Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Stroll on the Canal and later Swift Watching

Mute Swans near Canal Wharf at Burton (5 cygnets safe with mummy at the front and daddy following on behind)

Thursday June 11th 2015  "A stroll along the Canal" from Holme to Burton In Kendal  0900hrs to 1100hrs 

Took my car into the garage, and they still look at me gaumless when I refuse a lift back home, instead I wanted to check out the Canal because its several months since I was here pounding the canal paths.

Just before that there was some Asplenium Ceterach (Rusty Back Fern) I wanted to check out on the Holme Parish Church boundary walls and sure enough the two clumps were doing well and recorded on gps for the recorders.

Also the regular spot near Brook Cottage for the singing "Chiffchaff" who this morning was happy calling.  So here we are arrived at the Canal and heading immediately past the old brick limekilns (3) on the opposite side and here also another Chiffchaff was singing (in fact it was one of the "Miss A Note" birds.  These areas for Chiffchaffs are  old territories and I have them booked down from previous years, but good to know there are still doing well here.

Just further on and quite near to some bankside properties I have recorded a Lesser Whitethroat in the past, but certainly nothing doing this morning.  But in fairness can't expect the bird to be singing all the time, so will try and get back and check this out later.  Did have a couple of Blackcaps on the route which the sites have been duly noted (again same old territorial sites been used for years!).

Plenty of Swallows brushing past you this morning whilst hawking and following the line of the Canal only one metre above the water.  Lovely to see a local barn at the side of the Canal with its doors wide open and welcoming the Swallows in and out of their summer residence. Occasionally I would be startled by the sound of a Moorhen (or Waterhen as some would call them). Overhead I could hear noisy Oystercatchers and one one occasion some returning Curlews who had obviously left their upland territories to head back to the coast.

Looking down to the right and seeing the large Mill Lodge belonging to the old Holme Mills, it seemed very popular with Ducks, Geese and Swans.  And just opposite this very point, in the fields with the horses in them, only last year was the site were I was lucky to see Northern Greenland Wheatears calling off in late April. 

The flora today was more or less what you would expect on Canals for this time of the year and ours included: Yellow Flag, Cow Parsley, Buttercups and Dandelions, Nettles, Large Cocks, Hawthorns in bloom, young elderberry, Germander Speedwell (lots), Red Campion (lots), Crosswort (lots), Cleavers, Lesser and Greater Stitchwort, Enchanters Nightshade, Garlic Mustard, Red and White Clovers. One of the prominent species was a large umbellifer which I have not yet identified until I can check out the photos. A very strong plant with a prominent flowerhead.

The Butterflies included: Green Veined Whites, Orange Tips, and a couple of the beautiful Small Tortoiseshell which I am recording in the best numbers this year for almost ten years since their rapid demise! (washed out eggs). 

To finish off I had a pair of Swans with their five cygnets (see photo above) silently cruising past me close to my exit point near the Canal Wharf Cottage Nr. Burton. 

Checking out the Swifts along Main Street, Burton In Kendal. 2100hrs to 2215hrs.

This was the activity of Friday evenings Swift's nest sites.
Although it had been a superb day, it had certainly got much cooler during our survey with again that breezy chill factor, yet it was dry and there seemed to be plenty of Swifts showing up. On the first count whilst at the Memorial Hall we counted at least 12 birds but at the same time you could see more down in the distance above Manor House.

Tonight there were five of us checking the birds, myself and Reg along with David Craig and also it was a very warm welcome to two well known Swift lovers Tanya and Edmund Hoare, who had travelled from Sedbergh to be with us this evening.  It was lovely to be amongst such a "authoritive" party and we got chance to discuss many "Swift" topics, and it certainly enlightened me a lot especially in relation to the immature birds which we seemed to have a lot on show here this evening.

From the Memorial Hall, we gave a brief check to the cottages attached to the Post Office, but nothing whilst we where there, then moving on to the bottom of Cocking Yard, again no birds showing in the short time we allowed, progressing on to one of the main nesting sites "The Royal".  It was grand to show David, Tanya and Edmund the sites the Swifts had already established together with a brief history of what had been happening over the past couple of years.  We spent a few moments also on the front of the Royal and to everyone's amazement we watched a bird go into the left side of the front low level elevation. It was certainly a site we have never seen them use before and looked incredible just how small hole it went into which to us only looked about 2" diameter. A few moments more watching the front of the Royal, whilst I did a quick sketch for our records. Also whilst here we saw a further two or three birds approach the new site or close to it and for a brief second would appear to be heading directly to the site and at the last split second would veer off. We discussed that these could possible be immature birds.

Moving on we stood across the road from the Coach House, where we could observe both the Coach House and also the nearby Manor House. It was not long before we saw a bird enter the gable of the Manor House and using a new site for this year, although it was a site which was used in 2013, however it was not used in 2014 which we put this down to perhaps because of the erected scaffold on site last year.  So this was such a pleasing record for us.

Also whilst stood there a bird was also seen to use a new site on the gable side of the Coach House almost directly above the small round window (David mentioned the small window may be called a "Scaffit" and that they were used years ago to put the hay through into the barn).  We also got excited about the prospect of another possible nest site, but just for now we cannot confirm absolute because other birds species were present in the close vicinity also, so we have put this record on hold until we can survey and hopefully confirm at a later date

It was now getting much darker and so we headed back to the Memorial Hall. At just the point of the Post Office looking North West above the Memorial Hall we counted at least 16 Swifts flying and chasing one another.  It was interesting to discuss this with Tanya and Edmund who mentioned that they thought these birds would almost definately be immature birds gathering for the night and that probably most of the breeding birds would now have settled into their various nest sites.  This large number plus the probabilities of the nesting birds could well bring the total number of Swifts in Burton to over 30 birds (at least for now), lets hope we're right! having had a brilliant night!

Saturday 13th June 2015  Reports of Fly Orchids on Uberash - Hutton Roof Common

Reports kindly sent in by David Pitman confirm that he has found a further 13 spikes of Fly Orchid on the Uberash side of Hutton Roof Common.  It seems a good year with many being reported.

Also several reported from a new site (to me) on Lancelot Clark Storth.