Blog Archive (33) Posts Made in August 2017
Many Hands Make Light Work
Thursday, August 31st 2017
It was another fine day at the reserve; only a minor shower that threatened more dampened the morn. With the fine weather we had a great team from Carillion Amey, the folk who keep a lot of things running smoothly on the camps. As we had our usual hard working volunteers on site we were able to divide and conquer a few jobs that needed a good few pairs of hands.
The Carillion team ventured to behind the tower hide, by the lake, to clear a section of undergrowth to enable us to use the area as a new net ride (number 66). First of all a few small silver birch saplings were cleared by Jonathan.
Then the team entered the site to clear up and start popping small encroaching saplings that were taking over the area,
...plus the various brambles and other vegetation to enable a couple of poles and a mist net to function unheeded.This was not an easy area to get to and work in, but the team did a fantastic job which by tea break was completed ready for me to tidy up with a brush-ctter tomorrow.
As we had finished a job that I had expected to take most of the morning we were then able to pick up a path maintenance job on the flower meadow/moorland. While some cleared grass to redefine the edging ….
…. the remaining repaired the rotten kick boards.
The end result was fantastic and we cannot thank the team enough. Incidentally I found out later that three of the Carillion team had attended having driven from Liverpool earlier that morning.
While the Carillion team were hard at work on one part of the reserve the Thursday volunteers were busy strimming the uncut areas on the flower meadow plus the unwanted Juncus grass and raking-up; can you spot Peter in the distance?
….fixing board walks
….and clearing away turf from the moorland path.
This fresh Angle Shades moth was saved from our activities this afternoon; it is most likely a second generation.
We cannot express our gratitude enough for all the hard work and effort by all parties today…..thank you to Kevin Stewart for arranging and attending with the Carillion Amey team.
The Circle of Life
Wednesday, August 30th 2017
The day began with the usual Wednesday opening of the moth trap, before gathering up equipment for our Circle of Life event. The whole idea of today’s event was to look at food chains, decay and forms of seed dispersal.
With this wide subject we were able to engage with our young attendees at various levels; talking about the way birds eat berries, to how a fox may transfer seeds via its excretions. We talked about two forms of fungi; those with a symbiotic relationship with its host like Fly Agaric, as well as the stump/rotting wood consuming Green Sulphur Tuft fungi.
The wormery, which has recently been re-vamped by Colin Withers and Brian Rogers, was an amazing teaching aid; showing folk the work the humble earthworm carries out beneath our feet….
….before looking at various invertebrates below rotting logs and their role in the decaying of wood matter.
This beetle the children called a rhino, and another called it a dinosaur, but it is in fact called Sinodendron cylindricum, and is one of our three UK stag beetles; sometimes called Least Stag Beetle or Horned Stag Beetle.
This is the most widespread of the UK's stag beetles, with larvae that develop within sawdust-packed tunnels in the dry rotting wood of some tree species (including dead branches of living trees). Paired males and females will often inhabit their breeding tunnel for some time, with males guarding the tunnel entrance. The above is a male.
The food web game got us thinking about interactions between plant, invertebrates, birds and mammals before heading back to the Field Centre for well-earned refreshments.
In other news: Thank you to the moth group and flower group for their detailed recording of species today.
Honey Storing and Other Activities
Tuesday, August 29th 2017
The main mission today for our Tuesday team of volunteers was trimming back vegetation along the access track. Just like a hedge in your garden at home, without trimming it goes a bit wild and we think it’s better not to have branches rubbing along visiting vehicles!
Other jobs of the day included the regular task of filling our main bird feeders, as well as picking the first of our apples, repairs to a couple of pond dipping nets and to a puncture on one of the trailers.
Around lunchtime Alison and Allister, members of Richmond and District Beekeepers’ Association, popped in to do their regular monitoring of our observation bee hive. The bees seem to have been doing well; with the recent nice weather they have been out foraging and now have some honey stores. They are starting to seal the honey in cells with wax for use in leaner times of the year.
Thanks to everyone who helped today.
Sunshine and Butterflies
Monday, August 28th 2017
A two blog day. Extra number crunching has been carried out by Tony and added to the earlier blog. The numbers are amazing and every piece of data helps with the conservation of not only the birds but the habitats in which they live.
It was a good job that we carried out CES yesterday as the birds would have been blown away, along the the bird ringers, today! Taking photographs with the calendar competition in mind (closing date Friday 15th September - more details on the events page) in the gale proved interesting. I decided that the Stone Circle would not move. Took it and saw the beautiful dark grey sky!
By the afternoon, wind still blowing strongly, but blue sky and sunshine, another try. There is a bit of blue sky!
Ambling around in the morning not a Speckled Wood Butterfly was to be seen but once the sun came out they were flying and defending their territories in every sunny space.
In some sheltered places butterfllies were seen feeding. This Peacock Butterfly was feeding on Devil's Bit Scabious.
Hemp Agrimony was providing food for a Red Admiral.
And at long last, after chasing Brimstone Butterflies, here, there and everywhere, I caught one feeding on Purple Loosestrife.
And another on Fleabane.
However there appear to be very few Comma and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies around. Please watch for them and if seen record it on the Observation Board in the Field Centre and let the Reserve Managers know where you have seen them. Thank you.
Dog Daisy Avenue is well over as far as the Dog Daisies are concerend, but down by the lake they are still flowering. No butterflies but a hoverfly feeding.
Facts and Figures from 25 Years of CES
Monday, August 28th 2017
Tony started to number crunch and look at the data.
Just two basic statistics jump out: as near as I can get it we have put out and taken down ca 200Km of net.
Averaged out we have put in 732m of net every CES day this year!
And doing net rounds - measured very conservatively - we have walked half way round the world at least!
On CES alone, removing any duplication and in all weathers, we have caught 48,021 birds averaging 1920 birds a year. This equates to 160 birds for every single outing.
We have put on £5210 worth of rings, have processed 120,872 birds in and around Catterick Garrison, and have processed 222,745 birds as a group with probably 2000+ still waiting to be entered. At Foxglove alone we have ringed 60,071 new birds, an average of 2403 new birds every year.
We received comments from other bird ringers. This from Jack who rings on Salisbury Plain.
What an amazing achievement and some unbelievable time and effort by all. That takes some serious team effort and special commitment. Just wanted to say well done.
From Roger Dickey
Brilliant effort. Well done to all who contributed in reaching this milestone.
And from Robin, one of our ringers
And to add a bit off weight behind it , since starting ringing I've put on two stone, thanks for all the cakes and sausage rolls ! Great to be part of it.
And incidentally, after removing the duplicates today, we were 4 birds short of the best ever CES 12 total which was 307 in 2011!
And finally from Tony
My very sincere thanks go to every single one of you who has helped create this remarkable achievement. Here I include the whole ringing group and all our volunteers and supporters, those that have strimmed and mowed our net rides in the rain. The data is a major component in the song bird studies being carried out by the BTO and it is a credit to you all. I am deeply grateful to every one of you - this really is a major milestone
Well done and congratulations to everyone.
Sunday, August 27th 2017
Wow! Amazing! Tremendous! Fantastic! Day 12, the last CES of 2017, making this 25 years of CES, and never a day missed. 300 days of CES, ten and a half hours each day and, if I have my sums right, this is 3150 hours of bird ringing.
For once the weather was set fair. A glorious sunrise covered the reserve and everyone was amazed that our evergreen conifers turned red gold!
Once the sun had risen, they turned green again.
Today was an excellent day. A total of 47 nets were in operation around the reserve and over 300 birds were processed. I think we can say that Bullfinches have had a good breeding season, with another 42 new ones receiving their rings. Siskins are beginning to come back into the reserve and 25 were ringed today.
Early on, two Kingfishers were caught, this one had its photograph taken!
Some Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are still on the reserve feeding up before their long journey south. They weigh less than 10g, as do our resident Goldcrests.
At the other end of the scale is this male Sparrowhawk, about a month out of the nest, weighing over 100g..
There was a photocall of all the ringers.
During the day the ringing room was busy.
We had our delivery of sausage rolls and a cream cake, neither of which lasted long.
At the end of a long day we celebrated with drinks and nibbles.
Tony thanked everyone for their contribution to this milestone of 300 CES days. The 2017 season has been the fourth best in 25 years and today took the total of new birds ringed on the reserve to over 60,000. The ringers have put up and taken down more than 200Km of nets during the 25 CES years, and walking the nets to check and extract the birds have very conservatively equalled half way around the world!
Saturday, August 26th 2017
Some Wednesdays when we have opened the moth trap we have been a little disappointed with the numbers of moths and species. This week it was different! We had some lovely moths and some that we had not seen for a while.
Canary-shouldered Thorn is a beautiful moth with furry yellow 'shoulders' and large antenna. Deciduous trees are the food plant of this moth, so it has a wide choice at Foxglove.
Taking the moths out of the pots to photograph can be an interesting exercise. This Early Thorn decided to fly but we watched it carefully and with a zoom on the camera were able to achieve some nice photographs. There are two distinct generations except in the far north, the first of which flies in April and May, and the second summer brood, flies in August and September. Again its caterpillars feed on deciduous trees.
We are double checking the ID of Plain Clay. It had been found and had its ID confirmed, locally the previous week by Tony, a Foxglove volunteer who sets out his own trap. He confirned our ID. It is scarce in Northern England. The caterpillar feed on dock leaves.
It is interesting to check the food plants of some of the moths. Pyrausta purpuralis's larva feed on mint and Thyme. There is plenty of mint at Foxglove, but Thyme does not grow anywhere!
Holes in leaves usually mean something has been feeding, but very often nothing is found when they are turned over and examined. Pauline found this caterpillar of the Buff Tip moth. The yellow-and-black caterpillars live gregariously, there was only one that we could find, and they feed on a number of different deciduous trees, sometimes defoliating entire branches.
Friday, August 25th 2017
Being a Friday it is a day we finalise various things for the coming weekend. This involves tidying up paths and getting net rides tidied for the last CES of the season on Sunday; bird feeders and hoppers filled, and the rides checked and mowed.
As mentioned before on this blog, we have been a Constant Effort Site (CES) for the BTO for the last 25 years which requires our dedicated licensed bird ringers to get here sometimes as early as 4am (!) to ring birds for 10.5 hours each session. The amount of information gathered over those 25 years is an important data set for the conservation of our feathered friends. This Sunday will be our 300th session - WOW!
In other news: Lesley, one of our dedicated volunteers, took these fine pics of great diving beetle larvae that were near the surface in one of our ponds in the Scrapes, near the pond dipping platforms.
These larvae will take on anything they can keep a hold of, including such other water dwellers as tadpoles, froglets, even other diving beetle larvae, and in this case a 3-spine Stickleback.
The large, pointed, sickle-shaped jaws are sunk into the prey like hypodermic needles. Digestive enzymes are pumped into the body of the prey and the resulting 'soup' is sucked back up.
The adults are hunters too, but seem slightly less aggressive. The female adult beetle, below, has ridges on the back wing case, or elytra. In the adult form they can travel from pond to pond via flying.
There is plenty of Fleabane in flower around the reserve at the moment. This plant is common throughout most of Britain in marshy, damp meadows, and ditches. Its name is derived from the use as a natural insecticide: Its genus, Pulicaria, derives from the Latin pulex meaning flea, and its species, dysenterica, from when it was used as a herbal medicine for dysentery.
Birds and Work
Thursday, August 24th 2017
The day started fairly early this morning with the setting up of mist nets in an area we call the Crater; this is situated on the training area behind the reserve. We have to be up early to catch the movement of birds, mainly Meadow Pipits, as they make their way south along the spine of the country to lower latitudes. We have been known to catch over 500 of these birds in a day!
Meadow Pipits are found all around the UK from saltmarshes to upland moors, but the bulk are in the north and west. They migrate south to lowland areas where they then become more common in the winter months, even making their way to Continental Europe. Their main diet is flies, beetles, moths and spiders.
With a couple of hours of ringing these birds under licence, to gather important data for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), we came off the moor to start work with our Thursday volunteers. It was a productive day with potholes created by heavy rain filled…
…and wack-a-plated in!
We also converted some timber down at the bullet catcher (an old rifle range).
We trimmed areas where the ever-growing vegetation encroached onto the paths and track…
…and we strimmed paths, which at times feels like a never ending task.
Some of our umbellifers were covered in Yellow Bellied Flies. These flies, Sciara hemerobioides, are dark winged fungus gnats and are common at this time of year. Many a tasty field mushroom has been ruined by the maggots of this fly.
Thank you to all who helped out today… we got a lot done!
Wednesday, August 23rd 2017
Ten families joined us this afternoon to become intrepid woodland explorers on our latest summer holiday event. With our journey sticks in hand we set off to explore the woodland trail part of the green route. There were many stops for interesting things along our journey, including for frogs, a toad and plenty of big, black slugs.
We took some time really getting to know a tree by touch – and then seeing if we knew it well enough to find again!
At the log rounds we aged sections of tree by counting their rings and then some of our journey sticks were transformed including into a piano, a rocket, a light sabre and a magic wand!
We looked at small animals that can be found in our woodland’s trees – a favourite being this small looper caterpillar.
Nibbled cones and nuts were examined to discover who had been eating them…
…and we finished by making natural pictures on the woodland floor:
Family fun and there’s more to come – check out our events pages here.
Tuesday, August 22nd 2017
If you are a regular visitor to our blog you will know that Tuesday is our volunteering day, the day when we are able to glean the skills of folk from various backgrounds and as a result benefit our reserve. There was a slight difference from the usual Tuesday volunteer list of names; as today we were fortunate enough to have Cemex Quarry, near Leyburn, attending the site under their Lend-a-Hand Scheme.
This scheme allows workers from local businesses to give up a day or so to ‘lend-a-hand’ to local community based charities.
At this time of year we are tidying up the Moorland paths from encroaching grasses….
….allowing us to redefine the path edges and stock up on the surface gravel.
This is a labour intensive job which also required the collective skills of all to replace the rotten side kick boards. The difference is quite striking!
Thank you to our all the crew from Cemex and our regular team for such hard work.
Ringing in the Arctic Circle
Tuesday, August 22nd 2017
A team from the Swaledale Ringing Group has just returned from a trip to Northern Norway where they helped to run a 'fuglestation' or bird ringing station for a week. The group members had to get to grips quickly with different kinds of nets called elevator nets that are much higher than the ones used at Foxglove.
The ring sizes were also different to the ones used in the UK and were made of a much softer metal. In addition the Norwegian bird ringers fit the rings onto the left leg (at Foxglove rings go on the right leg) so all of this required a lot of concentration!
If this wasn't enough of a challenge, add in to the equation that many of the bird species were also new to the ringers! Here is a stunning juvenile male Bluethroat with just a few of the bright blue feathers beginning to show.
Here is the same bird photographed from a different angle to show its magnificent tail feathers.
This Three-toed Woodpecker was another new bird for the group. Its bill is much sharper than that of any other woodpecker. This one is a female. The male has a rather odd yellow cap!
This Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (an adult female) was another new bird for the team. In the UK it is scarce and nowadays seldom seen. It was heavily in moult which is why it looks so scruffy!
As can be seen, the weather was kind and it only rained for one afternoon (which provided a welcome rest from the 24 hour ringing due to the fact it doesn't really get dark at this time of year).
The scenery was spectacular and the whole of Northern Norway consisted of immaculate countryside which appears to be unspoiled by human activity. The visit was a success with 1366 birds being ringed in total. Over 700 of these were migrating Redpoll and almost 400 were migrating Willow Warblers. It was definitely a 'holiday' to remember!
Quiz Results and an Enjoyable Visit
Monday, August 21st 2017
This morning we hosted a visit from the Wetherby U3A Wildlife Group, giving them a brief talk about the reserve and then a guided walk. Many of them had decided to make a full day of it, bringing a picnic lunch and continuing to explore the reserve in the afternoon.
They told us it was a ‘very enjoyable visit’. Quite a bit of excitement was generated by repeat sightings of great spotted woodpeckers! Do get in touch if you would like to arrange a similar hosted visit for your group.
In other news we now have the results of the latest fundraising quiz, a special quiz to celebrate 25 years of Foxglove Covert and our Foxglove 25 event:
6 Praying Mantis
7 Warble Fly
8 Cabbage Root Fly
9 Soldier Beetle
10 Leaf Miner
11 Bouncing Bett
12 Soldier Buttons
13 Water Blobs
14 Cuckoo Flower
15 Jack in the Hedge
17 Painted Lady
18 Digger Wasp
24 Red Admiral
25 Herb Robert
Frank & Carol Broughton
Trish Illingworth * Winner of the token *
Anne & Mike Bacon
Many thanks to all those who supported us once again by buying a copy of the quiz. We are still aware that there are friends who do not send in their answers because they feel they have failed, not having answered all the questions. The results you see are of those who returned their efforts to us, and I hope are encouraged by their success!
Congratulations Trish! Your name was drawn out of the hat as one of the ’25’ group.
Thanks to you also, Pat, for compiling the quiz again.
Visitors and a Busy Day
Sunday, August 20th 2017
Foxglove welcomed members of the Army Ornithological Society for the weekend. Plans were laid to carry out CES 11 on Saturday and then ring at another site on Sunday, but as usual the weather had not read the plans. Yesterday they visited the coast as it was far too windy to ring. Today they helped complete CES 11.
As I have said many times before I am not good at taking photos of people, so apologies for this one, showing some of the ringers working today.
It was certainly a day of juvenile birds. Over 130 new birds were ringed, most being juveniles. There were very few adults, which is understandable, as the adults are moulting and so hiding away. Some adults that did arrive in the ringing room, looked a little worse for wear, having lost feathers and new ones still in pin. Young Bullfinches are beginning their post juvenile moult and their heads are beginning to show new black feathers.
For some weeks, few Blackbirds have been processed but three arrived today. Even as youngsters you can tell if they are going to be male, a black tail, or female, a brown tail, but this one had everyone puzzled, as it was ginger!
Chiffchaffs are still on the reserve but no Willow Warblers were caught. Our first juvenile Redpoll was ringed.
We also had another vistor. John photographed a Cormorant flying over the lake.
It was a busy day and many thanks go to all the bird ringers and helpers who worked hard throughout the day.
Bird wings work in unison, but dragonfly wings do not. This photo shows all four wings, pointing in four different directions.
PS - The ringing team have arrived home from Dividal in Norway and we are looking forward to hearing of their visit. They ringed over 1000 birds of a variety of species.
A Very Blustery Day
Saturday, August 19th 2017
The wind was extremely strong blowing across Foxglove, making macro photography interesting. However by hanging onto leaves, branches and stems, then cropping fingers, I did manage to have some photos for the blog.
I found my Gold Spangles, the home of the Silk Button Wasp.
We often see quite large mayflies but this one was tiny, clinging to the underside of a leaf.
Speckled Wood Butterflies filled every sunny glade. Focusing on one, I did not realise that I had two in the frame. Of course I still had those pesky pieces of vegetation, in this case, dead leaves!
The lake was quiet with most of the birds sheltering from the wind. On the tree the Tufted Ducks were resting.
I photographed, at a distance, a Moorhen. Once on the screen I found that not only did I have the Moorhen but behind it the adult Little Grebe and in front, rather out of focus, a juvenile.
Two Days In One
Friday, August 18th 2017
Yesterday Foxglove and the rest of the camp had a planned power cut. Our initial panic that we wouldn’t be able to make coffee was dismissed by Elizabeth pointing out that we had a gas cooker (why didn’t we think of this?!). With this important issue sorted, all was well and we headed out into the woodland to get on with a variety of tasks. With no power there was no point wondering whether we had any new emails to reply to or anything indoors to do so we made good progress. First we popped some small silver birch trees on the heath to make some wooden pegs.
This served a double purpose as they needed removing anyway to prevent them encroaching on the heath.
The pegs were used on the green route to peg down the new logs that we were using to edge the path. Some of the marker posts had become loose and were also stabilised.
Terry and Yvonne spent some time taking photographs and got this lovely Brimstone butterfly on a Betony flower.
Today the usual Friday jobs were done. Colin filled the feeders ready for the weekend and the net rides were given a final check over.
The reserve managers attended the funeral of Bryan Thwaites, a dedicated Foxglove Tuesday volunteer who sadly died earlier this month. His cheerful nature and shorts and wellies regardless of the weather will be missed and remembered here. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
Tree ID and a Bit More
Thursday, August 17th 2017
Whilst we were ID'ing the trees we were also taking photographs of the trees and other flora and fauna. Wayfaring trees can be found near the bottom of the middle moor path. Spring white flowers turn into yellow, red and black poisonous berries in late summer. Birds will eat the berries and insects like hoverflies feed on the nectar. The larvae of several moth species feed on the leaves. (I must admit that I am unable to remember any specific moths, but I will pay more attention when ID'ing the moths!)
Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn are both important for the caterpillars of the Brimstone Butterfly. Over the years, Foxglove has planted several of these trees and they are to be found around the reserve. They have grown from very small whips to larger trees. Interestingly, now we have more leaves to be chewed, we also have more Brimstone Butterflies.
Berries are starting to ripen on the Alder Buckthorn. Next time I will not photograph the tree tube behind the image that I want!
Looking at leaves usually involves turning them over to see what is there and to our surprise on a Silver Birch we found another shield bug. We hoped that it would be called something like tiger shield bug or Tigger shield bug, but no, it's name is Parent Bug. The next time it moults it will be an adult.
Oak leaves are often covered in galls. I am still hunting for the gold coloured one, the home of the Silk Button Wasp. This leaf is covered in Spangle Galls and are the home of the Spangle Gall Wasp. I think that I have the correct ID for the round galls, home to the Oyster Gall Wasp.
And finally a surprise when walking across the newly cut moor, daydreaming of spring next year when we wander around looking for the seedlings of Yellow Rattle, something pink caught my eye and I immediatley thought that someone had dropped some LITTER! A closer look established no litter, but a flower of Lousewort.
Apologies to the volunteers today for no photos of their work on the blog but the lack of electricity meant that Foxglove were unable to write a blog so I volunteered. I will look forward to seeing the work done today, tomorrow, providing that the electricity is back on. Thank you for all your hard work on what has been a hot summer's day.
Explore Small and More!
Wednesday, August 16th 2017
Today we held the fourth of our weekly summer holiday activities for families – Explore Small! We looked for things on a walk around the reserve which we might not normally spot…
and then looked at them even closer with magnifying glasses and microscopes!
Finds included ground beetles
and lichens – looking closely we could see their fruiting bodies, or ascomata. On this lichen the fruiting bodies are the round ‘jam tart’ structures (as our lichen recording volunteer describes them!).
Elsewhere our moth recording volunteers did our weekly moth recording and a team set about brushing up on their tree ID.
A small team of our licenced ringers finished recording details of some of the nest boxes on the reserve so they can enter the data into the BTO nest recording scheme. We also did some maintenance work around the reserve…
It’s definitely been a busy day and there were wildlife sightings too; highlights from various members of the public were a kingfisher, peacock butterflies and a bird (maybe a pheasant..?) with a small crowd of chicks!
Sunshine and Shade
Tuesday, August 15th 2017
Not every day is as busy as it was today; I barely saw Stacey and Jennifer, the other Reserve Managers! It was mainly because we had to ‘divide and conquer' to achieve the day's targets.
Jennifer was away strimming with a team while Stacey and a few of our Tuesday volunteers started the day with bagging the hopper seed. We received a delivery from a local farmer of five dumpy bags of chaff/seed which is the waste product of the rape seed harvest. His waste is our gain, as it is an excellent hopper feed for small passerines such as Bullfinches.
These large dumpy bags were emptied into smaller, easier to handle sacks which we can then transfer to the nine hoppers which are distributed around the reserve. This food is essential for the birds over the winter. For now the smaller bagged seed was taken to our seed store via the quad bike and trailer.
Meanwhile I was on the Green Route, above Risedale Beck, with 19 Scouts from the 1st Kildwick and Farnhill Scout Group replacing rotten path edges.
After a short lunch I took the group for a guided tour of the reserve.
We passed by the volunteers repairing the over grassed footpath on the moorland and redefining the path edges. This is a fairly labour intensive job, which although hard work, was made all the easier by great banter and laughter.
The day done the team returned to the Field Centre having made the path a lot more presentable.
Thank you to all who assisted today, and to the gentleman who kindly donated a tripod.
Monday, August 14th 2017
Today was the first day in nearly a month that all three reserve managers were back at Foxglove together. Earlier in the season we were all busy with bird nest boxes and planning for our Foxglove 25th Anniversary celebrations and once this was over we were all able to take some holiday. With the three of us back at work we started by doing some planning of the coming weeks and months.
Afterwards we completed a variety of tasks that have been waiting for a spare day to get them done. Roger did some work on the strimmers, replacing parts that were broken or worn and giving them a good service.
Jennifer meanwhile fixed the loose non-slip surfaces out on the boardwalk.
Indoors, with the nest box season now over, the Adopt-a-box end of season report was written, and the events for the autumn and winter season were planned. We have a range of events now on offer so take a look at the events page on our website to see what we have coming up! Next is “Explore Small” on Wednesday at 10am.
Butterflies And ...
Sunday, August 13th 2017
The title for today's blog was going to be butterflies with only photographs of butterflies, but after chasing several Speckled Woods and not even getting a splodge and watching a Brimstone fly around and then lose it, I decided that one or two extra photographs would be needed. However we will start with the butterflies that I did catch - whoops, should be photographed.
A few weeks ago the only butterflies you really noticed were the Ringlets and Meadow Browns. Only one very bedraggled Meadow Brown was spotted on my walks. It is the time of the Red Admiral. They are feeding on the Hemp Agrimony
Sometimes, whilst feeding they close their wings showing a beautifully marked underwing.
Peacock Butterflies are also on the wing.
I hope that I have correctly identified this male Large White Butterfly, feeding on a Knapweed flower.
Now we come to the 'And'. This small shieldbug was sitting on the rail of a bridge so I gently moved it to a green leaf, but it decided to disappear under the leaf. It is not often that you are able to see the underside of the bug, but you can see the pattern and the tiny dots that are the spiracles through which it breaths.
The underside of the leaf is not green but silvery grey, better luck next time. Having looked at an ID chart I am still unsure of the species.
Crossing the moor marvelling at the spread of the Harebells I noticed some that looked rather odd, so they required a closer inspection. Something moved and I realised that it was a spider, a rather large spider.
She, as I could see no palps is one of the Garden Cross Spiders. Hopefully a browse through my spider book will help me to track down her correct ID. She was very attractive.
Walking off the moor I heard a noise and looked skywards to see a Buzzard being harried by some corvids.
Saturday, August 12th 2017
Hazel nuts are still ripening. I suspect that the Grey Squirrels have checked them for ripeness and readiness to eat, as one or two empty shells have been found, but have found that they are not quite right for a feast. Soon the ground will be covered by empty shells.
Whilst looking under the Hazel leaves the tiny new catkins could be seen growing.
It is always interesting to look under tree leaves, especially if they are full of holes. In most cases you find very little, but sometimes you get a surprise, a spider in her nest looking after her egg case.
Bridge rails are places where a variety of bugs may be found. We usually prefer to take photographs of bugs and insects against a green leafy background, but the hairs on this Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar rather deterred us from touching it!
Always a joy to see at this time of year is the Grass of Parnassus.
We try and do like to be scientific, but when faced with this photograph we just had to wonder what they were talking about!
Some of the Swaledale Bird Ringing Group are heading to Norway for a week, to ring birds. They are going to Dividal National Park, (68°38′N 19°52′E) which covers an area of 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi). It was opened in 1971 with the intention of preserving a very little disturbed inland valley and mountain area. It is south of Tromso and inside the Arctic Circle. (If I have my geography correct.) There are no communications so we will have to wait for their return, with cameras full of photographs. We wish them safe journeys and an excellent week of bird ringing.
Time to Start Recording
Friday, August 11th 2017
It seems as though summer has only just arrived, and yet already we are seeing signs of early autumn, with a scattering of ripe blackberries, a few trees just starting to change colour and increasing numbers of fungi showing themselves. Brian and Chris decided that the time was right to start on this autumn’s fungi recording – they think they may have already found another new species for the reserve…
Elsewhere today included the tasks of mowing the lawn, replacing signs on some gates and filling the bird feeding hoppers. Coming back along the boardwalk through the Scrapes I spotted a great diving beetle and stopped the wheelbarrow.
An unusual place to see one, but yes – she (the longitudinal striations on her wing cases tell us she is female – on a male the wing cases would be smooth) really was walking along the boardwalk!
I carefully moved her to vegetation in a nearby pond where she won’t be accidentally trodden on.
Thursday, August 10th 2017
Today we ventured into the orchard by the lake to give the fruit trees there some attention.
The day was very pleasant and it felt rather like summer had returned- this did have the disadvantage of bringing out the flies in large numbers but it was nice to feel the warmth of the sun. Firstly the thistles were removed from the area, then we set to work on the tree guards. In some places the trees had grown substantially since they were planted and their branches were getting crushed by their protective guards.
Some of the guards were removed entirely and a smaller protective spiral trunk cover used instead.
Where the guards were removed, they were taken to a new site, conveniently just through the hedge to be reused. Here the junipers were also being strangled by their own smaller tree tubes. They will have much more space to grow in their new tubes.
Thanks to everyone who helped out today.
Being Wildlife Detectives
Wednesday, August 9th 2017
Today we looked for evidence of some of our more elusive wildlife and tried to spot what they’d left behind at our Tracks and Signs event for families. We saw lots! Including footprints of water voles, deer hoof-prints and mole hills; we saw small trails from voles and even smaller trails from beetles and leaf-mining moths. There were leftovers from meals: nuts broken by squirrels, apples eaten by water voles, cones eaten by mice and by squirrels and even a pile of feathers left from the meal of a hawk!
We took casts of footprints to take home…
…and played a game where we set trails for each other to follow!
Family fun and there’s more to come – check out our events pages here.
No Bales Today
Tuesday, August 8th 2017
Today started nice and sunny but sadly it did not last. The Tuesday volunteers split into two groups. Half went out bracken bashing by the Voley Pond, where the bracken had got almost above head height and was overshadowing everything else that was trying and failing miserably to grow. The other half of the team spent the day at Plover’s Pool field, removing the gorse and other small shrubs that are slowly taking over.
The local farmer who cut the hay meadow, returned today to gather the hay into rows.
The plan was to then to bale the hay and take it away. However, as the tractor arrived, the rain began. It then proceeded to rain for the entirety of the remainder of the day. This meant no bales today, or until the hay has had time to dry out again.
The field looks quite neat, with the hay all in rows.
Meanwhile the volunteers continued to battle on in the rain.
By the end of the day the Plover’s Pool field was still some way from being entirely gorse free, but was looking much better than it had been before we started. The volunteers were looking somewhat bedraggled!
Thanks go to those who helped out today and to Iain for coming to put the hay into rows.
Things of Interest
Monday, August 7th 2017
As the season moves on, happenings at Foxglove follow – this weekend with the cutting of our wildflower meadow now the flowers have set seed. The cut is drying ready for baling and removal.
Our bluebells are long over and gone to seed (mid May is usually the best time to see them in case you were wondering). However, keep an eye out as you walk across our moor for harebells (also known as the bluebell of Scotland) which are looking beautiful!
Adjusting a couple of tree ties on my walk round the reserve today I spotted a tree that someone had decided needed two… and tucked between the ties was this neatly built wren nest.
If you see something interesting or beautiful (or both) on your visit – why not take a picture and enter it in our photo competition? More details can be found here.
Two To Go
Sunday, August 6th 2017
CES 10 was a 0500 start and for the first time in a while there was a beautiful sunrise.
The nets were opened across the reserve and throughout the day net rounds were carried out. Over 300 birds were returned to the ringing room. There were some surprises. A juvenile Green Woodpecker was ringed. These birds are often heard and sometimes seen, but not often caught in a mist net.
Another rare visitor was this Tree Pipit. These birds have seriously declined since the 1980's and are now on the Red List of Threatened Species. Not so long ago they were breeding on the reserve.
Whitethroats are not endangered but it is not a bird we see often so it was very special to see one in the ringing room.
Kingfisher sightings have increased over the last few weeks and today was no exception. John saw them fishing from the tree in the lake and spotted this one with a fish!
Two were caught today.
Thank you to everyone who helped. As it happened, it was only when the numbers were crunched at the end of the day that we realised it had been the best CES day 10 ever, with 332 birds caught and processed of 26 species. Previous records were 330 in 2009 and 323 in 2006. So a good result for all those that contribute to the ringing actvities on the reserve. This photo is of a stunning young male hatched quite recently.
Late Summer - Almost
Saturday, August 5th 2017
Everything has its season. There are many flowers in Foxglove at this time of year but we watch for those that are just coming into flower now. Harebells are usually only found in two places on the moor, but as with many species this year it too has spread its range. It is not the easiest of flowers to photograph and often looks very pale, but I was pleased that these ones have actually stayed blue!
Red Poppies are plentiful in the fields and hedgerows but we have not seen many of their delicate red nodding heads at Foxglove so far this summer.
Out on the wetland a tall yellow dandelion like flower was observed. It was identified from photographs as Perennial Sow-thistle. We went to check it on Wednesday before the cattle arrived. Our ID was correct. (This plant is growing along many hedgerows and roadsides.)
When we looked closely it was covered in tiny yellow hairs.
Moorhens have tried to build a nest on the tree in the lake several times but finally manged to build a substantial nest and have reared two young.
In the reeds close by, Little Grebes have also built a nest and they too have two young.
The Warmth of the Sun
Friday, August 4th 2017
The heavy showers were thankfully absent today which finally allowed the bees to get out and gather some pollen. The picture below shows a bee with full pollen baskets on their hind legs. The colour of the pollen is ditated by the flower the bee has gathered from but can be white, cream, blue, yellow, etc.
The weather conditions have been far from good for bees; wet, windy and colder than normal. It is because of this we have had to supplement their natural food with this special bee syrup made up of fructose, glucose and water.
With the sun all the insects emerge, benefiting all. Birds will have been hit by the lack of insects, so it was good to see the large numbers of hoverflies on the various flowers. Whilst going about my outdoor duties I noticed this Wolf Spider carrying her spiderlings on her back, she will do this until they can fend for themselves You can often see these spiders carrying around their egg sacks, especially on the board walks by the pond dipping platform. Wolf spiders do not have a web but chase their prey to catch them.
We were fortunate to have seen a family of Stoats on the training area behind the reserve.
As we drove closer they were oblivious to us as they played around this puddle enabling us to take these pics.
We only ever saw four stoats at a time, but there was possibly more as they have litters from 6 to 12 young.
Although a predator of rabbits and other small mammals and birds, they are also predated by birds of prey and foxes, having a short life span being of just 1.5 years on average. The black tipped tail is the main indicator in the field that these are stoats, in the weasel it is absent.
In front of the Lake Hide
Thursday, August 3rd 2017
The first job of the day was to have another attempt at moving the cows. It seems that today they were feeling more cooperative and after only a couple of attempts, we managed to get them to where we wanted them in the Wetland. The vegetation there is so long that I think it might be a few weeks before we see them again!
By this point the rain had stopped and it was actually quite a nice day. We all headed down to the lake to clear vegetation that was obstructing the view from the lake hide and hanging down getting in the way of the net rides.
Peter set to work with the hedge trimmer to give the Phragmites reeds in the lake itself a bit of a haircut, while a dead tree trunk behind was removed.
The rest of us cut down the ever growing stems of sycamore and ash that constantly grow from the stumps in front of the hide and obscure the view.
It was then carted away to the Bullet Catcher ready for burning later on in the season.
Everything looked much tidier by the end of the day, although we forgot to take a final photograph once we have removed all the equipment so you will have to imagine this yourselves.
Thanks to the volunteers for their hard work today.
A Field Centre Buzz
Wednesday, August 2nd 2017
The wet weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of either visitor or volunteer,which was a good thing because the Field Centre was a buzz of activity. The first folk in this morning were the moth group.
We began the day by opening the moth trap I had put out last thing yesterday. Although not a large catch it was quality, with moths such as these second generation Early Thorns
….and Purple Thorns.
This Purple Bar was particularly striking.
This small moth, called a Chinese Character, was notable for other reasons; it is a mimic of bird droppings.
Later on in the morning the flower group came in having had a walk around the reserve recording our flora.
In the afternoon the weather had not improved for our pond dipping,
but all appeared to enjoy themselves and were able to dry out and have a hot cuppa during the indoor activities.
The egg box frogs were very popular, and also the frogs life cycle.
Thank you to all who came today both as a volunteer or visitor. A special thank you to Christine for her assistance with the pond dipping activity.
Ducks and Cows
Tuesday, August 1st 2017
Today being Tuesday was a volunteer day. The sun shone for much of it which made a nice change and reminded us that perhaps summer is not entirely over. Outside the volunteers set to work with strimmers and mowers and cut back overhanging vegetation.
In the field centre the cupboards in the classroom were given a spring clean by Colin and Bob.
Back outside, the staff and volunteers spent a lot of time trying to move our three Dexter cows from Plovers Pool to the Wetland. Being fairly small they should have been easy to move, but being rather tame, they were unwilling to budge. Coaxing, offering food and even shouting at them had no effect although they were keen to follow whilst hanging on to the end of a carrot!
At the end of the day the cows had won, and continued to reside happily in the Plovers Pool field. We left the Wetland gate open, in the hopes that they might suddenly decide the grass looked greener on the other side and make their own way there.
Elsewhere on the reserve, we had some new arrivals. Sophie has been hand rearing four mallard chicks that she rescued as day old chicks after their mother was hit by a car on the road.
Now fully grown, several months later, today they were released at Foxglove and spent a happy afternoon dabbling on the lake.
We think they will settle in well in their new home.
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out today.