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Foxglove Covert, Catterick – June 17th 2012

led by Jim Pewtress – Species lists below

view of reserve

Six members met in Kirkby for the trip to Catterick on a not-too-promising morning. However, as we travelled the weather improved and we had sunny intervals for the rest of the day with only the occasional light shower; there was a chilly wind though. We arrived at the entrance to Fox Covert which is part of Catterick Garrison, so you have to pass through military security to obtain a pass and key to the gate. The reserve is bounded by high fences with barbed wire on top but once inside it is very peaceful with a good range of habitats (as it says on its website “The reserve contains semi-natural woodland, heathland, flower-rich grassland, streams, ponds, a lake, willow and alder carr, coniferous woodlands and wet meadows”).

Two more members joined us at the reserve and we proceeded to the education / bird ringing centre (which has some good displays). A team of expert bird ringers were in the middle of catching birds in mist nets then bringing them back to the centre to weigh, measure and ring them before releasing them back outside. We were allowed to hold and release some of the birds which was a real privilege. I had a young coal tit and was amazed just how light it was – and also noticeably warm. The amount of energy required to keep such a tiny creature at that temperature and able to fly must be enormous – no wonder birds have to spend so much time feeding!

view of pond
Elizabeth (right) showing us one of the ponds

Elizabeth and Brian from the centre then showed us around the reserve with its mix of ponds, scrapes, wetland, wood, meadow and moor. There were plenty of interesting insects, notably a bright red beetle and the tiny kidney ladybird resting on the trunk of a small ash tree. This ladybird is about the size of the commoner 2-spot and very handsome with its scarlet spots on a shiny black background (see below left).

kidney ladybird  14-spot ladybird
red necked footman

We also saw many other interesting insects including the cream-spot or 14-spot ladybird (above, right), large red damselfly (below, a female), an unfortunate four-spot chaser dragonfly that had emerged but seemed unable to fly, having been in the same place among the reeds for a couple of days and several brightly coloured beetles. One interesting sight was a mass of sawfly larvae munching on a small pine tree; these were later identified by Stuart Dunlop as the pine sawfly Neodiprion sertifer, but the undoubted star of the show was a Red-necked Footman moth (above) that is not only a new record for Foxglove but for VC65. It appears this moth has only started to colonise Yorkshire since 2009.

large red damselfy
Large red damselfly

There were many interesting plants, including this very pretty pond water crowfoot, marsh cinquefoil, ragged robin – a real pleasure to see it growing in such profusion – and one or two northern marsh orchids. Near one of the ponds there was a thriving colony of the curious little fern Adderstongue. There was a magnificent dryad’s saddle growing on a fallen log on the steep drop down to the beck but few other fungi. I saw a nice little yellow snail and a 1-yr old frog about an inch long. Jim was concentrating on spiders and id’d six species (and there were a few others that were too young to identify).

We thanked our hosts and Jim for arranging a very interesting day, somewhat different from our usual local gathering.

I have just put together a selection of pictures to give some idea of the variety to be seen at this very interesting reserve. A little later in the year there are many more dragonflies to be seen.

ragged robin
Ragged Robin
pond water crowfoot
Pond water crowfoot

pine sawfly Neodiprion sertifer
Pine sawfly Neodiprion sertifer
northern marsh orchid
Northern marsh orchid
marsh cinquefoil
Marsh cinquefoil


Species lists

Clubiona lutescens
Pisaura mirabilis
Xysticus cristatus
Meta mengei
Tetragnatha extensa
Larinioides cornutus

There were two others but due to being young were not identifiable.

Moorhen, Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Song Thrush, Wren, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and in the ringing lab Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Blackcap. (Thanks, Jim and Keith)


English Latin
Adderstongue Ophioglossum vulgatum
Agrimony, common Agrimonia eupatoria
Bedstraw, heath Galium saxatile
Bedstraw, hedge Galium mollugo
Birdsfoot trefoil, common Lotus corniculatus
Birdsfoot trefoil, greater Lotus pedunculatus
Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata
Bottle sedge Carex rostrata
Bramble Rubus fruticosus
Bugle Ajuga reptans
Bur-reed, common Sparganium erectum
Buttercup, creeping Ranunculus repens
Campion, red Silene dioica
Carnation sedge Carex panicea
Catsear Hypochaeris radicata
Cinquefoil, creeping Potentilla reptans
Cinquefoil, marsh Potentilla palustris
Clover, red Trifolium pratense
Clover, white Trifolium repens
Clover, zigzag ? Trifolium medium
Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata
Compact Rush Juncus conglomeratus
Cottongrass, common Eriophorum angustifolium
Cranesbill, wood Geranium sylvaticum
Crested Dogstail Cynosurus cristatus
Crosswort Cruciata laevipes
Cuckoo flower or Milkmaid Cardamine pratensis
Daisy Bellis perennis
Dewberry ? Rubus caesius
Fescue, Red Festuca rubra
Field Horsetail Equisetum arvense
Field Madder Sherardia arvensis
Flote grass Glyceria notata
Forgetmenot, changing Myosotis discolor
Forgetmenot, field Myosotis arvensis
Forgetmenot, water Myosotis scorpioides
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Glaucous sedge Carex flacca
Hair Grass, Tufted Deschampsia caespitosa
Hawksbeard, marsh Crepis paludosa
Hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Lousewort, common Pedicularis sylvatica
Marsh Horsetail Equisetum palustre
Meadow Grass, Rough Poa trivialis
Meadow vetchling Lathyrus pratensis
Milkwort, heath Polygala serpyllifolia
Mint, water Mentha aquatica
Mouse ear, common Cerastium fontanum
Orchid, common spotted Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Orchid, early marsh Dactylorhiza incarnata
Orchid, northern marsh Dactylorhiza purpurella
Oxeye daisy or Dog Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare
Pearlwort, procumbent or mossy Sagina procumbens
Pignut Conopodium majus
Quaking Grass Briza media
Ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
Raspberry Rubus idaeus
Reed Phragmites communis
Reedmace, common Typha latifolia
Self heal Prunella vulgaris
Sharp-flowered Rush ? Juncus acutifloris
Silverweed Potentilla anserina
Slender False Brome Brachypodium sylvaticum
Soft Rush Juncus effusus
Speedwell, brooklime Veronica beccabunga
Speedwell, germander Veronica chamaedrys
Speedwell, heath Veronica officinalis
Speedwell, thyme leaved Veronica serpyllifolia
Speedwell, wall Veronica arvensis
St Johnswort, square stalked ? Hypericum tetrapterum
Star sedge Carex echinata
Stitchwort, bog Stellaria uliginosa
Stitchwort, greater Stellaria holostea
Stitchwort, lesser Stellaria graminea
Stitchwort, marsh Stellaria palustris
Storksbill Erodium cicutarium
Sweet Vernal Grass Anthoxanthum odoratum
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
Valerian, marsh Valeriana dioica
Vetch, bitter Lathyrus linifolius
Vetch, bush Vicia sepium
Vetch, common Vicia sativa
Vetch, tufted ? Vicia cracca
Water Horsetail Equisetum fluviatile
Water crowfoot, pond Ranunculus aquatilis
Woundwort, hedge Stachys sylvatica
Yellow iris or Flag Iris pseudacorus

© Ryedale Natural History Society 2012. Photos © Gill Smith, Keith Gittens 2012 Back to the Home page