Sunday, 30 July 2017

A Confusion of Willow Warblers and lots of ferns and orchids

Saturday 29th July 2017 - Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1600hrs

"A Confusion of Willow Warblers"

Flying in the dark through a moonlit sky,
Falling from high like little angels,
Floating down on a wavering leaf,
The “confusion” has now begun.
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Daytime closed you was not seen,
Whilst morning wakes your plenty,
So tred so soft our leaf explorer,
A “bouquet” of special prize to us,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Your music is a descending tale,
Which finish the year hou whit,
A choir of pairs sings thy will,
A “Fall” would be a lot of thee,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Sylvia’s hand of lucid intricacy
You thread that weave so delicately,
To house and raise a splendid cast,
It’s a start to a “Wrench” fulfilled
Our dear little Willow Warbler

10th April 2015 

This morning I must have been in the right place at the right time and was to witness a nice post breeding mixed party of birds which included "A Confusion of Warblers" there must have been almost 70 birds in total, but I got close up to them and the best was to see at least 30 or so Willow Warbler/Chiffchaffs, some were a beautiful yellow colour yet the majority were the regular greyish/browny colours. It was great to stand still and watch the birds crossing over and sort of flycatching whilst using all available canopies, but to see so many of the little beauties all at one go was quite special.  Also in the same party was about 20 or so Long Tailed Tits, and a general assortment of Chaffinch and Great Tits.

Today always looked like it might rain, but to be honest I think the winds kept it away, because at times it was really blustery.  Because of this I say little in the way of butterflies.  After saying that though the lovely "Graylings" were plentiful and they must have had a cracking year. Also Meadow Browns were seen.  Also one of the very large Dragonflies was seen hawking above the matured "bracken". 

Whilst checking out some helliborines on the other side of Hutton Roof, I noticed a beautiful scollie! to give it it's correct title Asplenium scolopendrium variety Undulatum and here is a photo of the find:

Also while on about ferns it was a great pleasure to also check out our rare and beautiful Southern Polypodys which are just showing emergence.

Southern Polypody - Cambricum (Click over to enlarge

Now back to the orchids I went right across Hutton Roof this morning and collected three cages which have done little this year and so I have brought back to use on the Fell I am currently working on and two of them are already protecting two nice orchids.

How strange it was only yesterday I was writing something about predation and did mention that thankfully this year we have not experienced "black aphids" which is usually a annual event.  Well well! I spoke too soon because today we have got them alright and not just on this fell but also the other fell where I was earlier and so two lovely helleborines are being taken over by aphids and black "farmer" ants.

Large Helleborine which was part responsible for hybrid Schmalhauseneii No.2
I hate to see this particular helleborine infested, it struggles most years with one thing or another, and to cap it all it is was the suspected parent to Schmal No.2 which was the only helleborine close.  The second year it got burnt out with the sun, the third year it was snipped by the deer, the fourth year it was OK and the fifth year (now!) it is being taken over with the aphids and the ants. 

And also almost one mile distant I had another smaller helleborine being attacked and you should have seen the ants "posture" wow they meant business up on their hind legs and if looks could kill!.

Black Aphid on a newly emerging Helleborine (Click over to enlarge)
The aphids always have black ants farming them.
Below:  This helleborine specimen was and is still considered a "Chlorantha" in 2016 it matches 95% of the criteria including its light green inner hyperchile, but this year (2017) the plant has almost reverted back to a normal Helleborine.  I will show you last years photo and then show you today's. First last years.

Considered to be a "Chlorantha" or light phase in 2016 as this photo shows but then
check out the next photo of the same plant taken today 29th July 2017
Same plant in 2017 - showing far more colour than last year 
The plant was caged last year for its safety and is deep within canopy and within a metre there are two more helleborines which actually go the other way and into dark phase or purpurea.  But interestingly this plant has now lost its "Chlorantha" variety status. 

A beauty close to Spec 40 and in partial canopy
This one above is a beauty which I have been keeping a eye on, it's taking on a slightly darker form simply because it is in partial canopy (hazel bushes and such)

Another helleborine today close to Hell 15 (Click over to enlarge)
Next photo shows its territory

The small area where you can see the above Helleborine plus a couple more (Click over photo to enlarge)

The above plant is a great specimen and this little area does have quite a few that take on a "dark form" yet also close to them within a metre or so there are also usual standard forms. 

Thursday 27th July 2017 - Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1130hrs

A good example of light and shade (Click over to enlarge)
These two helleborines were checked out this morning and they give you the perfect example of "light phase" and "dark phase" build.  The light one at the front is right on the edge of canopy with partial sunlight, yet the much darker helleborine in the background is only about one metre away from the lighter specimen but lies within the actual canopy and would not get much sunlight (if any). The light and dark differences show throughout the plant.  The contrast are very noticeable in the field initially with the stems being totally a different colour eg the light phase is green, yet the dark phase within the canopy is almost purple and also immediately noticeable are the differences in the shades of colour in relation to both the leaves and bracts which are far darker in the "dark phase" specimen. And usually when the flowers emerge you will also see a big difference between the two.  I will show you two individual photos of these same plants which give you a better close up.

A closer photo of the "light phase" plant on the edge of canopy (Click over to enlarge)
This one above is the lighter phase plant and appears to be a straight forward normal Broad Leaved Helleborine whereby the one which is to the back and under canopy (shown below) is far darker throughout its make up starting with the actual stem which is almost purple (instead of the familiar green), then you do also see a difference in the shade of green with the leaves and bracts which are far darker and have this satin sheen look.  The flowers of the "dark phase" will no doubt turn "purpurea" in about two weeks time. 

This one is one metre back and within canopy and shows lots of "darkness" forming (Click
over to enlarge)
Today has seen 17d,17e and 17f predated by the Roe Deer and have gone from this to that:

This photo was taken on the 10th July 2017 (Click over to enlarge)
The following photo was taken today 27th July 2017.  I can confirm it is Roe Deer predation from the cut and would estimate maybe 3 days ago. You know what this means that I do need to get another cage ready for next year.

17d, 17e, and 17f taken on 27th July 2017
This next specimen I found today whilst counting the helleborines on the Western Front of Hutton Roof.  Its a very small bonny looking thing of about 10" high, but it does seem to have got some sort of problem looking at all the dark spotting up the stem etc.

Lovely little Helleborine got some sort of problem with dark spotting on the stem
(Click over to enlarge)
Same plant as above

It was lashing it down all morning (thanks for waterproofs), but really slippy should not have bothered today really too "dangerous" a very close shave on one occasion but I wanted to get the totals for the Broad Leaves on the particular fell I have been working on this year and the total came to 136 with 88 active and 48 predated (has at 27th July 2017).  So I am well impressed with that because I thought we only ever had about one hundred on this fell, but it seems I had previously under estimated. So it looks like if things stayed as they were we are losing about 1/3rd to predation which I don't think is too bad when you consider we do have at least one deer (or more) and a couple of Brown Hares. 

Still the odd hybrid or two popping up. I had this yesterday whilst searching out the Western Front for helleborines.  These plants are obviously hybrids and just starting to go over.

A nice surprise of 3 hybrids with atroruben flowers on 27th July 2017 (Click over to enlarge)