Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Lily Of The Valley going over whilst Bedstraws are just starting to come through!

Lily Of The Valley (Convallaria majalis) - (Click over photo to enlarge)

Tuesday 9th June 2015 - Dalton Crags, Hutton Roof at various points 0900hrs to 1200hrs

Yesterday afternoon I went up in Dalton Lower Crags to check out the large area of Lily Of The Valley and it was surprising just how a lot of the plants are already going over, but I did manage to catch some and photograph here.

Today I had really good views of one of the Cuckoos, seen at best only some 20 yards away.  Also noticed from time to time he would swoop down to the floor and then back up to the nearby mid sized tree.  I think he must have been going down for insects!

Lily Of the Valley
My mission today was like most days to check out certain areas up on Hutton Roof, but in the main I had wanted to check out areas for rarer ferns and also for the "Sanicle" plant and anything else.

The Garden Warblers were in fine fettle today, with some great song coming from a bird both down in the lower Crags and another up on the Common, which was not far from the Trig Point.

Two Chiffchaffs were noted and also a Redpoll was heard going over in the Lower Crags, I have no doubt whatsoever they are breeding in the Dalton Crags areas.  The Tree Pipits were very subdued with just the odd bird calling and displaying. Odd Swallows going over whilst hawking for insects. Odd Skylark was heard from somewhere with its "thrupp" contact call.

Its very patchy sunshine at the moment, just occasionally it will come out from behind the cloud, and can at times be again rather cool.  So checking out early fritillaries just did not happen, however I was lucky to see two Dinghy Skipper Butterflies, jostling one another for some 3 or 4 minutes down at the bottom of Dalton deforested.  Over on the common I may have had a female Clouded Yellow without ever knowing for sure!, it was certainly a large "Whitish" butterfly which without doubt was on migration heading NW and I watched it speedily coming across the Heaths and quickly without effort climbing to negotiate the nearby trees in its path and onward it flew with haste!

The Bedstraws are now seen to be coming through with some actually in flowers. I checked specimens of both the Heath and the Limestone Bedstraw, and also went to the pavement which holds the very rare (for these parts) Northern Bedstraw.  The Northern is well on its way but perhaps another two or three weeks from flowering.  It just survives in a small shallow gryke of about 2 metres by 1/2 metre wide, but I can't find it spreading anywhere.  This is the one spot only I have ever found it on Hutton Roof, and obviously makes it now the lowest breeding plants in Cumbria, since the demise of the Gait Barrow specimens. How do I tell whether its a Heath Bedstraw or a Limestone Bedstraw.  Well for me the Limestone is far more straggley, but the only sure way to tell I believe is to see which way the marginal bristles are pointing eg: forward for Heath and backward for Limestone. So you need a glass to check it out to be sure!

Common Rock Rose
Lots of other interesting flora about which included: Common Milkwort (with lots of colour variation, but mainly the beautiful deep blue colour), also the rare Spring Sandwort, Brittle Bladder Ferns (so delicately beautiful at this time of year) and some Polypodies. Harts Fern and the local Rigid Buckler Fern prolific, occasionally found some Limestone Fern (that little beauty!), also some Lesser Meadow Rue, Thyme Leaved Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Bugle, lots and lots of hawkweeds, but I am not the one to be brave enough to call them! also Fairy Flax, Yellow Pimpernel, The garlic smelling Ramsons, Bluebell (remnants), Cowslips (remnants), the Hairy Rockcress now gone over and losing its crown of flowers quickly now! Wild Strawberry are probably at their limits before the flower turns into the Strawberry, and this year without doubt I will collect some, because they are fabulous tasting and there are thousands to go round. There are still several Early Purple Orchids showing. Fairy Foxglove is certainly a feature at present in the Plain Quarry ledges!

Probably the best record for me today was finding a new small colony of Common Rock Rose (a firm favourite with the Northern Brown Argus which we have up here), of which just one plant was in flower (see photo) I found this in a really "off the track" place, so just goes to show you.  I have recorded the gps ready to pass on to CWT and Tullie House.  Also several new areas for "Sanicle", not that its that rare, but it is not that common either and still needs recording.  Once you've weighed it up with this plant you can find similar habitats and its usually thereabouts close to well trodden paths in shady areas.

From reports yesterday 8th June 2015)  "Crossbills are on the move"

Also of interest that Robert Ashworth had some nice records for Hutton Roof yesterday and of particular interest is that he had 3 Crossbills flying over, and also today I have had reports that a party flew over down in East Lancashire and also another report of a party flying over South Wales. So it does look very much like they are on the move!

Also Robert reported: 11 new spikes of Fly Orchid between Lancelot and Burton Fell. Also Brimstone, Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady (Dalton deforested), Small Heaths, Dingy Skipper.  Also two Redpolls singing in Lancelot.

The beautiful Northern Bedstraw is well on its way
(This is the only patch I have ever found on Hutton Roof - so I cherish it!)

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