Blog Archive (6) Posts Made in February 2021
Redpolls, Siskins and Blue Tits!
Saturday, February 20th 2021
The back garden at Foxglove is always teeming with small birds. At this time of year large flocks of Redpoll visit to feed on the nyger seed feeders (where they hang upside down) and on the ground underneath the large wooden hoppers. A female ringed in August 2020 was controlled (caught by another ringing group) in October 2020 in Sheffield. It had flown a distance of 116km in 72 days. This bonny looking adult male was ringed recently.
Siskins also frequent the nyger seed feeders and can appear in large numbers during the winter months. The males are very bright and have a dark head.
Whereas the crown of the females is grey-green in comparison. A Siskin that was ringed at the reserve in April 2019 was captured by a ringer on the 14th February this year in West Berksire. This bird had therefore travelled a distance of 334km during a period of 680 days!
Alongside these colourful finches are the usual garden birds such as Coal Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Chaffinches, Bullfinches and of course a real favourite Blue Tits!
Sunday, February 14th 2021
With the temperature set to increase over the coming days, this could be the last opportunity to share some snowy scenes (here's hoping)! Firstly, Spigot Mere (so named because two WW2 Spigot mortar bombs were unearthed during its creation).
Next, the stone circle. If you look carefully you can see a Buzzard over the nearby conifers. In a few months time this patch will be covered in Bluebells wafting their scent over a warm summer breeze (difficult to imagine today).
The wildflower meadow was looking rather bleak too!
The Mallards are still walking over ice to their daily feed at the lakeside.
Looking in the opposite direction, the cascading pools were still managing to flow well. These act as an important wildlife corridor between the lake and the wider countryside.
The snow and ice have led to some wonderful views and stunning photographs but staff are looking forward to it thawing out so that vital winter habitat work can be completed. There are already several signs of spring at Foxglove; Hazel trees are in flower and Great Spotted Woodpeckers can be heard drumming on trees to mark out their breeding territories. The bird nesting season is just around the corner!
More Snow and Ice
Saturday, February 13th 2021
Over the last few days the temperature at Foxglove has barely risen above freezing and at night time has dipped as low as -7.
Heavy snow is showing no sign of melting yet!
Trees are still cloaked in white.
Although for now, the reserve remains closed to volunteers and visitors, staff have been continuing to coppice and pollard the Willow in the centre of the reserve.
There have been some lovely days working under blue skies with powder snow under foot when we felt lucky to be working outdoors.
Other times were not so much fun in bitterly cold, wintery blizzards!
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, visitors will be welcomed back to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife.
To all of our supporters, keep warm and stay safe!
Feeding the Flocks!
Wednesday, February 10th 2021
Snow has been accumulating on the reserve over the past few days and inbetween the heavy showers there have been some spectacular blue skies.
The ice on the lake is now covered with fresh snow.
At Foxglove the wildlife gets a helping hand when the weather is bad. Over 30 Mallards were gathered around the duck platform this morning waiting to be fed!
Staff have had to switch the wheelbarrow for a sledge in order to fill the bird feeders around the reserve! Keeping them topped up has been important in this cold snap as the wild birds need all the help they can get to survive the harsh conditions.
It doesn't end there as the sheep out on the wetland need some extra food too when the temperature at night time dips well below freezing.
In spite of the bitter cold, the views are spectacular…
What a wonderful place!
Monday, February 8th 2021
Two more birds of prey that were rescued by a Foxglove supporter were brought in to the centre to be ringed before their release back into the wild. This beautiful Barn Owl was given plenty of TLC to build up its strength. During periods of snow cover small mammals such as voles and shrews stay underneath the snow. Although mice will move about on top of it, they spend most of their time under ground eating stored food. When snow cover is more several centimetres deep and/or frozen hard the owls will have great difficulty finding and catching food. It’s at times like these that some Barn Owls turn temporarily to unusual food sources such as small birds.
A Kestrel too was ready for release after a few weeks of care after being found injured. Like the Barn Owl, Kestrel's feed mainly on small mammals and struggle to hunt through an impenetrable barrier of deep snow.
Fingers crossed that storm Darcy will not last for long!
Another Snow Day
Tuesday, February 2nd 2021
Heavy snowfall transformed the reserve into a winter wonderland again, this time with several inches of powder snow.
Here is the view of the lake which remains frozen.
On the red route branches were bowing under the additional weight creating tunnel effects.
It snowed heavily for most of the day resulting in some stunning scenes:
Finally, a new species to add to the 2021 list!