Blog Archive (29) Posts Made in July 2014


Wednesday, July 30th 2014

Volunteers have been busy undertaking surveys of butterflies, moths and flowers over the past two days as well as working hard to improve the habitats here at Foxglove. Yesterday John completed his butterfly walk, finding 12 species including Painted Lady and Dark Green Fritillary, as well as good numbers of Green Veined White and Peacock - seen here feeding on Hemp Agrimony.

As usual the moth trap was set last night; fewer were seen this morning than last week, most likely as the conditions were cooler and less humid. Still an impressive 41 species were trapped including Mother of Pearl, Scalloped Oak and Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing which made its first appearance in the trap this year.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Finally the monthly flower survey was carried out this morning with eight volunteers helping to identify the 107 species of flower found. They returned to the centre rather excitedly having found Pepper Saxifrage and Saw-wort in new areas of the reserve!


Thank you to everyone who has spent time over the past few days helping us to survey and identify the many different types of wildlife on the reserve.

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All go at Foxglove

Tuesday, July 29th 2014

Another strong turn out and amazing hard work from the volunteers today meant they flew through the tasks we had and even had time for cake!

This morning it was loppers and secateurs at the ready and a fabulous job was done of clearing the driveway of any overhanging or intruding vegetation whilst the strimming team set to work on the two orchards.

Whilst on the heath a Puss Moth caterpillar was found. This amazing looking caterpillar drew quite a crowd and must have felt like a celebrity with all the paparazzi snapping away at it.

This afternoon the volunteers raked all the strimmed vegetation from the two orchards. We remove the cuttings to minimise the nutrients in the soil. This encourages wildflowers to grow that thrive in nutrient poor soils and deters the grasses, thistles and nettles that thrive in nutrient rich soils.

Whilst all this was going on we also had a visit from 36 Brownies who embarked on a day of activities including pond dipping, a minibeast safari and a habitat walk. A big thank you to the volunteers who made this possible by organising and running the activities. We enjoyed their visit and look forward to welcoming them back anytime.

So all in all a very busy, hardworking and fun day here at Foxglove all made possible by our dedicated team of volunteers. Thanks we really couldn’t do it without you!

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Capital Cities Quiz Answers

Tuesday, July 29th 2014

The results for our latest quiz are in; five teams managed to get all of the answers correct. From these Frank and Carol Broughton were drawn as the winners - well done! If you would like to know your score we have the completed sheets in the office so just drop in to see us or send us an e-mail.

This has been our most successful quiz to date with over £100 raised for projects on the reserve, thank you to everyone who has supported this, especially Glennis and Pat who have compiled the questions and spent time marking all the answer sheets!

The answers are:

  1. Paris
  2. La Paz
  3. Copenhagen
  4. Rome
  5. Panama City
  6. Lisbon
  7. Palermo
  8. Georgetown
  9. Bern
  10. Amman
  11. Ottawa
  12. Helsinki
  13. Havana
  14. Athens
  15. Budapest
  16. Damascus
  17. Moscow
  18. Tehran
  19. Oslo
  20. Madrid
  21. Seoul
  22. Washington
  23. Tel Aviv
  24. Tokyo
  25. Tunis
  26. Lima
  27. London
  28. Tripoli
  29. Delhi
  30. Brussels
  31. Palma
  32. Quito
  33. Edinburgh
  34. Warsaw
  35. Hobart

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More about Cape Wrath

Tuesday, July 29th 2014

With the ringers recent return from Cape Wrath everyone has been eager to hear about our expedition. Tony's recent article on the DIO blog has more information about the trip this year, how our efforts help sea bird conservation and co-operation with other parties such as the RSPB.

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Ragged Robin Wildllife Group Visit

Monday, July 28th 2014

The Ragged Robin Wildlife Group visited the reserve yesterday; they spent the morning walking the reserve and enjoyed the many wildflowers, butterflies and dragonflies that can be seen now. During the afternoon we put on a pond dipping session for them.

Toad tadpoles, damselfly larvae and Water Boatmen were amongst some of the creatures seen by the group. Damselflies and dragonflies have been seen laying their eggs in the ponds so it shouldn’t be too long before many more larvae are seen on these sessions.

We hope that you all enjoyed your visit here yesterday.

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A Mixture

Sunday, July 27th 2014

Looking through photographs from previous years, highlights our changeable seasons.  There is little we can do about our weather, but we can enjoy the spectacle of summer, be it early, late, warm, hot, cold and or wet! 

Purple Loosestrife is in full flower in the Scrapes, providing food for bees.

Purple Loosestrife

Another flower found in the Scrapes is Fleabane and it too is just coming into bloom.  Many butterflies, bees and hoverflies enjoy the food it provides.


Angelica is an ideal site for Soldier Beetles to sit and await prey.

Angelica with Soldier Beetle

Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies hibernate over winter.  Warm sunny days in spring wake them and they feed on spring flowers.  Many of them look very battered after several months hiding away.  They lay their eggs and their life cycle is complete.  We have watched the caterpillars of Peacock Butterflies eat their way through Nettle leaves, shed their skins and disappear!  They have pupated.  We are now seeing these pupa releasing beautiful adults.  Many can be seen on the newly opened Hemp Agrimony.

The large eyes on this Peacock act as a warning to predators, even more impressive when the wings are opened and closed quickly.

Peacock Butterfly

This brightly coloured Small Tortoiseshell stands out with the blue marks along the edge of its wings.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Not as beautiful but just as amazing are the water boatmen that frequent the ponds.  This one actually cleaned its back legs before being phtographed!

Water Boatman

While some flowers are just opening their buds, some seeds and fruits are ripening.  The first Hazel Nuts have been found by the squirrels.  Raspberries are just waiting to be eaten - by animals of course!


Each season can be seen in the ringing room.  Earlier in the year the winter migrants disappear and their place is soon taken by the summer birds returning from the south.  In late spring/early summer it is mainly male birds passing through the ringing room as the females are sitting on eggs.  Mid summer sees the juveniles appear.  Few adults are caught as they are keeping a very low profile while they moult.  Any adults that are processed are usually in less than pristine condition!

Rarely seen but often heard, the Sedge Warblers let us know that we are in their territory as we pond dip in the Scrapes.   These birds have bred in the area and some of the juveniles have now been ringed.  It will be interesting to catch some of these youngsters next year, or for someone else to do so if they choose another site.

Several people had reported hearing Reed Warblers calling during the last few weeks.  No one had seen one.  That was all to change during CES 9 today.  A call on the radio said there was a surprise arriving!  A juvenile Reed Warbler just out of the nest was brought to the ringing room.  This is the first breeding record for Foxglove.  Absolutely brilliant - and it was soon followed by two more!!

Another juvenile that made its appearance was a Redstart.  Juvenile Coal Tits are beginning to return to the reserve after fledging in the surrounding conifer plantations. 

The warm sunny weather looks set to continue for at least a few more days so flowers and insects will continue to brighten our ambles around Foxglove.

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Eco Club and our BBQ

Sunday, July 27th 2014

It was hot as the children set out to pond dip.  We used all the platforms.  At the first we caught 3 Spined Sticklebacks in a range of size from very tiny to over an inch. (whoops - over 2 cm)  At the new platform we thought we would not catch much, as the vegetation is not growing around the platform, where much of the pond life likes to hide.  However we were really surprised as we were able to look at waterboatman, Whirligig Beetles, Pond Skaters at various stages of development and more sticklebacks.

Pond dipping at the new platform

Pond dipping

As we started dipping on the last platform there were high hopes of being able to look at leeches, well some people were hopeful.  Unfortunately not a one was caught!

We did find tiny larvae of damselfly, mayfly and dragonfly.

pond dipping

After welcome refreshments in the cooler Field Centre, butterfly hunting was next on the list.  Armed with an ID chart the children were able to spot Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, skipper sp and Peacock butterflies.  Most of these butterflies were flying or feeding from flowers, but some Peacock butterflies dedcided to rest on a conifer tree!

Peacock Butterfly on conifer tree

Thank you very much to everyone who helped today.

Mid afternoon saw Namik and his team arrive to start the BBQ.  As always they did us proud and Friends and Volunteers enjoyed an excellent feast.  The raffle was also drawn and there were several winners present so they were able to collect their prizes.  This raised an excellent £390 towards our Touchscreen Project.

Thank you to Ruth for organising the raffle and to everyone who donated prizes and sold tickets.

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First Meadow Pipits of the Season!

Friday, July 25th 2014

This morning we went up to the crater to strim and remove overgrown branches from the net rides to enable the mist nets to be erected without fear of snagging. After we had finished we placed one net up for about half an hour and although it was a bit late in the morning and very hot we caught the first four Meadow Pipits of the season. They were all healthy juveniles that were ringed and released back on site.

This afternoon was spent readying Foxglove for the influx of visitors tomorrow for the annual summer BBQ. The forecast is for another hot day with sunny spells and we are looking forward to catching up with everyone over a plate of sizzling meat (or vegetarian alternative)!

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Busy as a Bee

Thursday, July 24th 2014

Another fantastic effort from our Thursday volunteer group today. This morning we rebuilt two sets of steps on the woodland trail making it a much more foot friendly walking experience.

This afternoon we removed the fences around the Yellow Rattle on the moor. They had gone to seed and the meadow is due to be cut next week which will spread the seeds around. Hopefully this success story will continue with increased numbers next year. Jackie also harvested some seed which will be spread by hand across the meadow.

It was a scorching day and our Honey Bees either got a bit too hot or over excited and en mass left the hive. We thought we had another swarm on our hands as they congregated on one of the small trees in the back garden.

By the time the bee keepers had arrived they had settled down and were making their way back with the queen safely indoors in the hive.

A big thank you to the volunteers for their hard work and to Alison and Allister (our bee keepers) for their speedy response.

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Wednesday, July 23rd 2014

As usual the moth trap was set last night; to no surprise after the recent warm and dry nights we had the best catch of the year so far, with 423 individuals across more than 65 species! Volunteers spent more than 7 hours today pouring over identification guides to find out exactly what had been caught in our light trap.

Burnished Brass is one of the most spectacular summer moths and is unmistakable with its large metallic wing panels. The larva of this species favour feeding on Common Nettle while adults feed primarily on Honeysuckle and Red Valerian.

Lesser Swallow Prominent can come to light abundantly in Birch scrub during the summer months. This is now the second generation of adults flying this summer; once their eggs are laid and hatch the pupa will feed on Silver Birch before creating a strong cocoon and overwintering underground.

Gold Spot are well suited to conditions here at Foxglove with the larva feeding on several species of sedge and wetland plants. Their cocoons are spun vertically between the leaves and stems of rushes and resemble the egg cocoon of a spider. As an adult this species will feed on flowers particularly those of Water Mint and Red Valerian.

The micro moth Pyrausta purpuralis was last found on the reserve four years ago. This species can be found flying between the end of March to early September and can sometimes be seen flying during the day in sunshine.

Other notable species seen today included Mother of Pearl, The Drinker and Slender Brindled. Thank you all to everyone who has spent the majority of their day helping to identify all of these moths!

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, July 22nd 2014

Volunteers were out in force today working on various different jobs around the reserve. As the summer has progressed vegetation has encroached on several of the net rides and paths; strimmers and hedge cutters were put to good use this morning to open these up again and to clear access for visitors.

Curly Water Thyme has been identified in one of the ponds through the scrapes, this is a native plant to Southern Africa, but is commonly sold as an oxygenating plant in garden centres here in the UK. This plant spreads mostly by vegetative reproduction and can quickly fill entire ponds, outcompeting native species. Some of the team donned wellies, which turned out to be slightly too short, and started to remove this invasive plant. Vegetation was piled at the side of the pond once removed to allow water and any animals to find their way back into the pond before it is moved at a later date.

Other tasks completed today were cutting the last patch of Bracken down at the Bullet Catcher, and Colin spent the day working in the garden around the Field Centre getting everything ship shape for Our Summer BBQ this Saturday.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out on the reserve today!

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To do list

Monday, July 21st 2014

This morning we walked around the site drawing up a ‘to do’ list of jobs both big and small that need doing in the future and identified some prospects for interesting projects.

Unfortunately we found a few more patches of Bracken that need dealing with. So this afternoon after fixing a wonky and slippery bridge both Matt and Adam got stuck into the Bracken patches.


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Warm Weather

Sunday, July 20th 2014

Friday's blog commented on the necessary cutting of some of the net rides.  After yesterday's rain and today's warmth even more 'loppering and secateuring' will be needed!  However the warm weather is bringing out Foxglove's flowers.  Betony is flowering in many places on the reserve turing the areas dark pink.


Zig-Zag Clover is another flower that is blooming.

Zig-Zag Clover

Thistles, greatly loved by the volunteers, are providing nectar and pollen for visiting bees.

Thistle with bee

This morning when the bird ringers arrived at dawn, the hive bees were 'hanging around'!

Hive bees

Once the sun came out and the temperature rose, the bees were busy foraging around  Meadow Sweet.

Hive bees on Meadow Sweet

Although showers were forecast they missed Foxglove, so the whole ten and a half hours of CES 8 were completed.  141 birds were processed, including 28 new Chaffinches and 13 new Bullfinches.  Others making an appearance in the ringing room included Jay, Tree Creeper, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.  Most of the birds handled today were juveniles as the adults are beginning to moult and are keeping a low profile.

Many thanks to the volunteers who prepared the net rides.  Thanks also to  everybody who helped today, providing food, drinks, washing up, sorting bird bags and tidying up, amongst other jobs.

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Friday Jobs

Friday, July 18th 2014

Colin came in this morning to lend a hand with some of the Friday jobs, the first of which was filling the feeders and hoppers around the reserve.

With the extra weight from a few heavy showers this morning many of the branches along the net rides were hanging low and needed pruning before the 8th CES day of the season this weekend. As you can see, with the weight of new growth and rainwater rather a lot had to be pruned out to clear the rides!

Hopefully the ringers should now be able to easily get the nets up when they start at 4.15am. Thank you Colin for all your help today.

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Michael Syddall Primary School Visit

Thursday, July 17th 2014

Pupils from Michael Syddall Primary School in Catterick village visited the reserve today. The children were treated to fantastic weather which meant there were a huge number of insects on the wing for them to see as they enjoyed the three activities we had planned for them.

Common Blue butterflies were seen in good numbers around the pond dipping platforms throughout the day as they fed on the flowers found around these ponds.

Common Blue Damselflies were seen across the reserve with several turning up in sweep nets on the moorland during our minibeast safari.

We hope you all enjoyed your visit to Foxglove today and that you will be back to visit again soon!

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Wednesday, July 16th 2014

The moth trap was set last night out in the back garden; with mild nights we were expecting a decent catch and were not disappointed. 63 moths of 24 species were caught, with several of the spectacular summer moths making an appearance such as this Beautiful Golden-Y, named for the metallic golden marks on the forewing.

Buff Arches have 'flint-like' quality to the forewing markings and are unmistakable. The wings are etched with white and orange arches which can easily be seen when it is at rest.

If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating animals why not come along to one of our weekly moth trapping sessions - the trap is set every Tuesday evening and then emptied Wednesday morning beginning at 9am in the Field Centre.

We also have had to change the date of our moth trapping morning with Charlie Fletcher, the county recorder for moths. This is now being held on Thursday 11th September meeting at the Field Centre at 7.30am. Please let us know if you would like to attend.

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On the Heathland

Tuesday, July 15th 2014

Thirteen volunteers spent their day out in the sun weeding invasive Silver Birch and Willow from a section of the heathland. This is an ongoing management task for our heathland with different sections weeded each year. As you can see from our 'before' photo this area was very overgrown with many plants now tall enough to shade and outcompete the Heather.

With so many hands at work good progress was made throughout the day.

By the close of play the area had been cleared of these invasive plants and the Heather once again exposed which will allow it to flourish over the coming months. Everyone definitely deserved their cup of tea back in the Field Centre after a hard days work in the sun!

With the warm weather hundreds of butterflies have been seen on the wing. Glennis captured this fabulous photo of a Dark Green Fritillary feeding on a thistle flower. Small Skippers, Red Admiral and very high numbers of Ringlets were also recorded on the butterfly survey today.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out with the various jobs around the reserve today!

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Upcoming Events

Monday, July 14th 2014

Remember to book your tickets for our annual Summer BBQ on 26th July starting 1600. There will be a fantastic spread of food put on for us, tickets are only £5 per head. Make sure you book your place soon so you don't miss out on a fun filled afternoon with friends.

Our summer holiday events are now all organised. Each Wednesday in August we have planned nature themed activities for children. These include pond dipping, a minibeast safari as well as an arts and crafts morning.

To book on any of these events and to see what else we have organised over the coming months visit our events page.

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This and That

Sunday, July 13th 2014

The bird ringers were ringing in a reed bed at another site this morning. 

Net ride in the reed bed

These net rides were cut earlier in the week.  Care is taken to ensure that the nets are above the water.  As always the nets are checked regularly and any birds caught removed gently for ringing.

Net ride in the reed bed

Birds caught included Reed Warblers and Kingfisher.  there were two Kingfishers in one net!  When checking these birds both a Kingfisher and a Reed Warbler had been ringed elsewhere. It will be interesting to find out where they had come from!

Yesterday a Moorhen was seen attacking a Water Vole on the wetland!

The first Common Darter of the year was photographed by Jenny.

Common Darter

Yesterday a visitor with the DTNFC saw a butterfly fluttering on the ground.  Unusually he was able to get close and realised that it had a damaged wing, so it was carefully placed in a pot.  (When butterflies emerge from their pupa they need to hang around and pump air through their wings to extend them.  This is a very vulnerable time. This one had obviously had a problem so one wing was crumpled.)  On closer investigation it was found to be a Purple Hairstreak Butterfly.  The larva feed on oak leaves.  Unfortunately the photographs are only suitable for ID purposes and not good enough for the blog.  This is yet another new species for the reserve.

Pepper Saxifrage is flowering and is extending its area, now growing along the access road and in the Scrapes.  The flat topped flower head is an ideal place for the newly hatched Soldier Beetles to await prey.

Soldier Beetles on Pepper Saxifrage

Glennis and Brian spotted this moth on a bridge rail and separately identified it as a Gold Swift moth, which has not been recorded since 2008.

Gold Swift moth

The Bradford Botany Group arrived this morning just as the rain ceased.  They spent the day walking around the reserve looking at, examining and recording the flora. Over 200 species of plant were noted. 

Bradford Botany Group

There is one plant of Saw-wort on the reserve.  It does not flower until late summer.  On heading back to their cars another of these plants was found in a totally different habitat.  We are looking forward to both plants flowering.


Other sightings this weekend include the damselflies, Dark Green Fritillary, Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies and an explanation as to why there are no longer toadpoles in the ponds - they have left the ponds as tiny toads! 

A Kingfisher was seen on the Beck.  This is good news, as part of the winter habitat work was to remove some of the overhanging  trees to open up the flight path for Kingfisher, Dipper and wagtails.

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A Visit and Flowers

Saturday, July 12th 2014

A lovely sunny and warm day greeted the families from the Darlington and Teesdale Naturalists' Field Club.  The children went pond dipping, catching sticklebacks, water boatmen and caddis larvae, but no leeches!  Sweep netting on the moor saw Ringlet Butterflies examined, spiders found and frog hoppers hopping!

Sweep netting on the moor

 Later in the afternoon Common Centaury was photographed.

Common Centaury

Sneezewort is also coming into bloom.


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Cape Wrath 2014

Friday, July 11th 2014

The bird ringing team returned from Cape Wrath a week ago after a fantastic trip, with favourable weather and the highest numbers of birds seen for years.

The first night of the trip is spent at Balmacara House where there are spectacular views across to the Skye Bridge. From here the ringers set off for Loch Torridon where, with the help of local fisherman John, they visit several of the islands to search for nesting birds.

Several of these island are now thick with Bracken and other vegetation making finding nests challenging to say the least!

Many Herring Gull nests were found along with Heron, Cormorants and Oystercatchers.

Herring Gull chick

Most amazingly on one island, two nesting Barn Owls were sharing the same crevice with a clutch of 15 eggs between them!

Following this we headed up to Faraid Head, our base for the week. The following couple of days were spent bird ringing in the surrounding area. A small island on Loch Borralie was visited where Herring Gulls, Common Gulls, and Tern chicks were ringed.

In a rather ramshackle barn are several Swallow nests, nets were put across the doors and windows once the chicks had been ringed to capture the adults. One of the Swallows was a retrap, having been ringed there four years previously as a chick – when you consider migration this small bird has flown 25,000 miles at least over those four years; most likely much further!


Fulmars nest along cliff ledges; this year several were within reach of the top of the cliffs around Faraid Head. Securely roped to the Land Rover, Jack slithered to the edge and skilfully lifted several Fulmars and one Razorbill up to the waiting ringers.

That evening was spent atop yet another cliff with nets set in readiness for Storm Petrels. As dusk fell the speakers were turned on, playing Storm Petrel calls out to sea to attract the birds in. A record 115 birds were ringed during the night! Returning to base as dawn broke everyone retired for a couple of hours sleep before our first day at sea.

Several small islands and stacks were visited. In previous years on one of the islands we have built rocky nesting shelters ideally suited for Black Guillemots. This year two of these were occupied, with one adult still on an egg and in the second nest a newly hatched chick. Several more of these shelters were built; hopefully we will be able to remember where next year!

Black Guillemot chick

Our second day at sea was the most eagerly anticipated with a visit to the Clo Mhor boulder field and Kervaig Stack. Both of these areas are home to large Guillemot colonies along with Razorbills, Shags, Puffins and many other species of sea bird. Half the team was dropped at each location where they were able to ring non-stop until the boats came to collect us in the early evening.

The atmosphere on the boulder field is incredible, with the noise of thousands of birds calling around you.

Numbers of birds breeding in these areas were at the highest for about 15 years, in total 904 Guillemots were ringed during the afternoon here, along with many other birds of different species totalling well over 1,000 birds during the day – several hundred more than the total for the entire trip last year!

This is an incredible place to be able to visit - a real privilege. I am sure all of the ringing team would echo my thanks to Tony for organising this, the Royal Marines for safely landing us on each of these islands, and Cruickie for the delicious food!

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Another busy Thursday

Thursday, July 10th 2014

Another fantastic morning’s effort from the volunteers, finishing the Bracken control for this year. Patches were removed around Risedale Beck and between the lake and the moorland.

This afternoon they then moved on to the long awaited task of sorting out the workshop. Tools have been sharpened and made ready. Shelves have been sorted and tidied and everything is looking ship shape and ready to go. So a massive thank you to the team who have made the workshop a much more usable space for everyone.

Leeds University Old Students Society paid Foxglove a visit this afternoon, taking a walk round the reserve after an introduction from Adam. They were very complimentary about the reserve and we look forward to welcoming many of them back in the future.

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Bracken Clearing

Tuesday, July 8th 2014

Volunteers worked like Trojans today clearing Bracken from areas of the moorland and from around the Outdoor Classroom.

Bracken control over the past few years has been concentrated on the moorland and the benefits are clear to see, with the Bracken stands much reduced in size.

By lunchtime the work on the moorland was finished and everyone enjoyed an alfresco lunch at various spots across the reserve. We carried on clearing around the Outdoor Classroom during the afternoon; the Bracken was much taller and thicker here as it was not cut last year. With continued work on this over the next few years we should see a reduction in Bracken cover through this area as well as on the moorland, allowing more light to reach the ground and a richer ground flora to develop.

Thank you to everyone for your hard work today - we promise there will be a different job next week!

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Matt’s First Day

Monday, July 7th 2014

Hello, my name is Matt I am the new Deputy Reserve Manager here at Foxglove. Today was my first day I’ve had a general introduction to the site and walked round the many and varied habitats. I am excited about the prospect of helping to manage such a wonderfully diverse reserve. I have previously worked in a varied range of jobs from building paths in the Cairngorms to working on a Ministry of Defence site as a Rural Estate Worker in Norfolk. I have already met a number of the friendly knowledgeable volunteers that come to Foxglove and I look forward to meeting many more.

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Bird Round up!

Sunday, July 6th 2014

CES 7 went ahead but with many eyes on the weather and the ringers ready to dash out and remove birds from the nets and furl them once the downpours arrived.  A beautiful red dawn was seen as the nets went up.  Then it became very overcast and dark, then lighter cloud and some sunshine, and this is the way it continued for the whole ten and a half hours, with a few drops of rain greeting everyone as they packed up to leave! 

Having spent several ringing days not catching many Chaffinches, 40 new ones made their appearance today.  Bullfinches have been in rude numbers for most of the year and another 20 new ones were ringed today.   Nine Chiffchaff and 8 Willow Warblers received new rings also.  The total catch was 187 and there were several new Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Blackcap.

Many thanks to all the  volunteers who prepared Foxglove for CES 7.  Net rides were cut, net poles were oiled and paths were strimmed.  Thank you also to the team today who ringed the birds and to those who supported them.

Other birds that have been ringed recently include some Swallows chicks…..

Ringing a Swallow chick

and some Pied Wagtails - so note the difference in the species and not Sandra's delicate nails !  Quite a difference it has to be said from the usual grubby, male fists that are often depicted on these pages!

Pied Wagtail chick ready to receive its ring

Last year, on an island in Loch Torridon, a sea loch, the Cape Wrath bird ringers rather unusually found and ringed a Barn Owl.  This year the owls were there again but the surprise was 15 eggs in the nest!  This photograph shows 13 of them.  Discussion took place about what the adults were feeding on as the vegetation on the island is very high and the next question was where were they feeding?  Two adults were found in the nest - could they both have been females!?

Barn Owl nest

Out on the training area around Foxglove Covert, we know of no Grey Herons that have raised young this year, however the ones further north have done well.  Again, on the islands in Loch Torridon, many nests have been successful.

Grey Heron Chicks

At Foxglove, 'our' Sedge Warblers have produced young and some have already been ringed. Further north the eggs are yet to hatch and here is one of their nests.

Sedge Warbler Nest

For the last two years the Cape Wrath team have ringed Red throated Diver chicks.  This year the eggs were still to hatch.  Each year the north and south are very different.

The visit to Cape Wrath is always heavily dependent on the weather and although unable to ring on some days they did ring many more seabirds this year than in recent years and the breeding seabird populations generally were considered to be much improved.

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Saturday, July 5th 2014

There are many flowers, all shapes and sizes, in bloom around the reserve.  The tall dark pink spikes of Foxgloves can be seen in many different habitats.


The individual flowers are amazing in close up.

Close up of Foxglove Flower

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Thursday, July 3rd 2014

There was good news today about the bird colonies at Cape Wrath.  There are more birds this year than there have been over the last few years.  Ledges that last year had empty places, have been full. Razorbill and Guillemot chicks are almost ready to go to sea.  They leave their nest sites and sort of glide or fall onto the sea.  It is only later that they learn to fly.  On Wednesday the team ringed over 950 Guillemots - one of the best days ever.  Yesterday they heard from the team of RSPB bird ringers who are busy fitting GPS trackers to Kittiwakes.  They have found that they fly a round trip of 150 miles, NW from Cape Wrath in order to collect food.

The team start their long journey south tomorrow.  Have a safe hassle free journey.

Meawhile back at Foxglove, volunteers continue to strim paths and edges of paths.  No Bramble dare show its face over the path - if it does it is chopped! The first count of cows and sheep this morning failed miserably, however this afternoon volunteers counted them all!   Thank you so much for all your hard work.  It is really appreciated.

Yesterday Peter came and give us some information that will help us ID the grasses on the reserve.  Firstly we looked at some we had picked previously.

Looking at the grasses in the Activity Room

Then we headed out to the middle moor.  Some of the very small grasses that are not fully in flower yet, were identified.

Looking at grasses on the middle moor

We were shown hairy knees and striped pyjamas as an aid to identifying some grasses!  Some had hairy leaves, some smooth and some had hairs along their stems.  When we head out at the end of July on the flower walk, hopefully we will be able to record some of the grasses.  Thank you very much for all your help Peter.

Ringlet butterflies are flying all over the reserve in the sunshine but they do not sit still long enough for a photograph. This Speckled Wood was much more co-operative.

Speckled Wood butterfly

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News from the North

Wednesday, July 2nd 2014

Difficulties with technology mean that only Robin is able to send photographs of the activities! 

They catch adult birds such Kittiwakes and Guillemots from the ledges using long poles.  This shows Tony thinking about which bird to catch!

The title of this photograph is' vicious beasts!'  Not quite sure why - may be something to do with their beaks?


However Sarah is the Razorbill tamer!  The bird is sitting quietly awaiting ringing.

Sarah the Razorbill tamer!

This is one of the areas where the team have ringed birds for many years so the data can be used to look at population dynamics.

Boulder Field

 'Break time'.

Break time

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Brilliant Volunteers!

Tuesday, July 1st 2014

Volunteers arrived this morning and tasks were handed out.  Dams along Risedale Beck were checked and repaired and by mid afternoon the pools they feed were full, running in and out!  Strimmers and lawn mowers are now back in their sheds having a well earned rest as they have been busy all day.  Volunteers took them around big paths, little paths and net rides and these now look beautiful.  Other volunteers walked around cutting back the ever growing Brambles and tree branches. Cattle were counted, two of them.  Sheep were counted and 27 were recorded.  Admin work was carried out, from checking Friends lists, to display mounting, to species recording and not forgetting the butterfly transect!  A huge thank you to everyone.  Your work is really appreciated.  You are very special volunteers!

As the volunteers were all over the reserve it was difficult to get any photographs.  This one shows some of them having a well earned rest at lunch time.

volunteers resting

Flowers are blooming all over the reserve.  Slender St John's Wort shows its yellow flowers and red faded petals on the heath.

Slender St John's Wort

In the sunshine not only were the butterflies flying but an Emperor Dragonfly was spotted hunting and a Four Spotted Chaser was seen flitting through the Scrapes.  Bright blue flashes amongst the vegetation revealed blue damselflies.

Blue damselfly

Two photographs from the north show some of areas where the bird ringers are busy.  They have ringed Greater Black-backed Gulls, Guillemots and Shags.

Areas where ringign is taking place

Where the ringers are busy

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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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