Blog Archive (12) Posts Made in November 2021
Tuesday, November 30th 2021
The damage caused by Storm Arwen on Saturday is extensive and will take weeks to clear away. At the top of the green trail there is an area of windblown trees that is a giant tangle of branches, trunks and giant root plates.
The trees that have succumbed to the gale force winds are not all in one place; they are scattered around the whole reserve making the clean up operation extremely difficult. Staff and volunteers began 'phase 1' of the tidying operation yesterday by carefully removing dangerous hanging trees with a winch. Today, the second phase was underway as several large root plates were dropped back into place where possible.
Some of the fallen trees were then dressed and cut up into manageable chunks so that the wood could be moved and the paths were cleared of debris. As the woodland is inaccessible the larger pieces of timber were piled into habitat piles. Brash was removed as if left it will become a fire hazard in the summer months.
It is important to remove the wood from its 'landing place' as much of it is laying on wildflower banks like the one shown here.
On the boundary with the training area some of the root plates had lifted a post and wire fence a few metres into the air! (The 'before' photo')...
This was a priority to repair to prevent the neighbouring sheep from wandering into the woodland.
After lunch, the team replaced some of the root plates and fixed the fence. As you can see from the 'after photo' there is still a lot of work to do!
Many thanks to all who helped out today and especially to Ian for all of his winching and chainsawing!
Sunday, November 28th 2021
On Friday it was the last Forest School before Christmas so the families made some festive wreathes to take away.
First, the Willow was harvested in the area that was coppiced last winter. The children were surprised at how colourful the new shoots were; they ranged from green to bright red.
They were also amazed at how tall the new shoots had grown in just one year!
Using loppers the children cut the Willow from different places so you couldn't even tell they had been there, sneaky!
With their bundle of Willow whips it was time to head back to the centre and get creative.
Back in the warmth of the classroom the circular frames soon took shape.
It was a team effort!
Everyone had a go.
Next, it was time to add some foliage to the frame. The wonderful scent of the Grand Fir branches filled the air.
Ribbons, bows, berries and dried orange slices were added.
Even the youngest family members got involved!
Thank you to the children and their parents for their support over the year. There was going to be a Willow weaving session for adults but sadly the storm damage has now had to take priority. However, if you would like to come along and gather some wreath making materials in return for a donation you are more than welcome to, afterall there are plenty of conifer branches after the storm! Contact the Reserve Managers to arrange a 'harvest' if you are interested!
Sunday, November 28th 2021
People support the reserve in many different ways. Last week (before the storm hit the reserve) a group from the Personalised Learning Centre helped out by removing Willow that was encroaching on one of the streams in the scrapes.
Rather than waste the cut stems, Elizabeth used them to create a festive display on the Christmas sales table.
It wasn't long before one of our younger visitors discovered the goodies hanging from the branches in the Field Centre!
Thank you to everyone involved from cutting the Willow to making the display and purchasing the items!
Saturday, November 27th 2021
Last night and throughout this morning Storm Arwen battered most of the UK. Sadly, the high winds have caused a huge amount of damage to the reserve's woodland habitats.
Conifers with their shallow root plates often fall victim to gale force winds and several have been uprooted all around the site.
Whilst some have been pushed over with the roots still attached, others have literally snapped part way up.
Including some very tall ones!
The green route is blocked in several places and is closed to visitors until further notice.
Staff and volunteers will be working hard during next week to make the trail safe again.
Our apologies for any inconvenience, please bear with us whilst the planned winter work is put on hold and the storm damage is cleared away.
Look Both Ways
Friday, November 26th 2021
We are coming to the time when my eyes are not distracted by a movement or a flash of colour, showing that there could possibly be a bug around. Now is the time to appreciate the views and scenes of Foxglove. It is also time to stop and stare at the sky, often to see the rain approaching very quickly! The forecast on Wednesday was for relatively mild and dry and not too much wind. The blue sky across the moor was a delight.
I turned and walked across the middle moor towards the Stone Circle. Oh what a change!
Instead of the golden brown Larch against a blue sky, I was faced with dull brown needles against an almost black sky. The shadows from the stones were impressive.
I continued my walk across Hague Bridge and looked at the autumn colours. The sky did not look so threatening, posssibly?
On to the the Sedge Warbler patch that has been cut and raked by the volunteers. Back to black threatening clouds but the sun was highlighting the leafless trees.
Turning to head towards the Phragmites I almost needed my sunglasses on!
The sun was catching the reed seed heads making them glow in a golden light. Overhead the rain clouds threatened.
We made it back to the Field Centre just before the rain started.
Never Work With Wildlife
Thursday, November 25th 2021
So the saying goes never work with wildlife or children when filming. Possibly the same could be said for taking guided walks around the reserve. There is a Holly tree in the hedgerow across the moor. It is always covered in red berries. They must look appealing to the birds, like the migrant Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings after their long journey. However the berries are rarely eaten and the tree remains with its bright red jewels right through the winter. If the weather is severe then the birds may feed on them. We decided that the berries must not taste nice. One walk I was just explaining all of this when I realised that the tree was bare, not a berry in sight!
It is still covered at the minute!
Another tree that caught me out was Guelder Rose. The berries are not eaten by the birds, I explained to the visitors. A Blackbird was then seen enjoying a feast on the back garden Guelder Rose berries!
One tree that always stands out is the fruiting Spindle with its pink outer coat and orange covered seed. They are almost over now but there is still one or two orange seeds to be seen.
Traditional Woodland Skills
Thursday, November 18th 2021
Work on the Willow coppice is now complete and a regular group from the Personalised Learning Centre have been making the most of the spare cut wood to acquire new skills; using hand tools they have been creating wooden mallets as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award with staff from Marrick Priory.
With this year's willow work complete, attention has now turned to the Hazel woodland which is also coppiced. Traditionally, the coppice timber produced from this practice was a valuable product so little was wasted. Building and fencing materials and firewood were the most common uses, with the twigs used as faggots, but also the supple young shoots were used for hedging. Whole or split rods were interwoven to form the ‘wattle’ used to fill in the panels of timber-framed buildings. It can be dated back to the Stone Age by the discovery of Neolithic, wooden tracks that have been constructed entirely from coppiced material.
It also increases woodland biodiversity, as greater amounts of light can reach the ground, allowing other species to grow there. Many of these species are food sources for butterflies and other insects, which in turn provide food for birds, bats and mammals. In well managed coppice woodland the varied age structure of the vegetation also provides good habitat and cover for a number of different bird species.
Today, regular conservation volunteers were joined by a team from the Personnel Recovery Centre in Catterick Garrison. They rebuilt a section of a Hazel hedge using the cut stems. This will provide a valuable habitat in itself for invertebrates and small mammals and birds such as Wrens will build their nests in it.
The woodland alongside Risedale Beck is a beautiful place to spend a day working in the autumn sunshine!
The benefits to the ground flora are already clear and next spring there will be a wonderful display of wildflowers such as Bluebells, Wood Anemones and Primroses.
So its a 'thumbs up' for the volunteers who have helped out with this task so far!
Monday, November 15th 2021
The autumn colours at Foxglove are stunning. At this time of year the reserve is lifting with birds too, many arriving from their breeding grounds to spend the winter months in the UK. This beautiful male redpoll was ringed earlier in the week. These small birds are found in flocks and are a common sight in the Field centre back garden at this time of year.
The high pitched sound of Goldcrests can be heard up in the conifer tops. This juvenile male had a flash of bright orange on its crown neatly tucked in behind vivid yellow feathers.
Siskins too are growing in numbers with each day and this male has striking plumage.
A pleasant surprise recently has been an increase in the number of Greenfinches to the back garden feeders, their numbers have declined noticeably in previous years but they seem to be making a come back.
Up on the woodland walk this bright Pink Slime Mould - Lycogola epidendrum was discovered on some rotting wood. Also known as Wolf’s Milk or groening's slime, this curious mould changes colour; first it darkens to a chocolate brown and then becomes black.
There are lots of other colourful fungi around too especially Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria). It's known to contain ibotenic acid, which both attracts and kills flies – which gave it its name. Look out for this bright red toadstool with white spots next time you visit.
November Worky Day
Sunday, November 7th 2021
There was a fantastic turnout for the weekend work party on Saturday. The weather wasn't as bad as the forecast predicted and there was even a rainbow for the lunch time group photo.
There was plenty of work to do clearing the coppiced willow. Although it looks dramatic all of the willow trees will grow back with vigour and will live for longer as a result.
In the morning, there were mountains of brash to be cut up into smaller pieces using loppers and hand saws.
Most of the willow had been coppiced (cut to ground level) but some of the larger trees were pollarded (cut to head height). By this time next year there will be several feet of new growth.
Smaller branches were put through a woodchipper and the chippings will be used on some of the footpaths around the reserve.
Larger logs were put to one side; hefty work!
As the saying goes 'many hands make light work' and it wasn't long before the brash was cleared away. A hearty lunch of 'range stew and dumplings' fuelled the team for the afternoon.
Work in this area will be continuing over the coming weeks so if you have a use for any birch or willow then please get in touch with the Reserve Managers.
A lot of hard work goes into the preparation of these practical days from ordering food and baking cakes to counting out tools and washing up at the end of the day.
Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers who ensured that it ran smoothly and to everyone who joined in to help manage this important habitat.
Friday, November 5th 2021
Various forestry projects are ongoing and last week Sean and Brendan, Tree Surgeons from Yorkshire Tree Specialists (as seen on TV), were on site all week to help with some of the larger tasks. They began by felling a couple of diseased conifers that were right next to the path.
Next, they thinned out the Sycamore and Maple Avenue and removed Ash (with Ash Dieback) which left a lot of clearing up to be done by staff and volunteers. The timber was sorted into brash and logs. Some of the bigger pieces were made into habitat piles.
There was no need to go to the gym; some of the volunteers clocked up over 20, 000 steps during the day!
It was hard work but the autumn sunshine helped to keep spirits high! Living the dream some would say!
Smaller branches were processed using a woodchipper by the people who recently did the Woodchipper course.
However, Gerry was nowhere to be seen!
Out on the moorland a team from the Personalised Learning Centre in Northallerton were busy replacing tree tubes on the hedge plants (donated by Bettys Tearooms) after the Dexter Cattle on loan from Big Sheep Little Cow had knocked them over!
What a productive week! Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, it isn't over yet as tomorrow will be the second weekend worky day of the year!
All About Fungi
Friday, November 5th 2021
The recent rain has led to an increase in fungi all around the reserve. A group of families with a keen interest in Natural History took part in a walk with Chris to learn about some of the species to be found.
After a sunny morning, the heavens opened but that didn't stop the budding Mycologists from exploring and learning!
The children were amused by some of the English names for their finds such as the 'Toothpick' fungi which is tiny and grows from a pine cone!
Thank you to Chris for sharing her knowledge and taking time to prepare and lead the walk.
Wednesday, November 3rd 2021
There was a familiar face at Foxglove yesterday when Carol Malia, TV presenter from BBC Look North (North East and Cumbria) paid a brief visit to learn more about the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) and what it means for the reserve.
The dedicated team of conservation volunteers were busy clearing away brash from the Maple and Sycamore Avenue on the green trail. Earlier that morning, Tree Surgeon Sean Stockdale had felled some of the trees along the pathside in order to thin the woodland edge and allow the healthier trees more space to grow.
Carol interviewed several volunteers to find out more about volunteering at the reserve and what the work involves.
The weather was perfect and although it was cold it remained dry.
The autumn colours around the lake at this time of year are stunning and the blue sky was an added bonus!
There was just enough time to pop into the wheelchair friendly hide and walk along the Easy Access Trail before heading back to the Field Centre.
Back inside, beekeepers Colonel Alistair and Alison were on hand to explain how the observation hive works and the Queen bee was observed laying eggs!
Carol then signed the visitor book and was pleased to receive a jar of Foxglove honey as a souvenir!
Thank you to Carol and Cameraman Jonathan for taking time to visit the reserve and to all of the staff and volunteers who made them welcome.