Blog Archive (17) Posts Made in September 2019
Sunday, September 29th 2019
At this time of year, weather permitting the moth trap is still set on a Tuesday night and the moths ID'd on a Wednesday morning by the moth team. As the months change so do the moths caught. It is the time of the Green-brindled Crescent. The caterpillars, in spring, feed on a variety of trees including Hawthorn and Blackthorn. Freshly hatched adults have a green metallic sheen on their wings. There is also a dark form with no green. We caught both one morning and a photograph comparing the two was desired. All set until a camera strap got caught on the Bramble next to the leaf on which the moths were sitting and both disappeared into the undergrowth! Thankfully we did have another green one.
Canary-shouldered Thorn moths are on the wing from July through to October. The caterpillars feed on a variety of deciduous trees including both Silver and Downy Birch. Although we sometimes find holes in the leaves we have not as yet found any caterpillars.
Inside the moth trap are egg trays, which give the moths somewhere to hang onto and shelter. They prefer the grey ones to the green ones. Some moths can be found on the wall of the Field Centre, but there is always one. An Angle Shades moth decided that the best place to rest was on the plug for the light!
Saturday, September 28th 2019
Although we may not appreciate the rain, the fungi do. So far this autumn it has been too dry for many of them to begin to develop their fruiting bodies. Fly Agaric mainly grows in two places. The first is on the small stretch of land on the middle moor that borders the conifers that grow on the other side of the fence. This area is grass and meadow flowers but the soil is heavily influenced by the conifers that grow next to it.
Watch for them to develop in the conifer area on the way to the wetland. The red cap, often spotted with white, looks totally different when just appearing through the surface of the ground.
Common Puffballs do not release their spores from gills on the underside but from a small hole on the top. Quite often a rain drop can release the spores once the fungus is ripe. These ones are just beginning to develop.
Some fungi are easy to identify. Dryad's Saddle is one of those. It also helps that it is growing on the same old Ash trunk as last year.
Whilst out recording the flowers in flower, over seventy of them, the fungi were noted too and another twenty were added to the list which for September, now stands at over forty species. Thank you to our volunteer recorders.
A Helping Hand From Yarm School
Wednesday, September 25th 2019
Pupils from Yarm Nursery and Prep School visited the reserve on Monday and were very lucky with the weather as it was definitely the best day of the week which has been rather wet since! The children were welcomed at the entrance gate where their adventures as 'Nature Detectives' began!
Throughout the morning they went on a walk to look for signs of wildlife in different habitats. In the conifer woodland they found evidence of squirrels and mice.
At the outdoor classroom they searched for invertebrates underneath the logs.
As it had been a damp morning slugs and snails were high on the list of finds!
After lunch it was time to lend a hand by raking up the hay from a small wildflower meadow. It was a tough job using rakes that were bigger than themselves!
However, the group rose to the challenge and completed the task in no time at all.
It wasn't all work though and there was a bit of time for some fun and games too; searching for 'woolly worms' to learn about camouflage.
Then playing a blindfold game to discover how bats find their prey.
Our sincere thanks to the staff and pupils for supporting the reserve, it was a real pleasure to spend a day with them and we look forward to a return visit in the future.
Sunday, September 22nd 2019
Weather conditions during the week provided the perfect opportunity for ringing migrating Meadow Pipits out on the training area. In only a few hours over fifty new birds were caught and ringed however, surprisingly, only twenty-eight were Meadow Pipits! An unusual catch was this Linnet. It was a juvenile male and was identifiable as such by its first few plum coloured chest feathers. The common linnet (Linaria cannabina) is a small passerine bird of the finch family, Fringillidae. It derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made. It is on the red list. Red list criteria includes:
- Species is globally threatened.
- Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995.
- Severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years, or longer-term period (the entire period used for assessments since the first BoCC review, starting in 1969).
- Severe (at least 50%) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years, or the longer-term period.
Twenty-two of the birds caught were Reed Bunting, both male and female. In winter these birds can roost in large flocks in reed beds. More information about this species can be found on the BTO website. This photograph shows a female which has a paler head than the males. Reed Bunting are currently on the amber list which is the next most critical group.
One Great Tit, one Blue Tit and two Goldfinches were also ringed. Flocks of Goldfinches were observed feeding on the thistle seeds nearby.
These colourful finches appear to be doing well and are often seen in back gardens. Putting out nyger seed in feeders is a great way to attract them into a garden. They are on the green list meaning that in terms of conservation they are in the least critical group. More information about the UK Conservation Status can be found on the RSPB website.
More Warm Sunshine
Saturday, September 21st 2019
The butterflies were making the most of the warm sunshine. There were 11 Red Admirals feeding on one small clump of Hemp Agrimony.
In another area of the reserve one was feasting on ripe Blackberries.
Speckled Wood, Comma and Painted Lady were all recorded today. We are noting the dates of sightings of the butterflies on the monthly observation board. The last dates seen will be forwarded to the butterfly recorder.
Lark and Taurus were also enjoying the sunshine out on the middle moor.
They were distracted when they saw some people walk through the gate to Spigot Mere and obviously wondering if they could go that way too.
Friday, September 20th 2019
The Natural History Group from Stokesley U3A visited the reserve on Thursday and were very lucky with the weather; clear skies and sunshine all day long! The members enjoyed a guided walk to Plover's Pool, Spigot Mere and the lake in the morning and then after lunch they explored the remaining habitats at their leisure.
The Red Oak tree outside the field centre was looking spectacular against the blue sky.
Although this tree is not native to the UK and is not as valuable to British wildlife as English and Sessile Oaks, its catkins do provide pollen for bees and other insects in spring, and its acorns are eaten by birds and small mammals. The leaves have only just turned this colour during the last couple of weeks.
Volunteers were hard at work pruning along the access road and around the car parking areas. Regular blog readers will be aware that the team don't do things by halves!
Progress along the road was slow due to the huge amount of cuttings!
Lake Hide View
Wednesday, September 18th 2019
As promised the task for the conservation volunteers this week was in a different location. However, the work still involved the same process of cutting and raking up reeds but this time at the lake rather than on the wetland!
The growth has been so vigorous that the view from the easy access hide had become obscurred.
Hardly any of the lake was visible as not only had the reeds grown tall but so had the scrub directly in front of the hide windows. Here is the 'before' photograph.
Reeds were cut; a delicate operation on the edge of the deep water! They were carefully raked up using hay rakes and removed out of sight.
At least it wasn't far to carry the cuttings to the trailer as the quad bike could get close.
The area was quickly transformed and by the end of the day the team had made a huge difference.
The 'after' photo shows the newly opened view from inside the lake hide.
Other jobs completed by volunteers included making a plinth for a new donation box, repairing a large bird feeder and fixing the window frame to the same hide.
Thank you to Team Tuesday for all of your hard work. Thanks too to David and Chris who worked all day long to repair the camera at the same hexagonal hide so that visitors can enjoy the beautiful lake scene from the comfort of the field centre.
A Mixture of Species
Sunday, September 15th 2019
It was dull and blustery for most of the day, making photography interesting. Greater Spearwort is still in flower in some of the ponds.
Hidden away amongst the undergrowth a Rayed Knapweed was found.
Most invertebrates were sensibly hidden away. One brave, but well camouflaged shield bug, was spotted on top of a fern frond.
Although it has been warm for the beginning of autumn, it has not been wet so there are not too many fungi appearing. This Shaggy Inkcap was on its own growing in the grass along the path edge.
Dryad's Saddle was growing on an old Ash trunk.
Saturday, September 14th 2019
There are several meadows on the reserve, each growing a different variety of species, so providing varied habitats within the reserve. As autumn approaches the meadows are inspected to determine when it is time for them to be cut and raked. The meadow by the Grand Fir is usually cut first whilst the one opposite is cut last as it hosts many Knapweed and Devil's Bit Scabious. However nature is its own boss and this year that meadow will not be long before it is cut.
Warm days bring out the hoverflies and butterflies feeding on the late blooming flowers in these meadows. Hoverflies were competing with bees to collect food.
Small Tortoiseshells were flitting from one flower to another.
Looking for more butterflies and I noticed something very dark. I thought it was a seed head that was worthy of an extra examination, but on closer investigation it turned out to be a beetle. Unfortunately it did the insect trick of falling off, an instinctive reaction to predators, before a really good photo could be taken for ID.
More Wetland Maintenance
Thursday, September 12th 2019
The Foxglove team have been back on the wetland this week and what a difference they have made! The view from the hide has been completely transformed after the removal of more vegetation from the banks and islands. Ideally, this area would be grazed but this delicate series of ponds would not be able to cope with heavy livestock which means that looking after this habitat is very labour intensive.
The first job was to finish locating and marking up the dams and pipes. These are now clear to see and will make life a lot easier for contractors later in the year when they come to carry out important strengthening of the main banks.The yellow flowers in this picture are Sow Thistles which have been left for now.
On Tuesday scrub and coarse rushes were cut and raked up allowing the pools to become clearly defined again.
Tonne sacks were used to drag the cuttings away.
Some of the seed heads were removed from Reed Mace (Bullrushes) to prevent this plant from spreading even more and completely taking over!
Thistles were also pulled out before they had a chance to set seed.
Moving about between ponds was quite a challenge with some of the water being above 'welly' height!
Time lapse photography would have been interesting as people busied about cutting, raking and dragging sacks!
It has been a tough few days in all kinds of weather conditions but the difference is incredible and we promise to do something else next week!
Pay and Display
Wednesday, September 11th 2019
In order to ensure the smooth running and future sustainability of the reserve, which costs over £120, 000 per year just to stand still, it will regrettably be necessary to make a small charge for car parking in the future. Tickets can be purchased on the way in from a new machine which is located next to the information shelter near the reserve entrance.
Staff from Inaparc came from Oxford to install the meter on Monday afternoon.
The tariffs are only £2 for up to two hours, £3 for up to four hours and £4 for a full day. If you miss the machine then you can pay in the Field Centre (card payments are possible too) - but please look out for the machine which will save any inconvenience.
The Management Group have delayed taking this action for as long as possible but could wait no longer. The cost of all contracted work on the reserve continues to rise and we have been left with no other option. You can be sure that your small contribution will help us to make a difference and all money taken for parking will be spent on the reserve. Thank you.
Meadow Pipit Migration
Tuesday, September 10th 2019
Many bird species have begun their long migration journeys south from their summer breeding grounds here in North Yorkshire. Each year the bird ringers monitor the movement of Meadow Pipits at a site out on the training area. The first ringing session of the year in this location proved to be a productive one with 106 new birds being ringed. Most of the birds caught were juvenile Meadow Pipits who migrate to the Mediterranean and sometimes beyond.
The weather conditions were perfect; dry and still. This young Whitethroat was a highlight of the morning. These beautiful birds also migrate and winter in Africa, south of the Sahara.
Other species ringed included Reed Buntings (twelve were ringed in total during the morning). The males are distinguishable by the white collar and already have a darker head than the females. Unlike the Meadow Pipits these are present all year round.
Goldfinches, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were caught in small numbers along with a single Great Tit. This juvenile male Sparrowhawk also turned up (most likely looking for an easy meal in the mist net)!
These small birds of prey mainly eat small birds although males can catch birds up to thrush size and females, being bigger, can catch birds up to pigeon size. Some Sparrowhawks catch bats too.
Early Autumn Sightings
Saturday, September 7th 2019
Devil's Bit Scabious flowers late and colours path edges and meadows purple. Butterflies are often seen feeding from it as are bees.
Early autumn is also the time when we are likely to see more caterpillars. On the 17th August I found a very tiny Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar crawling along the rail of a bridge. I found another on the 4th September and marvelled at not only its size but the amount of hairs and the thickness of them. It was on willow, a plant not specifically mentioned in the list of food plants for these larvae, although it does say wide range, so possibly willow could be covered.
Water Figwort should grow where it is damp but there is a large clump growing next to the porta-cabin. I noticed some small round brown cases on the stalk but could not really see what they were, but did wonder if they could be the pupa cases of the Figwort Weevil. A few days later I was proved correct as there sitting on the stem was the weevil itself and it did not do its usual trick of falling onto the ground when the camera lens was close to it. They feed on the fruits of Water Figwort. We have the adult, the pupal case and all we have to do next year is look for the larvae, which various authorities are not very complimentary about. One refers to it as a slimy yellow green blob!
Paths, Pipes and Posts
Friday, September 6th 2019
This week, volunteers have continued to carry out all kinds of summer maintenance tasks. Yesterday another section of the Easy Access trail was improved with a topping of fine dust on the surface. This part is just opposite the Field Centre at the start of the red route.
The result is a very inviting pathway!
As this didn't take long, the team then turned their attention to the wetland once again where more cuttings were removed.
Due to the fantastic growing season many of the pipes and dams were completely overgrown, these were dug out and re-discovered and then marked out with posts (yellow posts to mark a pipe and red to indicate a dam), this will make future maintenance work more easy.
Many thanks to all of the volunteers who have helped with various tasks this week from practical conservation jobs, species monitoring and fundraising to the updating of social media, your time and effort is greatly appreciated!
Moths and Darters
Wednesday, September 4th 2019
The first thing that was noticeable about the moth traps was the large number of midges trapped overnight! There was not a hugh number of moths but plenty to keep us busy first thing this morning. As usual we tried to photograph some of them. It was very windy so we had to find a sheltered place and we were able to get not one, not two but three Autumnal Rustic Moths all together.
Silver Y moths can be seen on the wing during the day, but they are usually very active and do not sit still for long. Their wings are always fluttering, making any reasonable photograph almost impossible. Amazingly one sat still for ages so that we could take a photo! This is a migrant species and can be seen in large numbers especially at coastal migration watch points.
The wind was strong and blustery but this did not stop the Common Darters from flying. They use the marker posts and rails to land and sunbathe. This is the male
and this the female. In good weather they can fly right through to October.
Once the moths were ID'd and the traps cleared away the volunteers carried out various indoor tasks. Thank you to everyone who helped.
Tuesday, September 3rd 2019
After an incredible growing season many of the ponds on the wetland were difficult to see because of the reeds and grasses that had grown tall on the bunds. Hawthorn, Willow saplings and Gorse have also taken advantage of the long sunny periods and heavy rainfall over the summer months. Yesterday and today staff and volunteers began the huge task of cutting back the unwanted growth with brushcutters.
In some places there was so much vegetation that it was difficult to see where the banks ended and the water began resulting in a few wet feet!
There was a continuous supply of cuttings to be raked up which kept everyone busy all day long.
As usual many hands made light work and by the end of the day you could definitely tell where the team had been.
Thank you to all twelve volunteers who worked so hard to complete this strenuous job. This valuable habitat and its associated wildlife will benefit from the work undertaken.
Sunday, September 1st 2019
The 28th year of CES has been completed today. Congratulations! A huge thank you to the Swaledale Ringing Group and all the volunteers who have supported them. Support includes providing tea, strimming net rides, making cakes, counting bags and entering the data.
Some sums 28 years x 12 days each year = 336 days. 336 days x 101/2 hours = 3528 hours. None of the sessions have been missed.
A definite autumnal feel to the day, but there were plenty of birds around, mainly juveniles. Those adults that did appear were in moult. Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins and Siskins were included in the species list. Coal Tits are continuing to head back into the reserve and Redpoll made their appearance today. Goldcrests are tiny birds weighing around 5 g. This is a male as he has orange feathers in his crest.
A volery is the name given to a group of Long-tailed Tits. Those that were processed today were all ringed at the same time earlier this year.
Final numbers are not yet collated but part way through the day we had ringed over 450 Bullfinches this year, and more were ringed before the close of play. It is good to see that these beautiful birds are doing well.
All of the data is sent to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). There, with data from other CES sites information about the state of our bird populations can be gleaned, which enables various conservation organisations to manage habitats for the benefit of these birds. CES days mean rising before dawn to arrive at Foxglove for dawn, which during the height of summer is 4am, and often staying after the ten and a half hours to complete all the ringing. But everyday is valuable in adding to our knowledge of our local and migrant bird populations. Thank you again to everyone for all their support.