Saturday, 4 July 2015

Whitethroat, Grayling, Parsley Piert at Clawthorpe

Friday 3rd July 2015 - Clawthorpe Fell and thereabouts 0930 to 1100hrs

Grayling butterfly
Click over to enlarge)
Decided today to go over to Clawthorpe Fell and see if I could locate the Spotted Flycatcher which I first located behind Curwen Wood. But again like 2014 I did not manage to see it.  In fact there was very little in the way of bird song other than a (new to me) Garden Warbler quietly bubbling away whilst going up past Holme Park Quarry Nature Reserve. I did have part calls from a Green Woodpecker which never broke into full yaffles just samples.

One of the highlights had to be the emergence of the Grayling butterflies, which seemed to be everywhere.  There underwing pattern looks superb, and they always intrigue me how on landing they sit for a second or two and then fall over to one side.  I wrote a poem years ago about this:

Grayling – (1st July 2011)

Grayling butterflies must have hatched today,
I have seen them here and seen them there,
On the limestone pavements and on the scree,
You watch them flutter, so fanciful and free.
Then they come down to settle on the ground,
With wings not open but so tightly bound,

And then they fall upon their side.

I checked out some of the rare Birds Foot Sedge which were showing regular, but seemed perhaps less than past years.

Great Mullion on Clawthorpe Fell
Also of note are the Great Mullion flowers to be found on the fell along with large Common Valerian. Also checked the Biting stonecrops which are everywhere, and the patch of English Stonecrop is over 20 square metres.

I manage to find a small patch of Parsley Piert which is new to the list for here.

A large brown dragonfly was also noticed at the perimeters with Curwen Wood.

Another welcome experience today was to hear the lovely "Whitethroat" singing away and close to the large Ash tree from behind the farm at Clawthorpe and close to where I had it three years ago.  So a really nice record for today.

Other species recorded today were:
Flora: Crosswort, Birds Foot Trefoil, Heath Bedstraw, Cotoneaster, Ragwort, Wild Strawberry, Herb Robert, Angule Solomons Seal, Hawkweeds, Wood Sage, Wild Thyme, Dropwort, Perforated St. Johns Wort, Self Heal, Wall Lettuce, Eyebright, Fairy Flax, Lesser Meadow Rue, Spring Sandwort, also Harts Tongue Fern and Maidenhair Spleenworth Ferns.

Birds: Bullfinch, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff.

Fairy Flax found on Clawthorpe Fell

Friday, 3 July 2015

Swift observations - July 2nd 2000hrs to 2130hrs

Details of our observations Thursday 2nd July 2015, all activity was on Royal Hotel,
mainly on the Annexe return and also at the front of the Royal.
(Please click over to enlarge)

We met up at the Memorial Hall (Reg, David and Myself), we looked up to the skies and counted a maximum of nine birds present.  We did later see a chasing screaming party of about 5 or 6 birds. From the Memorial Hall it did look like there could have been birds dropping into Cocking Yard but we could not confirm for sure.

We checked out all the regular sites.  We did see activity at the Royal at a couple of points on the front of the building.  But the jewel came when we actually saw a bird leave its nest on the return side of the annexe building.  This was a site used last year and to get confirmation that it is being used this year is really good news.

Although several birds did cross over the Manor and the Coach House we did not actually see any of them enter any of the known sites.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Holly Fern Check Up

Holly Fern No.1 in excellent health with its older fronds behind it!
Monday 29th June 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof - Records kindly sent in by Robert Ashworth of Kendal.

Wood Tiger Moth
Photo: Robert Ashworth

Click over to enlarge
Orchids: Dark Red and Broad Leaved Helleborines in bud, fly Orchids (2 on Hutton Roof) both well past their best.

Butterflies: Common Blue, Painted Lady ("tired" insect), Dark Green Fritillery and possibly more but not truely identified other than large fritillaries! - Small Pearl Bordered Fritillery, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Dingy Skipper and Large Skipper.

Moths: A Wood Tiger found at top of Lancelot (see photo)

Birds: Crossbill (small flock flew North of Burton Fell). Cuckoo also showing tinged brown plumage.

Thursday 2nd July 2015 - Hutton Roof Complex - Checking out the Holly Ferns 0900 to 1115hrs

A much duller day, but more welcome in the fact it was slightly cooler! even so you could still feel the humidity.

"Rob Roy" natural sculpture
Click over to enlarge
The Warblers seem to have gone much quieter now with just the odd Willow Warbler, and Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff back down in Dalton Crags. Did have a couple of Tree Pipits which just about made a few light noises so you could just about recognize their calls, but nothing like their normal calling and certainly no display on offer.  I would imagine they are all settled down with young birds at the nest. Green Woodpeckers could be heard with a "bit of a yaffle".

The Wild Strawberries are now in their multitudes, and Self Heal has started to show everywhere as well.

Butterflies thin on the ground today, but for Ringlets which have definately had a massive hatch in the last couple of days. Also had one Dark Green Fritillary, One Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary,  and Small Heaths.

It was really nice to bump into Phillip from Preston again this year and I showed him the "motherland" of the Green Spleenworts which this year does have yet another small colony taking it up to about 8 in total. I also showed him "Rob Roy"  the natural sculpture and when I put some water over the indentations and it brought out the face, I think my friend was well and truly impressed. (see photo).

Today the main reason I was up on Hutton Roof was to check out the Holly Ferns.  I was well pleased with Holly Fern No. 1 which is plodding along lovely as you can see from the above photograph.

I cant say I was just has happy with Holly Fern No.2 because I soon realised it had been vandalised by maurauding Roe Deer and they had managed to nibble off a few of the fresh fronds on both the Holly Fern and also its cousin the "Hard Shield Fern" which are intermingled together with this specimen. (hybrid long awaiting!).  To be honest with you I was very surprised to find any fronds at all, because usually when they do get this plant they take the lot.

Every year they do get it! but usually it is not until in the New Year when all its surrounding hazel vegetation is bare and the bush is leafless, but by January you don't mind so much because it's had a good innings and hopefully by then the sori has flown!  So this year came as a bit of a shock to see its already looking a bit weary!  Never mind, that's nature for you.....

Holly Fern 2 after Roe Deer attack - Click over to enlarge.

You can't beat a foxglove amongst the bracken

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Marsh Lousewort - Northern Brown Argus - Spotted Flycatcher

Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) Park Wood, Hutton Roof - Click over photo to enlarge)

Tuesday 30th June 2015 - Park Wood and Hutton Roof (East Side) 0900hrs to 1530hrs with Steve Garland.

Its been sometime now since I checked out the lovely water flush areas which line the East side perimeters of the Park Wood woodland over at Hutton Roof.

I was shown the beautiful Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) which was growing in the damp areas at the side of the stream which comes out below the woodland and crosses the fields heading East. I would have thought that there were several metres of the plant.  This is the first time I have seen this species within the local area.

Also of interest and in close quarters was Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) starting to come through with lovely purple/green appearance now and again standing out within the spongy boggy vegetation. I guess they will look lovely once the flower starts to come through later this month.

Yellow Sedge (Click over to enlarge)
Not a scholar of the Sedges, but you could not help but notice the lovely array of Yellow Sedge (Carex viridula) joining company with the other already mentioned.  I suppose I could have kicked myself, after checking my notes, I have come away without even getting the gps for this area, nem mind! will sketch it out for the notes and hopefully add a gps on another visit soon.

Coming back along the meadows with the occasional "water flush" areas we were lucky enough to see a Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly along with Common Blues (both males and females), a Small Heath and the first Meadow Brown Butterfly hatch, a Small Tortoiseshell, and a Large Skipper Butterfly. With the sudden rise in temperature and drop in wind (in fact also very humid conditions) it was soon becoming apparent it was going to be one of those "rare" butterfly days. Earlier at the small stream area I recorded Dinghy Skipper Butterfly, and a early migrant indicator with the Silver Y Moth.

Also here were treated to the beautiful close up calls of two territorial Blackcaps singing their little hearts out! whilst up in the skies a Kestrel seemed to be attacking the local Buzzard.

I suppose when you looked at the areas you would have half expected to see maybe the odd Marsh Orchid in the flushes, but no! the only dash of colours came from Ragged Robin (very scattered) and plenty of clover.

Strange things or coincidences or whatever one wishes to call them is just what happened next. I was talking about the Redstarts of the area with Steve when I just happened to switch conversation, by mentioning to him that I love these sorts of ancient woodland perimeters because I am always on the look out for the rare Spotted Flycatcher.  And just has I was in the middle of that very word "Flycatcher", than what should appear only maybe 100 yards away, yes the Spotted Flycatcher. Just to try and equate the rarity of this declining species, It will be only the fourth unique record I have of it in the Hutton Roof confines in the last five years (or in this case on the edge of).

I mentioned to Steve, although this is the case with this particular species, if I go in search of passing migrants during the third week in August I have on three years in succession recorded anywhere up to 12 individual birds (Spotted Flycatchers) which are obviously from at least 3 separate family groups calling off to rest and feed up on the same latitude/longitude line both in Dalton Crags and also again across in Lancelet Clark Storth. Whilst mentioning this it is also worth pointing out that our local breeders will have already left their territories some three weeks before this, which gives suspect to these mid August birds being from populations a lot further North.

Click over to enlarge
Has we started climbing the Park Woods, I made notes and gps of the many Yellow Pimpernel populations, but quickly gave up on this realizing it was just everywhere.  I did find another small area which had a population of what I first thought was Ribbed Mellilot, and on checking the references, the flower and head of the plants fits perfect, yet the leaves are not right, I need to check this out further.  Also managed to record another area with "Sweet Woodruff" a good population of maybe some 20 square metres, yet nothing actually flowering yet! that's really strange because everywhere else the local populations have been in flower for over three weeks now.   Common Spotted Orchids were becoming more frequent the further we headed up the Wood.  Also pleased to be able record at least three separate areas of the large Common Figwort.  Maybe not that rare but neither is it common. Also pleasant on the eye had to be spaced out Wood Avens. Only bird activity at these point was another Blackcap, Willow Warblers in full song and some in just contact hou-whit calls, but also closeby a party of Long Tailed Tits giving it the si-si-si. calls. We later also had a few Redpolls calling now and again.

Near the top of Park Wood it was great to be able to record at least two of the Field Maple Trees, and also very rewarding to see a fresh small Field Maple having attached and growing within the top of a rotting wood pile.

Still in the Park Wood confines it was decided we check out a area of the Common Rock Rose, quite a large area though heavily fragmented and a open area surrounded by mature trees.  And wow what a place to sit and have lunch!  before long we were seeing Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Common Blue Butterflies, but then the jewel in the crown the small Northern Brown Argus, which was constantly parading along Rock Rose, in fact just at this point we were to witness numbers up into the teens to twenty mark.  Furthermore here I recorded some small patches of Bloody Cranesbill which were a lovely contrast in colour to its surroundings.

Crossing over into Hutton Roof, I showed Steve the Daphne which was well leafed up and already bearing its fruits. We also found a nice area of maybe 3 metres of Kidney Vetch. Closeby we also managed to record the Chimney Sweeper Moth never far away from the Pignut flowers.  A real treat also was to witness the strong flying female Brimstone which at first gave you the impression it could be a Large White.

I showed him the inscriptions in the limestone boulders, and showed him the large populations of Sanicle. We checked out further areas which had Rock Rose and again where so fortunate to witness lots more Northern Brown Argus, as though they were everywhere today. Absolutely brilliant news to see so many and obviously they have done well.  I think we must have had anything up to forty on the wing today.

Steve a entomologist was showing me lots and lots of small solitary bees and wood bearing beetles, and miniature hover flies, some of these were perhaps only the sizes of say a common ant.  And besides this some of these mini creatures had the most beautiful irridescent colours.  I believe I will receive a report of the varied insects we have had today later when Steve has had chance to identify and compile, I am really looking forward to this because, he thinks that maybe a few of them could be rarities and possibly never before recorded from the area.

Steve checking his net for the rare insects of the area

Monday, 29 June 2015

Yellowhammers and some of my Fritillary Notes

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Here is a sketch I did years ago for the 
Dark Green versus High Brown Fritillary (differences)

Sunday 28th June 2015 - From Whin Yeates over to Farleton Fell and return. 1800 to 1930hrs

Checked out the Brittle Bladder Fern, Ceterach, and the Black Spleenwort at the old Lime Kiln, and all look to be doing OK.

Managed to record three areas for the Yellowhammer (two previously recorded and a further site today).

A new site for the Tree Pipit.  The only one I have ever been able to record on the Farleton side, so well pleased with that.  Singing and displaying.

Probably another highlight just had to be the appearance of one of the large Fritillaries, it went past so quickly I wasnt able to establish whether it was the Dark Green or the High Brown.  From the early date I could well imagine that it could have been a High Brown Fritillary! yet because of its very exposed presence it could well have been a "EARLY" Dark Green.  We will never know.


Below is a short blog I did a few years ago:-

I like many others used to find it very difficult to distinguish between the two butterflies, but now after lots of practice it is not so bad. I tend to use the following guidelines (Please click over sketch to enlarge).
Also check out these photos to show examples side by side: (Click over to enlarge and click again to supersize)

The Dark Green Fritillary on the left of these photos, shows the first black spot on the right forewing, just slightly smaller than the others and dropped down just a little, the fourth spot is very small, but still in a reasonable alignment to the rest of the line. Also there is little in the way of a depletion to the centre edge of the forewing, (perhaps just the slightest).
Yet with the High Brown Fritillary on the right of these photos, you will note again the first dot is small and dropped very low and then you have two average size spots and then another small spot, which is out of alignment with the rest. Also you can probably note the depletion dip in the side of the forewing, whereby with the Dark Green, the forewing edge is more rounded.

The Dark Green underside of the hindwing, is far more dusty green in colour. And also you can see there is white/silver spots to the full trailing edge (7 prominent spots) of the hindwing underside.

The High Brown is far more of a general brown appearance, with far less of the dusty green. And it only has 3 prominent white/silver spots to the full trailing edge (3 prominent spots). Also the High Brown has a row of silver pupilled red spots which show vertical behind the 3 prominent white/silver spots.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Northern Brown Argus and Crossbills on the Wing

A Northern Brown Argus feeding on Common Rock Rose (I took this photo in June 2014) Click over to enlarge

Saturday 27th June 2015 - Hutton Roof from Whin Yeats side and over past Kelker and the Rakes and up along Bracken Bed, Hybrid Hill and directly back to Whin Yeats side. 0930hrs to 1130hrs.  (Intentions check out inscription, and progress of Dark Red Helliborines on Hybrid Hill.

Just after setting off I was startled, because not far from me was what I first imagined to be a Sparrowhawk in a medium sized hawthorn bush being mobbed by three Meadow Pipits, with lots of agitation going on, and then I saw the large full size bird for a second time crossing over to another hawthorn at the height of about 6ft and realised it was a full size Cuckoo I was seeing and not a hawk! I had thought I had seen the last Hutton Roof Cuckoo leave around mid June.  Then it came to mind that maybe it was a young bird being fed by three separate pipits!  I only got quick glimpses on each occasion and it was very difficult to get any clear picture, before it was off and away with the Pipits in close pursuit.  Although the large bird was a overhall grey like you would expect from a Cuckoo, there was also a element of brown on the bird.  I gave thought to the arrival dates of the Cuckoo from the beginning of May and wondered if this was perhaps a this years young Cuckoo, although for me it would have been fully grown!

Checked out a 6 metre patch of Beech Fern on the Kelker side and soon came upon two Common Spotted orchids at the side of the path.  They were still in their "pyramid spike" state of early growth.  It never ceases to amaze me the variation patterns on the flowers.

A new Tree Pipit was recorded quite close to where I was stood and got some fabulous views of its aerial demonstrations.  at 1000hrs a party of 6 Crossbill crossed high and headed onward to the North. That ties in with other parts of the Country who are also recording the movements of Crossbills.

Small Heath Butterflies and lots of Speckled Wood Butterflies in the glades, but the cream had to come with two separate sightings of the rare Northern Brown Argus.  One of the butterflies was at a regular "Common Rock Rose" old established site whilst the other was in a completely new territory and this one was feeding on Birdsfoot Trefoil, a Hawkweed and also feeding on a large "sedge" (see photo below).

Also today I did manage to find the large limestone boulder over the Rakes side which also has a inscription (not the Braithewaite Blacksmith inscription but another which was not just has clear, though the text was done with much skill and read as follows: "JOHN LAMB - LIVERPOOL and also but difficult to read and below was MA LAMB (see photo below)

The Helliborines and the rare Hypericums are at least 10 days to two weeks behind usual.  Expect ordinary Dark Reds in about ten days time.

I had forgot my camera, so here we are from the mobile - it shows the NBA feeding on a sedge? Click over to enlarge
Very difficult to read here but the inscription does say JOHN LAMB - LIVERPOOL and MA LAMB Click over to enlarge

Friday, 26 June 2015

Still checking those Montanums - and its good news!

This is the long established colony which has now increased this year from 6 flowers to what could well be 10 flowers
Thursday 25th June 2015 - Hutton Roof Complex 1400hrs to 1600hrs

Yes I set off with the intentions to check out our main Hypericum Montanum colony on Hutton Roof, with excellent results. The first I checked had increased from one to three, the second colony have increased from six to a possible ten, and the third had decreased from two to one.  So overhall the situation seems quite positive. Check the photo above which shows they are only another fortnight off flowering.

I also made gps records of two Blackcaps I had whilst I was travelling up Slape Lane towards to Fells. Past the copse which I always call "garlic wood".  No dissapointment today, maybe the ramsons have finished but you are still left with that "garlic" punjent smell in the arir which seems to linger on and on and today was no exception - quite pleasant though....

I had my first Red Admiral of the year, and also for the very first time this year a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary actually on the wing!  still dull days with just the occasional burst of sunshine!

Also good populations of Yellow Pimpernell, Biting Stonecrop, Fairy Flax, and spreading Cow-Wheat, Angular Solomons Seal, noticed Heath Woundwort has started coming through on the sheltered lane along with multitudes of Red Campion, never seen so much Campion around.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary on the wing in Lancelot Clark Storth
Charcoal Burner on the ready in Lancelot Clark Storth
Some of the Red Campion to add a little colour to the blog

Thursday June 25th 2015 - Swift observations - Main Street, Burton In Kendal between 2100hrs and 2200hrs

Last night's (25th June) activity with the Swifts on Main Street, Burton In Kendal - Please click over the sketch

This week there was only Reg and myself observing the Swifts.  As usual we started from the Burton Memorial Hall and worked through the different sites.

At the start of the evening we did manage to count at one stage up to 25 birds, some screaming follow my leader parties of up to 12 birds.  The skies were very busy tonight with birds at medium height, but occasionally coming down to lower levels.

We did not have any birds again at the Cottages near to the Post Office, however we did manage to confirm a new site this year in Cocking Yard.  In fact it was the same site which we recorded back in 2013. This now confirms both sites in Cocking Yard are being used.

Moving on to the Royal, we did not witness any activity to the rear or sides of the buildings, but did witness birds coming down to all three sites on the front left hand side lower elevation.  In fact we saw three visits to the nest site which is 4ft below the eaves on the LH side and we estimated that food was being brought to the nest site at approx a 30 minute interval.

Moving on to the Coach House and the Manor House.  Things seemed quiet with very little overhead aerial activity just occasionally you would see the screaming chasing birds going through.  However by chance we were lucky to see one bird leaving a new (for this year, but old established site) site on the front of the Manor House, and this now brings the Manor House nest sites to three separate locations (One front and 3 RH side Gable).


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Hypericum Montanum, and even more Beech Fern etc.

Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum)  a rarity
Here is the "new" plant I found last year, its on its way but just one plant again for 2015!
(Click over photo to enlarge)
Today I set of with good intentions to check out the recent found Beech Ferns, just to see if I could find any "Oak" ferns growing on the extremities of the Beech fern populations, then on the agenda was a visit to check out the last years rare find of the Hypericum Montanum and finally I thought I would cross over to the Rakes area and check out a "inscription" which has been carved into one of the limestone boulders (not the Braithewaite - Blacksmith, but another one).

All good intentions, but time always takes over and although I did manage to accomplish the first two main items I never found time to go across to the Rakes, but its no big deal - hopefully there will be another day for this!  I suppose I am thinking lets get all these bits and bats out of the way so that I have a clear window with plenty of time left to spend in a couple of weeks when the rare Dark Red Helliborine orchids are out when I will be very busy trying to find the rare hybrid Schmalhauseneii and recording notes and measurements etc whilst in the field.

Again today, I found lots of new Common Rock Rose colonies and this took time recording the gps etc.  Also I just could not believe my eyes I followed a footpath I have not travelled for a couple of years now and believe it or not found a area of Beech Fern of 56 square metre laid out in linear to the side of the footpath.  A collossal amount! in three separate colonies with only 20 yards or so apart.

My sketch maps on Beech Fern is looking good at the moment with plenty on Hutton Roof Complex (95 square metres in total over seven sites).

Also today recorded the rare Mountain Melick grass, Lily Of The Valley, Angular Solomons Seal, Dark Red Helliborine (immature), Broad leaved Helliborine (immature), Common Twayblades, Bitter Vetch, Sanicle, Yellow Pimpernel.

The first Speckled Wood butterflies where on the wing today and found in most of the glades I traversed.  Also still good hatches of the Small Heath Butterflies, but no Fritillaries today or NB Argus at the moment.

I noticed the "Wild Strawberries" are out now (look at photo below), and I am sure I will be doing some quick tasters has I stroll past them in the very near future.

Wild Strawberries on Hutton Roof (Click over photo to enlarge)
Some of the beautiful 56 square metre of Beech Fern found today
This is a proper oddball I found amongst some nearby Broad Buckler Ferns. It was different in texture with being more leathery looking, colour and bulky size of the pinnae compared to the others nearby and also had the distorted frond lengths etc. (Click over to enlarge)

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillery - Plus Yellowhammers etc etc etc.

My first of the year - Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Tuesday 23rd June 2015 - Hutton Roof Common (North Corner) 1330hrs to 1530hrs.

Chiffchaff calling at Rowley Copse whilst on the way up.

Managed to record two further Yellowhammers plus another one again which I had already recorded a couple of weeks ago.  All were easily identified by their pleasant call of "little bit of bread and no cheese".  All these birds are a bonus for me this year with being on new territory.

Had Linnets and also Redpoll calling, other than that just a single Willow Warbler.  Surprised because I generally have the odd Tree Pipit calling from around here.  But still although odd burst of sunshine at times there was that cold underlying chill.  It was also holding back the butterflies, with just a couple of Small Heath found and probably the best for me this year so far with a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary resting up near some Birds Foot Trefoil (photo above). This is a area which supports scores of this species but sadly none seen on the wing!

Made lots more new records of Common Rock Rose, never known anything like this, with new populations springing up all over the place. Also noting some nice Dark Red Helliborines starting to come through. Most at about 6" with a drooping head at the moment.  Also checked out the Mossy Stones area and found my best population of Sanicle yet area of around 14 metre diameter with scores and scores of plants. 

Found another 4 Birds Foot Sedge Plants and noted the gps.  One of the plants was growing in a gryke about 2ft deep, nice one still got all its birds foot flowers yet.

Plenty of Common Rock Rose
The beautiful "wild" Guelder Rose

Monday, 22 June 2015

Common Cow-wheat and Dropwort etc

Common Cow-Wheat in Lancelot Clarke Storth today (22nd June 2015) Click over to enlarge
The weather is still not that great and we had the "Summer Solstice" yesterday. Still damp with rain at times and very greyish weather.  It just is not bringing out the butterflies and what a shame!  when we are having "bumper" populations of Common Rock Rose, but no Northern Brown Argus to take advantage.  Another would be the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, its very thin on the ground with Butterflies.  All this forecasting of one of those special years when "Painted Ladies" will have a eruption.  They too are waiting for the weather to turn!

Like I said some of the flora offerings are brilliant this year.  Really good populations of Sweet Woodruff and look at the Cow-Wheat (see photo above).  

Birdwise today was again very thin on the ground especially with our Warblers, I heard one Chiffchaff which was without doubt a "Miss A Note", and just the one Willow Warbler in song, with one just doing its "houwit" contact call.  

Swallows seem down in numbers, I was speaking with local farmers who are definately reporting a decline in local Swallow numbers in recent years.  

Made some records of Woodruff, Common Rockrose, Yellow Pimpernel and Dropwort is starting to come through (see photo).

Dropwort starting to come through now. Click over to enlarge

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Cut Leaved Cranesbill, Field Madder and Swifts

Cut Leaved Cranesbill found near Dalton Crags
Thursday 18th June 2015 - Dalton Crags 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Just had a local walk around part of Dalton Crags and on the Crag House side I refound the Cut Leaved Cranesbill which I remembered from a few years ago.  Near the same area there were also Parsley Piert in flower, Field Madder (a little beauty-see photo), Birds Foot Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Tufted Forget Me Not.

The Warblers this morning were well subdued with just one Blackcap calling regular, and little was coming from the Willow Warblers with the odd bird being recognized purely through the "hou-whit" contact call.  I did have one Chiffchaff calling.  I think may again that coolish breezy day could well be responsible for this.

No Cuckoo heard today.

Field Madder found near Dalton Crags

2100hrs to 2215hrs "Swift" nest recording off Main Street Burton In Kendal. (Swift Bird Study Group)

Rough sketch of Swifts nesting sites for 2015 as at June 18th 2015

The weather was dry yet still had that cool edge.  At first we found it very difficult to locate any Swifts, the skies seemed empty and this was more or less the situation throughout the watch, however on going around to the individual nest sites we were then able to locate just the odd birds returning to their respective nest sites.

Tonight there were four of us, Myself, Reg, David and we were joined by Karen of Kendal who had also come along to observe our Swifts and who is also thinking about getting a group going over in Kendal.

Although we never saw any birds returning into Cocking Yard, we have been informed by Jane that the regular pair on "Hangings Farm" are back and she thinks they could well have young.

We moved on to the Royal and whilst there we saw our first swift of the evening returning to its nest site.  The small hole of the three holes on the rear annexe.  This was another new record for us this year although the site has been used for at least three years as we know of. Two further new sites were also recorded on the front of the Royal were we also saw a Swift enter one of the old established sites, but again a new record for this year. We were also advised by David that he had earlier in the week seen birds going into another of the old sites further along on the Royal building (lower elevation). So this makes the Royal offering at the moment to six individual sites.

Moving on to The Coach House, and we saw a bird entering on the corner of the gable end side which is again another brand new site which has never been recorded before.

From our position we could also see clearly the gable of the Manor House and another pair of birds were seen to enter a small hole and very close to a old established nest site which we registered as being used only last week.  Although this site is very close within inches of the one recorded last week, we do feel that perhaps that it is a new site.  Prior to second bird going into the nest site there was several visits where the bird would go close and hold the wall for split second before coming off and going aerial yet again and would return doing the similar thing again and again before actually seen to enter the nest site. This now brings the Manor House birds up to three separate sites.

Even closing to dusk the skies still seemed void of birds, just a couple where seen occasionally. Where had all the Swifts gone?

Why not check out the new blogsite of the Burton Swift Bird Study Group by clicking here

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Early stages of the Rarest Epipactis Schmalhauseneii!

Epipactis Schmalhuaseneii - Infant growth today 16th June 2015
(Click over to enlarge)
(More photos of several of our  schmalhauseneii specimens between No.9 and No.15)

Everybody's forcasting a "Painted Lady" influx - 

Click on this link 

Tuesday 16th June 2015 - Hutton Roof Complex 0900hrs to 1100hrs.

My early intentions which I carried out was to go to my last Fly Orchid stronghold on the Hutton Roof complex.  I did manage to find another two plants.  I also examined lots of Limestone Bedstraw, and was also lucky to find another rarity of the "Bedstraw" and for me quite a early population of the most beautiful "Squinancywort".  Eyebright seems to have turned up from nowhere eg: not here yesterday but everywhere today!

Butterflies were Small Heath (several), managed to find a new area for the singing Garden Warbler which was duly noted with gps.

The main attraction today had to be the observations of the early stages of the fabulous rare hybrid of the Dark Red Helliborine - the "Epipactis Schmalhauseneii".  I have shown some of the specimens here.

This will be Specimen No.15 which should turn out to be the strongest and most colourful and plentiful of flowers, of all the Schmalhausenii on the Hutton Roof complex, and I would not be suprised if it was not for the whole of the UK..  I will now show in the next photo of how this plant is likely to develop.
This was Specimen No.15 last year with a phenomenal 56 flowers.
Another of todays Schmals close to Specimen 9

Another Specimen today close to Specimen 9
If you want to check out all todays Schmalhuaseneii photos including some early variant infant photos then click on my hosting site here and there you can scroll through and enlarge at will. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fly Orchids, Beech Ferns and "Braithewaite the Blacksmith" Inscription

A Fly Orchid here which took me by surprise on the side of the well trodden footpath

Get ready for a invasion of "Painted Lady" Butterflies - Check out this link:

Click over this link to check out their progress

Sunday 14th June 2015 - Hutton Roof (from Clawthawpe side and over to Burton Fell boundary and then across to The Rakes and back.  approx 1330hrs to 1700hrs

The very first thing I recorded was a couple of Fly Orchids which were at the side of the main track. I was suprised to find them there because of the longish vegetation.  I also suppose it was a case that if you took your eye off for one second, you would struggle to find them again!  that's the usual story with this species I have found. After this I did find another one close to the boundary with Burton Fell, but could not find anymore even after extensive searching.  Did find a couple of Common Twayblade on my way up which were well tatty because they were situated right in the middle of the well trodden path, to be honest I am surprised there was anything of them left! Also now finding plenty of Broad Leaved Helliborines at the early stages of about 4" in height, I wonder just how many of these will survive or will most of them become deer fodder?

Small area of the large expanse of Beech Fern
The Bedstraws were coming through fast and I managed to check out plenty of Heath and even more of the Limestone Bedstraw.  Checking with the glass the samples to see if the bristle at the end of the small leaves went forward or backward, with most going backwards indicating Limestone.  To be honest I have found in 80% of cases you can tell the Limestone just by the look with its more straggly appearance and bolder plant, but its still nice to be able to get that clear confirmation by checking the "backward" bristle.

Along the way I have been booking down all the species I have had and its become quite a list so I will put them on at the end of the blog.

The next major event for me today was finding two new "Beech Fern" sites, one of which was quite extensive and covering a area of about 27 square metres.  What a beautiful site this was and to think I must have walked past it a hundred times before and never realised it was there! I took a couple of photos and show one here.  Later I found another sites on the Kelker side but this time only about 2 metres diameter.

I managed to find several more Sanicle sites over on the East Side of Hutton Roof and whilst following what I call the "Bracken Bed" path.  Also going along this path I noticed how good this year the Common Rock Rose were at this site, without doubt has to be the best population on the whole of Hutton Roof covering a area of about 50 metres diameter.  But too dull today for any Northern Brown Argus activity or for that matter any butterfly activity at all.

Just having turned the corner here and before I come up in front of the Rakes I noticed carved into the large rock the name of "John Braithewaite" - Blacksmith - 1836 and "horseshoe insignia", and well inscribed with the neatness you have come to to expect on burial memorials.  I have taken a photo and will post on this blog, because only a few weeks ago someone asked me if I had ever seen the "inscription" and I could not tell them anything about it and it was only by chance today I found it.

Here is a full list of the birds and flowers I have had today:

Birds: Lots of Willow Warblers throughout, Cuckoo calling from over Dalton/Lancelot, Tree Pipits and one Common Redstart near to the Rakes, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Buzzard, Skylark carrying food, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Bullfinch, Jay.

Flowers: Greater Stitchwort, Stinging Nettle, Crosswort, Buttercup, Gorse, Tufted Vetch, Cow Parsley, Herb Robert, Welsh Poppy, Germander Speedwell, Thyme Leaved Speedwell, Common Milkwort, Bluebells (looked large and maybe Spanish?) Tormentil, Cleavers, Biting Vetch, Wood Sorrell, Early Purple Orchids (finishing off), Fly Orchids (3), Broad Leaved Helliborine (early growth), Daisy, Cowslips (finish), Birds Foot Trefoil, Common Twayblade, Heath Bedstraw, Limestone Bedstraw, Harts Tongue Fern, Beech Fern, Rigid Buckler Fern, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Wild Strawberry, Lily Of The Valley, Juniper, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Fairy Flax, Early Wild Thyme, Catoneaster, Wall Rue Fern, Spring Sandwort, Eyebright (first of year), Common Rock Rose (excellent year!), Sanicle, Dog Violet, Woodruff, Ladys Mantle, Ramsons, Ox-eye Daisy.

Large limestone boulder showing the inscription of "John Braithewaite - Blacksmith 1836" (Click over to enlarge)


Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Stroll on the Canal and later Swift Watching

Mute Swans near Canal Wharf at Burton (5 cygnets safe with mummy at the front and daddy following on behind)

Thursday June 11th 2015  "A stroll along the Canal" from Holme to Burton In Kendal  0900hrs to 1100hrs 

Took my car into the garage, and they still look at me gaumless when I refuse a lift back home, instead I wanted to check out the Canal because its several months since I was here pounding the canal paths.

Just before that there was some Asplenium Ceterach (Rusty Back Fern) I wanted to check out on the Holme Parish Church boundary walls and sure enough the two clumps were doing well and recorded on gps for the recorders.

Also the regular spot near Brook Cottage for the singing "Chiffchaff" who this morning was happy calling.  So here we are arrived at the Canal and heading immediately past the old brick limekilns (3) on the opposite side and here also another Chiffchaff was singing (in fact it was one of the "Miss A Note" birds.  These areas for Chiffchaffs are  old territories and I have them booked down from previous years, but good to know there are still doing well here.

Just further on and quite near to some bankside properties I have recorded a Lesser Whitethroat in the past, but certainly nothing doing this morning.  But in fairness can't expect the bird to be singing all the time, so will try and get back and check this out later.  Did have a couple of Blackcaps on the route which the sites have been duly noted (again same old territorial sites been used for years!).

Plenty of Swallows brushing past you this morning whilst hawking and following the line of the Canal only one metre above the water.  Lovely to see a local barn at the side of the Canal with its doors wide open and welcoming the Swallows in and out of their summer residence. Occasionally I would be startled by the sound of a Moorhen (or Waterhen as some would call them). Overhead I could hear noisy Oystercatchers and one one occasion some returning Curlews who had obviously left their upland territories to head back to the coast.

Looking down to the right and seeing the large Mill Lodge belonging to the old Holme Mills, it seemed very popular with Ducks, Geese and Swans.  And just opposite this very point, in the fields with the horses in them, only last year was the site were I was lucky to see Northern Greenland Wheatears calling off in late April. 

The flora today was more or less what you would expect on Canals for this time of the year and ours included: Yellow Flag, Cow Parsley, Buttercups and Dandelions, Nettles, Large Cocks, Hawthorns in bloom, young elderberry, Germander Speedwell (lots), Red Campion (lots), Crosswort (lots), Cleavers, Lesser and Greater Stitchwort, Enchanters Nightshade, Garlic Mustard, Red and White Clovers. One of the prominent species was a large umbellifer which I have not yet identified until I can check out the photos. A very strong plant with a prominent flowerhead.

The Butterflies included: Green Veined Whites, Orange Tips, and a couple of the beautiful Small Tortoiseshell which I am recording in the best numbers this year for almost ten years since their rapid demise! (washed out eggs). 

To finish off I had a pair of Swans with their five cygnets (see photo above) silently cruising past me close to my exit point near the Canal Wharf Cottage Nr. Burton. 

Checking out the Swifts along Main Street, Burton In Kendal. 2100hrs to 2215hrs.

This was the activity of Friday evenings Swift's nest sites.
Although it had been a superb day, it had certainly got much cooler during our survey with again that breezy chill factor, yet it was dry and there seemed to be plenty of Swifts showing up. On the first count whilst at the Memorial Hall we counted at least 12 birds but at the same time you could see more down in the distance above Manor House.

Tonight there were five of us checking the birds, myself and Reg along with David Craig and also it was a very warm welcome to two well known Swift lovers Tanya and Edmund Hoare, who had travelled from Sedbergh to be with us this evening.  It was lovely to be amongst such a "authoritive" party and we got chance to discuss many "Swift" topics, and it certainly enlightened me a lot especially in relation to the immature birds which we seemed to have a lot on show here this evening.

From the Memorial Hall, we gave a brief check to the cottages attached to the Post Office, but nothing whilst we where there, then moving on to the bottom of Cocking Yard, again no birds showing in the short time we allowed, progressing on to one of the main nesting sites "The Royal".  It was grand to show David, Tanya and Edmund the sites the Swifts had already established together with a brief history of what had been happening over the past couple of years.  We spent a few moments also on the front of the Royal and to everyone's amazement we watched a bird go into the left side of the front low level elevation. It was certainly a site we have never seen them use before and looked incredible just how small hole it went into which to us only looked about 2" diameter. A few moments more watching the front of the Royal, whilst I did a quick sketch for our records. Also whilst here we saw a further two or three birds approach the new site or close to it and for a brief second would appear to be heading directly to the site and at the last split second would veer off. We discussed that these could possible be immature birds.

Moving on we stood across the road from the Coach House, where we could observe both the Coach House and also the nearby Manor House. It was not long before we saw a bird enter the gable of the Manor House and using a new site for this year, although it was a site which was used in 2013, however it was not used in 2014 which we put this down to perhaps because of the erected scaffold on site last year.  So this was such a pleasing record for us.

Also whilst stood there a bird was also seen to use a new site on the gable side of the Coach House almost directly above the small round window (David mentioned the small window may be called a "Scaffit" and that they were used years ago to put the hay through into the barn).  We also got excited about the prospect of another possible nest site, but just for now we cannot confirm absolute because other birds species were present in the close vicinity also, so we have put this record on hold until we can survey and hopefully confirm at a later date

It was now getting much darker and so we headed back to the Memorial Hall. At just the point of the Post Office looking North West above the Memorial Hall we counted at least 16 Swifts flying and chasing one another.  It was interesting to discuss this with Tanya and Edmund who mentioned that they thought these birds would almost definately be immature birds gathering for the night and that probably most of the breeding birds would now have settled into their various nest sites.  This large number plus the probabilities of the nesting birds could well bring the total number of Swifts in Burton to over 30 birds (at least for now), lets hope we're right! having had a brilliant night!

Saturday 13th June 2015  Reports of Fly Orchids on Uberash - Hutton Roof Common

Reports kindly sent in by David Pitman confirm that he has found a further 13 spikes of Fly Orchid on the Uberash side of Hutton Roof Common.  It seems a good year with many being reported.

Also several reported from a new site (to me) on Lancelot Clark Storth. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Warmest, Brightest Sunny Day so far this year - NETHER! - Aye for sure it was......

 "Karen Morton -artist from Holme busy  painting the "Nether Bridge" from the side of the River Kent in Kendal today"
Click over to enlarge photo

Wednesday 10th June 2015 - Walking the Banks of the River Kent in Kendal today 1030hrs to 1230hrs.

Dropped the boss off at the Kendal Leisure Centre, so just thought I will have a stroll and see what I find.  Just approaching Kirkbie Kendal School, I noticed in the walls near to the roundabout lots of the fern Asplenium, but 99% was the commoner Maidenair Spleenwort, but on examining more closely I did just find one little clump of the rarer "Ceterach" or also known as the Rusty Back Fern. So GPS out of my pocket and fern noted for the local fern "recorder".

A small clump of Common Bistort caught my eye when I looked over the wall on the banks of the Kent. There were lots and lots of other flowers as well.  The water was like "gin" as clear as that! half expecting to see a resting Salmon or Sea Trout, after all I do see them at this time of the year further down the Kent at Levens where there is "Salmon ladder", so they must be coming through here OK. but none for me to see today.

The next stop was overlooking the "Nether Bridge" where I could see at least 8 Mute Swans in the distance.  But then a lovely surprise to see a Dipper which flew direct and under the bridge where I was stood. I think the last Dipper I "dipped in!" (pardon the pun!) with was again on the Kent but down at Sedgewick a couple of years ago.

The day was the best so far this year, lovely glorious warm sunshine without that underlying cold breeze, for the first time it did feel like summer. 

Just below "Abbots Hall" I was pleasantly surprised to see artist Karen Morton busy at it painting the Nether Bridge (see photo above), I was drawn and captivated immediately by her work, so detailed, colourful and warm. You could see she was really enjoying putting the oils to canvas. Karen told me she came from the USA a few years ago and settled in the nearby village of Holme. She is very busy at the moment attempting to paint by portrait 100 of the Holme residents, and hopes to have all the portraits finished in time for her exhibition to show them all at the Holme Memorial Hall on the day after Boxing Day - December 27th 2015, I must put that in the diary before I forget!  If you would like a small preview of some of Karen's portraits then click on this link

I carried on I wanted to have a coffee at the small riverside cafe which has chairs outside.  It was nice to sit here and chill and count the Swifts overhead, I had at least 16 birds taking advantage of this good weather and the insect feast it brought with it.  Also there where plenty of Martins and Swallows.

I must have received inspiration, (but to be honest! it was my original intention) to get comfortable with my coffee and then pencil my outline of the Miller Bridge along with all its surrounding foliage, and try somewhere to incorporate the Swifts.  If I do manage to get it painted and it reaches my approval I will put it on here shortly. If it does not then I will quickly come back on this blog and delete this current paragraph.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Lily Of The Valley going over whilst Bedstraws are just starting to come through!

Lily Of The Valley (Convallaria majalis) - (Click over photo to enlarge)

Tuesday 9th June 2015 - Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof at various points 0900hrs to 1200hrs

Yesterday afternoon I went up in Dalton Lower Crags to check out the large area of Lily Of The Valley and it was surprising just how a lot of the plants are already going over, but I did manage to catch some and photograph here.

Today I had really good views of one of the Cuckoos, seen at best only some 20 yards away.  Also noticed from time to time he would swoop down to the floor and then back up to the nearby mid sized tree.  I think he must have been going down for insects!

Lily Of the Valley
My mission today was like most days to check out certain areas up on Hutton Roof, but in the main I had wanted to check out areas for rarer ferns and also for the "Sanicle" plant and anything else.

The Garden Warblers were in fine fettle today, with some great song coming from a bird both down in the lower Crags and another up on the Common, which was not far from the Trig Point.

Two Chiffchaffs were noted and also a Redpoll was heard going over in the Lower Crags, I have no doubt whatsoever they are breeding in the Dalton Crags areas.  The Tree Pipits were very subdued with just the odd bird calling and displaying. Odd Swallows going over whilst hawking for insects. Odd Skylark was heard from somewhere with its "thrupp" contact call.

Its very patchy sunshine at the moment, just occasionally it will come out from behind the cloud, and can at times be again rather cool.  So checking out early fritillaries just did not happen, however I was lucky to see two Dinghy Skipper Butterflies, jostling one another for some 3 or 4 minutes down at the bottom of Dalton deforested.  Over on the common I may have had a female Clouded Yellow without ever knowing for sure!, it was certainly a large "Whitish" butterfly which without doubt was on migration heading NW and I watched it speedily coming across the Heaths and quickly without effort climbing to negotiate the nearby trees in its path and onward it flew with haste!

The Bedstraws are now seen to be coming through with some actually in flowers. I checked specimens of both the Heath and the Limestone Bedstraw, and also went to the pavement which holds the very rare (for these parts) Northern Bedstraw.  The Northern is well on its way but perhaps another two or three weeks from flowering.  It just survives in a small shallow gryke of about 2 metres by 1/2 metre wide, but I can't find it spreading anywhere.  This is the one spot only I have ever found it on Hutton Roof, and obviously makes it now the lowest breeding plants in Cumbria, since the demise of the Gait Barrow specimens. How do I tell whether its a Heath Bedstraw or a Limestone Bedstraw.  Well for me the Limestone is far more straggley, but the only sure way to tell I believe is to see which way the marginal bristles are pointing eg: forward for Heath and backward for Limestone. So you need a glass to check it out to be sure!

Common Rock Rose
Lots of other interesting flora about which included: Common Milkwort (with lots of colour variation, but mainly the beautiful deep blue colour), also the rare Spring Sandwort, Brittle Bladder Ferns (so delicately beautiful at this time of year) and some Polypodies. Harts Fern and the local Rigid Buckler Fern prolific, occasionally found some Limestone Fern (that little beauty!), also some Lesser Meadow Rue, Thyme Leaved Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Bugle, lots and lots of hawkweeds, but I am not the one to be brave enough to call them! also Fairy Flax, Yellow Pimpernel, The garlic smelling Ramsons, Bluebell (remnants), Cowslips (remnants), the Hairy Rockcress now gone over and losing its crown of flowers quickly now! Wild Strawberry are probably at their limits before the flower turns into the Strawberry, and this year without doubt I will collect some, because they are fabulous tasting and there are thousands to go round. There are still several Early Purple Orchids showing. Fairy Foxglove is certainly a feature at present in the Plain Quarry ledges!

Probably the best record for me today was finding a new small colony of Common Rock Rose (a firm favourite with the Northern Brown Argus which we have up here), of which just one plant was in flower (see photo) I found this in a really "off the track" place, so just goes to show you.  I have recorded the gps ready to pass on to CWT and Tullie House.  Also several new areas for "Sanicle", not that its that rare, but it is not that common either and still needs recording.  Once you've weighed it up with this plant you can find similar habitats and its usually thereabouts close to well trodden paths in shady areas.

From reports yesterday 8th June 2015)  "Crossbills are on the move"

Also of interest that Robert Ashworth had some nice records for Hutton Roof yesterday and of particular interest is that he had 3 Crossbills flying over, and also today I have had reports that a party flew over down in East Lancashire and also another report of a party flying over South Wales. So it does look very much like they are on the move!

Also Robert reported: 11 new spikes of Fly Orchid between Lancelot and Burton Fell. Also Brimstone, Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady (Dalton deforested), Small Heaths, Dingy Skipper.  Also two Redpolls singing in Lancelot.

The beautiful Northern Bedstraw is well on its way
(This is the only patch I have ever found on Hutton Roof - so I cherish it!)

Don't forget to check out the new "BURTON SWIFTS BIRD STUDY GROUP BLOGSITE"