Thursday, 21 May 2015

Holly Ferns and other ferns are on the way!

This years "Holly Ferns" are on their way - here the "crozier" are just opening up

Thursday 28th May 2015 - Hutton Roof from the Clawthorpe Side 0915hrs to 1100hrs IN SEARCH OF BEECH FERNS AND SANICLE

Because of the strong winds (some 25 mph) and noisy with it I decided today to search out and rediscover some of the Beech Ferns and Sanicle to the East Side of Hutton Roof.  This meant traversing through the woodland areas on that side, rather than being in the open spaces.

It was a good morning and I managed to locate my original Beech Fern site which has now gone on record with a correct gps.  Also I had decided to try and find more place where the Sanicle was growing and I also had more success here. I also found a area with ten Common Twayblades, although still very small in growth as yet. But there large basal leaves gave them away from their well hidden location. Had a nice deep blue coloured group of Common Milkwort.  Also found about three locations of the Broad Buckler Ferns.

I did manage to pick up on two separate Garden Warblers (one new area) which again have been recorded. Also had a group of Redpoll near to the Parking area.  It was lovely listening to them singing with their various contacts but the main calls were "Witty Witty Choo" followed by that long trill.  I also managed to record a new Chiffchaff location. A Skein of 10 Greylag Geese went overhead noisy and heading to the East. (1045hrs) Also had a "Windhover" hovering overhead!

With it being so windy it was difficult to hear the birds, so I missed the Yellowhammers and the Tree Pipits.

Wednesday 27th May 2015 - Plain Quarry to Hutton Roof and return via Lancelot Clark Storth and back into Dalton from Storth Wood.  1000hrs to 1530hrs (KENDAL U3A GUIDED WALK)

It kept dry until about 1430hrs, but then started raining and made it very slippy crossing over the Limestone Pavements, in fact it caught us out at the point of no return, right in the middle of the pavement.  Also throughout it was cloudy and had that westerly cold air flow again just like it has throughout the year so far.  Just occasionally from about 1300hrs you got odd moments of sun trying to break through.

It was great to be leading a party of about approximately 20 persons from the Kendal U3A who wanted to see some of the flora and fauna (and occasional avifauna) of Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof and Lancelot Clark Storth. I got the impression everyone seemed to enjoy their walk.

I have made a list below of the different species we had throughout our walk. No sunshine and so No butterflies!

But of special interest today was a visit to the Green Spleenwort's, the rare Holly Ferns, the Rigid Buckler Ferns, the Angular Solomon's Seal, the Birds Foot Sedge and the natural sculptures of Rob Roy and the Resting Swans.

We noticed a couple of the Broad Leaved Helliborines had started to show and were between 2" and 5" high.  Also Sanicle had started coming through and still in its early stages with the pinkish flowers long before they change to a white flowerhead.  The Angular Solomon's Seal seems to be doing well this year with the majority not showing flowers yet! however we did manage to see some already in flower whilst on Lancelot Clark Storth, and just goes to show the differences of the flowering period with this species. Without doubt this year so far has offered exceptionally high yields of Dog Violets and Early Purple Orchids.

Avifauna: (seen or heard today) 16 species.

Willow Warblers (lots probably a score), Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Robin, Tree Pipit (2 or 3) Buzzard, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Cuckoo (heard), Dunnock, Blackcap, Skylark. Meadow Pipit, Swallow. Sparrowhawk

Flora species: (seen today) 50 species.

Hairy Rockcress, Thyme Leaved Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Primrose, Cowslip, Dog Violet, Wild Strawberry, Tormentil, Dandelion, Daisy, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Woodruff, Sanicle, Broad Leaved Helliborine. Lily Of The Valley, Angular Solomon's Seal, Brooklime, Birds Foot Trefoil, Early Purple Orchids, Wood Sorrell, Zig Zag Clover, Bugle, Lords and Ladies (or Cuckoo Pint), Ramsons, Bluebell, Fairy Foxglove (Plain Quarry), Biting Stonecrop, Spring Sandwort, Hawkweeds (various), Wall Lettuce, Sow Thistle, Common Cowwheat, Ground Ivy, Yellow Pimpernel. Enchanters Nightshade, Dogs Mercury, Pale St. Johns Wort (early stages), Epipactis Schmalhauseneii (last years stalk), Common Milkwort, possible Heath Milkwort, Herb Robert,  Red Clover, Gorse, Hawthorn. Hazel, Lady's Mantle, Garlic Mustard (Plain Quarry) Cuckoo Flower, Travellors Joy, Lesser Meadow Rue, Lesser Stitchwort,                                                                                                                                                                    
Flora (fern) species: (seen today) 11 species.

Holly Fern, Green Spleenwort, Brittle Bladder Fern, Hard Fern, Rigid Buckler Fern, Limestone Fern, Harts Tongue Fern, Southern Polypody, Common Polypody, Bracken. Rusty Back Fern.

Saturday 23rd May 2015 - Plain Quarry to Dalton Crags  1400hrs to 1500hrs

Cuckoo calling from at first the Crag House side and East to Plain Quarry, then eventually moved over into Dalton Crags and possibly the top of Lancelot.

First showing of "Small Heath" Butterfly on lower Dalton Crags, seem to be enjoying the Wild Strawberry and grasses thereabout.  Also over the last few days noticed the odd Green Veined White flying.

Found a new "Hairy Rockcress" flower on Dalton Crags upper (deforested).  I have recorded the area by gps, although I do have a small population of them already recorded at about 150 yards away from where this specimen is.

Just informed by my friend Alec, that a Osprey has gone over Dalton Hamlet at 1700hrs today.

Friday 22nd May 2015 - Hutton Roof from Clawthorpe Side overlooking Kelker Well 0930hrs to 1130hrs.

Everywhere is a garden
Shrouded in low mist with visibility down to about 50 yards at best, but it did not worry me for today I had set my sights on searching out any possible new "Woodruff" sites on the Kelker side of Hutton Roof, expecting if there were any it should be located easy enough by searching out the woodland floors.  Also I would have the added bonus of recording any new Warblers singing whilst traversing this route. I always reckon that if I can record at least one new thing per day, then I am doing well and happy.  Well today was again a very special day recording several more new finds.
Early Purple orchids have done marvellous this year and could be seen regular especially on the approaches before the canopied woodland. Also good showings of Wood Anemone, Cowslips, Dog Violets and has you entered the woodland you started to find lots of Wood Sorrell.

Soon after starting off I could hear that special call which stands out so much with that buzzing finish towards the end, yes it was "A little bit of bread" but without the "no cheese".  A new site for the Yellowhammer, great to see it here and presume its one of the offspring from last year finding itself a suitable territory.  A couple of pairs of Linnets were knocking about and calling regular.  Throughout the walk I must have said good morning to at least a dozen "Willows", one of my favourite little Warblers and thinking whilst walking of what a beautiful name "Willow" it's a name I have always loved since I first heard it whilst watching the Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland cult classic "The Wickerman".

Mossy, Intricate, Eerie, Nature
Looking at the moss covered intricate forms just held you spellbound especially on a misty day like today when it added to the experience and made things look and feel eerie, I just had to stop and try and take in this splendour of nature of this very situation were coppicing had taken place years ago and everything around had become entangled by a mossy covering. So many times I have passed this same place, usually walking past with haste without really taking it in.  I know something I will never take it for granted again! I have put a photo on this blog, and now I have also put another 22 photos of the moss covered woods  on which you can access by clicking here

I started to see these beautiful ferns, some of the small ones were actually clinging to the trunk of a small tree, but most of the others were widespread on the woodland floor. I think they are called Beech Fern, but not too sure about it and must consult with my friend Alec, the man who will definately know. I remember Alec telling me a while back that the Oak Fern and the Beech Fern had lots of similarity.  I think the decision maker for me had to be the shape of the bottom two pinnule which seem to go back down on themselves similar sort of thing you see with Polypodys. - Now confirmed they are Beech Ferns

Further on and coming out into the open I could hear repetitive calls from a Redstart which obviously was somewhere in the woodland edges to the bottom side of Hutton Roof.  This was another new record for today.

 "Beech Fern" please click over to enlarge

Thursday 21st May 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  0900hrs to 1130hrs

I suppose it started whilst on my way to Plain Quarry, when I abruptly stopped the car in the lane to allow Mr. Hare to pass across the lane, he hesitated at first, but I had already guessed where he really wanted to go! and although at first he started to do a detour to get out of my way, but when he noticed I had stopped he quickly re cordinated and went across the lane just in front of me to the place where he really wanted to be the nice open fields.

Then after just going through the small Dalton Hamlet, a pair of brightly coloured bullfinches lifted in front of the car, the male trailing and showing off his well colourful plumage, they went off in the direction of "Dicken Lane".

So starting off today from Plain Quarry I guess it was all about doing a part rekkie, in readiness for a guided walk I am leading next week. Its not so much that I need to learn about the area, because its somewhere I go most days of the year and know it well (although let me add I am always learning more and more has each day passes), but more because of the varied flora depending on what time of the year you visit, the programme requires regular "tweaking" to get the times right in "species/time of the year cordinations".  Some people like to see and spend more time visiting lots of "Ferns" others like to see lots of varied "Flowers", a lot like to see and hear the "Birds", odd parties love to see the fantastic limestone pavements we have up here, but the majority of people usually want a mixed bag with a bit of allsorts! and they are the parties I like best, the ones that want a bit of allsorts....

So starting off from the car park at Plain Quarry it was interesting to see the quarry ledges already opening up in colour with colonies of the lovely "Fairy Foxglove" staring down on you, whilst at the same time being serenaded by a closeby choir of Warblers comprising of two Garden Warblers, a Blackcap and a Willow Warbler, and finally a Chiffchaff, all singing their little hearts out as though they had been delayed with their timely "Dawn Chorus".  When its like this you feel reluctant to move on, you could just stay there and take it all in or even better just shut your eyes and absorb the wonderful sounds of nature!

"Young Hard Fern Fronds"
Less than 50 yards further on and just by the base of the cutting in the limestone escarpment, I checked out the early growths of Brittle Bladder Fern and the Hard Fern, of which the latter did look strange in its "infancy" with baby fronds upright and full of teeth before reaching the crozier.

Past the open area where usually the Song Thrush is singing and were "Self Heal" will before long carpet the floors and odd tufts of the extreme resilient Slender Rush will appear central to the track. Up through the lower Crags and near to the best spot around for Lily of the Valley (not yet!) and where the sides of the tracks are lined with Wild Strawberry and sometimes Barren Strawberry. Not today but on most days here you would see and hear the tumbling, parachuting display and calls of the rare Tree Pipit.

Soon at the top of the lower Crags, you come to a lovely little spot where you can look straight across over to Morecambe Bay with the sunshine shimmering the waters in the far off estuary.  Closeby to here (within yards) is a nice little patch of the rare "Hutton Roof" speciality called "Angular Solomon's Seal" and on the opposite side there is plenty of the other rare speciality the "Rigid Buckler Fern".  Also if you look close enough you will see the fresh lovely "Limestone Fern" as it looks up at you from within its chosen grykes!

So leaving the low crags and now entering the Dalton Crags (deforested) or upper section, straight away I could hear the Cuckoo calling to my right hand side and as though it was somewhere down to the East side of the Plain Quarry, I was to hear him again on my return but this time he had moved across the central deforested area of Dalton Crags and again singing closeby.  I never heard any Green Woodpeckers "yaffling" which I more or less hear on a daily basis, can only think they will be busy somewhere raiding one of the many "ant" mounds which lie within Dalton Crags. Still lots of Cowslips about with Early Purple Orchids showing up, the Tormentil is becoming more plentiful by the day just like the Birds Foot Trefoil.

"Rob Roy"
click over photo to enlarge
(see below for enhanced version)
"By the line of Trees" I make some notes about "I must not to forget to mention to the party" about the rare "White Wild Tyme" which shows up annually at a little spot "just over there". And also close to hear you get the lovely "Lesser Whitethroat" nesting.  Today he is quiet, but as a rule when he starts singing you just can't shut him up. In his place this morning, we have "Sky" the lark way up in the sky from over on the Crag House side.

Reaching the Trig Point and searching out the rare Spring Sandwort, more Early Purple Orchids, the Black Spleenwort (Fern), Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrell, and thinking that next month we will have the rare Heath Fragrant Orchid and the Northern Bedstraw on these doorsteps.

Still this morning I pressed on and checked out the "Green Spleenworts" the rare "Holly Ferns" and "Rob Roy".  Oh I guess I need to explain just who "Rob Roy" is, well he is a soldiers face born in the limestone of Hutton Roof and you would struggle to see the face if you did not know where he was until I pour water over him and let it run down and then you see (or I hope you do!) the rugged soldiers face staring up at you..

Wow! this Song Thrush here just was worth stopping to listen to, I tried to write it down what he was saying, but he was going so fast it was impossible to keep up with him.  Good job I learnt Pitman's Shorthand all them years ago! but no in reality, it would not have helped in the slightest, but I did manage to get some of what he was saying!  I could have stayed listening to him for hours what a repertoire he has, absolutely mind boggling and brilliante!


"twisiwick", "twisiwick", "twisiwick",
"woowit", "woowit", "woowit", "woowit",
"cherrurrub" "cherrrurrub" "cherrurub",
"Weeoh", "weeoh", "weeoh",
"tuwhit", "tuwhit", "tuwhit","tuwhit"
then lots of jingle jangles etc etc etc.
"Wi-wi-wi-wi-wi" "Wi-wi-wi-wi-wi",
"Cherpuhugh", Cherpuhugh", Cherpuhugh",
"Whit", "Whit", "Whit", "Whit".
"Layla", "layla", "layla"
"Choo" "Choo", "Choo".
"Whit", "Weeit", "Weeit"
Then a pure Wolf Whistle done once!
"Wi", "Wi", "Wi", "Wi", etc
"hello", "hello", "hello", "hello".
"Wihoo", "Wihoo", "Wihoo, "Wihoo".

It likes to sing in regular three or four syllabel notes before he gets fed up and moves on, he is without doubt for me the MASTER!  Well done TURDUS I will come again and have a proper listen next time!  without (me) rushing!

I guess I could go on for ages, theres far more to tell than this (even todays activities), but we will save that for another day.

Rob Roy (as above but enhanced!)

Other stuff seen or to mention: Tree Pipits throughout (Dalton deforested)  and just as you come on the Common at least 6 birds singing. To mention: Zig Zag Clover, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrell, Herb Robert, Garden Warbler on top of Common. Linnets singing near Trig. Sanicle, Broad Leaved Helliborine, Dark Red Helliborine, Variants of same. The dreaded Dogs Mercury, the lovely Woodruff and its petals tasting of "Vanilla". Fly Orchids, Pale St Johns Wort (our variation) Epipactis Schmalhauseneii etc etc etc etc......... GOSH!!  it goes on and on and on - and that's just the start of it!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Our Cuckoos are back

(Please click over photo to enlarge)

Wednesday May 20th 2015 - Dalton Crags (Lower) Nr. Plain Quarry sides 1030 to 1230hrs.

Just parked up in Plain Quarry and putting on my wellington boots, I could hear this faint jingle jangle which to be honest with you didnt really absorb my attention, but then "I woke up" and instead of it sounding like some of the regular Goldfinch, I also heard "the spinning coin" oh! I wondered could it be?  the "Wood Warbler".  At this point I am praying for just another sweet jingling call, but nothing! nothing! nothing! sods law I suppose, I waited and waited for over ten minutes in the same place without a trace of a call, so through this I changed my plans and instead of going up on the Fells, I thought I'll check out the low areas around Plain Quarry, to both its West and East sides, hoping I might just pick up on that rare sound again, but sadly not!  Its strange because this has happened here before last year and the year before, I am sure I have just caught the sound of the Wood Warbler, but never been able to get it conclusive!  Even if it had been it would obviously have been a bird just stopping off, so it still remains a mystery! Another one for the maybe book!  

Still lots of warblers about with Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Two Swifts were seen hawking above the canopy.  Also a Blackbird opened up singing with a "Curlew" mimic, I've heard this often enough coming from a Song Thrush, but can honestly say its the first time I have heard it coming from a Blackbird! Also had the odd Bullfinch making its sad "pee-u" plaintive call.

Even the swaying mature trees today were having their say and making strange noises in the wind! at times were scary with their creaking sudden noises!

I found a nice section of about 12ft diameter of Yellow Pimpernel (see photo to right), amongst lots of Wild Strawberries and bluebells. Also lots of "Fairy Foxglove" coming through on the cliff edges of the old limestone quarry. (see photo top left)

Early Purple Orchids

Tuesday May 19th 2015 - Burton Fell approached from Clawthorpe Side 1400hrs to 1630hrs

It was off and on showers, so kitted up and off, first of all checking how the old "Woodruff" was doing. The lovely white flowers are just starting to pop through, so another couple of weeks and it should be looking fine.  Usually can't resist to chew on one of the small outright "winged" leaves, they have a taste of "vanilla".  I believe its a herb, but if you have too much of it could even be dangerous.  The plant is a indicator of "ancient woodland" and grows in about four places up on Hutton Roof.

"White Specimen of EPO"
Still no Redstarts in song at Burton Fell which is a surprise, but sometimes they can be late I guess! but did have a new Chiffchaff having taken up a new territory.  I think it will be a young bird probably a offspring from last year.

The main reason I headed up to Burton Fell today was to check out the Early Purple Orchids right at the top of the Fell and sure enough I must have seen hundreds, in fact probably more like a thousand or so.  Some of them with the most beautiful of "magenta" colours whilst lots of them were all different shades, even found two white specimens and some specimens half magenta and half white in colour. I dont think I can recall seeing so many up there, most of them were in small groups. It wont be long before I am up here searching out the Dark Red Helliborines or the Broad Leaved Helliborines.

50/50 specimen EPO

I would have gone further across the Fell and checked out the Green Hairstreak butterflies which will be enjoying the small patches of "bilberry", but the weather is not right at the moment. The off and on showers and dark skies are holding them up! always another day.

I also looked for early Fly Orchids in a spot I know, but could not find them!  there again with the fly orchid that's not unusual, they are so difficult to see at the best of times and you can be going straight past them!

Saturday May 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Lancelot Clark Storth 0900hrs to 1200hrs

Today I started off from midway along the avenue of the "Nineteen Trees" just after the delightful hamlet of Dalton. I had been tipped off by a friend Robert about a "White" Early Purple Orchid over in Lancelot Clark Storth and for a change decided to take this "direct as the crow flies route", a route I have taken many times before.  Immediately on going through the Forestry Gates, the track was lined with several large piles of recent harvested "beech" wood which looked so forlorn and waiting for the truck to come and collect them to take them off to make firewood or mulch, and maybe some of them will be lucky and turned into charcoal.

I passed the "long gone" summer house area on the left and expected to hear "Summer" the Chiffchaff, but not today.  But it was so pleasant to be serenaded by a line of Blackcaps, I have previously recorded the odd bird at this spot but it continued over about 200 yards with a further two birds singing away, and I wondered whether or not these were offspring males from the established pair or whether it was simply I had just missed them before when I was doing my counts!
A White "Early Purple Orchid"
(Photo: Robert Ashworth)

I left the main track by the "Goldcrest" trees and headed into thick woodland and just by chance I looked up into the canopy and saw a startled Buzzard negotiating a exit strategy which seemed to take it through the upper tight branches of the trees.  It was silent and carried out with much skill and stealth, it ran through my mind that if that had been a Woodpigeon, there would have been such a racket of fluttering flapping wings and broken branches.

I passed another area which the floor was covered with Wood Sorrell, perhaps a area of some 30 yards in diameter, and lots of fresh Harts Fern shoots coming through.

Soon reaching Lancelot, I was finding Early Purple orchids everywhere, in fact scores with some of them so striking in their individual pattern and some with such a beautiful "magenta".  I had been given a clue to where the special "White" one was, but I searched and searched and searched and spent maybe over one hour but could not find it anywhere,  I was seeing nearby recent deer droppings and used the excuse well maybe the deer have chomped on the precious flower, who knows! Thankfully I had kindly been sent a photo by Robert (photo shown here).

Legs worn out with all the tramping It was lovely just to sit on the nearby Memorial Seat and take in what on was on offer to the eye, with the distant Morecambe Bay, working out just where Pine Lakes or Dockacres were, and to sit there absorbing the many shades of greens which lie directly to the front and sides of where I was sat.

I could not resist but clamber over to the nearby pavements to see how the rare Pale St. Johns Wort was doing! and sure enough new sprouting lilac tainted green leaves had just started to show!

On the way back its was grand to hear both "Miss A Note" and "Speedy" the resident Chiffchaffs were busy singing away in their "unique" repertoire and at the very spots which they take up their annual summer residence - well done lads.  Also odd Blackcap and another special welcome to the resident Garden Warbler.

Friday May 15th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1100hrs

Still that underlying cool air flow, but still sunny and pleasant.  All the regular Warblers were calling from around the Plain Quarry car park with Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers along with most of the commoner species.

Three Cornered Garlic
Tree Pipits all singing and occasional display but still rather subdued compared to previous years. A new Garden Warbler singing from somewhere around where the "Line of Trees" is in Dalton deforested, cant tell yet whether this one is a new one in or whether its the one from yesterday, moved down a bit! time will tell.  Lesser Whitethroat was seen just higher up than the Gully, but no song offered today.  At last the Cuckoo was heard from over in Lancelot Clark Storth and I am told from a good source that the birds (yes birds!) did eventually come back over into Dalton Crags (upper).

Friday May 15th 2015 - Walk alongside the River Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale 1500 - 17000hrs

Nice pleasant walk with lots of Ramsons everywhere, but not smelling of garlic so much at the moment, but come back in a week or two and the garlic aroma will then be so strong as to take over everywhere.  Also of special interest I found the Three Cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) and checking it out yesterday evening with the County Recorder he tells me it is only the third ever record for the County and a first for old "Westmorland" So just how that got there remains a complete mystery!  I have taken a photo with my phone and attached here (click over to enlarge).

Thursday May 14th 2015 - Clawthorpe Lane side of Hutton Roof and Clawthorpe Fell (Low) 1500 to 1700hrs

Birds Foot Sedge
Carex Ornithopoda
First of all went and checked out the Clawthorpe Lane side of Hutton Roof, but again windy and difficult at times to hear anything, but did manage to hear Linnets, a very subdued Tree Pipit and a bubbling Garden Warbler which was very nice.  Lots of Early Purple Orchids, some with a very deep Magenta.

Then came down and checked out Clawthorpe Fell (low) and noticed that the rare Spring Cinquefoil was having its best year yet with many more flowers than usual, although much spaced out.

Also the "Red Data" rarity the Birds Foot Sedge was coming through in plenty and I remember counting them on the Fell a couple of years ago and managed to count around 820 plants on various parts of the Fell. Check out the photo above and click over to enlarge.  You can see why its called the Birds Foot Sedge, just look at them "talons".... I have now been fortunate to locate six sites on Hutton Roof for this species some with just 2 or 3 but some sites with over 600 clumps.  So here it seems to be doing well.  There is also a site in Derbyshire where it thrives.

Also Spring Sandwort, Barren Strawberry, Herb Robert, Fairy Flax  and the first of the year for me Thyme Leaved Speedwell.

Early Purple Orchid

Wednesday May 13th 2015 - Slape Lane, into Burton Fell (lower), then into Lancelot Clark Storth (near to Pickles Wood) and back across through fields.  1400hrs to 1700hrs.  "Mr. Nasty" the squirrel is up to his old tricks and stealing all the birds eggs!

"The sun was cracking the slates" That meant, boots on and out!  No way was I stopping in, "By Golly" lets get out and about.  So a long walk starting from Slape Lane (Slape = Slippery in Cumbria) but walking so casual as to be almost "stopped" looking here, and looking there and looking everywhere!  Just thought I would check out the Warblers, in particular to try and see the Redstart down by the Plinth at the Bottom of Burton Fell. Listed all the birds and flowers which I was fortunate to see today:

THE FLOWERS WERE (30):  Red Campion, Stitchwort, Garlic Mustard, Lords and Ladies, Lesser Celandine, Bluebells, Purple Vetch, Dandelion, Daisy, Cuckoo Flower, Germander Speedwell, Ramsons, Hawthorn in bloom, Stinging Nettle, Cleavers, Wild Strawberry, Barren Strawberry, Dogs Mercury, Bugle, Wood Anemone, Wood Avens, Dog Violet, Early Purple Orchids, Woodruff, Herb Paris, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, the rare Spring Sandwort, the rare Spring Cinquefoil, Birds Foot Trefoil, Lily of the Valley (not in flower yet), new growths of Harts Tongue Fern - thats almost 30 different species.  I suppose it would have been more if I had my "small magnifying glasses".

THE BUTTERFLIES (4): Orange Tips - 3 males, Peacocks (several), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Brimstone. It was great in particular to see the Torts, they still have not made their recovery from their massive crash which was almost ten years ago now.  The numbers have increased slightly but nothing like the amounts we used to get!

BIRDS (9): Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Great Tit, Nuthatch (two), Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Willow Warblers (several)  One of the Chiffchaffs was SPEEDY which I named about three years ago, because he calls "Chiff Chaff" in a speedy gonzales fashion, so fast without coming up for air.  He's back exactly in the same place within Lancelot Clark Storth.

Also whilst in Lancelot Clark Storth, I noticed that Mr Nasty the Grey Squirrel had been on his rounds and even a year on he was up to his old tricks, taking birds eggs at least up to 10 Song Thrush and half a dozen Blackbird eggs and depositing the spent shells or half shells in the tyre track depletions made by forestry vehicles, it was in exactly the same place as last year, he's also done another track with spent Pheasant and Blackbirds eggs.  He must now be responsible for taken dozens of wild bird eggs.  But why does he keep placing the spent shells in the tracks and the same places, really strange!

Wednesday May 13th 2015 - 0900hrs - 1100hrs "Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof"

Although a beautiful sunny day, there is STILL that underlying "chill" and I think this is what's holding things back - the tree pipits are very subdued although they are calling and displaying but very spasmodic and you don't have that continual activity which we have become used to.  Also the Cuckoos could not be heard anywhere. Some of the flora and butterflies are also slightly behind, but there is still plenty to hear and see.
It looks like the Garden Warblers are back in full force now and could be heard singing at about 3/4 way up the top of Dalton Crags deforested, and lots as you come down to the lower Crags.  I have always noticed that when the Garden Warblers come in force the "Blackcaps" seem to go more subdued and fade more into the background, strange but that's how I have found it.
I had two Northern Greenland Wheatear called off on "Wheatear Plain" in Dalton  Crags, I was saying to myself "now come on Wheatears get a move on your very late for your mega migration, which could well be to Iceland or Greenland or the Faroe Isles."
Lovely this morning to be so close to the Lesser Whitethroats and could get really close observations and to me they always look so pure! with a strong white belly and that sort of bluish grey around the head.  Singing away with that repetitive quickening jumbled chatter and sudden stop!  I think both territories have been taken up again this year.
St. Mark's Fly-both sexes here in photo
Two separate Swallows cross over to the North on passage whilst I was there.Other birds seen and heard included Bullfinch, Blackcap, Buzzard, Redpoll, 2 Jays. Skylark.
Flora is coming through now with lots of Early Purple Orchids (see photo), also Wood Sorrell, Bugle and Wild Strawberry, Cowslips and Primrose, I had my first Tormentils and first Hawkweeks this morning and also the Ferns are also starting to come through especially Hutton Roof's speciality the Rigid Butler Fern.
There were absolute swarms of the St Mark's Fly everywhere throughout upper Dalton, definately imminent hatches were taking place.  I always call this the poor man's "May Fly".  It always reminds me of the Mayfly especially with its legs dangling. (check out photo)

Monday May 11th 2015 - 0930hrs to 1100hrs "Newclose and Majors Nursery, Dalton Hall Est  "Redstarts"

Checking out Warblers from the other side of Dalton.  Usually have several Redstarts, but today was windy and putting a lot off from singing, although I did have one belting it out about 100 yards west of the Water Board Meter Station, from the ancient trees lining the middle of the field.  Also over this side had the odd Blackcap and at least 3 Chiffchaffs, lots of Willow Warblers, a Redpoll, Buzzard and Song Thrush.  Did not hear one Tree Pipit and would expect at least 5 or 6 over this side.  They will start singing soon.

A bonus on the way back in I stopped at the bottom of "Dicken Lane" just has it joins Dalton Lane, and straight away across the other side of the road a Redstart was singing away. Another new site for the records.

Sunday May 10th 2015 - 0900hrs to 1100hrs "Checking out Dalton Crags Nr. Plain Quarry"

Checking out the Warblers around the Plain Quarry areas to both the West side and East Side.

Lots of Willow Warblers in all the usual places. I had at least four calling Blackcaps, three Garden Warblers, Three Chiffchaffs (which included Henry from Quarry Wood).  Also had three Song Thrush singing odd Nuthatch and odd Treecreeper.

Never noted any Redstarts today, but will certainly get them on Quarry Wood Side of Dalton. Also the Tree Pipits wernt singing today.  Could only see four Swifts hawking over the Village.

Saturday May 9th 2015 - 0430hrs to 0600hrs "Dawn Chorus walk at Park Wood, Hutton Roof.  "Redstarts and a further Cuckoo"

Unfortunately the weather was not so good with almost continual light rain, but we continued and it was really enjoyable with the birds exploding into a very loud and full "Dawn Chorus" which lasted for some 45 minutes.  The predominent species to the chorus was the regulars we have come to expect like Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin and Wren, but as we went further into our walk we then started to hear Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.  At the far end of the walk we were extremely lucky to hear two male Redstarts singing away with their quick buzzing type call.  On our way back we were graced with a Garden Warbler quietly bubbling in the distance.  So in total we had 14 species as follows: Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap (up to 5), Garden Warbler, Common Redstart (2).

Further "Cuckoo" has been reported from up near the Rakes on Hutton Roof (one of its regular haunts).  It is believed the bird came in on the 7th May 2015.

Friday May 8th 2015 - 0900hrs to 1030hrs Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof "Lesser Whitethroats are back"

Noted singing Chiffchaff and lots of Willow Warblers. Also heard Cuckoo which was in fine voice coming from over in the Crag House areas to the South East side of Dalton Crags.  It was calling with a plaintive "Cuckoo" which for the past two years on arrival it has been calling with a Cuck (cough) and its took a couple of weeks before it usually got his voice back.  But today it was calling without problem.
It was brilliant to see two Lesser Whitethroats which were busy singing away near to the Gully area of Dalton Crags deforested.  Thats one pair in and one pair still to come.
Lots of Tree Pipits calling and displaying especially just as you enter the Common.

Thursday May 7th 2015 - 0730hrs:  "Cuckoo's are back"
Just reliably informed that two of our Cuckoos are back on territory on Dalton Crags.

from last night (2000hrs)
Also from a brief walk along the Main Street in Burton In Kendal yesterday evening there was at least ten Swifts back and hawking the skies above the village.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Charlie's Memorial Walk "Trowbarrow, Haweswater and Gait Barrow"

Tuesday 4th May 2015 - Leighton Moss to Gait Barrows via the Trough, Trowbarrow, Haweswater and return. 1045hrs to 1600hrs

Photo: Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Charles Payne)

Today was a very special memorial walk with fifteen of us treading the steps were our dear old friend Charlie had walked many times with his wife Chris. We started from the Leighton Moss and straight away were priviliged to see a male Marsh Harrier quartering the reedbeds. It was not long before we were heading up the trough but just as we started our ascent, it was great to see four returning Swifts hawking the skies above us, the first of the year and keeping to their regular schedule arrival date of May 4th.  On the way up we were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the Chiffchaffs and distant interrupted bubbling coming from some Blackcaps.
In Trowbarrow itself it was a lovely sight with not only climbers attempting "Alladins Sane" and "Hunky Dory" but also the quick glimpse of a Shelduck quickly flying off to get away from the Bank Holiday mayhem!  We left the quarry heading down the incline towards the old Trowbarrow Lime Works stopping midway at the area where Charlie had managed to find the rare White Letter Hairstreak several years earlier, I showed the party his photo of that very butterfly which he had taken at the time and also another photo he had taken of its cousin the Green Hairstreak (see photo), a photo which has always been a special favourite to several of us on the walk today.
After crossing the railway line at the bottom we were soon on Moss Lane making our way to Haweswater, it was nice to see all the Field Garlic or Wild Onion bordering the road, I remember in years past failing miserably to try and count just how many of the rare species there was and gave up after reaching a staggering amount of 3000 plus.
Another very special place and pertinent to todays walk was Haweswater which borders the Gait Barrows Nature Reserve.  I pointed out to the group that soon there would be the rare Birds Eye Primrose and Butterwort and nearby Marsh Fragrant Orchids to add to the splendour. Today we were too early for these, but certainly not too late!
Onward and Upward it was shouted by one of the party! we arrived at the gateway to Gait Barrows, passing on our right a recently deforested area which had a floor carpeted with Primrose and the beautiful Wood Anemone shining through them like little "white stars".  Through the gate and ascending the beautiful limestone rocky crags to find the area across from the Gait Barrows beacon and a suitable place to sit down for lunch.
All fed and watered we carried on the perimeters of Gait Barrows, and it wasnt long before we all stopped in our tracks to witness the most amazing spectacle of a fabulous fresh in its prime Green Hairstreak butterfly "showing off" its splender to us all whilst it surveyed and fed on a sun dazzling yellow dandelion within a metre of where we were stood.  You dont normally get a special viewing like this, normally they are too flitty to get good views, but it was quite obvious to some of us that this was a very special butterfly indeed, and it was as if it wanted to show us it was there!
As we continued our walk we were fortunate to see Brimstones, Orange Tips (males and females!), and lots and lots of Peacocks, of which some were high in the sky, some jostling in courtship and some just lying on the ground being much laid back with outspread wings taking in the warm sun.   We were all looking out for the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary amongst the many primrose settings, but he or his enterage did not seem to be in attendance today.
Also today we saw lots of colour in various forms of flowers about, like Bugle, Ramsons, Lords and Ladies, Dog Violets, and the beautiful Early Purple Orchids to name a few.
We left Gait Barrows with such a special memory and made our way back to the start.  What a lovely set of people had come along today for this beautiful memorial walk.

"The sun shone, to do its best,
For such a special day.
A Warbler sang above our heads,
And didnt want to go away.
A butterfly of green, from heaven,
Stopped us in our very path,
It was a sign to tell us all,
That everything is fine"

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Most of the Tree Pipits have arrived in Dalton.

This was a scene from last year from a nearby Dalton woodland

"My Dalton Crags deforested stomping grounds"
(Click over to enlarge)

The Tree Pipits of Dalton

Wednesday 6th May 2015 - Burton In Kendal Main St 200hrs to 2030hrs

10 Swifts now back and hawking above their territories at Manor House, Royal and Burton Memorial Hall.

Tuesday 5th May 2015 - Dalton Crags 1600hrs to 1615hrs

Craig and Craggy the Chiffchaffs were busy singing away, along with lots of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, but no Tree Pipits singing today.  One Greenland Wheatear seen on "Wheatear Plain", but still waiting for our late Cuckoos.

Monday 4th May 2015 - Burton In Kendal Main Street 2015hrs to 2030hrs  "Our Swifts have arrived"

Hurrah! our Swifts have arrived with two seen hawking in the skies high above Burton Memorial Hall and the surrounding areas. 

Friday 1st May 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs.

Lovely sunny morning but still got that underlying cold SE chill to it. Willow Warblers throughout and also 3 Blackcaps singing near Plain Quarry. Odd Chiffchaff calling.  At least 3 pairs of Tree Pipits calling but some other pairs remaining quiet. Two calling Yafflers.  Still no Cuckoo.

Thursday 30th April 2015 - Dalton Crags. 1700hrs to 1800hrs

Very quiet throughout with just Willow Warblers singing. Also Linnet calling at bottom of deforested - usual place.

Monday 27th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers down at Plain Quarry, and Willow Warblers were generally about.  First day with Linnets heard and seen in both Dalton Crags lower and also on the Common.  Two Greenland Wheatear at Wheatear Plain. Four Tree Pipits singing.

Sunday 26th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1130hrs

Down at the bottom of Dalton Crags there were lots of Willow Warblers, both Chiffchaffs, a couple of Blackcap and one Garden Warbler.

As I went into Dalton upper (deforested) I had several pairs of Tree Pipits who thankfully have all arrived back safely, just the odd bird singing and parachuting, they normally take a few days to warm up.  But they just do have that special song (probably my favourite).  Look forward to hearing them over the coming days.

One Wheatear feeding up on the Common, about 30 yards away from the Trig Point.

Pair of Buzzards, one male Kestrel.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Confusion of Willow Warblers

(Click over to enlarge)

Flying in the dark through a moonlit sky,
Falling from high like little angels,
Floating down on a wavering leaf,
The confusion has now begun.
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Daytime closed you was not seen,
Whilst morning wakes your plenty,
So tred so soft our leaf explorer,
A “bouquet” of special prize to us,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Your music is a descending tale,
Which finish the year hou whit,
A choir of pairs sings thy will,
A “Fall” would be a lot of thee,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Sylvia’s hand of lucid intricacy
You thread that weave so delicately,
To house and raise a splendid cast,
It’s a start to a “Wrench” fulfilled
Our dear little Willow Warbler 

Poem I wrote on April 10th 2015 - Other collective nouns for the Willow Warbler besides Confusion are: Bouquet, Fall and Wrench

Past Cuckoo arrival dates in Dalton Crags have been:
4th May 2011
27th April 2012
1st May 2013
28th April 2014

Friday April 24th 2015 - Whilst passing Holme Mills Lodge  1145hrs

There was at least a minimum of 50 varied hirundines hawking across the lodge including some of them resting on the telegraph wires.  In at least 90% of the cases they were Swallows with a few House Martins and a couple of Sand Martins. 

Thursday April 23rd 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs (MORE TREE PIPIT AND FIRST GARDEN WARBLER ARRIVALS)

Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and lots of Willow Warblers calling throughout.  Also two Wheatear on the Walls in Dalton deforested. Two new Tree Pipits arrived in Dalton Crags (lower) and one also singing in the recent deforested area top of Dalton Crags.  Also great to hear the first Garden Warbler of the year singing from the usual place near the first escarpment after leaving Plain Quarry.  Cuckoo should be with us any day now.  Also other notes include: Chiffchaff Archie showed up a couple of days ago at Orchard Close in Burton.  Also Church Bank Chiffchaff was singing away this morning.  

Wednesday April 22nd 2015 - Majors Nursery, Newclose and areas to South of Dalton 1400 to 1600hrs.

Went in the main to check out the Tree Pipits but none arrived as yet, but did manage to hear a single Redstart near to Quarry Wood. Had six separate Chiffchaffs calling and 30 calling Willow Warblers and at least two Blackcaps.

Tuesday April 21st 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1000hrs

At least three Blackcaps singing away at Plain Quarry along with one of the resident Chiffchaffs. Lots of Willow Warblers calling throughout. No Tree Pipits and No Wheatears today very quiet.

Monday April 20th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1300hrs to 1400hrs - TREE PIPIT

One of the Plain Quarry Chiffchaffs singing and Willow Warblers everywhere! but in general pretty quiet, but I put that down to the time of the day.

One great record was a new Tree Pipit has come into lower Dalton and was singing and displaying. Always something really special for me is the Tree Pipit.

Besides this I had a Roebuck that was watching me from about 50 yards away and seemed almost tame, in fact it seemed rather reluctant to move away.  You could plainly see the small antlers thickened out with their lovely velvet coat.  Also a little shrew went "like the clappers" across my path.  I also noticed a lovely coloured beetle crossing the path it was a lime green irridescent sort of colouring. Lots of Peacock butterflies in attendance. 

Saturday April 18th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1100hrs to 1230hrs (BLACKCAP and TREE PIPIT ARRIVALS)

At Plain Quarry just one of the Chiffchaffs were singing, but it was great to hear two Blackcaps singing which had obviously come in during the last 48 hours. Also had 3 Greenland Wheatear 1 male and 2 female in Dalton deforested.  Also a single Tree Pipit which did a display close to the gate leading onto the Common.

Farleton Side - Newbiggin Crags  1300 to 1500hrs

Had a pair of Wheatear on hillside behind Whinn Yeates, lots of Willow Warblers singing. Two Swallows back on territory at Whinn Yeates. Yellowhammers still not back on territory.

Friday April 17th 2015 - Yealand Storrs, Leighton Moss, The Trough, Trowbarrow Quarry, Haweswater and Gait Barrows returning via Yealand Allottments to Yealand Storrs 0930hrs to 1330hrs.

Doing a test run of this 6 miles approx walk and on the way noticing quite a lot of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers who have now come in with good numbers, I probably had over a score in total of each species.  Also had 6 Blackcaps at various points of the walk (my first of the year).  I could hear Bearded Tits whilst travelling along the RSPB Leighton Moss causeway, several could be heard "pinging away" although they remained out of sight amongst the reedbeds.  Greylag Geese were very noisy and constantly flying over. Also activity from Shelduck.  Butterfly species included Peacock and Brimstone. Flora species included masses of Primula at Gait Barrows along with lots of Wood Anemone. First Bluebells on Yealand Allotments. Ground Ivy and lots of Dog Violets. Also at one point I saw my first Red Campion of the year. Also some old Hard Shield Fern whilst travelling up the Trough to Trowbarrow. Whilst stopping for lunch at "Haweswater" the Little Grebe could be heard.  Also I was "imitating the call of some nearby Chiffchaff who actually came very close to investigate who had entered their territory!

Thursday April 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1015hrs

Both Chiffs calling at Plain Quarry and all the Willow Warblers have returned and singing in Plain Quarry and Dalton areas along with the ones on Hutton Roof as well.

Never before have I counted so many "Greenland Wheatear". I had a clear 16 showing on Wheatear Plain in Dalton and there could well have been more. 

Just a single Swallow passing through, and only 3 Meadow Pipits crossing over. Green Woodpeckers heard yaffling away. 

My friend Robert Ashworth had a Ring Ouzel in Dalton deforested today and here are a couple of photos of the bird.  

Both of the above photos kindly sent to me by Robert Ashworth
(Click over photos to enlarge)

Monday April 13th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1130hrs

Both Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy were singing away at Plain Quarry. Up to seven Buzzards seen in the sky over Dalton with odd pairs interlocking and plummeting.  Dont know whether all these are all locals or some maybe passing through!

Up to 10 Willow Warblers in full song and some looking like they could well be holding territory from Trig Point to the North West at the area just before Uberash Roughs.  It obviously looks like this "confusion of Willow Warblers" must have something to do with family and associated family groups which have probably come through together, because again down in the bottom Dalton lower where you tend to get most of the Willow Warblers, there is still none present.  Yet all these on Hutton Roof are collectively in a small area at approx 850ft altitude which they have now been holding for at least three days. 

Had a single Martin in silhouette strangely making its way to the South.

Two Wheatear present on wall going up through Dalton deforested quite near to the Gully.

Lots of Yafflers as usual, but only 8 Meadow Pipits crossed over during the time I was present. 

Saturday April 11th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 0900hrs to 1015hrs "Osprey over Dalton"

The weather was far cooler this morning and there had also been a increase with the stronger Westerley winds.  The highlight this morning without doubt was a OSPREY going high over Dalton.  It was far off but easily recognizable through binoculars with the winding path it was taking but more important the give away for me was the tucked in "W" wing flight on plummet (similar to the Lapwing) which it was having to do regular because of the strong gusty winds and in addition to this the brilliant white showing from the underpart back end areas.  

The Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy in Plain Quarry were in full song, yet the Willow Warblers have not yet arrived down here on the lower grounds, yet the strange thing is that yesterday I had them a plenty at 800ft on the Common. Yes I guess it is "confusing".

Not a single Meadow Pipit crossed the path of Dalton and Hutton Roof which I was aware of.

I have only recently come across some great photography by Andy Holden with lots of subjects I like.  He has kindly sent me this small sampler here, but if you would like to see most of Andy's stuff on Flickr then click here or if you wish to check out his Wildlife album then click here. All photos strictly copyrighted to Andy

(Click over photo to enlarge)

Friday April 10th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 0845hrs to 1015hrs "Confusion of Willow Warblers"

The highlight of the morning was seeing a "Confusion of Willow Warblers" over on Uberash Roughs at a area where you dont normally get many of this species.  I had at least six singing birds, but also one or two I saw which where not singing, perhaps there could well have been more I had not detected.

Yet down at Plain Quarry and the lower Dalton areas where you expect to get the first Willow Warbler arrivals I have had not as yet.  However in this area it was nice to be greeted with our resident Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy.

Stonechats where seen up near the gully on the Dalton deforested midway point.  No Wheatears for me today and would you believe it, I counted the passing Meadow Pipits on one hand.  So this is strange because normally by now I would have expected over 100 plus per hour - lets blame it on changes in atmospheric pressure or something like that!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Northern Greenland Wheatears have arrived on Dalton Crags.

Please Click over sketch to enlarge - Sketch done in April 2013

Thursday April 9th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1200hrs

Both Chiffchaffs at Plain Quarry singing.  First Willow Warbler in partial song on the Common, also first Swallow at the Trig Point.  Had about 50 Meadow Pipits per hour going through to the North. Also had several Peacock butterflies and also a Brimstone at Plain Quarry Car Park. Odd Wheatear on Crag House side. Also, Redpoll and suspected Tree Pipit. 

Please click over sketch to enlarge

I wrote quick notes and got the gist to this poem whilst walking along Tarn Lane, Burton In Kendal on 9th April 2010 (5 years ago s today), when three Swallows went overhead "twittering away". My first Swallow sighting of the year and certainly "MOST WELCOME"...

Swallow, Swallow, Swallow, chatterboxes over my head,
Your twittering is so welcome, I've waited for this for,
Such a long time....
Spring is here!

Blue sky with white fluffy herringbone, breaches the heights,
Carpeted Celandine strew the path,
That gentle breeze runs between them,
Tells Me,
Spring is here!

Hedgerows levelled of Hawthorn in green,
Bramble arms reach out with anew,
Nettle and Dock stand side by side,
Spring is here!

Bumblebees search endlessly, surveying cave and den,
While Ladybirds, sway too and fro on breezy blades of grass,
Oh its so good to be alive and witness this some more,
Another year has come about,
Spring is here!

Wednesday April 8th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1115hrs
A beautiful day from the off with Meadow Pipits going over Dalton and Hutton Roof. Chiffchaff Craig has now been joined by Craggy this morning at Plain Quarry and they are both singing merrily away.  Its so good to see they have both arrived back safely. Green Woodpeckers were yaffling in the horsy laughs.

Stonechats were seen in upper Dalton along with a single Wheatear which was on the outcrops over on the Crag House side, so whether this is where the "Greenlands" where hiding, I dont know!, I'll bet they were but did not have time to check it out. 

Again another day goes past with NO SHRIKES who by now are probably set to cross the North Sea on their way back to Scandinavia, although it would still be a nice surprise if they where to show again. 

A late surprise to see a pair of Whooper Swans heading North up the Lune Valley and crossing Hutton Roof sides.

Meadow Pipits steadily trickling across the common with 60 seen in total over the hour (0945 to 1045hrs), although even this number did contain one party of 23 and another of 5 birds.

Also a great pleasure to be making a dull whistling "Tiuu" to some nearby Bullfinches which were happy to return my calls and become inquisitive. Also had Redpoll, Greenfinch passing through. 

Tuesday April 7th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1300hrs to 1600hrs

Craig the Chiffchaff was calling on my arrival at Plain Quarry. Just a few passing Meadow Pipits but quite a lot blogging in the Crags.  Also noted a pair of Stonechats.  Right on cue the first of the Leucorrhoa Wheatear birds have arrived with a party of at least six birds (five males and one female).  I feel confident they were Northern Greenland birds, the plumage stands out a mile in comparison to the O.Oenathe in 95% of the cases being very much darker, the birds far more upright, more colourful to the orange upper chest.  Where do you think the birds where seen?  on Dalton's Wheatear plain of course!!

Well well, I searched and I searched from the Cairns on Uberash Breast all the way through to the Trig Point and down across the South/South East ridges, but could not see any of the Shrikes.  I also spoke to other observers who had been up earlier and none of them saw the Shrikes either... So we will see over the next couple of days what the results are!

Earlier today I was getting a movement of Meadow Pipits down in Burton In Kendal of about 70 per hour all moving N/NW. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Great Grey Shrike re-appears on Hutton Roof etc

Click over sketch to enlarge

EASTER MONDAY 6th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof "

The Last sighting of the Shrikes"

1400hrs to 1700hrs - Hutton Roof was shrouded in low cloud but did make a attempt with lovely warm, and blue skies etc for some two hours, although never left the low areas and then it started creeping back up again at 1600hrs and filled in everywhere yet again, very similar situation to yesterday late afternoon.

On way up through Dalton managed to see a pair of Stonechats, also reported to me that a further two pairs where also seen over on Uberash Roughs on Hutton Roof Common. Also reports of 3 Sand Martin going over the Common at 0900hrs this morning. Yesterday's Wheatears could not be seen. 

I searched Uberash Roughs and the Common for Shrike 1 but just could not find him, he was being elusive.  But did manage to locate Shrike No. 2 at approx 1500hrs until about 1630hrs.  He was at various points from 100 yards to 300 yards SSE of the Trig Point.

Beauties on the brink!

So silent to hear a primrose shine with song,
Whilst burgundy flutters by to tell the World,
She’s living on the edge of her paradise lost,
But scatters her love in hope for tomorrow.

A special rose of yellow adorns the roughs,
Where Argus is not but a giant and only a fly,
Yet flaps his wings to the radiant warm sun,
His dream to search where the angels lie.

High on a ride would be my lasting will,
To dodge the spirits that have flit before,
My colour is of earth or wood or tree,
I play my sweet viola, so not to frit away.

Let it ring across the scorched peaks
Where the air is thin and wanders bleak,
Up high you reach on upstretched wing,
In the land of which the Curlew sing. 

Its Knott for me to taste the Scotch,
Nor Argue bold for we are sold to thee,
Why only here, you’ve chose your home,
Pray keep it strong, the side to roam. 

6th April 2015

EASTER SUNDAY 5th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1545hrs - 1730hrs

(The above two photos I took in March 2011 when I was lucky to see the Shrike kill and later impale a Bank Vole torso on a nearby Hawthorn Tree, only 30 yards from the Trig Point on Hutton Roof. So this is a example of the Shrike's larder and the reason he has the name "Butcher Bird" - please click over photos to enlarge)

Been shrounded in low cloud all day and even now it was still coming and going, but did at least allow occasional slots of visibility. On the way up through Dalton Crags upper had two beautiful Wheatears sat on the wall, both males with gorgeous colouring, they gave the impression they were O. Oenanthe and not of the Greenland race.  Also noted and sat on the wall by the side of them were our two resident over wintering Stonechats.  Also about 20 Meadow Pipits were blogging within that area.

On reaching the Trig Point, the overwintering Shrike 1 was noted at about 150 yards NW of the Trig Point and was observed holding positions there for over one hour.  Shrike 2 was seen also (not by me), but by other birders at around the same time at 100 yards South East/South of the Trig Point.

Easter Saturday 4th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

I had one of the Shrikes to the South of the Trig, but told that both had been seen earlier to the South of the Trig and on the ridge and behaving agressive to one another. Up to 10 Meadow Pipits moving through over one hour. Also Chiffchaff heard calling from down at Plain Quarry. Also had reports from Sarah that she thought she had a early Tree Pipit in Dalton deforested.

GOOD FRIDAY 3rd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

Both Shrikes are showing well.  One at 250 yards NW of Trig in small hawthorn to W of the two Cairns which are at the end of "Uberash Breast".  This is a spot I have noticed Shrike No.1 goes to regular and if I can't see him from the Trig I walk along Uberash Roughs and can usually pick him up with the binoculars from here.  Shrike No. 2 was also seen in her regular territory eg: 150 yards to the SE of the Trig on the large patch of Blackthorn which is in the background view of the Hutton Roof Sawmills.
Not a single Meadow Pipit called or noticed going through. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (at least two). Early Purple Orchid basal rosettes now being seen at usual spots on Common. 
Also two Roe Deer running through Dalton Crags, had been disturbed by runners. Also whilst on the Common itself had "vulpes vulpes" running straight towards me then noticed me at around 20 yards and veered off into a small channel. Excellent views. 


Its Friday, Oh so good!
Accustomed to walk to top of the fell,
With rucksack, my only cross to bear,
Weaved in and out of crags so pure,
Overhead passing music to my ears,
Whilst serenade from the Lark arising,
Carpets of imagined flowers in unseen bud,
Hide for now, to await their day soon,
When Fritillary will flutter to fill this sweet place.
Thank you on high for all this,
Its Friday, Oh so good!


Here below are three fabulous photos taken by friend Robert Ashworth who has kindly allowed me to include within the blog: 

Thursday 2nd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1015hrs
Been in York the last couple of days so its good to get back into things. Both Grey Grey Shrikes present and seen at the same time with one 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other at 100 yards SE of The Trig Point.  About 15 Meadow Pipits per hour came through to the NW.  A Buzzard also came through (not local), larger grey low flying and took rest a couple of times on Hutton Roof.

Monday 30th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0915hrs to 1000hrs 

One Shrike (presumed the second bird) at 100 yards NE of Trig Point on Hutton Roof Common at 0930hrs and still there on leaving 30 minutes later. One pair of Stonechats seen carrying nesting material within Dalton Crags. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (3). Just a few Meadow Pipits crossing over. Sky the lark singing away, plus another lark on the Common.

Sunday 29th March 2015
then Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  1400hrs to 1530hrs

Had Marsh Tits calling on my way up at the back of Plain Quarry and also had shows of them on my way back.

On the way up through deforested I had Kestrel and Song Thrush.

One of the Shrikes was on view for over 15 minutes at first only 15 yards from the Trig in a South direction.  Then it moved across to a regular site, the 1st large tree from the right hand side on the ridge which crosses from Dalton and into the Common. then it moved to small hawthorns almost against the boundary wall then eventually lost and out of sight.  It gave me the impression it was the 2nd or the slightly darker bird and this would also tally in with the area it was using. It was very windy at some 25 mph with gust to 40 so I did not spend any time looking for the second bird who was probably on Uberash or maybe Lancelot.

Morning and up until 1400hrs
The weathers been bad and I have not yet had chance to check our Her Majesties on the Common, instead I have been sat here enjoying my thoughts of the beautiful song thrush whilst in song at this very time of the year and have written the following poem (with the aid of the thrush) entitled "The Language of the Song Thrush (March time) which I hope you can enjoy:

Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
Some may call him a "Throstle",
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It's such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!

wee hoo whit,
wee hoo whit,
wit woo,
wit woo,
her kleep kleep,
her kleep kleep,
chit chit chit chit,
See-it, see-it"

I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles",
and love to all who'll take time to listen to him.

Saturday 28th March 2015 - 0845hrs to 1045hrs -  Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

The weather was disastrous! but still the show must go one (as if).  But today I was not the only "Silly Beggar" checking out the Shrike in these atrocious weather conditions, because Jim from Sedbergh, Brian and Chris from Whitehaven had also braved it as well, obviously not prepared to meet with such conditions when they set off.  Sadly we did not see the birds, the weather went worse as we got further up the fell.  The winds increased with gust to 40 mph and the rain clouds were low and brought visibility down to about 50 yards at best.  We checked out Dalton, the Trig Area and even walked across Uberash Roughs as far as the Cairns.  But no Shrikes today.

I have just heard from a friend (Robert) that he saw the Shrike on February 6th 2015, which is a brilliant record because it now means we can account for the over wintering bird for each month from November until now.

Also he noted yesterday that the two birds did briefly come together in bushes which lie along the boundary wall south of the path which leads to the Trig Point.  When they came together briefly they showed aggressive posturing and chattering was noted.  I suppose this could be pure aggression or would it be a sign of wanting to get to know one another better! lets hope its the latter.

I to have noticed that both birds seem to show a main individual territory eg: the over wintering bird tends to spend more time to the North West and West of the Trig which seems to have always been its main territory, whilst the new bird tends to spend most time to the East and SE and S of the Trig point. Although they are becoming more frequently seen in the same panoramic view at the same time from the Trig Point lookout and occasionally in the same tree or doing fly past one another. 

Robert also reported a Chiffchaff singing from Plain Quarry at 0945hrs yesterday (Friday).  

Friday 27th March 2015 - 0915 - 1030hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.

Both Shrikes present at the same time.  The original Shrike was about 100 NW of the Trig Point and the more recent bird was 150 yards SSE of the Trig Point.  It does look like the birds are keeping their separate territories with the more recent bird remaining to the East/South whereby the established bird has always frequented the more W/NW of the Trig Point, although they do come together in the same tree occasionally and I have seen one bird dive bomb the other and then brush off and fly away.  Also this time I have heard the "Shrike chunnering or is it chummering - well whichever that is what's it was doing"  on at least two separate occasions.  Pair of Stonechats seen towards the top of Dalton deforested.  Had 3 Meadow Pipits go directly through and had another 15 blogging within Dalton deforested.  Three or Four Green Woodpecker yaffles. 

I have just remembered:  Going back to Tuesday March 17th 2015 (St Patricks Day), I did have a early "Brimstone" Butterfly on the Railway Embankment at Arnside. 

Wednesday 25th March 2015 - 1000hrs -  1200hrs Park Wood area of Hutton Roof

Checking out Daphne Mezereone with Ian and friends. 6 of the plants were fine, two in particular showed heavy bloom eg: 200 flowers and 300 flowers.  Sadly two of the long established had died off. 

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - 0830hrs to 1000hrs. Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 

Had both Shrikes in view for over fives minutes with one at 15 yards to 30 yards to 100 yards to the NW of the Trig Point whilst the other bird was about 75 yards to the East of the Trig and that one made off after a few minutes and out of view down the line of the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Timber line. 

The reason the first bird came within 15 yards was purely by chance while it surprised me and I it, yet it still remained still, like I also remained motionless, whilst it let me have those close up views for over 3 minutes or so, just a shame as I never had my camera - sods law!. 

Now then after watching both birds it is without doubt clear that the second bird which joined us last Wednesday is of a darker phase than the bird that has over wintered which makes it fairly easy to tell the birds apart even with binoculars. So whether this new bird is a female or juvenile I would not know! but it certainly looks promising for now! 

Also had Stonechats on the Common, also had about 14 Meadow Pipits flyover N and 1 Skylark NW, and also a large 30 Mipit blogging party down in Dalton. Lots of Green Woodpecker yaffling going on.

Monday 23rd March 2015 - Eaves Wood, Silverdale  1000hrs to 1230hrs

Been out with my mate Brian from Kendal and we joined a group of friends checking out the Daphne Mezereone at both Eaves Wood and again later at Sandside.  The long established plants at both sites were doing OK.  Sadly the re-established plants all had died and could not be found at the relevant sites. It was really interesting to see the "white" flowered plants of Sandside. 

1700hrs to 1830hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 

Went up with Rob checking out the Shrike.  At first no signs so I suggested we check out "Uberash Roughs" and sure enough we found one of them sat low and not far away from the two large Cairns.  Although a fair distance away we were treated to actually hear him singing in his chattering mode. Could not locate the second one. Also had a single party of 7 Meadow Pipits on their way through North to their upland breeding grounds. 

Sunday 22nd March 2015 - Dalton and Hutton Roof and Lancelot Clark Storth 0900hrs to 1100hrs
Excellent views of one of the Shrikes.  I think I had the other one which just brushed past the other one and made its way down into Lancelot somewhere. A couple of Wheatear on way up through Dalton along with the regular pairs of Stonechats. Only had six Meadow Pipits going through over the hour or so. Good views of a Green Woodpecker and lots of evidence of yaffling. More reports coming through of both birds seen between 1100 and 1300hrs. 

Saturday 21st March 2015 - Sizergh Castle 0700 to 1000hrs
Went along to Sizergh at the invitation of Rob because we are doing a small project, but sadly no Hawfinches came down, however I could hear them early doors.  No problem will check out again soon.

Of special interest whilst there was that I saw a gentlemen birder from Ulverston, who I know I can rely on and he now confirms that without doubt he has had two separate Great Grey Shrikes on Hutton Roof on Wednesday last (18th March 2015).  One was seen 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other was seen at the same time as the other but from the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Sawmills line which lies about 100 yards SE of the Trig.  So this makes things really interesting. 

1300hrs to 1430hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.  I had single Shrike at 1400hrs in Dalton Crags 100 yards South/South West of Trig Point.  Speaking with lady who came from Teesdale and she was priviledged to see both Shrikes in same tree and managed to get a photo of them.  Also she had a Swallow hawking the Common. 

As the day went along I have received another two reports of people seeing two separate Shrikes.

Friday 20th March 2015 (Vernal Equinox) - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs - 1030hrs.

A funny sort of start with a eclipse of the sun.  But we did not have any sun, well what I should say is that we did just have little bits bobbing through at about the 0900hrs mark, but by 0930hrs the sun had completely disappeared and the skies clouded over.  But at around the 0930hrs and lasting for some 0945hrs a sort of "strange" darker appearance throughout, obviously on account of the eclipse.  But the birds kept on singing throughout it all, in fact it made no difference whatsoever to the vibrant Song Thrush!!

I think we have a new Stonechat!, I thought so yesterday, but not sure so I did not report it but it has again turned up at the bottom of Dalton deforested whilst the resident pair are at the moment just inside the boundaries of the Common.

The Great Grey Shrike was there in his usual territorial pose at the uppermost of one of the larger trees to a point approx 150 yards North West of the Trig Point.

Only had six Mipits going through in two parties of three going over the Crags during the time I was there.

Got to get up early doors tomorrow been invited to check out the Hawfinches at Sizergh by friend Rob.. so will hopefully try and get back to check out Hutton Roof later in the morning. 

Thursday 19th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Probably the best day yet weatherwise with lovely sunshine and little to no wind at times. 
The Great Grey Shrike was well up for it today showing off for most of the time to the usual area NW of the Trig Point at times as close as 100 yards going back to 200 yards. Someone up there again today said they had also seem him yesterday between about 11am and 1pm. He had several spectators today with fans having travelled from Workington and Kendal who would not be dissapointed. Saw on two separate occasions the female Stonechat carrying large grubs in her bill!!  The first proper day of the Meadow Pipit passage with at least 20 over the hour. 

Wednesday 18th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

Last Nights Aurora Borealis taken at Cumbria's Derwentwater (photo: internet)

Missed it again! missed what?  the Aurora borealis which was clearly seen over Cumbria and at its very best at 0400hrs this morning.  Look at this startling photo taken from the Derwentwater in Keswick. Anyway back to the question in hand. And what a beautiful morning with lots of wanted sunshine gracing my walk. Birding was so quiet this morning up on Dalton and Hutton Roof, once you took out the Song Thrushes, the tits, robins and dunnocks. 

No Shrikey, No Likey!! and not even a single Mipit went through, just the odd Pied Wagtail. Two pairs of Mistle Thrush looked like they might have been getting ready for conflict! Almost forgot to mention, yesterday I had my first primula in Dalton Crags. 

Tuesday 17th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

A lot better day with less wind and the sun starting to break through in part. A warmer day. The Song Thrush was enjoying himself singing away with all his different variations and showing you just how talented he can be, at times so good you thought he was miming other birds, but which birds I really don't know!!  Shrike in view immediately on entering Dalton Crags deforested.  He was showing well at the top of the "Cuckoo Tree" and later went further back on a hawthorn towards to boundary wall.  I guess that would have put him about 100 yards South of the Trig Point.  And guess what?  I had about five Meadow Pipits on Dalton deforested, a couple of pairs which gave the appearance they were already on territory, but time will tell.  Just one single bird actually going through to the North. Found these feathers quite near to the Trig Point this morning, which I brought back for identification, but struggling a bit just at the moment. 

Ah got it!! I have now worked it out what the feathers are!  They will be the Breast or Neck feathers of a Common male Pheasant and at this time of year two males will have been sparring up to one another and this will have been the result! (bruised pride) the giveaway clue for me laid in the fact of the edges showing "iridescent".

The large one of these feathers measures approx 1 1/2" x 1/2"
Please note the iridescent on the bottom edge of the top left feather
Also had a early "Brimstone" Butterfly today whilst over at Arnside on the Railway embankment. 

Monday 16th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Still light cold easterlies blowing across.  Much overcast in grey.  Not a lot going on with the occasional Green Woodpecker yaffling and Sky the lark giving his beautiful seranade has you crossed into Dalton Crags (upper deforested).  No signs of Shrike today neither Stonechats as well and even more worrying, no a single Meadow Pipit or lark going through! Several Ravens passing through whilst "cronking". I have been told that two Chiffchaffs were heard calling down at the Keer in Carnforth yesterday (15th).  A report just come in from Steve telling me he had the Shrike at 200 yards NNW of Trig at 1100hrs.  Must have started to show on my leaving. Nice one Steve!!

Sunday 15th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs to 1230hrs
That cold North Easterly wind was even stronger than yesterday, but every now and again it would weaken down and allow more still periods.  Well Shrikey wasnt for having it today, I searched everywhere on the top of Dalton and also all across Uberash Roughs on the Hutton Roof Common, but he never showed for me.  I think he must have been on one of the lower lying slopes somewhere keeping out of that wind!  I had the Stonechats, but still not even one Meadow Pipit or Skylark! I suppose when they come they will come through in good numbers. Where is that little chap hiding, Maybe down in Lancelot, or on Burton Fell (midway) or across from Rowley Copse, or even further around on the Hutton Roof side of the Rakes, he could be on any of these I suppose.

Saturday 14th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1200hrs

What a fabulous morning, weather OK mainly grey overcast but still that underlying cold easterly wind now and again raising its head, but nothing like on the scale of yesterday.

Got straight on to Mr. Shrike who again was about 150 yards to the NW of the Trig Point, I did manage to close in on him and watched him from about 50 yards and soon he was off again.  Picked him up shortly afterwards down in Dalton Crags (upper/deforested) he was close to the old "Shrike Tree" and about 75 yards from the boundary wall with the Hutton Roof Common.  Again I got within 50 yards of him getting some fantastic views of him perched at only 2 metres high on top of a beech shoot of about 1/2" wide, but because I was to the East side of him and the sun was shining from the best direction to show off his plumage at its very best.
The paired Stonechats were seen again on the stone wall to the South side of the Crags (deforested).

A Wheatear has been seen this morning over at Heysham, and also of interest this very morning a "Herd of Whiteness" containing at least 42 birds has been seen heading North West over Bradford area.  Also a couple of small parties of that same species have been seen during the week heading North over the Morecambe Bay area.  I have usually got my records for these beautful birds somewhere around the 18th March week.

Thursday 12th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Not a lot to report. Could not find the Shrike, he was probably hidden away somewhere on lower ground, maybe down in Lancelot or even over on the Farleton side or over near the Rakes all would be suitable areas for the Shrike to hide out.  I would not blame him either with the gale force winds blowing up there. Although you would never have believed it to how it was down at Plain Quarry. There were times at the Trig Point when it nearly blew you off your feet.  It must have gust to 50 mph at times. 

Wednesday 11th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1030hrs

Beautiful REDPOLL calling from the lower Crags, found both overwintering STONECHATS to the top of Dalton Crags, also had the first GREY WAGTAIL of the year crossing over Hutton Roof.  No SHRIKE today, but several people had come up to look for it. 

Tuesday 10th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1000hrs

At the bottom of the crags I heard a Marsh Tit calling.  I have had them calling from all around this area over the last few weeks. Song Thrushes are giving it plenty at the moment from various points on Dalton. Green Woodpeckers are busy yaffling as well. 
My sketch of the Shrike's
upper features - present today

Great Grey Shrike was seen at 150 yards North West of the Trig in same alignment as the regular path. I will try and get up there daily now I know he's around again. I think this could well be the over wintering bird, he certainly is using the exact same territories as our overwintering bird.

Odd Lesser Black Back Gulls are coming through and heading West, probably on their way back to Walney Island for breeding.

I am told that the first Sand Martin was seen at Leighton Moss yesterday. 

Monday 9th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830 to 1000hrs

Really good to get back in the swing of things after being absent for at least a couple of weeks.

Been told the Great Grey Shrike made appearances on the 5th and the 7th of March at his usual territory close by to the Trig Point. Up until then he had not been seen since January 5th, so just where have you been Mr. Shrike?

Today I did not see him, nor did I see the over wintering Stonechats, but sure they will still be around.

At last managed to hear Song Thrushes calling from their high post with a fabulous array of mixed songs.  Just nothing like it! why not try writing the songs down in a notebook and try putting the song into a sort of  "english language", I do it regular and its totally incredible to have on record the differentials and variants he does.  I can't think of any other bird that has these ranges.  After saying that the little Great Tit does'nt do so bad with over 200 variations of his song.

Sky the lark was singing pleasantly on her territory with just the occasional vertical lift!
but today she did not have any threatening passing by Larks to annoy her, so quieter than usual.  There again it was cold and there was a strong biting wind with it as well.  Certainly if today's records are anything to go by it was not a "vismig" day. Although the Meadow Pipits should start getting going anyday now.

One of a pair of Kestrels was constantly being harassed by a Carrion Crow which did not seem to want to give up!  It must have been dive bombing it for over half a hour. Can't understand what they get from this, because at the end of the day the bird of prey always wins through!  just a total waste of energy if you ask me!

Been told Goldcrest were heard a fortnight ago, which again is spot on to the day.

Had a "cronking" Raven, also had a couple of "yaffling" Green Woodpeckers in Dalton.

Well well! its that time of year again and already the Chiffchaffs are well on their way back from Africa with a ETA of approx 10 days time, although I have had them in Burton as early as the 15th March before now. Also the Swallows ETA is around the 25th March so its well worth looking up into those skies and listening in the wooded areas for that "chiff, chaff, chiff chaff, chitty"