Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Marsh Lousewort - Northern Brown Argus - Spotted Flycatcher

Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) Park Wood, Hutton Roof - Click over photo to enlarge)

Tuesday 30th June 2015 - Park Wood and Hutton Roof (East Side) 0900hrs to 1530hrs with Steve Garland.

Its been sometime now since I checked out the lovely water flush areas which line the East side perimeters of the Park Wood woodland over at Hutton Roof.

I was shown the beautiful Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) which was growing in the damp areas at the side of the stream which comes out below the woodland and crosses the fields heading East. I would have thought that there were several metres of the plant.  This is the first time I have seen this species within the local area.

Also of interest and in close quarters was Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) starting to come through with lovely purple/green appearance now and again standing out within the spongy boggy vegetation. I guess they will look lovely once the flower starts to come through later this month.

Yellow Sedge (Click over to enlarge)
Not a scholar of the Sedges, but you could not help but notice the lovely array of Yellow Sedge (Carex viridula) joining company with the other already mentioned.  I suppose I could have kicked myself, after checking my notes, I have come away without even getting the gps for this area, nem mind! will sketch it out for the notes and hopefully add a gps on another visit soon.

Coming back along the meadows with the occasional "water flush" areas we were lucky enough to see a Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly along with Common Blues (both males and females), a Small Heath and the first Meadow Brown Butterfly hatch, a Small Tortoiseshell, and a Large Skipper Butterfly. With the sudden rise in temperature and drop in wind (in fact also very humid conditions) it was soon becoming apparent it was going to be one of those "rare" butterfly days. Earlier at the small stream area I recorded Dinghy Skipper Butterfly, and a early migrant indicator with the Silver Y Moth.

Also here were treated to the beautiful close up calls of two territorial Blackcaps singing their little hearts out! whilst up in the skies a Kestrel seemed to be attacking the local Buzzard.

I suppose when you looked at the areas you would have half expected to see maybe the odd Marsh Orchid in the flushes, but no! the only dash of colours came from Ragged Robin (very scattered) and plenty of clover.

Strange things or coincidences or whatever one wishes to call them is just what happened next. I was talking about the Redstarts of the area with Steve when I just happened to switch conversation, by mentioning to him that I love these sorts of ancient woodland perimeters because I am always on the look out for the rare Spotted Flycatcher.  And just has I was in the middle of that very word "Flycatcher", than what should appear only maybe 100 yards away, yes the Spotted Flycatcher. Just to try and equate the rarity of this declining species, It will be only the fourth unique record I have of it in the Hutton Roof confines in the last five years (or in this case on the edge of).

I mentioned to Steve, although this is the case with this particular species, if I go in search of passing migrants during the third week in August I have on three years in succession recorded anywhere up to 12 individual birds (Spotted Flycatchers) which are obviously from at least 3 separate family groups calling off to rest and feed up on the same latitude/longitude line both in Dalton Crags and also again across in Lancelet Clark Storth. Whilst mentioning this it is also worth pointing out that our local breeders will have already left their territories some three weeks before this, which gives suspect to these mid August birds being from populations a lot further North.

Click over to enlarge
Has we started climbing the Park Woods, I made notes and gps of the many Yellow Pimpernel populations, but quickly gave up on this realizing it was just everywhere.  I did find another small area which had a population of what I first thought was Ribbed Mellilot, and on checking the references, the flower and head of the plants fits perfect, yet the leaves are not right, I need to check this out further.  Also managed to record another area with "Sweet Woodruff" a good population of maybe some 20 square metres, yet nothing actually flowering yet! that's really strange because everywhere else the local populations have been in flower for over three weeks now.   Common Spotted Orchids were becoming more frequent the further we headed up the Wood.  Also pleased to be able record at least three separate areas of the large Common Figwort.  Maybe not that rare but neither is it common. Also pleasant on the eye had to be spaced out Wood Avens. Only bird activity at these point was another Blackcap, Willow Warblers in full song and some in just contact hou-whit calls, but also closeby a party of Long Tailed Tits giving it the si-si-si. calls. We later also had a few Redpolls calling now and again.

Near the top of Park Wood it was great to be able to record at least two of the Field Maple Trees, and also very rewarding to see a fresh small Field Maple having attached and growing within the top of a rotting wood pile.

Still in the Park Wood confines it was decided we check out a area of the Common Rock Rose, quite a large area though heavily fragmented and a open area surrounded by mature trees.  And wow what a place to sit and have lunch!  before long we were seeing Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Common Blue Butterflies, but then the jewel in the crown the small Northern Brown Argus, which was constantly parading along Rock Rose, in fact just at this point we were to witness numbers up into the teens to twenty mark.  Furthermore here I recorded some small patches of Bloody Cranesbill which were a lovely contrast in colour to its surroundings.

Crossing over into Hutton Roof, I showed Steve the Daphne which was well leafed up and already bearing its fruits. We also found a nice area of maybe 3 metres of Kidney Vetch. Closeby we also managed to record the Chimney Sweeper Moth never far away from the Pignut flowers.  A real treat also was to witness the strong flying female Brimstone which at first gave you the impression it could be a Large White.

I showed him the inscriptions in the limestone boulders, and showed him the large populations of Sanicle. We checked out further areas which had Rock Rose and again where so fortunate to witness lots more Northern Brown Argus, as though they were everywhere today. Absolutely brilliant news to see so many and obviously they have done well.  I think we must have had anything up to forty on the wing today.

Steve a entomologist was showing me lots and lots of small solitary bees and wood bearing beetles, and miniature hover flies, some of these were perhaps only the sizes of say a common ant.  And besides this some of these mini creatures had the most beautiful irridescent colours.  I believe I will receive a report of the varied insects we have had today later when Steve has had chance to identify and compile, I am really looking forward to this because, he thinks that maybe a few of them could be rarities and possibly never before recorded from the area.

Steve checking his net for the rare insects of the area