Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I Didn't know Holly Ferns could do this!

Here is a photo of Hutton Roof's Holly Fern No. 2 which was taken on the 2nd July 2015

Holly Fern No.2 on 2nd July 2015 - Note predation - Click over photo to enlarge
So here we have a photo of the Holly Fern No.2 taken on 2nd July 2015.  So this is a photo shortly after predation by a possible Roe Deer.  Four of the original fronds have been bitten off completely, leaving four mature fronds.

The next photo I want to show you is the one I have taken today on 18th August 2015 and you will see there is six mature fronds.  So you will see that the two new additional mature fronds are a much lighter colour than the four existing much darker fronds.

Holly Fern No. 2 on 18th August 2015 - Note two replacement Fronds have grown which are far lighter in colour
(Click over photo to enlarge)
I was very surprised to find that two new replacement fronds have grown during the six weeks since I checked it out last.  Although the new ones are fully mature, they are a far lighter green in colour than the existing four fronds.

On the next photo (taken today 18th August 2015) you will note the "sori" from one of the existing fronds, and just like you would expect they are a rusty brown in colour.

Here is the "sori" on the back of the existing fronds
The next photo I want to show you is the sori on the back of one of the new fronds and as you can see they are much "fresher" and of a creamier colour.

Here is the "sori" on the back of the new fronds
I was yet again very surprised to see just what Mother Nature can do, showing us that in a matter of six weeks (or probably less) two new fronds have come through in replacement of four original fronds that had been previously predated,  It seems really strange to have two of the fronds a much lighter colour density and even more strange to see the sori at two different stages on the same plant.

For anyone who already knows this particular plant (Holly Fern No.2) is a strange one to start with in so much that it is intertwined at the root with its cousin the Hard Shield Fern ("Aculeatum") and you will probably see from the 18th August photo above that a small runt frond has formed yet again which it does in most years. 2013 runt had matured into a full frond for the 2014 season.  Though the 2014 runt did come through but just never developed. We have in the past had the bottom "pinnae" examined with further analysis for chromosome testing, with the results coming back confirming "Aculeatum".  So it is being watched with much interest to see if there are initial indications that maybe one of these days the "hybrid" will come through.

Leaving that aside the birdlife was a lot quieter, just as you would expect, but a pleasant surprise to see a single Stonechat present in Dalton, along with a party of about ten hawking Swallows, and a Kestrel which let me walk past it within some 20 yards. I said to myself, I wonder if I can get past this bird without disturbing it! and yes I walked "gingerely and slowly past looking back occasionally to see if the birds was still there and you could see it looking across at me, but sure enough it stayed there and continued its observational hunting.

The bracken should any day now start receding, you can see it becoming heavily scared with browing here and there.  Strange to see Fox and Cubs up here in Dalton, but sure enough sitting proud as punch at the side of the track and posing for this photo:

Fox and Cubs in Dalton
Antler Moth just has I entered Hutton Roof Common
Some beautiful "rare" Southern polypody
Dark Green Fritillary  much worn and probably in its last hour

Friday, 14 August 2015

Just another day at the Office!

From Hutton Roof (Kelker side) looking over Whinn Yeates, Farleton and Newbiggin (Click over to enlarge)

(Thursday August 13th 2015)

Another lovely morning and had to get out and head up to guess where?

The sun shining and for a change one or two birds singing with odd Willow Warblers and the screeching of a Jay and the local skies recently have been filled (almost) with Ravens and more so Buzzards.  I think the Buzzards have all come on the scene at the same time from all the local breeding populations because I am seeing plenty of them every day now!  Although I am only too well aware that "foreigners" are also passing through on a daily basis especially at this time of year.  Its a while since we recorded the Honey Buzzard or the Rough Legged Buzzard which do past through these parts along with other rare raptors like the Osprey.

Well most of the Swifts have now departed, although I was lucky enough to see one this morning over the Clawthorpe side of Hutton Root and it gave the impression it was heading East.  So its difficult to say whether this was one of the locals or just a bird passing through.  Scores of hirundines (both Swallow and Martin) were hawking the area.  It always is a good area for insect food around this time of the year and generally you will hear lots of chatterboxes above your head enjoying themselves on the large amounts of flies.

"Heading along a footpath being encroached,
Oh! that blinkin bracken is getting everywhere,
Bushwhakking! its the only bushwhakking I will do today,
So take that, and that...

Well you do a bit of that and then you get covered in ticks,
how many ticks do I have to tweeze out tonight then?
Don't want shingly circles, dont want Lymes, keep alert,

Surprising! well not really, everything likes Knapweed!
Five species of Butterfly and bees with ginger bums everywhere!
Knapweed flavoured honey would be nectar! literally.."

Flowers seen today, been checking out the helliborine's but most of them still asleep with their buds tightly closed and I dont think they will flower this year, just the odd one or two making it into flower! Other nice stuff about included: Yarrow, Harebells, Small Scabious, Ladys Bedstraw, tormentil, Self Heal. A really nice patch of Betony at least two metre diameter and tick spread (I mean thick spread)

A pair of Linnets crossing over to the South, a family party of three Kestrels (2 having a go with one another) I'll bet they are the immatures..

Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Torts, Green Veined White (not seen many of these this time), also late Ringlets

Autumn fungi is showing up here and there, found a nice white one today tucked under the ledge of limestone, dont know what it is yet!

All Shades of Green has I look East - in the Lupton direction (Click over to enlarge)
A little further around towards the Kirkby Lonsdale, direction

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Black Aphids, Black Ants on Broad Leaved Helliborines

Thankfully I managed to get back up on Hutton Roof today especially to valuate the situation with the Broad Leaved helliborines (Epipactis helliborine).

Well although very much "down" in numbers, odd ones were "out".  I managed to view about thirty of what should have been more like 75 on the pavements today.  80% of them had still not come out of bud with just the odd ones showing flowers at the base of the plume.  I think they may struggle some of them but will again check them out in another week or so.

I have managed to find a couple which did show potential.  Here is a photo of one of them.

I wanted to put this photo up just to remind myself of what they look like!
This was one of the couple of plants that have managed to come through, but the bulk are just there with their buds tightly closed and in some cases "with shrinking buds".

In particular I wanted to check out the "Viride" variants or in betweens which we have up on Hutton Roof.  A couple of plants which are certainly very green are shown below:

This is a very green plant which has just begun to flower

This is one from a area well known for its "viride" variations or thereabouts!  We still have one or two to open up here but sadly the better specimens have already been predated.

And below is new specimen found by a friend of mine Robert yesterday which although a small plant does show plenty of green in the make- up but also you can see small traces of the purple here and there and also a wash on some of the petals

Photo: Robert Ashworth - This is a very green specimen
Again this sort of variant can be seen from at least three areas on the Hutton Roof complex.

And below I found one of our helliborines which had just started to open out, covered with black aphids which looked very much like they were receiving much encouragement from the Black Ants which were giving the impression that they were protecting the aphids. Here below is a couple of photos:

Black Aphids, Black Ants on a Broad Leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
I thought perhaps at first the Black Ants were actually feeding on the Black Aphids but I am told that it is more likely that the Ants are actually protecting and farming the aphids so they can then pick up the "milk". As the aphids feed they secrete a sticky honeydew substance which drips on to the lower foliage which then the ants collect.

Another photo of the black aphids and the black ants on the Broad leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
Saw lots of butterflies today Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Several Dark Green Fritillaries feeding on the Knapweed, but most of them well worn, some with only part wings. Few Graylings about this year.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Broad Leaved Helliborines - Struggling this year!

Did I really think it might be different on this side of Hutton Roof?

It was no good kidding myself any longer, lets get out and see whats going on!.  It soon became apparent that we were going to be down in numbers with only about 60% of the regular Broad Leaved specimens coming through.  Of the ones that had it soon became clear that Mr. Hare had already snipped a large amount of the better specimens. I hope I am accusing the right chap here!  Roe Deer - Cut the stalk straight across or Brown Hare cuts the stalk at a sharp angle!

But the main concerns was that out of all the 25 plants which had so far survived none were showing any flowers and some still had drooping heads, but the majority had straightened out but looked a little weary in comparison to other years.

I think most of these are going to struggle this year to even flower.  Already a lot of them are going over and showing burnt edges to the leaves etc.  One particular plant when you look very close it is already showing signs of going over before it has actually had chance to open up.  (see photo)

This plume is already showing problems and I think this could well be the outcome of most plants

The next photo of a Broad leaved Helliborine is within a small colony which usually come through with lots of "viride" and just one of this population in particular is "pure viride" but sadly this one has already succumb to the predator. But we still have one more to go at which I will show you in the photo below.

Usually a good example of a semi- viride variant helliborine
This is one particular plant I will try and keep my eye on over the coming days because it comes out really green with white flowers with just a "smudging" of purple.  Though to be honest with you I also have reservations about this plant this year because looking very close you can see some burnt edges creeping in.

Below is the first specimen that caught my eye this morning and sure enough further evidence of it going over before it has actually opened up.  The leaves are already looking burnt in places.

Specimen 5 - Note burning on leaves (Click over to enlarge)
Our rare Epipactis phyllanthes is coming on but very slow (as is usual) and below is a shot of the progress so far.

A sad specimen of a "Phyllanthes" will it or won't it!

And to finish off with I have one specially for my good friend Alec.  I don't know why I took a photo but this specimen just looked strange to me at the time.  Maybe its because its going over, but although I know its a Limestone Fern and I had lots within a metre or so away but this little patch looked different somehow with much wider pinnae and lots of purple staining.

Unusual looking "Limestone Fern"

Monday, 3 August 2015

Whats going on with the Broad Leaved Helliborines ?

I wonder what can be going on with the Broad Leaved Helliborines.

To be honest with you I did notice a couple of weeks ago that the Broad Leaved Helliborines seemed thin on the ground compared to normal years, and also that most of them that were showing still had their drooping heads, but the thing that struck home most was the buds seemed different, small and little content.

Well this morning is not much better,  I was checking out two or three of the pavements on Hutton Roof and the first pavement I would normally see about 30 good plants and this was down to only 4 this year and of the four they did not look that strong but weak looking (see photos below). The next pavement was the same whereby normally I would get ten but this year down to only three.

So Why are they so far behind?
Why is their far less plants this year than normal years?
Why is the growth this year so poor with feeble buds seen in most specimens?

Let me show you photos of the first three I found.

This one will probably be OK and is probably the best I saw today. 
The second one I found looked weak and feeble compared to most years
No 3 was the same looked weakish especially in the buds.
I will hopefully be monitoring them day by day over the next week or so. Tomorrow I am hoping to check out pavements on the other side and we will see what they have to offer.

Did manage to find a couple with their base flowers just starting to open (see next photo)
Same Plant No.4 just bottom 5 flowers opening up. - very greeny plant
Nice patch of Hemp Agrimony
Well birdwise very little, with just one or two Willow Warblers calling with their "hou whit" contact call and also Bullfinch calling.  One surprise is I thought I heard a very distant Cuckoo, but just purely one call and finish so I never thought much more about it until talking to a friend this morning who had also heard one calling over the past couple of days on Lancelot, so I presume it will be a passing bird, but never realised they called whilst stopping off on their return! (interesting).

Local Swift numbers have plummeted with the bulk of the birds having left on July 29th and 30th, we are now left with maybe four at best.  Also lots of Swallows and Martins already on their way back (early for them!)