Blog Archive (21) Posts Made in November 2019
A Good Frost
Saturday, November 30th 2019
After a succession of depressions sweeping the country bringing rain, high pressure has built and it is dry with rather low temperatures. This has resulted in a good covering of frost across the reserve. Carla was out with her camera first thing and recorded the cold, crisp morning.
The reeds at the head of the Scrapes looked white instead of their autumnal creamy brown.
The ponds were frozen.
A panoramic view of the Scrapes and a long shadow! Blue skies and sunshine.
Even part of the lake was frozen.
Bridge rails had their covering of ice crystals.
Blue Skies and Redwing
Friday, November 29th 2019
Clear blue skies were a welcome sight after weeks of wet weather.
Throughout the week, flocks of winter thrushes have been observed on the reserve such as these Fieldfare.
These along with Blackbirds and Redwing are attracted in by the huge amount of red berries. Hawthorn and Rosehips will soon disappear as branches are stripped bare by these birds as they refuel on their long migration paths.
A further eight Redwing were caught and ringed today in the hopes of learning more about their incredible journeys.
Nuthatch were also caught, these birds already had a BTO ring fitted, this is no surprise as they tend not to stray far from their nest sites. Ringing species like this is still extremely valuable as a lot can be learned about their survival and longevity.
Many common garden birds were ringed too such as this juvenile Robin.
A few young Bullfinches also made an appearance. These continue to thrive at Foxglove and can almost always be seen feeding in the garden behind the Field Centre.
A more unusual sighting was of not one but two Green Sandpipers on the far bank of Spigot Mere. Most of these waders go to Africa in winter, except for a few that overwinter on inland pools. It will be interesting to see if this pair choose to remain here over the next few months.
Thank you to Elizabeth for providing the photographs for today's blog.
Thursday, November 28th 2019
Volunteers were too busy working today to notice the cool temperatures. It was a day to catch up on smaller tasks that have been on the list for a while. Staff and young people from Northdale Horticulture in Northallerton joined in too and swept the leaves from the boardwalk to the outdoor classroom.
A small Oak tree was kindly donated recently. It was planted in the newly cleared area close to the plantation. Here it will have plenty of space and sunlight and should reach a good size eventually.
Repairing bridges, making a new key press, tidying sheds and cleaning bird feeders were all jobs that got 'ticked off' the 'to do' list.
Natural materials were also gathered and prepared for the Festive Crafts Workshop in early December. Whilst out and about, the team noticed fungi almost everywhere.
At least there is one benefit from endless rainfall!
If you would like to get involved why not come along to the December Winter Worky day and have a go at some practical conservation work? Fresh air, exercise and even a hot meal as a thank you! It definitely beats Christmas shopping!
Tuesday, November 26th 2019
Over time, many trees have come to the end of their lives in the conifer woodland. This is often after a storm or when they have become diseased. The tree trunks have been cut up and made into log piles to create a habitat for invertebrates, amphibians, small mammals and sometimes birds. After several years they become covered in moss and are beautiful features of the woodland.
This pile was created around ten years ago!
Whilst checking the woodland for dangerous trees, it was noticed that due to the saturated land lots of conifes have rotted at ground level and had become unsafe. This photograph shows just how wet the woodland floor is.
Staff and volunteers felled the dead firs to make the area safe again. Brash was burned as if left it will become a fire risk and the bigger logs were made into new habitat piles.
Monday, November 25th 2019
All the bird feeders have been brought in to be cleaned and repaired. Putting them back together is an ideal indoor job when the rain continues to come down.
Carla is working on our bird data and is coming up with some really interesting facts and figures. She started off looking at some of the summer migrants but is now looking at Tawny Owls and Kestrels. We are looking forward to her presentation later in the year.
There are often big tasks to be carried out, especially in the winter, but small repairs are recorded on the 'todo' list. The wire on a piece of boardwalk along the heath had worn so it was replaced.
Around the Reserve
Sunday, November 24th 2019
Early this morning Spigot Mere was like a mirror and the reflections were crystal clear.
By afternoon there was almost a possible glimpse of sunshine over the moor.
Within minutes the mist came down, giving an atmospheric photograph.
Blue skies were missing totally but the autumn colours still stood out. If the forecast winds arrive then most of the leaves will be blown from the trees.
Summer greens and autumn yellows covered the banks of the fast flowing beck, as it left the lake.
Risedale Beck was also full. Mist was hanging in amongst the trees.
Richmond Coffee Morning
Thursday, November 21st 2019
As a registered charity, Foglove Covert relies heavily on fundraising events in order to make ends meet. Twice a year, a coffee morning is held in Richmond Town Hall to promote the reserve and help to raise some money. Numerous volunteers made today's event a success by either baking cakes, organising the tombola and raffle, creating gifts to sell and donating prizes beforehand and of course helping out on the day itself.
There was a lot of hard work involved especially behind the scenes in the kitchen, making hot drinks and washing and drying up.
There were several stalls to look after such as the Foxglove shop one with honey, notelets and gifts.
The raffle was very popular with quite a selection of prizes.
A tombola was also a success and by 'elevensies' the hall was full. The support for the reserve was overwhelming with many visitors bringing even more cakes and prizes.
Back at the reserve, Gorse clearance continued on the moor throughout the entire day.
This habitat has really been opened up; the remaining Hawthorns have been re-discovered and are once more a feature of this wild landscape. You can see from the photo below that some mature Gorse has been left on the fringes.
Thank you to everyone for their support today from baking cakes to painting benches and carrying out habitat management, your contributions are valued. The coffee morning raised over £200 which will make a significant difference to the reserve.
A Frosty Day
Tuesday, November 19th 2019
The main track in to the reserve was repaired today which meant that staff and volunteers began their day with a walk through the scrapes. This was no hardship as the frost made everything look beautiful. Many of the ponds had a thin coat of ice.
The frost remained for most of the day with temperatures staying below freezing.
Even the benches were photogenic with an extra coat of frosty paint!
Potholes were filled and rolled the whole length of the access road. This is usually done manually but once in a while some extra TLC is required with heavy duty machinery used by Landmarc.
The regular Tuesday team worked up near to Spigot Mere which was also frozen in places.
Cutting and burning unwanted Gorse bushes from the moor was the main task for the day and at times it looked a bit like a scene from 'Dad's Army'!
The areas to be cleared were chosen carefully and it was decided to leave some 'pockets' of mature Gorse for the wildlife although just on the other side of the fence there are vast swathes of it so there is no shortage! It is hoped that more wildflowers such as Marsh Valerian, Northern Marsh Orchid and Meadow Sweet will spread on the newly opened ground.
The removal of some older Gorse will also open up the view into the heart of the Covert from the moor.
As usual, the job was bigger than first thought and will be ongoing for some time yet.
From Dad's Army to 'Last Of The Summer Wine' as an old silage feeder was taken away from the moor!
A huge amount was achieved today thanks to the regular volunteers. A special thank you too to Elizabeth T who made a gigantic pie for everyone to share at lunchtime. It was served warm by Carla and was absolutely delicious!
Finally, Happy Birthday to Carla who was 21 again; a perfect excuse for more cake!
Whilst on the subject of cake, there will be a Foxglove Coffee Morning on Thursday in Richmond Town Hall from 9am - 12 noon. If anyone has time to bake a cake or some biscuits, they would be gratefully received either at the Field Centre tomorrow or at the Town Hall on Thursday morning. Any help with washing up, making teas and coffees on the day would be appreciated too. Please get in touch if you can assist in any way. Alternatively, why not come along for a cup of tea, a 'sticky' and a chat to support the reserve? There will be a raffle and tombola along with homemade cakes.
A Perfect Autumn Day
Monday, November 18th 2019
Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing were observed through the middle of the reserve today; they were seen feeding on Hawthorn berries. They will almost certainly have arrived here from Scandinavia on their incredible long migration south for the winter. Some of them were caught and ringed along with a Blackbird, a Dunnock and a Wren.
The bright sunlight (a refreshing change) illuminated the autumn colours in the wooded areas.
Larch trees appeared golden against the perfect blue sky.
The crisp autumn day was an ideal one for exploring the covert. Students from the Dales School did just that as they enjoyed a stroll around the Easy Access Trail (Red Route) and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of their favourite Local Nature Reserve!
Doing a Good Job
Saturday, November 16th 2019
Many fungi are saprophytic, meaning that they live in or on organic matter. Whilst using this material to obtain food they actually help to break it down and release nutrients back into the cycle of nature, for use by plants. Much research is being carried out about the relationship between fungi and plants.
Usually by now most of the fungi have fruited and died but there is still much to be seen.
Although this one was growing in the grass it was next to the ancient hedge line so could be influenced by the tree roots or even dead wood underground.
There are still waxcaps growing in Plover's Pool.
This fungus was growing on the wood in the dead hedge,
along with this one.
In one of the conifer blocks yet another new species has been recorded, Spruce Conecap. It grows on Spruce pine cones. Thanks to Chris for research to confirm the ID of this fungus.
Thursday, November 14th 2019
Volunteers from Help for Heroes joined in with the regular team to help with many different tasks from cleaning bird feeders…
to adding metal plates on to bird boxes (to prevent squirrel damage) and sanding down and painting benches.
Work also continued today with the clearing of scrub and Silver Birch. Loppers, saws and tree poppers were all used to fight back the vegetation!
Temperature plummeted but the fire kept people warm, as did ferrying cut trees!
There were so many trees that Carla was allowed out of the centre to escape from number crunching for a whole day!
Our sincere thanks to everyone for all of their hard work and we look forward to welcoming the team from Phoenix House back in the near future!
Birds, Frost, Fungi and Work
Wednesday, November 13th 2019
This afternoon Spigot Mere was like a mirror.
A disturbance was noticed across the Mere and a closer look showed that it was a Pied Wagtail having a bath.
I then realised that I was being watched, as another Pied Wagtail walked along the bund of Spigot Mere feeding. In all there was a flock of about six.
A Grey Wagtail was seen at the lake along with Moorhen and Mallard.
The morning had started off frosty with tiny ice crystals covering the fungus.
Whilst searching for further photographic opportunities I spotted a Hawthorn berry wedged into a crack in the log, until I looked more closely and realised that it was actually the tiny Eyelash Fungus. A species that has not been recorded for some time.
Our front lawns are kept in good shape by Colin, who was hard at work edging the different sections.
Sophie and Alex were moving stone for paths to the Bullet catcher.
Inside Catherine and Chris were identifying and filing the photographs.
Many thanks to everyone who worked today, as always it is much appreciated.
All About The Birch!
Tuesday, November 12th 2019
Although Birch trees are beautiful, they are an invasive species and in some places such as in the Willow Carr, they can be a real problem. In order to allow more light in for the wildflowers, staff and volunteers set to and cut down over one hundred small Birch trees. This patch had a lot of Betony growing in it over the summer months and with additional light, it is hoped that this flower will spread even further.
The trees were small enough to cut with bow saws and pruning saws but a chainsaw helped to speed up the process!
There were a few rain showers but not enough to deter the Foxglove volunteers!
The stumps were left deliberately high so that on a sunny day the team can return to cut them down to ground level and poison them. If this is not done then the trees will grow back. It seems harsh but the loss of these trees will be off set by the planting of 600 mixed native deciduous ones.
None of this work would be possible without the dedicated group of people who regularly give up their time to help manage the mosaic of habitats that make up the reserve.
A Collection of Photographs
Sunday, November 10th 2019
There is no story to the photographs for this blog, just photos of the reserve on a glorious autumn day. Although not in quantity there are still flowers around. This Red Poppy, appropriate on Remembrance Sunday, was growing on the wetland.
Red Clover grows across the reserve and is an important flower for some of the bumblebees. It often looks more dead than alive but this one was spotted and looks just perfect!
It was cold, but with very little wind it was pleasant walking around and I was pleased to take my first frost photo.
Seeing blue sky and fluffy white clouds over the stone circle made a change from heavy black skies that have been the norm of late.
This morning there were only two Moorhen to be seen on the lake, but by this afternoon a group of male Mallard had flown in.
Colours on the lakeside are intense gold and bronze
Seeing The Wood For The Trees!
Saturday, November 9th 2019
There was a fantastic turnout for the first Weekend Winter Worky Day of the season and as luck would have it the weather was good too.
Recently, Foxglove received a grant from Bettys and as a result there will be some new deciduous trees to plant. About three years ago an area of dense Sitka Spruce was felled and this will be one of the places that will get planted up with new trees over the next few months. Since the conifer trees were removed however, Birch saplings have taken over and in order to prepare the ground they needed to be removed. The first job was to rake up the scrub that had been brushcut earlier in the week, then the tree pulling could begin.
In some cases a special tool called a 'popper' was used to lever out the roots.
Faced with a 'wall' of Birch saplings there was no shortage of work.
The team soon found hidden Oak trees and Scots Pine which were left to grow.
A fire was lit to burn the unwanted Birch and Gorse.
In no time at all metres and metres of ground were cleared.
In some places, the recent rain meant that the ground was soft enough for the trees to be pulled out by hand. They seemed to get bigger and bigger as the day went on.
Before lunch, it was already possible to see where the group had been.
A traditional Foxglove curry lunch was served with a smile!
It was enjoyed in the warmth of the volunteer cabin.
After lunch, work continued and as progress was made, Carla discovered (and fell in) a new pond!
Thank you to all of the people who gave up their Saturday to help manage and improve this habitat. Thanks too to Jo and Elizabeth for providing delicious cakes. If you would like to take part in the next Worky Day on Saturday 7th December then please get in touch.
Friday, November 8th 2019
Work was carried out in the conifer block above Risedale Beck. Whilst working, there was time to stop and marvel at the many fungi still appearing.
There was an almost complete fairy ring.
Most of these fungi are associated with conifers. You can see the thick bed of needles that the fungus is growing through.
This photo takes a little bit of concentration.
Once that work was completed, preparation continued for tomorrow's Worky Day. The forecast is dry but after the heavy rain of the last few days the reserve is very wet.
Thursday, November 7th 2019
A bright sunny start yesterday morning soon turned dull, damp and cold. Volunteers were out cutting back vegetation hanging over the paths, mainly Bramble, that seems to grow even in the winter months, especially if it is going to cause a problem! By the afternoon rain was descending. Indoor jobs were then carried out. Cards and charts were organised and then the craft materials were collected together and tidied. Boxes labelled and put into the cupboard so things can easily be found.
A hunt has been on to find the cable from the lake hide to the Field Centre so that we can ensure camera reception. Success it has been found! A damaged tree was felled and the wood used for habitat piles. Volunteers were busy checking the bat boxes and repairing those that needed it. The bats will be in hibernation by now. They do not use anywhere on the reserve but we do suspect that they use the buildings on the camp.
Another task that did prove a little problematic was putting together some new picnic benches. Our volunteers persevered and two were completed with another one still to do.
As always a huge thank you to all our volounteers for such a varied amount of work completed. It is much appreciated.
Rain continues to fall and the reserve is very wet. Rain drops collect on many surfaces. A Sycamore leaf was covered.
Despite the weather some summer flowers are still hanging on to their flowers. Water Figwort was found near the lake.
Ivy flowers in late autumn and provides for many insects that are on the wing even in rainy conditions.
Tuesday, November 5th 2019
Habitat work has now begun in earnest and the autumn/winter job list is rather long! This morning volunteers cleared the overhanging vegetation from around one of the ponds along Risedale Beck. This will allow more light in and will also make room for contractors who will be coming soon to carry out works to improve the profile and channels into and out of the pond.
As usual there was plenty of brash which was burned on a bonfire (well, it is the 5th November after all) and the larger logs were kept to be used as path edging or for creating habitat piles.
Loppers and pruning saws were used to chop up the many branches.
With Risedale Beck in spate, it was a pleasant location to spend the morning.
With such a great team, the work was completed by late morning. The team then split into smaller groups, some clearing scrub and pulling Birch saplings and others replacing batteries in remote cameras and checking bat boxes.
Thank you to all of the people who helped out today and especially to Ian for all of his chainsaw work (powered by Yorkshire's biggest bait box)!
Lichens and Mosses
Monday, November 4th 2019
During dry spells lichens and mosses lose water and can become very dry. Once it rains they absorb water and are soft to the touch. It also makes them more easily spotted. These lichens are growing on the Blackthorn near the Voley Pond.
A Dog Lichen, whose specific identity is still in the hands of the experts, grows on decaying wood.
Mosses grow on many different substrates. This Pincushion Moss is growing on stone. It is just beginning to produce its spore capsules.
Once the lichen and moss have grown so they provide places for seeds to rest and germinate. Fungus may also appear.
Autumn Moves On
Sunday, November 3rd 2019
Autumn is moving on quickly and the difference a few days makes is most noticeable. The area around the lake is deepening in autumn colours.
Woodland surrounding the heath is also turning yellow. Unfortunately some of the best colour is to be found in the Silver Birch, which spreads it seeds far and wide.
Out on the moor looking back into the centre of the reserve, the contrast between the conifers and deciduous trees is easily seen.
One of the Junipers is developing its cones. These are still young as they are green and will not fully ripen for possibly another two to three years.
Most invertebrates are hidden away but I disturbed this spider whilst photographing one of the last Harebells in flower.
Wildlife Round Up
Saturday, November 2nd 2019
Blue skies highlight the autumn colours.
Fungi are putting on an amazing show in the woodland.
Guelder Rose berries are not enjoyed by many animals and can often be seen at the end of winter.
Spindle seeds add some bright colour.
The feeders in the back garden are attracting Goldfinches and Bullfinches. Not a good photo through the window and behind the vegetation, but the Sparrowhawk was not totally hidden from view!
Down on the lake the Mallard are hiding in the reeds but do appear when they have been fed. The Little Grebe is also around!
Some of the mosses are producing their spore capsules.
Although the flowers are setting seed and the invertebrates are hibernating there is still plenty to see as you walk around the reserve.