Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Epipactis and Hypericums - from 28th June 2016

Atrorubens starting to come through today (28th June 2016) (Click over to enlarge)

Wednesday 29th June 2016 - Hutton Roof - Checking out Epipactis - 0900hrs to 1100hrs

Absolutely drenched! but always worth it, I just had to get out knowing I am busy tomorrow and would not get another chance, so needs must....

First of all checked out Schmal No.2 which has already failed in the past two years because of slug predation.  Well this year nothing showing at all, although there are close atrorubens coming through but dont have any of the Schmal signs.  Also the small hazel bush has taken over.  This is a very interesting site because here you do have the atrorubens within 14" of the helliborine.  See the photo below which I took back in 2012.

Shows Helliborine and Atrorubens within close proximity (14") which did also have a Schmal (which I named No.2) within two metres of these parent plants. Sadly this Schmal has been predated by slugs in two of its past four years (first recorded in 2012, slug predation both 2014 and 2015), and this year completed failed to show. This photo taken in 2012 and highlights just how close the mixed parents can be.
I checked out other closeby areas which proved very disappointing with several Schmals not showing at all this year.  Example: No.6 has failed, No.20 failed, 20 and 21 predated (probably slug) and 23 and 24 (probably slug).  But the good news is that a specimen No.5 has possibly re-appeared or more likely a new specimen No.5a has come through within one metre of where No 5 was (see photo below)

for now this will be called specimen 5a  (Click over to enlarge)

Another interesting plant I found today is a specimen showing quite a lot of lemon even on closed buds, this should be showing in another week or so.  Could the lemon Colour specimens be spreading to other parts of the roof? (see photo below)

Atrorubens already starting to show lots of "lemon colour" (Click over to enlarge)

Little patience to take a good photo today, after all raining cats and dogs! so we will have another bash in a few days time when the plant is fully developed.


Tuesday 28th June 2016 - Hutton Roof - Checking out Epipactis and Hypericums

Already you can see from the above photo that odd Atrorubens are coming through on Hutton Roof. Although most specimens are not yet flowering, just odd ones here and there.

I checked out the lonesome Schmalhauseneii (hybrid) No.1 and the good news is that at least it has come through yet again, making this its fifth year! although sadly the bad news is that again its already been cut by the local deer and will not reach fruition this year which is a repeat performance of last year.  We are left with just the two large basal leaves being supported by a superthick lower purple stem.

It is now my fifth year of recording these fabulous hybrids and it seems to becoming more and more clear that the majority of hybrid plants seem to be dying out after their third or fourth years. So it was great to see Schmal No.1 having crossed over that four year barrier.

Looking at the general picture of these hybrid superplants it does not take a lot of working out to see how the possibility could be that they are simply burnt out after three or four years.  Obviously the records will confirm this over the coming years but for now its certainly is looking like this could be the position.

Besides checking out more epipactis I thought also I should check out a area which supports a good population of Pale St John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum).  The best group we had which contained in past years up to 14 individual plants has today lost its best group which did have between 6 to 10 flowers, unfortunately these just have not come through this year.  So we are left with a new plant which is already in flower, a two party, and two more singles about.  I also need to check out a further two single plants in other areas.

Chiffchaffs are still singing in either broken or shorter verse, but the Willow Warblers are just now calling with their "hou whit" contact calls.  I had a family group party calling with alarm.  Also the Blackcaps and Garden Warblers have already gone into silent mode.

I did not expect butterflies on the wing today because its been so cloudy, but sure enough odd Ringlets and Meadow Browns were seen and one male Common Blue.

Flowers: Dropwort, Hypericum Pulchrum

Hypericum Montanum's beautiful leaves catching water droplets (flowers not out yet)

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Epi(c) not far away NOW !

Photo taken today of this which may have been leaning towards a "Palens" last year  (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday 25th June 2016 - Hutton Roof Complex  (0900hrs to 1200hrs)

Shortly after parking up I was to be serenaded with a very close Lesser Whitethroat, who sang for some twenty minutes or so and moving across within his territory, I also heard another one singing some two hundred yards away. New for the records for this year.

Also had my first of the year Ringlets butterflies of which several were seen, lots of Meadow Browns and my first Large Skipper.

I was really surprised to see how well the Epipactis where doing with some only a week away from full bloom but the majority still two to three weeks away..

Already Schmal No.8 this year has been got at with either slugs or hare.  Can't see how a Hare could have got to it which almost convinced me that perhaps slugs where the culprit, but closeby other plants had already had a Harecut!  Pity this because Schmal No. 8 (see photo below which shows it a beautiful show in 2014 but last year 2015 it had been attached by black aphids

Epipactis Schmalhauseneii No.8  - photos 2014 and 2015 (Click over photo to enlarge)
Wasn't No. 8 a beauty back in 2014, then look at what happened in 2015 when Black Aphids were being farmed by Black Ants which all literally sucked the life out of the plant, and in 2016 she again has run victim to either slugs or a local Hare.

Also did a check today on Schmal 15 and 16 which were beauties in 2014 (see photo below), but fell victim of a harecut last year and this year No.15 is maturing well (left hand side of photo), but No.16 seems rather stunted at the moment.

The following photo shows how it is today, together with a photo of how they looked back in 2014.

Epipactis Schmalhauseneii Nos 15 and 16  (Click over to enlarge)

Here below is the progress of Schmal No.9, last year both 9 and 10 had a harecut, but this year we are just seeing No.9 progress without its mate No.10.

Epipactis Schmalhauseneii No.9   (Click over to enlarge)
This one on the left is hopefully No.9 as seen today and it shows the flower how it was back in 2014 when then it came through with its mate which we called No.10, unfortunately in 2015 both orchids fell victim to a Harecut, but this year we are so far managing to see progress with No.9.  This particular plant was like no other on Hutton Roof in that it contains such light features throughout in particular to the green intake.  A definate one off Schmal this one and we just do not want to lose them. So fingers crossed....

And here below we have more specials on their way.

All these "specials" seem to be coming through OK  (Click over to enlarge)
a definite week to fortnight off!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Dawn Chorus over at Hutton Roof Village

Plenty of handkerchiefs to go around - The Handkerchief Tree (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday 23rd June 2016 2030hrs to 2115hrs  Swift Watch on Main Street, Burton In Kendal

We counted in total around 13 birds hawking the skies at points along Main Street.  We did record Swifts entering two nest sites on the rear of the Royal Hotel Cottage.  Also we confirmed a bird entering the North Gable on the Coaching House, near to the corner drainpipe.

We thought perhaps there may have been fewer birds showing tonight and now wondering if some of the immature birds will have already set off back to Africa.

Tonights Observers were: David Craig, Branwen Kilburn and Bryan Yorke

Why not check out this Polish "Swift" webcam by clicking here


Thursday 23rd June 2016 (EU Referendum Day or "Fledgling Day") - Hutton Roof and Farleton. (0830hrs to 1100hrs

A really interesting morning but becoming dire in relation to Yellowhammers, because again today, I covered there known territories but still no song, or evidence of the birds.

Lots of general species were seen but of particular special interest was witnessing a party of four young Willow Warblers with their adults, and quickly the birds became alarmed and calling with their general "hou whit" contact calls.  Also closeby to them I had a fledgeling party of Great Tits who also showed their displeasure at me walking through their territory. Also just behind Whin Yeats a young recently fledged party of Swallows were perched on the barbed wire above the wall and only decided to move off when I was within two metres of them. Without doubt today would probably be better being called "Fledgling Day" because further on towards the wall boundary of Holme Park Fell I had a pair of Wheatear adults on the wall and some 75 yards away, was a young immature bird, plus others nearby which I could hear with their "chat" singular contact calls.  I got very close to one of the young birds which still had a long way to go before it got the full head and facial features which for now were more greeny cream coloured although much of the lower part of the bird seemed fully developed.

Also whilst crossing over from Whin Years and over Newbiggin Crags I witnessed a party of 25 Starlings (some adults and some immatures) which I think had been based over on Whin Yeates farm somewhere, but today they seemed happy trying to mob a Buzzard crossing over and without doubt seeing (him or her off!). Earlier I had also seen and heard Linnets, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Skylarks. Some beautiful song was coming from the Goldfinches.

The butterflies were doing great with large amounts seen of male Common Blues (between 15 and 20) but no females! these where my first of the year and it looked like in every case they were feeding on Birds Foot Trefoil, Also today and my first of the year, I had at least three large fritillaries which would more than likely have been of the Dark Green Fritillaries, but they were just far too flitty for me to be able to get close enough for a proper identification to check whether they were Dark Green or High Brown! Several seen of the Small Pearl Bordered species, lots of Small Heaths and my very first of the year Meadow Brown. Lots of Chimney Sweeper Moths on the Hutton Roof side. 

The first of the year "Common Blue" Butterfly (Click over to enlarge)
Small Pearl Bordered seen today plus showing underside (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday 18th June 2016 - "Dawn Chorus" party over at Hutton Roof (0430hrs to 0700hrs)

Wow! not done this for a long time, but it was great meeting up with friends old and new at the Hutton Roof Village Hall.  Our host was one of the elders of the village Richard Challoner and he had manage to attract at least ten or so to the event.

Straight away on the car park we met a deluge of tinkling Goldfinch which singing together was quite a beautiful earful which at times seemed overpowering and yet so cheery!  I also managed to hear the odd challenge of a nearby Redpoll who just about came in with the shortest of flurry.  Blackbirds who are always leaders in these events were calling from some 50 yards away with there "harsher" rich and varied repertoire. Before long we would also be graced with the masters the good old Song Thrush which were also adding to the chorus from at least three separate areas.

We went down by Richard's paddock, with no sheep present today but lots of evidence of recent.  We saw lots of House Sparrows which had taken residence on the North East elevation of The Old Vicarage and a little further on we got a sample of the part crescendo call of the resident Willow Warbler. We did manage to get a more fulfilled call from this little "leaf explorer" as we came back through its territory.

Our agenda today was hoping to be able to include a very special sighting of the fabulous "Spotted Flycatcher" which we know resides near to Compost Heap No.2 at the bottom corner of Richard's vegetable plot and which we had the pleasure of seeing only a few days ago when we did the part recce.  But sadly not! this morning we never even heard him although there were lots of flitting "Spotted Flycatcher" sized birds in and out of the tall matured canopy, so maybe we had seen it without us knowing it.

I nearly cried at the site of the beautiful "Hankerchief Tree" (no not really!), which adorns the Old Vicarage grounds, the very place where over 100 years ago the Rev Theodore Bayley Hardy -V.C would have walked past that very spot whilst he created his Sunday sermons. Although the late reverend would not have seen this most special of "chinese origin" trees because it was much later when Mr and Mrs. Challoner introduced it to their collection.

We left the grounds of the Old Vicarage and headed further up the lane to enter a lovely haymeadow, area which just reminds you of good old days with Ox eye daisies, Red Clovers and Docks amongst others which were just managing to peep through the many lovely upright grasses which had shades of greys for seed heads, and many shades of greens and occasionally you would see where maybe a local Roebuck or a Badger or other mammal had been lying up or having a gay time leaving a flattened grass imprint. It was so nice to see so many bees flitting about in haste and so excited to reach their next flowers.

It could not have come at a better time! we were all suffering from a serious starvation of Warblers this morning having only had the previous mentioned Willow Warbler, but soon we were to hear a close up fabulous display from at least one pair (probably two pair) of Garden Warblers singing their little hearts out with that mixed bubbly explosion of sounds. The close proximity from us made all the party stop in their tracks to listen and absorb the sounds coming from this most welcome of migrants.

Nearby we had further pleasure witnessing a family group of Nuthatches which were up and down the thick branches of a Ash whilst learning the skills of hunting from their parents. The birds seemed quite undisturbed by our nearby presence and just continued about their work.

It was lovely to hear a Chiffchaff calling his repetitive ditty, and also to hear the calls from nearby Goldcrest exploring the small nearby trees.

On our way back a Blackcap broke into song with his much harsher calling, but it was so nice to also have a Garden Warbler not too far away and it gave chance for some of us to be able to hear both birds singing away for comparison.

A good early morning I would say and well worth setting the alarm clock for 0330hrs.....

Thursday 16th June 2016 - Some belated nature records for Dalton, LCS and Burton Fell and Hutton Roof kindly sent in by my friend Robert Ashworth of Kendal. 

Cuckoo (s) more elusive today and calling heard from SW of Dalton deforested and also from NE of Burton Fell.

Butterflies: - Meadow Brown and Large Skipper - both new for the year.  Several Small Pearl Bordered Fritillarys, also 3 Painted Ladys (2 in Dalton deforested and 1 in open woodland near to Plain Quarry.

Also Orchids: Dark Red Helliborine in bud on Burton Fell.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hollys, Limestones, Rigids and Scollies all doing well!

Lovely fresh Limestone Fern all snuggled up within their den! 9th June - Dalton Crags  (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday 16th June 2016 - In search of the elusive Spotted Flycatcher - Plain Quarry 0900hrs to 1100hrs.

Acting on a recent tip off I ventured to the East side of the Plain Quarry Car Park and checked out all the wooded areas and clearings in the hope I could track down another Spotted Flycatcher, but to no avail, although it was very pleasent and interesting and did manage to check out a Blackcap site which has been long established. I got some good views of the beautiful brown capped female.

Its becoming more and more worrying by the year with the demise of the poor Spotted Flycatcher, to which I can only now find five sites in the whole of Hutton Roof and its surrounding areas, I am sure there will be more but still need to get out and find them.  But what was very interesting, was a posting this morning on the Cumbria Bird Group's Facebook site, where this guy has had all his Spotted Flycatcher chicks and nest plucked out by his local Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and this got me thinking and yes it all seems to add up!  The rapid decline of the Spotted Flycather in my opinion coincides exactly with the rapid increase in Greater Spotted Woodpeckers!  Maybe there is something in this.

Lots of Hedge Woundwort starting to come through and the wild strawberries are looking well. The strawberries are only about 1/4" to 1/2" in size.

Four photos showing the Wild Strawberries (Click over to enlarge)

Report from Thursday 16th June 2016  - Swift nest sites - Burton In Kendal (2030hrs to 2145hrs)

To be honest at 2010hrs you would have thought it would have been a no goer! with heavy rain showers, but by 2015hrs it cleared up and we managed to have some great Swift Watching.

It started whilst observing the Cottage on the Post Office row, and we witnessed a bird enter the eaves at a totally different point to the first site, so it does look very much like we do have another nest site bringing it to two sites here, which is the norm on this building.

Moving on to the rear of the Royal Cottage annexe and we finally observed the larger hole at the top being used this year, although it was our first sighting, Hugh had actually seen birds entering this site earlier in the week.  Also tonight we saw birds entering all the other holes on this area as well as the site on the return wall.

Total birds seen at once in the sky totalled 18 birds with lots of small screeching parties.

It was getting darker quickly and so me moved on to the Coaching House and Manor House.  We got some good results here with two more sites added on the North facing gable wall. We confirmed the old site to the corner where the drainpipe is was being used, also a new site about 8ft along the gutter eaves from the far corner (this is a new site in total), also the site above and to the left of the small porthole window was seen to be used.  We are still hoping that the front elevation site between the two windows on the left maybe being used but so far not accounted.

A new site was witnessed on the North facing gable at the Manor House with the birds using a small triangular hole just below the well established site which is close to the third purlin up the rake of the roofline.

Our party were suddenly alarmed to take a look to the skies were a very large party of mixed Swifts and House Martins were present and all screeching and clicking with alarm, we noticed a large bird of prey emerging out of the cloud of birds having just seized either a Swift or Martin (not sure which) and which it held firm within its talons and then made off to the South West following the line of Main Street. The large bird was not immediately identified and some were left wondering was it a Peregrine or was it a large female Sparrowhawk. The bird by far too large for a Hobby.  On exit the bird was seen to triple wing flap glide and triple wing flap again before the glide. Although at first it seemed appropriate for the Falcon, I did notice it seemed more rounded to the outer edge of the wing which made me then give thought to the female Sparrowhawk. I guess we will never know for sure.

So tonight having recorded five new for the year sites, this brings our total to 22 nest sites so far. This is the highest number of nest sites we have ever recorded in any previous years.

Observers tonight were:  Reg Hesketh, Branwen Kilburn, Hugh and Sue Miles and Bryan Yorke.

Cottage on Post Office Row (Click over to enlarge)
The red marker on the left above the door is the new site recorded this year, although the site does have history with it being used also in 2014.

Royal Cottage rear annexe  (Click over to enlarge)
The larger hole site to the top left was confirmed being used last night - plus the other three here were also witnessed being used as well.

The Coaching House - North facing gable elevation (Click over to enlarge)
Activity last night was confirmed from the old 2015 nest site near the drain pipe and also a new site (never before recorded) was midway along the eaves from the drainpipe to the small round window

Manor House - North facing gable elevation (Click over to enlarge)
Last night we recorded another new site being used (shown above with red arrow and marked 2016), a very tiny triangular slot and just below the already established nest which is located above it and next to the timber purlin close to the verge. Also birds were seen to use other sites on the Manor House. 

NEXT SWIFT MEETING: THURSDAY 23rd JUNE 2016 - 2030hrs (Please note new starting time!!) BURTON MEMORIAL HALL - EVERYBODY WELCOME

Tuesday 14th June 2016 - Top of Clawthorpe - Whin Yeates and over to Newbiggin

My project for today was to check out and count the Yellowhammers, sadly I never had one calling bird at two of their local strongholds, It could well be that I went at the wrong time of day (1100hrs), but usually they are calling at whatever time you go.  I will plan another visit next week!  I did have at least 3 Linnet pairs, also 5 Swifts and 1 House Martin hawking the skies near Whin Yeates plus a beautiful male Bullfinch "peeu" calling and also a local Starling already mimicking the opening line of a Curlew.  Also Greenfinch heard and local Swallows putting in aerial performances.

Small Pearl Bordered Butterflies where flying over the bracken with 5 recorded, also 1 Small Heath Butterfly.  Never let down and out in full force were the Black Chimney Sweeper Moths which were recorded at several places along the main footpath from Whin Yeates to the summit behind Kelker.

Probably one of the best colonies of Lesser Meadow Rue was well on its way.  Checked out the old lime kiln on the Farleton side which already had quite a collection of ferns within that small pile of stones eg: Maidenhair Spleenwort, Ceterach, Brittle Bladder Fern, Wall Rue, and soon the Black Spleenwort. Its a proper fern feast!

That fabulous Old Lime Kiln (that was) a Pteriologist Dream!  (Click over to enlarge)

Sat on the Turtle Stone for at least twenty minutes hoping to hear the "little bit of bread and no cheese", but NO, nothing today. Nem mind we will try on another day soon.

The Turtle Stone (Click over to enlarge)

Monday 13th June 2016 - Hutton Roof Village

Managed to locate a (new to me) Spotted Flycatcher which means I now have two pairs showing within Hutton Roof Village and 3 pairs for the Dalton/Clawthorpe areas to press.

Thursday 9th June 2016 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof Common, Lancelot (0900hrs to 1300hrs)

Butterflies were doing OK today, but quite breezy so met them in the more sheltered areas. Surprisingly NO Painted Ladies today! had about half a dozen Small Pearl Bordered, lots and lots of Small Heaths (scores), 4 Wall Browns, several Speckled Woods, A couple of Brimstone heading in a Southerly across the Memorial Seat area on Lancelot. Brilliant to hear the Lesser Whitethroat although it was purely a sampler, but at least enough to mark off its position.  I have noticed with these birds they are singing all morning long and you can't shut them up (not that I would want too!), or they are just so quiet going about their business. Lately though they have taken on the second option.

Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers and Willow Warblers all calling. New records for a Tree Pipit on both the Common and on Lancelot, also a new Garden Warbler recorded on Lancelot.  Redpoll heard and showing on the Common where now I strongly suspect breeding having taken place.

Whilst climbing up through the Crags it was lovely to see the fresh Limestone Ferns and the Rigid Buckler Ferns all doing well as expected.  Also did a check on the Holly Ferns with No.1 doing extremely well with nine fronds which is usual, but No.2 this year only has 4 fronds and 1 runt (always does put up this runt!) plus attached to the same space were two fronds of the Aculeatum (Hard Shield). Photos showing here:

Holly Fern No. 1 (with 9 fronds) and showing here together with last years dying fronds  (Click over to enlarge)

Holly Fern No. 2 (with 4 fronds) plus the small "runt" fern, plus two aculeatum fronds (Click over to enlarge)

I also checked out most of the Lily Of The Valley and the Angular Solomon's Seal, but most had started to go over.  Also in places the ground was heavily "parched" and in desparate need of a downpour.  This was so noticeable with some of the Common Rock Rose, some was doing OK like you see in the next photo, but only yards away another patch was almost burnt out before it had chance to flower. No signs of any Northern Brown Argus today. Wild Thyme now showing throughout.

A nice patch of Common Rock Rose, but within yards a same size area already burnt out!

Broad Leaved Helliborines are starting to show  (Click over to enlarge)
The Dalton Cuckoo was calling throughout and more or less holding on to the regular territory.  Thats not to say he does not move about, but so interesting to get some belting bird records this week which includes a Cuckoo having been seen regular over on the Farleton side, also a Cuckoo calling from the back of Fern Bank, also another Hawfinch sighting over at Dalton hamlet, a Ring Ouzel sighting between Kelker and Henridding, a Firecrest sighting in Dalton hamlet, Lots more Painted Lady butterflies recorded throughout Hutton Roof, also sightings of Cinnabar Moths in Lancelot and a rare sighting also of a Silver Y moth in Lancelot. 

Thanks to the following for kindly helping out with their sightings: Alec, Calum, Charlie and Robert, 

Photos of the Dalton Cuckoo along with a close up of the beautiful Painted Lady and showing its underwing  (Click over photo to enlarge)  
Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Ashworth (Kendal)

Also here we have a summary of activities from Thursday last (9th June 2016) Swift Observations
but if you want a more comprehensive record please go to the Swift blog by clicking here

Summary of our Swift sightings last night 9th June 2016 (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday 11th June 2016 - Informed of Swift Poster at Burton In Kendal Motorway Services

Our group would like to thank the students of Burton Morewood C of E School for creating this beautiful poster which adorns the walls to the entrance of Burton In Kendal Motorway Services. Well done for such a brilliant poster and also for getting it shown in a place where thousands will see it.

Swift Poster at Burton Motorway Services (Click over to enlarge)

During 2015 one of our group Danny went along to the school and gave a talk to the students on our local Swift populations and maybe this poster in part results from inspiration gained from that talk.


Thursday 9th June 2016 - Swift Observations - Main St, Burton In Kendal

Tonight was without doubt one of the busy nights we have ever witnessed with Swifts everywhere you looked.  We did manage to actually count at least 22 birds in the sky but I am sure this is on the low side there could well have been over 30. We do think a lot of these birds tonight would have probably been non breeders (eg first year birds doing their Reccy)  The largest screaming group had 8 birds and was seen over near Coaching House.

We checked out all the sites starting with the Post Office Block, then Cocking Yard, rear and front and SW wall of the Royal, also the rear of Neddy Hill Cottage (a new site), also from the back of the Kings we watched the large Old Mill for a while and then moved on to finish checking out The Coaching House and The Manor House.

In regards to nesting we were fortunate to see birds entering nest sites on the rear of the Royal, lots on the front of the Royal Cottage, and also birds entering nest sites at the Manor House.

A new nesting site was shown to us by David Craig, who had witnessed a bird going into the nest area on the rear eaves of the Neddy Hill Cottage within David's yard.  Of special interest is that we did map a bird prospecting this particular site last year.  With this new site it brings this years tally up to a minimum of 17 sites.

During the past week also observations have been carried out on the Office Block at Clawthorpe Hall and a further two nest sites have been confirmed on the rear annexe of the Royal Hotel.   To try and give a clearer picture to the ongoing progress I have included below photos of the current status for this year at all occupied sites.

Observers tonight were: David Craig, Reg Hesketh, Hugh and Sue Miles and Bryan Yorke.

The Cottage on the Post Office Block  (Click over to enlarge)

To our knowledge this site has been used in both 2015 and 2016 and also of note is that last year this was the last site occupied within the village, with occupation up until the 16th August 2015

Hangings Farm, Cocking Yard  (Click over to enlarge)

This site is one of a possible two for this property. The site to our knowledge has been used in all years since 2013.  This year at first, we were worried about this site because of the new owners and the pointing renovations which have taken place.  We need not have worried because thanks to Jane and the brilliant co-operation of the new owners, who happened to be totally Swift friendly, they left holes at the eaves so as to allow the birds access to their original nest sites which we now know they have taken up at least one of the known sites.. 

Rear annexe for the  Royal Hotel Cottage Cottage  (Click over to enlarge)

Always been a very productive site for such a small area.  The sites already confirmed are marked in red.  We are still waiting for a confirmation either way on the large hole which you can see towards the top of the building to the left and above the two sites already confirmed.  We did witness birds banging at this entrance tonight so perhaps some activity me be taking place, time will tell.  Also the next photo is a close up of the site on the return wall.

A  close up of the nest site on the return wall of the Rear Royal Hotel Cottage Annexe  (Click over to enlarge)

The Royal Hotel Cottage (Click over to enlarge)
Another of the Swift stronghold sites with six nest within the front of this building, plus we are regularly seeing more "banging" going on at other sections of the eaves, but so far only the areas marked in red are the only definites.

Neddy Hill Cottage - Rear Elevation  (Click over to enlarge)
This is a new site for us tonight.  David Craig has seen a bird entering at the point marked with red.  Also of particular note is that we did record a bird last year actually "banging" and what we took to be prosecting the site.  Its now clear the bird did decide to take up this new residence.

The Coaching House  (Click over to enlarge)

So far we have been able to established a definite breeding site on the side North Elevation marked with a red arrow just to the left hand side of the small round window.  The Coaching House was only established as a breeding site last year in 2015 although we had seen birds prospecting back in 2014.  Last year we did have birds also nesting again on the gable end side elevation to the far left hand corner close to the drainpipe.  Also we did have a bird nesting to the front elevation between the two upper windows.
The Manor House (Click over to enlarge)
The Manor House is yet another of our stronghold sites with at least four sites occupied this year.  It is also suspected that there maybe more nest.

We are ever so grateful to Mrs. Ellis and her family who are very interested in their Swifts and their progress.

The Offices of Ducketts Building Services at Clawthorpe Hall  (Click over to enlarge)
It was a great pleasure to visit this site, because we had suspected birds coming from around the back of Clawthorpe Hall in previous years.  I was able to confirm at least one pair nesting which shows with the red arrow.  Also at the same time there were six birds in the sky directly above the property which makes me think there will be even more nest which hopefully we will be able to ascertain when we do a group visit.

It was nice to meet up with Edward Duckett (MD of Ducketts Building Services) who so kindly pointed out the areas of where the swifts are nesting.  He also loves to have the birds on his property and has purposely left the top guttering/eaves level open of pointing so that Swifts are able to return on a regular yearly basis.

NEXT SWIFT MEETING: THURSDAY 16th JUNE 2016 - 2030hrs (Please note new starting time!!) BURTON MEMORIAL HALL - EVERYBODY WELCOME

Monday, 6 June 2016

Painted Ladies and first Fritillaries of the Year.

Painted Lady in Dalton Crags this morning (6th June 2016)  Click over to enlarge

Monday 6th June 2016 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof (0900hrs to 1200hrs)

Butterflies were the thing today, and that's just what I had set out to see and check if we had any Small Pearl Bordered's about, and sure enough, I was not to be disappointed. I had several what I presume to be Small Pearl Bordered Fritillarys from various parts of the Hutton Roof complex.  Far too flitty to stay still for a photo, but so nice to see those small rustic coloured butterflies once more. Also Small Heath butterflies were just everywhere you travelled with lots of pairs sparring up in mid air flight (or fight)!  As if all that with the fritillaries was not a treat in itself, but today was going to be even more special with the sighting of at least five separate Painted Ladies, enjoying themselves flitting about and lavishing the many Hawkweed flowers. I am told also that Painted Ladies had been recorded in reasonable numbers yesterday from various parts of the County.  Its obviously going to be one of those special years for the Painted Lady.  Its about seven years now since I saw a mass migration of Painted Ladies which followed a line heading to the North West and which were flying about 30ft in the air above my head in the local area of Beetham. Not as yet seen any migration occurances this year, but certainly this morning was witnessing far more than what you would normally see in most years.  Other butterflies included four separate Wall Browns which were mainly on Hutton Roof plus Speckled Woods always close to woodland rides and Green Veined Whites and not forgetting the odd flitting Dinghy Skipper. Also several of the insipid yellow "Speckled Yellow" day flying moths, in fact these moths were in large numbers towards to top of Dalton deforested.

I have no idea just what it was but I had a extremely large flying beetle which went gliding through whilst I was on Dalton Crags it would have been about 2" in length mainly black but did have some white on it.

Cuckoo was seen towards the top of Dalton and was calling very often. More Tree Pipits than usual in Dalton I am so pleased to report! where have they been hiding.  Must have had at least four calling and displaying birds today.  A couple of most beautiful seranading "Garden Warblers" really going for it and you could tell by their song they were really happy.

Lesser Trefoil and Heath Bedstraw and the rarer Limestone Bedstraw, also found more Fly Orchids in one of the already established areas.

Sunday 5th June 2016  "Photo showing Kestrel carrying Swift"

Photo: John Brierley and posted on the Swillington Ings Group website Sunday 5th June 2016

Nothing whatsoever to do with our Burton Swifts, but still very interesting and it occurred somewhere in the North of England in the last few days, when it was witnessed that a Kestrel actually took a Swift in flight. I could have believed it if it had been a Hobby but would never think of it with a Kestrel!  I am told by a friend that the photo is of a first year male Kestrel (immature from last years chicks).

Friday 3rd June 2016 "Cocking Yard"

Some great news as just arrived from Jane Phillips, which is confirmation that a pair are definitely nesting on Hangings Farm in Cocking Yard, this taking our total nest sites tally up to 14.  Worries are now set aside because the property has recently had pointing renovations to the front elevation.  We were so pleased to learn that the more recent occupiers of the property are Swift friendly people who were so pleased to instruct the builders to leave some holes to their previous nesting sites while this work was being carried out, which it is great to see they have now returned and are using at least one of their original sites.

Cocking Yard - Burton In Kendal (Click over to enlarge)

The site on Hangings Farm - The centre dark hole just under the slates
(photo: J. Phillips)

Monday, 23 May 2016

More Nature Notes from Dalton, Hutton Roof and Burton (from 23rd May 2016)

Photos of our Dalton Crags Cuckoo (Click over to enlarge)
Photos: by Andrew Hughes of Warton and taken 30th May 2016


(taken from the Burton Swift Bird Study Site)

Swift Notes for Thursday 2nd June 2016 (Click over sketch to enlarge)

Last night we had more great Swift observations, and managed to add a further three nest sites to our records for this year bringing the total so far to 13 confirmed nest sites.

We confirmed a new site for this year on the small cottage on the Post Office Row.  The site was also used last year (2015). Also this was to be the last site vacated with the final birds leaving Burton on 16th August 2015 (exceptionally late).

Moving on whilst briefly checking Cocking Yard and the rear of the Royal, we did eventually record more action on the front elevation of the Royal Cottage Annexe with a site to the right hand corner being used (already established last week).  Also several birds were seen "banging" at various points along the guttering, so we could not make our minds up whether these birds were full mature adults or immatures of the first year.  We also made particular note to one bird which did seem to enter a completely new nest site but only for a second before it flew off again.  Because of this short encounter we decided to record it as a possible, but not to make any record at this stage.

Moving on past the Royal with nothing showing on the West side elevation, we moved further down Main Street to do our observations across from the Coaching House and the Manor House. Reg saw a Swift using a site on the Coaching House North side elevation quite close to the small circular window, a site which was suspect from 2015 when Tanya Hoare thought it was being used. Also the Manor House showed further activity with birds seen using both of our 2016 already recorded sites on the front elevation.  But we were in for a extra treat with a further bird witnessed using the long established nest site which is near the base of the rake on the North elevation gable end, this was a new record for 2016.

Tonight's observers were: Mary Bullimore, David Craig, Derek from Kendal, Reg Hesketh, Hugh and Sue Miles, Bryan Yorke.  We went on a little tonight from 2000hrs to 2130hrs and we all agreed to try and meet up again next Thursday at 2000hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall when all would be welcomed.

Here are up to date photos showing the nest sites activity tonight (the history of the nest site eg: previously used is also given)

Cottages adjoining the Post Office on Main Street (Click over to enlarge)

The Coaching House (Click over to enlarge)

Manor House, Main Street, (Click over to enlarge)



A Fly Orchid taken on Saturday morning on Hutton Roof (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday morning 28th May 2016 and Sunday morning 29th May 2016 - all morning on both days

A new Blackcap recorded in Dalton, large colony of Periwinkle type flowers on verge just before entering into Plain Quarry (Garden escapees).  Been kindly informed yesterday about a pair of Spotted Flycatchers seen by Robert Ashworth (Kendal) to the East side of Plain Quarry.  I decided to investigate but could not for sure locate however I am sure I did here one calling quite close so definately need to spend more time here.  Of special interest whilst I was checking for Spotted Flycatchers I actually saw a Lesser Whitethroat leaving ground scrub and fly up to a nearby tree. It was great because just at that time I was speaking with Andrew from Warton and he lent me his fabulous Svarowski binoculars and what stunning views!  This bird or (probably birds) is of particular interest because for the past two years, my other pair have gone missing out of the bottom of Dalton Crags (upper or deforested) and I had almost given up on them.  I am now beginning to think now that they have moved territory and come down here!...after all its only a stone throw away.

Small Heath butterflies seem to be everywhere.  Cuckoo was calling from his usual quarter at the top of Dalton Crags (deforested) almost up against the Lancelot boundary wall.  Found and recorded a good two metre population of Yellow Rattle plus a one metre patch of Water Avens.   Still down with the Tree Pipits on Dalton!

On the Sunday, I decided to check around the North and East Side of Hutton Roof, and saw quite a few Linnets and Redpolls (obviously local breeders), only one Yellowhammer calling! A large patch of Bloody Cranesbill about to start showing.  At least ten pairs of Willow Warblers.  Sanicle lazy in these parts today with none showing (strange!) One of the regular Blackcaps calling, lots of Scorpion Flies about, Common Redstart not singing and no Cuckoo over by the Rakes (or at least not calling), and only had one Tree Pipit calling here as well. Absolutely scores of Small Heaths (massive hatch today- they seemed to be everywhere, I'll bet 100 passed by), One Dinghy Skipper enjoying himself flitting about.  And also one Wall Brown Butterfly (my first of the year).

Over the week-end I have been fortunate to find another two populations of Fly Orchids, one on either side of Hutton Roof (one of my own finding and thanks to Robert for giving me the heads up with another population)  It looks like its being a great year so far for Fly Orchids and here below are another couple of photos I took from the Sundays find. 

Two photos above of Sunday's Fly Orchids - little 4 - 6" stunners  (Click over to enlarge)


A sketch I have just done recently for Rob at Sizergh "Hawfinches threatening Strike action"  (Click over to enlarge)

A couple of maps I did a few years ago showing the footpaths across Hutton Roof together with the GPS readings.  These are only approximate maps and not to scale in anyway but work for me and which I found quite useful at first.  When I get chance I will upload some for Dalton, Lancelot and Burton Fell. 

Two of my sketches which I did use until I got to know the tracks well for easy crossing of Common  (Click over to enlarge)


This is a diary sketch relating to our Swift Watch on Thursday May 26th 2016 (Please click over to enlarge)

"POOR SWIFT UPDATE" Friday 27th May 2016 - 1000hrs - Care of Kendal College Wildlife Dept

I have just received word from David Craig who has just been in touch with the Kendal College and we are informed that the "poor swift" died during last night.

The above photos represent the status of all the ten nest sites we have so far recorded being used during most recent observations (Other year dates represent the nest histories) - Click over photo to enlarge.

Thursday 26th May 2016 - Burton Swift Bird Study Group - Checking out Swift nesting sites along Main Street, Burton In Kendal  2000hrs to 2100hrs

From the word go, there were very few birds about and at first we could only log about 5 in the sky at any one time, however on our way back Reg and I did eventually manage to tally 7 which were over the Neddy Hill area. We think it was down to purely a lack of insects on the night, although obviously a few birds were still local.

Our first Swift experience of the evening was noted from the Royal Hotel Cottage front elevation where Reg noted 3 more sites which are all long established but new for this years records.  This now brings the number of sites so far recorded on this particular building to five nesting areas.

Our next positive came whilst observing the Manor House when we were fortunate to see birds entering two more sites, one on the gable end (near 2nd purling up from the front corner) and the other one was close to the front left hand corner. Again these two sites are long established but are new for this years records.

This concluded our observations and we agreed to meet up again next Thursday 2nd June at 2000hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall.

Thursday 26th May 2016 - High above Clawthorpe Hall, Burton 1300hrs approx

Two Swifts hawking the skies above Clawthorpe Hall today. 


Scavenged Song Thrush egg on the side of Ploverlands, Hutton Roof 24th May 2016  (Click over to enlarge)
I guess I very rarely take much notice about the look of the inner shell, but just look at this Song Thrush egg and the beautiful colour patterned "inner".  This was found yesterday (24th May) whilst I was over on the Ploverlands just above Park Wood.  It was not the only one there were three in total and looked very much like a scavenger had played its part.

Poor Song Thrushes and Blackbirds in particular secumb to this sort of thing on a very regular basis, I am seeing it all the time on my local travels.

On a regular yearly basis and at one place in particular within Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve), I have had as many as up to fifteen scavenged eggs, usually placed carefully together in one of the deep muddy Land Rover wheel tracks whilst going along the forest track.   Why do they keep putting them there in this same place year after year, there must be several clutches of eggs here and its always the Blackbird or the Song Thrush.

I always suspected the Grey Squirrel for all this, but maybe I was jumping to conclusions!  I have asked a couple of keepers and they say that without doubt it will be the work of the corvid.  I guess I would go along with that because we certainly have plenty of them.

Below is a photo I used for another purpose only yesterday which has prompted me to hit this subject and it shows just what I find on a regular basis.  In fact I do have better photos when I can lay my hands on them.

A mixture of Song Thrush and Blackbird scavenged eggs layed within a forestry track  (Click over to enlarge)



Well it all starts with a “Cuckoo” which I was lucky to see in Dalton Crags on the early date of April 23rd, I don’t know whether this was one of our local birds or just a bird passing through our area and resting up, the outcome of which was never established.  On May 2nd our first confirmed calling male bird was back in Dalton Crags delighting everyone with its regular calling. Since that day we have been privileged with regular daily sightings and plenty of Cuckoo calling.  Also we have had sightings of a pair plus in Dalton plus a additional bird calling from down between Crag House Farm and the nearby Cockshoot area.

Swallow and House Martin numbers (so far counted) remain similar to last year although a general trend of thought is that there are fewer birds in our skies these days. The Warblers are all doing OK with probably more Garden Warblers than Blackcaps this year, good numbers yet again of Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers.  Redstarts are doing well and accounted for with the safe return of all our regulars on the Dalton Hall estate and also the ones on Burton Fell and over by Kelker and Park Wood.  Scrambling out on most days in readiness to monitor our beautiful little Spotted Flycatchers who should be making their appearance any day now!  I have over the years been able to establish at least four pairs in our area and hope to increase that number this year with more observations.
I can’t make my mind up yet in regards to the fabulous Tree Pipits, most territories have been taken up in parts of Dalton, Lancelot and Burton Fell, although at the time of writing (May 20th), I have still not had the 3 pairs which are usually within the Dalton deforested and none yet recorded over by Majors Nursery on the Dalton Hall Estate. Maybe it’s been too cold for them, but I do expect to be able to record them any day now!  Will also do my Yellowhammer check in the next week or so.

The first of our local Swifts arrived back on the 3rd May, with increases in numbers counted during the daytime of the 4th May (when the bulk arrived) and by the evening of 4th May, 14 birds were counted flying above Main Street.  We had our first Burton Swift Study Group meet on 19th May when 7 birds were seen, and two established nesting sites so far were again confirmed already for this season, one on the Royal and one on the Manor.  I am sure there will be more and hopefully this will increase week by week now. Our next meet will be on Thursday 2nd June at 2000hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall and anyone interested would be most welcome to attend.

Local flora over the month and since our last issue have included: Bugle, Ramsons, Bluebells, Spring Sandwort, Woodruff, Early Purple Orchids (good numbers again, plus a beautiful “pure white” specimen found in Lancelot), Spring Cinquefoil, Parsley Piert, Greater Stitchwort, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Red Campion, Wood Anemone, Garlic Mustard, Cuckoo Flower, Herb Paris (with a strange oddity of a five leaved Herb Paris in Lancelot), Tormentil, vetches, Wood Sorrel, Herb Robert, Common Milkwort, Yellow Pimpernel, Sanicle, Primrose and Cowslips, Crosswort, Germander Speedwell. Fairy Foxglove (probably introduced at Plain Quarry). The month of June should bring in Cow-wheat, Angular Solomon’s Seal, Lily Of The Valley, Fly Orchids and there is also the chance of a early Epipactis.

Ferns are coming through fast and furious with lovely specimens of Rigid Buckler Ferns, Limestone Ferns, Scollies unravelling, and what could be nicer than our very own rarity, the  Holly Ferns which will look great by the end of the month and not forgetting of course our Green Spleenworts.
Another rarity at its best right now is the lovely Carex Ornithopodia (well well well! thought somehow it had something to do with birds!  Yes the Birds Foot Sedge showing well in Lancelot (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve).

Butterflies have included: Dinghy Skipper, Speckled Woods, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tips, Green Veined White, Large White

(Copy written and posted on 20th May 2016)

"POOR SWIFT UPDATE" Wednesday 25th May 2016 - Care of Kendal College Wildlife Dept

1000hrs  David has just let me know that the College have decided they are keeping the bird to at least Friday am, because the birds current weight is showing at 36 grms and that it should be between 43-45 grms and they think it would be to the birds benefit to gain some extra weight before release, and they say a couple more days of feeding should help it. It is currently taking in "Waxworms" and water with no problem. (next update Friday)

"POOR SWIFT UPDATE" Tuesday 24th May 2016 - Care of Kendal College Wildlife Dept

1600hrs  David has received word from the College stating the bird is progressing well and is eating "waxworms" without problem, although its weight is only 36grms where it should be 44 grms, so they are keeping it there again for another night before hopefully handing over tomorrow morning. 

1200hrs  David rang the College this morning and they said the bird had eaten 4 waxworms and taking in water OK.  They said they had one further test to check in regard to a flight test and that the vet would be doing the rounds early afternoon.  Then all being well the bird should be released for us to hopefully set free close to the area of finding. Can't Wait!

Tuesday 24th May 2016 - Hutton Roof Area - Fly Orchids - first of the year Small Heaths, also Dinghy Skipper etc.

Photos of three of the Hutton Roof Fly Orchids I had today (Click over to enlarge)

0900hrs to 1200hrs  Today was very special right from the word go, I left Plain Quarry and headed up the footpath and just at the point of where you go through the opening within the limestone escarpment it sort of entered the world of a fabulous Nine O'Clock bird chorus which included Blackbird, Garden Warblers, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers all singing their little hearts out to see which could sing the loudest! Wow it was just fantastic and so clear and so loud, even the grass below you was "sparkling" in the deliver of the morning sun has it hit the "morning dew" which covered everything.

It came as a very pleasant shock to note the missing Tree Pipits had all arrived back and were singing from points within the upper deforested Crags (at least 3 in the Crags) and Skylarks chasing one another and putting on fighting displays! even more Tree Pipits (another 3 calling birds), as I entered the Common and took my path through the Ploverlands, I wonder if this is where they have been hiding all the time!

Still lots of St Marks Fly about, also had my first two of the year Small Heath Butterflies and a lovely Dinghy Skipper which allowed me close access for a photoshot! again here it seemed like a bird singing contest and I even made out a nearby Goldcrest giving its high pitched flurries.

On my way back down its was great to hear one of the paired Lesser Whitethroats singing away just at a point higher up from the Gully and within Dalton Crags (upper deforested). Nearby I also saw a crazy "Speckled Yellow" Moth, chasing everywhere at top speed.

It was also great this morning to have been able to locate my first three of the year "Fly Orchids" (Photo shown above).  Thanks Barry for giving me the heads up on these.

Dinghy Skipper on Hutton Roof this morning  (Click over to enlarge)

Four photos showing the fabulous high pressure clouds this morning  (Click over to enlarge)
Many moons ago I bought a music CD by the Orb called "Little Fluffy Clouds" and thats just what we had this morning over Caton and Ingleborough

Tuesday 24th May 2016 - Hutton Roof Areas - Fly Orchids

0700hrs - Notes come in from Barry (from yesterday 23rd May) that he found 2 Dinghy Skipper butterflies in the Plain Quarry area of Dalton. He also had a Speckled Yellow over near Ploverlands.

Also he recorded 7 Fly Orchids from a new area on Hutton Roof which 4 plants were in flower with more to come, 2 plants in bud, and one plant had been chewed off.

Monday 23rd May 2016 - Area across from Manor House and just behind Kings, Main Street, Burton In Kendal.

 - Counted and confirmed a minimum of 20 Swifts in the air together and there could well have been many more.

"POOR SWIFT UPDATE" Monday 23rd May 2016 - Care of Kendal College Wildlife Dept

1730hrs  Swift has been checked out thoroughly and thankfully showing no bone fractures or any other problems, so the College Wildlife Department are keeping it overnight before hopefully handing it back for us to release back in Burton.  More update tomorrow.

1200hrs Swift has been taken by David across to Kendal College (Wildlife Dept) where they are keeping it until a vet checks it over this afternoon and hopefully will give it a skeleton x-ray.  If all is OK it will be handed back later this afternoon for release back in Burton.  If there are more severe problems eg: with its skeleton of which there are fractures, they have already advised it will be better to put the bird to sleep.  So for now we are all sat with fingers crossed and praying that it will be OK. Will report back later.

1000hrs Swift still doing well and gladly taking in small amounts of water this morning.  Hopefully we intend to try and release back into the wild at sometime today. Will report back later

Notes (recorded 23rd May 2016) from today and also over the past few days - Dalton, Hutton Roof, Burton In Kendal and Dalton Hall Estate area etc plus notifications

Been advised by two separate friends (Robert Ashworth and David Pitman) that Fly Orchids are just starting off on Hutton Roof complex with one in flower and several probably opening up within the next week.

Herb Paris in woodland - Dalton Hall Estate (private)  (Click over to enlarge)

"Panorpa Germanica" (Click over to enlarge)

I found whilst going through Dalton Crags a scorpion fly belonging to the family "Panorpa Germanica"

presumed all "Pyrausta ostrinalis" All three sightings last week , My own photo plus Roberts and David's
Besides my own record "Pyrausta ostrinalis", I have had two more similar records for Hutton Roof so its obvious there must be plenty about at the moment

I wasn't alone in the woods today! I'm sure it was the incredible Jeff Lynne from ELO singing "Mr. Blue Sky"  (Click over to enlarge)