Monday, 30 June 2014

More Epipactis Schmalhauseneii notes PART TWO.

This is a "nearly" schmal - photo taken 1 week ago
Now for me I would be calling this a "nearly" Epipactis Schmalhauseneii the rare hybrid between Dark Red Helliborine and the Broad Leaved Helliborine. Let me try and outline the case:-

First of all it has the bunched head appearance were flowers are circulating the full circumference of the stem and of a thick spiky plume appearance - for this alone I would have to tick the box for probable hybrid - it bears no resemblance to a typical Dark Red Helliborine whatsoever!

Secondly the base leaf is rounded and deeply ridged and of a deep green colour - certainly not typical of a regular Dark Red Helliborine, but more typical of what to expect of a Broad Leaved Helliborine feature. So here again I would have to tick the box for probable hybrid.

Thirdly the smaller darker green leaves are circulating all directions of the stem in a spiral fashion which you would probably get more with Broad Leaved Helliborine rather than the typical Dark Red Helliborine.  This again means I would tick the box for probable hybrid.

Now then with these points in mind, we also have the following factors to be taken into consideration eg: The main stem of the plant, is of a deep red burgundy colour typical of the Dark Red Helliborine.
Also the actual timing of when in flower (in other words right now!),  is purely typical of only the Dark Red Helliborine, whereby the Broad Leaved Helliborine will not be opened up for at least another three weeks yet.

So just on the evidence so far supplied, I am feeling very confident that we have a probable Schmalhauseneii here! what do you think?

I would certainly have been able to have ticked all the boxes, but for one thing! the boss measurements are too wide within the epichile!  The following photo (below left) is of a close up showing the bosses in relation to its epichile of the same plant which is shown above.

Boss ratio to epichile width
to some "falls short"

To satisfy the BSBI requirements of "Epipactis Schmalhauseneii" the boss width in relation to the width of the epichile must not be any wider than 50% of the epichile width and when you see this specimen you will note that the bosses cover over 75% of that width.

So we have a situation that if this specimen shown here is not a "Epipactis Schmalhauseneii" then what is it?  It would certainly be unfair to call it a typical Dark Red Helliborine (Epipactis Atrorubens) because of the abnormalities which I have pointed out already.

And this is the problem at Hutton Roof, there are scores of plants (less than 50) that fit the title of "nearlies" but probably less that 10 in total that can actually claim the title of  Epipactis Schmalhauseneii.

Another of this years
Schmalhauseneii had a premature end
(Click over to enlarge)
Yesterday on checking on the only as yet confirmed specimen of Schmalhausenii (photos shown in last Saturdays blog).  Already the deer has had it, so sadly this one cant progress any further at least for this year anyway.

And here is another one from yesterday which for some reason already appears to be burnt out!  sadly on checking the records for the area and the gps co-ordinates, it's another one of our recorded Schmalhauseneii's.  In the same area there are lots of typical Atrorubens and these are all OK, so whats caused this premature "burn out" I really wouldnt know but probably something different within its genes may have something to do with it.

Lots of other great stuff to blog, I'll try and do it later. (A Fawn, more Birds Foot Sedge, Pyramidal Orchid photos, More sanicle records, Hard Shield with 40" fronds, Albino Herb Robert, More Common Rock Rose records, a new Squinancywort record, Chimney Sweep Moth eruption, more zig zag clover photos and records etc etc etc....

Saturday, 28 June 2014

First day checking out Epipactis Schmalhauseneii

Along with others we've been keeping a eye on this chappie!

First day out this year actually checking out the Dark Red Helliborines (Epipactis Atrorubens), some of which had already opened up.

Checking out some of last year's possibilities for the rare hybrid title "Epipactis schmalhauseneii"  One or two today looked reasonable candidates, for the title but I would rather wait until I get more flowers open before I make any decisions, with lots of ground to cover over the next couple of weeks.

Close up of the flower showing the boss size ratio in relation
to the epichile (2014)
Yes the specimen above we marked off last year with markers and gps readings so that we could get straight on to it this year.  You will see from the photos that last year the plant was very much deformed. This year the deformity is showing much less. 

I suppose the most striking feature at first is the beautiful wine coloured petals of the E.atrorubens featuring against the light green hairy stem of this probable hybrid.

The close up photograph of the boss and epichile, along with other
The same plant last year (2013)
leaf structure and colouring etc, would in my opinion make this a early qualifier for the title of "Schmalhauseneii" just what we had expected the outcome to have been. The width measure of the bosses is just below the 50% required.  

And here is a photograph I took last year showing the plant which had much deformity.

The immediate area has quite a few Dark Reds specimens which seem to be following the standard species requirement, and within two metres of the hybrid specimen is two fine one metre high Broad Leaved Helliborines. 

Besides checking out the Epipactis it was also good to be able to record more Ploughman's Spikenard, Small Scabious, a area I had lost from last year which had recently (now gone over) Sanicle, a good 30 metre solid "Woodruff" colony, more Lily of the Valley gps...d, also checking out a Rock Rose colony which was just about the same area as last year, no more no less! Some more Limestone Polypody and Common Polypody, new Bitter Vetch area, checked out the beautiful Squinancywort, new area for Bittersweet. 

It was a dull morning and no butterflies on the way out, however on the return I had scores of Ringlets, good numbers of Meadow Browns, just the odd Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries and a few Speckled Woods.

Absolutely stunning fern

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hypericum Montanum ss Perforatum (Pulchrum)

Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense) on Lancelot Clark Storth
Friday 27th June 2014

Set off from within Lancelot Clark Storth with the main agenda set to check out some of the Dark Red Helliborines (e.atrorubens) and to check out the rare Hypericum Montanum ss. perforatum.

E. Atrorubens
Straight away the deer were "barking" at me, could only have been 75 yards away. And "ticks" where everywhere, in fact I crossed through the footpath which goes through "Ticks Nursery" has I have called it and got covered with scores of them.  So it was necessary to spend at least five minutes smacking all the ticks off the bottom sections of my trousers, whilst mumbling to myself "Consider youself well ticked off".

Found this year that the Common Cow Wheat had spread to further parts of the pavements which is really good news.  I have tried to map it out. I also found lots more Hypericum up there and it was what I would have expected Slender St. Johns Wort (Hypericum pulchrum), another "perforatum" species.

Other stuff noted on my travels was Enchanters Nightshade, Meadowsweet, Yellow Pimpernel, Betony. And on one of the pavements I was suprised to find a couple of clumps of the Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera) (see photo). 

Another of todays Dark Reds
Whilst on my way up checked out several of the Dark Red Helliborines and its obvious that most of them have now opened up with their flowers, so what that means for me is "Move up a gear over the next two or three weeks" because it will be out every day checking out all these beauties on the nearby pavements to try and find the rare elusive "Schmalhausenii" hybrids which are on Hutton Roof.

I also  checked out the small area which always produces lovely E. Helliborine "purpurea" specimens and sadly two of the usual beauties have already had their spikes taken off, having succumb to the hungry deer, but not to worry there are still a few of what might turn out to be extra colourful examples.

Hypericum Montana ss Perforatum (Pulchrum)
Next stage was to locate those rare beauties which would commonly be called the Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum), and all have come up again this year.  A couple have flowers just starting to come out.  There is one place with two, the main group holds eight with another single one a metre away, and ten metre away from the main group is another area with two flowers. I really would love to get to the bottom of the story of these "peculiar" Montanums.  Yes they are weird in so much they have "perforated" leaves, whereby the norm shows they should not have "perforated" and also I am told that the yellow petal colours on these are far deeper in colour than that of the normal Pale St Johns.  I have tried to get help on determination before but as yet without success so for now until I can get to the bottom of it, I am calling them "Hypericum-Montanum-ss Perforatum" and I would love to add to that the name "Pulchrum" because I bet at the end of the day they have possibly bred with the only other perforatum species in the close vicinity. If there is anyone who thinks they can help on this situation I would welcome them getting in touch with me.

Pill Sedge on Limestone!
Also today just one Dark Green Fritillary, 3 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary with one of them very pale specimens already, countless numbers of Ringlets and Meadow Browns. Also some Speckled Woods in or near woodland rides etc.

Also, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap and that was it for Warblers.

Looking more like our Cuckoo's departed last Friday 20th June from Dalton Crags.  Tonight Swift watching with the Burton Swift Group in Burton In Kendal's Main Street - WE ARE MEETING UP AT 2130HRS AT THE BURTON MEMORIAL HALL AND ANYONE WISHING TO COME ALONG WOULD BE MOST WELCOME.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Common Cudweed in North Lancashire

Common Cudweed in North Lancashire - 25th June 2014
With just one hour spare yesterday morning I decided to go in search of the rare "Common Cudweed" which I noted the other day whilst searching a old grown over sand and gravel pit in North Lancashire.  The County Recorder has requested further information on this rare species so that he can differentiate whether the ones I have recorded are Filago vulgaris or Filago minima, of which either are very rare in this area.

I was probably a little hasty in reporting that there was just one isolated plant, because on closer inspection I found numerous (scores in fact), along a stretch of some 40 yards by about 4 yard wide linear stretch. 

Just a few like the ones in the photo above actually reached 3" to 4" in height, certainly none have been higher to date.  But the majority will have been between about 1/2" and 3/4" with some oddities in so much that odd flowers are actually growing on top of another one has can be seen in some of my photos. 

I was also asked to count the "capitula" heads of the flowers and on average they numbered between 9 and 13.

It really is good to see such a large population.

If you want to check out all my Cudweed photos please click over this link. (photobucket photo hosting external site)

since writing the above it is now confirmed that the species are definately Filago vulgaris 1200hrs 26th June 2014. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

First of the year Dark Red Helliborine in flower

The very first of the year in flower
I thought perhaps a visit to the other side (Clawthorpe Side) of Hutton Roof, to a area I have always called "Mossy Stones". I found lots of Dark Red Helliborines (Epipactis atrorubens) today, and most of them were showing there heads to be at the five past the clock position. Just this one (photo above) was "early" and in flower, all the rest would be at least a week before being ready.  

Common Rock Rose
I was out looking for Common Rock Rose which I have been surveying and recording. And today I did manage to find another six small colonies offering yet another ten square metres of spread out flowers.  The sun was not shining today and so I never had any "Northern Brown Argus butterflies" taking advantage of the Rock Rose. 

Also covering this territory I am always on the look out for the rare Birds Foot Sedge.  I did manage to find one new location which has five clumps.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Lots of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries were showing and seemed fairly easy to photograph today, but did not have any of the larger Dark Green Fritillaries on this side of Hutton Roof. Other butterflies today included lots of Ringlets and a pair of fighting Speckled Woods and a Small Heath.

A new site for the Tree Pipit was recorded and I did manage to see three Long Tailed Tits in the same tree as a pair of Willow Warblers.  Also a new site for the Chiffchaff.  Also yaffling today was a Green Woodpecker and calling Redpoll overhead. 

Other plants recorded today were: Squinancywort, Limestone Bedstraw, Dropwort, Pignut, Birds Foot Trefoil, Slender St. John's Wort, Tormentil, Eyebright (sp), Wild Thyme, Broad Leaved Helliborine, Lily Of The Valley (gone over of course) Mountain Melick Grass. 

Slender St. John's Wort (Hypericum pulchrum)
This is a weird "unusual" thing, obviously a early day Broad Leaved
Helliborine well grooved leaves and well rounded and well bitten!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Albino Wild Thyme strikes again

Albino Wild Thyme on Dalton Crags (just click over to enlarge)
Monday 23rd June 2014

I have been going up on Dalton Crags checking this little beauty now for the past four years and it always produces the goods about this time each year, but this year has come even better with far more flowers. This photo just shows you the great comparisons of the two has they sit together on the old "anthill".

Dark Red Helliborine starting to straighten out
My main purpose today was to check out the Epipactis to see how they are coming along, and the Dark Reds have started to straighten out and I'll bet they are looking great in about one weeks time.  The Broad Leaved will be another fortnight to three weeks at least. All the dark Reds where at about the same stage has this photo shows on the left.

It was a proper butterfly morning, I had for the first time on the wing fourteen Dark Green Fritillaries on my way up to the Common, also several Common Blues (all males) about three Small Pearl Bordered Fritts, up to about a dozen Small Heaths, and scores of Ringlets and Meadow Browns, with just a few Speckled Woods thrown in. 

Found a new but going over colony of Bittersweet, and a new colony of Yellow Pimpernel. The Lesser Whitethroat was in song within Dalton Crags, along with some Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

One of my archived "Dark Green Fritillary photos above"
they were too fresh and flitty today
 and did not want to be photographed

How CUD it be a WEED!

Common Cudweed (Filago vulgaris) at Dockacres
Saturday 21st June 2014

Just fancied a another check out at Dockacres and was lucky to find more undiscovered "Bee Orchids" with one particular plant with seven flowers - very nice indeed!

But without doubt the star attraction had to be this very rare Common Cudweed (Filago vulgaris) which I found on one of the overgrown tracks.  A solitary specimen with eight flowerheads.  Though Common by name it is certainly NOT! by number in so far as North Lancashire is concerned.  A clear rarity...

A pair of the beautiful "clean looking" Small White Butterflies also kept me well entertained along with Large Skippers and Meadow Browns.  Serenaded by a pair of resident Chiffchaffs.

Perhaps a "Tease" Spider or a Green Prickly Octupi wanting to play table tennis!

Small White Butterfly on Ladys Mantle
A really interesting record to note: I have been reliably informed that three Cuckoos were seen flying together within Dalton Crags on Friday last the 20th June 2014.

The Burton Swift Group: On Friday last discovered a further last year's nest site being used by the local Swifts.  Anyone who wishes to join in with the Swift group please meet at the Burton Memorial Hall at 2130hours this coming Friday evening 27th June 2014. You are most welcome.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Orchid wonders from a Sunny Lancashire.....Also below Some Bryophyte, Lichen and other Dalton Crag/Hutton Roof records

The last of the Northern Marsh Orchids

Thursday 19th June 2014

Pyramidal Orchid
A friend of mine called Clitheroe Paul came up for a visit and wanted to do some orchid photography, so I took him first of all to the Dockacres to check out the Marsh Orchids (both Northern and Southern and rare hybrids at this site), together with some nice Pyramidals and Common Spotted Orchids.

It was more a question of just getting there on time to see the remnants of this year's Marsh Orchids with the majority already going well over.  It was nice to enjoy the beautiful "magenta" marvels of the few that were still on offer. 

The status of the Pyramidals had changed a little and out of the three previously recorded populations, one population had disappeared completely, whilst another population which only had one flower previous had grown up to five flowers, and the last population towards the A6070 had 7 well spaced flowers whereby previously they had always been closely bunched. 

Early Meadow Brown Butterfly 
Couldn't find any Bee Orchids here, but there were lots of Common Twayblades and Common Spotted Orchids.  

A Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff could be heard calling. Also had my first Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies. Also Large Skippers were present.  

Other species noted were Ragged Robin and lots of Imperforate St John's Wort, Scarlet Pimpernel, Teasel, Forget Me Knots, Thistles and patches of Spring Cinquefoil. 
Self Heal adding much colour.

Carnforth's Bee Orchids
We left there and went on to another well known orchid site in Carnforth and here we saw some of its lovely Bee Orchids and a few Common Spotted Orchids of which here you always seem to get the added bonus of the "white flowered variety as well".  

I checked out the main area for the Marsh Helliborines, which has expected still have drooping heads and will be another three weeks before they are at their best, but still good populations to show. 

Still looking out for the Blue Fleabane and the Common Broomrape, but they do seem to have dissapeared from the site. 

Nice to be serenaded throughout by the Lesser Whitethroat.

Feeling peckish by 1300hrs we decided to have lunch at the "Waters Edge" near to the Dockacres just to fuel up a little before we drove off to the Plain Quarry Car Park to then commence our long trek up onto the Hutton Roof Complex to discover lots more wild and wonderful beauties on offer. 

"Another cracking day"........

A Common Spotted Orchid
A Report of some of Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof's - Bryophytes, Lichens, Plants and Insects etc.

"Normandina pulchella lichen found in Dalton Crags" photo: Mike Gosling
I mentioned only last week that I was in the good company of Mike Gosling and Jeremy Steeden from the Fylde who joined me in a short walk whilst they surveyed of some of the Mosses, Liverworts, Lichens, Sedges, Ferns, Grasses, Flowering Plants, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and lots lots more, which they were able to find in just a seven hour period within Dalton Crags and the Hutton Roof Common. 

The three of us had a fabulous day, although now I wish I had taken along my "Latin Dictionary", but they have been so kind as to forward a "great list" of the varied species we saw on the day of which some are extremely rare, some rare and some more common, and each habitat had its varied contributions. They do intend to visit again in the next couple of weeks to check out the rare Epipactis Schmalhauseneii and other Epipactis specimens, and maybe they will add even more species to the list.

So for anyone interested here is the brilliant report of species found so far:

Location: Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof Crags - Date: 11 June 2014
Recorders: Mike Gosling and Jeremy Steeden
Habitat: Limestone pavement and crags, grassland, trees and walls, and some acid (loess) pockets. 

Atrichum undulatum. On shaded mossy limestone under tree.
Brachythecium rutabulum
Bryum sp. Green-red species with abundant red-brown tomentum. In damp hollow on clint surface.
Bryum capillare.
Calliergonella cuspidata
Campylopus introflexus. On old lock.
Ctenidium molluscum
Dicranum scoparium. Porose cells.
Didymodon insulanus.
Encalypta streptocarpa
Fissidens dubius
Homalothecium sericeum.
Hypnum andoi. On tree trunks, very common.
Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum. On ground & on mossy rocks
Hypnum cupressiforme. On trees, banks and walls.
Kindbergia praelonga. On tree bases
Neckera complanata
Neckera crispum
Orthotrichum cupulatum. On limestone clint surface
Orthotrichum affine.  On one tree
Plagiomnium undulatum
Pleurozium schreberi.On ground.
Polytrichum formosum, Small amounts in acid ground
Polytrichum juniperinum On old log
Racomitrium lanuginosum. Normally in acid habitats but here found over limestone.
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus
Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus. Amongst grass.
Scleropodium purum. Amongst grass.
Thamnobryum alopecurum
Thuidium tamariscinum
Tortella tortuosa Very common acrocarp on limestone
Trichostomum crispulum
Ulota  crispa/bruchii

Frullania dilitata
Lophocolea bidentata. On old logs
Preissia quadrata. In grike, hexagonal patterning and pores obvious.
Radula complanata. Seen on one tree.
Scapania aspera. Common Scapania on limestone areas. 

Agonimia tristicula
Arthonia radiata. On twigs.
Aspicilia calcarea
Caloplaca citrina
Caloplaca flavescens
Cladonia coniocraea
Cladonia conoidea
Cladonia rangiformis
Collema auriforme
Dermatocarpon miniatum
Lecanora polytropa. On BVG erratic
Lepraria incana. In usual shaded sites on trees, banks, trees.
Melanelixia glabratula. On tree trunk.
Normandina pulchella. On 2 trees overgrowing mosses.
Pertusaria corallina BVG erratic
Physcia aipolia
Placynthium nigrum
Placynthium subradiatum. Not common or perhaps under-recorded
Porpidea tuberculosa. BVG boulder.
Protoblastenia rupestris.
Romjularia lurida Crevice in limestone (Was in Psora)
Rhizocarpon geographicum. On BVG erratic.
Solenopsora candicans
Squamarina cartilaginea. Small amounts on limestone
Toninia sedifolia
Verrucaria dufourii. On limestone outcrop
Verrucaria nigrescens
Xanthoria parietina. On twigs of trees.

Carex caryophyllea
Carex flacca
Carex panicea
Carex pulicaris. In the relatively dry heathy area. Note: Jermy quotes the habitat for C.pulicaris as '...silty soils with impeded drainage or on wet slopes where drainage water comes from calcareous rocks' but does also say 'in Northern England more often found in species-rich Nardus grassland'   
Carex pilulifera
Carex sylvatica

Juncus bufonius
Juncus tenuis

Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Asplenium ruta-muraria
Asplenium viride In sheltered margins and within grikes
Athyrium filix-femina
Cystopteris fragilis
Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris filix-mas
Dryopteris submontana Frequent in grikes
Gymnocarpium robertianum
Polypodium sp.
Polystichum aculeatum. In grikes, some plants with huge (1m.) fronds.
Polystichum lochnitis
Pteridium aquilinum

Briza media
Deschampsia caespitosa
Helictotrichon pubescens
Meilca nutans
Sesleria caerulea

Alchemilla xanthochlora
Anemone nemorosa
Arabis hirsuta
Arenaria serpyllifolia
Bellis perennis
Calluna vulgaris
Cercaea lutetiana
Convallaria majalis
Conopodium majus
Epipactis atrorubens
Epipactis helleborine
Eupatorium cannabinum
Euphrasia sp.
Gallium saxatile
Gallium sterneri
Helianthemum nummularium
Hypericum pulchrum
Lathyrus linifolius
Leontodon hispidus
Linum catharticum
Mercuralis perennis
Mycelis muralis
Odonites vernus
Pilosella officinarum
Polygala vulgaris
Polygonatum odoratum
Potentilla erecta
Saxifraga tridactylites
Sanicula europaea
Teucrium scorodonia
Thalictrum minus
Trifolium  medium
Thymus polytrichus
Vaccinium myrtillus
Veronica officinalis
Viburnum opulus 

Aceria thomasi . Round hairy gall on Wild thyme
Psyllopsis fraxini . Leaf margin rolled on Fraxinus, containing distinctive psyllid nymphs

Altica sp (not collected)
Amara sp (not collected)
Crepidodera ferruginea/transversa on thistle head (not collected)
Dascillus cervinus (larger yellow beetle,,photographed)
Notiophilus biguttatus
Oedemera lurida (slender dark greenish beetle, photographed) 

Brown Silver-line moth (disturbed from Bracken)
Celypha lacunana (tortrix moth)
Dingy Skipper
Large Skipper
Speckled Yellow

Tetrix undulata (groundhopper)

Tingis cardui (lace bug on thistle head)

Mosses 33
Liverworts 5
Lichens 28
Sedges 6
Rushes 2
Ferns 13
Grasses 5
Flowering Plants 36
Plant Galls 2
Insects 13 

The lichen Normandina pulchella is an old woodland indicator and is an interesting find. It appears to be spreading into urban areas on trees unconnected with old woodland.

This list is very incomplete, many more species in all groups would be found if surveyed properly.
There are no records here for Lancelot Clark Storth Reserve.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Very early rare Northern Brown Argus plus

Todays Northern Brown Argus Butterfly
Monday 16th June 2014

I planned my day to go across the Hutton Roof Common in search of the Holly Fern (polystichum lonchitis) and went to the second highest point on the Hutton Roof complex.  I found very little in the way of polystichums just the odd Hard Shield Fern specimens.

A day with nature can never ever be disappointing, take today for instance on my way over to the other side of Hutton Roof, I called off to check out various things and came across a good one metre diameter colony of Common Rock Rose, and what should be there feeding, was that little beauty the rare Northern Brown Argus butterfly. This is really good news because we are already aware of colonies on both the West and East side of the Hutton Roof complex, but this is slap bang in the middle of both which may indicate that colonies are possibly linking and covering the complete area. Also it was great to find a new area close to the Cairns which again had a further metre plus of the (not so common) Common Rock Rose. 

Also on the wing were several Small Pearl Bordered, Small Heaths and Speckled Wood Butterflies. 

It was great to be checking out all the rare Epipactis coming through nicely and we should have great specimens within about ten days (thats the Dark Reds), the Broad Leaved are doing well also but would expect another three weeks to a month yet.

Just look at the photo I took this morning, showing how close they breed next to one another with just my 6" notebook managing to fit between them.

both Dark Red and Broad Leaved Helliborine on 6" apart
(Click over to enlarge)
Is it any wonder we have the magnificent hybrid the Epipactis Schmalhauseneii, which there is usually a specimen within a couple of metres of these two parents. 

Another great bonus today was to find that the Lesser Whitethroat has held territory in upper Dalton Crags now for over six weeks. 

The Cuckoo was heard calling well on my way up there, but calling with a "poorly" 2nd syllable "coo" or rather "kii" by the time I returned. I also thought I heard a "bubbling" female Cuckoo calling from somewhere close.   Was able to do some recording of Angular Solomon's Seal - four new sites along with some Limestone Polypody Ferns and Flea Sedge. Found a further 8 Birds Foot Sedge (cared ornithopoda), also Limestone Bedstraw, Tree Pipits, A party of 6 Mistle Thrush, a basking Lizard. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Swift Counting in Burton in Kendal, Cumbria

Rough jottings of last nights Swifts in Burton In Kendal.

Its that time of the year again, when the Burton Swift Group (Jane, Reg and myself) start doing our weekly checks on our local Swift populations and their nesting sites in our village of Burton In Kendal in Cumbria.

We check the status of nesting sites from our previous years records, so we are busy making notes and comparing, and adding to monitor differences etc, and generally for us to try and study our local birds who give us so much pleasure in the short few weeks they are with us.

Last night we managed to witness at least six sites being used of which one was a totally new site for our records.  And even more pleasing was to see a bird nesting in a gable end wall which has currently got scaffold erected, and it was great to see that the birds were not being "put off" by the scaffold and where able to negotiate access without problem.

It is really rewarding watching the Swifts and their behaviour, and so we are intending to do another visit next week on Friday 20th June.  We are meeting up at 2130hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall and we would very much welcome anyone who may wish to come along and join us.  The more there monitoring these beautiful birds the better.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Cuckoo's last days

Its in it's last few days now before they make their perilous journey!
Wednesday 11th June 2014

Both "Cuckoo's" have been seen flying together in the past few days which can be a early indication to them getting prepared for leaving us to make their perilous journey back to Africa.  The local Dalton Crags Meadow Pipits and Tree Pipits won't know what to do with themselves once the Cuckoos have departed- because they wont be able to chase after the crafty Cuckoo anymore...

Well I have to say today was a eye opener, being in the company of Jeremy and Mike who are both biologist and naturalist!  gosh I must have learnt the Latin language ten times over whilst in their company and still can own up to knowing "nowt about it"  far too much to sink in for one day.  They knew the Mosses and the Liverworts and the Lichens, the bugs, the mollusc and top dogs on the flora as well with a Lecturer in geology thrown in for good measure. 

We did the visit to the fabulous "Holly Ferns" and the "Green Spleenwort Ferns" along with visits to a couple of the more spectacular limestone pavements, where I showed them the "super douper" black holes or the well runnelled depletions and the closeby most turbulent of "raging seas" as Dr Halliday once put it to me.

Lots of new species to me! but cannot list here until I receive the list from Mike, whilst at the same time grabbing my Latin Dictionary.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The rare Angular Solomon's Seal 2014

Angular Solomon's Seal on Hutton Roof
Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Whilst checking out flora's, fauna's and avifauna's on Hutton Roof I did manage to come across a excellent example of the rare "Angular Solomon's Seal" tucked away and well out of the way of any traditional search areas.

I have already checked out lots of ASS at established sites, but this year seemed so far to be a poor showing with fewer actual flowers, and the ones that did flower have been rather insipid or watery and translucent looking, so it was a real pleasure to be able to find a superb fine example today.  In fact I did find a couple of really good looking populations within a small selected area of Hutton Roof Common which lies at about 880ft above sea level.  Also these particular populations were partly sheltered in one case by close vegetation, and the ones in the photograph growing down a limestone gryke. 

Another photo of this fine plant
It looks really promising this year for the Broad Leaved Helliborines with some good early showings, and far more numerous that in usual years. After saying that the beautiful Dark Red Helliborines are very slow to show at the moment!

A lovely morning, once again being serenaded by a nearby Garden Warbler, and quite a lot of Redpoll about (up to 7 birds) calling with their "chum chum" calls which I took to be perhaps a couple of post breeding family parties. Also in recent days I've also noticed post breeding flocks of Linnets. 

The Cuckoo was heard calling in "fitz and startz" from a couple of areas over a 400 yard distance.  The local Tree Pipits this year are in really good numbers, with many of them singing and showing off with their fabulous "parachuting" displays, in fact the area may now be overspilling with them!  probably good news for the Cuckoo....

"Nature to the test,
Always at it's best,
I'm full of zest,
Neh bothered bout rest".

I have crossed the paths of many a Reynard this week - 

"I have crossed the path of many a Reynard this week"

Monday, 2 June 2014

Cumbria's rare Holly Fern - Last years Television Star is reborn and in fine fettle!

The Holly Fern (Polystichum lonchitis) of Hutton Roof
A nice surprise awaited me this morning........

After checking out all the other lovely magical things like Lesser Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Tree Pipits, A Cuckoo, distant Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler and lots more.

(It was greet to meet, a reet treet that could'nt be beet!)  in fact not just one but two.  Last year's television star the super rare "Polystichum lonchitis" or perhaps better known as the "Holly Fern" of Hutton Roof has re appeared this year in its majestic splendour with a frenzy of fronds! commanding their rightful place within the depleted nooks and crannies of the turbulent beauty of the slippery limestone floor.

If that wasn't enough, just a forty yard throwing distance lies another beauty showing upright and proud, and this one (Holly Fern No.2) is seen beating off the competition of its intermingled cousin the Hard Shield Fern which struggles with its two fronds compared to Holly's fresh ten frond advantage.

Holly Fern No.2 with intermingled Hard Shield Fern
The check out began with a singing Lesser Whitethroat in Dalton Crags and not far from the Plain Quarry car park, where I also had calling Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers.  Also had a Roebuck giving me the stare out for about 20 seconds before it shot off in haste. Tree Pipits started to come within audible range has I proceeded through the recent Beech woods clearing area, and their calls became more numerous and frequent has I entered the Dalton upper (or deforested area) where several could be heard and seen doing their beautiful parachuting spectacles.  Immediately on entering the upper area it was obvious that "vulpes
Green Spleenwort
vulpes" had been about recently, having left its strong musk aroma. Noticeable in the skies were ten Swifts hawking high at about 100ft. A lonesome Cuckoo was calling and seen and good to hear him again having now regained his full voice. A new Garden Warbler was heard in a large tree almost overlooking the Holly Ferns, the bird provided excellent serenading with its bubbling and relaxing repertoire.  I had a pair of Redpoll, and interestingly I had a party of seven Linnet in upper Dalton Crags.

Black Spleenwort
I also checked out the Green Spleenwort best area and there was plenty going on there to.  Also the Black Spleenwort where doing well also with more spread this year. Excellent showing also of the rare Rigid Buckler Ferns and the Limestone Fern (Limestone Polypody. On show was a nice specimen of the rare Angular Solomon's Seal.

Also checked out the current status of the Helliborines (both Dark Red and Broad Leaved), at least a week or two to go yet.  My first flowering Common Rock Rose (fingers crossed for the Northern Brown Argus).  No sun showing today, just drizzle, because it would have been nice to check out the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries or even better to have been met with the rare "Pearl Bordered".

That soldier man is still about up there and staring at you from his limestone impression

Nearby "Angular Solomon's Seal"

Rigid Buckler Fern - locally plentiful

The face staring at you (click over to enlarge)