Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I Didn't know Holly Ferns could do this!

Here is a photo of Hutton Roof's Holly Fern No. 2 which was taken on the 2nd July 2015

Holly Fern No.2 on 2nd July 2015 - Note predation - Click over photo to enlarge
So here we have a photo of the Holly Fern No.2 taken on 2nd July 2015.  So this is a photo shortly after predation by a possible Roe Deer.  Four of the original fronds have been bitten off completely, leaving four mature fronds.

The next photo I want to show you is the one I have taken today on 18th August 2015 and you will see there is six mature fronds.  So you will see that the two new additional mature fronds are a much lighter colour than the four existing much darker fronds.

Holly Fern No. 2 on 18th August 2015 - Note two replacement Fronds have grown which are far lighter in colour
(Click over photo to enlarge)
I was very surprised to find that two new replacement fronds have grown during the six weeks since I checked it out last.  Although the new ones are fully mature, they are a far lighter green in colour than the existing four fronds.

On the next photo (taken today 18th August 2015) you will note the "sori" from one of the existing fronds, and just like you would expect they are a rusty brown in colour.

Here is the "sori" on the back of the existing fronds
The next photo I want to show you is the sori on the back of one of the new fronds and as you can see they are much "fresher" and of a creamier colour.

Here is the "sori" on the back of the new fronds
I was yet again very surprised to see just what Mother Nature can do, showing us that in a matter of six weeks (or probably less) two new fronds have come through in replacement of four original fronds that had been previously predated,  It seems really strange to have two of the fronds a much lighter colour density and even more strange to see the sori at two different stages on the same plant.

For anyone who already knows this particular plant (Holly Fern No.2) is a strange one to start with in so much that it is intertwined at the root with its cousin the Hard Shield Fern ("Aculeatum") and you will probably see from the 18th August photo above that a small runt frond has formed yet again which it does in most years. 2013 runt had matured into a full frond for the 2014 season.  Though the 2014 runt did come through but just never developed. We have in the past had the bottom "pinnae" examined with further analysis for chromosome testing, with the results coming back confirming "Aculeatum".  So it is being watched with much interest to see if there are initial indications that maybe one of these days the "hybrid" will come through.

Leaving that aside the birdlife was a lot quieter, just as you would expect, but a pleasant surprise to see a single Stonechat present in Dalton, along with a party of about ten hawking Swallows, and a Kestrel which let me walk past it within some 20 yards. I said to myself, I wonder if I can get past this bird without disturbing it! and yes I walked "gingerely and slowly past looking back occasionally to see if the birds was still there and you could see it looking across at me, but sure enough it stayed there and continued its observational hunting.

The bracken should any day now start receding, you can see it becoming heavily scared with browing here and there.  Strange to see Fox and Cubs up here in Dalton, but sure enough sitting proud as punch at the side of the track and posing for this photo:

Fox and Cubs in Dalton
Antler Moth just has I entered Hutton Roof Common
Some beautiful "rare" Southern polypody
Dark Green Fritillary  much worn and probably in its last hour

Friday, 14 August 2015

Just another day at the Office!

From Hutton Roof (Kelker side) looking over Whinn Yeates, Farleton and Newbiggin (Click over to enlarge)

(Thursday August 13th 2015)

Another lovely morning and had to get out and head up to guess where?

The sun shining and for a change one or two birds singing with odd Willow Warblers and the screeching of a Jay and the local skies recently have been filled (almost) with Ravens and more so Buzzards.  I think the Buzzards have all come on the scene at the same time from all the local breeding populations because I am seeing plenty of them every day now!  Although I am only too well aware that "foreigners" are also passing through on a daily basis especially at this time of year.  Its a while since we recorded the Honey Buzzard or the Rough Legged Buzzard which do past through these parts along with other rare raptors like the Osprey.

Well most of the Swifts have now departed, although I was lucky enough to see one this morning over the Clawthorpe side of Hutton Root and it gave the impression it was heading East.  So its difficult to say whether this was one of the locals or just a bird passing through.  Scores of hirundines (both Swallow and Martin) were hawking the area.  It always is a good area for insect food around this time of the year and generally you will hear lots of chatterboxes above your head enjoying themselves on the large amounts of flies.

"Heading along a footpath being encroached,
Oh! that blinkin bracken is getting everywhere,
Bushwhakking! its the only bushwhakking I will do today,
So take that, and that...

Well you do a bit of that and then you get covered in ticks,
how many ticks do I have to tweeze out tonight then?
Don't want shingly circles, dont want Lymes, keep alert,

Surprising! well not really, everything likes Knapweed!
Five species of Butterfly and bees with ginger bums everywhere!
Knapweed flavoured honey would be nectar! literally.."

Flowers seen today, been checking out the helliborine's but most of them still asleep with their buds tightly closed and I dont think they will flower this year, just the odd one or two making it into flower! Other nice stuff about included: Yarrow, Harebells, Small Scabious, Ladys Bedstraw, tormentil, Self Heal. A really nice patch of Betony at least two metre diameter and tick spread (I mean thick spread)

A pair of Linnets crossing over to the South, a family party of three Kestrels (2 having a go with one another) I'll bet they are the immatures..

Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Torts, Green Veined White (not seen many of these this time), also late Ringlets

Autumn fungi is showing up here and there, found a nice white one today tucked under the ledge of limestone, dont know what it is yet!

All Shades of Green has I look East - in the Lupton direction (Click over to enlarge)
A little further around towards the Kirkby Lonsdale, direction

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Black Aphids, Black Ants on Broad Leaved Helliborines

Thankfully I managed to get back up on Hutton Roof today especially to valuate the situation with the Broad Leaved helliborines (Epipactis helliborine).

Well although very much "down" in numbers, odd ones were "out".  I managed to view about thirty of what should have been more like 75 on the pavements today.  80% of them had still not come out of bud with just the odd ones showing flowers at the base of the plume.  I think they may struggle some of them but will again check them out in another week or so.

I have managed to find a couple which did show potential.  Here is a photo of one of them.

I wanted to put this photo up just to remind myself of what they look like!
This was one of the couple of plants that have managed to come through, but the bulk are just there with their buds tightly closed and in some cases "with shrinking buds".

In particular I wanted to check out the "Viride" variants or in betweens which we have up on Hutton Roof.  A couple of plants which are certainly very green are shown below:

This is a very green plant which has just begun to flower

This is one from a area well known for its "viride" variations or thereabouts!  We still have one or two to open up here but sadly the better specimens have already been predated.

And below is new specimen found by a friend of mine Robert yesterday which although a small plant does show plenty of green in the make- up but also you can see small traces of the purple here and there and also a wash on some of the petals

Photo: Robert Ashworth - This is a very green specimen
Again this sort of variant can be seen from at least three areas on the Hutton Roof complex.

And below I found one of our helliborines which had just started to open out, covered with black aphids which looked very much like they were receiving much encouragement from the Black Ants which were giving the impression that they were protecting the aphids. Here below is a couple of photos:

Black Aphids, Black Ants on a Broad Leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
I thought perhaps at first the Black Ants were actually feeding on the Black Aphids but I am told that it is more likely that the Ants are actually protecting and farming the aphids so they can then pick up the "milk". As the aphids feed they secrete a sticky honeydew substance which drips on to the lower foliage which then the ants collect.

Another photo of the black aphids and the black ants on the Broad leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
Saw lots of butterflies today Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Several Dark Green Fritillaries feeding on the Knapweed, but most of them well worn, some with only part wings. Few Graylings about this year.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Broad Leaved Helliborines - Struggling this year!

Did I really think it might be different on this side of Hutton Roof?

It was no good kidding myself any longer, lets get out and see whats going on!.  It soon became apparent that we were going to be down in numbers with only about 60% of the regular Broad Leaved specimens coming through.  Of the ones that had it soon became clear that Mr. Hare had already snipped a large amount of the better specimens. I hope I am accusing the right chap here!  Roe Deer - Cut the stalk straight across or Brown Hare cuts the stalk at a sharp angle!

But the main concerns was that out of all the 25 plants which had so far survived none were showing any flowers and some still had drooping heads, but the majority had straightened out but looked a little weary in comparison to other years.

I think most of these are going to struggle this year to even flower.  Already a lot of them are going over and showing burnt edges to the leaves etc.  One particular plant when you look very close it is already showing signs of going over before it has actually had chance to open up.  (see photo)

This plume is already showing problems and I think this could well be the outcome of most plants

The next photo of a Broad leaved Helliborine is within a small colony which usually come through with lots of "viride" and just one of this population in particular is "pure viride" but sadly this one has already succumb to the predator. But we still have one more to go at which I will show you in the photo below.

Usually a good example of a semi- viride variant helliborine
This is one particular plant I will try and keep my eye on over the coming days because it comes out really green with white flowers with just a "smudging" of purple.  Though to be honest with you I also have reservations about this plant this year because looking very close you can see some burnt edges creeping in.

Below is the first specimen that caught my eye this morning and sure enough further evidence of it going over before it has actually opened up.  The leaves are already looking burnt in places.

Specimen 5 - Note burning on leaves (Click over to enlarge)
Our rare Epipactis phyllanthes is coming on but very slow (as is usual) and below is a shot of the progress so far.

A sad specimen of a "Phyllanthes" will it or won't it!

And to finish off with I have one specially for my good friend Alec.  I don't know why I took a photo but this specimen just looked strange to me at the time.  Maybe its because its going over, but although I know its a Limestone Fern and I had lots within a metre or so away but this little patch looked different somehow with much wider pinnae and lots of purple staining.

Unusual looking "Limestone Fern"

Monday, 3 August 2015

Whats going on with the Broad Leaved Helliborines ?

I wonder what can be going on with the Broad Leaved Helliborines.

To be honest with you I did notice a couple of weeks ago that the Broad Leaved Helliborines seemed thin on the ground compared to normal years, and also that most of them that were showing still had their drooping heads, but the thing that struck home most was the buds seemed different, small and little content.

Well this morning is not much better,  I was checking out two or three of the pavements on Hutton Roof and the first pavement I would normally see about 30 good plants and this was down to only 4 this year and of the four they did not look that strong but weak looking (see photos below). The next pavement was the same whereby normally I would get ten but this year down to only three.

So Why are they so far behind?
Why is their far less plants this year than normal years?
Why is the growth this year so poor with feeble buds seen in most specimens?

Let me show you photos of the first three I found.

This one will probably be OK and is probably the best I saw today. 
The second one I found looked weak and feeble compared to most years
No 3 was the same looked weakish especially in the buds.
I will hopefully be monitoring them day by day over the next week or so. Tomorrow I am hoping to check out pavements on the other side and we will see what they have to offer.

Did manage to find a couple with their base flowers just starting to open (see next photo)
Same Plant No.4 just bottom 5 flowers opening up. - very greeny plant
Nice patch of Hemp Agrimony
Well birdwise very little, with just one or two Willow Warblers calling with their "hou whit" contact call and also Bullfinch calling.  One surprise is I thought I heard a very distant Cuckoo, but just purely one call and finish so I never thought much more about it until talking to a friend this morning who had also heard one calling over the past couple of days on Lancelot, so I presume it will be a passing bird, but never realised they called whilst stopping off on their return! (interesting).

Local Swift numbers have plummeted with the bulk of the birds having left on July 29th and 30th, we are now left with maybe four at best.  Also lots of Swallows and Martins already on their way back (early for them!)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Atrorubens - "All over bah shouting"

Yesterday I checked out the pavements for even more Schmals and atroruben variations and was not disappointed, although its quickly becoming a realization that perhaps 80% of atrorubens have now gone over for yet another year.  The window is very short and you need to cram as much as you can into the limited daylight hours you have available for this study.  I am happy this year of what I have been able to record so far although disappointed that over 40% of all specimens have been predated by a mixture of predators which included the Roe Deer, Hares, Slugs, and this year for the first time Black Aphids.

The highlights for me so far have been the beautiful "Lemon Petalled and Light Buff coloured" varieties of which seem to have had plenty this year.  Also to find new Schmals has also been good. Its now a question of collating all these photos and information and trying to understand it all. But just before I do finish with the atrorubens here is a photo of one yesterday of the light phase:

Another very light specimen found yesterday on Hutton Roof. (Click over to enlarge)
Also whilst talking about the light phase, I would like to put two lovely photos on which I have been kindly sent by Richard Mielcarek which show good views of the "hyperchile" and mottled inner petals of Specimens No 50/51.

A photo of specimen 50 - Hutton Roof - July 2015 (photo: Richard Mielcarek)

 Specimen 50  on Hutton Roof  - July 2015 (Photo: Richard Mielcarek) 

Usually when the atrorubens finish I can go straight on to the Helliborines looking in particular for nice "Purpurea" variants.  But this year they are no where near ready yet, maybe a fortnight away.  I was finding scores yesterday in the canopy edges but they all still had drooping heads.  Also the plume content looks weak this year in most of our usual strong specimens, so I can't see it turning out to be the best year for Helliborines, but the coming weeks will tell.  Here is a current photo of the helliborines.

A pair of Broad Leaved Helliborine - Hutton Roof July 2015

And this is about the average "state of play" at the moment with the Helliborines, I would have thought perhaps another couple of weeks yet!  Just look at the heavy grooving within the leaf of these specimens.  This is typical of plants growing on the edge of canopy. Most of the specimens I am seeing this year are not showing much "build" in the buds, they seem weaker than normal years with little boldness within their plumes.  Sometimes when they are like this I have seen the buds dry up and wither away.  I do hope that's not the case here!

A few days ago whilst on one of the pavements on Hutton Roof, I stumbled upon a superb specimen of Atrorubens which stood out so special, and thankfully Alan Smith was there to photograph the specimen and has so kindly sent them through and here are the photos:

A beautiful Atrorubens - Hutton Roof July 2015 (Photo: Alan Smith)

Hutton Roof July 2015 (Photo: Alan Smith)
And to finish off todays blog I did manage to take a photo of the "White Self Heal" although it is starting to go over a bit.  I will have to try and catch it early next year.

A White Self Heal on Hutton Roof - July 2015

And here below are the Swift Observation Notes:

Swift Observations 30th July 2015 - Main Street, Burton In Kendal (Click over sketch to enlarge)

Thursday 31st July 2015 - Swift Observations down Main Street, Burton In Kendal 2000hrs to 2045hrs.

Right from the start very little was seen in the skies with just a pair flying above the Memorial Hall but as we checked out further sites the Swift numbers gradually built to a maximum of seven birds.

Tonight I was joined by David Craig, and we checked out most of the regular nest sites, but there did not seem to be any low down activity noticed, all the birds we saw where catching insects well up in the sky.

Just to save the day on our way back home, noticed a single bird leaving its nest on the Gable cottage on the Post Office row.  Ironically this site was also one of the last sites occupied last year as well.

There seemed a sort of "quiet" as though it was saying that most of the birds may have already departed back to Africa.  After all it usually is between now and anytime up to the 10th August that they will depart. Just checking our notes and the majority left last year on or about the same time the 30th and 31st July.

I think next week may well be our last "observation" night, we'll see what this week brings.

If you want to check out the Burton Swift Bird Study Group please click on this link to check out their dedicated Swift Blog.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Epipactis Atrorubens - Lemon Petalled and other Variants

After going to fair lengths talking about the Schmalhauseneii and also the fragile small green specimens over the past few days, maybe its time I spoke more about the variants, especially the "lemon petalled variants".

After five year observations and up until last year, I can't even remember recording a single variant on Hutton Roof complex that had "Lemon Coloured Petals" then last year I did manage to record four separate specimens over two separate pavements, these plants were so attractive to the eye and it was later decided we would call these the variant Lutescens and soon after we changed the name to "Palens".  Below is a example from last year of what met the criteria of the Palens variant with lemon coloured petals against a red sepal, also the stem could be green or purple but more on the side of greeny. The size of the plant would only be to a max of 10".  Also the boss and epichile would be creamy coloured.  Here below is a photo from last year showing a example of the Lutescens/Palans variant:
Epipactis atrorubens variant: Lutescens/Palans - Hutton Roof July 2014
From this photo above you can so easily establish the greenish stem, the lemony coloured petals and the creamy coloured bosses and epichile.

This year (2015) I am finding lots of variants which are part way.  Like I have already said last year I discovered only 4 small 10" max Lutescens/Palens (3 on one pavement and 1 on another pavement). But this year I have been so fortunate to be able to count no less than 15 specimens which all have the yellow petals and the majority of the specimens have been 18" and larger in size (compared to the smaller versions last year).  The ones this year have been far stronger plants and are so attractive with their yellow petals, although most of them (not all) fail to meet the creamy boss/epichile feature, although this is showing to a lesser degree.  A typical example of the ones I am finding now (2015) are like this one shown here in the photo below:

Lemon Petalled Variant - Possibly a large Palens?
So this sort of thing just had never been noticed previous until this year.  The plant in this photograph is about 18" and does have a green stem, although I have found many more of which some have a purple stem.  They are a stronger plant this year also.  Again they don't seem to be situated too far away from either a Schmalhauseneii or a Broad Leaved Helliborine. The 15 approx specimens which I have located this year are situated between two separate pavements which are about 1/2 mile in distance apart.

To see all the 15 approx "Lemon Petalled" variants showing slight differences in sepal redness/purplish colours makes them look so special, but even more special when you look at this one I found yesterday. The sepal colouring is much darker (probably darker simply because it is close to canopy in turn restricting the light and causing photosynthesis, making its sepals much darker)

Even more striking colouring into the mix when the plant is close to canopy like No.40 here.
So even in the two photos above you can see whereby the top photo shows a typical "green stem" plant, yet the one directly above here has the "purple coloured stem" which again could probably give some indication to a atrorubens or helliborine influence and obviously if that was to be proved the plants would lose their current status of "variants" and become some sort of distant "hybrid"

Going back to 2014 a different sort of "Palans" variant showed with a "viride" specimen showing almost green everywhere with the exception of the epichile and bosses which were creamy colour. But if you looked ever so close you could actually see a few "minute purple specks" on the bosses and epichile which took away the "pure viride" and brought everything back the atrorubens.  Just check the photo below:

Atrorubens Variant (varide) - Hutton Roof 2014 - Click over to enlarge

Sadly this particular plant has not developed this year, although growth did appear and we put a cage over it for its protection, only the basal leaves came through. No stem or flower. As far as I am aware this variant has never been recorded before.

Another variant which seems to be causing a lot of excitement this year is the "light buff coloured specimens" which are coming through.  I have had lots of light phase specimens throughout the pavements but these two seem to be a little more special than the rest. Below is a photo of Specimen No.50, it grows at about 10" in height:

A mega rare variety now and causing much interest is the  "Buff coloured Variant"
(Click over to enlarge)

So after all these variant examples above I would now like to finish of with a great Schmalhauseneii I found this morning and which is now referenced to Specimen 54 (Schmal):

Schmal Spec No.54 - Hutton Roof - July 2015

Sunday, 26 July 2015

More Atroruben specials today on Hutton Roof.

Specimen 46 is a new found (today) - Epipactis Schmalhauseneii
Just look at this beauty I found, just as I was about to call it a day. I love the boldness of it all, especially with the very large Basal and Secondary.  In fact there that big they more or less outdo the late Schmalhauseneii No.1. You can see so much Helliborine within this Atrorubens! A typical Schmalhauseneii and to be numbered Specimen 46 (confirmed Schmal).  Here below is another closer picture which highlights the size of the basal leaf and secondary leaf.

More closer to show the colossal size of the basal and secondary leaves

This specimen above No.46 shows lots of helliborine mix with the thick green stem and large overpowering leaf structure. Also note the deep grooved leaves which are far more prominent grooving than usual (resulting from being on the very edge of shadowing canopy plus more often than not there can be a deeper green colouring as well, I believe it has something to do with photosynthesis). After saying all that there is still lots of atroruben's if you look at the small "tucked" basal showing plenty of purple veined and edging, and even more with the bottom 4" of the stem being purple, and in the flower itself.  So I would reckon we have a near enough 50/50 one here. Big, Bold, Brash and Beautiful! = Schmal. This is from a area were we got some stunning "purpurea" helliborine variants from last year.

Light green fragile specimen No. 37 - Click over to enlarge

I found this on Friday specimen No. 37 which is a very small slim fragile plant with lots of green especially in the stem and the ovary. Its height is 10" which is very typical of the majority of these fragile small light green specimens which are turning up.  It has been considered that these could even be "Schmals", but if that be the case which I would not argue against, but I have got to say that for me these types of plants which are springing up all over the place, wherever there are established "bold" Schmals closeby.  I would have to say that they could not be more leaning to the opposite side of the spectrum, like what may be said in the term "as different as chalk and cheese" in any familiar comparisons to the already well established bold specimens of what I consider to be the true schmalhauseneii.  I personally don't think at this stage these light green weaker/fragile specimens are just straight forward Schmals, thats if they could even be straight forward.  I need to keep a "open mind"on this at present.  They are definitely far different to any standard or regular atrorubens and in my eye are very weak, flimsy and sometimes from experiences last year showed that if you just touched them ever so slightly to try and measure them they just fell dead within hours of your visit and this is why I think it possible we may have a hybrid cross back situation (F1), going on.  Granted this year they do seem to be slightly stronger and accepting more handling or inspection.

I am still recording these as a "very special specimens" because they will turn out to be something really special once we get on to them, so for now making plenty of notes on them, but by the same token I am steering well away from the "hybrid or Schmals theory" as if the schmals are not complicated enough, these are even far more complex.

Some more interesting facts about these fragile light green specimens is that I only started to notice them coming through last year (2014), but this year they seem to becoming more prolific wherever you are in the vicinity of the strong established bold "Schmals" these fragile green specimens are making ground.  In fact I was finding that many this morning, I just did not have time to photograph and measure them all.  I will need to go back in the next day or two and try and get them recorded. I think last year on the same pavement I may have had two or three of these light green small specimens, whereby so far this year on this same single pavement I have probably had no less than 20 of these and still there is plenty of work to do, so there will be more.  Lets get them recorded and we will try and work it out later.

Now for some really bad news!  Just look at this photo:

This is whats left of Schmals 15 and 16 which were slow this year, but sadly to slow to bloom

We checked them out on Friday and they were in fine order and just days away from giving off their true bloom. It looks very much like Mr. Hare could have been around, Schmal No.16 has been snipped and eaten whilst Schmal No.15 has just be destructively snipped and left dangling.  At first I thought perhaps the deer but usually they snip straight across the stems, whereby with these the snips on both plants have been at a sharp angle - depressing because they to me were considered perhaps the best flowering specimens on Hutton Roof with no less than 56 flowers. Just look at the photo below to show just how they came through in 2014.

Schmals No.15 and 16 last year.

So here now are a few photos of the specimens found this morning:

This one is close to the Schmals No.15 and 16

Specimen 40 - Not considered Schmal at this stage

Another of Specimen 40 showing more the "boss and epichile" and such lovely contrasting colours

It is a beautiful plant but sadly suffering from Black Aphid predation like so many others this year.
Another of the light green specimens (No.36)

Also today besides all the epipactis I found these Harebells on the pavement.  Normally I would not think much about it, but on this occasion I had to look twice seeing as they were growing at 16" high with the ground being short cropped no large surrounding vegetation. Long Stalked Harebells!

16" tall Harebells

HAVE A NICE DAY.........