Blog Archive (30) Posts Made in December 2016

Bird Ringing with a Difference

Saturday, December 31st 2016

I wrote in a blog not long ago that Moorhen have big feet, but that I did not have a photo showing them.  That can now be remedied.  This is one of the Moorhens that has been caught in the duck trap on another site.

Big feet of a Moorhen!

Our duck trap has had some alterations made and a Mallard has been caught and ringed.  Yesterday, in the wind, not a bird was to be seen on the lake, although there was the occaisional shriek from a Moorhen and a Mallard was also heard.

The Lake

Yesterday afternoon the bird ringers were at another site setting up the nets to catch waders, particulalry Curlew.  At Foxglove all the net rides are prepared and the net poles in the exact position, just waiting for the nets.  On this site poles had to be placed and tethered before the nets could go in.  Tony, an experienced bird ringer explained how to set about the task.

Preparing for the nets to go in

Beginning to put the nets in

The nets raised.

The nets raised

Unfortunately the birds did not arrive to roost.  In an email sent out to the bird ringers Tony stated;- 'It wasn't a waste of time because putting in wader nets is different, and those that were there saw the possibilities and the differences in the weight and structure of these nets, and the nuances to putting them up and why. The nets were really great and an exemplar of how nets should be set - we were just short of an essentiall ingredient!'

A reminder that wildlife does not always do what you expect it to do. 

The Management Group would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who give their time so willingly and work so hard, throughout the year, no matter what the weather or task, to keep Foxglove Covert looking so good.  All the hard work pays off when the reserve awakes from her winter sleep and spring begins to slowly unfold, with Primroses and Dog Violets and the return of the Chiffchaffs.  Summer sees colour, scents, flitting insects, crawling slugs and a myriad of wings of birds, butterlies and moths.

Best wishes for a Happy, Peaceful and Healthy New Year.  Raise a dram to the New Year.

Robert Burns expresses New Year in that time honoured song, Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’lltak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

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Friday, December 30th 2016

Why was Roger in first thing this morning making a collection of hammers, string, furling sticks, radios, large net bags and the lantern?  The reason being, the bird ringers were heading to another site to a Curlew roost and these were some of the things needed. 

Why was Colin looking puzzled?  His reply on return to the Field Centre was that he was trying to work out where the nuts and bolt from the perches on the longer feeder may have fallen. A mystery.  It has now, along with the nut feeder from the back garden, been taken by Colin to be repaired.  Thank you for filling the feeders and repairing the damage!

Colin looking puzzled

Monthly flower walks take place throughout the year.  A huge thank you to everyone who has helped with this recording.  Today the walk resulted in two flowers, Honeysuckle and Daisy.  I think this may be the lowest number of flowers recorded in December, but I will check. 


We walked along Risedale Beck and carefully examined the hillsides, to no avail, no Primroses.  Why did we see some here one year in November, but never again until their 'proper' time of flowering?  

There is a Hazel tree near the Stone Pile.  Its catkins always open early.  Why?  As no female flowers could be found, it is surely a waste of pollen.  When we are puzzled by a problem like this, we keep a watchful eye on developments. 


Near the Voley Ponds, Hazel catkins are very small and as yet undeveloped.


And finally, a less serious WHY.  Why is the light always in the wrong place and the birds hidden behind lots of branches????

Birds behind branches

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A Winter Spring Clean

Thursday, December 29th 2016

Again it was a cold morning, apparently -3 on arrival. Everything was crisp. As the morning went on the temperature edged slowly up, to melt most of the frost clinging to trees, and grass. Only the shaded areas stayed with a white coating.

Today was a tidy up sort of day. We swept the workshop, removed tree guards that were no longer guarding anything, and tidied various areas.

Mike came in to check water levels

.... and Pete and I repaired the Sand Martin Shed roof as the wind recently had started to peel it back .

I did not see the Crossbills on the Larch; however visitors informed me that they were still around…. I have to put one of yesterday’s blog pics back on because they are superb, taken by John Hayden.

Redpolls were all around the field centre, especially on the nyger feeders.

Thanks again to Mike and Peter for their assistance today, and to all the volunteers that I have had a privilege to work with over the past year. Roger and Jennifer will see you in 2017.  Tomorrow the reserve is open as normal.  Over the holiday weekend the reserve is open on Saturday and Monday, 10 until 4, but the Field Centre is closed on Sunday.

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A Winter Wonderland

Wednesday, December 28th 2016

The ice and the frost hung around all day, the low bright sun did little to warm anything but the view as I walked the reserve fully clad in winter wear doing various checks. The reserve was coated in a fairly heavy frost giving it a winter wonderland feel.

A check on our Exmoor Ponies on the Moorland

Yesterday was not the first time that Crossbills had been sighted on the reserve, but it was great to see John Hayden’s photographs of these treetop pine feeders. We rarely see them near the ground, so when ringing they never frequent our mist nets.

Below is a stunning photo taken by John Hayden of a beautiful male Crossbill

They were by the Top Moor Gate, feeding on Larch seed cones,

and my photo did them little justice with my point and shoot camera.

It was the Siskins and Goldfinch who were feeding on Alder that I first heard, then I saw large numbers clinging to the branches in acrobatic positions, constantly on the move.

These Goldfinch were feeding on the Nyger feeder outside the Field Centre.

 Thank you to John for allowing us to have his pics for our blog.

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A Lot of Lotti’s

Tuesday, December 27th 2016

This was not the usual Tuesday at the reserve,  instead of the usual volunteers coming in for 8.30 am, it was the bird ringers, 10 of them!

 It was a steady day, with the ringing team filling the bird feeders as the mist nets went up. The cold wind from the previous day had probably restricted the birds feeding so they would have been pleased for the still air and the extra seed.

 Over 120 birds were processed, many were re-traps; previously caught and already carrying rings. Over 50 birds were newly ringed by us; Goldcrests, Redpolls, Long-Tailed Tits, several Reed Buntings amongst the more common Blue and Great Tits. We have species codes when we are recording birds, for example a Redpoll is REDPO, and a Long-tailed Tit is a LOTTI.

The Long Tailed Tits, moving in small groups, had us ringing 10 birds from one net round. We like to keep these birds in their groupings as they are so gregarious, releasing them all at the same time so they could continue feeding together.


One of the released birds

We had Peter who filled my shoes while I did the usual putting up nets, net rounds, extracting birds from the nets and ringing. He checked the Green Route for fallen trees with Brian, continued coppicing Hazel on the Bank as well as checking the feed store for leaks, and setting the motion sensor camera on the Beck. Peter you deserved that cuppa…. Thank you!

It was a fun day with a serious purpose of gathering bird data; wing length, weight, sex and age, to go toward the collated data gathered by the BTO ( British Trust of Ornithology). Thank you to all that attended.

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Backwards and Forwards

Monday, December 26th 2016

Firstly an update on the ringing data. All the birds to date are in for the year 2016 and 10030 birds have been processed.  Included in this total are 1246 Meadow Pipits.  We have had many recoveries of 'our' birds, ranging from a Meadow Pipit, to owls and Kestrels and many sea birds ringed during the visits to Cape Wrath.  Every single bird ringed adds to our knowledge of the birds that can then be used to help conserve their habitats, be it moorlannd, woodland, hedges or the sea.  The bird ringers are fully aware of all the support they receive from other volunteers at Foxglove.  Congratulations to everyone for their help during the year. 

Going backwards.  Plovers Pool was developed at the beginning of the year.

Digging of Plovers Pool

It looked a bit bare when completed.

Completed Plovers Pool

Having trawled through my store of photographs I can't find a summer one of Plovers Pool, so you will have to take my word for it, that it has greened up and looks as though it has been there for a long time.  

The next project was discussed early in the year and plans were finalised by May; our Stone Circle was built a few weeks later.

Stone Circle

The next day it looked as though it had always been there.

The Stone Circle

Many visitors ask where it is and are most impressed having walked around it.

Stone Circle

Our busy year was not yet finished as Tony Robinson then came along with the team producing Coast to Coast, to film a 'Big Project'.  This was our tree in the lake.

Tree going in the lake

Many volunteers were involved and we could not have achieved what we did on the day without their help and support.  The birds appreciated a new place to rest and preen.

Birds on the tree

The camera at the lake caught a Grey Heron sitting on the tree.  Roger sped down immediately but it had flown off. 

So what next in 2017?  It is the 25th year for CES.  The data programme, IPMR, into which all the information is entered is going 'live' (linked straight to the BTO) in April.  It is called DEMON - leaves the scribe shaking in her shoes and wondering if she should have a long holiday next year!

If it also Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve's 25th year.  Our celebratory weekend is 15th and 16th  of July.  Plans are beginning to take shape.

There are sure to be other projects taking place, alongside the regular events.  Flower walks, moth trapping, Bird Song Breakfast, nest box walk, guided walks and school visits, to name but a few, all in the 'everyday life' of our very special nature reserve.

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Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 25th 2016

Having watched the weather forecast this morning, there is no chance of a white Christmas Day at Foxglove, with temperatures of 13 plus.  Later in the day you are likely to need many layers as the temperature is set to drop and snow is forecast for Scotland.

Snow at Foxglove in January

It is at this time of year that the winter habitat work is at its height.  The next Worky Day is Saturday 7th January, come and join us and work off some of the Christmas and New Year festivities!  Also there is much going on unseen.  The accounts for Foxglove have to be finalised, ready for the AGM in February.  Species lists are updated and some records have to be sent to the VC65 recorders.  New species data is required for the Foxglove Annual Report..

Bird ringing continues throughout the year. When ringing at Foxglove the information is entered straight into the computer.  However when ringing away from Foxglove the data is recorded on paper and then entered into the computer at a later date.  The last few sheets of Mipits are awaiting their turn and over 9000 birds have been rung so far this year.

Entering Data at FGC

And just a reminder to the bird ringers the shortest day has been and gone so earlier morning calls will be on the cards and there are only 125 sleeps before the start of CES 2017 - our 25th year!

Looking back at December 2015 the flower walk recorded all of four flowers.  Having walked the reserve last week I think we will be lucky to find any as the weather really has not been kind to any flowers brave enough to survive into winter.  We will set out at the end of the month and look for signs of what is to come.  Bluebell leaves.

Bluebell leaves

And ever hopeful a Primrose.


Sophie (Chair of the Management Group) and Tony thanked the RM's and the volunteers for all their hard work during the year.  Writing this blog highlights the range of skills and work Foxglove Volunteers are involved in.  Thank you to you all. Have a Merry Christmas.

Whilst our days are now getting longer, Stacey's are getting shorter down at Signy.  She has sent her Christmas Greetings.

Stacey down at Signy

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Wasp Nest Beauty

Friday, December 23rd 2016

The last Friday before Christmas – how time flies! Thank you to Colin and Charlie who came in to help today. We appreciate that it can be a busy time of year!

One of the jobs for today was cleaning out the last of our small bird boxes. The wasps had filled this one with a beautiful domed nest, which they no longer need as each nest only lasts one season.

As well as the more typical hole at the bottom of their oval nest, these wasps appear to have been practically minded and also had a hole in the side to line up with the entrance hole of the bird box!

The nest is made of chewed wood pulp (it’s a bit like paper) and is a fascinating piece of engineering, with a series of layers on the outside (viewed here from the hole in the bottom) and tessellating cells inside in which wasp larvae were raised.

This box also contained a couple of lacewing, who perhaps found it a cosy place to hibernate. These are handy critters to have around if you’re a gardener as their larvae are voracious consumers of aphids.

By mid-afternoon the weather had got wetter, windier and wilder, but there were still a couple of little jobs that needed sorting outside so we wrapped up and braved the outdoors! We’re still smiling!

A well earned and warming cup of tea to finish!

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We love the red festive hat!

Thursday, December 22nd 2016

Thank you to all who came to help on our last volunteer day before Christmas. Between us we’ve done water monitoring, bench repairs and boardwalk repairs;

Leaf blowing (what a lovely clear path!);

New mesh on a bridge and step repairs;

We also continued cleaning out our bird boxes – inside and out. This box had a particularly thick ‘hat’ of moss – beautiful, but hastening corrosion of the box, so it had to go!

Late in the afternoon the mix of sunshine and showers gave us this beautiful rainbow:

There was a beautiful finish to the day too, with a sunset through the trees.

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A Twitchy Nose

Wednesday, December 21st 2016

Despite the wet weather today we still had quite a few visitors and today seemed to be the day for roe deer sightings, with three separate groups of people telling me they’d seen them!

One young visitor brought in her collection of bones– including a rabbit skull and part of a fox jaw. Thanks for showing us Gigi!

We’ve continued cleaning out our bird boxes ready for next year. We remove old nests as they can harbour fleas (ringed in the photo below) and other parasites, which could otherwise remain to infest birds using the box the next year.

Cleaning out bird boxes I occasionally come across old bird, wasp or bee nests and sometimes bird rings or cold eggs, but today I found something different: A little twitchy, furry nose poking out of a pile of moss – a sleepy mouse! 

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A Big Thank You

Tuesday, December 20th 2016

This was a special Volunteer Tuesday as it is the day we say ‘Thank You’ for all the hard work the volunteers have carried out over the past year. Folk came in clutching food for the lunch party, but not before doing the clearing up jobs we needed to get finished before the holidays begin.

Below, Lesley and gang put the log base in on the path behind the workshop

The finished path with chippings on top…. this method prevents the chippings getting wet and mushy so quickly!

Another team finished clearing brushwood

While on the Wetland Bank more Hazel was being pollarded and coppiced.

We do not like a large amount of footfall in this area due to the risk of damaging young Primrose/Bluebell shoots. Even moving the brushwood we used a human chain to pass the branches down the bank to prevent trapsing up and down.

Come lunchtime we had a large gathering of volunteers who we feel priviledged to work along-side.

Thank you to all that attended today and to all that sadly were unable to make it to the reserve. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us, the Reserve Managers, and on behalf of the Management Committee.

With food in the belly we set about finishing off a few more jobs, such as broken boardwalks on the chilly, wind blown Moor.

Another job 'jobbed' by volunteers!

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Family Festive Fun

Monday, December 19th 2016

A slight frosting of the reserve early this morning gave a feeling of the season as I came in. This was a good thing as today was our last Festive event before Christmas: Family Festive Crafts.

We had 16 children of varying ages, thankfully accompanied by their parents and Grandparents! That number of folk had us gathered outside to start the first part of the wreath making as we required room to manipulate the long lengths of willow for the initial ring that forms the foundation of the wreath.

As it was fairly cold outside we were soon in the warm of the Field Centre putting on the varied greenery, with help from Jade and Charlie who are with us on placement from Askham Bryan.

With wreaths being tweaked by the adults the children moved onto pine cone robins, and silver birch table decorations.

The tidying up after an event like this takes over an hour… but is all worth it to see the smiling faces and the fruits of the children’s labour.

In the afternoon we had another pond leak above the Lake to contend with, so we spent a little time patching that, filling the leak with puddled clay.

Thank you to all the parents for helping us today, plus Elizabeth, Jade and Charlie.

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Sky Watching

Sunday, December 18th 2016

It would be wrong to say that there is nothing to photograph at Foxglove at this time of year, but flora and fauna are limited.  So the camera is turned skywards.  You will have to use your imagination but I think this was a crocodile!


This cloud was a sign of things to come, definitely a frog and not a toad!


First thing, the clouds over the moor were, for want of a better description, gentle and certainly non threatening, which is not going to be the case later in the week.

Clouds over the moor

The ponies were quietly contemplating their surroundings.

The ponies

Down to earth the bird ringers opened the nets.  As is often the case at this time of the year, many birds processed are retraps.  Blue Tits rather proved the point - one new bird, 35 retraps!  There were Goldcrests, Goldfinches, Coal Tits and Blackbirds amongst the species handled.  No Redwing, as they have cleared all the Hawthorn berries and have moved on.  Bramblings are still to be seen around the reserve.  This beautiful female Bullfinch received a ring.

Female Bullfinch

Many thanks go to the volunteers who worked hard all day.

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Mini Volunteer Focus

Friday, December 16th 2016

One of our younger volunteers popped in today with his grandma. During his short visit Nathan helped with enthusiasm on a range of tasks:

Putting the wheelbarrow away in the workshop;

Tidying up a fire site;

And decorating the Christmas tree on the veranda!

Here’s the end result:

Thank you Nathan (and grandma)!

Thank you also to Colin who came and helped us by filling the bird feeders in preparation for ringing at the weekend and to Charlie (with us on work experience from Askham Bryan) who got stuck into all the site work we were doing today.

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Work and Play

Thursday, December 15th 2016

I love Christmas, and to share it with friends underlines this special time of the year. Around fifty folk attended our Christmas Party  last night which included: a quiz; raffle;

a massive three course meal; entertainment from a two piece band; a rare moment of Tony on the pipes;

Martin on guitar;

... as well as Magician James Stott keeping us all entertained with his slight of hand. Thank you James!

Thank you to all who joined us and of course to the chefs, kitchen and waiting staff for a fantastic meal.

With the party spirit still in us we arrived at work this morning for another full day, and anyway the excesses of last night needed to be worked off! We had plenty to get on with continuing the tidying-up of recent habitat management work, as well as taking on unexpected work where one of the cascading pond's water flow had decided to go under as opposed to over its dam requiring immediate attention.

We also cleared a few Holly stems from the conifer plantation.

Mike and Tony were all over the reserve checking water levels and drainage, as well as finding time to put in new marker stakes and create a base for the Field Centre Christmas tree. Jonathan and I did a little chainsaw work in this year's coppice block before lunch.

It has been fairly mild recently and some habitat management work is still needed on parts of the south-facing bank down to Risedale Beck. At present we are limiting the footfall to this area as we do not want to damage new Primula shoots that are starting to prematurely show themselves.

This is a priority job now and the afternoon work was based around this area thinning Hazel coppice and opening up the canopy to allow more light to the ground.

Jennifer and Jackie moved the Exmoor Ponies from Plovers' Pool to the Moorland as grazing was low and their hoof marks were starting to make an impact.

We finally stopped working when the light was nearly gone. A lot of work was carried out today, thank you to all who helped.

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More than Moths

Wednesday, December 14th 2016

A Wednesday and therefore a morning for moth recording! This morning we collected four winter moths (a regular at this time of year) and this early moth, Theria primaria. This one is a male, as like many moths that are active in the winter months the females are almost wingless.

Early moths are fairly common in the south, but up here in North Yorkshire their distribution is quite patchy, so this was a more unusual find. The early moth is also not typically around at this time of year, normally found flying in January and February, hence its common name of early moth. Finding it at this time of the year only shows us how mild the weather has been recently. The larvae of the early moth feed on hawthorn and blackthorn.

All five of the moths we recorded this morning we collected from the walls of the Field Centre, however the moth trap was not without a catch… In addition to a typical collection of small flies it caught this female great diving beetle (differentiated from a male by the ridges on her wing cases – a male’s would be smooth)!

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The Coppice ‘A’ Team

Tuesday, December 13th 2016

As with every Tuesday we ask some hard work of the volunteers which they always dive into willingly. Today was no different and they got on with the hard work we allocated them in the willow coppice block near the field centre.

This work is an extension of the work we have been doing since the start of the month, and is a BIG job. We continued with the coppicing and clearing of the brush wood in an attempt to bring back some managed regrowth on the coppice block floor which had been prevented by the dense canopy and brambles, etc.

Birch, prolific on the site, and a pioneering plant, was particularly dense and leggy and in need of removal to allow light to the Willow that was being strangled out. All the brush wood was then dealt with by the team.

On the path edge of the coppice block are a few fairly high and mature Hawthorns; nothing too unusual for the reserve, with this spiny shrub thriving and a fantastic source of berries for our winter birds such as Redwings and other members of the thrush family. The one below did catch our eye, being a mini blend of the surrounding shrubs and tree species. In the photo you can see an Ash growing about a metre above ground in the crook of this Willow, next to it a very small Holly, and nestled in the middle is the large Hawthorn!

It was the last time we would see the Tuesday team from Dales School this side of the New Year. They have worked hard for us the past year and we wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

John, back in the Field Centre, did a sterling job at getting back a camera that was logged off the monitor by the weekend power cut.

Thank you to all that helped out today…. more progress in fairly wet conditions.

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Tidy and Catch-up Day

Monday, December 12th 2016

It was a fairly lonely start to the day as it was just me in the office this morning. What it did allow me to do was catch up on a few jobs such as the Adopt-a-Box paperwork. Folk can sponsor a nest box for a bat, or the smaller passerines such as Blue/Great Tit, Redstart, or Flycatcher. this is priced at £5 per year. If you want a large nest box such as an Owl box they are sponsored at £10 per year. We cannot guarantee what will nest in a box but it is interesting when a new nesting season comes around.

If you want to sponsor a box as a Christmas pressie for someone please follow the link:                          

The afternoon was spent chainsawing logs as habitat piles, and using the leaf blower to clear up the mess around the chipper pile.

This is the last call for our Christmas Party at Wathgill on Wednesday evening. Please follow the link on the web events page or contact the reserve .

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A Duck Trap

Sunday, December 11th 2016

Some of the bird ringers are ready to go when they receive a call that there are 'ducks' in the duck trap on another site.  It has been quite busy with seven new Moorhen ringed in a single evening. 


Apparently Moorhen wriggle, have big feet with claws, that can cause a good scratch.  Unfortunately I don't have a photograph showing the feet so I will have to leave it to your imagination that there are two large feet under each Moorhen chick!

Young Moorhen

Ducks on the other hand are calm and sit still and quiet.



When the female Mallard has young she usually keeps them close until they are older, then they spread out in line astern.

Mallard and young

Moorhen and Mallard are easily seen on the lake at Foxglove and sometimes on the grassy area under the Wildfowl Feeding Platform.  In easrly spring they are joined by Greylag Geese and their young.

Greylag Geese and their young

Little Grebe kept us entertained throughout the summer.  Focus, click and no Little Grebe.  They dive quickly and surface a distance away from where they went underwater.  Patience was needed to obtain a photograph.

Little Grebe

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Views and Ringing

Saturday, December 10th 2016

The lake was like a mirror and the reflections were almost perfect.

The lake

Although Foxglove is now in her winter coat it is quite amazing how much colour can still be seen in this unusal view of the stone circle.

Stone Circle

The reeds are impressive whether against a blue or grey sky.

Reeds against the grey sky

It was a late start for the bird ringers.  They were kept busy with net rounds returning with a variety of species.

Net rounds

Over 200 birds were processed including nine new Blackbirds.  Some of these were very big birds and how we wished they could talk and tell us where they had come from, possibly the continent?  Data from ringing seemed to indicate that Blue Tits had not done very well this year but over the last few weeks their numbers have increased significantly and today 13 new birds and 38 retraps were recorded!  Redpoll and Siskin numbers have been low too in recent sessions but some are beginning to appear again on the reserve.  Eight Reed Buntings were caught in one net as they dived into the reeds to roost for the evening.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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Unexpected Difficulty with Bee Feeding

Friday, December 9th 2016

On a grey and rainy day (similar to the last couple of days) we got steadily on with things that needed doing: Colin filled the bird feeders ready for ringing at the weekend (thank you), Charlie cleared some of the paths with the leaf blower (thank you), Roger got some odds and ends done in the workshop, I sorted out some signs in the Field Centre and we cleared a tree that had fallen over a water pipe feeding the Scrapes – I think it looks pretty dramatic the way it’s cracked!

Jacqui McHugh, of Natural England came to have a look at our stone circle and at Plover’s Pool for her first time.

The ponies came to say hello too, but weren’t interested in us for long.

Towards the end of the day as we tidied up we noticed that the bees were getting low on their fondant – a supplementary food they get for the winter. Just a day or so ago I’d been watching them eat it:

Just topping up the fondant and adding a little bit of mesh: ‘Oh we’ll just get that sorted now’ we said. ‘It won’t take long’.....

Turns out it’s trickier than we thought!

All sorted now! 

In other news we need to confirm numbers for the Christmas Party at Wathgill – get your last minute bookings in now!

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The Right Sort of Rain!

Thursday, December 8th 2016

It was very wet first thing and the reserve looked wet, with all the hollows filling up with water.  Risedale Beck rises quickly after rain and today was no exception.

Risedale Beck in spate

By late morning the heavy rain had ceased and we were left with drizzle.  Not sure which was the right type of rain, but water droplets formed on the vegetation.  The cups of this lichen had caught the water.

Cup lichen with water droplets

These rushes were sparkling in the afternoon sun.

Sparkling rushes

And a find, not a good photograph, as the web did not really have enough water droplets and the sun was in the wrong place, but proof that there are still some spiders around.

Spider's web

A check on the ponies showed that they were grazing quite happily 

Ponies grazing

But then they realised that I was watching them and they both looked at me, so I beat a hasty retreat!  They are bigger than me!


Thursdays are volunteer days and no matter what the weather is like they arrive ready for work.  Drains were checked, signage was cleaned, ditches were dug, Friends updated and activity sheets sorted, to name but a few jobs carried out today.  Thank you very much for all your hard work.

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Moths, Wreaths, Chipping and Calendars for Sale!

Wednesday, December 7th 2016

We arrived this morning, stopping on the track to gather fresh greenery for the Festive Wreath Event held at the Field Centre.

Glennis and I gathered up the moth trap, which was put out yesterday evening, with limited success, only 3 moths; a Winter Moth, a Carpet and a micro moth which is still to be confirmed. This little chap is about 7mm in length, and believed to be one of the Caloptilia. 
 It was a larger group in today, 16 folk plus one underling.

After a brief introduction by the Reserve Managers the team quickly got on with gusto, Christmas music in the background, producing some fantastic wreaths.

 As you can see from these pics it was a fun, relaxed affair.

The end products

While all the above was going on Colin was in the workshop with the revamped wormery

 In the afternoon we were back outside continuing with the Coppice Block near the Field Centre. This is a big job, but we believe the blood…plenty of sweat …and hopefully no tears… is worth the effort.

To top the day the 2017 Foxglove Covert calendar has finally arrived and is for sale at the reserve Field Centre, priced at £6.

Thank you Foxglove's little helpers - Glennis, Anne Luxmore, Jackie, who's earrings were full of festive fun, and Colin.


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Coppicing and Cameras

Tuesday, December 6th 2016

It’s frustrating when, with a blog to write, a camera is not to hand for the perfect moment… For me that moment today was when I startled a woodcock (the first I have EVER seen!) while cutting materials for our wreath making workshop tomorrow.

We also failed to get a photo of the Field Centre being made even more festive with the help of Irene and Colin – but isn’t the end result cheerful?!

We did however catch the main task of the day on camera - continuing with this year’s coppice block: Cutting, clearing, tree popping, burning and shredding!

Thank you to all who helped and a warm welcome to Nick who came to volunteer with us for the first time today!

We also had news today from Stacey (who's away from Foxglove for the winter, monitoring penguins on the British Antarctic Survey) - her first chicks have hatched!

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Wreaths and Winter Work

Monday, December 5th 2016

After a busy Worky Day on the Saturday we were now working with some of the willow the team had cut to make Christmas wreaths. On arrival the reserve was dusted with ice giving it a festive feel which seemed to add to the event.   

This is the start of our Christmas activities building up towards the actual day. The popularity of these events is not surprising and although a few events are now fully booked (see events page), we decided to put on this extra day to save disappointment.

We had been busy collecting the various willow and birch to form the main structure but also wheelbarrow loads of Ivy, Spruce, Holly plus Rosehip, Cotoneaster, etc. to ensure a mixed colour for the wreaths.

Once the basics were explained the team produced some fantastic wreaths to take home.

 After lunch we got onto more practical tasks such as dealing with the delivery of bird seed,

 Then to finish off we moved on to the outdoor work and continued chipping the various stems we had cleared on Saturday.

All-in-all a pretty varied and busy day on the reserve!

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Winter Work Rewards

Sunday, December 4th 2016

Risedale Beck is our spring flower area.  The work on the banks must be completed before the New Year, so that the new leaves beginning to grow do not get damaged.  Coppicing the trees and removing some of the Brambles will allow more light and air to reach the ground so encouraging the spring flowers.  Open areas and glades will be ideal for many invertebrates.

Spring flowers to watch for include Primroses.  These have been recorded in November, but so far this year, none have appeared.


Bluebells can cover areas along the beckside, making it look blue rather than green.  Their nodding flower heads are a source of food for bees and other insects. 


Greater Stitchwort is also to be found in the areas where we have been working.  Many small insects are attracted to these flowers.

Greater Stitchwort

Wood Anemones open their petals when the sun shines and close them when it goes in.  We have to look carefully for this flower when we carry out the flower walk as it can be easily missed.  Over the last two or three years they have not been as numerous.  Hopefully they will benefit from the winter work.

Wood Anemone

Near the viewing platform on the wetland some Early Purple Orchids grow.  We usually count about 10.  Clearance in this area and further along may give this flower some opportunity to spread its range.

Early Purple Orchid

A butterfly that likes open glades, where the sun can reach, is the Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood

All we have to do now is wait for the spring to enjoy the rewards of our Winter Worky Days!

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Coppice Block Started!

Saturday, December 3rd 2016

Today was the third of our Winter Worky Days and we accomplished a great deal! The main task of the day was to start this year’s coppice block. We made good progress, clearing a significant area, with the aid of a number of chainsaws and their steadfast operators!

They were supported by a team of others who followed on behind clearing brash…

…and ‘popping’ small (unwanted) trees.

Unlike in previous Worky Days we did not have a fire to deal with the brash (alas!). But we did have a chipper…

The resulting chippings were then put to good use by another hard-working team who dug out and re laid the paths behind the workshop. This area is now much improved and significantly less muddy!

There were also other teams who were coppicing elsewhere on the site including on a very steep slope by the Wetland Hide…

…and pollarding the willow adjacent to the main drive. This will be put to good use in the forthcoming series of wreath-making workshops, the first of which is Monday 5th December.

This is a guest blog by Peter B.

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More Moorhen!

Friday, December 2nd 2016

A further four Moorhens were caught in the duck trap by the ringing team tonight. Two were already ringed and two were new. A new recruit was taken along and was especially helpful being small and light enough to get inside the trap with the birds!


The total of birds caught here now this week is 12 new Moorhens, three retraps and two new male Teal. Cormorant have been observed feeding around the edges but they are too large to get through the entrance.

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Worky Day Prep

Friday, December 2nd 2016

The day before a Worky Day is a fairly busy day of preparation, but really the prep begins a week or so before. It is usually a walk around looking at priority jobs which may or not be obvious. Yesterday whilst clearing the bank below the Otter Observation Platform we took some of the brushwood to the orchard ready for the chipper to come in tomorrow and begin work.

Today we continued getting prepared for the chipper by starting cutting this year’s coppice block

and moving brash to the pile – with help from Charlie, with us on placement from his course at Askham Bryan.

As we get further in to our coppice block we spotted signs of our wildlife not visible from the path, including this birch which has had part of its bark rubbed off by deer.

It also hasn’t passed us by that it is now December and the festive season will soon be upon us. So yesterday, with the help from some of our Thursday volunteers, we investigated our loft to track down the decorations…

…and put up a tree!

In other news – after a frustratingly slow process the 2017 Foxglove Calendars have now gone to print. I’m assured they should be with us next week! Watch this space – we’ll tell you more when they arrive - and get your orders in (only £6 per calendar)!

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Sports and Pastimes Quiz 2016 Answers

Thursday, December 1st 2016

Once again, we are grateful to all those who purchased our quiz, and particularly to those who sent their answers in. We value all feedback, and also derive pleasure from the delight shown by some who have improved their scores since we began producing them. Apart from the winner’s prize, there was a request for a ‘wooden spoon’ prize, also!

Results submitted:
The Coopers 35
Anne and Mike Bacon 34
Mike Fenwick 34
Eileen Gibson 30
Trish Illingworth 27
Jennifer/Roger 23

We will be printing the next quiz in time for the Christmas Dinner (14th December), and it will run until the end of the year.

Pat assures us she still enjoys compiling them, and generously prints them for us, too. Many thanks Pat…our followers look forward to the next edition!

Answers to the Sports and Pastimes Quiz 2016
1 Golf
2 Archery
3 Quoits
4 Hiking
5 Water Polo
6 Darts
7 Napoleon
8 Backgammon
9 Ecarte
10 Mahjong
11 Pelota
12 Pool
13 Skateboard
14 Badminton
15 Cribbage
16 Nap
17 Numismatics
18 Baseball
19 Cricket
20 Slalom
21 Solitaire
22 Athletics
23 Philately
24 Lacrosse
25 Snooker
26 Orienteering
27 Auction Bridge
28 Walking
29 Chinese Chequers
30 Hockey
31 Table Tennis
32 Crosswords
33 Marbles
34 Football
35 Pontoon

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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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