Blog Archive (30) Posts Made in August 2014
The Last CES of 2014
Sunday, August 31st 2014
About 1645 the ringing room was busy, but not with bird ringing. Everyone was sitting or standing comfortably with plate and glass in hands, all ready to listen.
Tony had been busy with the calculator working out some statistics.
Today was CES 12, the last CES of 2014. The end of the 22nd year of CES at Foxglove. We now have the best data set for CES in the country, allowing comparisons and trends to be examined. I did not write down Tony's numbers and my expertise at figures does cause questions at times, but here goes. For each CES season 126 hours are spent in the ringing room. Twenty two years of CES mean a grand total of 2772 hours. More hours when you add in the last net round birds to be processed, and the tidying up carried out.
Not one day has been missed and Tony has been present at most of them. The team of ringers work very hard during CES, starting at dawn. The numbers of birds handled at each session can vary between 100 and 300. Net rounds are carried out every 20 minutes. The miles walked is beyond my ability to calculate but I think 'many' would cover it!
Well done and congratulations to the ringing team for completing another year of CES.
The back up team are very important. Volunteers look after the net rides, strimming them in summer and pollarding them during the winter. Net poles are oiled. Friends provide sausage rolls and sticky buns. Bird bags are checked. A huge thank you to everyone who supports the ringers at Foxglove.
From the end of the day to the beginning. No beautiful sunrise but dawn breaking over the reed bed.
Early in the morning a juvenile Nuthatch was processed.
Birds were ringed and checked throughout the day.
The data, of species, age, wing size, weight and moult are recorded and then entered into the IPMR data base. Later this will all be sent to the BTO.
During the last few days of CES the number of new Bullfinches ringed has steadily grown. Today another 54 were ringed. During 2014 CES, 489 Bullfinches have been processed of which 238 are new birds. This Amber listed bird is in decline in many areas, but not at Foxglove.
Other birds passing through the ringing room today, included Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and a newly ringed Willow Tit.
Friday, August 29th 2014
With the moorland wildflower meadow now cut and cleared off the next stage of managing this habitat has begun. More Yellow Rattle seed has been spread across the area by volunteers.
Four Belted Galloways have also arrived on site, they are currently feeding off the meadow area, but once this has greened up they will be moved across. As the cattle move around they create little scrapes and scuffs in the sward, breaking up the cover of the grasses and allowing space for wildflower seeds to germinate.
We will, hopefully, all be able to enjoy the benefits of our hard work here next summer when the meadow is once again in full bloom.
Thursday, August 28th 2014
Yesterday evening volunteers and members of the ringing team visited a farm in Ravensworth to ring Mute Swans. The farmer had been very helpful and lured the birds out of the water before we arrived with a tempting meal of seed.
Once rounded up and caught, the best way to hold and control a swan is to sit astride their bodies and gently hold their necks. Two adults and three cygnets were caught.
The adults had both been ringed previously, one as a cygnet in 1997 at Thorpe Perrow, the longevity record for a swan is 28 years and 20 days, so at 17 years old this bird is a relative youngster! The other was ringed as an adult on the same farm in 2009. All three cygnets were ringed before being released.
Once all the data was recorded and we had finished the birds happily regrouped and returned to the pond. We must say a big thank you to the farmers who allow us to come and ring these birds, and also to the group of volunteers who helped us to catch and hold the swans during this process.
Cape Wrath Storm Petrels
Wednesday, August 27th 2014
Over the bank holiday weekend three of the Foxglove ringing team and two members of the Army Ornithological Society headed up to Cape Wrath in north-west Scotland for a weekend of bird ringing. The first day was spent on the Cape Wrath ranges in search of Red Throated Diver chicks, from a nest that had been found on the trip earlier this summer. Unfortunately there was no sign of the birds, but Bonxies (Great Skuas), Buzzards and many Gannets were seen, along with some beautiful scenery.
The focus of the trip was to ring Storm Petrels, small pelagic birds that only come to shore at night to breed. The weather was such that we only managed to ring during two of the three nights, although nets were set around our base at Faraid Head where Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Twite were also caught and ringed.
The ground was as wet as anyone had ever seen so there was a longer walk into the site to ensure we did not get bogged down in the Land Rovers, as dusk fell each evening the nets were set on top of the cliff edge.
A rather impressive looking speaker system was used to play Storm Petrel calls out to sea luring the birds in during the night.
Over the two nights 303 new birds were caught as well as 10 controls, birds that had previously been caught and ringed at another site, including one from Norway! It will be interesting to see where these birds have come from once the BTO has processed the data.
Cultural representations of Storm Petrels are very interesting. The name petrel is a diminutive form of Peter, a reference to Saint Peter, given to these birds as they appear to walk across the surface of the water. They are well known in maritime culture, getting their name Storm Petrels from their habit of hiding in the lee of ships during stormy weather. Early sailors named these birds Mother Carey's chickens because they were thought to warn of oncoming storms; this name is based on a corrupted form of Mater Cara, a name for the Virgin Mary.
Tuesday, August 26th 2014
Today with a lot of help from the volunteers we finally finished the clearance of the middle moor wildflower meadow. Any cuttings that couldn’t be turned into useful hay or silage by the farmer were raked up and removed from the site.
The farmer then came to collect the silage that they had baled and wrapped last week. A big thank you to everyone who played their part in this task, the meadow is now looking very well groomed and should flourish in the next growing season.
This afternoon we moved on to the enjoyable task of pulling Thistles on the moor. Although this is a tough job with the spikey Thistles penetrating even the sturdiest of gloves the volunteers attacked the task with their usual vigour and have made a really noticeable difference. So once again a big thank you for all your hard work today!
News and Surprises
Monday, August 25th 2014
The team who have been at Cape Wrath have started their long journey home. Last night they ringed over 120 Stormies. They have been visiting the area for more than 20 years and have never seen the ground so wet after all the heavy rain over the last few weeks.
John and Sophie visited The Crater this morning to ring more Mipits (Meadow Pipits). From one 12 metre net, they caught 124 Mipits. However they were surprised by some extra visitors. Firstly a Whinchat. These birds are declining rapidly, so it was very good to see one.
Then some larger visitors, two Long Eared Owls. A special raptor net was used. ( There was just a little concern as to the state of the mist net after these two had been in it!) The adult male is on the left and you can clearly see his ear tufts, which are not ears! He was newly ringed, not one of the chicks ringed in a nest in May 2012, not too far from The Crater. On the right is the juvenile. These birds have a wing span of about 100cm. They feed mainly on small mammals but will take small birds and are obviously making the most of the Meadow Pipit migration.
Another bird caught today was a Sparrowhawk. It too would be hunting the small birds around the The Crater.
Thank you to John and Sophie for the photographs from their ringing session.
A Sedge and a Reed and More News
Sunday, August 24th 2014
Most of the sedges, rushes, and grasses have finished setting seed. However in the Scrapes, Galingale is just flowering. This sedge really does have edges! However it is very difficult to get a good photograph of the edges! The photo below shows the flower head and if you look closely you can see the yellow stamens.
At the head of the Scrapes the reed bed is thriving after it has been cut over the last two years. Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler have bred in the area this summer. During the winter Reed Buntings will roost here. The reeds are Phragmites australis.
After rain or a heavy dew the leaves become covered in water droplets that often appear to defy gravity!
Last night, around 11pm, news from the North, reported that the first Stormies were caught. During the night 122 birds were processed. Four of these were controls, birds that have been ringed elsewhere, one of them was from Norway! The team is just about ready to head off again.
Summer and Autumn and News from the North
Saturday, August 23rd 2014
At this time of year not only do we see signs of summer but of autumn too.
The late flowering Knapweed, Devil's Bit Scabious and Saw-wort are vital sources of food for many insects and butterflies. In return these insects pollinate the flowers, so they can set seed.
On close inspection of this Saw-wort, white pollen grains can be seen on the stigmas.
Peacock butterflies search for open flowers so that they can feed on the nectar.
Whilst many plants are still in full bloom, some have produced their seeds and fruits. Last year a Roe Deer doe, enjoyed feeding on the ripe Blackberries. We were wondering if she has her eye on them again.
The Spindle tree also has fruits. They are green initially, but turn red as they ripen. When the capsule bursts they have orange seeds.
Warm damp conditons are ideal for the growth of fungi, the classic sign of autumn. This new Turkey Tail is showing all its beautiful colours.
A text from the North said that there had been a break in the squally showers and wind, so nets had gone up and Meadow Pipits and Linnets had been caught. Gannets had been seen flying about over the sea. The team were preparing for a night of ringing Storm Petrels - Stormies.
What a busy week
Friday, August 22nd 2014
Yesterday we finished fixing the fence and gate by the wetland hide. The area is now stock proof and the gate post is upright and will last for many years to come. This has been an ongoing job for the last week or so. We have been waiting for the concrete footing to set and we have been fitting the job in around a very busy week at Foxglove. We would like to thank everyone that has worked on it and hope you would agree that it now looks better than ever.
Today has been a busy day at Foxglove with lots of visitors and quite a few of the regular volunteers stopping by. We have spent most of the day getting the site looking its best for the bank holiday weekend. The visitors centre will be open all weekend from 10:00-16:00 so we hope that as many of you as possible will make it to Foxglove. There is plenty to see with an abundance of wildflowers and insects, like this Hoverfly that was spotted today on a flowering Devil’s Bit Scabious.
Next Wednesday it’s the last of our August Antics sessions for children. We will be spending an hour or so pond dipping, delving into the ponds at the scrapes to see what creatures lurk beneath the surface. We still have places available so please see the News and Events Section of the website for how to book.
Thursday, August 21st 2014
Butterflies are brightly coloured and most can be identified from reference books. Moths are a little more difficult but with perseverance they can be identified. Caterpillars come in all shapes, sizes, with and without fur and hair, sticky up tails and bright colours. Unfortunatley trying to identify some of them is impossible!
One that we can identify, is this brightly coloured, hairy and well photographed little fella - it is Grey Dagger Moth. (We call it Grey Dags.) It remained on its leaf over a long period of time so everyone who wanted to, could take a photograph. We noticed the silk thread around it and wondered if it was going to pupate or was it for protection. We will see if it is still in the same place over the weekend.
The next caterpillar was found on a Teasel leaf. Yellow splodges, black splodges and grey bits - easy to find in the reference book. It remains a yellow, black and grey caterpillar!
Thanks to Christine for these photographs.
After days of uncertainty and every weather forecast known on the internet examined closely, the bird ringers decided that the weather was not going to be too bad for their second trip to Cape Wrath to ring Storm Petrels. They set off tonight. Our best wishes go with them and we hope that they have a successful visit. Signals for mobiles and the internet are not brilliant but we hope to hear of their activities over the weekend.
Birds, Bugs, Flowers and Work!
Wednesday, August 20th 2014
The day started at 0600 for the bird ringers at The Crater. It was cool and layers of fleeces, hats and scarves were needed, but the sun was rising beautifully and there was no wind. These were ideal conditions for mist netting Meadow Pipits.
As the nets were put up the birds were sitting on the fences watching what was going on!
The nets were only up for two hours and in that time over 120 birds were ringed, all juveniles and no retrapped birds. One Reed Bunting and one Linnet were amongst the catch.
The last net round saw the nets full of birds. This one close to the fence had 40 birds in it.
You can almost see this one asking 'What are you all doing down there?' If you look closely at the photograph you can see the long hind claw that is characteristic of this bird.
Meanwhile back at Foxglove, the moth trap was emptied. As the nights are now cooler so the number of moths is lower. In the trap was one Poplar Hawkmoth, who sat patiently to be phtotgraphed.
The blog has reported the cutting of the grass on the middle moor. It has been turned and today it was baled.
When all the work was done and the machinery had left, the middle moor had sprouted large black bales of silage!
During the morning children hunted for minibeasts under the logs at the outdoor classroom, finding earthworms, woodlice, slugs and larvae of Ground Beetles. Adam then shook a tree and everyone was amazed at what fell out of it. Lacewing larvae, several different species of caterpillar, frog hoppers, harvestmen and spiders, along with many tiny insects.
The next activity was sweep netting on the moor. Spiders large and small, tiny insects, frog hoppers and a damselfly were all caught in the nets.
After lunch it was the turn of the adults to go on a flower walk. Flowers were identified and recorded. Some flowers had to be examined with a hand lens and many had their own story to tell.
Walking through the Scrapes, Galingale, Fleabane, Pepper Saxifrage and Hemp Agrimony were identified. However when it came to finding the Gipsywort, we almost had to accept defeat. We were sure it was growing in one particular place but not a leaf could be found, then it appeared a little further on!
Volunteers were out working, filling in the potholes along the access track, grass cutting and mending the fence onto the wetland. Some were out recording what was there. And what was there included a Brimstone Butterfly, a tiny fungi, Typhula capitata, not seen for some time and the Common Lizard, sunbathing on the boardwalk. (Thanks for the photo Glennis.)
A really busy day at Foxglove. A huge thank you to everyone involved today, achieving so much.
A Busy Tuesday
Tuesday, August 19th 2014
Volunteers had a busy day here on the reserve; this morning we were again working on the heathland weeding out invasive Silver Birch, and willow. Good progress has been made so far on the three work days spent here, although we will have to spend a little more time on this to see the job through to completion.
Each year a local farmer donates waste chaff from his combine harvester to the reserve. This chaff is rich in wildflower seeds and is used in some of our bird feeders throughout the year. Late this morning nine one-tonne sacks were delivered and volunteers relish the task of bagging this into smaller sacks for use here! This is a dusty and dirty job so we were very pleased to have completed it before the end of the day!
Thank you everyone for your help today!
Monday, August 18th 2014
Last week our wild flower meadow was cut for hay. The farmer has been back today to turn this, helping to dry the cut grass and spread wildflower seeds across the meadow. He will be back again tomorrow to turn the hay again and is hoping to bale it later this week (as long as the rain holds off!)
Once the hay is baled and taken away we will have Belted Galloway returning to graze this area through until late autumn. As the cattle move about they will create bare patches of soil across the meadow, which will help seeds to germinate in the spring.
Sunday, August 17th 2014
Late summer is a time when flowers are blooming and fruits are ripening. Devil's Bit Scabious is just coming into flower. It is important at this time of year, as it provides pollen and nectar for many insects, including bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Blackberries are setting their fruit and after the rain should develop into juicy berries for us - whoops - small mammals, Roe Deer and birds. There are still many Blackberry flowers in bloom, again providing food for a variety of insects.
Meadow Sweet has a delicate scent and again attracts insects, especially our hive bees. It has a long flowering period and often there can be flowers and seeds growing together.
Roses only flower for a short time. Their green fruits have been developing over the last few weeks and have suddenly turned red. Not many mammals or birds enjoy these fruits and so they are often left on the shrub until spring.
However the Rowan Berries are thoroughly enjoyed by Blackbirds and Thrushes. Usually they have cleared the trees long before the Redwing and Fieldfares arrive from further north.
Saturday, August 16th 2014
It was reported yesterday that the photographs of the Water Voles were good, except the Water Vole was not there! Today the cameras have been out and Glennis captured the Water Vole feeding. Although difficult to tell the actual size this does look like a youngster.
Apparently Water Voles can eat over 200 different species of plant. This one is amongst Branched Bur-reed, Bulrush and reeds. If you look closely at the reeds in the front of the photograph you can see that they are nibbled at a 45 degree angle. This is characteristic of Water Vole feeding.
A minute after the photo above was taken the Water Vole was off! Just caught before it disappeared.
A great sighting.
Friday, August 15th 2014
It has been a while since a CES ringing day has started with a lovely sunrise, well pink sky. This was taken over the Scrapes.
There was no wind so the lake was like a mirror, reflecting the clouds tinged with pink.
The forecast had been scrutinised for several days to see if there was going to be a break in the weather. Mist netting requires, ideally, no wind and certainly no rain! Today looked good, until the forecast changed part way through the day. There were short showers, not coming to very much, but then the rain arrived just as the nets were taken down, so bird ringers and nets got soaked! They are drip drying overnight - the nets not the bird ringers!
We were very lucky to complete the ten and a half hours required for CES without having to close the nets due to rain. Over 170 birds were processed. 100 of these were newly ringed birds. Nineteen species were recorded today, including Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. We continue to catch juvenile Bullfinches and another 33 were ringed today.
A surprise, was a juvenile Redstart.
Sightings, included a Tawny Owl, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. However the best sighting must go to Chris, Ann, Glennis and Joan for watching the Water Vole. Unfortunately the photographs taken show where the Water Vole was! Camera clicked - Water Vole had disappeared!
A busy enjoyable day. Only one more CES to do this year. Thank you very much to everyone who helped today.
Work on the heath continues
Friday, August 15th 2014
This morning we had a willing group of volunteers from Carillion on site. After a look into the bird ringing room where they released a few birds we ventured out to the heath. We then continued where our Tuesday volunteers left off, by removing the Willow, Hawthorn and Silver Birch trees that are starting to dominate the bottom edge of the heath. Their help was greatly appreciated and another good dent was made in the task.
We also had day 11 of the CES on site today (more information to follow). This afternoon Glennis, Brian and Joan came in to display the wonderful artwork from Artful Animals, this week’s August Antics session.
Next Wednesday’s August Antics session for children will be a minibeast safari, where you can come and explore what lies beneath the undergrowth at Foxglove. Discover the insects, spiders, worms and many more interesting minibeasts that inhabit the area around our purpose built outdoor classroom. There are still places available, please see the News and Events section of our website to book.
Work around the reserve
Thursday, August 14th 2014
Yesterday the vegetation on the middle moor was cut using a tractor mounted mower and later in the week the cuttings will be turned, spreading the wildflower seeds. Hopefully if the weather isn’t too bad and the cuttings manage to dry, it will then be made into bales sometime over the coming week. We need to remove the cuttings from the meadow to reduce the nutrients getting back into the soil and therefore encourage the wildflowers that thrive in nutrient poor soils.
Today we have started to repair the fence up by the wetland hide. Many of the posts had rotted through and the straining wire has pulled the gate post over at an angle. Colin did an excellent job moving the latch so the gate would still shut, but today we started to put a more permanent solution in place. This involved replacing the old posts and concreting in a new straining post. Once the concrete has had time to set we will add a strut, re-attach the wire and level up the gate post so we have a functioning stock fence once again. A big thank you to Garth for his help today, braving the biting bugs and thunder showers to help us out.
August Antics - Artful Animals
Wednesday, August 13th 2014
Eleven children (and their parents) enjoyed a morning exploring the lives of our native nocturnal animals through arts and crafts activities.
We spent time crafting some beautiful prints of Hedgehogs and Badgers using potato stamps, adding texture using brushes, stamps and sponges.
Prints using jelly plates were also made, a textured background was created using rollers and acrylic paint before aspects of this were developed with additional colours, shapes and textures using a variety of different tools. Children were also able to dissect owl pellets, exploring the diets of these birds by identifying the contents.
The final activity designing and modelling a hedgehog from clay, these will now be fired and glazed before being put on display.
Thank you to Glennis who organised and provided the materials for these activities. The morning was enjoyed by all who took part and the artwork produced was fantastic. This will soon be on display in the classroom for all to enjoy.
A Day on the Heath
Tuesday, August 12th 2014
Our volunteers spent the majority of their day working on the heathland, weeding out invasive Silver Birch and willow saplings. Work concentrated on the area nearest the path; as you can see from this 'before' photo the area was densely covered with these invasive young plants.
We had decided that the best course of action would be to try and dig out as many of the stumps and roots as possible; this would minimise the regrowth and work required over the coming years - even if it meant a bit more hard work today.
After a hard days graft there was definitely a big improvement to be seen at the west end of the heathland.
A big thank you to all of the volunteers who helped out today, the aching muscles will be testament to what was achieved.
Monday, August 11th 2014
There are still spaces availble on our Artful Animals childrens' arts and crafts morning this Wednesday! We will be exploring the fascinating lives of our native animals through several different activities during the morning. Please see our events page if you would like to book, alternatively call Adam or Matt on 01748 831113.
Nature Round Up!
Sunday, August 10th 2014
On the 30th July, Chicken in the Wood (a fungus) was reported growing on a log.
By yesterday, this was the size it had reached!
Usually we find only a few Robin's Pincushion Galls on roses, but his year there are many. Unlike most galls this one has several chambers in it, where the larvae overwinter. The adult wasps, mainly female, emerge in the spring. At 4mm long it is highly unlikely that we will ever see them!
Saw-wort was mentioned yesterday. One of the characteristics of this flower is that the leaves feel like the teeth of a saw. In this enlarged photograph you can see the serrated edge of the leaf.
A zoom lens on a camera is ideal for getting close up shots without disturbing insects. This one was washing its front feet.
Although the spiders have been around for several months they are most easily seen now. Webs are covered with dew and rain drops. The cone shaped webs made in amongst the grasses and flowers as well as Gorse belong to orb web spiders. This was one was rather large!
A Stoat jumped from stone to stone to cross Risedale Beck yesterday. Obviously it did not want to get its feet wet. Roe Deer have been seen. Volunteers working on the wetland this week saw Water Voles. On one of the warm days last week three Buzzards were heard calling and seen circling on the thermals. The Kingfisher was recorded by visitors. Mallard and Moorhen are on the lake. A Sparrowhawk was hiding in a tree in the back garden.
Saturday, August 9th 2014
Taking photographs was a challenge today. Zoom - so as not to disturb the butterfly; in focus - click - and the result, a beautiful blade of grass with the butterfly behind! The wind had blown things around!
Next was a Small Skipper on Devil's Bit Scabious and after dodging about between the waving grasses everything stayed still.
In the sunny glades Speckled Wood butterflies were flitting around, some defending their territories. Others were resting in the sunshine and being sheltered so a photograph was possible.
Not a thistle in sight
Thursday, August 7th 2014
Yesterday the volunteers continued the hard work up at the wetland pulling the remaining thistles and then removing them from the wetland.
This week we have also cut back the grass around the front of the wetland ponds and I think you’ll agree that the wetland is starting to look pretty good! So a big thank you everyone who has pitched in over the last few days.
Yesterday we had the first of our August Antics sessions. We had twelve children pond dipping at the scrapes to see what they could find. Three types of Water Snail were identified plus lots of Sticklebacks and Whirligig Beetles, Stone Fly larva, May Fly larva, Water Boatmen and a variety of other creatures were discovered in the deeps, and a good time was had by all. Next week’s August Antic activity is Artful Animals, an arts and crafts event exploring the lives of animals. There are still places available, please see the events and news section of the website for further details of how to book places. We hope to see you there!
Two To Go!
Tuesday, August 5th 2014
CES 10 (only two more to go!) took place today and 194 birds were processed during the ten and a half hours the nets were up. Bullfinches continue to visit the ringing room and another 22 received their rings today. Chaffinch numbers are increasing and 30 of these were also newly ringed. Juveniles dominate the birds caught and included Jay, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Reed Bunting. Another new juvenile Sedge Warbler was ringed whilst one of the Reed Warblers caught last week made another appearance.
Early in the day two juvenile, female Kingfishers were caught. These are beautiful birds and give people a great deal of pleasure when they are seen flying around the lake. Altogether 24 species were caught today, many of them young birds moulting into their adult plumage. Thanks are due to everyone, volunteers and ringers who participated.
Returning from a net round the sighting of a Painted Lady Butterfly was reported. Camera at the ready we returned to where it had been seen with little expectation of it still being there. But we were lucky, it was. It stayed in the same place most of the day, feeding from Black Knapweed (Hardheads). These butterflies are summer migrants. They begin their journey from North Africa and spread into mainland Europe before heading to the British Isles. Unfortunately they are unable to survive our winters.
A Productive Day!
Tuesday, August 5th 2014
Lots of people hard at work today at Foxglove. We had the regular Tuesday volunteers up on the wetland pulling out thistles, nearly 200 birds ringed in the Centre (more information to follow), and the butterfly survey completed with 12 species recorded on site. So that was nearly 30 people working on site today making Foxglove a hive of activity. A big thank you to all involved, it’s been a really productive day and much was achieved.
We Need Your Help!
Monday, August 4th 2014
Many of you are fantastic photographers, taking brilli shots of wildlife and the many varied habitats on the reserve, we are appealing for any photos you have that you might like to be considered for our 2015 calendar. We are looking for pictures of animal life, plants and flowers, as well as views from around the reserve. To be considered for the calendar, photos must be landscape orientated.
If you would like to submit any images please send them to our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Shapes and Sizes Continued
Sunday, August 3rd 2014
Yesterday it was plants today it is invertebrates. Invertebrates cover everything from snails and slugs, to butterflies and moths, to bees, wasps and centipedes to name but some. They are not everybody's favourite animals, but some are beautiful. This is the best time of year, in the warmth and sunshine, to see many of these tiny creatures.
Many Cinnabar moths were seen flying earlier in the summer and now we have their caterpillars eating their way through Common Ragwort.
Hoverflies are just beginning to make their appearance around the flowers. This one was found inside a Large Bindweed flower.
When pond dipping, children are told the differences between dragonflies and damselflies. One of the main points is that damsels hold their wings parallel to their body, just like this Emerald Damselfly - is not doing!
Often the moths caught in the moth trap are never seen as you walk around the reserve. It was therefore a great surprise to see Pyrausta purpuralis flying during the day.
Moths themselves come in all shapes, sizes and furriness, as this Drinker Moth shows.
It is always assumed that insects will be where you expect them to be. However they are always able to give you a surprise. This Southern Hawker was hanging around the boundary fence early one morning. The wings held at right angles to the body, just as they should be!
All Shapes and Sizes
Saturday, August 2nd 2014
Wild Carrot is a biennial, taking two years from seed to flowering. Each year we have to look for it as it rarely grows in the same place each year. The composite umbelifer flower can have a tiny red centre. On the flower walk we found it growing on the heath. The main flower at the head of the stem did not have a red centre.
However the flowers lower down the stem, on the same plant, did!
Another amazing plant is the biennial Teasel. The lower leaves form a cup around the stem. Water collects here and insects fall into it. They are then digested and the nutrients absorbed. Apparently the more insects 'eaten' the greater number of seeds produced. Butterflies and bees feed from the flower.
Sun and warmth are ideal for the growth of plants. (Recent rainfall will, no doubt help them to grow and more loppering and secaturing will be needed!) Flowers cover the reserve and their bright colours stand out. Warm and damp conditions also favour fungi and some of them are now beginning to show their fruiting bodies. This Chicken in the Wood is growing on an old log and is visbly increasing in size, daily!
Friday, August 1st 2014
Each Wednesday morning throughout August we have children's events planned starting next Wednesday with a pond dipping session! Come along at 10am for a fun hour or two to see what lurks in the depths of the ponds!
We also have an arts and crafts morning planned on Wednesday 13th and a Minibeast Safari on Wednesday 20th. For full details and to book your place please see our events page.