Blog Archive (10) Posts Made in June 2022
Working On The Wetland
Thursday, June 30th 2022
Last year staff and volunteers attended several training courses including the LANTRA Brushcutter course. This was definitely worthwhile as many of the habitats benefit from regular cutting.
Recent sunshine and showers have provided perfect growth conditions for the vegetation and on the wetland in particular where even the maintenance pathways had become seriously overgrown. So much so, that it was impossible to tell where the land stopped and the ponds began! Earlier in the week, the network of narrow pathways were carefully opened up again.
The cuttings were then raked up into piles ready to be removed.
This is important as it reduces the nutrients and improves the ground for wildflowers. It also kept Freddie and Nick out of mischief for a couple of hours!
Volunteers have also been working hard identifying species, delivering school visits, repairing bridges and constructing 'Gucci' new storage racks!
Thank you to everyone for your continued and valued support!
Beautiful Barn Owls
Sunday, June 26th 2022
The Swaledale bird ringers have been busy monitoring owl nests and at the moment many of the Barn Owls have young chicks. Whilst out one evening last week a guest photographer, Tiny Power, accompanied the group.
He took a few pictures of the chicks being ringed.
It was a great opportunity to see them up close.
Then whilst the ringing was being carried out he focused on the adult birds from the nest who were busy quartering in the field. Here are some of his stunning photographs, there is no need for any more text here the pictures speak for themselves. However, if you look carefully you will see that these adults are part of the study as they too have BTO rings!
Earlier in the year, he also captured this incredible shot of a tussle between a Barn Owl and a Kestrel over a vole!
Thank you Tiny for sharing your wonderful images!
Beaver and Cub Scouts
Sunday, June 26th 2022
During the summer evenings many organised groups visit the reserve. Over the past few weeks we have welcomed Richmond Beavers who did some pond dipping before being awarded their latest badges on the front lawn; from scientists to bikers, well done everyone!
With the same leaders was the Richmond Cub group who also enjoyed some pond dipping and a guided walk.
Having even less distance to travel, Catterick Cubs also paid a visit after school.
We look forward to meeting some of the older scouts later in the year when they will help out with some practical conservation tasks to help towards a new badge. Thank you to both groups for your valued support.
Holt’s Military Banking
Saturday, June 25th 2022
On Thursday, staff from Holt's Military Banking dropped in on a customer visit between meetings in the area. It was a great opportunity to meet face to face after years of communication via telephone and email. After a brief welcome at the Field Centre, the team enjoyed a short walk out to see the wildflower meadow which is now in full bloom. With them was their trusty squirrel mascot 'Rod' who appears on the Holt's bank logo!
Thank you to Jules, Ruth and Simren for taking time out from their busy schedule to visit the reserve and for donating a fantastic raffle prize for the Foxglove 30th anniversary celebration in August too.
Trinity Academy Richmond
Friday, June 24th 2022
Pupils from Trinity Academy in Richmond enjoyed a day out at Foxglove on Monday. Pond dipping was one of the activities carried out in the hot summer sunshine.
Stickleback, Water boatmen, caddis fly larvae and Toad tadpoles were the main animals to be found lurking beneath the water surface along with this very large pond snail!
The dry sunny conditions were pefect for some sweep netting on the wildflower meadow (part of the minibeast safari). Grass bugs, grasshoppers and spiders were discovered amongst the tall grasses and flowers.
The topic for the day was 'food chains' and there was plenty of opportunity to discuss this throughout the day.
Thank you to the staff and pupils, it was a pleasure to spend some time with you!
Butterflies and Moths
Sunday, June 19th 2022
When the sun shone and the wind dropped it was amazing to see what was flying around Foxglove. A glimpse of blue could have been a Common Blue Butterfly, but the first insect to be photographed was a Small Heath Butterfly, in a different place from last year.
There are two skipper butterflies on the reserve, Large and Small. Sometimes it is easy to distinguish between them, other times they leave you wondering if they have actually read the books on ID! I took this photograph and thought Small, but when viewed on the computer screen I thought Large. I'll let you decide, suffice to say this is a skipper butterfly!
Another movement and a quick click of the camera revealed a Painted Lady, not in brilliant colour as it had flown from the continent. These first migrants will breed and we will have pristine Painted Lady butterflies by the end of summer. Some of these adults will then migrate back to the continent.
The moth trap was emptied and another Eyed Hawkmoth was revealed. When placed on a leaf it decided that I was a predator and opened its wings to show its frightening eyes!
Something yellow caught my eye and on following it for a little while it finally showed its forewings, with not too much vegetation between me and it, to enable me to see that it was a Yellow Shell moth. Not frequently seen nor caught in the trap very often.
Foxglove 30th Anniversary Raffle
Wednesday, June 15th 2022
It is 30 years since a small conservation area was established behind Cambrai Lines, Catterick Garrison, with financial assistance and personnel from The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Since then, the reserve has grown and evolved into the well known Local Nature Reserve. To celebrate the 30th year of the conservation project there will be a special Bioblitz Day in August when Natural Historians and members of the public will try to identify as many different species of wildlife as possible. It is hoped to find 30 new species throughout 2022! On the day a raffle will be drawn and already there are many superb prizes that have been donated by local businesses.
Prizes include a day at the races, a four-ball round of golf and £100 worth of M&S vouchers plus admission tickets to many local attractions such as the Black Sheep Brewery and the Forbidden Corner, meals out at local restaurants plus many more.
Tickets cost £1 each and are already available to purchase from the Field Centre. Any help with selling of tickets would be much appreciated, please see a Reserve Manager if you are able to assist. Finally, a sincere thank you to all of the local businesses who have very kindly donated prizes (we have been overwhelmed by your generosity), to Ken & Linda for renewing the license and to Katie for organising prize donations and ticket production. Good luck everybody!
Sunday, June 12th 2022
Mark was out with his camera and caught this Oystercatcher in flight,
and a Lapwing, over Spigot Mere.
The middle moor has benefitted from the rain and is now covered in flowers with many bees flitting between them. If the sun and warmth continue and the wind drops the butterflies and day flying moths will join them.
Warm to hot sun and very cold strong winds were not deterring the Four Spotted Chasers on Plover's Pool from chasing each other, defending territories, mating and egg laying. Absolutely no chance of a photograph. However Gerry and Hayley, out checking the water levels on the wetland, saw one land in the reeds. It was still there when I arrived and I was able to take a photo, even though the wind was blustery and the vegetation was moving!
Whilst Gerry was out on the reserve, he spotted this beautiful Common Lizard. We have several on the reserve and many have re-growing tails - this one has escaped any predation, as its tail is long and pristine. The lizards have the ability to part with their tails if they are in danger and are then able to grow them again, but rarely to the way they were. As the lizards are cold-blooded they need to sunbathe to raise their temperature before hunting for small invertebrates. This is the only reptile on the reserve, although Slow Worms are to be found in the surrounding areas none have ever been found at Foxglove.
The next wave of Orchids is in flower with Northern Marsh Orchids growing in their usual places. Common Spotted Orchids need a few more days but the hybrids between a Northen Marsh and Common Spotted are in flower in the back garden. Well we think they are hybrids?
And finally, our strimming volunteers are not the only ones who mow around flowers. The people who mow the lawns on camp went around these two Northern Marsh Orchids.
Thank you to everyone for the photographs.
Friday, June 10th 2022
The moth trap was set over Tuesday night with little hope of any moths, having looked at the weather forecast, wet and a bit of a breeze. However a pleasant surprise was waiting for the moth team on Wednesday morning, with a good collection of moths to ID.
One of the highlights was Green Silver-lines. A rare visitor to the trap and usually they are in their senior years and look a little on the battered side. This one is pristine. It is on the wing from May to July and occasionally some may be seen in August through to September, although this second generation is more likely to be further south than Foxglove. Larvae feed on broadleaved trees including Oak, Silver and Downy Birch and Beech. It pupates in a tough boat-shaped cocoon either on the underside of a leaf of the food plant or in a bark crevice.
Poplar Kitten is another moth that does not often get recorded. Information states that it is less frequent in the North of England. As its name suggests the larvae enjoy poplars and sometimes Aspen. The Aspen trees on the reserve are growing well. Some Black Poplars were planted in 2012 in the area that had been clear felled above the lake. These are doing well, so in the future we may have more records of this beautiful large moth.
A moth that can be very difficult to ID when looking at its wings, is the Spectacle Moth. Head on it is really easy! As its name suggests it has spectacles!
Thank you to the moth team for IDing the moths and recording them. The data will be sent to the moth recorder for VC65. Thank you to Janet for the photos.
After checking the forecast the moth trap was left out on Wednesday night. The catch was not as large nor varied but still some lovely moths. Small Angle Shades is quite a small moth but beautifully marked. Its larvae feed on Bracken and a variety of ferns.
Pale Prominent Moth is a striking moth, and on the right background it is well camouflaged.
On a green leaf it stands out.
The Pale Tussock moth is furry. If it walks onto your hand trying to get it to leave is not easy, rather like velcro sticking to you.
The forecast will be scrutinised over the coming days to decide when the traps can be put out safely. Fingers crossed for a good catch!
The Beginning of Summer
Tuesday, June 7th 2022
In the Scrapes the summer flowers are starting to unfurl their petals. Yellow Flag Iris can now be seen amongst the vegetation.
Another yellow flower in bloom is Yellow Rattle also known as Hay Rattle, which helps to control the growth of some grasses across the middle moor, as it is semi parasitic on the grasses and so restricts their growth. This encourages a variety of flowers across the meadow and in turn these host many invertebrates.
The beginning of summer sees a 4am start for the Swaledale Ringing Group. It was a very cold day and this was reflected in the number of birds processed. Sensibly most of them were hiding away in the trees keeping warm! We are just beginning to see juvenile birds coming through the ringing room. Mark photographed this young Robin. Not a red feather in sight! Over the coming weeks the red breast will appear.
This adult Robin was heading towards the feeders.
A male Bulfinch was sitting high in a tree singing loudly.
All these are signs that summer is on its way, all we need is a bit of warmth, a bit of sun and not a bit of northerly wind!