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"

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Burton Swift Bird Study Group Monitoring Local Sites

Friday 5th June 2015 - Main Street, Burton In Kendal 2100hrs to 2200hrs

Last night was the first night this year of the Burton Swift study group activity, when four of us met up and gave a brief survey of the local Swift situation. Reg and I were present and it was great to welcome John and Paula who are new to the group. We saw about 12 birds flying semi high above the Burton Memorial Hall and Main Street.  At times up to six birds were seen chasing one another whilst at the same time screaming in their familiar vocabulary!

We made a brief stop at the rear of the old Royal Hotel, when almost straight away one bird almost brushed past us and eventually went into its old established breeding nest site.  Moments later another bird came in but this time using another of the old nest site holes.  So here we have already established there could well be two pairs at work. We noticed that Ivy had grown to such an extent that it is just bordering on the entrances to the nest sites. Obviously we will have to monitor the situation in regards to the ivy. We also had a couple of Swallows hawking high above the Royal. We were of the opinion that it was too cold to see much activity from the Pipistrelle's....

We moved on and started to observe the Manor House and we also managed to see a bird fly into the old established site near the corner of the gable end.  This was good to see because we where not sure how things would turn out this year on account of there being scaffold there last year.  So its looking good so far!

A lovely surprise to us all was when a bird was seen to go into a NEW site on The Coach House, and also another bird was seen also trying to access this same site.  We did see birds canvassing this site last year, possibly none breeders last year and preparing their mind in readiness for this year and a absolute delight to see this new activity!

Its still early days yet, but we have already decided that we will be meeting up again next Thursday 12th June at the Burton Memorial Hall at 2100hrs and anyone who wishes to join us would be very welcome.

Last night's activity 5th June 2015 (Please click over sketch to enlarge)

Also I have received the following email from David Pitman re Fly orchids on Hutton Roof complex. (6th June 2015)

Hi Bryan,            
I saw a couple of Fly Orchids on .............. a few years ago, and this year
I decided to return and see if I could find any.  I went up there on Friday the 5th June
and in between sheltering from the rain storms I carefully searched around.
I found a total of 6 Fly Orchids, four in one area and two in another about 100 yards away.
The latter two were healthy looking plants with buds, flowers already out, and spent flowers visible.
They were growing in amongst short grass.
The other four were growing in a much rougher area, on limestone fragments (pebble sized)
which had become compressed into the soil, with very little grass around.
These orchids did not seem as advanced as the other group, looking like they had only just
come into flower - except for one which was still in bud, very small (2 ins) and very difficult to see.
You or others, may already have seen orchids on .............. this year, and somebody has probably 
got a file on the subject.   In which case my sightings may be of interest. 
David Pitman.

Thanks David, and I will gladly pass on your records to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and also Cumbria Biodiversity at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle. I dont suppose you took down a gps?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Start of June and still lots of rain!

Just to think it only seems like last week our Cuckoo's arrived, yet its almost one month now, and as a rule, most of our adult Cuckoos will be leaving us before the end of June to make their return trip to Africa. The young birds will follow on four to six weeks later, when they too will make the perilous journey and by their own instruction! well that "homing" skill must be built within that egg! because they know just which direction to go. Even when they get back to Africa sometimes they end up close to where the parent bird came from....

Monday 1st June 2015 - Walk around the Dalton Woodland Burial  0930hrs to 1100hrs

"So peaceful - a woodland walk"
Click over to enlarge
Always enjoy the peace and tranquillity offered here.  With lots of our feathered friends singing from all parts of the Woodland with favourites like the Blackbird, and the Song Thrush with its much wider repertoire. Always when I come here I am at some part of the walk pleasantly startled by a overhead Buzzard "mewing", so loud, so clear and probably resting on the large Scots Pine at the side of where I am stood.  I could just about hear the lovely Goldcrest which was somewhere about, but a call which can be so difficult to tune in with, its so quiet and high pitched that it can be so easily overlooked! then we had the noisy Jay doing its usual "scolding".  I never heard the Blackcaps today but I was able to listen to a Chiffchaff calling quite near to the entrance and it soon became clear that it was one of those birds which had the "Miss A Note" effect, and I was wondering if it could have been a relation to my regular "Miss A Note" from over at nearby Lancelot Clark Storth! I am sure there will be plenty of "Miss A Notes" around and why not be "original and different!"

"Squirrels spent cache?"
Click over to enlarge
Managed to find and record some more Herb Paris which is a sure indicator of ancient woodland, also lots of fine specimens of Bugle and Ground Ivy. Also a stranger! yes did not expect some large saxifrage growing on the verges of the lane of "Nineteen Trees" Not sure what variety they are, but would guess that they are a garden escape and I think I know where they may have come from!

Also lots of Male Ferns, Broad Buckler Ferns and Harts Tongue Ferns.

Other species recorded today were:  (Birds) Nuthatch, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blue Tits (Flowers) Lords and Ladies (or Cuckoo Pint), Bluebells, Wood Sorrell, Herb Robert, Wild Strawberry, Dog Violet, Enchanters Nightshade, spent Primula.

1300hrs Nr. Kirbie Kendal School 

Found a new site for Ceterach (Rusty Back Fern) growing in the School boundary wall alongside the footpath and almost adjacent to the roundabout. Only a frond or two but still a nice record for the book!