Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hollys, Limestones, Rigids and Scollies all doing well!

Lovely fresh Limestone Fern all snuggled up within their den! 9th June - Dalton Crags  (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday 16th June 2016 - In search of the elusive Spotted Flycatcher - Plain Quarry 0900hrs to 1100hrs.

Acting on a recent tip off I ventured to the East side of the Plain Quarry Car Park and checked out all the wooded areas and clearings in the hope I could track down another Spotted Flycatcher, but to no avail, although it was very pleasent and interesting and did manage to check out a Blackcap site which has been long established. I got some good views of the beautiful brown capped female.

Its becoming more and more worrying by the year with the demise of the poor Spotted Flycatcher, to which I can only now find five sites in the whole of Hutton Roof and its surrounding areas, I am sure there will be more but still need to get out and find them.  But what was very interesting, was a posting this morning on the Cumbria Bird Group's Facebook site, where this guy has had all his Spotted Flycatcher chicks and nest plucked out by his local Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and this got me thinking and yes it all seems to add up!  The rapid decline of the Spotted Flycather in my opinion coincides exactly with the rapid increase in Greater Spotted Woodpeckers!  Maybe there is something in this.

Lots of Hedge Woundwort starting to come through and the wild strawberries are looking well. The strawberries are only about 1/4" to 1/2" in size.

Four photos showing the Wild Strawberries (Click over to enlarge)

Report from Thursday 16th June 2016  - Swift nest sites - Burton In Kendal (2030hrs to 2145hrs)

To be honest at 2010hrs you would have thought it would have been a no goer! with heavy rain showers, but by 2015hrs it cleared up and we managed to have some great Swift Watching.

It started whilst observing the Cottage on the Post Office row, and we witnessed a bird enter the eaves at a totally different point to the first site, so it does look very much like we do have another nest site bringing it to two sites here, which is the norm on this building.

Moving on to the rear of the Royal Cottage annexe and we finally observed the larger hole at the top being used this year, although it was our first sighting, Hugh had actually seen birds entering this site earlier in the week.  Also tonight we saw birds entering all the other holes on this area as well as the site on the return wall.

Total birds seen at once in the sky totalled 18 birds with lots of small screeching parties.

It was getting darker quickly and so me moved on to the Coaching House and Manor House.  We got some good results here with two more sites added on the North facing gable wall. We confirmed the old site to the corner where the drainpipe is was being used, also a new site about 8ft along the gutter eaves from the far corner (this is a new site in total), also the site above and to the left of the small porthole window was seen to be used.  We are still hoping that the front elevation site between the two windows on the left maybe being used but so far not accounted.

A new site was witnessed on the North facing gable at the Manor House with the birds using a small triangular hole just below the well established site which is close to the third purlin up the rake of the roofline.

Our party were suddenly alarmed to take a look to the skies were a very large party of mixed Swifts and House Martins were present and all screeching and clicking with alarm, we noticed a large bird of prey emerging out of the cloud of birds having just seized either a Swift or Martin (not sure which) and which it held firm within its talons and then made off to the South West following the line of Main Street. The large bird was not immediately identified and some were left wondering was it a Peregrine or was it a large female Sparrowhawk. The bird by far too large for a Hobby.  On exit the bird was seen to triple wing flap glide and triple wing flap again before the glide. Although at first it seemed appropriate for the Falcon, I did notice it seemed more rounded to the outer edge of the wing which made me then give thought to the female Sparrowhawk. I guess we will never know for sure.

So tonight having recorded five new for the year sites, this brings our total to 22 nest sites so far. This is the highest number of nest sites we have ever recorded in any previous years.

Observers tonight were:  Reg Hesketh, Branwen Kilburn, Hugh and Sue Miles and Bryan Yorke.

Cottage on Post Office Row (Click over to enlarge)
The red marker on the left above the door is the new site recorded this year, although the site does have history with it being used also in 2014.

Royal Cottage rear annexe  (Click over to enlarge)
The larger hole site to the top left was confirmed being used last night - plus the other three here were also witnessed being used as well.

The Coaching House - North facing gable elevation (Click over to enlarge)
Activity last night was confirmed from the old 2015 nest site near the drain pipe and also a new site (never before recorded) was midway along the eaves from the drainpipe to the small round window

Manor House - North facing gable elevation (Click over to enlarge)
Last night we recorded another new site being used (shown above with red arrow and marked 2016), a very tiny triangular slot and just below the already established nest which is located above it and next to the timber purlin close to the verge. Also birds were seen to use other sites on the Manor House. 

NEXT SWIFT MEETING: THURSDAY 23rd JUNE 2016 - 2030hrs (Please note new starting time!!) BURTON MEMORIAL HALL - EVERYBODY WELCOME

Tuesday 14th June 2016 - Top of Clawthorpe - Whin Yeates and over to Newbiggin

My project for today was to check out and count the Yellowhammers, sadly I never had one calling bird at two of their local strongholds, It could well be that I went at the wrong time of day (1100hrs), but usually they are calling at whatever time you go.  I will plan another visit next week!  I did have at least 3 Linnet pairs, also 5 Swifts and 1 House Martin hawking the skies near Whin Yeates plus a beautiful male Bullfinch "peeu" calling and also a local Starling already mimicking the opening line of a Curlew.  Also Greenfinch heard and local Swallows putting in aerial performances.

Small Pearl Bordered Butterflies where flying over the bracken with 5 recorded, also 1 Small Heath Butterfly.  Never let down and out in full force were the Black Chimney Sweeper Moths which were recorded at several places along the main footpath from Whin Yeates to the summit behind Kelker.

Probably one of the best colonies of Lesser Meadow Rue was well on its way.  Checked out the old lime kiln on the Farleton side which already had quite a collection of ferns within that small pile of stones eg: Maidenhair Spleenwort, Ceterach, Brittle Bladder Fern, Wall Rue, and soon the Black Spleenwort. Its a proper fern feast!

That fabulous Old Lime Kiln (that was) a Pteriologist Dream!  (Click over to enlarge)

Sat on the Turtle Stone for at least twenty minutes hoping to hear the "little bit of bread and no cheese", but NO, nothing today. Nem mind we will try on another day soon.

The Turtle Stone (Click over to enlarge)

Monday 13th June 2016 - Hutton Roof Village

Managed to locate a (new to me) Spotted Flycatcher which means I now have two pairs showing within Hutton Roof Village and 3 pairs for the Dalton/Clawthorpe areas to press.

Thursday 9th June 2016 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof Common, Lancelot (0900hrs to 1300hrs)

Butterflies were doing OK today, but quite breezy so met them in the more sheltered areas. Surprisingly NO Painted Ladies today! had about half a dozen Small Pearl Bordered, lots and lots of Small Heaths (scores), 4 Wall Browns, several Speckled Woods, A couple of Brimstone heading in a Southerly across the Memorial Seat area on Lancelot. Brilliant to hear the Lesser Whitethroat although it was purely a sampler, but at least enough to mark off its position.  I have noticed with these birds they are singing all morning long and you can't shut them up (not that I would want too!), or they are just so quiet going about their business. Lately though they have taken on the second option.

Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers and Willow Warblers all calling. New records for a Tree Pipit on both the Common and on Lancelot, also a new Garden Warbler recorded on Lancelot.  Redpoll heard and showing on the Common where now I strongly suspect breeding having taken place.

Whilst climbing up through the Crags it was lovely to see the fresh Limestone Ferns and the Rigid Buckler Ferns all doing well as expected.  Also did a check on the Holly Ferns with No.1 doing extremely well with nine fronds which is usual, but No.2 this year only has 4 fronds and 1 runt (always does put up this runt!) plus attached to the same space were two fronds of the Aculeatum (Hard Shield). Photos showing here:

Holly Fern No. 1 (with 9 fronds) and showing here together with last years dying fronds  (Click over to enlarge)

Holly Fern No. 2 (with 4 fronds) plus the small "runt" fern, plus two aculeatum fronds (Click over to enlarge)

I also checked out most of the Lily Of The Valley and the Angular Solomon's Seal, but most had started to go over.  Also in places the ground was heavily "parched" and in desparate need of a downpour.  This was so noticeable with some of the Common Rock Rose, some was doing OK like you see in the next photo, but only yards away another patch was almost burnt out before it had chance to flower. No signs of any Northern Brown Argus today. Wild Thyme now showing throughout.

A nice patch of Common Rock Rose, but within yards a same size area already burnt out!

Broad Leaved Helliborines are starting to show  (Click over to enlarge)
The Dalton Cuckoo was calling throughout and more or less holding on to the regular territory.  Thats not to say he does not move about, but so interesting to get some belting bird records this week which includes a Cuckoo having been seen regular over on the Farleton side, also a Cuckoo calling from the back of Fern Bank, also another Hawfinch sighting over at Dalton hamlet, a Ring Ouzel sighting between Kelker and Henridding, a Firecrest sighting in Dalton hamlet, Lots more Painted Lady butterflies recorded throughout Hutton Roof, also sightings of Cinnabar Moths in Lancelot and a rare sighting also of a Silver Y moth in Lancelot. 

Thanks to the following for kindly helping out with their sightings: Alec, Calum, Charlie and Robert, 

Photos of the Dalton Cuckoo along with a close up of the beautiful Painted Lady and showing its underwing  (Click over photo to enlarge)  
Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Ashworth (Kendal)

Also here we have a summary of activities from Thursday last (9th June 2016) Swift Observations
but if you want a more comprehensive record please go to the Swift blog by clicking here

Summary of our Swift sightings last night 9th June 2016 (Click over to enlarge)

Saturday 11th June 2016 - Informed of Swift Poster at Burton In Kendal Motorway Services

Our group would like to thank the students of Burton Morewood C of E School for creating this beautiful poster which adorns the walls to the entrance of Burton In Kendal Motorway Services. Well done for such a brilliant poster and also for getting it shown in a place where thousands will see it.

Swift Poster at Burton Motorway Services (Click over to enlarge)

During 2015 one of our group Danny went along to the school and gave a talk to the students on our local Swift populations and maybe this poster in part results from inspiration gained from that talk.


Thursday 9th June 2016 - Swift Observations - Main St, Burton In Kendal

Tonight was without doubt one of the busy nights we have ever witnessed with Swifts everywhere you looked.  We did manage to actually count at least 22 birds in the sky but I am sure this is on the low side there could well have been over 30. We do think a lot of these birds tonight would have probably been non breeders (eg first year birds doing their Reccy)  The largest screaming group had 8 birds and was seen over near Coaching House.

We checked out all the sites starting with the Post Office Block, then Cocking Yard, rear and front and SW wall of the Royal, also the rear of Neddy Hill Cottage (a new site), also from the back of the Kings we watched the large Old Mill for a while and then moved on to finish checking out The Coaching House and The Manor House.

In regards to nesting we were fortunate to see birds entering nest sites on the rear of the Royal, lots on the front of the Royal Cottage, and also birds entering nest sites at the Manor House.

A new nesting site was shown to us by David Craig, who had witnessed a bird going into the nest area on the rear eaves of the Neddy Hill Cottage within David's yard.  Of special interest is that we did map a bird prospecting this particular site last year.  With this new site it brings this years tally up to a minimum of 17 sites.

During the past week also observations have been carried out on the Office Block at Clawthorpe Hall and a further two nest sites have been confirmed on the rear annexe of the Royal Hotel.   To try and give a clearer picture to the ongoing progress I have included below photos of the current status for this year at all occupied sites.

Observers tonight were: David Craig, Reg Hesketh, Hugh and Sue Miles and Bryan Yorke.

The Cottage on the Post Office Block  (Click over to enlarge)

To our knowledge this site has been used in both 2015 and 2016 and also of note is that last year this was the last site occupied within the village, with occupation up until the 16th August 2015

Hangings Farm, Cocking Yard  (Click over to enlarge)

This site is one of a possible two for this property. The site to our knowledge has been used in all years since 2013.  This year at first, we were worried about this site because of the new owners and the pointing renovations which have taken place.  We need not have worried because thanks to Jane and the brilliant co-operation of the new owners, who happened to be totally Swift friendly, they left holes at the eaves so as to allow the birds access to their original nest sites which we now know they have taken up at least one of the known sites.. 

Rear annexe for the  Royal Hotel Cottage Cottage  (Click over to enlarge)

Always been a very productive site for such a small area.  The sites already confirmed are marked in red.  We are still waiting for a confirmation either way on the large hole which you can see towards the top of the building to the left and above the two sites already confirmed.  We did witness birds banging at this entrance tonight so perhaps some activity me be taking place, time will tell.  Also the next photo is a close up of the site on the return wall.

A  close up of the nest site on the return wall of the Rear Royal Hotel Cottage Annexe  (Click over to enlarge)

The Royal Hotel Cottage (Click over to enlarge)
Another of the Swift stronghold sites with six nest within the front of this building, plus we are regularly seeing more "banging" going on at other sections of the eaves, but so far only the areas marked in red are the only definites.

Neddy Hill Cottage - Rear Elevation  (Click over to enlarge)
This is a new site for us tonight.  David Craig has seen a bird entering at the point marked with red.  Also of particular note is that we did record a bird last year actually "banging" and what we took to be prosecting the site.  Its now clear the bird did decide to take up this new residence.

The Coaching House  (Click over to enlarge)

So far we have been able to established a definite breeding site on the side North Elevation marked with a red arrow just to the left hand side of the small round window.  The Coaching House was only established as a breeding site last year in 2015 although we had seen birds prospecting back in 2014.  Last year we did have birds also nesting again on the gable end side elevation to the far left hand corner close to the drainpipe.  Also we did have a bird nesting to the front elevation between the two upper windows.
The Manor House (Click over to enlarge)
The Manor House is yet another of our stronghold sites with at least four sites occupied this year.  It is also suspected that there maybe more nest.

We are ever so grateful to Mrs. Ellis and her family who are very interested in their Swifts and their progress.

The Offices of Ducketts Building Services at Clawthorpe Hall  (Click over to enlarge)
It was a great pleasure to visit this site, because we had suspected birds coming from around the back of Clawthorpe Hall in previous years.  I was able to confirm at least one pair nesting which shows with the red arrow.  Also at the same time there were six birds in the sky directly above the property which makes me think there will be even more nest which hopefully we will be able to ascertain when we do a group visit.

It was nice to meet up with Edward Duckett (MD of Ducketts Building Services) who so kindly pointed out the areas of where the swifts are nesting.  He also loves to have the birds on his property and has purposely left the top guttering/eaves level open of pointing so that Swifts are able to return on a regular yearly basis.

NEXT SWIFT MEETING: THURSDAY 16th JUNE 2016 - 2030hrs (Please note new starting time!!) BURTON MEMORIAL HALL - EVERYBODY WELCOME