Friday, 28 June 2013

Burton's Swifts Scream the Manor Down! plus other blog updates

To the Manor Born - The Burton Screamers (click over sketch to enlarge)

Monday July 15th 2013
E. Schmalhausenii in flower
(0830hrs-1115hrs - Hutton Roof) Checking out my favourite epipactis schmalhausenii which is in 90% flower today and lies on pavement 5.  It really has a (typical much bunched hybrid plume) just like it had last year. See photos of the full flower and another one showing its epichile and bosses.

I did think that perhaps two nearby "new" plants (which were only about two metres away) where showing signs of becoming the hybrid, but not too sure now beginning to consider that they are the straightforward rare Dark Red Helliborines.

Back down onto Pavement three and finished off doing the full survey of Dark Red Helliborines.  Today I registered "68" full flowering plants compared to 148 last year.  I have noticed this year there is a drop in number with the DRH and together with the fact that I am now only including full flower counts, this will also add to the reduction in numbers.  Lots of immature (non flowering) plants are no longer considered in my counts.
Same plant with close up of
Epichile and bosses

Although there are fewer, they do seem of a better quality this year, with some much larger specimens of 2ft and above, these I have made a special note of to try and include a return visit if possible.  Also the colours this year appear to be better in a lot of the plants, they definately seem healthier specimens. 

A new suspect plant
awaiting diagnosis
Its still very early days yet, but think I may just have found another of the rare hybrids on pavement 3.  It meets quite a lot of the criteria, with the circling flower heads, the sizes of epichile and bosses, and does have a greenish stem.  But I cannot noticee a more amplexicaul on the basal leaves, plus the colour of the leaves are the "lemony" light green colour which you would expect with a straight forward "atrorubens" rather than what you would usually get with a "schmalhausenii".  But I will be out and about again tomorrow so maybe I can draw a conclusion on this one.

On the way up through the lower part of Burton Fell, it was nice being serenaded by the Redstart both on entry and exit.  Lots of Ringlet Butterflies about, also Dark Green Fritillaries and Meadow Browns. Had my first Harebell flower today. 

Friday July 12th 2013

This sketch highlights the
Swift nest sites. Click over to enlarge
(Last night Thursday at 2145hrs - 2215hrs - Checking out the Swifts at the Royal Hotel).
We had already established there was one nest on the lower elevation building at the front, but suprised to find out that there were two more also making a total of three on the front.  Also we found another two on the rear annexe building. And yet another one to the NE corner of the rear main building, bringing a grand total to a possible 6 sites on the Royal.  

(Friday: 0830hrs-1130hrs) Checking out the Helliborines on Pavement 3 and 5. I am already getting the immpresion that maybe this year we are seeing fewer of the Dark Red Helliborine's, yet the ones on view seem to be in a better condition with some of them being much larger and stronger versions and some with such bright deep red wine colours. It really is heavy going on the pavements with this beautiful sunny weather, making it so tiring, yet at the same time so worthwhile. This year especially has been absolutely fabulous for the Tormentil and Wild Strawberries with record counts.

Lots of the usual butterflies around eg: Ringlets, Dark Green Fritillaries, Small Pearl Bordered's.

Thursday July 11th 2013
Two very suspicious helliborines
(Click over photo to enlarge)
0830hrs to 1130hrs.  Checking Helliborines on both Pavement 5 and Pavement 3.  First of all checking out the five E. Schmalhausenii and noticed that two of the plants have already had their flowers nibbled off. Yet it wasn't all bad news because I have found another two very close to Hybrid 1 (2 metres away - see photo across left) I am almost sure looking at the way the buds are placed plus other factors, that these also will turn out to be "E. Schmalhausenii". 

The main reason I was on this payment today, was that I had been asked to provide a up to date report about the progress of the other rare hybrid, the "Hypericum Perforatum Montanum" and thankfully so far the deer havn't got at them, although I am sure once they come into flower in about a weeks time, they then will be far more vunerable. This year we are down in number, with a group of 8 and two singles quite closeby.

A really beautiful Dark Red Helliborine
on Pavement 3
(Click over photo to enlarge)
Moving on down to 3b for surveying helliborines, I passed through pavement 3 and was very suprised to find another fabulous "suspect" plant which I am going to keep my eye on (see photo). Along with several more Dark Red Helliborines which were all in flower and doing well.  It does seem strange when all others on the other pavements are still in bud, yet exclusively on this particular pavement there is quite a large number already flowering. 

Some of the DRH flowering today
(Click over photo to enlarge)
Finally arriving at Pavement 3b I managed to survey the full pavement and could at best only come up with 7 Dark Reds compared to 13 last year. Found 2 Broad Leaved compared to 1 last year.  This is without doubt still the best pavement for "Mountain Melick".  Also found a new colony of "Splendid St. John's Wort.  Had first Grayling butterfly today on this pavement.  Must have had about 30 Dark Green Fritillaries throughout the morning, scores and scores of Ringlets, odd Small Heath, but such a change not to have any Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries.

Having today parked up in Clawthorpe, as I was crossing over the fields I had a new Chiffchaff calling from the wooded area very near to Rowley Copse.

Tuesday July 9th 2013
How close the Epipactis family is
here denoted by arrows. (Click over to enlarge)
Spent most of the morning and early afternoon checking out further Broad Leaved Helliborine and also E. Schmalhausenii.  Sadly the very best 2012 photographic specimen of the rare hybrid on Pavement 9 has been completed bitten off right down to the basal leaves.  This one actually lies about two metre below a Broad Leaved Helliborine and a couple of Dark Red Helliborines (see photo on left - and click over to enlarge). And its right at the side of the footpath.

Again the picture seems the same on this pavement also with lots more Broad Leaved Helliborines showing this year, but still lacking many of the Dark Reds at present, although the specimens that are already showing look like they will turn out nice plants. It will be another week before flowering at the earliest. Also found a couple of new clumps of the rare "Birds Foot Sedge" on this pavement.

Also checked out the "purple variant" Broad Leaved Helliborines on Pavement 4 and this year the numbers have increased from 11 to 14 which is good and I would expect at least another 3-4 weeks before flowering with that magnificient "harebell" type colour. 

A very conservative count would be at least 100 "Ringlets" at least 50 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries of which some were very well worn.  Also at least 20 Dark Green Fritillaries, along with numerous Small Heaths and Common Blues.

Found a new area supporting "Common Rock Rose" although I have not as yet noticed any activity from the Northern Brown Argus. 

Monday July 8th 2013
0600hrs to 0700hrs.
Mo the Chiffchaff was singing well.  Lots of Swift activity along Main Street.
Off out shortly surveying the helliborines on pavement 6 at Lancelot.

E. Schmalhausenii prior to flowering
Click over image to enlarge
0900hrs to 1100hrs. Checking out Epipactis Schmalhausenii (see photo) up to three separate plants in full bud perhaps about seven to ten days away from flowering.  Also the Dark Red Helliborines are doing OK and again one week away from flowering. The Broad Leaved Helliborines are about two weeks away.  Also checked some Hypericum perforatum montanum.  Up to twenty Ringlet Butterflies, along with several Dark Green Fritillaries, a couple of Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, several Common Blues.

Saturday July 6th 2013
I can now confirm that a Swift was seen entering the "suspected" nest site on the North facing gable wall of the Manor.  Also Chiffchaffs: Archie from Orchard Close and Mo from the bottom of Mowbray Drive were singing away this morning.  

Friday July 5th 2013
0900hrs-1100hrs. Surveying Pavement 6 for Helliborines

Only counting the fully flowered Dark Red Helliborine specimens which now show with full drooping heads and so far up to 33 with only 50% of this pavement surveyed. Probably also another (50) which cannot be counted because they are only at stem or pre stage without any sign of flowers.  Additional Broad Leaved Helliborines also this year, the count is now already up to 9 plants (last year only 4).  Also noted that the rare Birds Foot Sedge (carex ornithopoda) is up 100% from last years 6 clumps to 12 Clumps this year.

Also had my first Meadow Brown (LCS - Pave 6) and my first Ringlet Butterflies  (DCrags). Also Small Heaths and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries were seen.

Thursday July 4th 2013
0930hrs-1115hrs. Surveying Helliborines in Lancelot on Pavement 6

Very misty at top of Dalton Crags. Did have several Tree Pipits calling. Checked out the "White" variant Wild Thyme and still doing well in the same place. 

Did a rough check on 6b and was pleasantly suprised to see the Dark Red Helliborines at about ten days away from best, which is just about the right date. I did have visions of them being behind this year.  Still drooping heads at present but now well on their way.  Also checked on the two Broad Leaved Helliborines on this pavement which again are very well advanced and probably will be about 3 to 4 weeks away yet. Found a new Broad leaved, which I could well have missed last year, if what I now suspect that maybe the deer had nibbled the top and as such would have not counted it.  Also found some Flea Sedge and more Brittle Bladder Fern.

2130hrs to 2230hrs - Surveying Swifts in Cocking Yard, Burton In Kendal. 

"Swifts in Cocking Yard" click over to enlarge
Continuing with the work of the "Swifts In The Community" the three (Reg, Jane and myself) of us decided to check out the swifts nesting in the Cocking Yard area of Burton.  We were certainly not disappointed.  We are now able to confirm that there are at least two separate nesting sites in the Yard.  One on each side of the Yard.  The birds on "Hanging Farm" appear to have chicks already, having been heard calling from the nest together with the very regular feeding patterns showing by the adult birds gives this presumption. The birds on the other side of the yard are also visiting their nest site at very regular intervals also, but maybe not just as regular.  It was interesting to count a minimum of nineteen swifts high over the immediate area busy chasing and especially making their presence known with their regular "screaming" as they went about their business. Very difficult to count but certainly nineteen birds on two separate counts. 

Again it was also a pleasure to watch two (at least!) Pipistrelle Bats flying up and down and in and out of the yard, at times coming within what seemed only a yard or so away from our faces.

Wednesday July 3rd 2013
1000hrs-1115hrs. Surveying the Bee Orchids down at Carnforth.

Did a rough count of the Bee Orchids in Carnforth which totalled 77 individual plants, quite spread out over a very large area, but the best concentration was about 26 plants in a radius of about 20 yards. For some reason this year the sloping banks only held 4 plants compared to 23 last year. The annual totals have been 2010: 1 plant, 2011: 18 plants, 2012: 87 plants and 2013: 77 plants. Also two lovely completely white variant Common Spotted Orchids. The Marsh Helliborines still need another three weeks.

Also had a Chiffchaff calling along with lots of Goldfinches. 

Friday June 28th 2013
2115hrs to 2215hrs. Observing and surveying Swifts numbers on Main Street, Burton In Kendal. 

Swift nest site observations - click over to enlarge 
As part of the "Swifts In The Community" (A project based in North Lancashire and South Cumbria to preserve and enhance the traditional nesting sites of Swifts in our towns and villages).
Reg, Jane and myself were checking out the local Swifts on the Main Street between 2115 hours and 2215 hours.  
We were able to establish that at least four separate individual birds entered "The Manor" at different points, 3 areas under the gutter/soffit boards on the front left hand West facing elevation, and one on the North facing gable end wall.  Also it was suspect that another bird could well have entered the gable wall at a point lower down the wall.  We were also very fortunate to observe a single Pipistrelle Bat which was very active. 

Although we did not have time to locate to the other two known breeding sites in Burton (The old Royal Pub and The Cocking Yard), it is intended to survey these over the next two weeks.

Although perhaps it is far to early to be absolutely sure, we do now suspect that the 15 birds which left us last year, may well have all returned safely and are well into their respective breeding schedules.

If anyone can help in the "Swifts In The Community" project either local in Burton and Holme, or even further afield you would be very welcome and may I suggest you contact the Project Co-ordinator Peter Moreton, who can be contacted by clicking here

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Cuckoo Sketch and recent Cuckoo information & blogs

Cuckoo stores some fascinating stuff within that egg!

Thursday 27th June 2013  (0900hrs-1100hrs)
Dalton Crags - White Wild Thyme variant

A couple of Willow Warblers and a Blackcap singing from the lower Crags.  Also surprised to hear a Garden Warbler singing close to about the middle of the lower crags, I guess this is probably the one that I thought could have been missing this year, but thankfully it has been around and elusive. It is usually resident at the top of the lower crags by the small clearing.

Rare variant White Wild Thyme
Checked out the variant - White Wild Thyme which grows on a "anthill" to the NE of the line of trees and it is just starting to flower with a couple of flowers showing, see photo left and click over to enlarge. Lots of Heath Speedwell showing, again more prevalent on the old anthills. Wild Strawberries are showing some great fruit yields at the moment. Tree Pipits in song and doing their parachute displays both at the bottom and the middle of the upper Crags (deforested) still no signs showing of any young Cuckoo's.  I think perhaps the adult Cuckoo may now have left us for their long journey south there was certainly no "cuckoo's calling" today.

Small Heath and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary showing. It looks to me that the Small PB Frit has had a good wedge clipped from its wing, maybe the attack of a local bird.

Also a new Garden Warbler was singing at about 3/4 way up the deforested to the left of the "gulley" area.

Wednesday 26th June 2013 (0545hrs-0715hrs)  "Cuckoo findings"
Lee the Chiffchaff happily singing away.

Realiably informed that the Cuckoo was still present and singing on the 24th June 2013, which is now getting late for this species.

Of particular interest to me was that last year and again it's happened this year, the Cuckoo seems to be seen and heard from the Storth Areas just behind the Dalton Hamlet in the days leading up to its long migration south. So I wondered why does it choose to come to lower altitude, to a area with more woodland density at the time just before he leaves us.  I can only presume it's because the actual breeding is now over, do they then need to stock up and replenish "caterpillar" feed which would be far more easily obtainable in such woodland areas, before they then make their long onward perilous journey back to Africa.

So moving on, the adult bird leaves us towards the end of June or maybe even the first week in July, yet the young Cuckoos are left behind, being fed by their host parents and they will probably be mature enough to leave us in another month to six weeks time.  So that young bird which has never travelled before is still able to negotiate the directions back to Africa without having ever been shown! and even better still,  it negotiates its way back not just to anywhere in Africa but to the very area which the parent bird resides.  Absolutely fascinating and such a miracle to try and understand that all this information can be stored within that egg!

Tuesday 25th June 2013 (0545hrs-0715 hours)

At long last, Lee the Chiffchaff from Thornleigh has started singing again, I had'nt heard him for up to two weeks prior to this morning and was beginning to get worried about him.  House Martins seem to be doing very well near to the bottom of Vicarage Lane.

(1315hrs to 1715 hours)

It was great to meet up with Reg and Brian whilst being invited to see the "Belladonna" (Deadly Nightshade). Which is still thriving at a (private) site close to Burton In Kendal, I do remember reading somewhere that it was regularly recorded in or around this same area as long ago as the 1920's. Also it has been recorded again this year at Far Arnside.

Following on from here Brian and I decided to check out a old Carnforth site to see how the Bee Orchids and the Marsh Helliborines were progressing.  Although the Bee Orchids were not present in any large numbers on the bankings compared to last year, they certainly made up for it on the flats (37 recorded so far this year compared to 84 last year, but still plenty of time yet.  The Marsh Helliborines are doing OK, but far to early to survey them although one or two we did find showed their drooping heads, so will plan another check in about three weeks time. Also Goldfinches and Greenfinches singing away, yet the Warblers seemed quiet. Large Skipper, Dinghy Skipper, Common Blues Butterflies were regular. Also nice to see Bladder Campion, Marjoram, and White Stonecrop had all colonised on the temporary stone rubble piles, and lots of Common Milkwort, but they were all the "white" variant. Also some late "Spring Cinquefoil" but again looks like another year without Broomrape or Blue Fleabane.

Monday 24th June 2013 (0545hrs-0715hrs)

The new (recorded for the 1st time this year) Chiffchaff  "Neddy" was calling yet again from just at the side of Beech Cottage (off Tanpits).  Also Mo the Chiffchaff from Mowbray was calling near to Burton House.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary
(0900hrs - 1100hrs) Holme Park Nature Reserve and Clawthorpe Fell NR
Whilst traversing the Holme Park Nature Reserve did have one Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (see photo), also found a "Clouded Silver" moth.  Several Willow Warblers calling, no Chiffchaff or Blackcaps calling today. Found a patch of Limestone Polypody Fern.

Then following on at Clawthorpe Fell Nature Reserve, found that the large area of English Stonecrop are now beginning to show flowers, Found at least three Great Mullian also some Dropwort

Diary page for Saturday June 15th 2013
Tuesday 19th June 2013.

Went up to Pavement 5 on Lancelot looking especially for "Pale St. Johns Wort" and its cousin the rare Hypericum Perforatum Montanum.  Found two of the already recorded hybrids but nothing else in fact at present I am one down on last year. The Angular Solomon's Seal and Lily Of The Valley are well over by now. Checked out the Bloody Cranesbill and the Broad Leaved Helliborines, nothing yet showing in regard to the Dark Red Helliborine. Also found some Hairy Rockcress, Scaley Male Fern and Lesser Meadow Rue etc.

Further over near the BAP Memorial seat and above Pavement 4 I had a couple of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries and a Redstart singing continually from somewhere over on Pavement 4.

It was sheer brilliance! one of those very special moments whilst having a rest and sitting on the memorial seat looking in front and taking in the magnificent view over the Morecambe Bay on this glorious sunny warm morning. Talk about relaxing and taking in the tranquility, I must have stayed there for at least 45 minutes but suppose I could have and should have stayed there much longer whilst that special feeling had gripped me. In the background I could hear the continual call from the Redstart, Willow Warblers and the lonesome Tree Pipit. It was though being serenaded by the birds and at peace with the World. No traffic noise carrying over or anything else just the pleasantries of the birds, bees and butterflies, so nice I almost fell asleep, sort of cat napping! and just accepting that special peace which was on offer.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Angular Solomon's Seal & Birdfoot Sedge & rare Epipactis - Lancelot Clark Storth

Angular Solomons Seal on Lancelot Clark Storth  - 12th June 2013
Yesterday was raining cats and dogs at 0930hrs, and that was about the time I met up with  Barry who had travelled up from the Fylde, because he was keen to check out the rare Birds Foot Sedge (carex ornithopoda).

After all I had put my waterproof trousers in the car (good job!), but it certainly wasn't initially planned with the weather in mind, they had been put in the car ready for the "deer tick invasion" which we where more than likely to experience today.  Over the last few days I have managed to get covered with the little blighters, so I thought not today! the waterproofs are glossy finish material and you wont stick to that!  So as it turned out with the weather, those waterproof leggings along with the coat came really handy for a dual purpose assignment!

Birdsfoot Sedge 12th Jun 2013
After a chit chat and going over things with the maps and plans etc., the first port of call was over to the nearby Clawthorpe Fell,  for Barry to check out the beautiful little "whirlycurlymajigs" yes my nickname for the rare Birds Foot Sedge (carex ornithopoda).  Not to be dissapointed I am sure we must have checked out perhaps a hundred or two of them.

Whilst on the fell it could not go unnoticed that the birds were not singing, I had hoped to be able to spot the Spotted Flycatcher, along with the Blackcaps, Garden Warbler and Willow Warblers, but it seemed so quiet with not a utter of song! the weather just does that sometimes, it dampens the beautiful choruses generally on offer by the various species.

Rigid Buckler Fern
It was also nice to see the patches of Angular Solomon's Seal from within the grykes and showing at its best, whilst Barry found plenty of "Flea Sedge" (Carex pulicaris) to show me.

I even managed a quick "history lesson", showing my guest the 7 versus 6 boreholes and the wager many years hence for the "drilling of the bore holes".

Now still raining it was back along the tree canopied track to the Car for lunch, but not without first going into the Holme Park Quarry Nature Reserve (Clawthorpe), here we walked the perimeter and also checked out the "viewpoint" for the nearby working quarry. We found Heath and Germander Speedwells at various points within the reserve.

There was the odd bird song reaching us here with the Willow Warbler's making their fine "diminishing crescendo" music.  I was busy here looking out in particular for the (Atropa belladonna) which is known to be in these parts, but could'nt find any here today, but perhaps it may be found in other nearby localities.

There's over 20 clumps of Birds Foot Sedge here.
After lunch, and thankfully it had stopped raining so we decided to head towards "Slippery" and then up via Pickles Wood and into the Lancelot Clark Storth areas, were again I could show Barry even more of the rare Birds Foot Sedge, I took a photo showing 20 clumps of the sedge  which can be identified, that is "if you've got your eye in!" just try it and see how many clumps you can find.

There was also plenty of Lily Of The Valley around, but most of what we were actually seeing was immature and without any flower. Also the beautiful Common Cow Wheat is now beginning to show with the flower. Common by name maybe, but certainly not common at all!

Limestone Polypody or Limestone Fern
We carried on up Lancelot and called in at the Spring, but today there was nothing on view, though occasionally I do see "water boatmen" or other types of beetles here.  Just a little further on in a SE direction you come to Pavement 3b (Old Man Chuckles pavement - by the way my designations!) and here at the entry we searched and searched for the Rusty Back Fern (Asplenium ceterach), I have been told that it can be found in these parts, but we scoured the area for quite a while looking, but without any success.

Carrying on we soon reached (Pavement 3 with the small cairns) nothing showing yet with the Dark Red Helliborines here but I did manage to find some fine examples of the rare Black Melick Grass or Mountain Melick (Melica nutans). Also earlier we had seen a excellent length of Wood Melick Grass (Melica uniflora) showing on the verge at Slape (slippery!)

Early stage of Epipactis Helliborine
"purpurea" variant
We were now within striking distance of a real rarity - the Epipactis Helliborine Purpurea, the rare "Harebell Blue coloured variant" of the more commonly called Broad Leaved Helliborine.  Already the early stems and leaves are well formed with some from about 3" high but others in the 6-10" sizes (see photo), this encouraged us to look on other nearby pavements especially in search of early forming Dark Red Helliborines or the rarer Epipactis Schmalhauseneii.  Strange but could not find any of this stuff anywhere yet, obviously we were too early. It did seem rather strange though that the "Helliborines"  were showing well, but no trace of "atrorubens" or "schmalhauseneii" when after all the "dark reds" will actually appear in full flower at least three weeks prior to the Broad Leaved flowering, although the Broad Leaved will be showing well but with "drooping head".   We did manage to find one clump of the rare hybrid "Hypericum perforatum montanum" the hybrid of the rare Pale St. Johns Wort.

To finish off and returning to the lower reaches of Lancelot, we were graced with the beautiful warbling of the Garden Warbler, along with two "contact calling" (hou-whit) Chiffchaffs.

Throughout Barry had kindly graced me with his fine knowledge of some of the surrounding ferns, grasses showing me examples of the Flea Sedge, Male Fern, Scaly Male Fern and others.

Other daily blog information:

Saturday June 15th 2013:  I like many others I am sure was woken up at about 0300hrs with a almighty deluge of heavy rain, which rumbled to the extreme whilst bouncing off the roof tiles. Perhaps it lasted for several minutes, but soon after maybe about 0330hrs the Blackbirds along with all the other neighbourhood birds were in full song until at least 0400hrs.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Blackcap versus Redstart confusion!

Yes I am always willing to learn!   Another experience from the late afternoon of (May 23rd 2013)

Only the other day (May 23rd) whilst traversing through the beautiful Lancelot Clark Storth, pounding downhill from the opposite direction was a party of country goers who turned out to be from the Grange (Over Sands) Natural History Society.

I got chatting, with the Cumbria Wildlife leader of the party who I know well, and explaining that today I was on the lookout for “Redstarts and Flycatchers”. 

Overhearing this, one of the guys from this party said “I have just heard one (Redstart) calling from just higher up close to the Spring”, which is probably about 50-75 yards further on in a Easterly direction.   He continued to say that he had at first thought he had heard a Blackcap, but quickly changed his opinion and came to realise it was the Redstart. So I asked him then did it make the “hou-whit” contact call.

I suppose thinking about it I had actually heard the full Redstart song call hundreds of times, but this was in the long distance past, and yes the song at that time had become familiar (during the 80s and 90s).   But three decades on and absent of seeing or hearing any Redstarts in recent times, had some how managed to replace in my mind “The full song” with the “houwhit” contact call. 

He quickly answered me by saying no! what he had heard was the full Redstart song which more or less started off very similar to the Blackcap call but after a few Blackcap/warbly notes finished off abruptly with a sort of “swit”. And this was called for a period of a few seconds duration and then at times regularly repeated.

It came to mind, that only minutes prior to this I had actually heard what I took to be a singing Blackcap coming from the area where he would have heard his Redstart. I nearly replied to him saying that I also had heard a bird calling from there but sure it was a Blackcap.  Then I thought better of it.

This experience had now left me rather undecided and so, when I arrived back home I went to the “xeno canto” bird sounds website on the Internet and was able to check out multiple variant calls of the Redstart, and guess what?  The guy was right it was a Redstart.

I suppose the moral to this story is that you are never to old to learn even if it means learning some of the forgotten stuff as well. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dalton Woodland Burial Ground has plenty of singing birds and other Creatures

Yesterday (Monday 10th June 2013) I was coming back down through Dalton Crags, when at the top of the lower Crags, I met a family party consisting of Dad at the advanced age of 93, along with his daughter and son in law who again had just retired having reached the age of mid sixties.  I could see the old man was wearing a red  “St Dunstans” type of baseball hat and walking with a cream coloured stick.  So I then presumed, the gentleman was perhaps sight impaired, and this was actually confirmed by him in later conversation.

He went on to say that he lived on the Fylde and that his daughter now lived in Sussex, and today they were making their regular pilgrimage to visit his late beloved wife who was buried at the nearby Dalton Woodland Burial Ground, he also added that when she was alive they both loved coming for walks up on the Crags and that was also why he was up here today.

He continued to tell me of how his wife, when she was alive especially loved this area (Dalton Crags) for its sounds of birds and nature and that the burial site was selected as the ideal spot, and that one day in the future he himself would also be buried there, and the daughter and son in law also said that they hoped also to be buried there when their time came.

I went on to tell him that only a couple of weeks ago, I was having a walk through the Woodland burial site, and the woods were alive with lots of mixed birds songs with some rarities like a pair of Chiffchaffs, Marsh Tit, Treecreepers and Goldcrest, along with the most common of birds the Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Blackbirds and Thrushes and choristed throughout with the beautiful calls from local Robins and Dunnocks. Even during the hours of darkness a Tawny Owl "hoots" whilst sentinel.  So he was delighted to hear this.  I did also tell him that there was something really special in these woods also.  In that I have seen on two separate occasions a pair of Brown Hares which seemed to have made the woodland their home too.

I also told him that each morning I pass through the lane locally called “Nineteen Trees”, the lane which divides the Woodland Burial Ground from the Dalton Crags and its woodlands, he knew where I meant.  And all last week (June 4th week 2013) whilst traversing along Nineteen Trees (at approx 6.30hrs) the sun was shining so bright, you could not help but look to your left hand side into the Woodland Burial Site whilst on passing, and you would witness a most spectacular sight, of a small patch of bluebells (maybe some 10-15 ft diameter but laid further back in the woodland, perhaps some 20 to 30ft from the boundary wall) and it seemed as though they were lit or highlighted by a “shaft of light” being shone on them, as though a spotlight was shining from the heavens.  The reason those bluebells were at this particular spot in the first place is more than probable because of the “shaft” of light which had been caused from circumstances on the opposite side of the lane, eg:  Here there is wooden forestry gate with room to park two or three cars, and behind the forestry gate, it was a clearing and forestry track which takes you further up to the commencement of the lower Dalton Crags.  Because there were no trees at this point, the early morning sun managed to penetrate and shine right down the open channel and finished at the point of the bluebells, making this such a spectacular sight for anyone lucky enough to witness it.  A sort of mini effect you would perhaps get at somewhere like “Stonehenge” were light hits a opening at a certain time of day which then allows a shaft of light to be displayed and forwarded.

The old man and his family obviously were delighted to hear such a story and I could see where especially for them that it would have added credence, that the Woodland Burial Site is just that “so special” place.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Peacocks on Hutton Roof - Blog Notes from Sun June 2nd 2013

"Peacocks on Hutton Roof" - They'll be about today that is for sure, and just look at last we've got sunshine! it didnt take us long to get a tan!
Monday June 10th 2013
Chiffchaffs "Mo" and "Lee" are both calling this morning. Lots of hirundines and Swifts are displaying and feeding. But still only the eight birds at Russell Farm.
0900hrs-1100hrs (Plain Quarry to top of Dalton Crags (upper)
Lots of Tree Pipits singing throughout, also Blackcaps and Willow Warblers, but no Cuckoo calling in Dalton, however I did hear one calling in the very far distance somewhere between the Docker to Newclose Coppice areas. Lily Of The Valley at its best now. Had first Cinnabar Moth today busy laying its eggs on the small ragwort plants.

Friday June 7th 2013.

Really enjoyed giving my talk at the beautiful Heron Theatre at Beetham for the AONB Landscape Trust who's members were such a good appreciative crowd who really enjoyed the talk.

Thursday and Saturday June 6th and 8th 2013
A friend from Blackburn calls for me and we do the annual trip up to Appleby Horse Fair, so nothing to report on the local front.

Tuesday June 4th 2013
Sky absolutely full of hirundines near to Green Dragon Farm with both Swallows and Martins. "Mo" the Chiffchaff calling from the bottom of Mowbray Drive.

1300hrs-1500hrs (Up "Slippery" and then crossed to Pickles Wood and return)
"Miss A Note" Chiffchaff, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers together with plenty of the more common species, also Tortoiseshell, Peacocks, Speckled Woods, Large Whites, Green Veined Whites Butterflies etc.

Monday June 3rd 2013 
Had Mo the Chiffchaff calling. Hirundines doing aerial displays at Green Dragon Farm, still shortage of Swallows at Russell Farm.

0845hrs-1300hrs (Plain Quarry over to Lancelot and Burton Fell and finish off at Dalton)
Both Cuckoos calling and seen in Dalton (upper) one at the bottom and another at the top. Tree Pipits in full song in Dalton Crags both sides whilst going up, and then again at two points in Dalton (upper). Also Tree Pipits seen at the top of Lancelot Clark Storth and also at the top of Burton Fell. Several Green Hairstreaks seen at a couple of bilberry locations. Came specifically today to try and see the Fly Orchids, but I do think that I am too early, but lots and lots of Early Purple Orchids everywhere.

Yesterday (Sunday June 2nd 2013).  In the morning did a check around the Plain Quarry and Dalton East side, heard two Chiffchaffs singing which I presumed to be Craig and Craggy. Two Blackcaps noted at the usual breeding sites. Also had first (for me) of the year "Small Heath Butterfly".

Later in the day (Sunday June 2nd 2013).  Had a check over on Slape Lane and the nearby woodlands for any noticeable Spotted Flycatchers but none recorded as yet.  Still that relentless cool wind.