Monday, 15 August 2016

More Helleborine Purpurea plus other stuff (15th August 2016)

Grayling Butterfly (Click over to enlarge)

It seems to me to have been a cracking year with the Grayling butterflies which have been everywhere this year on Hutton Roof, probably the best year yet! Also this very morning (15th Aug 2016) I had a very washed out large Fritillary (Dark Green or maybe High Brown!) which seems very late, it was enjoying the sun and feeding on hawkweeds and ragwort.  Lots of Large Skippers about as well, also Meadow Browns, Peacocks and the occasional Red Admiral and several whites.

Up to yesterday we still had 19 Swifts (am) and a count of 11 by 2000hrs so they are still about, can only think they must be late brooders because most of our Swifts had left by 5th August which you would consider to be the norm.

Hypericum Montanum - Dalton Crags today (Click over to enlarge)

Guess what?  I have managed to relocate the rare Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum) in Dalton Crags, but not only that the really good news is that there are seven (new) seedlings with paired leaves or more all quite close to the parent plant, so hopefully in the next year or two we might just find more!

I keep checking out the scollies in hopes of finding another Crispum!  now then that really is asking a lot but you never know.  Yesterday whilst checking out some fabulous orchids I just had to call off and check how the Southern Polypody (Polypodium cambricum) are doing. Here below are a couple of photos of the state of play yesterday.

Southern Polypody (Polypodium cambricum) Click over to enlarge
Some baby "Cambricums" (Click over to enlarge)
And here are a few more of the orchid beauties I have had in the last few days.  I thought best to track down Specimen Purpurea 15 to see how he is going on in his fourth year as I know.  So here is a photo from yesterday.

Specimen Purpurea No.15 (Click over to enlarge)

So thats Specimen No.15 which I have now been monitoring since 2012 and although in most years it will take on purple, just occasionally things start to go wrong like back in 2013 when you did not get any flowers at all, you just got a sort of television aerial made up of bracts with dried out buds which just dropped off.

Specimen 15 from 2013 (Click over to enlarge)
Here is a little sketch back in 2013 I did which shows all the beautiful helliborines snuggled under this one particular tree, some turn out with purple, others are just like any other standard helliborines, although some also take on a reddish look.  But in 2013 for some reason five of the plants "aborted" before flowering. The last three years all has been OK.

Sketch showing 2013 Aborted plants marked with "X" (Click over to enlarge)
I got a nice surprise yesterday morning when I went to check out Specimen 15 and the rest to find a love trio of plants facing the South West which have come through with Purpurea but the colours with strong leanings to Purply red.  Here is a photograph showing these little beauties:

The new trio which has appeared behind Spec 15 (Click over to enlarge)

I had this beautiful Antler Moth yesterday whilst coming through Lancelot Clark Storth, I was actually making a long detour to try and avoid those nasty little (or larger) ticks.  All full grown adults of both sexes trying to get through and I managed to fight them all off (well I think so!) but I'll bet I had no less than 50 on me "yuk!!" I soon realised they could run almost as fast as spiders other than that it was all "Ticketyboo".

           Antler Moth on Ragwort in Lancelot Clark Storth yesterday (Click over to enlarge)
I nearly forgot the other day whilst dropping down through Burton Fell I came out into the open fields and saw about ten large checkered dragonflies circling around and coming very close to me. I dont know what sort they where but really nice to see.  At first when I saw so many I thought they were on migration (like I have seen them over in India), but no they must just have been locals and perhaps just hatched or something.

The birdlife seems to have gone pretty quiet although I am still hearing plenty of Willow Warblers doing their "hou whit" contact calls, also occasional broken song Chiffchaffs.  Dont know whether there still local birds or whether they are birds passing through because migration has definately started. Also seeing Nuthatches (lots), Ravens, Jays, Long Tailed Tits, and quite a few Marsh Tits this year. You hear them more than you see them with their fabulous unique "Pishoo" call.

I guess thats it for me folks please enjoy....

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Epipactis Helleborine var Purpurea (10th August 2016)

Purpurea No.3 is stunning!  (Click over to enlarge)

All the photographs included here were taken this morning unless otherwise stated. They were took on one particular local area on the Hutton Roof Crags (A Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve)

To-day I have been checking out the Broad Leaved Helleborine (Epipactis Helleborine)  "Purpurea" variants and on to-days pavement alone I have five separate plants at various locations.  I also have a few more scattered about on other pavements which I have not had chance to check out this year.

The photo above is from a plant (Purpurea specimen No.3)  which lies about one metre under thick canopy and its purple colouring goes in fine contrast to its unusual light green ovaries, bracts and stem. The inner Hyperchile on these plants is usually a darker red or a dark purple colour. As a rule the purple takes over the main colouring within the flowers which as always the sepal takes on the darker in relation to the slightly lighter petals. Of further interest here is that very close by to this plant (about 5 yards), but in far less canopy with just a little shade is another plant (Purpurea specimen No.4) which also has very pale green ovaries, bracts and stem so again we are treated to such a beautiful contrasting coloured specimen.  I am sure that these two plants will be related! I am now putting on here a photograph which I took yesterday evening together with a close up photo of the flower, epichile and hyperchile which I took this morning and you can get some idea of the actual "purple colouring". The photo below was taken about 2000hrs just has the sun had started to go down.

Purpurea No.4 - A lovely plant (Click over photo to enlarge)
And to follow on whilst covering notes of Purpurea No.4 (above), I can show you the close up photo which shows the flower including the Epichile and Hyperchile. This photo was taken this morning at approx 0930hrs whilst a little sunny.

Close up of the flower on Specimen Purpurea No.4 (Click over to enlarge)

I first noticed odd plants going into "Purpurea" colouring some four years ago and did at first think that this phenomena was maybe down to some mineral reaction within the soil base. That was my early thoughts, because where you found one you could then sometimes find two or even more.  Also another theory I have which I stick to even today is that canopy has something to do with it and subsequently allowing a sort of photo synthesis reaction to take place.  The reason I say this is that I usually find that the deeper the plant is to or within canopy, more often than not the purple colouring goes stronger. So intermediate stages of purple colouring are taking place.

Another interesting observation into these strange "purpurea" specimens is that they do not come up like this every year.  The last time the "purpurea phenomena" took place was in 2014 and of course its happening yet again this year.  Last year during 2015 the same plants were just as you would expect a almost normal (perhaps slightly darker) helleborine to be.  So this helped me further in regard to it being unlikely to be caused through ground mineral interference because if this was the sole reason then I would have expected the same result to occur on a regular annual basis. Although I do have to add that I would never rule out completely the "ground mineral interference idea" because this could be causing a reaction when other factors are combined together.

Purpurea No.1 which I found back in 2014 is the plant which does seem to go to the deepest purple in colour.  Below are the flowers as I recorded them back in 2014.

Purpurea No.1 which is probably the darkest one we have (Click over to enlarge)
You can see from the above photo just how dark it can get and this morning I decided to check on the plant and take a photograph which you can see that the plant is taking on that deep "purpurea" colouring again.

The same plant two years on and photographed this morning - Purpurea No.1 (Click over to enlarge)

And now for a lovely photograph of how Purpurea Specimen No 2 looks today:

Purpurea Specimen No.2 (Click over to enlarge)
Purpurea specimen No.2 will be noted to have a very dark green stem which is in total contract to its close neighbours which are only yards apart being Purpurea 3 and 4. This plant is slightly more exposed to a direct sunlight with little canopy protection although for most of the day it will be shaded to its West side.

And finally moving across the pavement some 300 yards I come to the last specimen (as far as I know) on this particular pavement which is Specimen Purpurea No.5

Specimen Purpurea No.5 (Click over to enlarge)
No.5 is very interesting and lies some 300 yards away from its nearest relations! it is growing under canopy and close to a juniper bush and within a yard at one side and a yard at the other side are three fine specimens of very tall Epipactis Helleborine (Broad Leaved) which show no signs of purpurea in their make up, just the regular colourings you would expect with Helleborine.  Also of special interest here is that within four yard distance is a Helliborine var: chlorantha which has only white and green in the flower with a total absence of any of the regular colouring.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Epipactis Helleborine Specials on Hutton Roof (5th Aug 2016)

A helleborine specimen from 2014 "full blown purpurea" found 15ft under canopy (Click over to enlarge)
I enjoyed this morning on Hutton Roof Crags (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve), I was actually collecting more evidence on the mystery plant which is without doubt just starting to go over now. Though I did manage to get a photo together with more close up photo of the leaf margins for examination and this will go a long way to identification. I guess its just like a "fingerprint" but I just want another day or two on this before a more clear picture starts to develop.

Todays inspection of some of the helleborines, showed they are just starting to look their best and odd individuals are already showing some traces of "purpurea" in the petals and sepals etc.  The usual story the closer to canopy the deeper the purple becomes.  I have one plant on the West side which is really turning fast now and would expect it to produce the darkest of wine colours if it goes like it did back in 2014 (see above photo).

Another stunning plant today showed it had three ants on parade rummaging about in the petals and crawling along the ovaries.  They certainly did not like my presence and showed their anger as though standing on their back legs and waving their arms at me with a sort of "clenched fist", I guess if I could have only heard them they would have been shouting and probably squirting me as well, but still I did manage to get a photo or two (see photo below)

A beautiful helleborine with ants probably propagating (Click over to enlarge)
I regular see ants farming black aphids on the Dark Red Helleborines (E. Atrorubens) but thankfully this year we have not had the aphids, can only put this down to the wet weather perhaps, but by the left when they come they soon devastate the plant and suck all the life from it!

The photo below just shows you the Ant in "attack preparation mode"

Ant in centre of photo in "attack mode" (Click over to enlarge)
Another bonny plant I found in canopy and almost hiding within a Juniper bush along with it's other compatriots was this one below and I managed to photograph from behind which is showing the petals and sepals already turning to nice "purpurea" colour.

A beautiful "very open" purpurea specimen of Helleborine (Click over to enlarge)
And how do you work this one out?  Only one metre away from the above plant and yet within even thicker canopy we have the following very pale plant.

A  lovely light Helleborine sharing the same canopy as the plant in the photo above it
(Click over to enlarge)

We have several "Helleborine" plants on Hutton Roof which only flower on one to two sides of the stem! does that remind you of something? Well just look at these photos, the first photo I took this morning.

Flowers coming from just two side of the stem "Helleborine" (Click over to enlarge)
Another E. Helleborine I took back in 2013 and again it only flowers to two sides (Click over to enlarge)

And finally for today I could not resist this little beauty who clings within the side of her hazel bush and although surrounded by many lighter forms of helleborine, she still stands out a mile for her beautiful contrasting colours.


Also last night (4th August 2016) it was our Burton Swift Bird Study Group meet for the last of the season and here is the report:

We met at Burton Memorial Hall at 2000hrs and it turned out to be a fantastic night with lots of Swifts flying. We just stayed on the Car Park from where we got the best overhall observations.

We thought at first it was going to be a very quiet night and it took a while to build the numbers to around the 8 mark, then within a further twenty minutes or so the numbers had swelled up to a minimum of 30 birds which to us all seemed happy chasing one another whilst feeding on the wing and screaming in unison.

We all had that feeling it could well be their big finale night and what a superb performance.

Tonights observers included: David Craig, Bryan Yorke, Hugh and Sue and Pete Miles together with our special visitors young naturalist Ella and Ben who really enjoyed watching the Burton Swifts and it made a nice change for them having been used to seeing Swifts down in Bath were they live.

We have not yet called a meeting for next week and decided we will monitor the situation on a day by day basis, so please check out the Swift site if you want daily reports.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Is it a "Pendula" or does it deserve a title like "Westmorlandii"

Epipactis Phyllanthes (Green-Flowered Helleborine)  (Click over to enlarge) (Photo: R. Bate)

This one is probably taking centre stage at the moment. Especially with all its special individual characteristics and that beautiful coloured heart shaped epichile. Perhaps here nothing is running to form with so many differences cropping up throughout its description which cannot for one minute be compromised! You get 75% matching up with historic descriptive variant notes, yet you have 25% which is no where near the colours or ratios or other formula you would have expected. For me I would love it to be called the "Westmorlandii" variety.

Here below is another photo of the full plant

Epipactis Phyllanthes (Green-Flowered Helleborine) (Click over to enlarge) (Photo: R.Bate)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Epipactis Mixture on 27th July 2016

"Variagated Helliborine" (Broad Leaved Helliborine) found on Hutton Roof (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve) - Click over photo to enlarge

This little beauty is now in flower on Hutton Roof (Click over to enlarge)
It was lovely meeting up with Dave who had travelled all the way up from Kent to check out our rarer Hutton Roof orchids on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve.

Been watching this one now for the past couple of years and it's great to see it in flower at last. Still not the strongest specimen but doing OK.  There is yet another one closeby but this one is even more fragile!

This is the full flower of the plant shown above  (Click over to enlarge)


Our light colour Broad Leaved Helliborines (not viridiflora) is doing very well today and here is a current photo of how it was showing this morning.

One of our Light Coloured Helliborines on HR (Click over to enlarge)
Its a lovely plant and we still have a couple more of them closeby, but looking at them I do have a strong feeling they may not make it.  They seem very weak at the moment.  Sadly the best specimen has been nipped off with the local deer.


My Variagated Helliborine is doing well and now more flowers have come out. I was trying to get a photo today which also gives good clarity but failed however these two do give you a idea of the variagation both on the leaves and more impressive the ovaries and bracts. 

Variagated Helliborine Specimen (Click over to enlarge)

 Variagated Helliborine Specimen showing heavily marked ovary and bracts
(Click over to enlarge)


The last Lemon Petalled of the Year photographed today (Click over to enlarge)
I just managed to find the last one for Dave to check out.  The only reason this one was about is that it was hiding under close canopy slightly slowing it down.  Smothered close with some stonking mature helliborines!  yes helliborines, I guess it does make you wonder!


To finish off the day I found another strange beauty lurking in the bushes, but now I know where he his I will certainly be keeping a eye on him - Quick glances showed its going to be a very light specimen with lots of white in the flower, small leaves in place of bracks - so so so unusual, very deep green colour which usually results in lighter flowers, mega size rounded leaves

Small Leaves at the area where the bracts should be - (Click over to enlarge)

 Very large leaves spiralling up the stem (Click over to enlarge)

The full plant in situ - A super speciman (Click over to enlarge)

Monday, 25 July 2016

Epipactis Helliborine "Varidiflora"

Today was nice to see our Viridiflora starting to come through on Hutton Roof.

We have four recorded but sadly this year two have already be nipped off by the local Roe deers.

  Specimen "Varidiflora"No.1 - flower - photo 25th July 2016 (Click over to enlarge)

Specimen "Varidiflora" full flower No.1 - photo 25th July 2016 (Click over to enlarge)

Specimen "nearly Varidiflora" flower No.2 - photo 22nd July 2016  (Click over to enlarge)
Specimen "nearly Varidiflora" No.2 full plant - photo 22nd July 2016 (Click over to enlarge)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Epipactis - a superb day with some strange specimens!

Mountain Melick along with Rigid Buckler Fern (Click over to enlarge)

Today was yet another special day with lots of goodies or should I say weird specimens in some cases, but just the ticket, so enjoyable.

It started with finding a few nice clumps of the rare Mountain Melick Grass interwoven with some nice Rigid Buckler Fern, so I thought lets have a change from orchids and do this one.

I went over to check out a specimen which just looks very much like a Phyllanthes and I have found another to which could fit the bill!  but what made my day was finding a small helliborine of about 12" which is already in flower.  But the striking thing about this specimen is how the leafs and even the bracts are two shades of green so for now I have called him Stripey!  I have managed to take a couple of photos below for you to see.

 Broad Leaved Helliborine (Epipactis helliborine) called "Stripey" (Click over to enlarge)

For me its so interesting that the striped effect runs not only through the leaves but also in the bracks as well.  It was about five days ago when Jon and Peter came down from Scotland that we found a peculiar plant which also had that stripe effect and it was a plant with just the leaves no high stem or flowers.  It only lies about 40 yards away from this plant and now I am beginning to wonder if there could possible be a connection. I mean one is OK but two means there could well be a connection! take a look at the plant we found earlier and see what you think!

Broad Leaved Helliborine Plant with just the basal leaves (Epipactis helliborine) Click over to enlarge
So moving on I found a lovely Helliborine closeby which again made me stop in my tracks, again it just did not look to me like a regular "helliborine" unless of course it turns out to be a "Viridiflora"
or maybe a undiscovered "Phyllanthes" or is it just one of those strange "helliborines". Check the photos below and see what you think!

I am still finding beautiful lemon petalled atrorubens, just look at this little special with lots of lemon in the petals and a stunning "almost white" epichile. Its been registered as Specimen 74.

Specimen 74 - Atrorubens Lemon Petalled (Click over to enlarge)
No. 15 Schmalhauseneii looks quite well today and probably reached his best with just a hint of starting to go over, but at least this year he did make it.  Last year struggled after the local gave him a harecut!

Specimen 15 - Schmalhauseneii  (Click over to enlarge)
And to finish off the morning well what about this then! its called "Bracty" and its a plant with no flower plume just pure condensed head made up with bracts! never had one just like this before.

A E. Helliborine with a "bracted" head (Click over to enlarge)

A closer view of the "bracted" head (Click over to enlarge)
Its more than probable that the little brown bits in the middle of the head could well be what should have been buds!  I have had a situation a few years ago with a helliborine whereby in one year it was the most beautiful purpurea specimen and it had thrown everything out in that year and the following year it had nothing much to offer and you just got a plant with a stem column with bracts running off and the smallest of "burnt out buds" which never came to anything.  In fact I will look up the photo and join it on to here.

Helliborine Specimen 15 from 2013 - (Click over to enlarge)

I guess this is of a similar nature although the bracts in this case were still columned and not condensed into a tight group like the ones this morning.