Thursday, 31 August 2017

Autumn Gentians are about one week away!

Autumn Gentians will be superb in about one week from now (Click over to enlarge)
Thursday 31st August 2017 - Farleton Fell and Holme Park Fell (Hutton Roof) all afternoon

I went out purposefully to check on our mixed colours Autumn Gentians and checked out our main colony which we have on Farleton Fell and sure enough there were about 100 plus in the regular area. Only a couple were in flower and I reckon it will be about one week to ten days before the spectacle happens.

I climbed over the newly erected stile into Holme Park Fell to make my way around in a more circular route, so followed the main old quarry track back down. I could not believe my eyes to what I was about to see with hundreds or probably a thousand or more really good specimens of Autumn Gentian some even about 8" tall like the one in the above photograph.  It was a good mixture of plants some purple but lots and lots of white coloured flowers.  I have put a few of the best photos on here, but would advise if anyone wants to check them out try and get up there in about a weeks time you will not be disappointed!

Also watching a Small Heath which for me was the first of this years second broods.  Also still one or two Grayling enjoying themselves. Also a Brimstone whilst going through Clawthorpe hamlet.

Birds: Odd yaffle from a Green Woodpecker, several Swallows and Martins hawking and that was about it for today.

Another one of the larger Gentians (Click over to enlarge) this one is about 6"x4"

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Has there been a shortage of Insect food this year - Swallows are leaving early!!

Part of my Dalton Crags garden this morning (Click over to enlarge) see more at the bottom of the blog

Well things seem to me to be so different this year compared to past years!  let me try and explain what I mean!

Take for instance the Hirundines (both Swallow and House Martin (not sure of the status with the Sand Martins), the skies are almost deserted this year and so early on! the majority of the birds in our village have already up sticks and away yet in more recent years these same birds have not usually started to leave us until after the first week or so in September and maybe peaking around the 10th of the month, rarely the peak has gone as late as the 17th to the 21st of September. Usually in most years you do get the odd Swallow family that do have three broods but this year I am wondering if there is going to be any third broods? Has there been a insect shortage or something and maybe two broods is enough! Not just the hirundines but looking back it was so different with the Swifts this year, they displayed a unusual trait which they have never done over the previous 7 years and that is that they have felt they had to moved outside of the village to supplement their feeding (more so than usual years) which we think they went to the close by water areas of both Dockacres fisheries and also well recorded on Leighton Moss, but the activity around the village itself has at times seemed deserted and we have seen very few birds during the daytime until their return later in the evening. In past years the birds were seen feeding up all day around the village!  I may unwittingly have exaggerated slightly but certainly something was different this year. And for me that difference is also now carrying on with the hirundines. Just for the record although this activity has been recorded the breeding outcome with the Swifts may have only been about one pair amiss on previous years.

I have still had the odd calling Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff up on Hutton Roof with their "hou-whit" contact calls, but no "confusions of warblers" or anything as prolific as that just odds and sods!

Lots of Green Woodpeckers and lots of Jays, but still trying to get over that brilliant record of 82 Mistle Thrushes last week on Dalton Crags and they are still around as I write!

Robert from Kendal reported a Hobby on Burton Fell (Hutton Roof) on 15th August which he suspected could have been chasing the many dragonflies that have been present.

On Saturday last I did a lot more sampling with the Orchids to check out their denticulation profiles to try and ascertain just how much "hybridization" is taking place and so far its just turning out exactly what my suspicions have been that everything (well no not everything, but a very high percentage) could well be hybrids and F1s and although this gives you some idea what could be going on it is not safe by any means.  So I await more secure profiling with DNA analysis which I have been told might be available to us very very soon.

On my way back down I just had to check out the Southern Polypodys (Polypodium cambricum) of which we have at least two separate families one called the "grike" family and the other is called the "boulder" family and they look in superb condition and you can make out their fabulous "deltoid" shapes.  A very rare fern indeed in the North and our examples have been compared to the very best.

Here is a few photos of those precious ferns.  First up we have a couple of shots from the Grike family.  The first shows the full family and the second shows the fronds to the right hand side showing a clear "deltoid" shape.

Southern Polypody on Hutton Roof on 26th August 2017 (Click over to enlarge)

Southern Polypody showing that "Deltoid Shape" 26th August 2017
And now I want to continue to show a few more photos of even more Southern Polypodys (Cambricums) but this time these are from the fabulous "Boulder" family.

The above "Boulder" family are coming out of a large boulder which is deep within woodland with broken canopy.  The beauty with this species you can tell it from the other two regulars (Common Polypody - vulgare or the Western - interjectum) by its Deltoid shape, but not only that it does not come out until much later in the year in comparison and looks fresh when the others are going over. A cracking fern which always gets a special "thumbs up" especially with the Pteridologist.

Whilst up there on Saturday I found a cracking late "Helleborine" which was still in flower, but ever so dark a specimen because it lives just under canopy and sees very little in the way of direct sunshine. But just check the ovaries of this plant and you will see just how dark they can get!

A very dark Broad Leaved Helleborine still in flower on 26th August 2017 (Click over to enlarge)

The same plant - take note on the deep green of the ovaries.

Whilst walking through thick beech woodland I found these fungi coming out from the side of the trees, they were white but very wet looking and I noticed several flies on them.  I can't say I have seen them before so took a photograph to check them out.

Fungi found in the beech woods of Dalton Crags

Whilst on fungi I was met with a very pleasant surprise today (Tuesday 29th August 2017) again whilst going through Dalton Crags with this old tree stump which was virtually covered with these "puffballs".

Puffballs covering tree stump

A lovely scene from today's special gardens (Click over to enlarge)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Fern check up and Lots of Mistle Thrushes etc (23rd August 2017)

Scollie - "Ramosum" gets better every year (Click over to enlarge)
Wednesday 23rd August 2017 - Dalton Crags, Ploverlands, Hutton Roof Common (1400hrs to 1800hrs)

Keeping check with some of our old faithfuls and the Ramosum (asplenium scolopendrium var: Ramosum) seems to get better with age.  I can't be sure without checking the past years photos but it does look from this photo to have gained more "split ends".

Whilst in the area of Ploverlands I wanted to check the area of were I had the Crispum a couple of years ago to see if anything was coming through again.  And also I could not find anymore Crispums I did find a lovely "undulatum" which was probably only a couple of metres away from the Crispum spot, so I was well pleased with this.  Obviously sori is represented on this specimen which brings it under the variety "undulatum". Here is a photo of it:

Undulatum found on Ploverlands 24th Aug 2017 - Click over to enlarge)
Obviously whilst on Hutton Roof it is always a great pleasure to check out the two specials namely Holly Fern 1 and Holly Fern 2.  I keep expecting a "hybrid" coming out of Holly 2 which shows the sister species "Aculeatum" coming from it's same rootstock.

Holly Fern No.1 (Click over to enlarge)

Holly Fern No.2 (Click over to enlarge)
This year also 3 fronds of Aculeatum mixed in the rootstock
Whilst in Dalton Crags the Mistle Thrush happened to be the bird of the day - they just kept coming and coming and I counted 82 birds in a roving flock - a record for sure!  also some Willow Warblers on the Common quiet with just their contact "hou whit" calls.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Swallows, Flying Ants, Black Nightshade etc

"Flying Ants seen within the mortar joints of the plinth"

Tuesday 22nd August 2017 - Vicarage Lane (or just off VLane eg: a bit of Slape! (Slape = Slippery) Burton In Kendal 

It was interesting to see these and I rushed back home for my camera.  I have seen plenty of Black Ants this year believe you me!  they have certainly not been the "best" of friends to our many orchids!  but this yesterday looked very interesting because you could actually see a sort of irridescent showing through their wing cases. Although it does not show in this photograph I did see one which was half the size again of these and I guess that could well have been a "queen ant" or lets put it this way I am sure it was the boss!

I was on my way to see my friend Alec over in Dalton hamlet and thought I would photograph a few ferns here and there because I know that would be right up his street! I couldn't help but check out these Polypodys which where in the hedgerows near the top of Vicarage Lane and again they are numberous as you get further over.  But to me they were not the regular more common Polypody and I suspected they may be "Interjectum" and later on after speaking with Alec he again said that he thought I may be right. With Interjectum they are pointed more at the tip and have a "semi delta shape appearance" (not pure Delta of course).  Here is a photo from yesterday to try and give you some idea.

I wonder if this is "Interjectum" ?

I just had to take the next photograph, I found it by chance whilst searching through some hedgerow in search of the "Black Spleenwort" but could I find the Spleenwort, but what I did find was these two little "rascals", obviously they are a type of hover-fly.

A pair of "Helophilus" Hover Flies

Checking out the nearby fields which are full of either maize or beets but always in the margins are some superb plants, although I guess the farmer might just think otherwise!  One of my favourites is the Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) which always seems to come in with the seed.

Field full of beets and all sorts of plants growing in between (Click over to enlarge)

Black Nightshade
Black Nightshade No.2
Plenty of Black Nightshade

Not sure what this one is?
Now then what's going on with the Birds?  It becoming more obvious by the day that our beautiful birds are becoming restless and many are already on their way back!  I have heard from several friends who have been getting lots and lots of Tree Pipits, Spotted Flycatchers, Other Warblers and even Wheatears.

Getting back to yesterday I was just going into the hamlet of Dalton and could see many Swallows perched on the telegraph wires at Russell Farm, far to many to match up with the local breeding stock. It was just at this point I heard Alec and he was saying "I have just sent you a email with a photo of the Swallows, I counted over 75 on the lines only five minutes earlier".  It was great to see so many birds either perching or taking to the skies before coming back to the wires, lots and lots of birds which did seem to be growing by the minute!  We put our heads together and could only presume maybe they were birds moving down from further up North and joining in with the local party. Here below is a photo showing the situation which Alec managed to capture on camera.

Swallows on the lines at Dalton (75 ish!) Photo: Alec Greening (Click over to enlarge) 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Comma Butterfly, Orpine flowers and Orchid flowers.

A beautiful Comma Butterfly in Low Lancelot (CWT) yesterday (Click over to enlarge)

Yesterday Thursday 17th August 2017 - Lancelot Clark Storth (Hutton Roof) 1130hrs to 1530hrs

Had a stroll up into Lancelot and checking out here and there.

I did have a family party of what I am sure were either Willow Warblers/Chiffchaffs which made themselves known with their regular "hou-whit" calls which came over to me from at least four separate locations. The skies also had three Buzzards circling very high but at the same time very noisy with their "mewing call".

Bringing a spot of colour was the beautiful Comma butterfly which you can see in the photo above. Other than the Comma the only other butterflies seen were a well used Meadow Brown, a Peacock or two and several White butterflies.

Whilst here I check out the well past their best "Birds Foot Sedge" (carex ornithopodia) with lots and lots more this year of this beautiful little sedge.  Here is a photo

Birds Foot Sedge (Carex Ornithopoda)
It's a wonderful looking sedge and always recognized with its paleness, which tends to have yellowish tips and then burnt on the tips. Its best to see it in Mid May when it has its sedge flower on it which does resemble a "bird's foot".

Whilst in this part of the woods I did want to check out a little pavement which I noticed the Orpine plant growing way back in Spring but had not had chance to revisit until today.

Orpine (Click over to enlarge)

Wednesday 16th August 2017 - Dalton Crags (Lower Sections and Mid sections) am.

Checking out Scollies (Harts Tongue Ferns) in the lower sections, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The most interesting thing was watching six Stonechat's hopping from hazel bush to hazel bush and then on to the wall.  I suspect there was maybe a couple of family parties and perhaps they had dropped into Dalton Crags but there again we do have breeders in the vicinity and closeby maybe it was a collection of these birds, whichever way it was a absolute delight to see so many together.

Three Kestrels were together and seen regularly hovering at varied areas, maybe a couple of young birds - again not sure.

Lots of Swallows hawking the area and coming down close to one's head as though tormenting! I must be mad talking to the little beauties, but these are such lovely experiences and it's just what you need before the skies go empty when the birds start to head back to Africa in about ten days time.

Expect to get cracking with the Visable Bird Migration watches in about ten days time. I guess it will be the turn of the hirundines first......

And to finish off today here below is the current orchid diary:-

Sunday 13th August 2017 - Hutton Roof 1130hrs to 1530hrs

Probably the last visit of the year today and here's one showing "Spotty" which I have still not been able to confirm what sort of "disease", but have now more evidence from yet another plant about 30 yards away.

What a beauty this helleborine with a slight "reddish look" - stunning!!

A lovely "reddish" look helleborine today - see close up below

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Crispum, Montanums and finish of Orchids (12th Aug 2017)

Friday 11th August 2017 - Dalton Crags 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Decided to check out the Crags and I wanted to check a lovely "scollie" which I thought may have turned out to be a "Crispum" but no it was not to be, as you can see with these photos which clearly show the "sori" on the rear of the frond. 

A lovely Scollie which looked like it may have been a "Crispum" in the making
Check next photo which clearly shows Sori on the rear of the frond.
"Sori" showing on the rear of the frond (Click over to enlarge)
Superb heads on our (new to me) rare Montanum's (Hypericum Montanum - Pale St. John's Wort) which are going over.  This year has been good with a total for Hutton Roof of 18 plants over three separate sites. Here is a photo showing the flowerhead.

The rare Hypericum Montanum nestling away in the Lower Dalton Crags (Click over to enlarge)

Also not to be outdone we had a lovely showing of the commoner Hypericum Perforatum and I could not resist taking this photo which to me looked absolutely beautiful showing both the fresh and gone over.

Hypericum Perforatum (Click over to enlarge)
Flower and gone over flowerhead on 12th August 2017

Thursday 10th August 2017 - Hutton Roof 1500hrs to 1630hrs

Trying to check out more about the "black spot" on the same helleborine, checking notes and the only thing I can come up with is possibly "Botrytis" which does not only come through in spots but far more variable - If it is this it is caused through water retention.  I did also note a "mullusc" hanging on to the rear of the plant.  The following photos are not good but do at least show the "black spot" disease or whatever it is!

A well spaced out beautiful E. Helleborine found on Hutton Roof today (see photo below)

A lovely Helleborine well spaced near to Schmal 69 (Click over to enlarge)

Wednesday 9th August 2017 - Hutton Roof 1300hrs to 1700hrs

A nice E. Helleborine under canopy - it seems to have spots in its make-up.

A spotty E. Helleborine on 9th August 2017
E. Helleborine "Dark Form" or "Purpurea" as at 9th August 2017
E.Helleborine Purpurea 3 today 9th August 2017
E. Helleborine Duo today 9th August 2017 check next photo for close up

Same plant as above (Click over to enlarge)