Saturday, 30 June 2012

Pyramidals are on their way!

Saturday 30th June 2012.
Went down to Carnforth to check out the Orchids, and although a very poor showing compared to previous years, at least the "Pyramidals" are on their way and here are two photographs, one showing the very early stage and one more advanced. I would imagine they will be at their best in another 10 days.

Also some beautiful "Common Spotted Orchid" this one well patterned. Also a photo of "Fox and Cubs" and my final photo of "St. Johns Wort".

I did also have some Bee Orchids but only 4 separate flowers compared to 20+ last year.

Lichen design on many "Erratics"

(Yesterday) Friday 29th June 2012.

Spent all morning on Hutton Roof and found many more Dark Red Helliborines which have now been marked off on maps etc. On way up noticed Meadow Pipits where now grouping, probably family parties.

Also some "Erratics" stone photos here, which show some beautiful design and formed from "Lichen" attachment.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Tree Pipits and Cuckoo chick Sketch etc.

Its been raining most of the morning, so its given me time to catch up a little and also do this sketch of one of Dalton's tree pipits discussing with another on why it's chick could be so different from how it's chicks had been in previous years. This year the chick is so big, and has a enormously big appetite!

"The Cuckoo lays the egg, and leaves the territory to return to Africa by June. The young Cuckoo does not usually leave until late July or even August. Yet somehow, single handed without any guidance, manages to find its way to Africa".

"Cuckoo has been and gone away….. again,
So soon, they came on 27th of April and gone by 10th June,
They are probably near to Africa now or thereabouts.

Each day he was seen in Dalton’s deforested,
Right at the top, sometimes on the left, and
Sometimes on the right, in the Cuckoo Tree.
He’d sit on top of that tree and called “Cuckoo”.
He’d also try a different tree from where he would spy,
Whilst mobile he would Cuck-oo, cuckoo with plaintive echo.

Two were seen together once, in the same old tree,
He’s the one who watches the Pipits from on high,
And spreads the message, to his good lady,
Off she then goes and moves the host,
Or maybe hits lucky and catches her away.
And then, lays her egg with such disguise.

Another Cuckoo was heard to call from over on Burton Fell,
And even another was heard to call from o’er behind the Rakes,
So three for sure but probably four,
Have been on Hutton Roof this year".

By the way if you want to check out my photos of Hutton Roof's natural limestone sculptures. Please Click here, and when loaded, click to select and if enlargement required take pointer to top of photo and click on zoom.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A Pavement so intricate with natural sculpture!

Top Photo: A Resting Swan, then Tuesdays new Fly Orchid, then Greater Birds-Foot Trefoil, then 3ft long Hard Shield Fern within Grykes, then the reverse of a smaller Hard Shield Fern, then a "lovely pavement photo".

Monday 25th June 2012.

0600hrs: It was nice to hear Chiffchaff "Mo" calling from somewhere around Hordley House Gardens.

0900hrs: Craggy is singing at Dalton. And I have been getting the odd "Curlew" calls coming over, whilst on Hutton Roof, they are probably birds returning from their breeding grounds to the Coast.

Well its been a fornight now since I last heard any of the "Cuckoos" on Hutton Roof. I have it booked down in my diaries and the last calls I heared where on 10th June. So I think it might be safe to say that those birds are well gone and probably left our shores by now. In fact I suppose thats a good late date anyway, because the majority of "Cuckoos" have done their business and left our shores before the beginning of June. Another week or two and it might be worth looking around for young Cuckoos being cared for by their foster parents the Tree Pipits.

Spent lots of time this morning surveying "little known about to me" crags and fragmented pavements on Hutton Roof complex. I singled out one pavement in particular today, and did managed to find 75 Dark Red Helliborines (obviously only 75% in growth - not yet flowering), along with other nice finds like 5 separate colonies of "Limestone Polypody Fern" 4 separate colonies of the beautiful "Hard Shield Fern", along with new finds of Hairy Rockcress etc.

It got late and impossible for me to complete the work today, there is still so much area to cover, so I have also decided to come here again tomorrow and try and get a even more comprehensive survey count of the adjoining areas.

Tuesday 26th June 2012.

0600hrs: Two Chiffs calling this morning - Vicar and Woody.

0900hrs: Dalton and Craggy was calling from East of the Plain Quarry Car Park. On my return at about 1300hrs he was calling again, but with a far more fragmented call which went something like: "ti-chu-ti" and then chu-chiff, then back to "ti-chu-ti". Most of the Chiffchaffs at this time (after their initial breeding and midway through their brooding) develop this sort of "miss" syllabic part call, and weaker calls in general, Its quite obvious their need to protect their territory is perhaps not just as important and very probably unlikely that there would be any competitive intrusions. Not really thought about it until now but can't say I have ever heard a young "Chiffchaff" calling on its first outgoing birthyear..... (interesting!)

Continued up and up to the Pavement area close to where I was yesterday. Found some nice Black Spleenwort Fern. Also on the fragmented craggy pavement area found more and more Helliborines in fact another 95 bring now the total with yesterdays count to a whopping 178, just in this area alone.

It got better and even better, by also finding a new area with just a single flower of the "Fly Orchid", though past its best, but still holding a good flower. And a little further on and found 6 clumps of the rarest "Birds Foot Sedge" (Carex Ornithopoda), another record for the area.

Now then where was that most "beautiful of hidden secret limestone pavement" I found it last year by accident, it is hidden amongst a multitude of trees which you entered in full darkness, of the shadowing, mossy covered crags surrounding it. I have found it again, in fact its a continuation of the place where I have been working over the past couple of mornings. And what a wonder it is, Its got to be one of the very best natural sculptured pavements around here. Its so beautiful and I guess because of where it is could well be missed and probably is hardly visited!. Again I ran out of time and would have to return over the next few days to complete my surveying. Did also find more Polypody, and a absolute superb place for large and small specimens of the "Hard Shield Ferns".

Wednesday 27th June 2012. 0600hrs: Had Chiffs: Archie, Mo and Lee singing this morning. By 0900hrs terrential rain.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

More of Lancelot's Treasures.

Today Saturday 23rd June 2012 - More of Lancelot's Treasures.
Rather wet, but work to do and noticed the "wheat" had broken through. It only seems like yesterday it was planted!

I'm not absolutely sure about the moth but think it maybe a "Light Emerald" which came to rest whilst I was checking out the Old Man Chuckles Pavement, on Lancelot, above the Spring.

Noticed plenty of Dropwort is coming through within Lancelot, I always think it looks extremely well when early, showing the red balls, to make a good dash of colour to contrast the open broken through flower.

Also I have took this photo of the stone head, and I thought over the months that "I have seen you before somewhere I am sure! I generally see you on The Common, or at least there is a chap who looks very much like you and he's the one I call "Easter Man". For me its does seem quite noticeable that its got many similarities in both shape and detail of the "head"!! He must be a close relation.

Just for my records and ease of recognition I do need a name for that very small pavement in Lancelot of which this stone sits pretty within its centre. So it was actually suggested by one of the Arnside party the other day, why not call it "Tortoise Head" and for me why not! so I shall now for the time being call this pavement, "Tortoise Head pavement".

Eventually arrived at intended destination which was the middle pavement and here I managed to find a couple of score of new Dark Red Helliborines coming through at all stages, together with 5 new colonies of the beautiful "Hard Shield Fern", a couple of places with Limestone Polypody fern, a nice growth of Bittercress growing amongst the grykes and also past mature "Lily Of The Valley". So it was well worth coming out today, even in the rain.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Common Cow Wheat was such a favourite.

Thursday 22nd June 2012.

It was the day of the "guided walk" with members of the Arnside Natural History Society. Since yesterday, it was all change with the weather, but even so it was great to see so many "like minded" people turn up for the walk.

Because of the deteriating and threatening weather we did find it necessary to "tweek" the length and route a little, but we mustered on and what a very enjoyable time it turned out to be.

From Plain Quarry, the original start venue, it was decided to change and make a new start from over on the Clawthorpe side, so we all upsticks, in perhaps up to 8 or maybe even 10 separate cars and made to the "Clawthorpe" side to begin the walk.

We took the path to Slape Lane and then up past the Curwen Wood seat and into the fabulous "Lancelot Clark Storth", checking out lots of stuff on the way. Spending quite some time at the bottom side of Lancelot in search of Birds Foot Sedge, Spring Sandwort, Common Rock Rose etc etc. One particular species which really met with suprise and amazement seemed to be the vast quantities of the "Common Cow Wheat" which although quite common here (locally), it seems maybe quite rare on a more regional distribution. One member in particular (Brian) was so interested in finding these, because he said they where the sole specific food plant for a particular type of moth of which he was studying, and that now knowing of this population of Cow Wheat, could perhaps return on a more suitable dryer day for more study.

No Butterflies where seen on the wing today, although this would have been the ideal spot for the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary and the Northern Brown Argus Butterfly. Obviously the non emergence was only to be expected owing to the dark clouds, and intermittent rain showers we were experiencing.

At first we struggled with the Birds Foot Sedge, Although I had seen scores of clumps only the day before, somehow "I just could not get my eye in to find it today". At first I put this down to perhaps the overnight rain, which had obviously advanced growth of the sedge, and its immediate surroundings, and for me looked like this had possibly merged the shades of green, making it extremely difficult to find the one we wanted. After some persistence "hey presto" I found several which still had their "birds foot" in tacked of which members then photographed for their records. On leaving I seemed to be able to find them "everywhere" so to speak. Suprising how all changes when you get the "eye" in !!

Further up Lancelot and a quick visit to the beautiful situated and "only" natural freshwater spring on the West Side of the Lancelot Clark Storth complex. If you did'nt know it was there I suppose it could be difficult to find and you could so easily miss it. It definately scored a hit today, by such lovely comments about it from some of the party.

Onward past the Spring in a SE direction and very soon passed "Old Mans Face - The Chuckler" as I call him, hidden away in the deep vegetation and protecting his most beautiful "Helliborine" ridden pavements. I call him the Chuckler but really wonder sometimes whether thats a "tear" in his eye. (see sketch above).

Soon reached a very large fragmented limestone pavement. Here we found probably in the region of nearly 30 "Dark Red Helliborines" dotted here and there amongst the boulders etc. We thought perhaps maybe about three weeks away from flowering. Also we found more helliborines but which looked of a "stronger" stalking and leafage, and not sure whether these will again be "Dark Reds" or possibly Broad Leaved (which do frequent this particular pavement) or could they possibly be the rare "unique" Dark Red Variant which also frequents this area. Time will tell and I will be inspecting them at regular intervals having now made a mental note of all the new finds we have had today. In a couple of weeks time the whole area will be surveyed with distribution map, and probably most important of all the GPS co-ordinates.

We also found a lone patch of "Limestone Fern (Limestone Polypody)", several beautiful specimens of the "Hard Shield Fern". The locally common but nationally rare "Rigid Buckler Fern" seemed to be springing from almost every gryke.

We also spent time looking for the "Black Melick Grass" (Mountain Melick Grass) of which there is lots within this pavement, but somehow just could not find it.

Between some of the Limestone grykes or boulders, there were "Erractics", stones thrown up from different areas etc. We where fortunate to have within our party a keen "geology expert" who told us of perhaps where they had possibly come from (different parts of Lancs or Cumbria) etc etc.

The weather whilst we were on this pavement got really bad with heavy rain and it was agreed by all, that perhaps in view of safety, and that the pavements where becoming more and more slippy, we should not proceed any further into the general areas of the limestone pavements.

So we headed back to the parked cars and it was about 1430hours. For me a great day meeting lots of lovely informative and interesting people.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Not unlike "The first rev of the motorbike"

Wednesday 20th June 2012. 0900hrs-1330hrs
It was a beautiful warm sunny day, and straight away on my way to the Plain Quarry, two Roe deer ran across the road at Nineteen Trees, perhaps some 50 yards in front of the car.
Today was a preparation walk, through Dalton up to the Trig and then down through Lancelot, Burton, Lancelot, and back up to Storth and into Dalton. Just to prepare for tomorrows guided walk.
If only the weather tomorrow can be like it is today, then we've cracked it!!
Just after leaving Plain Quarry and going through Dalton, I had Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, and a couple of Green Woodpeckers, Speckled Wood Butterflies, and was to see ten Small Heath Butterflies throughout my walk. Wild Strawberries are everywhere and fully ripe and tempting!
Especially whilst going up through Dalton deforested, I got several sudden shocks!!
and it turned out to be "bluebottles" on a freshly laid "cowpat"..... (My notes read as follows:-

"As you approach and walk past the fresh "cowpat", there is such a din, a immediate sudden thunderous large drone which seems instant. The bluebottles have been busy or where busy until I disturbed them. "The sound was like a instant gush of wind with echo", here and gone within that split second. Reminding me of a synchronized action like "swarms of fish on the turn", or Starlings at their murmurations.
"Sky" the lark is calling from above and at his best, and he's mimicking the missing Tree Pipits! which are here and quiet, too busy feeding their Cuckoo chicks!
Passing yet many more "pats" and its the same sudden "noise" like the virgin passing train passing through Carnforth Station, but not the steel, just the "hum" not unlike the first rev from that motorbike. It all starts and stops with instant and equal halt!
No winds to spoil, that sound today"

Also it was good to see Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries flying here and there, and I recorded several during my walk. Germander Speedwells and Common and Heath Milkworts here and there. Another Roe deer, and a possible Redstart.

Soon reached the BAP seat and went below to the large pavement complex. Found and recorded more Dark Red Helliborines and marked these off in my book, hopefully to show the members tomorrow, some of them were fairly advanced with just a fortnight before bloom, also there where areas with Angular Solomons Seal and Lily Of The Valley, but both these are now past their best. Records made of the Limestone Polypody and the Hard Shield Ferns. Went past "The Old Mans Face" and then the "Spring", down to the "super douper area", with lots of stuff to check out here.

All of a sudden I head this "Bryan" shouted but could not see anyone, but thought I know the voice, a little further and into view was Wal (the CWT Warden) doing his butterfly transect. We had a chat and he told me he had just had, what I presume to be the first hatches of the "Northern Brown Argus". This year looks really good for the "Common Rock Rose" the favourite food plant for the NBA.

Onward through Pickles Wood, where "Miss A Note", was singing but by now only a sample offering compared to her past "jingles". Yet another singing Chiff "Storm" was calling whilst I went through Storth Woods. Also the beautiful "Scarlet Pimpernel" was now in flower. Not long now and I was back up to Dalton and Plain Quarry.

With reasonable slowish walking and checking out pavements etc it took around the 4 1/2hours mark. So I wonder if this would be OK for tomorrows guest.... Some of my pavement photos above.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Beautiful Bee Orchids on my doorstep.

Today: Tuesday 19th June 2012. 0930hrs-1200hrs.

Been down to Carnforth to check out yet another site to see how the Bee Orchids where doing along with the progress of the Marsh Helliborines etc.

Two years ago I found a single Bee Orchid at this site, last year I found twenty odd, and this year it got even better with 73 plants, and if I had the time, I probably could have found even more tucked away between the thousands of birdsfoot trefoil.

The Marsh Helliborines seem to be doing OK as you can see from the photo above. I would expect them to be about mid July, thats the usual.

Also had my first Hop Trefoil (see photo), Dyer's Greenweed, Self Heal, Scarlet Pimpernel and Yellow Rattle.

and from 1330hrs until 1630hrs Dalton to Trig Point

Had a good search around for bits and pieces, mainly in the Dalton deforested areas (see photo above) and then over the Trig towards the East side and back up and down through Crag House side.

Found more Hairy Rockcress, Mountain Mileck Grass. Lots of Small Heath Butterflies, 4 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. A Common Lizard.

Northern Marsh Orchids in Lancashire

Saturday last 16th June 2012

Here are some "Northern Marsh Orchid" photos taken on a waterlogged Saturday last. Sadly the photos dont match up with last year, there just is not the choice of "plumes" about this year. In fact numbers have also deteriated over the past three years from thousands to hundreds at this site which sadly is seeing a rapid demise of the Orchids in general, although the species fairs well on other sites not too far away.

The site is not managed for wildlife and is now suffering through the encroachment of scrub Willow and horsetail species having got hold and taking over. The site is privately owned and earmarked for development in the future.

The site quite close to Carnforth in Lancashire, not only host the Northern Marsh Orchid, but is also the home to quantities of the rare Southern Marsh Orchid, Bee Orchid, the rarer Pyramidal Orchid, together with numerous Common Spotted Orchid.

Friday, 15 June 2012

"The Scream" and Farleton Knott

Is this yet another superb example of natural limestone sculptures. It could be "The Scream" and was found quite close to Farleton Knott.

Serenaded by the best, with jingles from the Linnets, Yellowhammers and the Tree Pipits, along with many of the more common species. I wanted to try and put in words the "immitation" of the Yellowhammers call. How many times have I done this before and it always seems to be written different each time! but for today it was: che,che,che,chi......p e e s e (sort of said quickly and then drawn out with the peese.

The reason I set out today for Farleton was again in search of the rare elusive "Holly Fern" (polistichum), which was found in this area according to most of the historic accounts, but today it was still elusive for me. But did have plenty of Limestone Polypody, Other Shield Ferns I need to check out for identification. I did stop to take a photo of the rear side of the "Rusty Back Fern" I found the other day. Although perhaps not the rarest of ferns, there is to my knowledge only one more example record besides this one on the whole of Hutton Roof, so I guess you could say, locally rare!! A small example of Angular Solomon's Seal was also found.

It was a difficult morning with regular intermittent heavy rain showers. It was obvious to me that this area must be the main area around here for the "Lesser Meadow Rue" with absolutely hundreds of examples closeby. Also nice to again to see the "Enchanters Nightshade" which grows nearby. I am of the opinion that this maybe the rarer "Upland" or "Alpine" type.

Mapped out at least three Willow Warblers whilst travelling the circular route, and also nice to see Redpolls going overhead, and a single female Wheatear which looked like a local breeder of Eurasian stock.
Come back soon for Saturdays "MARSH ORCHID PHOTOS"

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Henry VIII and Some beautiful pavements.

0900hrs - 1230hrs.
Chiffchaff Craggy singing from the East side of Plain Quarry on my arrival. Checked out some of the lower Dalton Crags which I had missed off earlier and found some more Limestone Polypody Fern and some Angular Solomen's Seal. I was watching a Shrew for ages, it ran straight in front of me and never seemed to mind my presence though only perhaps a metre away, obviously totally unaware. It was investigating holes etc and got its head stuck down one for what seemed ages, but did eventually get loose after a couple of minutes. Then it dissapeared down another crevice between a couple of limestone boulders.

Then entering Dalton deforested (upper), it became extremely windy and noisy with it, you could not hear or see any birds around.
Checked out the left side of the fragmented pavements and outcrops. Recorded another three sites for the "Hairy Rockcress", also four colonies of "Lily Of The Valley". A couple of these sites came in at 20ft diameter. Also a great suprise with some "Common Twayblade" and also some Bittercress. And just a little "Limestone Polypody". Also more Mountain Melick Grass.

Also had one Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, lots of Small Heaths throughout and several Speckled Wood Butterflies. Also had the Cinabar (Tyria jacobaeae) and a Clouded Magpie Moth (Abraxas sylvata).

Found more and more beautiful little Limestone pavements in the Dalton Crags areas, check out these photos.

It was also a great pleasure to meet up with Henry VIII who was also up there, pity he's turned to stone (see photo).

Also some nice limestone photos.