Blog Archive (29) Posts Made in December 2018

Projects in the Pipeline

Monday, December 31st 2018

Only one of the Exmoor ponies appeared to notice that something was afoot on the moorland this afternoon.

Levels and measurements were being taken for an exciting new project, phase one of the creation of a large wader scrape on the far moor.

Rob and Rob, two experienced landscapers from Barningham came to map out this new development which will begin later in January.

Measurements being taken for the new scrape

This involved very specialised equipment such as this theolodite.

Later on, for the first time ever, one of the ponies was observed lying down. Maybe it was all the excitement or just the end of a long year!

One of the ponies lying down!

At dusk, the mallards were also resting on the tree that was felled into the lake as part of the Tony Robinson TV series Coast to Coast.

Ducks on the tree in the lake at dusk

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Bird Ringing

Sunday, December 30th 2018

The mist nets were raised and throughout this morning a steady stream of birds were returned to the ringing room. 

A Great Tit ringed in the nest box in Stonecutters Wood, next to Foxglove, was retrapped.  There were several Coal Tits newly ringed, as well as more Blue Tits.  Several Long-tailed Tits were retrapped and were over 2 years old.

Other species processed included Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Treecreeeper and Bullfinch.

Whilst out on a net round a wasp was found crossing the road!

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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More Fungi

Saturday, December 29th 2018

Autumn is the best time to see the many varied fungi growing on the reserve.  The mild damp weather appears to have stretched the season and there are new fungi springing up, especially on trees and dead wood.

 This purple coloured jelly is developing on one of the logs.

Purple jelly like fungus

A bracket fungus could have a slime mould sitting on it.  A careful watch will be kept over the coming weeks to see what happens.

Is it a fungus growing through some moss or some moss creeping over the fungus or something totally different?  More observations needed.

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Moths and Butterflies

Thursday, December 27th 2018

No, please do not get excited, there are very few moths showing themselves at the minute and butterflies are hibernating.  We do aim to trap moths throughout the year but it does depend on the weather and recently Tuesday nights have been cold, wet and or very windy.  There have even been very few on the Field Centre.

During the spring and summer we do look forward to our moths. We do catch quite large numbers of these Brimstone Moths, which may have three generations throughout its flight season.  It can spend the winter as a part grown larvae on its food plant.  Some overwinter as a pupa on the food plant or in the debris below it.  The larva feed on Blackthorn, Hawthorn and possibly Wayfaring Tree.

Brimstone moth

The Brimstone Butterfly looks totally different. Information seems to indicate that Foxglove could be at its northern most range.  Its distribution is closely linked to its food plants, Alder Buckthorn and Buckthorn.  These species have been planted at Foxglove and are now grwoing into splendid trees and with their growth so the number of Brimstone Butterfly sightings have increased over the last two or three years.

When we were looking for photos of both forms of the Peppered Moth for the new interpretation panels, we struggled to find any black forms.  We catch the white form.  This one almost well camouflaged.

Peppered Moth

Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies did not do well during 2017, but their numbers increased during 2018.  They fed on the Knapweed in the flower meadows.

Small Toroiseshell Butterfly

Although the hot summer was good for our invertebrates there is some discussion as to the knock on effect that this will have on many inverts during 2019.  We will continue to collect data from our moth trapping and butterfly sightings and pass this to the appropriate species recorder.

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Boxing Day Walk

Wednesday, December 26th 2018

It was a beautiful day for a stroll around the reserve.  The guided walk set off from the Field Centre and followed the red route.

The group were told about the willow carr, its coppicing and the need to carry out this work.  Sunshine bathed the Scrapes as explanations were given about  how the water reaches the ponds and the use made of the pond dipping platforms.

Scrapes bathed in sunshine

On the the lake there were plenty of Mallard.

Mallard on the lake

They were fed and soon left the water to partake of a snack.

Mallard feeding

The ponies were checked.


At the outdoor classroom, the new interpretation panels were enjoyed.  It looked like the Tawny Owls had been making use of the classroom too!  Owls, although we are not quite sure which ones, had also roosted in the landing to the wetland hide, leaving behind some of their pellets.  These will be kept to one side and dissected at a later date.  It will be interesting to see what 'our' owls have been eating.

Risedale Beck was also visited.

Risedale Beck

The walk finished crossing the heath and then back to the Field Centre.  Thank you to the volunteers who helped today and of course all our visitors who enjoyed walking around.

If you missed today's walk there is another one on New Year's Day

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Really Observant?

Monday, December 24th 2018

When we walk around Foxglove we keep our eyes open ready to spot anything new or different, small, tiny or large.  We pride ourselves on finding 'things'!  They do say that pride comes before a fall, well we have fallen!

Walking along Risedale Beck we glanced over to the other side of the beck and there as large as life was a Hart's Tongue Fern.  Judging by its size it has been growing there for some time.  This was the first time we had seen it!  It is only the third plant of this species found on the reserve.  We should look for more I suspect.



There are still berries on the Holly in the hedgrerows across the moor.

Although the day was dry there were still water droplets hanging around.

We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas.

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Christmas time at Foxglove

Sunday, December 23rd 2018

Christmas is nearly upon us, and what better way to spend an afternoon but by having a stroll around the reserve. Here are a few things to do in the coming week!

Christmas Trail

Why not take part in our Christmas Trail! Collect a Trail sheet from the Field Centre, and try and find the 14 markers around the Red Route, each with a letter on the back. When you have found them all, try and find what they spell out. 

Boxing Day Walk (Wednesday 26th December 10.30-12.30)

Come along and get some fresh air and burn off those extra Christmas calories!  Learn about the history of the reserve, it’s wildlife and recent developments. Get up close to Lark, Taurus, Fawn and Corvus our resident Exmoor ponies as we check and feed them along the way. The wild ducks on the lake will also be fed. 

New Year's Day Walk (Tuesday 1st January 2019 10.30-12.30)

Come along and get some fresh air and exercise to start 2019. Learn all about the reserve, and try and spot all the wildlife which can be found here. Get to know our four resident Exmoor ponies, and discover some of the new developments happening at the reserve. 

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Bees and birds

Saturday, December 22nd 2018

Our bee-keepers popped in today to check up on our honey bees, and they are doing well. While we do supplement them with extra food if needs be, they appear to have plenty of food to get through the winter. 

The Queen bee (circled below) was seen to be laying Worker bees, which is a good sign.

The day was spent doing various jobs around the reserve, including filling up all the bird feeders. This Coal Tit couldn't even wait until I had gone to take the first bite. 

The mink rafts were also checked, and thankfully nothing was found other than some Grey Squirrel prints (below)...

...and lots of Moorhen prints on the Scrapes.

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Wheelbarrow Hospital

Saturday, December 22nd 2018

Many of our wheelbarrows needed a little TLC, and today was finally the day. With four punctures repaired and a little WD-40, they were soon ready to go again!

While it might be the first official day of Winter, lots of different fungi can still be seen around the reserve. Old logs or even dead hedges are the perfect place to look for them. 

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Sieving the Chaff

Friday, December 21st 2018

We spent most of today doing odd jobs, with the main job being to empty and clean out many of the Hoppers around the reserve. The hoppers are filled with Chaff, which are the hard casings of seeds of crops like Rapeseed. While the casings themselves aren't particularly attractive to birds, many of them still contain a lot of tasty seeds.

We found that the bottom of the hoppers were bunged up with damp coarse stems, so with a bit of innovation and a homemade sieve, we separated the seed from the stems and shells so that the birds could get to them more easily. 

Some other jobs included staking up some windblown Fir trees, tidying up a dead hedge and working on two mink rafts which were struggling to float. 

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Willow Wreaths and S’mores

Wednesday, December 19th 2018

Today has been our second Willow Wreath making event, thank you to everyone who joined in. We had a fantastic range of wreaths, some green, some gold, some wrapped in ribbon and some with bows. We hope they all sit proudly on the front door. 

Plenty of space was needed to mould the long strands of willow round into a Wreath.

To top off a festive day, we had an end of term treat with Risedale College to thank them for their help, including toasting marshmallows on the fire and making S'mores!

Not too close, not too far and always spinning, the recipe for a perfect toasted marshmallow!

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Christmas Volunteer Lunch

Tuesday, December 18th 2018

Today was our Christmas Volunteer bring and share lunch to thank everyone who helps us at Foxglove, we couldn't do it without their invaluable support.

After a rather damp morning working in the coppice block, removing mainly more Hawthorn trees and a few Willows, we headed back to the Field Centre for lunch.

We spent the afternoon collecting up all the Birch stumps which were cut last week, and also harvesting some more Holly, Spruce and cones for tomorrow's second Willow Weaving event. 

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Upcoming Events

Monday, December 17th 2018

A roundup of all our upcoming events in the next month. All events are advertisied on the website, and booking is essential in order to know numbers.

Willow Wreath Making- Wednesday 19th December 2018 from 10.00-12.00

We have our second Willow Wreath Making Workshop this coming Wednesday (the 19th). We will be making Christmas decorations from coppiced Willow for you to take home or give away as gifts. Cost of the session is £5 towards the costs of materials. 

Boxing Day Walk- Wednesday 26th December 2018 from 10.30-12.30

Come along and get some fresh air and burn off those extra Christmas calories! Learn about the history of the reserve, it’s wildlife and recent developments. Get up close to Lark, Taurus, Fawn and Corvus our resident Exmoor ponies as we check and feed them along the way. The wild ducks on the lake will also be fed. All welcome. 

New Years Day Walk and Talk- Tuesday 1st January 2019 from 10.30-12.30

Come along and get some fresh air and exercise to start 2019. Learn about the history of the reserve, it’s wildlife and recent developments. Help to check and feed the four resident Exmoor ponies (Lark, Taurus, Fawn and Corvus) along the way. The wild ducks on the lake will also be fed. Families welcome. 

January Winter Worky Day- Saturday 5th January 2019 from 10.00- 15.00

Join our Volunteers and Reserve Managers for a fun day of practical habitat management tasks. Specific tasks will be chosen nearer the time. Come ready for all weather conditions and bring your oldest outdoor clothes as tasks will be mucky and may involve bonfires. Booking is essential for this FREE event as a hot cooked lunch will be provided.

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The Longest Day

Sunday, December 16th 2018

As we approach the winter equinox, the shortest day, I looked at what was around on the longest day.  It was a hot summer.  Lark and Taurus appreciated the shelter of the Hawthorn near Plover's Pool.

Lark and Taurus

Butterflies were abundant and the Speckled Woods made the most of all the sunny glades.

Speckled Wood

Flowers opened but did not stay that way for long due to the heat.  Sometimes we can record Greater Spearwort right through to December, but not this year.

Greater Spearwort

There are many dandelion-like flowers on the reserve.  With lots of perseverance we are beginning to identify some of them, although I must admit, some do not appear to have read their details in the various and many flower books.  We can however, enjoy them and the insects that they feed.

Dandelion-like flower plus insects

There are still some calendars left for sale in the Field Centre and don't forget if you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift there are books for sale too.  Very shortly the bird ringers will be out checking that the nest boxes are ready for the breeeding season and there are still many available for adoption.  Don't forget the bat boxes which have been checked and are ready for their inhabitants come the spring. (See the Support Us page for more details.)

If you would like to hear more about the reserve then there are two walks organised, one on Boxing Day and one on New Year's Day.  To book your place check out the News and Events page or contact the Field Centre.

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A Winter Wander

Saturday, December 15th 2018

After completing some indoor jobs we set off for a winter wander.  The lake was still and there were plenty of Mallards to be seen, some feeding, some dabbling and some preening on the tree.

Mallard preening

An old log pile was examined and we found one of the Dog Lichens growing.  There is great debate amongst the experts as to its correct identification.  We'll stick with a Dog Lichen.

A Dog Lichen

This clump of Candlesnuff fungus stood out against the surrounding grass and fallen leaves.

Candlesnuff fungus

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Jobs Around the Reserve

Friday, December 14th 2018

Today has been a day for odd jobs around the reserve, including replacing stakes on leaning trees including this Cherry in the newly coppiced area behind the Field Centre…

...and a couple of leaning Hollies by the Lake. A few Birch trees were removed from around them too to give them more space and light. 

Low hanging branches were also removed above footpaths…

...and the remains of a pile of brash were burnt creating a rather unsual two sided fire!

And the day ended with a rather lovely sunset through the trees. 

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More Pollarding

Thursday, December 13th 2018

More work in the coppice block today. This time we had a busy time pollarding four large Willow trees (before and after below), as well as coppicing some smaller Willow stools, removing some Hawthorn and treating a lot of the Birch stumps in the first area we cleared. 

A surprising amount of material comes down when pollarding trees, so it meant plenty of brash for us to process. 

We uncovered this Kidney Spot Ladybird hiding on a piece of Willow, which was taken back into the other side of the woodland where it wouldn't be disturbed again. These ladybirds usually hide in cracks of deciduous trees over winter before becoming more active again in the spring. 

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The Art of the Fire

Wednesday, December 12th 2018

The Risedale Rangers have been learning how to start fires today up in the conifer woodland. Newspaper, dry wood, a few matches (we'll try flint and steel next time) and plenty of hands who wanted to try and light the (slightly damp) fire. 

It took a little persuading, however once it was going and had some heat, it was off! Thank you to the Risedale Rangers who have been helping us tidy up the woodland.

With such damp weather in recent weeks, it's been a good Autumn and Winter for fungi, here are three which were found today even in mid-December. The Purple Jellydisc (right) is most often found on fallen and rotting wood and can form brain-like clusters, whereas the Hairy Curtain Crust (bottom) can be found on living and dead wood and as the name suggests, has a hairy coating on it.

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Stump Treatment

Tuesday, December 11th 2018

Today we got on and did a lot of the stump treatment in the coppice blocks we have been working in, killing off any Birch and Gorse which we are going to be replacing with Willow in February. We also removed some Hawthorn and coppiced some Willow in the next coppice block. 

It was easy to miss these hidden fungi which were found half way up a tree!

Meanwhile the ponies are enjoying their time on the moorland, despite it having been quite damp in the last few weeks. 

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Tidying Up

Monday, December 10th 2018

It was another frosty morning on the reserve, which turned into a surprisingly mild day. Today's job was a tidying up one, raking up all the Birch and Willow cut last week and burning it. 

Whilst brushcutting last week, a few small Oaks was discovered, which were protected with tree tubes today to avoid any damage being done by the deer. 

It turned into a lovely afternoon, despite feeling like it was starting to get dark at 2pm, could Spring come a little sooner?

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Winter Sun

Sunday, December 9th 2018

Members of the Swaledale Ringing Team took advantage of the calm, sunny weather and carried out a visit to Bellflask Fishery early this morning. There was some discussion amongst the bird ringers as to whether it was warmer or cooler inside the shed compared to outside!


The team was kept busy with a steady catch of birds.


Mainly common garden birds were caught such as this beautiful juvenile Robin. 


Blue tits were high on the list of species ringed. However, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Dunnock, Great tit, Wren and even a Moorhen were also ringed.

blue tit

Meanwhile, swans were busy feeding on the lake, they appeared to be enjoying the winter sun!


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Things to Look Out For on a Winter Walk

Saturday, December 8th 2018

I have walked around much of the reserve over the last few days and flowers are far and few between.  There is a single Herb Robert flower, well protected, under the table by the Porta Cabin. Daisies are growing in their usual place along Risedale Beck by the seat.  Ivy is still in flower.

Ivy Flower

We are still looking for an early Primrose.

Various pieces of wood around the reserve have their own fungi attached,

Fungi on wood

Fungus on wood

 but not all like wood to grow on.

A fungus

Most of the apple crop has now fallen or been picked. Some of those picked have been used to feed the ponies and Water Voles.  Fallen ones have been enjoyed by a variety of birds.  Crab apples are not eaten by anything that I can find and so they lie on the ground over winter.

Crab apples

Not all of them make it that far and get caught amongst the prickles of the Hawthorn.

Crab apples caught in Hawthorn

The moth trap has succumbed to the weather and has not been put out for several weeks.  I am always hopeful that the next Tuesday night will be good moth trap weather.  Leaving Foxglove in the dark, which on these winter nights is just after 4pm, when it is warm, there are moths flying!  I have even considered jumping out of the car with a net, to try to catch some!  I have to admit that there have been few moths on the Field Centre.  I did find one and decided that I would move it gently for a photo.  All went well until I tried to put it onto a green leaf, at which point it flew off to land on the ground in a really good position.


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Sunshine and Smiles

Friday, December 7th 2018

There was blue sky and plenty of sunshine, at times, on the reserve. Even the strong wind blowing straight down from the moor to the lake did not cause too much disturbance!

The lake

The blue sky disappeared to give way to dark clouds, but still enough sun just to catch the reeds, making them glisten.

The reed bed

Another change brought a rainbow.

A rainbow

Throughout all of this weather, Colin filled the bird feeders.  Most sensibly he came into the Field Centre for a welcome cup of tea when it rained.  Thank you for your hard work Colin.

This afternoon Imogen headed down to Wavell Community Junior School for their Christmas Fair where she talked to pupils and their parents about Foxglove. There were lots of nature inspired gifts to buy and reindeer food was in high demand! If you are struggling for inspiration for gifts there are still plenty of Christmas presents available from the field centre such as Adopt-a-box certificates, Friends membership, jars of local honey and the latest Natural History books (for both young and old readers). Calendars are still on offer too packed with amazing wildlife photographs taken by people at the reserve. 

Foxglove at Wavell School Fair

If you are shopping online this Christmas then please remember that you can support us by using Amazon Smile rather than Amazon and selecting Foxglove Covert as your chosen registered charity.

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Risedale Beck

Thursday, December 6th 2018

Through the summer and well into autumn there has just been a trickle of water in Risedale Beck, so it is good to see it flowing.

Risedale Beck

Risedale Beck

The reserve has very quickly lost its autumn colours and now it is coloured with the browns and greys of winter.  However there is still a little colour to be found along Risedale Beck.  On the top of a bridge rail grows a 'little garden' of green moss and a lighter green lichen.

A little garden

Silver Birch always produce a good crop of seeds and I am sure the germination rate of said seeds must be very close to 100%, judging by the number of seedlings that appear.  But you must admit that the trunks can be very attractive.

Silver Birch

A little bit of colour stood out, again on a bridge rail, a 7 Spot Ladybird with its droplet of water!

7 Spot Ladybird

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Willow Wreath Making

Wednesday, December 5th 2018

Today was the first of our Willow Wreath Making workshops, and everyone produced fantastic individual wreaths to take home. 

The day started with around 400 Willow Whips which had been harvested at the end of last week and were left to soak in the pond until today. There was a slight concern last Saturday that they were quite brittle (possibly due to the dry summer), but a few days in the pond seemed to supple them up. 

The first job was to create a single ring using one Willow whip, after which more could be added.

And then it was onto decorating, inlcuding adding Holly, Ivy, Spruce, ribon and even spray painted pine cones. 

Thank you to everyone who came along, we hope your wreaths are proudly hanging on the front door.

If you are interested in learning how to make a Willow Wreath, we have a second event on Wednesday the 19th of December from 10:00am-12:00 noon.

Meanwhile, we had a team from the Royal Lancers in the afternoon to run an orienteering race around the reserve. It might have been damp but the spirits were high!

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A Frosty Morning

Tuesday, December 4th 2018

It was a beautifully crisp frosty morning today, with berries and leaves covered in crystals.

We had a strong team of ten volunteers today, and were busy coppicing in the area opposite the heath, including removing Birch and quite a few Hawthorns.

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Sunshine and blue skies

Monday, December 3rd 2018

We have had a day of sunshine for the first time in weeks, and what a relief!

The main job for today was brushcutting a large area which was very overgrown with Willow and Birch. We are trying to keep this area open, in order to turn it into more of a grassland, however both the Willow and Birch trees around the area don't agree with that plan and are determined to fill it in…

There was a big difference at the end of the day when the area was cleared. Suddenly the streams were visible, and several Oak sapplings were discovered. 

Meanwhile Willie has finished the cascading pond dams, and they are certainly being put to the test with the quantity of water coming down off the Moor. 

In others news, we have been keeping an eye on this fabulously fluffy blue tit who has taken residence in the nest box outside the Field Centre which has a live camera in it. He has fluffed himself up and has been seen roosting in the box overnight, sheltering from the elements and from predators. 

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In the News

Sunday, December 2nd 2018

On Monday we had a visit from Councillor Threlfall.  He was visiting the Outdoor Classroom where we have installed new interpretative panels using a grant awarded to us by the Authority's Social Fund.

You can read the full article on the Richmondshire District Council website.

The photographer had to perch somewhat precariously to get just the right shot!

The photo at the Outdoor Classroom

Everyone at Foxglove is grateful for the generosity and continued support from Richmondshire District Council.

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Winter Workout for Wildlife

Sunday, December 2nd 2018

Clearing an overgrown area of willow coppice was the task for yesterday's team of 'Winter Worky Day' volunteers. This work is part of a 10 year coppice management plan to benefit wildflowers and wildlife.

Coppice start

Most of the group worked with hand tools to cut down birch and willow.


Split into two sections, by lunchtime it was quite obvious where they had been!

Coppice Block

Smoke from the fire seemed to follow people as they busied themselves with moving the brash to the fire.


Spirits were high in spite of the dreary Yorkshire weather!

Coppice work

As can be seen on the faces of Ken and Imogen!

Smiling in thre rain

Some volunteers had travelled quite a way to help out including Mark who had come all the way from Leeds. This is really appreciated!

Job Jobbed

After lunch (delicious chicken curry) and several of Elizabeth's homemade 'custard creams' and 'angel whispers' Sandra gave a quick brief and everyone set back to work!  Mick thought we were all mad!

Sandra's brief

A chainsaw was used to tackle some of the larger stools.


Lesley and Steve dragged themselves away from a carefully planned Christmas shopping extravaganza and cleared much of the brash that had been chain sawed.

Lesley and Steve

Due to the large amount of wood removed there was a need for a fire although many long straight birch poles were kept for a local Forest School. In the afternoon over 400 willow whips were harvested for Wednesday's Christmas wreath making event. All in all a lot was achieved and it was a very productive day thanks to all who turned out in less than ideal weather conditions.

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Help Support Foxglove

Friends of Foxglove

The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

More Details

Upcoming Events

Winter Worky Day

Sunday 3rd March 2024 | 10am - 3pm

The final winter worky day of the season, join Foxglove staff and volunteers for a fun day of practical habitat management. Bring old clothes and sturdy footwear you don't mind getting mucky and a packed lunch. 

Booking essential for this free event. 

Spring Crafts Day

Wednesday 27th March 2024 | 10am-3pm

Spring themed crafts for kids during the Easter holiday. Come along to enjoy the reserve as spring breaks through and have a go at some kid-friendly crafts in the Field Centre classroom.

No booking required. Donations welcome.


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