Thursday, 16 July 2015

Dark Red Helliborines and Variants on Hutton Roof today

Now then! thats a nice pair of "atrorubens"

Thursday 16th July 2015 - Hutton Roof

So here we have a lovely pair of Dark Red Helliborines and I found that maybe over 50% where in flower today, yet still lots to come through.

Searching for the rare Epipactis Schmalhauseneii (Rare hybrid between the Dark Red Helliborine and the Broad Leaved Helliborine), I just could not find any at all on the sections I was checking out today, although only a couple of years ago I would have had at least five to eight plants without problem.  Only one week ago I was up here and found what I thought was a new "schmal" coming through, which looked "bright eyed and bushy tailed" and guess what I have been along this morning and its had the snip, typical Roe Deer predation, going for the green dangling flowers and then leaves the lower section to rot away.  This is always going to be the problem for the atrorubens or schmals, its tempting grub for the deer if they manage to catch them before the flowers turn red.  Once they turn red the plants seem to be less attractive and they are then in a less vunerable situation or thats how I have found it. I suppose its the old addage Red equals danger!

So its no good crying over spilt milk as they say! onward and upward.  It wasn't long before I did find a interesting Epipactis which was about 15" high but very green and certainly worth noting and checking out further.  Here is a photo I took of the specimen.

Plenty of "viride" or as green as green can be!
I also went on to check out a pair of little beauties I have had over the last two previous years. 2013 and 2014, they were absolutely feeble and distorted specimens yet at the same time they were gorgeous with the lightest of green going against a beautiful light cherry red colour, but if you were to touch any of them to try and take measurements or try and check the epichile or bosses ratio measurements, however careful you were the plant seem to immediately droop and go into a limbo and die off within hours. So last year to try and overcome problems we decided to cage them hoping that they would be safe and so far everything is looking good as you can see from this photo I have managed to take through the opening of the cage. Still left wondering today are these possible variants or even more interesting would they be a possible F1 hybrid, although I do now perhaps have doubt on this simply because to my knowledge there is no closeby Schmalhauseneii and the ones which were about 75 yards away have not come through this year and I am now beginning to think that they may have been "sterile". So here we are in the photo below its doing OK,  touch wood (and whistle!) as they say.... and below it I have put last two previous years (2013 and 2014) photo just so you get some idea of the contrasting colours of these little beauties.

"Frail but very beautiful specimen with such contrasting colours" The photo was taken today - Thursday 16th July 2015. This year it is as beautiful as ever, but not deformed, and growing straight. Below is last years photo.
This was the same plant in 2014, but we could not save it was so weak it just seemed to collapse before flowering, and so we put the cage on it for the 2015 season and so far so good.

This was the same plant in 2013, very much deformed and feeble, but how lovely the contrasting flowers against the green.  Its now looking that 2015 will be the "third" time lucky year.
The Ziz Zag Clovers are out - in fact at this place one or two may even be going over. what a beautiful flowerhead, and the petals are group in three. Its a native of Finland but I know of three separate populations on Hutton Roof.
Here below is a a nice specimen of Dark Red Helliborine which I had growing from the small ledge within the gryke:

"On the ledge in the gryke"
Made lots of notes of flora locations, only birds I had today were several Willow Warblers with the "houwit" contact calls, a startled Blackbird, a local Redpoll....

Its that time of year again, will be out again tomorrow over another part of Hutton Roof, checking out the atrorubens and in particular trying to locate more Schmalhauseneii.


This is a sketch showing the Swift activity on Thursday 16th July 2015 during observations made by the group.
Click over sketch to enlarge

Also to report tonight was our Swift watching as follows:

Thursday 16th July 2015 - Off Main Street, Burton In Kendal, Cumbria.  2000hrs to 2115hrs

We met as usual at the Memorial Hall.  In attendance was Reg, David, Mary and Paul, and myself. We checked out the regular sites.  We started by counting the birds in the sky which at that time was just nine, but later in the watch we counted a total of 28 birds.  Most birds tonight were flying low. It was very windy.

The first nesting activity was on the front low elevation of the Royal and we witnessed two separate birds going into two sites. No sooner had they passed food then off again, probably the changeover of food was only two seconds.

We moved further down to the Coach House and the Manor House, we saw one bird leaving the front elevation site on the Coach House, also we were lucky enough to see a bird using one of the sites on the gable end of the Manor House.

Without doubt we saw the most activity in the skies since the beginning of the weekly watches.

David mentioned that he had again been witnessing birds coming into his yard, which seemed as though they were prospecting sites for next year on the rear of Reeder House.

Also please feel free to check out the dedicated blogsite to Swifts at the "Burton Swift Bird Study Group by clicking here.