Saturday, 23 April 2016

Nature Notes from Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof and Burton In Kendal

Showing the Royal Hotel Cottage Annexe, Burton In Kendal - Front Elevation (Click over to enlarge)
"Active nest sites marked in Red"

New nest sites "Sunday 22nd May 2016 - Royal Hotel Cottage - Front Elevation, Burton In Kendal.

Well we do have some really good news to report and that is we think the rest of the missing Swifts have finally returned either yesterday or this morning, the sky was absolutely buzzing with Swifts probably in the late teens in numbers (but no proper count made).

After leaving David's I spent a little time across from the Royal Cottage and was able to confirm that the nest sites (marked in the above photo with red arrows) where active with birds seen entering and leaving the three marked sites.  Also at one time others were seen "bumping" and holding on just at other points along the guttering.  

"POOR SWIFT" Sunday 22nd May 2016 - Care of David Craig

1000hrs - To everyone's surprise the poorly Swift had shown improvement overnight, for one it did not looked wet and bedraggled, but beautiful dry feathered and gripping and moving about better with ever blinking eye which is far better than it was yesterday.  David has constantly been in attention at regular intervals.  This morning he decided to take it to the vet in Kendal who checked it over and could not find any problems of injury but gave David some paste which he said would help it and would have far more protein than insects if it could be administered.  David has managed to feed it a little which it has accepted and is hoping to give it little water by shringe later.  Hopefully if it progresses over the next 24 hours we do intend to try and release it back to the area where it was found. 

"POOR SWIFT" Saturday 21st May 2016 - Just behind the Royal Annexe and Close to the nesting site.

1200hrs - Whilst showing my wife the nesting sites on the rear of the Royal, with much sadness I found a Swift on the floor with spread out wings.  At first it looked as though it was already very wet and dead but I soon realised it was not dead but injured. I did try to release from a higher elevation but without success the bird sort of glided back to the ground.  Remembering last year and David's fine dedication! I took the bird across the road to David Craigs where now the bird will be regular checked and left with peace and quiet and away from prowling cats, and kept in seclusion within his garden summer house.  The bird was identified that in all probability to be a adult and perhaps one of the birds nesting in the rear of the Royal Hotel.

Notes from the Burton Swift Study Group - Thursday May 16th 2016

A Sketch giving a summary of the 19th May Observations (Please click over the sketch to enlarge)

Thursday 19th May 2016 - Main Street, Burton In Kendal  2000hrs to 2100hrs

It was a great pleasure to be having our very first Swift watch of the year and so pleasing to see how well it was attended.

We are this year covering new ground in so much that we are starting the observations a couple of weeks earlier than in past years.  So we are not sure just what to expect.

We checked out all the regular sites calling off briefly at each.  We struggled counting the very fragmented Swifts giving off their usual aerial displays and although some screaming was heard, there was very little of it. However we did manage to tally up seven birds in total.

Our first true confirmed nesting came from the rear annexe on the Royal Hotel Cottage where again they were using one of the long established sites.  We first witnessed a bird leaving the hole and then shortly after we saw a bird return to the site and about five minutes later was fortunate to see a second bird attend the same nest site.

Moving on our next confirmed encounter was on the front of the Manor House where we where lucky enough to see a bird entering again a long established nest site.

This concluded our observations for the evening and we have planned to meet up again next Thursday at 2000hrs when all persons interested in watching the Swifts will be very welcome. Also please check out our Blogsite 


A Song Thrush mimicking the Trimphone back in June 2011 (Click over to enlarge)

Wednesday 18th May 2016 - Hutton Roof with circular of Burton Fell. 0900hrs to 1100hrs

Main purpose today to check out the Redstart spots, but I did not have any singing today and it always makes it that more difficult when its raining (light of and on rain).  Checking out the Woodruff, a sure sign of ancient woodland, which is coming along nicely and just starting to produce its white flowers, still needs a couple of weeks to mature to its best.  Just here I was attracted to some lovely magenta colour within a sea of blue about 30 yards away. I went closer to have a better look and sure enough it was one of the most beautiful Early Purple Orchids you could have witnessed lying there amongst the many surrounding bluebells. 
I checked out the two populations of Bilberry which are on the Fell and usually at this time of year will have fluttering Green Hairstreak butterflies, but again the rain had put a stop to being lucky enough to see any this morning. 
Whilst climbing up the fell was hearing a beautiful yet menotenous repetitive sound of the Great Tit and the call today was not one of his regular combination of notes chosen from his (nearly three hundred tune repertoire). Also had one of the regular Burton Chiffchaff's calling, a reasonable amount of calling Willow Warblers throughout the Fell (if anything maybe a little down in numbers!). Checked out especially the North to North West boundary line and found probably the largest population of Sanicle that I know of around these parts with hundreds to thousands of plants.  New scollies unravelling everywhere all nice and fresh! Rigid Buckler Ferns coming through everywhere, and the greenest of green you will ever see them were the beautiful little Limestone ferns (or to some they call them the Limestone Polypody). Fleeting Bullfinch with distant "peeu" very plaintive and sad call. Usually see the odd Hare but just for today the odd Rabbit scurrying across the upper pavements and quickly disappearing into the nearby undergrowth. Hundreds of Early Purple Orchids throughout, with most in their beautiful magenta, though lots of varying and intermediate colouring between pink and the deeper complexion.  Checked out the Fly Orchid spots but none showing yet! but to be honest ours are usually much later. Tormentil springing up all over the place. Roebuck barking at me at regular intervals although I never saw him I could hear him. Today's pavements were well wet and slippery (or Slape as they say in these parts). A Tree Pipit calling from the top of Burton Fell (near the stile), its one I have recorded here for the past three years. 

Every few years I get a serious contender! by means of a mimicking calling Song Thrushes, and a few years ago the bird was constantly mimicking the calls of a 1960's trimphone. That was superb, but today I have had yet another serious contender but this time the bird was mimicking with exact precision the opening "Who Whi" of the Curlew, but then also included a beautiful echoed "Fluty" Whimbrel call, and if that was not enough would quickly follow up with a Oyk call (Oystercatcher).  It was just something else this bird, just where it had spent its early days could only be left to the imagination, but it did not take much of a guess to suggest "Morecambe Bay" or another coastal hotspot!  


Thanks to Charles for informing me about (the first pair of the year) fluttering Dinghy Skippers in flight within Lancelot Clark Storth a few days ago, and also to Callum for letting me know there have been sightings of a single Hawfinch both today (19th May) and yesterday (18th May) just off the Main Street in Burton In Kendal. Last week (12th May 2016) A rare Herb Paris 5 leaved was found and photographed by David Benham in Lancelot (see photo below)


A rare "Fived Leaved Herb Paris"  (Click over photo to enlarge)
Photo: David Benham - Lancelot Clark Storth on May 12th 2016


So what is this?  (Click over to enlarge)

Its a Badgers Latrine - They make a scrape of about 8" diameter and you will get anywhere between 10 and 20 of these scrapes within a 10 yard area which are then filled up with "Badger Poo". 


This was one of my diary pages from 3 years ago  (Click over to enlarge)
On comparisons to this year (so far!) the Garden Warblers outnumber the Blackcaps, the Redstarts have increased in numbers, although this could be down to the observer finding new additional localities, the Lily Of the Valley and Angular Solomons Seal are about three weeks off as I write. Quite a lot of Spotted Flycatchers have already entered Cumbria, although I am not yet seeing our locals (four sites). (17th May 2016)

Monday 16th May 2016  - Clawthorpe Fell - 1000hrs to 1130hrs

Today I went to Clawthorpe Fell with main emphasis on seeing if one of our Spotted Flycatchers had returned but check all his usual spots but nothing yet! A couple of Chiffchaff in song.  The rare Birds Foot Sedge was spreading with many hundreds in flower and on show. Also overhead Ravens (from the Quarry), Several Early Purple Orchids, Birds Foot Trefoil, Wild Strawberry, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Herb Robert, Spring Cinquefoil (not many perhaps 10 flowers at best!), Dog Violets, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Common Rue, Nice early specimens of the Rigid Buckler Fern, early Ragwort, early English Stonecrop, Wood Anemone in the grykes etc. 


Members of Arnside and District Natural History Society ready for a walk over Dalton, and Hutton Roof on 12th May 2016 (Click over photo to enlarge)

Thursday 12th May 2016 - Arnside and District Natural History Society Guided Walk through Dalton Crags and a short visit to the Common and then back down through Lancelot Clark Storth and return via Storth Wood to Plain Quarry.  1030hrs to 1630hrs

The weather was very nice and warm although for most of the late morning and early afternoon we certainly had a keen "noisy" breeze with us which obviously made it more difficult to recognise calling birds, however we did manage to locate Willow Warblers (lots) a few Blackcaps, several Garden Warblers, a Tree Pipit, a Green Woodpecker (only one!) a low flying Sparrowhawk and all the regular commoner species which included: Robin, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit.  Today we did miss out on a few of the Hutton Roof specialities like the Redstart, Marsh Tit and Lesser Whitethroats who were all saving themselves for another day !

Butterflies throughout we were treated to two sightings of the Green Hairstreak butterflies which were present at their territorial sites made up of Bilberry plants, one of the sites which was just below the escarpment for the higher Lancelot Clark, a place which nearby also supports "Woodruff", and then we also had another sighting just below the BAP Memorial Seat pavement (slightly to the NW). Besides these little beauties we had scores of Speckled Wood straight from the off in all the shady wooded areas throughout our walk.  To think years ago you would have struggled finding a Speckled Wood in the North of England and nowadays they are so common throughout out beautiful area. Also we had the odd Peacock and the odd Large White butterflies. We were looking out in particular for the Dinghy Skipper which you do get here in both Dalton and Lancelot, but today no sightings were reported. 

To say its still very early especially for the Hutton Roof specialities (orchids, hypericums and others), We quickly came upon other interest species such as Parsley Piert on our climb up through the lower crags, two or three populations clung to the sides of the old anthills. We had primulas on show with Cowslips on our way up through Dalton deforested and also a good patch of Primroses at the top of Lancelot.  We also found the odd populations of both Angular Solomons Seal and also the Lily Of the Valley, but I would have guessed they would need another three weeks before offering their white drooping beauties (the flowers of course!). Others included Bluebells, Early Purple Orchids throughout, and Bugle Spring Sandwort, Spring Cinquefoil and lots more. 

We made our way up through Dalton and through the gate on to the Common briefly stopping off at the Trig Point where we stopped and it gave me the opportunity to mention about the Great Grey Shrike and I pointed out to were the Butcher bird's larder was located. I knew our party would love to visit our Holly Ferns and the Green Spleenworts. Also not far away we were lucky to have a pair of Redpoll calling and displaying.

We replenished our fuel with a half hour rest sat on the boulders closeby to the Lonchitis, and where within weeks will be good colonies of the Common Rock Rose and the spectacular Northern Brown Argus butterfly, but we are far too early for that at the moment.  The area in question is a regular "have lunch" spot for my parties and to be honest it was so lovely just here out of the breezes, I struggled to get going again!! but we did.  Whilst on Uberash I just had to show them "Rob Roy", a natural picture within the limestone which you can only see after you have given him a drink of water. Oh yes! you do need to let your imagination run away with itself, but I pointed out the features and everyone seemed delighted having met Roy.

Rob Roy - left naturelle and right enhanced! - Click over to enlarge

From here we had to retrack back on ourselves for a little while and whilst going through the nearby crags and woodland I showed our party the "Sanicle" which was just starting to come through.

We entered Lancelot Clark Storth (a Cumbria Wildlife Reserve), and some of the party wanted to know why was it called Lancelot, so I cleared the matter up stating that Lancelot Clark was the local farmer who farmed on this spot and that Storth was another name for Woods. We saw the solar panels which bring the water up all the way from down at the water table of 850 ft to bring the water up to fill the large black plastic water bowsers so that our "Redpoll" cattle can have a drink.  The solar panels give enough power to operate the pump to bring the waters up.

I showed our party areas where before long Zig Zag Clover, Limestone Ferns and Angular Solomons Seal would be coming through.

Onward past one of our "Green Hairstreak" hotspots and sure enough we were not to be disappointed with the first showing. Also a good nearby area with Primroses galore and the very start of the Woodruff coming through.  When the Woodruff are mature and fresh I always eat one or two of its leaves, it has a taste not too disimilar to a poor man's vanilla pod (in my opinion!).   Although I am OK with just one or two, I am told not to eat many they can be disastrously dangerous to the liver (so I try and heed advice!). 

Further down past a singing but not displaying Tree Pipit, and telling my party about the regular visits in the third week of August of large numbers of Spotted Flycatchers passing through at this very spot on their way back to Africa. I can almost set my watch by the time they arrive!

Eventually reaching the BAP Memorial seat where you can get perhaps the best views of Morecambe Bay in the far distance.  From the seat we counted 22 paces to the North West and came upon the rare but spent (last years) Hypericum Montanum (perforatum!).  Also we had been kindly advised early by my friend from Kendal Robert Ashworth about a very rare pure white Early Purple Orchid which he had first found back in 2015 and its come up again this year (see Roberts photo below - by the way thanks also to Ian and David from our party today who have also sent in photos of this very special plant).  At this point some of our party had to make a direct path back to Plain Quarry, whilst the remainder of the party wanted to carry on to observe the Birds Foot Sedge etc.

White Early Purple Orchid - Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve)
Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Ashworth (finder of the plant) 12th May 2016

We passed another Bilberry area and were again given a special display by yet another Green Hairstreak butterfly.  Shortly arriving at the only "Spring" on this west side of the Hutton Roof complex where here we witnessed lots of "Palmate newts" coming up for air at regular intervals.  I wrote this little ditty back in 2013

(from notes I wrote back in 2013 - whilst passing this Spring)  - Whilst out searching for a "Ceterach" in Lancelot Clark Storth, I past a spring which normally contains Palmate Newts, but none showing today.  So I then continued my search for the Rusty Back Fern.

"Hey Mate, hey pal,
Newt in Spring today,
Onward South for Ceterach,
Summer gone,
And back
to rusty Autumn".

10th September 2013

Leaving the Spring and our pals, we continued down to the large area where we checked out several of the hundreds of "Birds Foot Sedge" beneath our feet, some were already in flower with nice heads but many were just immatures and spreading.  We were also very fortunate to see several flowers of the rare Spring Cinquefoil and also lots of specimens of the Spring Sandwort.

From here we carried on across the bottom of Lancelot taking in "Miss A Note" the Chiffchaff and also Blackcaps and even more Garden Warblers and Willow Warblers.  We made our way up to Storth and came through Storth to behind the Dalton hamlet on the way down we found Bugle, early Mallows (root stock only - far too early), also we had Ground Ivy and a Gooseberry bush or two.

Calling off by the Dalton Hall Summer House ruins to look at the checked tiles pattern of the floor and view the overhanging rarer type Rhodedendrums etc and soon returning back to Plain Quarry car park for approx 1625hrs. 

A cracking day, with a cracking set of people!


This was recorded on or around 9th May 2014 (Click over to enlarge)

Tuesday 10th May 2016 - Dalton Lane, Crowtrees, Nineteen Trees etc  0900hrs to 1030hrs

Main purpose was to see if the Redstart had returned to the North side of Harry's Wood, but never heard anything today.  But did record a new Blackcap and also the resident Chiffchaff from within the Burial Ground. A new record for breeding Goldcrest, also across the road was watching a pair of Nuthatches going in and out of a small hole (2") in the centre of a large knot (12"diameter) in a very old 200 year plus tree. A new Chiffchaff recorded from near Rose Cottage.  A new 200 plus population of Herb Paris from around Rose Cottage.  Also showing lots of Garlic Mustard, Ramsons, Welsh Poppy etc.

Monday 9th May 2016 - Quarry Wood, Newclose and Majors Nursery - Dalton Hall Estate 1030hrs to 1200hrs

Went over the other side to check out the Common Redstart and was not disappointed, it looks like all the regulars have returned safety whilst the males are all busy singing away close to their respective territories.  Looks like at first show at least four separate vocal birds. Also managed to record a further two singing Garden Warblers which is always so nice. A regular Blackcap also in song in the small planting just below the Water Meter Building.   Also the missing Chiffchaff (reported last week) is now back and singing well. Common Lizard on the path between Newclose and Majors. Bluebells at Newclose very poor this year in comparison to most years.

Monday 9th May 2016  - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags 0900hrs to 1030hrs

All Warblers singing away, looks like another good year especially for the Garden Warblers. Besides the Garden Warblers we also had the resident Blackcaps in fine voice "fettle" just to the side of Plain Quarry.  Up through the Crags checking on the Parsley Piert now beginning to show on one of the old anthills.  I do have this recorded in just a couple of places.  It turns up here and there but does not spread very quickly.  Then a close Siskin flew overhead which was obviously local and probably breeding somewhere in the Crags.  Another massive hatch of St. Mark's Fly with thousands just at the spot where you leave Dalton Crags (lower) to go up into the deforested - its as though they especially love the edges of woodland.

Watching Cuckoo for ages, also coming back down heard another one calling from over near Crag House side.  I wonder also if the Park Wood Cuckoo has returned yet?  its regular we have three pairs on the Hutton Roof Complex.

Had my first Large White Butterflies (x3) today, also Speckled Woods showing again. Also the Tree Pipits was singing and displaying in lower Dalton (usual place), but still none showing in the main deforested areas where usually we will have up to 5 pairs (late chaps!). Again no Wheatear present!

St. Marks Fly (Bibio marci) massive hatch 6th and 7th May 2016  (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday 7th May 2016 - Dalton Crags, Lancelot Clark Storth etc 0900hrs to 1200hrs

Soon after leaving the car at Plain Quarry I was hearing both Blackcaps and Garden Warblers singing away and so nice to actually get them singing side by side.  Also here had my first of the year Speckled Wood Butterfly, but did get another further along the journey at the top of Lancelot.

Next was a true bonus for the morning with a Common Redstart in full song at the top of the lower Dalton Crags quite near the tall conifererous trees.  Watching him for a while and can't be absolute but do think there was a female closeby - lets hope he his marking territory with his fabulous song.  Never had one at that spot before.  Nearby was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. On entering Dalton deforested the Cuckoo was calling continous has I made my way up the track.  Just at the point below the gulley, he actually came flying just above my head and heading South to the lower corner of Dalton, but what made things even more special is that I also noticed another Cuckoo though silent and presumed maybe the female crossing over at the same time somewhere over the gully and the Blackthorn, I'll bet those two had a agenda!! Brilliant to know we have got two of them back....

It doesn't stop there by any means, just a little further on past the gully on the right, guess what? both male and female Lesser Whitethroats were flitting around in a small hazel, at near the spot where they have been for the past few years to my knowledge.  We are still waiting for the other pair which are usually somewhere around the "Line of Trees".

Leaving Dalton by the gate which goes up to the Common and the Trig Point, I was stopped in my tracks exactly at the gate by a beautiful sight of a little "Green Hairstreak Butterfly" which appeared to be extra tame, and for a moment my thoughts were immediately transported to some very special memories of a dear friend who has now passed, to which the little Green Hairstreak played such a important leading role!

Shortly on entering Lancelot I was greeted by a pair of the fabulous Tree Pipits calling and displaying as they do, also noticeable was my first Early Purple Orchids and Wood Sorrell and my first Tormentil.

Soon passing by a established Billberry site and looking out for Green Hairstreaks, but none on show just the earlier "special" one at the Gate to the Common!

Further down into Lancelot another pair of Tree Pipits both singing and displaying with such brilliance.  I noticed again today large hatches of the St. Marks Fly at several points along my journey. And here I had a new Garden Warbler singing and marking its territory along with lots of surrounding Willow Warblers as well.

BAP Memorial seat approaching and time for a drink of water, I was tiring and it was so lovely and warm with just the slightest welcoming warm breeze occasionally coming through, I could just have sat on that bench and had forty winks, thats just how I felt, and now wishing I had!!

Down into the lower Lancelot areas passed the Cattle Crush at the Storth Pen and soon noticing a Garden Warbler had already set out its territory in the recent "Clearing area" and as though taking regular sanctuary in the line of waste trimmings which had been made into a "natural" hedge recently made by the foresters, its also great to see the Blackbirds have also made new homes in these hedges!  I cannot confirm as yet whether this is a new Garden Warbler set down territory or one thats moved across some 100 yards.  Also recorded a new to me population of "Herb Paris" with some 300 plus plants.  Nearby entered new records of Blackcaps nesting and some special little birds The Goldcrest which were in one of the large nearby conifers.

Friday 6th May 2016 - Slape Lane Etc, Burton In Kendal 2 hours pm

Chiffchaff was singing as you started going along Slape Lane, somewhere to the rear of the big house. and then met another Chiffchaff singing at the Slape Lane crossroad where you can cut across to Clawthorpe or turn right to bring you back up on to Vicarage lane. Lots of Orange Tip Butterflies, My first of the year Green Veined White Butterflies.  I thought the Bluebells were not doing well this year, but should listen to others who were saying that they were late this year! and right they where with a superb display in the nearby Woods (see photo) of both Bluesbells and Wood Anemones.

Thursday 5th May 2016 - Burton - Main Street 2000hrs

Local Swifts are now at a minimum of fourteen birds though could be more. Also click here if you want to check out the Burton Swift Bird Study Site. 

Thursday 5th May 2016 - Canal Walk - Burton to Holme and return 1100hrs to 1230hrs

Straight away it was noticeable that there was a massive hatch of St. Marks Fly (Bibio marci) with hundreds seen at various places along the Canal. I have always nicknamed them the "poor mans Mayfly- with them having their dangling black legs.  The Swallows were having a ball!  Blackcap and Chiffchaffs at their regular haunt almost across from the old Station Pub (currently being demolished).  Also a further Chiffchaff near the houses on the side of the Canal which lie to the East Side of the Mill in the bottom (another regular haunt).  But did not have the Chiffchaff calling which is usually near to the Sheerness Bridge.  Also as yet no Lesser Whitethroat near the Holme side.  Also gave me chance to check out the area which holds Northern Greenland Wheatears on passage which is high above the Old Mill Lodge but on the other side of the Canal where there are horses in the field. None today

Wednesday 4th May 2016 - Burton - Main Street 1500hrs and then at 2000hrs

Swift arrivals now up to four birds by 1500hrs and a quick check at 2000hrs we are up to nine birds.

Wednesday 4th May 2016 - Milnthorpe Square 1100hrs to 1120hrs

Confirmed 6 Swifts hawking the skies high above the A6 at Milnthorpe, could have been another 3 or 4 as well. Also quite a good few House Martins as well.

Wednesday 4th May 2016 - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags 0900hrs to 1030hrs

What a difference a day can make! it was really quiet going up and cold with the strong South Westerly winds, however when the sun appeared and the winds died down it was lovely.  The Cuckoo was singing on the Common close to the boundary wall.  Just the one Wheatear on the wall adjoining the side to Crag House Side upper corner.  Still no Tree Pipits heard in the top of Dalton Crags.  Then has I entered the lower Dalton Crags it became a different story altogether, wind had died and it was lovely and what made it even more special was to see and hear and able to watch for ages a displaying Tree Pipit calling has it manouvered from a high tree to a lower tree.  And then as if that was not enough I was treated with a fresh arrival pair of Garden Warblers in song and on territory close to the escarpment.  Then further across and just about Plain Quarry I was treated to another singing Garden Warbler in the company with two singing Blackcaps.  A brilliant morning.....

Tuesday 3rd May 2016 - Main Street, Burton In Kendal 1845hrs  

"First Swift of the Year"
(Click over sketch to enlarge)

First returning Swift seen hawking insects high over the Royal and the Kings areas.  In the limited time I had I just noticed the single bird, hopefully will be more in the coming days

Tuesday 3rd May 2016 - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Had Cuckoo calling from somewhere around the top of Lancelot.  More or less on the same line as "The Gulley" in Dalton Crags but obviously further to the NW.  Several calls noted.  Very windy today and also very cold in the wind, which was making things far more difficult for hearing. Cuckoo had already been recorded yesterday (2nd May) from a similar area at 1700hrs.

Still disappointing to see no Tree Pipits back on territory, although I am seeing the odd birds on the walls of the boundary.

So far the worst year for recording Northern Greenland Wheatear on passage, by now I would normally have had at least a minimum of thirty birds, whereby this year I have only had three birds in total.

Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May 2016 

I nearly forgot to mention, that on Friday last I was parked up and two Chiffchaffs were very busy flitting about in a nearby Rhodedendrum bush and I was probably only some 4 yards away from them when I heard a contact call between them which I have never heard before.  It was a very soft "tuc" "tuc" call.  I can imagine if you had have been any further away in distance you would not have even heard the call.  I have only ever known of the regular "hou-whit" contact call (sang slightly sharper than the Willow Warbler's hou whit call). Brilliant stuff now I can add the "tuc" call to my notes!

Saturday 30th April 2016 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

Had a good mooch around Dalton Crags and also over on Hutton Roof Common and came back around the Crag House side footpaths.  Again nothing spectacular noticed, still no Tree Pipits in song or noticed on territory (very strange!), although I do think they are perhaps feeding up down and over on the Crag Side, hopefully this next week we will have them singing within Dalton. Not too over worried at the moment because they have been seen singing on territory over on Lancelet and Burton by Robert Ashworth.

No Cuckoo as yet! think now the one I had on Saturday last (23rd April 2016) was one obviously passing through.  Besides my regular daily visits, I have a couple of birding friends who have also been checking out the Common/Dalton/Lancelot and Burton on a regular basis and they too have not see it either.

Quiet also as yet for the Lesser Whitethroats (expected any day now), also would expect our returning Garden Warblers, hopefully more Redstarts etc.

Swifts have been arriving back in the South Lakes over the past couple of days according to other birding sites (eg: Lancaster and District and Cumbria Birding), so would expect our Burton birds back very soon (Usually our arrivals are on 4th May!!).

Willow Warbler "Singing in the Snow"  (Click over to enlarge)

My article for BURTON NEWS – MAY ISSUE (issued to village residents on May 1st 2016)
Written on 21st April 2016 - 

It’s all started again for another year with almost all of our regular Chiffchaffs having now returned to their regular haunts, at the time of writing (21st April) I think we are still waiting for “Pear” of Pear Tree Cottage. The earliest I had this year was Craig and Craggy who hail from Plain Quarry and whom I first recorded on the 31st March.

Back to the Warblers and for me it’s always great to hear the very first Willow Warbler, even if it is only singing in broken song.  My first was in lower Dalton Crags when I just could make out dear Willow as she sung in half- hearted song.  The date was 9th April with more and more of the little beauties arriving daily. So far in April I have been fortunate to count large falls within Dalton especially on 12th, 15th with a peak over the mornings of 20th and 21st.

I am told early Swallows had been seen at the usual “early spot” over by Whassett.  For me this year the earliest birds seen were on the 12th April over near the Borwick fisheries.  The first main entry at local sites came over the weekend of the 15th and 16th April.  Since that date birds have been coming through in good numbers and also it was noted odd birds where back on territory at Russell Farm, Green Dragon and elsewhere.

My first returning Blackcap was on 17th April in or around Plain Quarry

My first Tree Pipits arrived yesterday (20th April) when three were recorded in upper Dalton Crags (deforested area) they are still very quiet – no song being offered just the odd three syllables, but any day now they will crack up in song!

Today (21st April – Our Queen’s 90th birthday) I had my first Northern Greenland Wheatear with three beauties all stood to attention with their almost straight backs.  Everything ticked the boxes for these beauties to have been the rarer “leucorhoa race” and to think they have travelled from far down in Africa and although only calling off here at Dalton Crags for a day or maybe two at the most, will then continue their journey all the way up to either the Faroes, Iceland or Greenland.  They are one of the long distance travellers.

Other records come in are Common Redstart noted on Hutton Roof Common 14th April and also one on Burton Fell on the 19th April.

This next week or two should see – Garden Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and more Redstarts.  And possibly at just about the same time as your delivery of Burton News we may be seeing and hearing our familiar Cuckoo..

Butterflies recorded: Brimstone (19th April), also odd Small Tortoiseshell, and lots of Peacocks).
Flowers include: Wood Anemone, Wild Strawberry, Ground Ivy, Dog Violets, Red Campion, Stitchworts.

OURS SWIFTS ARE EXPECTED BACK ANYDAY NOW! And we have been busy clearing the Ivy away on the Royal so they will have a direct entry to their regular sites.  Hopefully once the birds are back and established we can start to observe and report on our local populations. If you want to join us this year why not check us out at the following website: 
Bryan Yorke


Thursday 28th April 2016 0900hrs to 1130hrs  - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags
Started off with 50% blue skies, but rapidly turned to what looked very much like December time clouds and white with dark. A frost was on the car screen this morning peppered with a sprinkling of snow.
Checked out all the usual areas and again no Cuckoo, no territorial Tree Pipits, although saying that I did have what I consider a Tree Pipit far away to the South over on Crag House Side. So can now only presume the Cuckoo was a bird moving through bird, because after numerous checks no one has recorded seeing it since last Saturdays sighting. 
Also it looks very much like the two/four Wheatear have moved on - again no sightings this morning. Archie the Chiffchaff was singing from "The Cottage" which is on the Main Street directly opposite the Burton School.  

Tuesday 26th April 2016  0900hrs to 1030hrs Majors Nursery Area - Dalton Hall Estate

Had a new Garden Warbler singing in the large conifers which lie just below the "Water Meter House". I checked over near Newclose and Majors Nursery but still no Redstarts or for that matter Tree Pipits although I did have plenty of Willow Warblers in song but the Chiffchaff at the side of Newclose still seems to be missing. It was very cold this morning especially in the open areas which bade no shelter and maybe this had something to do with it, but I will be checking this area again very soon!

Just for the record its been a super year so far for the Celandine and now the Gorse! but its so far proving to be a terrible year for the Bluebells with very few showing...

Monday 25th April 2016   0930hrs onwards Robert Ashworth (Kendal) kindly reported:

"Three plovers flying north over trig point area seen from just below wall at top of deforested. Appeared to be Dotterel but limited view means I could not pick up all diagnostic features. Searched common but no further sign".

Monday 25th April 2016 - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags  (0915hrs to 1030hrs)

No signs of Cuckoo today, had Wheatear yet again at top right hand corner of upper Crags and also down at Gulley end.  No Garden Warblers calling today.

Sunday 24th April 2016 - Dalton Park Wood  (1400hrs to 1600hrs)

Had about 12 Willow Warblers in Song, 3 Chiffchaffs and one Blackcap
(Click over sketch to enlarge)

Saturday 23rd April 2016 - Plain Quarry and Dalton Crags  (0730hrs to 0930hrs)

A superb morning the sun was shining and warming up nicely.

For me it started out in search of the Wheatears, and nothing has changed I had a pair up by the top right corner of Dalton Crags and another pair close to the bottom of the Gully.

Then on my way back down, I was quickly stopped in my tracks having just heard the single syllabel "Cuck" coming from the line of Trees which was only maybe 30 yards in front of me.  Sure enough there was a returning Cuckoo which had just come in this very morning and was already being mobbed by a Mistle Thrush and three Meadow Pipits, which soon gave up their bombardments.  I got more good close ups has the bird moved across the "Line of Trees". Without doubt for me this is the earliest I have ever known a Cuckoo return on Dalton.  Although I was on the ready because a couple of days ago I was informed by Wal that he had a returning Cuckoo up at Crook on Tuesday last (19th April 2016).

It does not stop there it gets even better.  Because on my way back down and close to Plain Quarry, two Garden Warblers came in the tree above me flitting from one branch to the other.  One of the birds actually broke out into song.  I was watching them for over ten minutes. I guess they are just slightly earlier than usual by a couple of days.

On reaching the village and walking out to the Post Office, I noticed a pair of House Martins flying over Hollowrayne/Tanpits Lane area and obviously back on territory.  Again only arrived this morning.

There must have been a hard fall last night with the Garden Warblers, I had one in full song whilst mooching around in the blossom at the property called the Orchard which is directly across from the Burton School.

Excellent morning!