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!