Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Tuesday 20th August 2019 - Dalton Crags/Painted Lady butterfly



Vanessa cardui PAINTED LADY (click over to enlarge)
Photo: June 2016 - Dalton Crags


It was so peaceful heading over Dalton Crags today, and much enhanced by the visitations from the beautiful Vanessa, or perhaps she is better known as THE PAINTED LADY butterfly. 

The Painted Lady holds so dear to my memories.  It was some twenty years ago and we were on holiday on the beautiful island of Menorca.  It was May 8th and yes I can be so precise with the date because it was "our lass's" birthday and we were having breakfast around the pool with our friend and I had placed her birthday cards all stood up in regimental salute, but the breeze kept blowing the cards down. 

 But what was far more striking was to my right I kept seeing flashes go past at regular intervals and on closer inspection sure enough they were Painted Lady butterflies, before long I was seeing parties of 20 at a time coming through every few minutes.  It took me time to try and work out just what was going on, as they breezed past me fluttering away, some of them were quite low and would hit the villa walls with force, which made them cascade for a yard or so before gracefully composing themselves to elevate past their obstacle and continue with their flightpath North. The movement went on for just over two days and I guess I must have witnessed hundreds of thousands or more. There would have been millions of these little pearls involved in this mass migration from the Atlas Mountains in Morrocco through Spain (then passing us on the Island) before ending their journey in France with many even reaching the UK.


Over those couple of days I saw hundreds dead in the roads which had fallen victim to the cars. I spent a few hours down on the coastline to witness them coming off the sea, it was a fantastic spectacle and something I cannot ever expect to see again. Its true when they say "being in the right place at the right time"

That same year when back in the UK, in early June I decided to specifically search for Painted Ladies and sure enough found them! and obviously because of the dates they must have been specimens from that same migration we had seen earlier......

We locally can get Painted Lady migrations has well.  I remember back about 10 years ago when my dear late friend Charlie rang me to say "get yourself over here now" and so I dashed over to the Beetham Caravan Park (nr Milnthorpe) where he was based and we witnessed Painted Ladies going past at about one per minute and all were coming through at roughly the same height of about 30-40ft and heading from a South East to North West direction. Obviously a very weakened down version of the Menorca event, but even so it showed this beautiful migration in progress. 

These Painted Lady migrations seem to take place perhaps every 7 to 10 years or less and I am now sure that this year is one of those years, when the conditions must just be right and you see numerous of them like we have been seeing in recent months.  I guess that these later sightings maybe a second generation which have arrived from France or even born in the UK. 


If you do want to read more about the fantastic migration of these beauties then can I recommend you to read this piece I have obtained from the BIRDGUIDES...


One of the longest-standing mysteries of migration has finally been solved after scientists discovered where the UK's Painted Lady
 butterfly population goes each autumn. The butterfly, a common immigrant, migrates from the continent each summer to UK shores in varying numbers. But until now scientists did not know whether the Painted Lady made the return journey at the end of the summer, like the closely related Red Admiral, or simply died in the UK.
In one of the largest citizen science projects ever conducted, scientists from Butterfly Conservation, the NERC Centre for Ecology; Hydrology and Rothamsted Research, among others, have discovered exactly what happens to Painted Ladies each autumn. More than 60,000 public sightings of the butterfly during 2009 were collected across Europe, including radar images tracking butterfly movements across southern England, with 10,000 British observers taking part. Scientists discovered that the Painted Lady did indeed migrate south each autumn, but made this return journey at high altitude out of view of butterfly observers on the ground.
Radar records revealed that Painted Ladies fly at an average altitude of over 500 metres on their southbound trip and can clock up speeds of 30 mph by selecting favourable conditions. The findings also revealed that the species undertakes a phenomenal 9,000-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle — almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America. The whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies, but is a series of steps by up to six successive generations; so Painted Ladies returning to Africa in the autumn are several generations removed from their ancestors who left Africa earlier in the year. Richard Fox, Surveys Manager at Butterfly Conservation, was one of the report authors. He said: "The extent of the annual journey undertaken by the Painted Lady butterfly is astonishing. This tiny creature, weighing less than a gram, with a brain the size of a pinhead and no opportunity to learn from older, experienced individuals, undertakes an epic intercontinental migration in order to find plants for its caterpillars to eat. Once thought to be blindly led, at the mercy of the wind, into an evolutionary dead end in the lethal British winter, this amazing combination of mass-participation citizen science and cutting-edge technology has shown Painted Ladies to be sophisticated travellers. We are extremely grateful to the many thousands of members of the public who reported Painted Lady sightings and contributed to this extraordinary discovery."
Radar in Hampshire operated by Rothamsted Research revealed that around 11 million high-flying Painted Ladies entered the UK in spring 2009 with 26 million departing in autumn. Dr Jason Chapman, a researcher at Rothamsted Research, who led the radar studies of Painted Ladies, said: The apparent lack of a return migration of the late-summer generation of Painted Lady butterflies was one of the greatest enigmas in insect migration ecology. But, through a combination of traditional monitoring by butterfly enthusiasts and new radar techniques, we have finally solved this long-standing puzzle. Migrant insects continue to amaze the public and research community alike as they are capable of carrying out the most remarkable journeys."

Monday, 19 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Monday 19th August 2019 - Holme Stinted Pastures/Gentianella amarella




Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian)
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019

I really did not need to become concerned about the shortage of 'Gentianella amarella', because I found some this morning at one of the regular spots on Holme Stinted Pastures.  It was a sight for sore eyes, or music to my ears with a certain italiano ring to it "Gentianella amarella.

Not a lot! but a few lovely scattered small communities here and there.  I guess in the next couple of weeks we shall see lots more especially close to the established well trodden tracks.  Has a rule, the majority are from the "white form" but today most of what I saw were of the "purple form".  I wonder if that special one will come through again which showed several colours (or shades of colours) in one plant. I will certainly be on the look out for it.

 Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian)
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019


 Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian)
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019

Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian)
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019..

Lots of beautiful Asperula cynanchica or SQUINANCY - WORT, some in white flowers although most having little pink flowers. You can tell by their profile and arrangement that they are from the Bedstraw family and have a similar general look to the Limestone Bedstraw, but squincys have a cleaner look and are white and not cream looking as the remnants of the Limestone Bedstraws are portraying at the moment....

A strange name! back in the medieval times it was used as a cure for QUINSY which was a nasty version of tonsillitis

A cracking year for Spring Sandwort and Eyebright, after leaving the Stints it could be seen throughout the first third of the track leading over the Holme Park Fell.


Field Mushroom 
Holme Park Fell - 19th August 2019 

Now thats what I call a Mushroom! and yes it really is a field mushroom (the edible kind).  Normally I manage to gather and fill a little bag of button sized to take home, but today instead of there being lots, I just found one and it was this giant.  Never seen a field mushroom so big (10 inch diameter), he would have filled a couple of pans! but lets leave him today for the local voles and wildlife......

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags THE WIG/Stonechats/Painted Ladies......



The Wig on 17th September 2018 (LAST YEAR) - Dalton Crags
thanks to Lyn F for pointing this one out.......


"He's taking liberty of the court your honour! well then he must be "dunked" or maybe placed in the stocks.  I will have a think about it whilst I sip my coffee.........court adjourned ........"

At the start of the Crags (Dalton) this morning, I just had to look to my left to "cock my hat" in salute to the WIG and to check how it was going on! I am pleased to say things are starting to get going and here are a couple of photos showing lots of tiny puffballs in the process of making up your honour's curls. 


The Lawyers Wig - how it is today with lots of little puffballs
Photo: 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags


The Lawyers Wig (close up) - how it is today with lots of little puffballs
Photo: 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags

It was windy, in fact very windy, blowing at 25mph or maybe about 5 or 6 on the beaufort scale. A little light drizzle thrown in as well. I did not expect to see any butterflies, but I did, but only in the most sheltered parts were I was lucky to have a Large White and even more Painted Ladies. Without doubt it's been the best year on record for the amount of Painted Ladies having hit our shores and spread throughout our great island.... they have been springing up or fluttering almost everywhere - these little beauties....

Birds well I did have a few whilst traversing the upper parts of Dalton Crags deforested, with two male Stonechats from different parts, one with far more colour than the other, also lots of Swallows, a party of 7 going North, then another party of 5 going North and maybe up to 10 hawking throughout that very area.  I can't suggest whether some of these birds were heading out North (which they do) or whether they were just re-aligning their positions ready for another low down attack. They were happy and twittering to themselves has they flew past with a open gape!  A Windhover hovered in all the usual places, I guess looking for field voles.  Coming back down through the Lower Crags I had a party of some 15 Mistle Thrushes obviously feeding up on the many Rowan or assorted berries.

I guess Red Bartsia maybe the flavour of the day, but the Herb Robert are still hanging in there!



Friday, 16 August 2019

SNIPPETS OF WEALTH - Thursday 15th August 2019 - Farleton, Newbigging - Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade etc.



It's been warm down in Barcelona but great witnessing and enjoying aerial manoevres by ALPINE SWIFTS coming down to skim the boating lake for water and listening to the loud shrills from the local PARAKEETS on the Rambles, but certainly little on the SPANISH SPARROWS..

A cropped photo showing our Westmorlandii back in 23rd July 2014
Shows a close up of the flower section.
Now confirmed to be an Epipactis phyllanthese var: unknown but possibly confusa
Incredible find to be so high up on Hutton Roof (lots more photos and info from the link which is shown below)

But great to get back into the reigns of English Nature with more studies on the WESTMORLANDII Orchid which after all has only turned out to be some really really SPECIAL PLANT eg: The species is without doubt from the taxon Epipactis phyllanthes (Green Flowered Orchid) and although the variant cannot be 100% confirmed as yet, it is on good authority that is is thought to be from the "CONFUSA" family. If you want to see the early photos from 2014 and the more recent photos from 2019 and all the history and lively discussion to this please check out at my blog by clicking over the following link:  

Our Swifts have all but gone! and our Swallows are now getting very agitated and forming groups and settling on the local telegraph wires, with some already starting to make their long southbound journies.  I have had reports from Robert (Kendal) to say he has had a WHINCHAT present at the top of Burton Fell on 13th August 2019. On the same day he also had two WHEATEAR in the deforested area of upper Dalton Crags, Stonechats present, Wall and Painted Ladies butterflies still present.......

Yesterday (15th August 2019) I decided to go towards Newbiggin and Farleton and check on our AUTUMN GENTIANS.  What gentians you may ask! I never found one specimen.  I know it is rather early for ours we dont get much as a rule prior to early September, but thought maybe the odd rosette!  but it can never be a disaster there is always something about, so I bobbed along and decided to check on the rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade which you will see from the photos has had a great year.  Also the caterpillars have too!!

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

Birds again were quiet but still had a couple of Willow Warblers calling their contacts, also had some large finch parties of a 50, a 20 and a 6, but all occasions too far away to be able to differentiate whether they were Linnet or Goldfinch. Startled a Partridge or should I say he startled me and skirted off a few yards to the East. Raven honking.....

Not really a butterfly day today, but still the odd ones about which included even more Painted Lady x3, Grayling x1, and a lovely Wall Brown at the Turtle Stone.


 Limestone Bedstraw, Squinancywort, Thyme Leaved Sandwort, Spring Sandwort, Wild Thyme.


Sunday, 4 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 3rd August 2019 - Westmorlandii



Today seemed to be mainly about butterflies and one particular orchid.

The butterflies today included: Speckled Wood x2, Peacock x2, Meadow Brown x8, Painted Lady x3, Large White x2, Grayling x19

The birds included a couple of Willow Warblers that were in full song although rather subdued, but what a pleasure to hear them in song like this, you usually just receive their "hou-whit" contact call at this time of year. Also the Nuthatch are getting noisy again.

My main purpose this morning was to check out the fabulous Epipactis orchid which for now I have called "Westmorlandii No.2" although it is much debateable it could well be a very rare Phyllanthes and I guess time will tell.  Here are some current photos showing the plant.

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof


Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

If you do want to check out the history of this rare orchid please click on the following link:-

https://epipactisatrorubens.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-very-unusual-helleborine.html

Also for anyone interested in our local Burton Swifts, here are the numbers still with us this morning (Sunday)

Sunday 4th August 2019

(0800hrs) At least 20 Swifts still with us at all low points between Kings and Memorial Hall

Saturday 3rd August 2019

(2100hrs) At least 20 Swifts flying above Memorial Hall and Neddy Hill
(0900hrs) 17 minimum Swifts flying in the skies above the Royal to the Kings with occasional Memorial Hall/Neddy Hill

Friday 2nd August 2019

(2100hrs) Still 30 Swifts over Memorial Hall and down towards Neddy Hill. 
(0900hrs) I had 30 Swifts over Memorial Hall.

also Jane reported 20-30 in screaming party between Cocking Yard and Memorial Hall.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Friday 2nd August 2019 - Holly Blue, Small Heath, Painted Lady, thistles


A blog covering the past few days both on Burton Fell and mainly on Dalton Crags

Butterflies included: Holly Blue x1, Peacock x1, Dark Green Fritillary x2 (worn), Painted Ladies x11, Large White x3, Meadow Brown x3, Grayling (on thyme) x1, Small Heath x1, Speckled Wood x1.

Birds included: Willow Warbler x2 (in part song!!), Bullfinch, Lots of Swallows and Swifts hawking, Stonechat family party of four, Green Woodpecker yaffling


Today's garden on Dalton Crags
Photo: 2nd August 2019


 A Small Heath butterfly on Burton Fell
Photo: 31st July 2019

 A beautiful Epipactis helleborine (Broad Leaved Helleborine)
Photo: 31st July 2019

This beauty comes up most years and shows a lot of purple in the build of the flower regions. I find this can happen frequently with plants that are in partial canopy
If you want to check out my "orchid diary" please click over this link:
 https://epipactisatrorubens.blogspot.com/2019/01/diary-pages-for-2019.html


 Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock)
Photo: 1st August 2019 - Dalton Crags

Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock)
Photo: 1st August 2019 - Dalton Crags


Dark Green Fritillary
Photo 2nd August 2019

this was one of the two Dark Green Fritillaries I had today in Dalton Crags, both very well worn but this one was the worst.


Holly Blue butterfly
Photo: 1st August 2019

Showing it feeding on bramble, its a female and you can see that from the markings on the following photo.


Holly Blue butterfly
Photo: 1st August 2019


Harts Tongue Fern (asplenium scolopendrium) var: Marginatum
Photo: 1st August 2019


Painted Lady Butterfly
Photo: 2nd August 2019





Harebells in Dalton Crags
Photo: 2nd August 2019

Probably the best year in a long while for Harebells

A Gall
2nd August 2019 - Dalton Crags








Saturday, 27 July 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags - Hypericum Montanum/Scollies etc



 Hypericum Montanum (Pale St John's Wort) - Click over to enlarge and see the spots
Photo: Dalton Crags 27th July 2019



I decided for the odd hour I had to visit one of my favourites DALTON CRAGS.  It is always good for thrushes holding up during the Winter, but never did I expect to see a party of about 40 Blackbirds including one or two other thrushes as well eg: a Mistle Thrush and a Song Thrush at this time of year.


I love the word "merle" of Blackbirds which is one of the nouns, but neither forgetting 'A cloud of Blackbirds' or a cluster of Blackbirds, or extending the range to thrushes we can have 'a hermitage of thrushes' or even a 'mutation of thrushes'


A young Dunnock party with contact calls as though they were all over the place, but I did manage to see the sentinel parent looking down on her circle of offspring...


I made my way to check out the irregular scollies which included the beauty that forks over at the end which I am told is a variety called 'Ramosum' and nearby a terrific area with lots of 'marginatum' variety, you just can't go wrong for ferns just in the couple of hundred yards or so of the lower Dalton Crags eg: Male Ferns, Lady Ferns, Hard Ferns, Brittle Bladder Ferns, Harts Tongue Fern, Rigid Buckler Fern, Limestone Fern and Wall Rue.


I also wanted to check out our rare Hypericum Montanum (Pale St. John's Wort) of which we are lucky enough to have one of our three Hutton Roof populations within the lower Dalton Crags area, and to see if I could get a photo of one of the perforated leaves - remember according to the books they are not supposed to have translucent spots on the leaves... (humbug!!) all ours on Hutton Roof show them..





 Hypericum montanum (Click over to see spots)
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags
Each photo taken from different plants



 Hypericum montanum (Click over to see spots)
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags
Each photo taken from different plants



Hypericum montanum (Click over to see spots)
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags
Each photo taken from different plants


A fantastic display of Rigid Buckler Fern (Dryopteris sub-montana)
 can be seen on Dalton Crags (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags


Asplenium scolopendrium var Ramosum (Harts Tongue Fern)
Click over to enlarge
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags



 Asplenium scolopendrium var Marginatum (Harts Tongue Fern)
Click over to enlarge
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags


Asplenium scolopendrium var Marginatum (Harts Tongue Fern)
Click over to enlarge
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags


Asplenium scolopendrium var Marginatum (Harts Tongue Fern)
Click over to enlarge
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags


 Asplenium scolopendrium var Marginatum (Harts Tongue Fern)
Click over to enlarge
Photo: 27th July 2019 - Dalton Crags


Thursday, 25 July 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Thursday 25th July 2019 - Swifts/Epipactis Helleborine/Ploughmans Spikenard/First returning Wheatear



Ploughmans Spikenard

Ploughmans Spikenard

 Gorse Tree
I could hear seeds popping in this warm weather

And here you can see the small seedlings settled on the ground


And with this photo you can see a close up of the actual new growth

Birds last night (Wednesday):  Perhaps up to 50 Swifts all along the Main Street in Burton, the skies were full wherever you looked up with odd screaming parties up to 20 birds at a time.  

Birds today included a party of young Willow Warblers with their hou-whit contact calls, but of interest was hearing the parents giving alarm warning to their young and on my approach they went quicker with their calls until it went into a sort of superquick "whit, whit, whit".... also heard Nuthatch, had a small party of Long Tailed Tits with the si si si calls, One Chiffchaff calling, but really special was seeing a early returning Wheatear resting up on Burton Fell before its continuation journey back to Africa

Butterflies today included: Small Heath, Dark Green Fritillary (really worn with most of its wings missing - almost translucent), odd Ringlets, several Meadow Brown, Large Whites, Green Veined Whites, Small Heaths, and numerous Grayling on the Fell, Speckled Wood in the shade, and my first of this new hatch of Peacock. 

Ploughman's Spikenard can be found at several places on the fell and still plenty of work with the Orchids (read further). Whilst sat having lunch at the side of a Gorse bush, I could hear popping noises, and thought perhaps the heat was popping open the seeds. When I looked to the base of the bush I could see open seeds with new growth popping out (see photos)



Diary page for Thursday 25th July 2019

I decided to make a start on quantifying the atrorubens for the area which I survey on Hutton Roof. I did manage to complete 50% but the heat was so strong today, I felt like I had enough by mid afternoon, so 50% still remains to do. So far counted in totals is: 272 Atrorubens (which includes 13 predated, also 11 hybrids and 4 pallens). I suspect we might be a little down on numbers this year. I would have expected a total of somewhere between 600 and 800 for this particular area of Hutton Roof, but hopefully over the next few days I will have the new totals. 

Here below are some of the photos from today:

Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a absolute beauty which has lots of red/purple
on the petals and especially the epichile. 

Epipactis helleborine
Photo 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This one is a very small specimen and comes up the same every year,
it is quite near to the 33 population


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a lovely specimen I have been watching
 and it's come through with plenty of red/purple 
on both the petals and especially
 around the epichile areas


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a lovely specimen I have been watching
 and it's come through with plenty of red/purple
 on both the petals and especially
 around the epichile areas



Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

Always comes through as such a large specimen with lovely
large helleborine leaves and good example of the spiralling.
Always a little late with the flowers opening, and this year
just covered in ants, see next picture for close up of spike.


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

Always comes through as such a large specimen with lovely
large helleborine leaves and good example of the spiralling.
Always a little late with the flowers opening, and this year
just covered in ants, see next picture for close up of spike.



Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a beautiful small helleborine, which is never more than around 12" high and is quite close 
to Escarp 13 (bicolor). It's such a little beauty


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a lovely helleborine, also pictured below. 
 I did manage to catch the pollinator at work -
 In fact all the pollinators I have seen so far
 this year on helleborines have been wasp
 and here it shows the pollinia stuck to the 
head of the wasp 


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is a lovely helleborine, also pictured below.  I did manage to catch the pollinator at work -
 In fact all the pollinators I have seen so far
 this year on helleborines have been wasp


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof


Epipactis helleborine
Photo: 25th July 2019 - Hutton Roof

This is one of the larger helleborines which is in the 70s population. I mentioned yesterday that quite a lot of the helleborines in this area come through here with 
odd burn leaves. This one has come through 
with variagated leaves.



Another wasp pollinator in action on this large helleborine
again (as usual) you will note the pollinia of the flower
is stuck to his head.


Epipactis atrorubens var: Pallens No.6
Photo: Hutton Roof on 25th July 2019

This is another photo of the Pallens No.6 which
was only confirmed yesterday. A very late arrival
but certainly better late than never....