Blog Archive (12) Posts Made in April 2022
Thursday, April 28th 2022
The species team carried out the end of month flower walk, checking which flowers were in flower. The total was 35 species. Althought the weather remains cool to cold flowers are still opening their buds almost from one day to the next!
The beginning of April sees the moor being checked for Yellow Rattle, from mid April the hunt is on for Early Purple Orchids which only grow in two areas of the reserve. Not even a glimpse of purple until yesterday and there they were.
In the sun Orange Tip butterflies have been recorded and one of the food plants needed on which to lay their egg, is Cuckoo Flower, one egg to each plant. Cuckoo Flower was in flower in the Scrapes, not many but a start.
Bird Cherry has been in buds for some weeks but suddenly the trees are now covered in white blossom.
Some of the cherry trees in the orchard are in flower, the apples and pears will flower later.
Primroses are showing their lovely lemon flowers across the reserve, most growing where you would expect them to grow, in 'nice' soil. These ones caught my eye as they were growing down the vertical side of Risedale Beck and did not appear to have much soil at all.
Wood Sorrel likes to colonise the moss covered old logs left on log piles.
Having just checked the weather forecast for the next 10 days it does look like warmer temperatures, but very little rain. This will encourage the grass to grow, so the strimmers and mowers will be out keeping the path edges trimmed neatly and ensuring the paths themselves are clearly marked. Thanks to the volunteers in anticiaption of mowing! More flowers will burst their buds and the May flower list will be considerably longer. Thanks to the species team for their work.
Sunday, April 24th 2022
Andrew and Jan visited the reserve recently and sent us some photographs. The first, and please do not get too excited, is of Red Kite flying over Harewood House. One flew over Foxglove a while ago, but one flap of its wings (wingspan 1.8m) and it was out of sight so not even a splodge. Whilst visiting it may be worthwhile to keep glancing up.
Primroses are covering the south facing banks and now the Bluebells are beginning to appear in amongst them.
Glancing down may provide you with a possible story. Very difficult to catch butterflies in flight, but could this be an Orange Tip chasing off a probable male Brimstone from its food supplies? Or was he chasing it away from its territory as he tries to attract a mate?
Upwards again, and the Norway Maple is in flower. These trees can often be seen in hedgerows.
Not all the trees are showing opening buds so there is still a chance to see a bird singing and get a clear photo. This could be a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler. A newly ringed bird or a returning summer migrant?
Some birds like to find the highest point to sing out its song, warning others that it is his territory. This Song Thrush could not get much higher! He was at the very top of the Grand Fir.
Lockdown during the pandemic brought Nature to many people's notice. Walks in the countryside, parks, nature reserves and gardens became very important and brought people very close to Nature. Watch and listen whilst you walk around the reserve and you never know what you might see.
Thanks to Andrew and Jan for the photographs.
Moving Slowly Through Spring
Saturday, April 23rd 2022
The forecast suggests cold winds from the north east, very little rain and overall cool temperatures for the next few days. So far Common Toads have not yet spawned in the Scrapes. Common Frog tadpoles hatched but disappeared to the bottom of the ponds as they should and usually do, but so far they have not shown themselves swimming freely around. Damselflies have been reported from further south but we will have to be patient before ours return.
Watch for the House Martins and Swallows feeding and collecting mud, especially at Spigot Mere. Although nature is a little slow in some areas, reports of Lapwing chicks out on the training area are coming in. The Swaledale Bird Ringers will soon be out monitoring the moorland waders, along with the owl boxes.
Some flowers do not seem to mind the cold as long as they have a little bit of sunshine. Wood Anemone just appear! One day they are not there the next, a small area is covered with their white petals and yellow stamens.
A surprise was the open flower of Greater Stitchwort.
The Cherry trees are in blossom providing food for hungry bees and other insects.
Once the sun warms some of the glades the butterflies appear. A Brimstone was spotted but it had no intention of hanging around for a photo to be taken. An Orange Tip butterfly sat beautifully with its wings open and the orange tips on show, but it was behind lots of vegetation so again no photograph. Finally a Comma landed on Blackthorn to feed (you can see the proboscis deep into the flower) and although above my height it co-operated, pointed slightly downwards and opened its wings.
Tuesday, April 19th 2022
This is the busiest time of the year for the members of the Swaledale Ringing Group as they monitor hundreds of nests. One of the first species to breed is the Tawny Owl and over the Bank Holiday weekend a few of the large nest boxes were checked to see what stage the owls are at. This beautiful female is number GR17214 and was first ringed by the team back in 2017. She has been caught again twice since then and last year was one of the few adults that managed to successfully raise a chick in the harsh weather conditions when there was a lack of food following a severe winter.
All of the data collected is submitted to the BTO as part of the Nest Record Scheme. Although Tawny owls do not seem to move far from where they hatch, the ringing data is vital to learn about longevity and survival rates. The BTO and other scientists can use the Nest Record Scheme’s long-term dataset to assess the impacts that changes in the environment, such as habitat loss and global warming, have on the productivity of wild birds.
Monday, April 18th 2022
The starts are getting earlier for the bird ringers as they head towards the 30th year of CES. Several cars were waiting at the gate at 6am. The sun was rising and it was cool. Spring has not sprung in the Scrapes.
It was not long before the first birds were returned to the ringing room. A female Brambling. The second Brambling caught was also a female. We wondered if the males had made a start on their long journey north, with the females following a little later. Another hand in the bag and out came a Chiffchaff. They have been heard all round the reserve but not one had made it to the nets until now.
Another Chiff appeared and it had some messy looking feathers. These are a result of it feeding on Mimosa and Acacia flowers on its journey north.
A male and female Blackcap were ringed. We thought they were likely to be a pair so they were released together.
Although the vegetation in many areas around the reserve still looks very wintery, at ground level spring has definitely sprung, joining the spring migrants return. Primroses have opened their butter yellow flowers everywhere.
In the sunshine a tiny hoverfly was feeding from a Marsh Marigold.
The wind increased and by lunch time the nets were taken down. Thank you to everyone who volunteered today, a real team effort.
Saturday, April 16th 2022
As the days lengthen and the temperature rises, sometimes, so there is more to be seen around the reserve. Coltsfoot is in flower in the rocks under the weir at the lake. Amazingly this plant has managed not to get swept away in the floods.
Out on the moor the Cowslips are in flower and so far have avoided been eaten by herbivorous visitors.
Bees have been heard and seen on warm sunny days but so far no photos. We think this is a Common Carder Bee enjoying feeding from Blackthorn.
The warm weather has seen the return of the Common Toads. They were croaking but not seen on Wednesday but Thursday's warmth allowed them to show themselves. This photo shows one swimming and you can just make out its bronze eye in the water.
This photo shows the more traditional position of male Common Toad.
Thanks again to Andrew and Jan for keeping their eyes open and photographing what is around on warm days.
Biscoff Cheesecake, Brownies and Bakewell Tarts!
Thursday, April 14th 2022
Biscoff cheesecake, brownies and Bakewell tarts were just some of the delicious home baking on offer today at the Coffee Morning in Richmond Town Hall. A team of volunteers arrived at 8:30am to set up the hall ready for the morning to help raise vital funds for the reserve.
There was much work beforehand and special thanks go to Elizabeth (the First) and Elizabeth (the Second) for taking time yesterday to prepare everything, there is a lot to pack from raffle tickets and prizes to teabags and displays. The doors opened at 9:00am and after a slow start business began to pick up!
The raffle and tombola were very popular, thank you to all who kindly donated prizes for these.
As usual, the kitchen was a hive of activity with making refreshments and the all important job of washing and drying up!
In total £219.60 was raised, this will make a significant difference to the reserve. Our sincere thanks to everyone who made it possible from baking goods, donating prizes, assisting on the day to supporting the event by coming along, your contribution is appreciated! Finally, thanks to the volunteers who stayed back at the reserve to meet and greet visitors, replace boardwalk and carry out practical conservation tasks too!
A Busy Day for Some
Wednesday, April 13th 2022
Before we begin today's blog an update on the Brambling ringed elsewhere. We received details that the bird was ringed at Stillington Woodland Park, Stockton, Stockton-on-Tees, by the Tees Ringing Group. It was 1113 days since it was last recorded. The distance is rather misleading as this bird will have been to Scandinavia and back several times, however it is only 36 km from where it was ringed to Foxglove.
Down on the lake all was quiet. The Tufted Ducks also known as 'Tufties' have returned to the lake and were taking life easy.
On the bank the male Mallards were also taking life easy with a little bit of preening to sort out those feathers. Most of the females will be hidden away on nests. Rearing the young is the female's responsibility.
Back in the Field Centre conversations over lunch were loud so that people could be heard over the buzzing of the bees. There was certainly no taking it easy for them! Many were returning with full pollen sacs, after visiting probably the Willow flowers and possibly Gorse. The photos taken through the glass are not very good but do give the idea of what was going on. You can see that the pollen is different colours indicating different flowers visited.
Alison and Alister checked the bees this week and said that there were some drone cells to be seen, so we have to watch for a queen cell and then the likelihood is that they will swarm! Watch this space!
Volunteers were also busy making cakes for the coffeee morning on Thursday 14th at Richmond Town Hall. Others were busy sorting everything to go to the coffee morning, from raffle prizes to tombola prizes, and anything from tea towels and tablecloths to pens, sticky labels and blutac and much more!
Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the coffee morning, prizes, baking and help are all appreciated.
Volunteers at Work
Tuesday, April 12th 2022
It is the transition time between winter work and spring work. Major tasks in a variety of habitats are now complete, allowing spring flowers to open their buds. Tasks now mainly include repair of steps, boardwalks, paths and dams. In a few weeks there will be much cutting and strimming of grass along path edges and net rides.
A small stream, that runs across the moor and into the Scrapes needed the silt removing from part of it and the dam repaired. There was a great deal of advice required!
Some work was needed on the stream leaving Plover's Pool. It is important to ensure that the water flows where we want it to and not where it wishes!
The path behind the lake hide received some attention with the wooden edges being replaced.
Many thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work.
Around the Reserve
Sunday, April 10th 2022
Katie and Chris walked around the reserve yesterday and were so pleased not only to see the Roe Deer but to get some lovely photos of them.
The coat looks a little worse for wear, but it is coming to the time when their winter coat will be replaced by a beautiful coppery summer coat. The does will be giving birth to kids in May and June.
Moths have been noticeable by their absence due to the very cold night temperatures. This Twin-spotted Quaker was found on the back of the Field Centre, very close to the ground. The feathered antennae show that this is a male. Looking at the 10 day weather forecasts, even allowing for the differences between them all, it does suggest that the nights are not going to be frosty. Fingers crossed that the moth traps may be able to go out!
Travelling to Foxglove the hedgerows are definitely green showing that Hawthorn is in leaf. At Foxglove the buds of Hawthorn are just beginning to break and a hint of green is able to be seen. The flowers do not appear until May.
Whilst out on the moor 'Hay Rattle or Yellow Rattle walking' has been taking place for the last two weeks, ever hopeful that the tiny seed leaves will be spotted. Not a sign, not even a possibly, until yesterday when several of the rounded leaves were recorded.
Thank you to everyone who have provided photographs for the recent blogs, this is much appreciated.
A Ringing Day
Saturday, April 9th 2022
The bird ringers day started at 0700 hours and it was very cold. However, the view over the lake was stunning.
Just to show how cold it was some of the ponds were covered in ice.
Whilst some nets were being raised other net rides were prepared ready for CES, which begins at the end of April. Hammer, spike and oil can were all important tools to get the job completed. Warm gloves would have been useful too, to hold the very cold net poles!
Brambling and Bullfinch were singing loudly in the shrubs near to the Field Centre, whislt a Robin, sitting high in a tree, added his song.
In the ringing room, more Bullfinches were ringed. They are all showing impressive plumage as they come into breeding condition. This male Bullfinch was spectacular.
All week we have watched flocks of Brambling in the back garden. Today some received their rings. It was discussed that the northerly winds had prevented them heading north to Scandinavia. As they prepare for their long journey they build up fat reserves and we were able to record how much fat they had stored. A male Brambling was returned to the ringing room with a ring, which was rather unusual. ACE were the letters on the ring, one of our rings? No, so this bird was a control, meaning that it was ringed elsewhere. Details were available on the BTO data website and we were able to establish that it had been ringed as a juvenile in 2018, making it 4 year old. We will hopefully find out where it was ringed.
It was a stunning bird.
Unfortunately the weather had not read the weather forecast and the wind increased so the nets were brought in early. It was a good day with beautiful birds being processed. Thanks to the bird ringers and to Mark and Chris for some of the photographs.
Flowers at Last!
Thursday, April 7th 2022
At long last we are now finding flowers around the reserve. For several weeks the only flowers on the Observation Board were Gorse, Hazel and Daisy. There is a lot of Blackthorn growing around the reserve, but it does not all flower at the same time. The first flowers to break their buds are in shrubs along Risedale Beck. One or two flowers
are soon follwed by many more, making the path look like it is covered in a white tunnel.
Dandelions are classed as weeds and are not easy to remove from a lawn, however at Foxglove we leave them, as they are an excellent source of food for many insects, once it warms up and the sun shines!
Marsh Marigold does not grow in profusion around the reserve but its bright yellow flowers are a welcome sign of spring in the Scrapes and a little later at Voley pond.
Keeping your eyes down looking for flowers or even more hopefully an insect or three you can miss something a little unusual. This Moorhen was really struggling, trying to balance on the thin branches in a very strong wind!
We are more used to seeing them at the lake. It is not often that you can catch Mallard, Little Grebe and Moorhen together.
It is the beginning of the school season. Spennithorne Church of England Primary School visited on Monday and Wednesday, although cold they did pond dip and managed to collect some fish, beetle larvae and damselfly larvae. Before they arrived staff and volunteers filled the sinks with water ready for the catch. Staff and volunteers have worked hard over the winter to ensure that the water flow through the Scrapes is not only flowing but doing so in the right directions! The immediate areas around the ponds have been strimmed, cut and raked and are now ready not only for schools but visitors too.
A huge thanks to the volunteers who have been so busy.