Blog Archive (18) Posts Made in March 2021
Moth, Water and Tadpoles
Wednesday, March 31st 2021
Last night was the first time that the moth traps had been set. It was a mild night and there was a large catch of moths for the moth team to ID. One trap was set on the back veranda, whilst the other was at the front of the Field Centre.
Risedale Beck has been in spate and vegetation had built up around the overflow in one of the ponds fed by the beck. This has to be cleared otherwise the water does not flow where we wish it to. Waders donned and Peter to the rescue. Bet the water was cold.
The warm weather has encouraged some of the frogspawn to hatch. Unfortunately the temperature during the days and nights is falling after tonight, so these tadpoles are likely to find their way to the bottom of the pond and remain there until the weather becomes more tadpole friendly!
Thank you to everyone who volunteered at Foxglove today. As always your help and support is much appreciated.
Working in the Sunshine
Wednesday, March 31st 2021
There was more clearing up along Risedale Beck, after the tree felling. The day started with removing the remaining logs on the beck path. Not the usual sized logs!
Each log had to be taken out by wheelbarrow. Not an easy job and would certainly be classed as a 'Green Gym' day.
Some of the logs were used for log pile habitats. There are many varied styles but this one is special, using the cut trunk as part of it,
and providing a resting place to stop and watch and listen. Vegetation will soon begin to claim this log pile and so provide homes for many animals and plants.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who have worked on this project, following the Covid rules and regulations. The Management Group express their gratitude for all this work. It is much appreciated.
Spring is Coming
Tuesday, March 30th 2021
Walking around the reserve there are signs that spring is on its way. Primroses are showing their pale lemon flowers along Risedale Beck. The area where some of the conifers were cut down is dotted with more Primroses than last year. We will wait to see what appears as the seasons progress.
Willow has opened its male flowers over the last week or so. These provide food for any early insects on warm sunny days.
There are numerous stands of Blackthorn across the reserve and each area opens its buds at a slightly different time. The first flowers appear along Risedale Beck.
Marsh Marigolds are not a common sight but a small clump in the Scrapes is starting to spread. The butter coloured flowers make an impression amongst the winter foliage.
It is most unusual if Daisies do not make it onto the Observation Board every month of the year.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel!
Monday, March 29th 2021
Most of the Ash trees that are close to the path edges are now safe. Some that have had the dead wood removed somehow still look majestic! Where possible, habitat piles have been left such as the log pile seen here which will be ideal for invertebrates, amphibians and small mammals to live in.
Brash has been burned or made into woodchips to use on paths close by.
Once again, extra help was gratefully received from the Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) at Catterick Garrison; a small team assisted with moving some of the heavier timber. Not only did this make a huge difference to us, it also provided a great opportunity for a 'green gym' workout!
As well as the 'big Ash tidy up' other maintenance jobs have been carried out such as painting of signs and repairing some of the large bird feeders after a wet and wild winter!
So far, thanks to the dedicated team of volunteers, we are still on track to re-open to visitors on April 12th.
More Good News
Wednesday, March 24th 2021
Staff and volunteers are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the reserve is ready for re-opening on the 12th April (If the pathway out of lockdown is successful). A good step forwards is the Covid-19 Industry Standard 'Good To Go' certificate which was awarded to Foxglove Covert LNR today!
This is in recognition that we have followed government and industry Covid-19 guidelines, ensuring processes are in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social/physical distancing.
For up to date information please check our response to the covid-19 situation. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors and school groups back. In order to keep everyone safe groups must book in advance and follow the extra procedures that will be in place. School group places will be limited and are booking up fast.
There was more good news up on the wetland where the pools are teeming with Toads and the first toadspawn has started to appear.
Did you know?
Frogspawn is laid in big clumps of jelly, whilst Toads lay long strings of eggs - If you look carefully, you can see some in this photograph. You can easily tell the difference between Toad and Frog tadpoles a few weeks after they hatch because Toad tadpoles are jet black, whereas Frog ones are greenish brown with speckles.
Tidying Up Continues
Tuesday, March 23rd 2021
As much of the diseased Ash as possible has been left standing to provide a valuable habitat for invertebrates and birds (such as Woodpeckers). However, there has still been a huge amount of brash and logs to clear away.
The newly trained 'woodchippers' put their new skills to the test and turned branches into woodchips.
At the top of the woodland (inaccessible to the woodchipper) the only way to remove the branches was by having a small brash bonfire.
At the outdoor classroom, wood was sorted into logs for habitat piles and brash for the woodchipper.
It was a very productive day thanks to the regular Foxglove team. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped out (no need to go to the gym this week)!
Monday, March 22nd 2021
The final work to the dangerous Ash trees is being completed this week. Some of the large limbs that were overhanging trails have been removed. So far, it has all gone to plan and the pathways should be safe to walk along when the reserve re-opens on 12th April (If government guidelines allow).
One area that has been transformed is that surrounding the Outdoor Classroom. In 2010 it seemed like a great idea to build a wooden structure in the middle of an Ash woodland! Now however, with Ash Dieback causing a lot of deadwood to fall from these trees, it has been necessary to remove the ones next to the classroom for safety reasons. It's not all bad news though: this patch is great for Bluebells which will benefit from all of the additional sunlight reaching the ground. The tree pictured below is one of the last ones to be felled but there is still a lot of tidying to do.
Down on the beck, there was a welcome change from moving Ash logs and brash as a dam needed to be rebuilt to supply a pond with water. The water level had dropped as the dam was washed out and as a result the frogspawn was above the 'tide'. Once the dam had been repaired, the flow increased and the frogspawn was saved!
Firsts for the year:
1. A pair of Grey Wagtail were seen on Risedale Beck.
2. Chiffchaffs were heard singing.
3. Coltsfoot was out in flower.
4. It was officially 'T-shirt weather'!
5. Seven Spot Ladybirds were observed.
6. There was no singing from the tree surgeon!
We're not complaining about the last one!
Handmade Wildlife Homes and Feeders
Monday, March 22nd 2021
There are some new additions to the bespoke wildlife homes and feeders available to buy from the Field Centre and although the reserve remains closed if you see something you like then please get in touch via phone (07754 270980 or 01748 830045) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you live locally delivery may be possible. Donations can be made by card on the phone or by cash on delivery. This bird table is made from Foxglove's very own Silver Birch.
There is also a wall mounted version.
Each one is hand crafted and unique and where possible wood from the reserve has been used.
Bird boxes and bat boxes make a great alternative gift to a chocolate egg!
There is a wide range from peanut feeders, bat and bird boxes, to Hedgehog, Frog and Toad houses! As a Toad consumes 100 or more insects and slugs every day a Toad house makes a great gift for a gardener!
Prices range from only £6 for a bird feeder to £40 for a bird table, please ask for further details.
Sunday, March 21st 2021
Another first for the year was a sighting of a Comma butterfly yesterday. It is unmistakable with its ragged-edged wings. The underwings are dull brown with a white 'comma' mark hence its name. It is double-brooded and hibernates.
The adults are seen between March and September and the caterpillars feed on Common Nettle, Elm and Hops. They are frequent visitors to hedgerows so one to look out for on a daily walk in the sunshine!
So Many Toads!
Saturday, March 20th 2021
Today is the first day of astronomical spring or spring equinox and there was definitely a feel of spring in the air at Foxglove with the toad breeding season in full swing. Here are some pictures of them taken in the scrapes area this morning in the warm sunny weather.
Thank you to Hayley Land, Relief Reserve Manager, for today's photographs.
Thursday, March 18th 2021
A team from the PRC (Personnel Recovery Centre in Catterick Garrison came to lend a valuable hand today.
After a quick introduction, a tour of the continuing Ash Dieback works and a look at the migrating toads, the task of removing the woodchips from the Bluebell bank began.
The material was transported just a few hundred yards away to top up an existing pathway. In no time at all the huge pile disappeared!
Further along the beck, the mammoth tidying job continued with burning of brash and creation of log habitat piles.
By the end of next week this area should be cleared of fallen trees and attention will turn to preparing the reserve for the return of visitors. Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to assist us today, it is very much appreciated.
Wednesday, March 17th 2021
Over the last few days the temperature has been gradually rising and the warm sunny spells have lured the Common Toads out of their hibernation. Several have been spotted in various locations around the reserve and especially on the access road. Work on repairing the potholes which was scheduled to start tomorrow has therefore had to be put on hold until the migration to their breeding grounds is over!
Milder nights have also led to an increase in the moths being attracted to the lights on the Field Centre such as this freshly emerged Oak Beauty. It will have spent the winter as a pupa underground. This species has one generation which is on the wing between late February and April and only the males come readily to light. The males have feathered antennae and can be darker than the females too.
The list of species on the observation board will start to grow longer each day as spring bounds forward; Roe Deer and Hare were added earlier in the week and several Kestrels were seen soaring over the outdoor classroom this afternoon. One was also seen flying out of an adopt-a-box!
Unfortunately, the reserve will remain closed until the 12th April but we will try and share as many photographs on here as we can in the meantime.
Tuesday, March 16th 2021
With continuing Ash Dieback works, the amount of brash to deal with is ever increasing. Instead of burning all of the branches on bonfires, where possible, some of it is being made into woodchips.
With this in mind, on Saturday, some of the staff and volunteers attended a LANTRA course in how to use a woodchipper. The training course was organised by KNW and the morning was spent in the classroom to learn about the health and safety legislation and appropriate PPE (pink boots included). Next, the team looked at how the machines work by looking inside a Forst TR6 (on hire from Mason Woodchippers.)
A tracked machine is necessary to move around the narrow pathways on the reserve.
It takes a bit of getting used to!
As the driver cannot see the tracks they have to rely on a 'spotter' to help them navigate the bends and turns. It is a good job that the Foxglove volunteers trust each other!
Once in place and after a demonstration on how to use the woodchipper safely, it was time to have a go.
Well done to everyone who took part (all of the candidates passed). Thank you too for all of your hard work and time spent since the course turning this…
As always, your help is extremely valued.
Friday, March 12th 2021
When the sun has been shining, the frog's chorus has been heard loud and clear both in the scrapes and in the ponds along Risedale Beck.
Frogspawn is starting to appear around the edges of some of the pools.
Willow, Barren Strawberry and Primrose have been added to the list of flower species observed so far this month.
Spring is definitely on its way!
Wednesday, March 10th 2021
One of the Foxglove volunteers has been working hard at home during the lockdowns to craft bespoke wildlife homes and feeders. They are all for sale and all proceeds will go directly to the reserve. From bird and bat boxes to toad hideaways and hedgehog abodes, there is something for every garden! Many are made from wood from Foxglove. They make wonderful environmentally friendly gifts so if you see something you like here please call (07754 270980) or email (email@example.com) us for more details. We are unable to post as many of the items are heavy but if you live locally and staff pass close by on their route to and from the reserve then delivery may be possible. Payment can be made by card on the phone or with cash on delivery. Prices range between only £5 and £20.
So far this year, around 150 birds have been ringed at the reserve. Last week, this beautiful tiny Treecreeper was caught and ringed along with several Redpolls, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinches.
This small bird is about the same size as a Wren and is often described as being ‘mouse-like’.
Treecreepers are usually spotted at Foxglove in the woodland. They forage up a tree, working in a spiral around the trunk, then fly to the next tree to repeat the process, starting near the bottom again. In comparison, a bird seen scuttling down a tree is almost always a Nuthatch.
Race Against Time
Tuesday, March 9th 2021
Work in the Willow coppice is now complete and the site has been left to regenerate. It looks quite drastic but will soon green up as the new Willow shoots begin to grow.
However, there is no time to rest as Spring is fast approaching and the diseased and dangerous Ash trees along Risedale Beck still need to be made safe before the reserve is opened up again to visitors.
Most of the felling has been carried out now but there is a big tidy up operation afoot! The amount of brash from one canopy is incredible and cannot be left on the Bluebell banks below the trees. Some will be processed into woodchips next week but the volume is so great that the team have had to have several small brash fires too.
Branches were dragged away from the wildflower banks where Spring flowers will be emerging soon.
Larger pieces of timber were cut into manageable sized chunks and most of these were stacked into habitat piles.
The trees look healthy on the outside but they are completely rotten on the inside due to Ash Dieback as you can see here.
This cross section reminded us of a famous piece of art!
Can you guess which one?
Start Of Spring
Tuesday, March 2nd 2021
The Hebridean (and one Shetland) sheep seem to be finding plenty to eat at Plover's Pool as the grass is beginning to grow.
A sure sign that Spring is on its way is the sound of frogs croaking in the reedbed. Work in the Willow Coppice is now complete and the area will be left to recover and regenerate. This frog seemed to appreciate one of the newly created habitat piles!
The list of species recorded on the monthly observation board is gradually increasing. Moths such as Pale Brindled Beauty, Dotted Border and March Moth have been found on the walls of the Field Centre. Great Spotted Woodpeckers can be heard drumming to mark out their territories and Tawny Owls have been calling out to each other during the daytime. Flowers are slowly daring to show themselves in the spring sunshine. This daisy is one of the first flowers to be discovered on the reserve this year. Hazel and Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage are also in flower.
Hopefully, the outside space will beable to re-open to visitors soon, keep an eye on here for further details.
Monday, March 1st 2021
Sadly, many of the Ash trees at Foxglove have succumbed to Ash Dieback. According to the Woodland Trust this will kill around 80% of the Ash trees across the UK. At a cost of billions (an estimated £15 billion), the effects will be staggering. It will change the landscape forever and threaten many species which rely on Ash. Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia. The fungus can spread for miles as spores. It enters the tree through the leaves and then grows inside it, eventually blocking its water transport systems and causing it to die. Many of affected Ash trees at the reserve are growing by the pathways making them a hazard to staff and visitors. An assessment was carried out and the most dangerous ones that would fall onto footpaths are being felled or having large limbs removed over the next few weeks whilst the reserve is closed.
The work is being carried out by Yorkshire Tree Specialists famous for their appearance at the Covert on Tony Robinson's Coast to Coast when they felled a tree into the lake to create a perch for the waterfowl.
It is just as well that the reserve is closed to the public as the footpaths are slightly obstructed with brash! The team will start the clearing up process shortly; most of the branches will be made into woodchips or stacked into habitat piles.
Although it is sad to see these beautiful trees come to an end, where possible as much standing deadwood will be left (as large trunks or 'monoliths'). These can provide a valuable habitat for mammals, small birds, reptiles and invertebrates. The felling is also being carried out outside of the bird nesting season, to minimise the impact on the environment and wildlife. It is hoped that by opening new glades, more light will reach the forest floor, so we may see more butterflies, wildflowers and other species benefitting in the longer term. Our sincere thanks go to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation who are very kindly funding this vital work.