Blog Archive (21) Posts Made in February 2019
The End Is In Sight
Thursday, February 28th 2019
Team Thursday continued work in the coppice block and can now see light at the end of the tunnel as most of the cutting is complete, with just tidying to finish the job before Spring starts.
Five young people from the AWS (Army Welfare Service) were also on site and after a guided walk they carried on with the burning of brash in the woodland. Their wander around was via the ponies who were grateful of some hay as their grazing has been somewhat reduced with the creation of the new wetland scrape.
In the conifer block Rana from AWS perfected the art of popcorn making.
This was greatly appreciated by the group members.
Our thanks to all who helped out with habitat management today, your efforts have made a big difference.
The Best Day In The Whole World
Wednesday, February 27th 2019
and 'better than Fortnite' were some of the comments made by children attending the Fantastic Fire event!
The day began with preparations in the kitchen. Volunteers and staff made cake mix, cored apples (without a corer!), sharpened sticks, washed potatoes and even made a 'popcorn machine'!
Families soon arrived and were given a ready wrapped potato as a ticket.
As people gathered in front of the Field Centre a Buzzard was observed soaring overhead in the clear blue sky.
On arriving at the fire site the potatoes were put into the ash pile (remaining from yesterday's worky day) along with apples, bananas, chocolate brownies in orange halves and bannock was placed on top of the ash.
A bit of maths was then involved as the bread dough was mixed for the twister dough. Sunflower oil and water were measured out with perfect precision and added to the ready mixed dry ingredients.
Ian (inventor of the potato crate) had russled up a 'popcorn maker' and it worked a treat in the flames of the campfire. The dough was cooked on the end of Willow sticks and then filled with a concoction of chocolate sauce and squirty cream or butter and cheese or honey!
Fire lighting was next on the agenda and everyone had a go at igniting a cotton wool ball with flint and steel. Determination paid off and eventually almost everybody succeeded.
Close by the croaking of frogs could be heard as the first frogspawn of the year was spotted. Please take care when visiting as there may well be frogs in the road over the coming weeks.
All in all, a fantastic event, thanks to the help and support of many volunteers. Thanks are also due to Catherine Hayden, editor of Undergrowth, who has once again put together an outstanding newsletter and to team Wednesday for coordinating the distribution to the Friends of the reserve.
Double Fire Day
Tuesday, February 26th 2019
When one fire wasn't enough, it was decided to start another one to clear the moutain of brash which remains at the bottom of the bank. A huge difference could be noticed today, and the end is in sight!
One big job was to start raking off the bank of all the small branches, to allow the wild flowers to come up. It was lovely weather for a day out in the woods, and the light streamed down onto the ground.
The Far Moor Scrapes are really taking shape, and the size of this new water body can now be appreciated!
Work on the wetland is nearing completion, and the ponds are now open and free of overgrown vegetation. It will become a haven for many birds, invertebrates and amphibians.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Bird Box Bonanza
Monday, February 25th 2019
It's been a gloriously sunny spring day, and it's been bird box extravaganza on the reserve today. Around 40 people came in to make their own bird box to take home.
Many of the boxes were decorated and made even more personal, I'm sure the birds will love this one!
With a little helping hand from all our volunteers, the children were soon able to see their boxes come together.
The children absolutely loved hammering the nails in, and were really very good at it!
While half of the group spent some time making the bird boxes, Sophie took the other half on a guided walk around the reserve to look at some of our nest boxes. We have all sorts of different types of boxes, housing anything from Blue Tits to Tawny Owls.
It can sometimes be a challenge to spot the boxes in the undergrowth, which makes them a great hiding place for all our birds.
A huge thank you to everyone who came to help today. Peter, Ian, Elizabeth, Paula and Stacey, we couldn't have run this event without your help!
Birds, Visitors and Sun
Sunday, February 24th 2019
The low sun cast shadows across the access road as it lifted the early morning mist.
The range of bird species caught and processed was varied, as it was last week. Redpolls were caught in increasing numbers.
Several new Siskin were also ringed. The males are almost bright yellow with black heads, as they come into the breeding season.
Bramblings are beautiful birds and I make no apologies for another photo of one, on this blog.
Birds move into the reserve for food during the winter, but many of these leave as they prepare for the breeding season. On the other hand some birds return to the reserve for breeding. There were several older birds processed today, that have not been seen over winter. These birds have probably made their way back to Foxglove and are looking for a territory in order to rear their young.
Many visitors appreciated the spring like day as they enjoyed the reserve. The bird ringers explained to those who visited the ringing room the importance of bird ringing and showed them the process involved.
A ringing day is a team effort. Thank you to everyone who supported the ringing team.
Help From Heroes
Thursday, February 21st 2019
It has been another day of coppicing on the reserve, but what a team we had. We were very grateful to have help from Help for Heroes at Phoenix House, who came with fourteen keen volunteers. It was all hands on deck, as we were coppicing Willow, removing Birch and Hawthorn trees.
Thank you to everyone who helped today, including our regular volunteers!
Diggers, Dumpers and an Unexpected Find!
Wednesday, February 20th 2019
Dumper trucks were added into the equation today as work continues on the creation of the new wetland scrape.
Earlier in the week the digger driver working here called in to say he had found something that 'looked a bit like a bomb'! It turned out to be just that, a spigot mortar from WW2 which were last used in 1942. It was swiftly dealt with by the bomb squad much to everyone's relief!
Students from Risedale School worked hard up in the conifer plantation to clear brash. After lunch they had a go at lighting a fire using flint and steel. As an end of term treat (half term next week) they toasted a marshmallow on the fire in the coppice block.
The group have made a big difference over the past few weeks and their help is valued. Later on it was Ken's turn to harvest the cooked potatoes from the fire ash.
These were a highlight for the many volunteers in today who helped with creating a Spring sales table for the busy week ahead, replacing the boardwalk in the scrapes and setting up aquariums for the classroom tadpoles and mudsnails. During the afternoon, preparations continued for next week's Bird Box Building event (now fully booked) as Imogen drilled holes in all of the box fronts.
The various parts were put into 'kits' ready for the event.
Although the February half term events are fully booked there are still places on the Easter activities; Owl Pellet Discovery and Magnificent Migration. A reminder that the next Winter Worky Day will be on Saturday 2nd March, please get in touch if you would like to join in. See the events page for details.
Tuesday, February 19th 2019
It was a day for fire experiments, and with an expert in Forest School with lots of tricks up her sleeve, baked potatoes and extreme bread were on the menu.
The twister dough wrapped around the end of the Willow stick only took a few minutes to cook, although it made for a rather hot experience, even with a long branch!
Our resident potato master, Brian, was responsible for the potatoes once again, to the children from the Dales School's delight. Our new 'Potato 2000' worked a treat once again to make sure we didn't lose any in the fire.
It was all well and good cooking on the fire, but it needed feeding too, and Ian was sure to provide us with plenty of Willow to keep it going.
A quick trip down to the new scrapes being created on the far moorland, and progress has been quick, with a large expanse dug over and scraped off.
Mud, Glorious Mud!
Monday, February 18th 2019
Just when we thought there was enough mud on the wetland, work has started on the new far Moor scrapes, as well as dredging out the current scrapes near the Field Centre.
The first job of the day was to lift two sections of boardwalk out in the Scrapes, to allow the digger to get through. The addition of three dogs trying to run across them didn't make it any easier!
The reserve could give anyone digger envy today, with four on site, there was plenty of machinery for everyone to admire. The first of them was a yellow one working in the Scrapes…
The channels have been cleared out of excessive vegetation to allow water to flow more freely between the ponds, and eventually back into the Lake.
Work has simultaneously continued on the Wetland, with a red digger this time…
A huge difference can be seen on the wetland after all the work. The ponds may look a little bare to start with, but a few months of growth will soon green them up again. We are looking forward to seeing which new inhabitants it attracts.
And just when you thought you'd seen enough diggers, an orange one working on creating the far Moor Scrapes! This will be a large very shallow expanse of water, which will be ideal for wading birds.
The ponies appeared to be enjoying themselves rolling around in the newly created mud bath!
Lots of Birds
Sunday, February 17th 2019
Ringing was in doubt, even as the bird ringers arrived at Foxglove. The forecast said strong winds and driving to the reserve the ringers had noticed boughs bending in the wind. When we arrived there was just a gentle breeze and conditions were suitable to raise the nets.
The numbers of birds visiting the garden feeders has varied very much over the last week, from being full of birds both on the feeders and on the ground to almost none anywhere. Net rounds returned many birds and the range of species was pleasing. A tiny Goldcrest was ringed. This is a male bird as can be seen by the orange feathers on its head.
Next in size was a Lotti - a Long-tailed Tit. These birds flit into the feeders outside the kitchen window and sometimes stay for only a few minutes before heading off again.
Not many Bullfinches have been recorded over the winter but several visited the ringing room. This beautiful male had a clean beak, which is more than could be said of some of the Bullfinches we handled.
And then a surprise, several Brambling were caught. These winter migrants are on their way north, having spent the winter here.
Siskin, Redpoll and Blackbird were processed in amongst the Blue, Great and Coal Tits.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Butterflies, Bonfires and a Blast From The Past
Friday, February 15th 2019
Morning mist soon cleared to leave behind glorious blue skies. There was a definite feel of Spring in the air, confirmed by several sightings of Brimstone butterflies. It is unusually early in the year to observe these stunning bright yellow insects. They were seen close to the lake hide.
Volunteers were hard at work with different jobs. Up in the plantation more brash was cleared in order to make the top of the woodland walk passable again.
Bird feeders were also filled with fresh seed. The aim is not only to give a helping hand to the wild birds but also to ensure that there are plenty of birds for visitors to spot from the main hides and Field Centre over the weekend.
With one hundred acres of habitat to manage, volunteer help is really valued and appreciated. A familiar face was back in town too although it is ten years since Trevor (from Custom Made Wooden Buildings Ltd) was at Foxglove to construct many of the wooden structures around the reserve. When Foxglove Covert entered the Higher Level Stewardship scheme with Natural England a large amount of money was invested in new hides, walkways and an outdoor classroom. A combination of wear and tear and the well known Yorkshire weather has left many of these structures in need of maintenance. Trevor travelled all the way from Norfolk to survey the damage and will be back over the coming weeks to treat and fix some of the features that he built with his team a decade ago. Where does the time go?!
Thursday, February 14th 2019
Team Thursday were faced with new challenges this morning and a break from the usual tasks of burning brash and coppicing. The recent storm had caused a large Larch tree to fall and it was hanging precariously over one of the trails. Sadly, it had to be removed as it was a health and safety concern.
In no time at all the tree was cut into manageable sizes and stacked into a habitat pile for invertebrates and small mammals.
The team then tried out a new invention, a 'potato crate' for the fire, something which Ian had 'russled up' after a conversation on Tuesday about losing potatoes in the ash!
The crate could probably hold enough potatoes to feed an army and will no doubt be a hit with the students from the Dales School when they next visit the reserve. It will also come in handy on the Fantastic Fire event when a feast will be cooked up on an open fire.
The new gadget was covered in ash while the team continued with more work, this time on the woodland walkways which were in need of repair.
All in all a productive and fun day, and in case you were wondering, the potatoes came out a treat!
Wednesday, February 13th 2019
It's been a successful morning for the Wednesday moth team. With favourable conditions last night without too much wind or rain, the moth trap was able to go out, and 30 or so moths were caught and identified. Taking photographs of them was an operation in itself, with the hope that they would sit still for just long enough!
First up was a March Moth, although it didn't appear to abide by its name by appearing in February…
Next up was a Pale Brindled Beauty, and this one certinaly did pose for the photograph.
And finally, a Chestnut, which was well camouflaged against the bark and moss.
The Risedale Rangers have been hard at work in the conifer block again burning brash. While the lower footpath is now clear, there is still a lot to do! The students showed great stamina and team building and have made a significant dent in this work which is hugely appreciated. Our thanks to all the volunteers who helped out today with making displays, identifying moths, cutting up wood for bird box kits and much more!
Tuesday, February 12th 2019
It has been another full on day of coppicing in Coupe 5. It was a mild dry day, which made it perfect to stump treat many of the Birch trees. We were very grateful to have help from the Dales School who checked the ponies for us, as well as feed the ducks and brush some of the bridges off. It was great to have Foundation back too, who helped hugely with clearing up all the brash.
As usual, Brian the fire master kept a close eye on the fire, and was in charge of cooking the potatoes!
Lots of Willow was to be coppiced, which produced mountains of brash.
Sophie and Peter who were treating the Birch were closely followed by Eddie, who was collecting the short stumps for some of our volunteers to take home for firewood.
It looks like Sophie and Ian hadn't checked that morning who would be wearing what… How embrassing to turn up in the same outfit!
Ice and Fire
Thursday, February 7th 2019
The first job of the day was to clear a moat in the Scrapes in order to get a digger in to clear them out. It was a wader and wellie job, and Peter seemed to be enjoying dragging the wet willow from the pond.
It turns out the pond was still very frozen, which made wading around in it an extra challenge!
Quite an impressive brash pile accumulated at the Stone Pile ready to be moved to the Bullet Catcher, with a mix of Willow, Birch and Hawthorn.
It was soon time for lunch around the (rather smokey) fire, while waiting for it to get going.
One of the bridges in the conifer woodland was in need of some TLC, and with a few boards replaced and a new layer of chicken wire, it was soon as good as new.
Thank you to the volunteers who helped us today, lots of good jobs done around the reserve.
Wednesday, February 6th 2019
The Wednesday team have been hard at work in the Field Centre with lots of different jobs, from updating displays and writing envelopes for the Undergrowth newsletters to organising events.
Down on Risedale Beck, Landmarc staff repaired one of the bridges which needed some new beams putting in. They wondered who it was 'trip trapping' over their bridge, and it turned out to be…
... the Risedale Rangers from Risedale Sports and Community College. They were a great help to us today with burning the brash in the conifer woodland.
The smoke from their fire could be seen from miles around!
Tuesday, February 5th 2019
Filling bird feeders, sieving chaff for hoppers, making fat balls and coppicing are some of the various tasks carried out by the Foxglove volunteers today. Removing Birch and Hawthorn from the coppice block was the main job for the day and there is still plenty of it left.
Imogen took the concept of a 'green gym' a step further by adding in her own special moves!
With plenty of helpers, you could soon see where the team had been working.
As far as major projects go, the wetland restoration is making good progress. The thinning of the conifer plantation is completed with still a large amount of brash to clear and the new scrape on the moorland is being surveyed. The range poles on the moorland indicate the future edges of this wader pool.
Our thanks to everyone who helped out at the reserve today and also a special mention to the group of pupils from the Dales School who kindly fed the ducks and the Exmoor ponies (and to Brian for cooking their potatoes on the fire)!
An Interview with Love Property
Monday, February 4th 2019
We had a visit today from Laura and Kelly from Love Property Estate Agents in Catterick Garrison. They are putting together a list of things to do in the local area, and were here to film a short interview for their Facebook page.
We were delighted to tell them all about Foxglove, where to find us and what events were happening in the next couple of months.
Ringing at Belflask
Sunday, February 3rd 2019
It has been a sunny and cold snowy day, and a small team of ringers assembled at Belflask for a morning of ringing. It was a successful session with over fifty birds caught, from many new Blackbirds, to Blue Tits and Coal Tits, one Song Thrush and a good number of Reed Buntings.
One of the first birds in the net was this handsome male Reed Bunting, with striking plumage which will become more defined in the breeding season.
Next up was his female companion!
Among those ringed included a juvenile female Siskin, with a pale head compared to the dark head of a male, and beautiful yellow colours throughout the feathers.
To add to the species list for the day, two new birds landed in the nets towards the end of the morning, including a Song Thrush, and this rather photogenic Nuthatch.
Winter Worky Day In The Snow
Saturday, February 2nd 2019
Foxglove always looks spectacular in the snow and this morning Imogen took some beautiful photographs before anyone else arrived. If you look carefully you can spot the ducks waiting patiently for their breakfast!
This wasn't the only reason for going into work early, she was keen to study footage from a camera trap that had been put out the night before.
She wasn't disappointed as a clear image of a Barn Owl was captured early this morning. Although not a great picture it is a great record for the site as Barn Owls are a recent addition to the species list. In other pictures it appears to be wearing a ring and could be one from the artificial nest box on the moor. This is not really a surprise as one has been seen daily close to the wetland over the last few weeks.
Although snowfall last night stopped several volunteers from turning out to the winter worky day, there was still a good sized group to tackle the final area to be coppiced this winter.
The above 'timed' photo took a little bit of organising involving cake tins, coffe cups and gloves!
One of our youngest volunteers (only eight years old) was keen to feed the Exmoor ponies and headed up to see them with a sledge laden with hay.
With their natural food hidden beneath the snow they were very grateful for a little bit extra.
He also worked hard in the coppice block by cutting up brash into smaller pieces for the bonfire.
Many hands made light work of this task which was made all the more pleasant by the blue skies and powder snow.
It wasn't just the heat and flames on the fire that kept people warm; 'the best ever' hot chocolate and Bovril also ensured spirits remained high! The usual camaraderie, cakes and curry added to a perfect winter's day. Many thanks to all involved, same time next month?! The final Winter Worky Day will be on Saturday 2nd March, for details and to book your place see our events page.
A Snowy Giveaway
Friday, February 1st 2019
It was a glorious snowy day at Foxglove today, the reserve was covered in a blanket of white, and more snow came early in the afternoon.
A walk around the reserve this morning proved it was difficult for wildlife to be discreet after a snowfall. Tracks could be seen everywhere, including what looks like a pheasant…
... a rabbit or hare, with the hind-legs visible at the front, and the fore-legs behind…
...a Blackbird around the feeders….
... and a Fox strolling around the reserve, possibly one of those which has been seen in the last couple of days.
The small birds appreciated the feeders being filled after such a cold night.
One particularly friendly Robin decided he was too impatient to wait for the feeders to be filled, and ate the seed straight out of the wheelbarrow!
It was the ducks' turn to be fed, and they didn't take long to waddle across the snowy, frozen lake.
Our four Exmoors had their fair share too!
In other non-snow related news, we had some extra panels installed today in the outdoor classroom above our new interpretation panels. We have some friendly visitors who tend to roost on the beams above the table, and while we love owls, they do make a mighty mess!
They will still be able to sit on top of the boards, and they will be further protected from the elements, while our table and the panels will stay clean!