Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Starling - A shebby of delight...

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)

A beautiful irridescent plumaged bird - The Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
(Photo: Thanks to Ron Blackburn)

and why not listen to this magical mimickry of the Starling by clicking on the left arrow
below and see if you can hear: The Blackbird, song and alarm, Sedge Warbler, Mallard Ducks,
Jay, Car Alarm, Pigs squealing, and lots more things as well..........

Although we still get Starling breeding through our area, the numbers are nothing like what they used to be with nowadays only small pockets seen throughout the summer months. Yet come winter we get lots of continental birds which may well have come from Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, the Baltics even as far away as Russia. They cross over the North Sea and start to join us from the beginning of October, their arrival peaking somewhere around the third week of October.  They come in and feed in the local fields and further away towards Kirby Lonsdale and even further.  These birds return from their feeding grounds just before the edge of dark to roost over at Leighton Moss in the reedbeds or sometimes they will chose to go to Silverdale Moss.  The numbers in these murmurations have been known to exceed 100,000 birds and it is expected that you would at least get 50,000 birds on any given night (November to February).  

"About three thirty the sky got dirty
 with parties and scores of Shebbies (Starlings),
 straight through they went,
Without being bent, 
to a dropping down sun in their West".

My copy for the December 2018 issue of BURTON NEWS  compiled around November 20th 2018 

It’s not all about migration, but there again maybe it is indirectly!  But I can honestly say whilst having the pleasure during the early mornings of watching the many different species of birds fly high over our village, it’s also been incredible in its own right to watch the thousands of Starlings come through heading East in a morning, after leaving their communal roost which at the moment is over at Silverdale Moss.
Up until this last few days (today 20th November 2018) I have had some average counts of between 2 to 5 thousand birds come almost on a daily basis, but there have been some really special mornings when I have had approx 18000 over (Friday 26th October) and another count of approx 18000 at 0712hrs on Thursday 1st November, and again approx. 15000 over on Saturday 10th November, and the final up to date big one was approx 17000 on the 14th November, I guess there will be many more mornings to come when we will get good counts if we are prepared to get up early to witness the fantastic Starling activity.
On these high number mornings in particular, the sky is just full of Starlings coming through in big balls or sometimes they take on a different approach and are in a “linear” thick horizontal wave which is several metres deep and extends as far as over Holme Park Fell/Farleton to the north side and continuous all the way to Dalton Hall on the south side. The structure of the passage changes all in accordance to the wind on the day and if the wind is of a moderate south west (eg blowing in the face of the birds) it will usually make them travel through low down, although if it is not a windy day the birds can be so high up that you might even have a job to see them, although the activity is still going on and you would need to look high up into the skies with binoculars to see them.
I just wish I could “bottle it” and share it, because it is so fantastic to witness these spectacles although they only last for several minutes at best.
Some mornings they give me such an inner lift that I get an inspiration to want to write a little verse or two whilst having just witnessed and in some cases felt (the draught) from them going past me within inches.

“Hello darlings – Starlings!
I felt a draught to my ears and heard a clear
“Wush” as you all passed by in a flicker of a wing,
In only a split second of our time,
Also was held to a super-still stance,
Could have reached out and touched you
My iridescent early morning friends.

When they start to join us from September onwards more and more are coming into our area on a daily basis throughout September, October and even as late as November, but generally peak around the third week in October, they will come in their squadrons and shaped like lots of little bullets shooting past you!  And their squadrons can be anything from half a dozen up to over 100 and they always come from the East direction having travelled over the North Sea from places far away like the Baltics and Netherlands.  Most of the birds we get around here will complete their journey by the time they reach their communal roost sites at Leighton Moss or Silverdale Moss, occasionally small roost sites may become established in more localised areas of Burton In Kendal using trees close to Tanpits. Here they will spend their winters and go out every morning in search of food in the surrounding countryside.

One of the recent mornings whilst vismigging or counting Chaffinch moving through I had a cracking Starling morning although the Chaffinch numbers were well down, so I wrote a a little “ditty”….

“Nowt about today,
 once the reet dollop of shebbies,
 had passed to the East,
18000 of the 100000 o’er my head,
 and nah a got a thumping headache”

(Shebbies is a sort of slang word used to describe Starlings and used throughout Lancashire)

Anyone wishing to view the Starlings leaving can get good views from the top of Vicarage Lane, but if you are viewing from there do not chose an ENE wind or you may well be disappointed by the numbers you will get!

If you want to enjoy a great spectacle watching them on their daily return, obviously the best place will be at their roost sites (Silverdale Moss from approx.1600 hours onwards) were you may well be lucky and treated to the “murmurations”.  If you just want to watch hundreds of Starlings come back in at night I like to watch them from the area just past the Storth Engineering Works and under the railway bridge and there you can usually see them whilst they cross over the mosses (at the moment it’s about 1545 hours onwards)

Diary notes from October 31st 2018 - INTERESTING STARLING FACTS 

This beautiful red sky is what the Starlings will have witnessed at approx 0706hrs on the morning of Wed 31st October 2018 (Halloween). I am stood at my watchpoint at Taylors Field (named Greenslet) which is Off Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal). The photo depicts the areas to my North East and East.  The large wooded area you can see in the photo is “Pickles Wood” and Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT) which lie to the west flank of the Hutton Roof complex.
This photo captures the situation on just how the sky looked towards the horizon (east) at the time of the incident, although if you were looking to a more south east direction from my watchpoint, then the sky would have been more colour intense as shown in the “actual” photo below which was taken at the time of the incident.

Approx 2,000 Starling came through in one wave (after leaving their roost which is about 5 miles to my West at Silverdale Moss) and would expect them to reach me about 3-4 minutes after they have left their roost site. Normally they would fly over me and continue East to their feeding grounds around Kirkby Lonsdale and all areas in the localities.
Just as they passed me and at a height of approx 50ft, they unexpectedly all tumbled down quickly to the nearest tree (eg: The Ash tree shown in the first photo toward the bottom of the lane, with most of the overspill of birds going into the trees of Pickles Wood (to the right hand of the Ash tree) which lies to the base of Hutton Roof to take cover. There they all started chattering with an enormous collective sound just like you would normally hear if you went along to their evening roost site. (Click on left hand arrow on sonogram below to experience that very sound of collective Starlings)

 It’s quite obvious the birds were agitated.
When the red skies on their horizon had almost subsided perhaps 20 minutes later the birds then started to leave the temporary holding area in small parties of 50 or more at a time, the evacuation lasted for some 20 minutes.  I can only think that perhaps the sight of that red sky had "spooked" them! or maybe they were showing that they wanted to get into the "Halloween" mood (spooky)......

A beautiful photo showing Starling irridescence
Thanks to Ronald Blackburn for sharing with us

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Beech Mast "A Mast Year"

Showing a typical beech tree laden with mast (2020)

I probably would not have given it a second thought about there being large amounts of beech mast this year until I started investigating just why were there so many Chaffinch and Woodpigeons over-wintering in
Dalton Crags. We normally have up to about 200 birds (Chaffinch) in any given year, but never had 2000 plus before (to my knowledge).

Its because of the large fall of Beech Mast this year.  I have learned that you do get these "Mast Years" (as they are duly called) every 5 to 10 years and obviously this Winter 2019/2020 falls into this category. 

There are many people who have/or eat the nuts from the Fagus sylvatica (Beech Tree), although most people enjoy them and it does not seem to give them any problem, but also beware they do have a toxin called saponin glycoside which could produce gastric problems. 

In years passed Beech Nut oil was extracted and used for lamps and also for cooking.

On maybe a lighter note does anyone remember buying the Beech Nut speg!

(speg - a Lancashire slang for Chewing Gum)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

CHAFFINCH - Exceptionally large numbers overwintering in Dalton Crags with this year holding high Beech Mast yield

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)

(Thanks to Tony for sharing)


Hutton Roof and especially Dalton Crags are nationally superb for Chaffinch numbers passing through on migration and not only that we have the added bonus of many continental and regional birds stopping off to overwinter in Dalton Crags itself.
Today (13th January 2020) I witnessed something special: Most winters I see a nice Chaffinch collective usually around the back of Plain Quarry in Dalton Crags, with numbers averaging around the 200 birds, usually you will also see Brambling amongst them.  But it was a lot different today with a colossal 2000 birds which could well have been on the way up to 3000 individuals.

I arrived at Plain Quarry at about 0910hrs and immediately noticed flying above me large parties of Chaffinch ranging from 30 to 100 birds and most of the parties averaged about 50-75 birds per party, the parties just kept on coming over heading from West to East and this went on for at least 20 minutes or so. I am sure the birds were just moving from one part of the Crags from points they will have been roosting to a few hundred yards further east of the Crags were I guess they chose for feeding.
I decided to walk in the direction they went and soon I found them with birds just everywhere flitting at all levels of the trees, I listened carefully but could not detect any Brambling amongst them, they all seem to be represented by the regular chup contact calls. I can’t say I have ever seen so many Chaffinch concentrated into a radius of only a few hundred yards. What had brought so many birds to this locality, was there good feed?

Yes the beech mast has had a phenomenal year and we have a considerable amount of beech trees in the Dalton Crag area, I am sure this will have led to this year’s Chaffinch explosion!

Like I said earlier this whole area is a great spot for passing Chaffinch on their autumn/winter migrations when in most years I will record between 11000 and 13000 birds passing directly through the area between the months of September to November, and that is only what I am managing to record over the 3 or 4 hours a day whilst I am present, but besides this they are going through all day long.  These counts are within a strict corridor of which I can observe, but they are also coming through further down in Burton In Kendal village almost following the motorway and again heading South, hundreds or should I say thousands will take on this particular passage as well as the one I check out.

I guess if I was to take a reasonable guess to how many birds goes through this are every year I would not be far out with an estimate of some 50000 to 75000 birds each Autumn.
Not that it’s necessary to compare and the data is far from incomplete on a national basis but in all the UK the only area that gets more Chaffinch than us is Hunstanton in Norfolk! (that’s per Trektellen records)
So is it any wonder we are getting all these fantastic birds. By the way I am seeing a regular Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard in attendance.

Just for the record on vismig: (Chaffinch passing over and observed from Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal)

2016 - 12507 Chaffinch
2017 - 11175    
2018 - 12347
2019 - 13146  

2020 - Ex roost counts from Plain Quarry Picnic Area....

13th Jan 2020  Approx 2000
15th Jan 2020  Approx 1091 (part count)
16th Jan 2020  Approx 1368 (part count)
17th Jan 2020  Approx 2100

A bonus has included: a party of 30 Siskin, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, 50 Redwing, 20 Fieldfare, 300 Woodpigeon and lots of tits, robins and wrens…..

15th January 2020 - Tried something different checking out another area of Dalton and it failed, so quickly got back to the car park but by then I had probably missed a lot of birds, but still had 1091 going W to E over the car park over a period of about 15 minutes. 

16th January 2020 - Again got there early at 0830 but it obviously was not early enough because on my arrival large 50 parties were going over and instead of the normal 0915hr start they for some reason had started very early (all good knowledge for tomorrow!!) but still OK with plenty of birds (1368).
Had my first Brambling calling and mixed in with the Chaffinch. Also Linnets x2, 50 Redwing, Song Thrush been singing over a week now. Also heard (but not seen) my first Pink Footed Geese skein presumed heading North. (They have been leaving Lincs and Norfolk for several days now - which is usual from about middle of January) Already today high volume counts from Spurn heading N. Also a 200 Linnet group overwintering in fields around Dalton hamlet (seen annual since growing of fodder beat/fat hen etc..)

17th January 2020 - (Plain Quarry, Dalton)

(2k Chaffs and a wonderin mind)

If you had paid a million pounds for that,

then you had not paid enough!
But today you could have had it all for free,
Natures gifts have no catch - (what a batch!)

Today I managed to count 2,100 Chaffinch from Plain Quarry car park which all flew across my path and continued to a area a few hundred yards east of my watchpoint. They kept to a single narrow corridor of some 20 yards wide and were probably about 100ft high. As usual they were in parties ranging from 10 birds up to 100 birds. The bulk of the activity seemed to start at 0915hrs and was over with by 0925hrs, although stragglers kept coming....

Gosh! it does not stop there! At about 0935hrs all the birds starting coming back on themselves but this time from the East to the West, I can only presume they were spooked by a possible dog walker... but they came through over a ten minute period in regular waves of 50 birds at a time with only a second or two before yet another party was following on. 

A few weeks ago I was watching a fantastic clip showing Chaffinch on migration through Falstebo and it showed continuous wave upon wave of large numbers going past... well my imagination for several minutes went to this and it really was something special on offer today, it seemed such a shame I was the only one here to witness this fantastic sight and wow! what a "lifting" feeling it gave you.

This year has been especially great with the fantastic 30-50k Redwing Roost down at Kemple End (Longridge Fell), or the special Starling murmurations over at Leighton Moss, but I must say this today and most recent mornings are something really really special..... (Beech Mast may you last before your passed)

17th January 2020  1530 onwards - Plain Quarry, all woodlands areas against Dalton Road side - checking for roost site, but definately none showing. Did see several Chaffinch which made out from there and headed NW as though to Dalton Storth area or maybe were they are currently cutting down the French beech trees, I will try and survey this area tomorrow evening to find out were the roost is. 

18th January 2020 - 0845hrs - Plain Quarry.  A beautiful bright morning with lots of frost on the car. Got there late just catching the last hundred or two, so obviously they had took advantage of the clear morning and gone earlier.  Still lots of stuff seen, but did some surveying of the beech mast in the nearby areas.  Ton's of it, lots of open seeds on the floor throughout the Crags.  Told some local Woodpigeons have been found dead (not through shooting) but with crops solid with beech mast which could have been responsidble for their deaths with toxins.

Also had 6 Pink Footed Geese very high and heading to South, also Fieldfare (6), Green Woodpecker (2), Redwing (50), Goldcrest (2), Bullfinch (2) Nuthatch (several), Song Thrush singing his little heart out! Siskin (15), Woodpigeon (200+) etc etc.

Will again late afternoon check out for Chaffinch roosting, its just a process of elimination, so we move over to area no.2 to see if I can get on them, report back later..... also preparing blog for Burton News submission

18th January 2020 - 1500hrs to 1630hrs - Dalton Storth  Checking skylines from Dalton Hamlet towards Dalton Storth Woods and also to the Burial Ground. Chaffinch seen negligible just a small mid party which went towards cutting at Nineteen Trees.  Did have a party of 30 Pink Footed Goose moving West/SW at 1540hrs, also 70 Linnet noted, 50 Redwing

19th January 2020 - 0805hrs to 0900hrs - Plain Quarry  Just a few hundred birds moving across, its now become obvious over the past two mornings that the high pressure has messed everything up and split the birds all over the place and subsequently until the high pressure leaves us its pointless doing any recording.  I will try and get back on it has soon as the highs retreat.

20th January 2020 - both am and pm - checking out at Plain Quarry, poor with numbers much reduced, did notice some birds coming from a Quarry Wood direction.  at 1500hrs went and checked all open area with views to Quarry Wood, Laurel Wood and Dalton Hall Park, but no evidence of any birds going to roost. 

21st January 2020 - 0800hrs to 0845hrs - Plain Quarry - A few hundred birds with one party of at least 300 but birds were seen coming from mainly from the East side which is unusual, so were on earth can they be roosting (its none of the woodland to the East within Dalton Crags! so can only presume maybe its further over. Also the numbers of birds since the high pressure arrived have drastically reduced in numbers, so whether some have moved on or not we will have to wait and see. 

22nd January 2020 - 0745hrs to 0815hrs - Plain Quarry - Went this morning hoping to do some filming of the Chaffinch with my friend Brian Gomm, unfortunately overnight the mist had closed in proper and the visibility was really poor prohibiting any filming. Try again another day...

I have just been reading about Chaffinch on the net, and it is reckoned they have various local accents like humans......

Other names are: Pink Twink, Chink, Chaffey and Pinkery.......

He utters his song 5 or 6 times a minute or up to 3000 times a day. 

Up to tens of thousands share the same roost site in Cyprus.....

Chaffinch roost in Hollies, evergreens including Rhodedendrums (Birds of Cheshire and the Wirrall)

23rd January 2020 - Fogged out

Saturday, 4 January 2020


Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Crossbill (male)
Photo: Kindly allowed to share thanks to Pauline Mellor Greenhalgh
(Click over photo to enlarge)

I was reading on the internet a few days ago about Crossbills with day old chicks in the nest somewhere in South Wales on the 30th December 2019, it immediately reminded me of my past experiences with these fantastic birds.  I knew they bred for most months of the year, though I always thought this excluded both December and January but apparently NOT!

Down in East Lancashire during the 80s I would love to watch the Crossbills which appeared to be a cheeky sort of bird that preferred medium to tall conifers. I can still laugh about them now, how they would let me brazenly walk to a position at the base of the tall conifer in which they were busy eating, whilst others were chipping away without a care in the world, and they treated my presence with a sort of tameness and they seemed to be in a totally “not interested in me” frame of mind….. But moments later, when you turned your back on them and started to walk away from them they would go berserk, in a frenzy with loud burst of chipping calls as though to show their disapproval at ones retreat. This behaviour was recorded on a couple of occasions.

I first discovered the Crossbills in Haslingden Grane, East Lancashire during 1986. My largest single party at that time was 24 birds which included both the lovely orange and the dirty lemony colours depicting the males (orange), females and immature birds.  Perhaps good years for the Crossbills and most of the local conifer forestry were being paid visits by these birds. With there being so many in a single flock at the time I presumed they could have been winter visiting parties. I saw many flocks, but most of them were numbering on average about four to six birds.  But over the days and months of regular observations and recording, I was to find that the birds were not just visitors, but some must have taken a shine to the area!

It was February 1986 or 87, and I remember seeing birds carrying nesting material in their bills, I remember thinking that’s early to be building nest! But on checking my references it is not early at all in fact it is quite usual. The conifer plantation they were using was quite off the beaten track and contained vast amounts of Scotch pine trees of a 40/50 year maturity. The bird would settle on the apex of the tree and whilst the feathers or nest lining in their bill would wave about in the breeze.

I was told by good authority at the time that these could well have been the most Southerly breeders on record, and although we now know they have more or less occupied all areas South at that time that was not the case.  The same year also produced other surprises and we were also fortunate to be able to record the first breeding Siskin in the same area.
To get some close observations, I had first to establish a place to which they frequented feeding and then look for the nearest point of slow running water, just little established water courses acting as self-made drains bringing the water down from the higher grounds.  On finding these areas would position myself close, but not too close and watch has the birds would come down every 15 minutes or so to have a drink. It is so necessary for them to drink on a regular basis to clear the toxins built up from the pine cones.

Whilst vismigging I would never have a problem distinguishing this species with the strong “echoing” chip chip chip (a plaintive full sound) and also collectively again there was no problem.  It’s just a question of becoming familiar with the differences between the Chups and the Chips…..

It is still a very special occasion when I do get to hear the "Chips" from overhead parties of Crossbill crossing over both Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Holly Ferns of Hutton Roof and how they are fairing 30th November 2019

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

 Holly Fern No. 1 (Polystichum lonchitis) in regular viewing mode and taken from above.
Photo: 30th November 2019
This is the more regular photo view which most people like to see and typical of what you might expect of the Holly Fern growing "off vertical"

 Holly Fern No. 1 ((Polystichum lonchitis) taken from another angle 
Photo: 30th November 2019

Why I like this photo is that I have been wondering for the past two years why has Holly Fern No.1 only got 8 fronds (2018/2019) were it always used to have 9 fronds.  Well maybe mystery solved! by looking at this angle I can see yet another frond tucked under the limestone to the top right hand with just half of the pinnae on show. Never noticed this until I got home and checked through the individual photos.

Holly Fern No. 1 (Polystichum lonchitis)
Photo: 30th November 2019
I like this photo and have included because for me it shows a good curvature line on the left hand, still in good condition for the time of year.

 Holly Fern No.1(Polystichum lonchitis)
Photo taken 30th November 2019
This photo shows the sori on the underside of the frond

Holly Fern No.2 (Polystichum lonchitis) with its full compliment of 8 fronds
plus two remnant fronds belonging to the aculeatum...
Photo taken: 30th November 2019

Lovely to see this particular fern. Always shows to be a much smaller version of Holly Fern if you take into comparison its neighbour only 40 yards away (Holly Fern No. 1 shown above).   This one never gets the same length always some 4" shorter together with the much narrower of fronds. Now the leaves have almost disappeared from the nearby hazel tree which sort of hides the fern during the summer months, and now it has become obviously more exposed and in most years (not all) will be discovered by the passing Roe Deer who will nibble it to the core and one day you may get a shock to see it has gone, but look carefully and you will see the base of the fronds which deery has left us for it to generate for another year...

Holly Fern No. 2 (Polystichum lonchitis)
Shows the spent sori on the underside of the frond

Shows Holly Fern No.2 (Polystichum lonchitis) with nearby Hazel which guards it during the summer months
Photo: 30th November 2019.

 Green Spleenwort (asplenium viride)
Photo: 30th November 2019

Whilst up there I just had to call into Viride Motherland! to check all the small colonies and make sure they too are all OK and yes they are all doing fine

Green Spleenwort (asplenium viride)
Photo: 30th November 2019

Whilst up there I just had to call into Viride Motherland! to check all the small colonies and make sure they too are all OK and yes they are all doing fine

This below is some of the stuff, I felt compelled to write in my notebook whilst walking the lower Crags today. A bit about this and a bit about that....

Redwing in the Crags (being disturbed they moved across - not altogether but in singles and pairs)

I heard the rare Redwing roost call,
In the Crags, without bags
No! Number 15 theres been,
munching the reds so bright, sunlight,
Still going past maybe now twenty
made the entry and crossed the sunlitten blue sky,
bye bye!

Time is when! (opinion formed on half a tale)

They only have time to listen to some of a story
and from that their opinion is formed,
It doesnt matter who reads it,
What matters is they find it!
to read, the seed...

Nature awareness!

Learning whats about

will save you the doubt..

Returning to their roost – (1st Dec 2019 Holme Stinted Pastures)

The closing hour at Holme Stints,

Hundreds of mixed thrushes gorging themselves,

With red berries filling their crops! Cackling

Of Blackbirds, quiet zits from Songies,
Chaks from Fieldies, and many see-ips
From the reds, before their beds.
The roost got a boost and weighed more tonight!
Some went North West to Newbiggin, but
Most went South to the nearby Crags.
Restless they will be, for another hour after tea.

About three thirty the sky got dirty with parties
and scores of Shebbies (Starlings), straight through they went,
Without being bent, to a dropping down sun in their West.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Epipactis atrorubens - rare branched specimen - Hutton Roof 8th July 2019

A very special orchid - a Dark Red Helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens) branched specimen
(a freak of nature) 

Epipactis atrorubens - rare branched specimen
Found and photographed on 8th July 2019
on Hutton Roof - Cumbria Wildlife Trust (Cumbria)

I found this unusual specimen on 8th July 2019 and the finding of it came as a very nice surprise but at the same time such a strange event!  let me try and explain more.

I am up on Hutton Roof (Westmorland/Cumbria) every day during the growth and flowering period of our special Dark Red Helleborine (Epipactis atroruben) searching through the beauties. And on the day in question, I had just been talking to a orchid friend Steve Tandy who was busy checking out some atrorubens further over on the site, and just has I left him to go and check something else, my thoughts started to runaway with themselves and I just happened by chance to think would'nt it be nice if I were to find a branched specimen of atrorubens and thoughts to myself of I have never ever seen such a thing and wondering if at all there had ever been reports of such a oddity, I swear that is absolutely true! and what happened? 100 yards to my East and within minutes of these thoughts I was to find this unique branched specimen!! I still months later struggle to comprehend this and today I am dragging these photos out of the archive in readiness for the blog I have just been invited to do for the Cumbria Wildlife Trust

These photos above are pretty representative of how the colours are of our "normal" Dark Red Helleborines which grow on our carboniferous limestone and yet in the main so different from the ones growing over in County Durham which are far deeper purple colour and grow on Magnesium limestone.  Today on Hutton Roof more and more of the "bicolor" variety (see photo below) seem to be taking hold.  Soon I will do the blog which shows a variety of all what we have had this year (2019).... for now please enjoy the above special beauty.. 

Epipactis atrorubens var: bicolor
Photo: Hutton Roof 2016

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

BERRIES! 2019 has been an incredible year

Some old Blogs with quick links:- 

Holme Stinted Pastures with good blossom and berry yield on the hawthorns
Photos: taken May 15th 2019 and September 13th 2019 (from different trees)

This year has been a special "Berry" year, I don't personally recall seeing so many red berries hanging from our trees, especially the Hawthorn, Hollies and Rowans.  I am sure this alone must have excited our local and more so our continental visiting thrushes to have stayed in some localities longer than they would in most years and perhaps they have not been just as "nomadic" as they would be in most years. Perhaps this to has contributed to the phenomenal massive Redwing roost down at "Birdy Brow - Kemple End" (See last blog)

Could a drought experience in one year, lead to a super yield the following year?

What has made it such a special year for these berries? well personally I think it is more down to the involvement of the previous year! When I look back on 2018 we went through a prolonged heatwave situation right at the crucial main growing and flowering period eg: May and especially June! I remember we lost lots of our special orchids and other flora which found it so difficult to sustain the long drought situation, resulting with some of them just going into a premature dieback.  In my opinion this sort of situation especially with the berry producing flora could well have led the way to this bounty we are having in 2019.

Hawthorns covered in white blossom to such a extent, from a distance it looked like snow!

It became a much clearer picture by the middle of May 2019 that we were going to have a super berry yield when parts of Holme Stinted Pastures (Clawthorpe, Near Hutton Roof) was covered in what can only be described as a look of snow! I had never seen it looking quite the way it did (check out photos). So many of the hawthorns looking so beautiful.  This was the best indicator toward what inevitably had to follow.  So we had the trees full of white blossom in May which turned into lovely bunches of red berries by the middle of September. 

A great contribution to this story

After reading the above a good friend Arlene from down in Helmshore has been in touch to say that she thinks perhaps "the unusual hot spell around February 2019 with temperatures into the 70 degrees, plus the hot weather in early summer might have had impact on the fantastic flowers and subsequent fruit crop?  (quote: Arlene Harris - East Lancashire)

 Lovely White Hawthorn Blossom at Holme Stinted Pastures 15th May 2019

  Lovely White Hawthorn Blossom at Holme Stinted Pastures 15th May 2019

 Lovely White Hawthorn Blossom at Holme Stinted Pastures 15th May 2019

Holme Stinted Pastures with good berry yield on the hawthorns

Photo: taken September 13th 2019

 Showing the heavy yield of hawthorn berries at Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo was taken on 13th September 2019

  Showing the heavy yield of hawthorn berries at Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo was taken on 13th September 2019

  Showing the heavy yield of hawthorn berries at Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo was taken on 13th September 2019

  Showing the heavy yield of hawthorn berries at Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo was taken on 13th September 2019

 Showing the heavy yield of Holly berries at Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo was taken on 13th September 2019