Blog Archive (9) Posts Made in July 2022
Sunday, July 31st 2022
During the summer months some of the habitats are grazed by livestock. These Dexter Cattle, on loan from Big Sheep, Little Cow in Bedale, are helping to lower the sward and poach some of the ponds on the wetland.
It is clear from the photographs that it has been a good growing season and there is plenty of work for them to do!
Some of the Bluebell banks and wildflower meadows require a more even cut and this is often done using strimmers. Later this year we are hoping to host some scything courses to be run by Steve Tomlin Crafts. This could be a perfect way going forwards as in Steve's own words it would mean:
“No more ear defenders, visor, strimmer fumes or noise; just the sound of the birds and the swish of your blade.”
In the meantime, strimmers are necessary but all cutting is always done with the utmost of care, even avoiding thistles which are a valuable source of nectar!
Most of the work carried out recently has been on summer maintenance tasks such as replacing rotten gate posts…
...and painting the newly replaced boardwalk. Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers and work placement students who have assisited with these big projects.
A reminder that on Saturday 6th August we will be celebrating 30 years of Foxglove Covert with a day packed with Natural History events. There will be walks to discover more about butterflies, dragonflies, birds, flowers and insects. Please see the events page for details.
Tuesday, July 26th 2022
Although not recorded on the reserve yet, Short-eared Owls are often observed on the neighbouring moorland. Wildlife photographer, Tiny Power, has captured these incredible images whilst out and about over recent weeks.
More information about these elusive raptors can be found on the BTO website where there is also a useful video to help distinguish them from Long-eared Owls. Thank you Tiny for sharing your pictures!
Celebrate 30 Years of Foxglove!
Friday, July 22nd 2022
This summer we will be celebrating 30 years of the reserve. The main event will be a BIOBLITZ on 6th August. There are many different walks to book on to as we try and identify as many different wildlife species as possible throughout the day. Help us to try and discover 30 new species for the reserve. There will be refreshments and activities for all the family.
Please see the events page for details.
Butterflies And Moths Treasure Trail
Friday, July 22nd 2022
Can you name the common butterflies that are found in the UK? Would you like to find out more about them? What do their caterpillars feed on and where do they go in the winter?
Throughout the school holidays there will be a self-guided trail in place around the Red Route (easy access trail). Enjoy a walk and search for the clues to learn all about these wonderful insects.
Just pick up a clue sheet from the Field Centre for £1 - it helps if you can remember to bring your own pencil!
The clues will be available during opening hours and all of the answers can be found on the back of the pictures.
You can also check the answers back at the centre. As this is a self-guided activity there is no need to book in advance, just turn up and have some family fun in the fresh air!
Wednesday, July 20th 2022
The reserve is re-open after a temporary closure on Tuesday due to the extreme heat. The cool breeze and sunshine were enjoyed by a group called BW (Busy Wednesdays) who volunteer for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at another reserve. They were given a brief insight into bird ringing before setting off on a guided walk to see what the Foxglove volunteers have been up to. After lunch, they did a spot of pond dipping in the Scrapes before heading back to York.
Wednesdays are always busy at Foxglove as that is one of the days reserved for school visits during the summer term. Since Easter, we have welcomed pupils from many local Primary Schools including:
The children have been fantastic nature detectives and as well as trying pond dipping they carried out minibeast safaris, played animal themed games, learned about honey bees and created some striking art in the woods!
The Reserve Managers are extremely grateful to students from Risedale Secondary School and Richmond Sixth Form College who did a week of work experience at the reserve and assisted with the delivery of some of the school visits plus various summer maintenance tasks and to Elizabeth (the Second) who helped to deliver the educational activities.
Our sincere thanks to all of the staff and students who have been involved in some way, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with you!
Wildlife and Warm Days
Monday, July 18th 2022
It is most unusual to have very early mornings in the summer, at the Crater when thick coats, hats, scarves, flasks of hot tea or coffee can be dispensed with! Today was one of those mornings.
The Army Ornitholgical Society is visitng Foxglove this week. They have carried out ringing at Foxglove and are today at the Crater, 'on top of the world'! They will be visiting other sites during the week, weather permitting.
A surprise in a net were two juvenile Green Woodpeckers. These birds hunt out ants.
Back at Foxglove the middle moor is still covered in flowers that are feeding bees and butterflies. Trying to get a good photo of the Dark Green Fritillary, without other vegetation in the way, I caught not only the butterfly but a bee with full pollen sacs. The pollen is white showing that this bee had been busy foraging amongst the knapweeds.
A Poplar Hawkmoth found a place to rest, on one of the bird boxes that are for sale.
Yet More Moths
Friday, July 15th 2022
After several weeks of poor weather and small catches the more recent records of moths have been much improved. A new species was recorded, a Lilac Beauty Moth. It flies in June and July, and is locally distributed in much of England, Wales and Ireland. The larvae feed on Honeysuckle of which there is plenty growing at Foxglove and also Privet of which we have a little.
A moth we do not often see is the Broom Moth, and as its name suggests, the caterpillars feed on Broom of which there is none growing in the reserve, however its other food plant is Bracken and we have plenty of that!
As has been said before we prefer to photograph the moths on a reasonable background, logs or leaves. To ensure that we have a photo for ID purposes we do take them in the container and then we release them. This Swallowtail moth in pristine condition, which is unusual as we normally catch them when they are a bit battered, landed on a leaf of the same colour when carefully released. Hence the yellow of the moth does not show up well. And when it was moved to a green leaf the photos taken were not in focus!
We use a sugar stirrer to help to release the moths. Moths are very cooperative, some times, and walk onto the stick. They are not as cooperative when being placed on a leaf. I suspected that the moth would fly so Andrew was ready with his camera to get a photo. He did! Stick, leaf, no moth!
Thanks to the reserve managers and the Moth Team for putting out the traps. Thanks to the Moth Team for the identification of the moths. The results for the first six months of the year have been forwarded to the moth recorder for VC65. Thanks to Mary for keeping the records.
Mainly Moths and Butterflies
Saturday, July 9th 2022
For the last few days a bright orange butterfly has been seen flying in front of the Field Centre, across the moor, near Spigot Mere but it has never settled even for a second! However it was 'caught' yesterday when it stayed still for two seconds and caught on camera by Tim. It is a Dark Green Fritillary. The caterpillar feeds on Common Dog Violet.
Ringlet butterflies can be seen all over the reserve. Meadow Browns are not in such great numbers. An oak leaf was the resting place for this Meadow Brown.
The portable moth trap, placed away from the Field Centre is catching some moths we do not often see. This Garden Tiger is a stunning moth. The larvae feed on a range of herbaceous plants including Common Nettle, Broad-leaved Dock and Burdock.
On flying it off this moth decided it was best to land on the path so it was rescued, and although we prefer to not to show moths in the hand, this head on shot shows some beautiful markings around its head and face.
A red flash of wings, almost hidden behind vegetation was a burnet moth. The photo shows that its abdomen has a definite blue sheen, but this is not shown in the picture used for ID. It is a Narrow-bordered Five-Spot Burnet Moth. It is a rather worn specimen which could account for the blue sheen.
Not to be left out of the Moth and Butterfly blog, a Figwort Weevil was found, as its name suggests on Water Figwort.
In sunny glades across the reserve damselflies can be seen, sometimes quite a way from the water. This Large Red Damselfly was sunbathing on a fern frond.
And finally we know we have many Bullfinches on the reserve, but CES ringing today caught a total of 184 birds of which 110 were Bullfinches and of them 89 were newly ringed.
Thank yous go to Andrew and Tim for the photographs, to Peter for strimming many net rides and to the bird ringers who started their day at 0415. (Hopefully a later start next week, 0430, weather permitting.)
Saturday, July 2nd 2022
The wind and more particulary the strong gusts of wind do not make good conditions for bird ringing, moth trapping and insect photography. Many thanks go to the Conservation Stewardship Fund who awarded Foxglove a grant to purchase a portable moth trap. Despite the weather forecast the new trap was placed in the outdoor classroom to see what would be caught.
A good result, 51 moths of 23 species were recorded. The highlight was this Ghost Moth, the second caught recently, after no records since 2005.
This trap will enable us to investigate the moth species in many different habitats across the reserve. Our sincere thanks go to the people involved in applying for and awarding us the money to purchase this new apparatus.
Warm blustery weather ensures that the 'damsels and dragons' hide or fly so fast the chances of photographing them is almost nil. A brief respite in the wind saw a Broad-bodied Chaser land fleetingly on a reed.
Andrew was out with his camera and managed to get this photo of a Painted Lady flying or probably been blown between sheltered flowers to feed. You can see its unfurled proboscis .
He also caught a Ringlet with its wings open, hidden low in the vegetation. Usually they sit with their wings closed.
However one Ringlet butterfly decided to take refuge from the blustery wind by hiding underneath Jan's scarf!
Thank you to Andrew for the photos.
Different weather forecasts give different information, but it does look like warmer, calmer weather may be on its way. Fingers crossed!