @FoxgloveCovert

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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A Donation of Trees

Thursday, January 23rd 2014

With work commencing on a new local access road alongside the A1 several areas of recently planted trees and hedges have had to be dug up.  The Highways Agency and Carillion Morgan Sindall have donated many of these trees to Foxglove.

Several loads of trees have been delivered by Steve over the past few days, some of which have been planted temporarily in our tree nursery, before we find them permanent homes.  Volunteers this morning worked planting Hawthorn along the ancient hedge lines on the middle moor.  This was done to fill in some gaps where previous planting had not taken well.  This hedge line acts as a corridor to help attract more wildlife into the reserve.

We are very grateful for the kind donation of these trees and hope that we can foster links with these companies as they work in the area over the coming years.

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Work on Wednesday

Wednesday, January 22nd 2014

Today we have been tidying up the fallen and leaning trees in an area of woodland adjacent to the Beck. This will prevent damage to the healthy trees in strong winds.

This afternoon Adam has been strimming the rushes from around orchard and wild flower meadows. This reduces their cover and enables the flowers to come through and for the fruit trees to develop without competing for nutrients and water.

Don't forget that we have out next Worky Day on Saturday 8th February. If you would like to come along and help us in the management of the reserve please contact Adam or Lizzie on 01748 831113 or check out the Events  page on the website.

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Work continues along the Beck

Tuesday, January 21st 2014

Our regular team of Tuesday volunteers were out in force today. The group of 15 continued work on the Hazel coppice along Risedale Beck.

It was tough going working on the steep and slippery slopes but we managed to open up another large section and are about half way to completing the whole bank.

With a good frost overnight the fire was a bit slow to start but once it got going we were able to burn all of the brash, leaving some of the larger logs in neat piles to be used by bugs and insects.


Downstream from the volunteers Simon continued to work on strengthening the banks of the beck and re-enforcing the stanchions under one of the bridges.

Thank you everyone for a fantastic team effort, we achieved a lot today!

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Along the Beck

Monday, January 20th 2014

With sustained high rainfall over the past couple of years, Risedale Beck has been regularly flooded and areas are now in danger of washing out underneath trees and below steep banks.  Several areas have already experienced landslides and we have lost several old conifers from along the banks.

Simon has spent the day shoring up the banks along some of these areas and diverting the water flow away from the worst hit sections.  This important work should help to protect these vulnerable areas from future floods.

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Foxglove AGM

Monday, January 20th 2014

Our AGM is being held a week on Tuesday (28th January) at 2pm in the Field Centre.  Come along if you would like to find out what has been going on over the past year.  If you would like to attend please contact Adam or Lizzie to book a place book through our events page.

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Bird ringing

Monday, January 20th 2014

The weather was wet and unpleasant as the ringers arrived today.  Within 30 minutes there was some improvement so a few nets were put up.  After all the recent rain the ground is well and truly waterlogged and the net rides deep in mud.  The conditions were not ideal!

More than 90 birds were processed and it was busy, but only 15 new birds were ringed illustrating that not many birds were moving and there is still a significant hole in the adult population.  There were more Lesser Redpolls on the reserve than of late and three were caught from previous years.

Lesser Redpoll

Several older birds were retrapped. Two Goldcrests, both weighing less than 5g, when checked were found to be over 2 years old.  They have both survived at least one severe winter.  A Blue Tit ringed as a juvenile in December 2007 and a Great Tit coming up to its eighth birthday also made an appearance.

Yesterday 'our' Kingfisher was seen on its perch on the Lake and a Woodcock was flushed.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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Exidia recisa

Saturday, January 18th 2014

Exidia recisa is a winter fruiting fungus that grows on dead willow branches.

Exidia recisa

In dry conditions is dries up and can shrink to almost nothing.  After rain, or a heavy dew, it rehydrates and continues to release its microscopic spores.

Exidia recisa

Although it has no official common name it is sometimes called Willow Jelly or Amber Jelly Roll.

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A Job Well Done!

Thursday, January 16th 2014

The Thursday gang once again found themselves in the conservation store at Piave Lines to finish organising the last few bits and pieces after we moved from the old store last year.  The job is now finished and everything in its rightful place!

Volunteers have spent many days over the last few months working hard on this and its completion represents a fantastic effort from everyone involved.  Thank you all very much; your help with this is greatly appreciated.

While we were in the store several more owl boxes were prepared and painted, ready for the weekend when the ringers are hoping to replace some of the older boxes across the training area.

Back at Foxglove this Toad was seen as we worked down on Risedale Beck - an unusual sighting for the time of year!

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First Day

Wednesday, January 15th 2014

Hello, it's Lizzie here. I've just spent my first day on the reserve, its been a good day getting to know some of the volunteers and finding my way around the reserve - although don't test me on names or how to get from a to b just yet!

We started the morning out on the scrapes making a few adjustments to the new steps that were put in a couple of weeks ago. After that we moved on to clear out the drainage pipes leading to the Bullet Catcher and across Risedale Beck.

After a delicious lunch (thank you ladies) we headed back down to Risedale Beck to continue working on the Hazel coppice along the south bank. It is starting to look really good and we should hopefully see some lovely wild flowers there in the spring and summer.

Thank you everyone for the very warm welcome.

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Down by the Beck

Tuesday, January 14th 2014

Volunteers spent the day working down alongside Risedale Beck.  A habitat pile was created and brash from the three conifers overhanging the pathway was cleared away - in the cold morning air the scented smoke hung in the valley.

Last year two winter worky days were spent coppicing along the beck, these areas have had magnificent displays of wildflowers through the summer months.  Work today continued joining these two areas and clearing overhanging branches from along the beck.

By lunchtime much of this had been cleared, creating a clear flyway along the water course.  This will benefit birds such as Dippers, Grey Wagtail and Kingfishers all of whom will feed and breed along Risedale Beck.

By the afternoon volunteers had begun work coppicing along the Hazel bank to improve growing conditions for wildflowers.  Bluebells and Primrose are found in large numbers across this patch and should do well in the coming spring months as they will no longer be suppressed under a dark woodland canopy.  This will be an ongoing project over the next few weeks.

Thank you for all of your hard work today!

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Owl Boxes

Sunday, January 12th 2014

Tawny Owls breed early in the year and are already calling and beginning to set up their territories.  When the boxes are checked in the spring a note is made of their condition.  Some of the older boxes needed to be replaced.  The poor weather has meant that the bird ringers were unable to get out onto the training area to do the necessary work.  Today it was very cold but dry and not too windy, so off they set with their bucket of nails, sawdust, compass, ladders, gloves and various other things that might be needed.

The first one went up and by the end of the day 4 new boxes had been made ready for their new residents.  Let us hope that the owls approve of their new boxes and when the bird ringers head back in the spring there will be owlets to ring.

Putting up the owl box

The team at the end of the day.

The owl box team!

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Data Entry

Friday, January 10th 2014

It has been mentioned several times on the blog that we have two computer programmes for entering information, IPMR for the bird ringing data and the Species Programme for the flora and fauna at Foxglove. 

We now input the data from each ringing day at Foxglove straight into IPMR. It is fascinating to watch the seasons change as the data is brought to the computer.  Bramblings and Redwings in the late autumn and through the winter.  Come spring we await the arrival of the first Chiffchaff and look at the dates of return and age of any retrapped birds.  Through the breeding season few females are caught as they are busy brooding the eggs and young.  Then in summer the influx of all the juvenile birds.  The end of the summer sees the last of the summer migrants and then pages and pages of Meadow Pipits. 

All the nest box ringing information, the Meadow Pipits and birds ringed at Cape Wrath have to be entered during the winter. Although time consuming it can be fascinating, as information is gleaned from IPMR about the history of some birds.

Entering data into the Species Programme is just as interesting.   The moth data from all our moth trapping during 2013,  has now been entered and like the birds the species caught during the year change.  We have continued to trap throughout the winter and have added Winter Moth as a new species.  Unfortunately the moth and weather have conspired against an even half decent photograph!  Out of interest the front veranda is winning, over the moth trap, in the number of moths caught this winter.

Although this blog is about data entry it is also an excuse to put on some photographs of moths.  Silver Ground Carpet was caught in the trap and could be found on vegetation during mid May to late July.

Silver Ground Carpet

From mid July through to early August no moth trapping is complete without these gentle giants, the Poplar Hawkmoth.  They are always so co-operative and sit still and are so photogenic, of course there is always an exception to the rule as you can see this one was using its wings to warm up before flight.  Apparently the adults do not feed.

Poplar Hawkmoth

As the year progresses we are able to identify some moths very easily.  Then one makes us stop and we have to refer to the books.  Merveille du Jour was one of these, found in September.  When the data was entered it was interesting to see that the last time this moth had made an appearance was October 2010.  During 2013 four of these moths were recorded over three nights.

Merveille du Jour

The total number of birds in the data base is 190,036.  The species list now stands at 2444 different species.

A huge thank you to everyone who collects the information and to those who input all the data.

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Stepping up to the Challenge

Thursday, January 9th 2014

The Thursday volunteers were back in today and completed several jobs around the reserve including improving a section of parking outside the workshop and installing a new stop for the access gate.

The first of the main tasks was repairing the step to the seed store, which after 20 or so years had rotted through.  This was rebuilt using an old sleeper.

The second task was to build some steps down from the new pond dipping platform to the existing pathway. Measurements of angles and drops were made before returning to the workshop with a plan.  By mid-afternoon the steps were finished and ready to be installed.

The last screw was secured in place and just before the light faded there was time to get a picture of the Thursday Gang proudly showing off their creation.

Thank you all for your hard work today!

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Thursday, January 9th 2014

At the end of the year there were several reports about how different species had fared.  At Foxglove, ladybirds, of which we have several different species, were noticeable by their absence.  There are one or two Seven Spot Ladybirds to be found now, hibernating amongst Gorse and Holly leaves.

Ladybird in Gorse

Ladybird in Holly

The reason that they did not do well last summer was due to the lack of greenfly, their staple food.

This Larch Ladybird is very tiny.  It was quite happy sitting on the rail of one the bridges.  Its preferred hibernation site is bark crevices on conifers.

Larch Ladybird

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Back in the Woods

Tuesday, January 7th 2014

Team Tuesday were back in after the Christmas break and worked at the far end of the woodland continuing from the worky day last weekend.

Piles of brash were chopped up for the fire and larger logs were separated out to be added to habitat piles.

Pupils from the Dales School came to lend a hand at lunchtime and were eager to get stuck in dragging the cut branches and processing them before they were added to the fire.

Thank you to everyone for your help today and at the weekend to improve this patch of woodland; it will be exciting to see how it develops over the coming months.

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Sunday, January 5th 2014

The bird ringers were ringing at another site this morning.  There was a beautiful sunrise as they put up the nets.


Twelve species were ringed but the highlight of the day was two male Bramblings, both hatched last year.  These were the first two Bramblings of the winter to be caught.  A total of 95 birds were caught including 7 Reed Bunting, 6 Marsh Tit and 5 Long Tails - among the retraps were several birds 4 and 5 years old.

Male Brambling

Brambling have been seen at Foxglove but none have yet ventured into the ringing room! One spotted in the garden today was wearing a ring and had obviously been ringed previously.

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January Winter Worky Day

Saturday, January 4th 2014

Thirty five volunteers turned up this morning to help out with some habitat improvement work at the far end of the woodland. 

A densely shaded and damp area of Hawthorn has been thinned, allowing more light and air to penetrate the canopy, helping dry the saturated ground and promote a richer ground flora.  Soon the fire was burning well to cope with all the brash.

An amazing amount of work was done completely transforming this area; everyone definitely deserved their curry at lunchtime!

Thank you again to everyone for you hard work today.  The next winter worky day is on Saturday 8th February, please get in touch with Adam if you would like to book a place.

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New Year Walk

Thursday, January 2nd 2014

Volunteers and visitors enjoyed a guided walk this morning to welcome in the New Year.  The route went along Risedale Beck before visiting the lake and parts of the red trail.

Along the way many different types of fungi, lichen and invertebrates were found giving everyone ample opportunity to hone their photography skills.  Jenny took this lovely photo of a 7-Spot Ladybird as it crawled across the Turkey Tail Fungus.  Larch Ladybirds were also seen on several of the bridges alongside the beck.

As the majority of bright red Hawthorn berries have now been eaten by winter thrushes there is not a lot of colour to be seen around the reserve, unless you look carefully.  This Scarlet Elf Cup was found by Brian just off the wood chip path, these fungi are commonly found on damp woodland floors in amongst leaf litter or in the soil.

Yellow Brain provided us with another burst of colour as we passed a dead tree.  This beautifully bright fungus can grow to about 10cm across, comprising of many soft lobes and folds.  As it ages and dries the colour fades to dark orange.  This fungus only occurs as a parasite on species of Peniophora which may not always be seen as Yellow Brain may occur on the mycelium before fruiting.

Happy New Year to you all!

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The Last Day of 2013

Wednesday, January 1st 2014

No change with the weather this morning as the flower hunters set off in the wet!  The Red Route was walked initially and Daisy was added to the list.  Unfortunately the Greater Spearwort had not survived.  Ann went hunting and she found a bud, which can't really be counted, but it may open during January so it will be checked regularly!

Ann flower hunting

Five flowers were recorded, Gorse, Daisy, Ragwort, Sowthistle and Creeping Thistle, not as many as last December.

A decision was made not to put the moth trap out last night, due to the low temperatures, but this morning there were five Early Moths on the front verandah.  These moths have a flight season of January and February and sometimes into March.  The larval food plants are Blackthorn and Hawthorn.   As yet I am unable to find what the adults feed on, if anything!

Before lunch volunteers carried out a variety of small tasks, nothing too energetic, as it is still holiday time.  Whilst we were lunching, talking and drinking tea we were able to watch many finches feeding in the back garden.







The wind dropped, the rain stopped and even a little bit of sun made an appearance, so the back garden nets were put up.  Out of all the finches seen earlier only one was caught!  We think they had watched the nets go up and decided to go elsewhere to feed!!

After the chicks had been ringed in the nest boxes, early indications suggested that Blue Tits had not had a good breeding season.  The ringing results for 2013 have actually shown that they have not done badly at all, with 438 being ringed.  Today several came into the ringing room.

Blue Tits feeding

Two Great Tits ringed in the nest boxes were retrapped.  It is good to see that these birds are thriving.

As it started to get dark so the birds headed to roost for the night.  A question - where do they go? 

Several young birds were processed and they are recorded as age 3, meaning that they were hatched this year.  Tomorrow they will be aged  5, meaning that they were hatched last year. (The numbered code refers to when they were hatched not an actual age.)

As this year draws to a close the Foxglove Team send best wishes for 2014 to Friends and volunteers.  And also a huge thank you for all your support and work during 2013.

Happy New Year to you all.

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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.

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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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