Thursday, 21 May 2015

Holly Ferns and other ferns are on the way!

This years "Holly Ferns" are on their way - here the "crozier" are just opening up

Saturday 30th May 2015 - Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof 1100hrs to 1330hrs. CHECKING AREAS FOR FERNS AND SANICLE ETC.

Tree Pipits singing and giving display at all the regular areas eg: Dalton Crags lower, On entering the deforested, Line of Trees and then finally on entering the Common itself.   The Cuckoo was calling on entry from somewhere down to the SE side of Plain Quarry and then later coming back down and on leaving the deforested area two Cuckoo's were seen just at the bottom on the right hand side. And although one of the Cuckoos called with the normal Cuckoo - the other to my surprise had the most unusual call I have ever heard from a Cuckoo.  In fact I had to listen carefully many times before it actually "sunk in".  The call was a sort of  "Qwa, Qwa, Qwa - Coo" Yes it did the three syllables of a sort of "Qwa" call before it did it second and regular "Coo".  I will keep a close check on this and see if it happens again on future visits.

When I left the Trig point I headed on the North footpath which after 250 yards you start to drop down the Crags at the first escarpment.  Just at this point I found quite a lot of Brittle Bladder Fern coming out of the crevices along the escarpment to maybe a 20 ft linear area.  So beautiful a fern when young. Also I disturbed a Green Hairstreak Butterfly which must have been on the Bilberry, it flew off surprisingly into the nearby hazel copse.

Having climbed down the Crags, I turned immediately right and checked out the bottom of the escarpment and found even more Brittle Bladder Ferns but also found a lovely small colony of Black Spleenwort which has subsequently been noted.

Retracking my steps but instead of going back up the Crags continued on for some one hundred yards, found another species I was particular looking for today and it turned out to be the best colony of "Sanicle" so far this year. (See photo).  Also along this area had my second "Small Heath Butterfly" and also whilst heading back on the Common I had a yellow with brown blotches day flying moth which I believe is called "Speckled Yellow" (Pseudopanthera macularia). 

Thursday 28th May 2015 - Hutton Roof from the Clawthorpe Side 0915hrs to 1100hrs IN SEARCH OF BEECH FERNS AND SANICLE

Because of the strong winds (some 25 mph) and noisy with it I decided today to search out and rediscover some of the Beech Ferns and Sanicle to the East Side of Hutton Roof.  This meant traversing through the woodland areas on that side, rather than being in the open spaces.

It was a good morning and I managed to locate my original Beech Fern site which has now gone on record with a correct gps.  Also I had decided to try and find more place where the Sanicle was growing and I also had more success here. I also found a area with ten Common Twayblades, although still very small in growth as yet. But there large basal leaves gave them away from their well hidden location. Had a nice deep blue coloured group of Common Milkwort.  Also found about three locations of the Broad Buckler Ferns.

I did manage to pick up on two separate Garden Warblers (one new area) which again have been recorded. Also had a group of Redpoll near to the Parking area.  It was lovely listening to them singing with their various contacts but the main calls were "Witty Witty Choo" followed by that long trill.  I also managed to record a new Chiffchaff location. A Skein of 10 Greylag Geese went overhead noisy and heading to the East. (1045hrs) Also had a "Windhover" hovering overhead!

With it being so windy it was difficult to hear the birds, so I missed the Yellowhammers and the Tree Pipits.

Wednesday 27th May 2015 - Plain Quarry to Hutton Roof and return via Lancelot Clark Storth and back into Dalton from Storth Wood.  1000hrs to 1530hrs (KENDAL U3A GUIDED WALK)

It kept dry until about 1430hrs, but then started raining and made it very slippy crossing over the Limestone Pavements, in fact it caught us out at the point of no return, right in the middle of the pavement.  Also throughout it was cloudy and had that westerly cold air flow again just like it has throughout the year so far.  Just occasionally from about 1300hrs you got odd moments of sun trying to break through.

It was great to be leading a party of about approximately 20 persons from the Kendal U3A who wanted to see some of the flora and fauna (and occasional avifauna) of Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof and Lancelot Clark Storth. I got the impression everyone seemed to enjoy their walk.

I have made a list below of the different species we had throughout our walk. No sunshine and so No butterflies!

But of special interest today was a visit to the Green Spleenwort's, the rare Holly Ferns, the Rigid Buckler Ferns, the Angular Solomon's Seal, the Birds Foot Sedge and the natural sculptures of Rob Roy and the Resting Swans.

We noticed a couple of the Broad Leaved Helliborines had started to show and were between 2" and 5" high.  Also Sanicle had started coming through and still in its early stages with the pinkish flowers long before they change to a white flowerhead.  The Angular Solomon's Seal seems to be doing well this year with the majority not showing flowers yet! however we did manage to see some already in flower whilst on Lancelot Clark Storth, and just goes to show the differences of the flowering period with this species. Without doubt this year so far has offered exceptionally high yields of Dog Violets and Early Purple Orchids.

Avifauna: (seen or heard today) 16 species.

Willow Warblers (lots probably a score), Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Robin, Tree Pipit (2 or 3) Buzzard, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Cuckoo (heard), Dunnock, Blackcap, Skylark. Meadow Pipit, Swallow. Sparrowhawk

Flora species: (seen today) 50 species.

Hairy Rockcress, Thyme Leaved Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Primrose, Cowslip, Dog Violet, Wild Strawberry, Tormentil, Dandelion, Daisy, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Woodruff, Sanicle, Broad Leaved Helliborine. Lily Of The Valley, Angular Solomon's Seal, Brooklime, Birds Foot Trefoil, Early Purple Orchids, Wood Sorrell, Zig Zag Clover, Bugle, Lords and Ladies (or Cuckoo Pint), Ramsons, Bluebell, Fairy Foxglove (Plain Quarry), Biting Stonecrop, Spring Sandwort, Hawkweeds (various), Wall Lettuce, Sow Thistle, Common Cowwheat, Ground Ivy, Yellow Pimpernel. Enchanters Nightshade, Dogs Mercury, Pale St. Johns Wort (early stages), Epipactis Schmalhauseneii (last years stalk), Common Milkwort, possible Heath Milkwort, Herb Robert,  Red Clover, Gorse, Hawthorn. Hazel, Lady's Mantle, Garlic Mustard (Plain Quarry) Cuckoo Flower, Travellors Joy, Lesser Meadow Rue, Lesser Stitchwort,                                                                                                                                                                    
Flora (fern) species: (seen today) 11 species.

Holly Fern, Green Spleenwort, Brittle Bladder Fern, Hard Fern, Rigid Buckler Fern, Limestone Fern, Harts Tongue Fern, Southern Polypody, Common Polypody, Bracken. Rusty Back Fern.

Saturday 23rd May 2015 - Plain Quarry to Dalton Crags  1400hrs to 1500hrs

Cuckoo calling from at first the Crag House side and East to Plain Quarry, then eventually moved over into Dalton Crags and possibly the top of Lancelot.

First showing of "Small Heath" Butterfly on lower Dalton Crags, seem to be enjoying the Wild Strawberry and grasses thereabout.  Also over the last few days noticed the odd Green Veined White flying.

Found a new "Hairy Rockcress" flower on Dalton Crags upper (deforested).  I have recorded the area by gps, although I do have a small population of them already recorded at about 150 yards away from where this specimen is.

Just informed by my friend Alec, that a Osprey has gone over Dalton Hamlet at 1700hrs today.

Friday 22nd May 2015 - Hutton Roof from Clawthorpe Side overlooking Kelker Well 0930hrs to 1130hrs.

Everywhere is a garden
Shrouded in low mist with visibility down to about 50 yards at best, but it did not worry me for today I had set my sights on searching out any possible new "Woodruff" sites on the Kelker side of Hutton Roof, expecting if there were any it should be located easy enough by searching out the woodland floors.  Also I would have the added bonus of recording any new Warblers singing whilst traversing this route. I always reckon that if I can record at least one new thing per day, then I am doing well and happy.  Well today was again a very special day recording several more new finds.
Early Purple orchids have done marvellous this year and could be seen regular especially on the approaches before the canopied woodland. Also good showings of Wood Anemone, Cowslips, Dog Violets and has you entered the woodland you started to find lots of Wood Sorrell.

Soon after starting off I could hear that special call which stands out so much with that buzzing finish towards the end, yes it was "A little bit of bread" but without the "no cheese".  A new site for the Yellowhammer, great to see it here and presume its one of the offspring from last year finding itself a suitable territory.  A couple of pairs of Linnets were knocking about and calling regular.  Throughout the walk I must have said good morning to at least a dozen "Willows", one of my favourite little Warblers and thinking whilst walking of what a beautiful name "Willow" it's a name I have always loved since I first heard it whilst watching the Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland cult classic "The Wickerman".

Mossy, Intricate, Eerie, Nature
Looking at the moss covered intricate forms just held you spellbound especially on a misty day like today when it added to the experience and made things look and feel eerie, I just had to stop and try and take in this splendour of nature of this very situation were coppicing had taken place years ago and everything around had become entangled by a mossy covering. So many times I have passed this same place, usually walking past with haste without really taking it in.  I know something I will never take it for granted again! I have put a photo on this blog, and now I have also put another 22 photos of the moss covered woods  on which you can access by clicking here

I started to see these beautiful ferns, some of the small ones were actually clinging to the trunk of a small tree, but most of the others were widespread on the woodland floor. I think they are called Beech Fern, but not too sure about it and must consult with my friend Alec, the man who will definately know. I remember Alec telling me a while back that the Oak Fern and the Beech Fern had lots of similarity.  I think the decision maker for me had to be the shape of the bottom two pinnule which seem to go back down on themselves similar sort of thing you see with Polypodys. - Now confirmed they are Beech Ferns

Further on and coming out into the open I could hear repetitive calls from a Redstart which obviously was somewhere in the woodland edges to the bottom side of Hutton Roof.  This was another new record for today.

 "Beech Fern" please click over to enlarge

Thursday 21st May 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  0900hrs to 1130hrs

I suppose it started whilst on my way to Plain Quarry, when I abruptly stopped the car in the lane to allow Mr. Hare to pass across the lane, he hesitated at first, but I had already guessed where he really wanted to go! and although at first he started to do a detour to get out of my way, but when he noticed I had stopped he quickly re cordinated and went across the lane just in front of me to the place where he really wanted to be the nice open fields.

Then after just going through the small Dalton Hamlet, a pair of brightly coloured bullfinches lifted in front of the car, the male trailing and showing off his well colourful plumage, they went off in the direction of "Dicken Lane".

So starting off today from Plain Quarry I guess it was all about doing a part rekkie, in readiness for a guided walk I am leading next week. Its not so much that I need to learn about the area, because its somewhere I go most days of the year and know it well (although let me add I am always learning more and more has each day passes), but more because of the varied flora depending on what time of the year you visit, the programme requires regular "tweaking" to get the times right in "species/time of the year cordinations".  Some people like to see and spend more time visiting lots of "Ferns" others like to see lots of varied "Flowers", a lot like to see and hear the "Birds", odd parties love to see the fantastic limestone pavements we have up here, but the majority of people usually want a mixed bag with a bit of allsorts! and they are the parties I like best, the ones that want a bit of allsorts....

So starting off from the car park at Plain Quarry it was interesting to see the quarry ledges already opening up in colour with colonies of the lovely "Fairy Foxglove" staring down on you, whilst at the same time being serenaded by a closeby choir of Warblers comprising of two Garden Warblers, a Blackcap and a Willow Warbler, and finally a Chiffchaff, all singing their little hearts out as though they had been delayed with their timely "Dawn Chorus".  When its like this you feel reluctant to move on, you could just stay there and take it all in or even better just shut your eyes and absorb the wonderful sounds of nature!

"Young Hard Fern Fronds"
Less than 50 yards further on and just by the base of the cutting in the limestone escarpment, I checked out the early growths of Brittle Bladder Fern and the Hard Fern, of which the latter did look strange in its "infancy" with baby fronds upright and full of teeth before reaching the crozier.

Past the open area where usually the Song Thrush is singing and were "Self Heal" will before long carpet the floors and odd tufts of the extreme resilient Slender Rush will appear central to the track. Up through the lower Crags and near to the best spot around for Lily of the Valley (not yet!) and where the sides of the tracks are lined with Wild Strawberry and sometimes Barren Strawberry. Not today but on most days here you would see and hear the tumbling, parachuting display and calls of the rare Tree Pipit.

Soon at the top of the lower Crags, you come to a lovely little spot where you can look straight across over to Morecambe Bay with the sunshine shimmering the waters in the far off estuary.  Closeby to here (within yards) is a nice little patch of the rare "Hutton Roof" speciality called "Angular Solomon's Seal" and on the opposite side there is plenty of the other rare speciality the "Rigid Buckler Fern".  Also if you look close enough you will see the fresh lovely "Limestone Fern" as it looks up at you from within its chosen grykes!

So leaving the low crags and now entering the Dalton Crags (deforested) or upper section, straight away I could hear the Cuckoo calling to my right hand side and as though it was somewhere down to the East side of the Plain Quarry, I was to hear him again on my return but this time he had moved across the central deforested area of Dalton Crags and again singing closeby.  I never heard any Green Woodpeckers "yaffling" which I more or less hear on a daily basis, can only think they will be busy somewhere raiding one of the many "ant" mounds which lie within Dalton Crags. Still lots of Cowslips about with Early Purple Orchids showing up, the Tormentil is becoming more plentiful by the day just like the Birds Foot Trefoil.

"Rob Roy"
click over photo to enlarge
(see below for enhanced version)
"By the line of Trees" I make some notes about "I must not to forget to mention to the party" about the rare "White Wild Tyme" which shows up annually at a little spot "just over there". And also close to hear you get the lovely "Lesser Whitethroat" nesting.  Today he is quiet, but as a rule when he starts singing you just can't shut him up. In his place this morning, we have "Sky" the lark way up in the sky from over on the Crag House side.

Reaching the Trig Point and searching out the rare Spring Sandwort, more Early Purple Orchids, the Black Spleenwort (Fern), Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrell, and thinking that next month we will have the rare Heath Fragrant Orchid and the Northern Bedstraw on these doorsteps.

Still this morning I pressed on and checked out the "Green Spleenworts" the rare "Holly Ferns" and "Rob Roy".  Oh I guess I need to explain just who "Rob Roy" is, well he is a soldiers face born in the limestone of Hutton Roof and you would struggle to see the face if you did not know where he was until I pour water over him and let it run down and then you see (or I hope you do!) the rugged soldiers face staring up at you..

Wow! this Song Thrush here just was worth stopping to listen to, I tried to write it down what he was saying, but he was going so fast it was impossible to keep up with him.  Good job I learnt Pitman's Shorthand all them years ago! but no in reality, it would not have helped in the slightest, but I did manage to get some of what he was saying!  I could have stayed listening to him for hours what a repertoire he has, absolutely mind boggling and brilliante!


"twisiwick", "twisiwick", "twisiwick",
"woowit", "woowit", "woowit", "woowit",
"cherrurrub" "cherrrurrub" "cherrurub",
"Weeoh", "weeoh", "weeoh",
"tuwhit", "tuwhit", "tuwhit","tuwhit"
then lots of jingle jangles etc etc etc.
"Wi-wi-wi-wi-wi" "Wi-wi-wi-wi-wi",
"Cherpuhugh", Cherpuhugh", Cherpuhugh",
"Whit", "Whit", "Whit", "Whit".
"Layla", "layla", "layla"
"Choo" "Choo", "Choo".
"Whit", "Weeit", "Weeit"
Then a pure Wolf Whistle done once!
"Wi", "Wi", "Wi", "Wi", etc
"hello", "hello", "hello", "hello".
"Wihoo", "Wihoo", "Wihoo, "Wihoo".

It likes to sing in regular three or four syllabel notes before he gets fed up and moves on, he is without doubt for me the MASTER!  Well done TURDUS I will come again and have a proper listen next time!  without (me) rushing!

I guess I could go on for ages, theres far more to tell than this (even todays activities), but we will save that for another day.

Rob Roy (as above but enhanced!)

Other stuff seen or to mention: Tree Pipits throughout (Dalton deforested)  and just as you come on the Common at least 6 birds singing. To mention: Zig Zag Clover, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrell, Herb Robert, Garden Warbler on top of Common. Linnets singing near Trig. Sanicle, Broad Leaved Helliborine, Dark Red Helliborine, Variants of same. The dreaded Dogs Mercury, the lovely Woodruff and its petals tasting of "Vanilla". Fly Orchids, Pale St Johns Wort (our variation) Epipactis Schmalhauseneii etc etc etc etc......... GOSH!!  it goes on and on and on - and that's just the start of it!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Our Cuckoos are back

(Please click over photo to enlarge)

Wednesday May 20th 2015 - Dalton Crags (Lower) Nr. Plain Quarry sides 1030 to 1230hrs.

Just parked up in Plain Quarry and putting on my wellington boots, I could hear this faint jingle jangle which to be honest with you didnt really absorb my attention, but then "I woke up" and instead of it sounding like some of the regular Goldfinch, I also heard "the spinning coin" oh! I wondered could it be?  the "Wood Warbler".  At this point I am praying for just another sweet jingling call, but nothing! nothing! nothing! sods law I suppose, I waited and waited for over ten minutes in the same place without a trace of a call, so through this I changed my plans and instead of going up on the Fells, I thought I'll check out the low areas around Plain Quarry, to both its West and East sides, hoping I might just pick up on that rare sound again, but sadly not!  Its strange because this has happened here before last year and the year before, I am sure I have just caught the sound of the Wood Warbler, but never been able to get it conclusive!  Even if it had been it would obviously have been a bird just stopping off, so it still remains a mystery! Another one for the maybe book!  

Still lots of warblers about with Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Two Swifts were seen hawking above the canopy.  Also a Blackbird opened up singing with a "Curlew" mimic, I've heard this often enough coming from a Song Thrush, but can honestly say its the first time I have heard it coming from a Blackbird! Also had the odd Bullfinch making its sad "pee-u" plaintive call.

Even the swaying mature trees today were having their say and making strange noises in the wind! at times were scary with their creaking sudden noises!

I found a nice section of about 12ft diameter of Yellow Pimpernel (see photo to right), amongst lots of Wild Strawberries and bluebells. Also lots of "Fairy Foxglove" coming through on the cliff edges of the old limestone quarry. (see photo top left)

Early Purple Orchids

Tuesday May 19th 2015 - Burton Fell approached from Clawthorpe Side 1400hrs to 1630hrs

It was off and on showers, so kitted up and off, first of all checking how the old "Woodruff" was doing. The lovely white flowers are just starting to pop through, so another couple of weeks and it should be looking fine.  Usually can't resist to chew on one of the small outright "winged" leaves, they have a taste of "vanilla".  I believe its a herb, but if you have too much of it could even be dangerous.  The plant is a indicator of "ancient woodland" and grows in about four places up on Hutton Roof.

"White Specimen of EPO"
Still no Redstarts in song at Burton Fell which is a surprise, but sometimes they can be late I guess! but did have a new Chiffchaff having taken up a new territory.  I think it will be a young bird probably a offspring from last year.

The main reason I headed up to Burton Fell today was to check out the Early Purple Orchids right at the top of the Fell and sure enough I must have seen hundreds, in fact probably more like a thousand or so.  Some of them with the most beautiful of "magenta" colours whilst lots of them were all different shades, even found two white specimens and some specimens half magenta and half white in colour. I dont think I can recall seeing so many up there, most of them were in small groups. It wont be long before I am up here searching out the Dark Red Helliborines or the Broad Leaved Helliborines.

50/50 specimen EPO

I would have gone further across the Fell and checked out the Green Hairstreak butterflies which will be enjoying the small patches of "bilberry", but the weather is not right at the moment. The off and on showers and dark skies are holding them up! always another day.

I also looked for early Fly Orchids in a spot I know, but could not find them!  there again with the fly orchid that's not unusual, they are so difficult to see at the best of times and you can be going straight past them!

Saturday May 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Lancelot Clark Storth 0900hrs to 1200hrs

Today I started off from midway along the avenue of the "Nineteen Trees" just after the delightful hamlet of Dalton. I had been tipped off by a friend Robert about a "White" Early Purple Orchid over in Lancelot Clark Storth and for a change decided to take this "direct as the crow flies route", a route I have taken many times before.  Immediately on going through the Forestry Gates, the track was lined with several large piles of recent harvested "beech" wood which looked so forlorn and waiting for the truck to come and collect them to take them off to make firewood or mulch, and maybe some of them will be lucky and turned into charcoal.

I passed the "long gone" summer house area on the left and expected to hear "Summer" the Chiffchaff, but not today.  But it was so pleasant to be serenaded by a line of Blackcaps, I have previously recorded the odd bird at this spot but it continued over about 200 yards with a further two birds singing away, and I wondered whether or not these were offspring males from the established pair or whether it was simply I had just missed them before when I was doing my counts!
A White "Early Purple Orchid"
(Photo: Robert Ashworth)

I left the main track by the "Goldcrest" trees and headed into thick woodland and just by chance I looked up into the canopy and saw a startled Buzzard negotiating a exit strategy which seemed to take it through the upper tight branches of the trees.  It was silent and carried out with much skill and stealth, it ran through my mind that if that had been a Woodpigeon, there would have been such a racket of fluttering flapping wings and broken branches.

I passed another area which the floor was covered with Wood Sorrell, perhaps a area of some 30 yards in diameter, and lots of fresh Harts Fern shoots coming through.

Soon reaching Lancelot, I was finding Early Purple orchids everywhere, in fact scores with some of them so striking in their individual pattern and some with such a beautiful "magenta".  I had been given a clue to where the special "White" one was, but I searched and searched and searched and spent maybe over one hour but could not find it anywhere,  I was seeing nearby recent deer droppings and used the excuse well maybe the deer have chomped on the precious flower, who knows! Thankfully I had kindly been sent a photo by Robert (photo shown here).

Legs worn out with all the tramping It was lovely just to sit on the nearby Memorial Seat and take in what on was on offer to the eye, with the distant Morecambe Bay, working out just where Pine Lakes or Dockacres were, and to sit there absorbing the many shades of greens which lie directly to the front and sides of where I was sat.

I could not resist but clamber over to the nearby pavements to see how the rare Pale St. Johns Wort was doing! and sure enough new sprouting lilac tainted green leaves had just started to show!

On the way back its was grand to hear both "Miss A Note" and "Speedy" the resident Chiffchaffs were busy singing away in their "unique" repertoire and at the very spots which they take up their annual summer residence - well done lads.  Also odd Blackcap and another special welcome to the resident Garden Warbler.

Friday May 15th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1100hrs

Still that underlying cool air flow, but still sunny and pleasant.  All the regular Warblers were calling from around the Plain Quarry car park with Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers along with most of the commoner species.

Three Cornered Garlic
Tree Pipits all singing and occasional display but still rather subdued compared to previous years. A new Garden Warbler singing from somewhere around where the "Line of Trees" is in Dalton deforested, cant tell yet whether this one is a new one in or whether its the one from yesterday, moved down a bit! time will tell.  Lesser Whitethroat was seen just higher up than the Gully, but no song offered today.  At last the Cuckoo was heard from over in Lancelot Clark Storth and I am told from a good source that the birds (yes birds!) did eventually come back over into Dalton Crags (upper).

Friday May 15th 2015 - Walk alongside the River Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale 1500 - 17000hrs

Nice pleasant walk with lots of Ramsons everywhere, but not smelling of garlic so much at the moment, but come back in a week or two and the garlic aroma will then be so strong as to take over everywhere.  Also of special interest I found the Three Cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) and checking it out yesterday evening with the County Recorder he tells me it is only the third ever record for the County and a first for old "Westmorland" So just how that got there remains a complete mystery!  I have taken a photo with my phone and attached here (click over to enlarge).

Thursday May 14th 2015 - Clawthorpe Lane side of Hutton Roof and Clawthorpe Fell (Low) 1500 to 1700hrs

Birds Foot Sedge
Carex Ornithopoda
First of all went and checked out the Clawthorpe Lane side of Hutton Roof, but again windy and difficult at times to hear anything, but did manage to hear Linnets, a very subdued Tree Pipit and a bubbling Garden Warbler which was very nice.  Lots of Early Purple Orchids, some with a very deep Magenta.

Then came down and checked out Clawthorpe Fell (low) and noticed that the rare Spring Cinquefoil was having its best year yet with many more flowers than usual, although much spaced out.

Also the "Red Data" rarity the Birds Foot Sedge was coming through in plenty and I remember counting them on the Fell a couple of years ago and managed to count around 820 plants on various parts of the Fell. Check out the photo above and click over to enlarge.  You can see why its called the Birds Foot Sedge, just look at them "talons".... I have now been fortunate to locate six sites on Hutton Roof for this species some with just 2 or 3 but some sites with over 600 clumps.  So here it seems to be doing well.  There is also a site in Derbyshire where it thrives.

Also Spring Sandwort, Barren Strawberry, Herb Robert, Fairy Flax  and the first of the year for me Thyme Leaved Speedwell.

Early Purple Orchid

Wednesday May 13th 2015 - Slape Lane, into Burton Fell (lower), then into Lancelot Clark Storth (near to Pickles Wood) and back across through fields.  1400hrs to 1700hrs.  "Mr. Nasty" the squirrel is up to his old tricks and stealing all the birds eggs!

"The sun was cracking the slates" That meant, boots on and out!  No way was I stopping in, "By Golly" lets get out and about.  So a long walk starting from Slape Lane (Slape = Slippery in Cumbria) but walking so casual as to be almost "stopped" looking here, and looking there and looking everywhere!  Just thought I would check out the Warblers, in particular to try and see the Redstart down by the Plinth at the Bottom of Burton Fell. Listed all the birds and flowers which I was fortunate to see today:

THE FLOWERS WERE (30):  Red Campion, Stitchwort, Garlic Mustard, Lords and Ladies, Lesser Celandine, Bluebells, Purple Vetch, Dandelion, Daisy, Cuckoo Flower, Germander Speedwell, Ramsons, Hawthorn in bloom, Stinging Nettle, Cleavers, Wild Strawberry, Barren Strawberry, Dogs Mercury, Bugle, Wood Anemone, Wood Avens, Dog Violet, Early Purple Orchids, Woodruff, Herb Paris, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, the rare Spring Sandwort, the rare Spring Cinquefoil, Birds Foot Trefoil, Lily of the Valley (not in flower yet), new growths of Harts Tongue Fern - thats almost 30 different species.  I suppose it would have been more if I had my "small magnifying glasses".

THE BUTTERFLIES (4): Orange Tips - 3 males, Peacocks (several), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Brimstone. It was great in particular to see the Torts, they still have not made their recovery from their massive crash which was almost ten years ago now.  The numbers have increased slightly but nothing like the amounts we used to get!

BIRDS (9): Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Great Tit, Nuthatch (two), Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Willow Warblers (several)  One of the Chiffchaffs was SPEEDY which I named about three years ago, because he calls "Chiff Chaff" in a speedy gonzales fashion, so fast without coming up for air.  He's back exactly in the same place within Lancelot Clark Storth.

Also whilst in Lancelot Clark Storth, I noticed that Mr Nasty the Grey Squirrel had been on his rounds and even a year on he was up to his old tricks, taking birds eggs at least up to 10 Song Thrush and half a dozen Blackbird eggs and depositing the spent shells or half shells in the tyre track depletions made by forestry vehicles, it was in exactly the same place as last year, he's also done another track with spent Pheasant and Blackbirds eggs.  He must now be responsible for taken dozens of wild bird eggs.  But why does he keep placing the spent shells in the tracks and the same places, really strange!

Wednesday May 13th 2015 - 0900hrs - 1100hrs "Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof"

Although a beautiful sunny day, there is STILL that underlying "chill" and I think this is what's holding things back - the tree pipits are very subdued although they are calling and displaying but very spasmodic and you don't have that continual activity which we have become used to.  Also the Cuckoos could not be heard anywhere. Some of the flora and butterflies are also slightly behind, but there is still plenty to hear and see.
It looks like the Garden Warblers are back in full force now and could be heard singing at about 3/4 way up the top of Dalton Crags deforested, and lots as you come down to the lower Crags.  I have always noticed that when the Garden Warblers come in force the "Blackcaps" seem to go more subdued and fade more into the background, strange but that's how I have found it.
I had two Northern Greenland Wheatear called off on "Wheatear Plain" in Dalton  Crags, I was saying to myself "now come on Wheatears get a move on your very late for your mega migration, which could well be to Iceland or Greenland or the Faroe Isles."
Lovely this morning to be so close to the Lesser Whitethroats and could get really close observations and to me they always look so pure! with a strong white belly and that sort of bluish grey around the head.  Singing away with that repetitive quickening jumbled chatter and sudden stop!  I think both territories have been taken up again this year.
St. Mark's Fly-both sexes here in photo
Two separate Swallows cross over to the North on passage whilst I was there.Other birds seen and heard included Bullfinch, Blackcap, Buzzard, Redpoll, 2 Jays. Skylark.
Flora is coming through now with lots of Early Purple Orchids (see photo), also Wood Sorrell, Bugle and Wild Strawberry, Cowslips and Primrose, I had my first Tormentils and first Hawkweeks this morning and also the Ferns are also starting to come through especially Hutton Roof's speciality the Rigid Butler Fern.
There were absolute swarms of the St Mark's Fly everywhere throughout upper Dalton, definately imminent hatches were taking place.  I always call this the poor man's "May Fly".  It always reminds me of the Mayfly especially with its legs dangling. (check out photo)

Monday May 11th 2015 - 0930hrs to 1100hrs "Newclose and Majors Nursery, Dalton Hall Est  "Redstarts"

Checking out Warblers from the other side of Dalton.  Usually have several Redstarts, but today was windy and putting a lot off from singing, although I did have one belting it out about 100 yards west of the Water Board Meter Station, from the ancient trees lining the middle of the field.  Also over this side had the odd Blackcap and at least 3 Chiffchaffs, lots of Willow Warblers, a Redpoll, Buzzard and Song Thrush.  Did not hear one Tree Pipit and would expect at least 5 or 6 over this side.  They will start singing soon.

A bonus on the way back in I stopped at the bottom of "Dicken Lane" just has it joins Dalton Lane, and straight away across the other side of the road a Redstart was singing away. Another new site for the records.

Sunday May 10th 2015 - 0900hrs to 1100hrs "Checking out Dalton Crags Nr. Plain Quarry"

Checking out the Warblers around the Plain Quarry areas to both the West side and East Side.

Lots of Willow Warblers in all the usual places. I had at least four calling Blackcaps, three Garden Warblers, Three Chiffchaffs (which included Henry from Quarry Wood).  Also had three Song Thrush singing odd Nuthatch and odd Treecreeper.

Never noted any Redstarts today, but will certainly get them on Quarry Wood Side of Dalton. Also the Tree Pipits wernt singing today.  Could only see four Swifts hawking over the Village.

Saturday May 9th 2015 - 0430hrs to 0600hrs "Dawn Chorus walk at Park Wood, Hutton Roof.  "Redstarts and a further Cuckoo"

Unfortunately the weather was not so good with almost continual light rain, but we continued and it was really enjoyable with the birds exploding into a very loud and full "Dawn Chorus" which lasted for some 45 minutes.  The predominent species to the chorus was the regulars we have come to expect like Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin and Wren, but as we went further into our walk we then started to hear Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.  At the far end of the walk we were extremely lucky to hear two male Redstarts singing away with their quick buzzing type call.  On our way back we were graced with a Garden Warbler quietly bubbling in the distance.  So in total we had 14 species as follows: Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap (up to 5), Garden Warbler, Common Redstart (2).

Further "Cuckoo" has been reported from up near the Rakes on Hutton Roof (one of its regular haunts).  It is believed the bird came in on the 7th May 2015.

Friday May 8th 2015 - 0900hrs to 1030hrs Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof "Lesser Whitethroats are back"

Noted singing Chiffchaff and lots of Willow Warblers. Also heard Cuckoo which was in fine voice coming from over in the Crag House areas to the South East side of Dalton Crags.  It was calling with a plaintive "Cuckoo" which for the past two years on arrival it has been calling with a Cuck (cough) and its took a couple of weeks before it usually got his voice back.  But today it was calling without problem.
It was brilliant to see two Lesser Whitethroats which were busy singing away near to the Gully area of Dalton Crags deforested.  Thats one pair in and one pair still to come.
Lots of Tree Pipits calling and displaying especially just as you enter the Common.

Thursday May 7th 2015 - 0730hrs:  "Cuckoo's are back"
Just reliably informed that two of our Cuckoos are back on territory on Dalton Crags.

from last night (2000hrs)
Also from a brief walk along the Main Street in Burton In Kendal yesterday evening there was at least ten Swifts back and hawking the skies above the village.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Charlie's Memorial Walk "Trowbarrow, Haweswater and Gait Barrow"

Tuesday 4th May 2015 - Leighton Moss to Gait Barrows via the Trough, Trowbarrow, Haweswater and return. 1045hrs to 1600hrs

Photo: Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Charles Payne)

Today was a very special memorial walk with fifteen of us treading the steps were our dear old friend Charlie had walked many times with his wife Chris. We started from the Leighton Moss and straight away were priviliged to see a male Marsh Harrier quartering the reedbeds. It was not long before we were heading up the trough but just as we started our ascent, it was great to see four returning Swifts hawking the skies above us, the first of the year and keeping to their regular schedule arrival date of May 4th.  On the way up we were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the Chiffchaffs and distant interrupted bubbling coming from some Blackcaps.
In Trowbarrow itself it was a lovely sight with not only climbers attempting "Alladins Sane" and "Hunky Dory" but also the quick glimpse of a Shelduck quickly flying off to get away from the Bank Holiday mayhem!  We left the quarry heading down the incline towards the old Trowbarrow Lime Works stopping midway at the area where Charlie had managed to find the rare White Letter Hairstreak several years earlier, I showed the party his photo of that very butterfly which he had taken at the time and also another photo he had taken of its cousin the Green Hairstreak (see photo), a photo which has always been a special favourite to several of us on the walk today.
After crossing the railway line at the bottom we were soon on Moss Lane making our way to Haweswater, it was nice to see all the Field Garlic or Wild Onion bordering the road, I remember in years past failing miserably to try and count just how many of the rare species there was and gave up after reaching a staggering amount of 3000 plus.
Another very special place and pertinent to todays walk was Haweswater which borders the Gait Barrows Nature Reserve.  I pointed out to the group that soon there would be the rare Birds Eye Primrose and Butterwort and nearby Marsh Fragrant Orchids to add to the splendour. Today we were too early for these, but certainly not too late!
Onward and Upward it was shouted by one of the party! we arrived at the gateway to Gait Barrows, passing on our right a recently deforested area which had a floor carpeted with Primrose and the beautiful Wood Anemone shining through them like little "white stars".  Through the gate and ascending the beautiful limestone rocky crags to find the area across from the Gait Barrows beacon and a suitable place to sit down for lunch.
All fed and watered we carried on the perimeters of Gait Barrows, and it wasnt long before we all stopped in our tracks to witness the most amazing spectacle of a fabulous fresh in its prime Green Hairstreak butterfly "showing off" its splender to us all whilst it surveyed and fed on a sun dazzling yellow dandelion within a metre of where we were stood.  You dont normally get a special viewing like this, normally they are too flitty to get good views, but it was quite obvious to some of us that this was a very special butterfly indeed, and it was as if it wanted to show us it was there!
As we continued our walk we were fortunate to see Brimstones, Orange Tips (males and females!), and lots and lots of Peacocks, of which some were high in the sky, some jostling in courtship and some just lying on the ground being much laid back with outspread wings taking in the warm sun.   We were all looking out for the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary amongst the many primrose settings, but he or his enterage did not seem to be in attendance today.
Also today we saw lots of colour in various forms of flowers about, like Bugle, Ramsons, Lords and Ladies, Dog Violets, and the beautiful Early Purple Orchids to name a few.
We left Gait Barrows with such a special memory and made our way back to the start.  What a lovely set of people had come along today for this beautiful memorial walk.

"The sun shone, to do its best,
For such a special day.
A Warbler sang above our heads,
And didnt want to go away.
A butterfly of green, from heaven,
Stopped us in our very path,
It was a sign to tell us all,
That everything is fine"