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)