Monday, 27 March 2017

Wild Service Trees and Much More

Tuesday 28th March 2017 - Dalton Crags

Another lovely sunny morning with a E/SE blowing at about 7-10mph, visibility down to about 2/300 yards.

A definite six Chiffchaff counted in Plain Quarry and lower regions of Dalton

Just a little better than yesterday with just enough Meadow Pipits to count on two hands over the hour!

2x Wild Service Trees in Dalton (Click over to enlarge)
also photo below shows close up.

Monday 27th March 2017 - Dalton - Hutton Roof Trig Point

Lovely sunny morning but with a cold 10-15mph Easterly.  Over one hour the Meadow Pipits that went through could be counted on one hand.

Lots of singing Chiffchaffs heard this morning around the Lower Dalton Plain Quarry areas.  I guess all were not locals.  The ones I saw seemed so small and thin and needed to put some weight on!  also coming down "Hypericum Way" I am sure I heard the "just about (contact) call" of a Willow Warbler right at the place were I usually get my "first early bird", but can't be sure because it was only the contact call "hou-it" rather than the full call. Although there is very little difference between the Chiff and the Willow, I find the Willow is slightly more sweeter and not just as sharp - So I guess the next day or two should give a clearer indication to which bird it is. 

Also had the male Stonechat in Dalton Upper, and heard a couple of calls from Green Woodpecker at different areas, Ravens knocking about and thats more or less it for today....

I was kindly shown these rare "Wild Service Trees" which lie within Dalton.

Close up of a Wild Service Tree at Dalton (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

First Warbler and Catch Ups

Sunday 26th March 2017 - Dalton - Hutton Roof Trig Point

Easterly 3-5mph warmer than yesterday morning.  Very poor passage which faded as the morning progressed. 46 Meadow Pipits in total plus 1 Alba Wagtail heading NW, also heard a Redpoll
Mipits mainly singles or pairs, but also had parties: 2x3,1x6. 19 birds 9 to 10am and 27 birds 10 to 11am.

Saturday 25th March 2017 - Dalton - Hutton Roof Trig Point

Chiffchaffs increased yet again to four now singing from Plain Quarry. Also had 147 Meadow Pipits at Trig on Hutton Roof all heading NW (31 between 9 to 10am and 116 between 10 to 11am. mainly singles and pairs, but also small parties of 5x3,6x4,1x5,1x6,1x8.

This was taken today from the Trig on Hutton Roof looking NW to the Lakes
Friday 24th March 2017 - Dalton - Hutton Roof Trig Point

We now have three Chiffchaffs back in lower Dalton, a further increase of one.

The Meadow Pipits were going through Dalton and Hutton Roof today, but just trickles of mainly singles but a few pairs, yet no parties. Total 23 birds over a couple of hours (0900hrs to 1100hrs) heading NW. Lovely sunny morning and warm down in the bottom, but a 15mph East/North East Wind on the top giving it the occasional "chill factor"

"Sky the lark was busy all the time today,
singing like a "Tree Pipit" amongst his task,
or chasing off passing Meadow Pipits.
He guards that territory with jealous hold
Every now and again he behaved so bold"


Early Purple Orchid rosettes today on Lancelot (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday 23rd March 2017 - Dalton - Hutton Roof - Lancelot (CWT)

Nice to report that at least four Chiffchaffs have arrived back.  Craig and Craggy are back at Plain Quarry Car Park at Dalton and Lance and Clarky are back singing in Lancelot Clark Storth, but we are still waiting for "Miss A Note". Maybe she does not miss a note anymore!

Good to see Meadow Pipits going through regular with maybe about 20 over one hour all heading North West, in the main singles or pairs, but one party of 4.  Missed loads because they were low down when you got up to the Trig point and sort of sneaking between the low hawthorns, the North Easterlies were strong up there today, perhaps 20 to 25 mph. Quite a few settling for the less windy option and using the flanks of Lancelot to cross over.  

Those Easterley - Beasterlies will not stop the flow,
For Mipits today were on the go,
With a "psst psst" here and a "psst psst" there,
and lots of "psst psst" everywhere!

Also had a pair of chakkers (Stonechat) in Dalton deforested, calls from one of the yafflers (Green Woodpecker), Mistle Thrushes, Skylarks singing away and guess what?  a unexpected mover today when I had a Brambling and calling whilst heading North West!  

Also down in Lancelot had a single Long Tailed Tit, probably down on territory with only seeing the single. Also calling Goldcrest (usual place near thowd conifer!)

Yes I mean it when I say "millions" rather than thousands, because that's exactly what there will be when they come through, and the leaves are growing everywhere on HR today,  that's the Barren Strawberry or are they the Wild Strawberry, whichever, they will taste lovely when they start to show by the end of next month. Always something to look forward to, with a "snack on the go"  

Nice Early Purple rosettes forming in Lancelot, Lots of Pretty primrose posies here and there and lots of that beautiful coloured "purple" grass or is it "Blue Moor Grass.

Its been one of those beautiful special mornings which I have enjoyed immensely whilst walking through my weedless garden and gathering Vitamin D here and there whilst listening to the "Chiff Chaff Chitty",  "Chiff Chaff Chitty"

Other photos today:

A  rotting tree trunk base with lots of interesting fungi! (Click over to enlarge)

Is this it! Is this what they call "Blue Moor Grass" (Click over to enlarge)
Sesleria caerulea

Do you remember this slime mould which I found twelve days ago (Click over to enlarge)
well look at the next photo because thats how it is today

A Herd of Whiteness (Click over to enlarge)
I am checking out the skies all the time at the moment in readiness for another "HERD OF WHITENESS" or a "WEDGE" of Whoopers.  Today (22nd March 2017) I have been reading that several parties have been seen heading North West through the County on their way to the Solway and onward perhaps to Iceland!  Also one or two reports of SWALLOWS being seen over Ulverston

Burton In Kendal Chiffchaffs (Click over to enlarge)

Wednesday 15th March 2017 - Dalton Crags (0930hrs to 1100hrs)

Return of our first Chiffchaff (Craig) to Plain Quarry this morning, singing away in a subdued fashion. I guess its about right is the 15th and the date it is first recorded in most years.

Also the "Start" day for the passage of Meadow Pipits with 7 moving across the deforested (upper Crags) towards the North West direction (2,1,2,1,1) plus one already back on territory at the Trig Point on Hutton Roof.   Also had a Marsh Tit calling from the top of the lower Crags.

I can't help but wonder about "Alba Wagtails" which I don't see that many these days on Spring passage but that's probably because of where I am watching from , but looking back to the 80s I can remember from back down in East Lancs I would get scores of them all moving to the North West and they came early with good counts from around the 7th March.

Arnside (1600hrs to 1800hrs approx)

Recorded even more "Ceterach" (Rusty Back Fern) over in Arnside on the Promenade, also went along to the "Coastguard" area to check out the Maidenhair Fern and got this photo of last years produce!

Maidenhair Fern at Arnside (Click over to enlarge)
Last years offering still in reasonable shape!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Catch Up

Saturday 11th March 2017

Is it fungi or is it a type of Slime Mould - What a beauty and found today on a rotting tree (Click over to enlarge)
I have now found out it is called a "Amoebozoa" (Protozoa)

I have found a excellent online blog by Siah St. Clair which goes into more depth and shows some great photos
of the different stages of the yellow amoebozoa please click here to access ALL OF NATURE BLOG
On my way up the Crags I had plenty of Song Thrush singing but today I had one bird which was enjoying letting me think I had heard a distant "Golden Plover" its mimic was a dead ringer! I had a male Stonechat in Dalton Crags (deforested) about 100 yards to the North of the "Line of Trees", could not see a female so don't know if it is the resident pair or another new bird arrived.

Coming down through Lancelot I was attracted to the yellow patch which at first looked like a very pale yellow leaf from a distance but when I got closer it soon became apparent it was some sort of fungi or slime mould.  I have checked out my references and cannot find it anywhere at the moment. It was about 5" and made up of what I would say were small yellow bubbles (please click over image to enlarge), whatever it is I feel its a cracker and I have already put it on a forum to try and find out what it is. I have now found out it is a "Amoebozoa (Protozoa)"

Further Marsh tits heard calling in Lancelot.  We are doing well this year recording these!  Also a regular pair of Lapwing trying to breed on the old stubble field at the top of Vicarage Lane, but being constantly harressed with Carrion Crows.  Some fantastic Lapwing aerial display has they dive bombed the Crows.

Just been reminded by Arlene that its getting to that time of year to watch out for the old "ticks".  I thought best for me to print here the info sheets which I always show to my parties:

This shows the sizes of "Larva, Nymph and adult Female and Male" (Click over for enlarge)

This shows how bites may look at the top and below are showing signs of bites that could become Lymes

I get "ticks" regular on my daily trips up on Hutton Roof, but thankfully only one time did I actually get one with the rings around, which I quickly went to the doctors and who prescribed at the time the antibiotic "Doxycycline" which sorted it within 48 hours. Hope you never have to deal with ticks but maybe these illustrations can help you just in case.

Thursday 9th March 2017

Brimstone today in Dalton Hamlet
Photo: taken on Iphone 
It all started really well today with my first bumble bee which had a white bum!
then I noticed other nice things as well some nice patches of Black Spleenwort (last years),
plus plenty of Celandine beaming through with sunny smiling faces, but no violets for me today.
My first butterfly of the year and right on time for this lovely Brimstone (and ladybird).
Went through Dalton Burial Woodlands today and it was lovely with plenty of birdsong,
which included Treecreeper, Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Wrens, Robins and Dunnocks,
but the best of all was back on "Nineteen Trees" where I had that high pitched "pitchoo"
and sure enough a place to record for the lovely little "Marsh Tit". 

In the past few days I have also had some nice reports from friends as well: Both Alec (Dalton Hamlet) and Howard (Holme) reported seeing the "White Crow" on the A6070 near the Canal hump back bridge some quarter of a mile before the "Auctions", Robert from Kendal has had a male Crossbill which was calling whilst heading over Burton Fell. He also recorded several "Early Purple rosette" leaves starting to come through in both Lancelot Clark Storth and also on Burton Fell. Nathan (Morewood) has had a Buzzard regularly checking out his garden. 

Wednesday 8th March 2017 

Sketch: Courtesy of RSPB

"Ay! to a bird that looked like a mouse"

Just like a mouse (but not a mouse)
A mouse going vertical,
running up a tree from bottom to top,
probing here and there with his long downward curved beak,
Oblivious to us humans watching from so close
Then he would start it all again on another trunk of another tree,
Running up a tree from bottom to top,
But this time he would run faster than before,
He must have been getting fed up and yes,
That was it he flew off to a distant tree.

Each day for three I climbed to the very top,
To a Trig where you can see all around,
For today I was in search of and I found!
No more than lots of imaginary “Shrikes”
And not one moved but they held their ground,
Will tomorrow be so different?
I need to climb each day for four and to the very top.

Monday 6th March 2017 - Dalton Crags

"Song Thrush" (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Craig Bell

“The Crags are alive with music,
 Throstle’s, Larks,and Accentors too”

Wow! To think I had not been on the top of Hutton Roof for almost six months prior to today (4th March) so for me it was just something special to get that feeling of being back on “Top of the World”.  It has been a long job but finally we have got there and just in time to catch the early migrants has they start to pour through, well that’s what I hope they will start to do during the coming weeks.

Today I was back up on Hutton Roof (6th March) and straight up to the Trig Point, it was a beautiful warm sunny morning, the type of morning which made you want to stride forward.  The Song Thrushes were in their element with at least three singing their special mixed repertoire from pockets around the Plain Quarry areas and then by the time I had gone up through the lower Crags I had another three birds all enjoying their morning too and telling me so in their wealth of joyous “breath of fresh air” music.

So what in particular has spurred me on to getting to the top of that hill!  Well if I am being honest with you I suppose I wanted to check on the Skylarks and the Meadow Pipits to see if any had started to cross over on their way North and onward to their breeding grounds, and also to see if the larks were singing from the heavens! Oh yes, those little “ascending” wonders were busy spreading their Spring delight to all who wanted to hear it! I have not yet personally seen the Mipit's but a friend Robert had three this morning from around the gully area of the upper Crags.

It was not only the Larks and Mipit's which had given me that “extra tug” but also by the thought that the Great Grey Shrike who usually makes his appearance from around the 7th of March (It's been that particular day on no less than 3 times during the past eight years).  That’s if he decides to call in on us whilst progressing his journey from down in Spain to his destination somewhere in the Scandinavia's.  Nothing to report it is still “No Shrikey, No Likey”.

It really was worth checking out the rare Holly Ferns and were they doing OK! Yes of course number one was looking great as always, yet number two had a really close crop again this year with a proper No.2 or “deercut” and I really had to feel around at the base to check they hadn't disappeared.

Saturday 4th March 2017 - Burton In Kendal

"Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow" - (Click over to enlarge)
Kindly shared to us by Craig Bell
Check out Craig's Bird photos by clicking here

"It’s now the time for every Dunnock to sing to come alive,
In crude a tinkling Goldcrest tone, but many contained here,
A Redbreast goes high to impose his will but not today,
For today the Hedge Sparrow is sweetest of them all". 
(4th March 2017)


Tree Pipit at Grasmere - side of Loughrigg
Photo taken in June -  (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday 2nd March 2017 - Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal

Just had a short stride up Vicarage Lane and could hear three separate Song Thrushes singing away and marking their territories, and they had lots of new repertoirre to offer I just could not book down their calls quick enough.... some really good stuff here!.

Going past Tram (don't know at this point whether I should call it upper or lower) but a good place where I stand sometimes during the Autumn to record the passing finches.  Although today I had my mind fixed upon "Squeaking the old Stoat! He's not a easy one, in fact I usually never have problems squeaking the Stoats and can bring them within a few yards before I frighten them away! but this chap is something different, I have tried several times before to get his attention but not yet! I do need to come up with a better "squeak" if I am to get anywhere with this lad!!

Some great reports from friends include: 

Reg has had his regular Winter Yellowhammers return to his garden on Morewood Drive. Phil has reported seeing four Tree Sparrows in Dalton Hamlet and also he had a rare sighting of a “Ringtail” (either a female or juvenile = “Ringtail”) Hen Harrier crossing over the Trig Point and heading off down into Lancelot Clark Storth. More reports of Little Egrets either on the Mosses and also being reported from the gullies across from Station Road, Holme. Robert has had Merlin and Meadow Pipits showing on Hutton Roof. Skylarks were back on territory and singing as early as February 5th, but were not seen or heard the following day.

A "Wet" William Wordsworth Grave (Click over to enlarge) 

Yesterday (1st of March 2017) I guess I should have woke up and said “White Rabbits” as my first words uttered! But again I forgot, like I forget in most years…..  It’s a funny old custom which was handed down to me by my late mum who said I should always say it on the 1st March and then I would have good luck for the month or was it good luck for the year ahead.

Today it was great to do what we do on most Wednesday’s at this time of year, by having a brew and a butty and finish off with a piece of good old Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread whilst at the same time sat trying to absorb some poetic inspiration and being sheltered by the fabulous Yew tree just at the side of William’s (and the rest of the Wordsworth clan’s graves.  It was gently raining today, but that was no problem for us because of this “thickened with age” grand Yew giving us a dry canopy whilst we sat on the nearby seat.  It's always a great privilege to sit under this very tree which was planted in this spot by none other than William himself. 

Surely what was so different today?  Ah! well no Jackdaws,  and as a rule we always have Jackdaws trying to scavenge any left overs or crumbs that maybe on offer.  Usually they are quite tame and will come within a couple of yards perching themselves on the upper ledge of nearby gravestones. Yet all was quiet here you normally hear them in the vicinity.  Still we had plenty of Robins and Dunnocks to keep us company!

Changing our rambling route by the day or even by the hour just before we hit the start, we chose to head through Deerbolt on the West side of Grasmere which eventually leads you to Rydal Caves.  On leaving Deerbolt I pictured from memory the vast area being covered by bluebells and imagining what a treat it will be for some "sore eyes"!  In fact I will dig out my photo from last time I saw this beautiful event.....which I have posted here.

This is how it may look around the 12th May

Not only this beautiful sight was going around in my mind but also the thoughts of the regular Cuckoo who usually you can hear calling from early May onwards.  But I guess for me the best has to come, whilst today all these scattered hawthorns seem bare! but soon (May) will have those songsters the Tree Pipits singing away from them whilst they perform their fluttering descending parachute from one higher tree towards one nearby lower tree. 

Also today we had small little groups of flowering daffodils, some of the miniature and some of the more regular and always somewhere close to a wooden seat.  Perhaps they were markers for someone to remember somebody.  Along this path and close to water flushes I can sometimes find Butterwort and Yellow Saxifrage, but not today, its far too early yet! (need to take another look around June time), also lower down by the river you will later be able to find Grass of Parnassus and Devils Bit Scabious and Bog Asphodel plus lots of other "GEMS" as well.

A welcome return to the Caves (Rydal Caves), not natural may I add but a left over of the old quarry.

Looking out from Rydal Caves (Click over to enlarge)