Monday, 20 August 2018

Snippets of Wealth (August 2018)

Garden for today - Holme Park Fell in the far background

Friday 31st August 2018 - Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal 1030hrs

This morning I had several Swallows which I took to locals probably belonging to the Russell Farm populations. Also had a party of 8 Greenfinch going overhead towards the South West (not sure whether local but looked like they were on forward movement. Also one Bullfinch (local I am sure!)

The highlight for today had to be the beautiful Common Polypody variant I found whilst travelling up Vicarage Lane and from the photos you can see where some of the pinnae split at the end and create a lovely looking specimen.

A Lovely Common Polypody variety which shows split ends to some of the pinnae - I must
have walked past it hundreds of times and never noticed until today.


Thursday 30th August 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell - 1445hrs to 1800hrs

Before I start on today (Thr 30th Aug) I would just like to go back to yesterday (Wed 29th Aug) at around 2000hrs I was travelling along the A6070 from about the Auction Mart area, Farleton and onward to near the Holme Park Quarry, I had untold numbers of hirundines, in fact such a collossal numbers like I had never seen before, they seemed to be in large clouds of which there were several and each must have contained at least 500 birds each making perhaps a total of at least 2000 birds.  With the time of the day just before dark I can only presume they are perhaps congregating close to their roosting area which could well be the nearby reed beds of the Canal. This was such a spectacle and when I got to Burton I watched for sometime to see if the birds went past, but none did.  I guess these were not only local birds but maybe birds from lots of far off destinations quietly making they way South.

Earlier today whilst on the bus returning from Kendal to Burton I noticed a large build up of Swallows on the telephone wires at the area between Whasset and the little bridge which goes over the River Bela.  I guess there would have been 2-300 on the lines.

So now back to today (30th) I was graced by a couple of Willow Warblers whilst passing through the Stints and they were calling with their quiet (just about audible) hou- whit contact calls. Again the regular Ravens cronking from somewhere above. I disturbed a resting Buzzard who so slowly made his retreat towards the Quarry and could be seen later soaring the skies.

On entering the Fell I was greeted by butterflies and had 3 Small Heath 2nd generations, also had Speckled Wood, and a couple of Wall butterflies (2nd generation), also a beautiful fresh Painted Lady (2nd generation). I managed to record some nice plants such as Goldenrod, Ploughmans Spikenard and lots of Scabious which you met when 3/4 along the fell heading from South to North. Today my main task was photographing lots of the beautiful "erratics" which lay about this splendid fell.  I did think that soon I could write some verse which may later be called  "Its just a pile of owd stoowens which 3 million years ago would have been the oceans deep". So got my photos and the prose will come later!

Well I was wondering when I would get my first Wheatear on the Fell and about 3/4 way along a lovely specimen appeared which I watched for ages and at times it would fly high into the sky (30ft or so) and do a sally of flycatching before coming down to his rock perch. I would try and get nearer to him, but the more I tried the further away he went.  They are such an inquisitive bird and just when I thought I had lost him he would re-appear a little further down the way. He kept my company for over half a mile (linear) but at the same time he never got too close, he knew the safe distance. "There is always a treat with nature and this was mine today" thank you dear Wheatear.......

I also had a House Martin feeding up over the fell, but then the rush of intermittent Swallows (4 in total) which came down both flanks, low with high speed and heading direct to their South, I had no hesitation to realise they meant business and had only one thing on their mind to get as far South as possible.

Also had a single and then a trio of Meadow Pipits which had gone to ground feeding in readiness for their onward flight tomorrow.  A pair of Stonechats were present at just the spot I saw them last year and wondered whether they were on the move or perhaps birds which had decided to overwinter here.

Enlarge the photos and you should see my friend.

 Enlarge and you can see my friend

Just a pile of owd stooens!!


Wednesday 29th August 2018 - Stroll up Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal - mid-day

I think this is a Green Shield Bug

At first I thought this was going to be a ant moving a leaf, but soon became clear that it was some sort of shield bug quietly crossing over the track, he had seen lovely "fodder beet" on the other side, so plenty to get his teeth into.  Those same beetles has I was seeing a week or two ago were still at it in plenty, but this time doing the reverse trip and heading NW or W direction - must have been hundreds of them or maybe a thousand.

You could not help but notice those large "Galls" on the Rose Hips, a couple of them were as big as tennis balls.

I could see and hear young tree sparrows flying off the hedgerow and dropping down in the "fodder beet" 

Tuesday 28th August 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures, Holme Park Fell 0900 to 1100hrs

Before I start I want to show you a couple of nice photos I took of a couple of mates yesterday on Vicarage Lane.  Nice Chaps these! proper tubbies, or tuppies......

Always Ravens seen and heard overhead "cronking" here just as you enter the Stints - only 2 today so that does not qualify for a "conspiracy". Jackdaws started on their to and fros from West to East and back.  Ah! one Chiffchaff in 50% song, that's not bad but by the time of my return he was still singing but it had changed over to his "whit" contact calls.

Eyebrights on Holme Park Fell today (Click over to enlarge)

Eyebrights, white and what a sight and close to 4-6" Self Heal pretty tight, I think I have just heard one Willow Warbler (hou-whit), Peregrine up and stoop.  Yarrow, then Harebell and old Birdsfoot Trefoil with Hawkweed remnants and no yellow to brighten up the prickly Gorse. A score of Swallows feeding up from down at 2ft from the ground - no way of telling whether locals or stopping off and feeding up. Kestrel hovers and watches then glides whilst little fellow mipit torments him. Still no Gentianella - surely it must be starting soon..Sun is peeping again through his murky grey frame. Squinting squinancywort is here, and there are some white, some pink.. NOW THEN I happen to have had over 60 plus Meadow Pipits BLOGGING!! and that means we are soon to be in business, yes the visible migration is all but upon us. Spent Rigid and Scollies hiding in the grykes. Searching again for the SLIPPER STONE and covering the same ground were SNIPE will be hiding in a month or so. A staring Roe now called Mo is watching me from afar. Returned via the Stints listening to piping Bullfinch etc.

I forgot to mention fungi and berries, well I found this lovely young fungi whilst walking the fell, I will need to get my books out for this - and also worth mentioning that the berries are now forming on the Hawthorns in the Stints, I wonder just how long it will be before the thrushes have their hayday!


Tuesday 21st August 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures, Holme Park Fell 1000hrs to 1400hrs

Within Holme Stinted Pastures there were several Willow Warblers could be heard with their weak contact calls. Odd Green Woodpecker yaffling, and a trio of Ravens overhead "cronking"

Met up with Tom from Lancaster who was a very interesting chap especially in regards to Butterflies, and so grateful to him for imparting some of his knowledge on High Brown Fritillaries and the importance of the Dog Violet and just as important the surrounding Bracken. Showing me hands on examples of how the Violets were beneath the spent bracken and in turn the bracken helps to keep the temperatures up which in turn is important to the butterflies egg survival etc.

On the fell (Holme Park Fell), I was busy checking out lots of things. But whilst probing about I had 3 separate Wall Brown Butterflies, so this must be the second generation recent hatch, also had a couple of Grayling Butterflies, and plenty of Green Veined White.  Also had a Red Admiral.

No Wheatears or Chats about today, but lots of other stuff to keep me busy.  Did find some nice examples of Eyebrights, Harebells and some varieties of Hawkweeks, but was very surprised to still be finding Squinancywort,  Limestone Bedstraw and especially Spring Sandwort, I would have thought they would have all gone over by now, but still remnants about and they still look in a good condition. Found a new record for Birds Foot Sedge (carex ornithopodia).

Strange spooky tree but so challenging and interesting. Also found a spent atrorubens which must have been a cracker, in a place I have never seen one before, really bulging ovaries ready for the burst!

Carline Thistle
Grayling Butterfly
Spring Sandwort
Unusual Holey Tree

Friday 17th August 2018 - Filmed about a fortnight ago and shown on Granada TV tonight

Just click here to check out the small piece which shows you some great sights over Hutton Roof with some filmed by the drone.

Filming on Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Trust)
for ITV - Granada television CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FILM

Thursday 16th August 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures, Holme Park Fell, Farleton Fell 0900hrs to 1100hrs - "A Conspiracy of Ravens"

Field Mushroom - "I hope"

Very quiet  within Holme Stinted Pastures, with just sparse sounds of birds and only one Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff to report, probably more if truth be known. Odd Bullfinch as usual and the are known as the residents.

Today's flora was what you would expect at this time of year Birds Foot Trefoil, Tormentil, Wild Thyme, Yarrow, Harebell (both blue and white), Daisy, Buttercup, spent Ragwort, spent Carline Thistle, Mouse Eared Hawkweed, Squinancywort and Eyebright, but sadly I could not find the one thing I wanted today and that was the early signs of Autumn Gentian which are still about two to three weeks away up here.

On the fell it was pretty windy with strong gust every now and then.  I had odd Swallows which did appear to be on migration South, but very difficult to say! also had a nice party of 12 which again could have been on the move or maybe local and just feeding up on the Fell. A pair of Cormorant very high to the SW.  But the most interesting had to be the "Conspiracy" of Ravens, I had 13 in the party of which 3 broke away and went South whilst ten of them headed back North West although a few minutes later another 3 were seen heading South. Very nice and very noisy!

Talking about noisy it was nice to see a young Peregrine chick going through the drill with its parents on how to exchange prey, but witnessing the high speed stoops were tremendous!

Long while since I had fresh Field Mushrooms but found a handful which I had for lunch and by the left didn't they taste good! really good, far better than those shop bought.

Lots of Eyebright about


Wednesday 15th August 2018 - Vicarage Lane, Burton and other bits and bats

The skies were forlorn and angry looking this morning, dark fast moving clouds with heavier winds than usual, some gust every now and then and occasional light rain which seemed to get heavier as time went on.  All I could see moving about in the skies were Lesser Black Back Gulls (all heading SE) which may well have been local, A single buzzard soaring high,  and later coming back down to civilization I could hear and see a charm of Goldfinch high on the mature fir trees in the old Vicarage grounds. They are always a sight to brighten the day!

Over the past fortnight whilst everything has been fairly dry I have been seeing these lovely little beetles crossing over the track as though leaving one field of "fodder beet" and quickly making their way to the opposite field of "fodder beet". Without doubt there were hundreds and maybe there could have been a thousand or more, you just had to be so careful how you walked so you did not accidentally step on them and crush them. The striking thing about them for me was their fabulous iridescent colours.  In the main there seemed to be two different varieties as you can see from the following mobile phone photographs.

Although still present yesterday (and that's after at least 10 days to my knowledge), I have covered the same territory again today and there is none of the beetles showing, but yet the track today was very damp after recent rainfall and this could well have had something to do with their absence.

Not sure about today, but up until Monday evening (13th) we still had a pair of Swifts flying above Burton In Kendal.  Also I am reliably informed that yesterday (14th) we had a Osprey mid morning followed by a Hobby one hour later crossing over Burton Fell on their journey South (Thanks to Robert Ashworth of Kendal for both these records).


Dor Beetle

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings August 7th and 8th 2018 - Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell. "Red Kite and Willow Warblers" In fairness, I guess I earnt my soaking this morning, it came just as we arrived at the high point on the Holme Park Fell. My purpose was twofold, first I wanted to check out any possible migrants on the move and Holme Stinted Pastures and Holme Park Fell is a very good place especially for small warblers and then any Wheatears or Whinchats passing through. It was not disappointing with a few Willow Warblers present over the last two mornings, some which you struggled to even get a contact call, but one particular bird that was in quiet song mode and repeatedly would do a full line of its song. There is no way of telling whether these are late resident birds, but I would have expected them to be visitors just calling off on their way back South. Never had any chats today but they will come very soon! Yesterday I had a pleasant surprise over the Stints with a Red Kite high above us and heading North West.
My other challenge today was to check out the regular haunts of the Autumn Gentian which usually grow in good numbers along the tracks of Holme Park Fell, but just has I had thought I was about three weeks too early and has yet no evidence of the little beauties showing.
Along the way had a Dor Beetle sort of staggering from side to side as they do whilst negotiating their many hurdles! A single Grayling butterfly and a splash of colour with small clumps of Wild Thyme and also Squinancywort, and Ploughman’s Spikenard

Ploughmans Spikenard


Burton News Reports

March 2015 - Burton News

Click over to enlarge


May 2015 - Burton News

Click over to enlarge


June 2015 - Burton News

Two reliable reports came in of an early Cuckoo calling on April 17th from the Clawthorpe area.  Our regular two Cuckoos turned up on Dalton Crags on May 7th (a few days later than normal) and on the same date another Cuckoo arrived and was heard calling over near the Rakes on the Park Wood side.
Our Tree Pipits started to arrive from the 18th April with one showing its display at the top of Dalton Crags. Since that day they have continued to arrive into May, but seem to have been more subdued in their calling and behaviour than normal, and I can only put this down to perhaps that “cold underlying chill to the air flow” which we have had now for some time.
The lovely Redstarts came in from late April into early May and have now established themselves at all their regular breeding haunts on Burton Fell and near Harrys Wood and Quarry Wood and other favourable places on the Dalton Hall Estate.
Our first Garden Warbler arrived back on the 23rd of April, and since then I am hearing them at all their regular spots, in really good numbers this year.  The Blackcaps have gone more subdued in their song since the arrival of the Garden Warblers.
Swallows have been slow again with growing numbers throughout late April and into early May. It is regular for them to have two broods as the norm, but I wonder if any of our local populations will have three broods this year!  Occasionally it does happen, especially if the weather is kind and the feed is on tap!  I like watching the 1st brood help to feed the 2nd and then the 2nd helps the third…
We’ve been waiting patiently for our local Swifts to arrive back from Africa, and right on cue the first four birds came in on May 4th and were seen that very evening hawking high above the Memorial Hall and high over the Manor House on Main Street, a couple of days later I counted ten birds in the skies, chasing one another.  The birds will be settling into their usual sites.  I do hope the Starlings have not already taken up most of their regular nest sites!
Besides the birds it has also been nice to see the early Butterflies, with Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, Commas and the amazing Brimstones and this month will be the turn of the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Small Heaths, Ringlets.  I wonder if we might be lucky and see the rare “Pearl Bordered Fritillary” on the slopes of Hutton Roof.
During May it was such a pleasure to see all the Magenta showing in the form of the Early Purple Orchids tucked away in the many grykes and pastures on Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof limestone, also those lovely Primroses and Cowslips and the rare Spring Cinquefoil and if you were really lucky maybe the odd “Fly Orchid”.  This month the pleasures will be our local (but rare) Angular Solomons Seal or the Lily Of The Valley or the Dark Red Helliborines, and locally common but nationally rare Rigid Buckler Fern or the rare Holly Ferns.

For now it’s back to the Swifts and our group  will be starting to monitor them anytime now. We will be meeting up once a week to observe and make notes, if you wish to join us just email to check what night we will be out and then come along and enjoy.  Also our group was represented by Danny Calderbank who last month gave a presentation talk on our local Swifts to 60 pupils at the Burton Morewood School, and they were treated with Swift images, sounds and a magazine. 


July 2015 - Burton News

Some of the flora although late has been quite remarkable.  Some fabulous populations of the Common Rock Rose up on the Common, but sadly no Northern Brown Argus butterflies around to enjoy the spoils so far!  Fly Orchids have done well this year, also new records gathered on Sanicle, Woodruff and the Heath and Limestone Bedstraws.
Our ferns are doing OK as well with some (new to us) populations of the rare Beech Fern having been recorded, also the rare Holly Ferns and Green Spleenworts are well on their way. Also the rare Birds Foot Sedge has also been in good numbers again this year.
This month for me will be the start of the orchid recording expecting good results on the Dark Red Helliborine, the Broad Leaved Helliborine and maybe their rare hybrid which we are so lucky to have on Hutton Roof (the main site in the whole of the UK). Also can’t wait to check out the new found Green Flowered Helliborine.
Still the butterflies are struggling with all this cold or wet weather. Noted during June was Small Heaths, and Dinghy Skippers, occasional Green Hairstreak and Brimstones.  Be ready for a “Painted Lady” invasion year as forecast by English Nature and Butterfly Conservation. It was 2009 the last invasion when thousands of them came through over a couple of days. A fantastic sight if you are lucky enough to be under their flight path (2009 some over Burton but main flightpath over Beetham side of the A6).
The Cuckoo was still present on Dalton Crags at least up until writing on the 16th June, Garden Warblers are doing extremely well again this year with several new sites being discovered. Tree Pipits have been much subdued in song this year, possibly on account of the weather, Redstarts holding their own. A new Yellowhammer site recorded on the Kelker side. Crossbills noted on 8th June on Hutton Roof and a nice record of a Hawfinch seen in the garden of Fern Bank in mid June.
The Burton Swift Bird Study Group had their first meet of the year on June 5th and have met weekly since.  The Swifts are doing very well having occupied at least five of their regular sites, and interesting to note that they are also using at least a further two new sites (previously not recorded).  As yet we have only given limited time to the project and expect to find lots more activity as the weeks go on.
At best so far we have seen a collection of up to 16 birds in the sky at one time above the Memorial Hall, we saw these birds immediately prior to dusk and it was thought perhaps they were non breeding Swifts grouping for the evening before they head to high altitudes to spend the rest of the evening.  If this was so it would probably mean there could well be up to 30 birds present around Burton when you take into account the breeding birds as well.
Some more good news is that Swifts have also been seen flying low over the Clawthorpe Hall area.
Our Swift Bird Study Group are meeting on a weekly basis either on Thursday or Friday evenings for one hour prior to dusk.  If anyone wants to join us they would be most welcome.  Why not take a look at our new blogsite by typing in your browser “Burton Swift Bird Study” or the full address is: and don’t forget to bookmark it!  On here it will give you regular updates of the Swift group and reports of their weekly observations etc.


August 2015 - Burton News

Our birds have gone really quite now and all you get out of the Willow Warbler is the “hou-whit” contact call.  Very little from anything else either, most of the Warblers are busy now feeding their large young.  I did manage to report a “Whitethroat” which was busy singing away from behind the farm at Clawthorpe. The majority of the Warblers will have already left the nest by now. I have seen a couple of post breeding parties of the small Warblers flitting about up on Hutton Roof (Uberash Roughs). 
We thought the adult Cuckoos went back around the middle to the third week in June, but I was lucky enough to see a bird on the 29th June over on the Kelker side which I took to be a young bird, this also tied in with a friend’s report who also saw a young bird a couple of days later in Dalton.
Really busy at the moment monitoring the rare Orchids we are lucky enough to have on the Hutton Roof complex. They are showing right now at their peak with the Dark Red Helliborines and the Broad Leaved Helliborines.  We are fortunate to also have the rare hybrid Epipactis Schmalhauseneii which is a orchid with a combination of both of the mentioned species.  I have to press found about 20 up on Hutton Roof. In fact this is the main place for them throughout the Country. Aren’t we lucky to have these gems right on our doorstep. The Orchids this year have been two weeks behind their normal showing.
Butterflies again started slow but have picked up now and only this morning I was lucky to have the Dark Green Fritillaries, a worn Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, with scores of Ringlets and Meadow Browns and the occasional Common Blue.  I did have the rare Grayling a week or so ago but just at the moment they seem rather quiet compared to most years. There was me thinking it was going to be a struggle for our special Northern Brown Argus, well a couple of weeks ago I counted well over thirty just in a small area, so I would imagine we could have fabulous numbers this year and it’s so nice to see all the Common Rock Rose about which these butterflies need.
I am seeing Swallows, but speaking with our local farmers they tell me that their populations are well down again this year.
Several of the villagers have been out on Thursday evenings monitoring our local Swifts which seem to be doing well.  We have been able to establish that at least four brand new sites have been used this year plus another thirteen established existing sites, plus we are sure now that birds are nesting somewhere in the Clawthorpe Hall area (not confirmed).  So in total this year we have 17 nest sites which we can confirm with a strong possibility of maybe another one or two which is brilliant!
If all the nest sites did produce a pair, and including the parent birds we could have a total tally of 78 plus.. (with 35-40 new chicks this year).  We think also that maybe twenty or so immature birds came in with the adults this year, its quite possible the immatures could have left by now because Swifts have been pouring out of the country with thousands on some days since early July and has I write more birds are leaving us.  Our adults and young birds usually leave us sometime between August 4th and 8th. So not long now!

Anybody wishing to join us over the next fortnight please come to the Memorial Hall on Thursday nights at 2000hrs or why not check out our blogsite to see our sketches and day by day details at:


October 2015 - Burton News

Things are rapidly slowing down now, but I did manage to check out the Autumn Gentians on the Farleton side quite close to the area I have called the “Saddle” which has a lovely natural stone “saddle looking” sculpture. There were hundreds of them dotted around the main footpaths in this area.  Surprisingly most of them were of the “white” variety and only some 10% of the beautiful purple colours which you generally associate with this species.  I guess we would have had at least 300 if not more. Not a bad tally when in the past years numbers have probably only reached maybe a dozen or so at best.  It’s been a good year for this species and also for Betony and Common Rock Rose which seemed to have sprung up everywhere.
Well we have started with the Visible “Bird” Migration watching and I have been up off Vicarage Lane recording.  But this year has started really poor.  Where have all the Meadow Pipits gone, in fact where have all the small passerine birds gone? We have known for a while now that things have not just been right with the upland breeders especially the Meadow Pipit numbers dwindling so drastically, and it’s so early to be able to tell what’s going on, but numbers of moving birds have been so thin on the ground. To try and give you a example, by now I would have expected maybe up to 300 or 400 moving through Burton over a 3 hour period, this has been the case for a number of years.  But for some strange reason this year we are lucky to get 10 to 15 birds over in a one hour period.  I am in constant daily communication with others who are also recording poor counts throughout the North of England, although the counts are better down the East side of the Country.  
Swallows have been leaving our shores in their thousands and it is presumed they peaked on passage somewhere around the 15th of September. Yet there is still evidence of good numbers locally, especially behind the St. James/Tanpits areas as I write (20th September 2015)
Chaffinches are just starting to come through on their moves South, again slow and poor numbers compared to the same time in past years, and hopefully they will continue to rise in numbers up to about the middle of October and then we should start to see the influx of continental Chaffinches coming through along with their rare cousins the Bramblings.
From the middle of the month I expect to be hearing the “see-ip” of the Redwings as they start to enter into the Country followed a week or so later by the mighty flocks of Fieldfare which will peak as a rule to the end of the month. Depending on the wind directions on any particular days we could get thousands making their way from the Aire Gap directions and up across Dalton/Burton towards the Lythe Valley.  Some years though like last year we drew a blank with only a minimal amount taking on this particular passage route.  It all depends on the prevailing winds at the times of their arrivals which routings they take across the country, so its fingers crossed.
This month also should start to see the numbers of Starlings swelling in particular at Leighton Moss as the Continental birds start to come into the Country from the Baltics and Scandinavian countries. Usually the peak will be around the 26th of the month.

Odd parties of Pink Footed Geese have already been recorded, but they too should start to increase in numbers as we get into the first week or two in October. 


November 2015 - Burton News

The Thrush migration is on us! With birds coming through Burton which could well have begun their journey in Iceland, or the Baltics or for that matter anywhere in Northern Europe.   As I write this (20th October) I have already counted almost ten thousand Redwing and over 2000 Fieldfare passing over our village or crossing over Hutton Roof.  We have still got lots more to come (I hope!) the bulk of the Fieldfares should start to come through over the next week or two. The next decent weather over the North Sea should start to see the larger thrushes entering our Country.
Each day small Starling parties again originating from Northern Europe have been crossing over Hutton Roof on their way to the West.  I wonder just how many of them will roost over at Leighton Moss, where numbers can reach over 50,000 and provide spectacular murmurations which usually commence 30 minutes before dusk. Most early mornings whilst “visible migration counting” over on Farleton I will see the Starlings coming over low down in a long straight horizontal line as far as the eye can see as they leave their Leighton Moss roost and head out East towards Kirkby Lonsdale areas to forage for the day.
I have just got back from a walk in Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof, after being tipped off in the last couple of days that several Great Grey Shrikes have been seen on the East Coast and a pal of mine from Bradford had one only yesterday (20th October) whilst “Vismigging”, so I thought I best go and check to see if our Dalton bird (or birds!) had returned, but no I could not find our bird.  Usually if the Shrike is going to return to us it will be around the 4th November and can even be a week or two later.  For the first time to my knowledge the Shrike actually overwintered with us last year and was present from November 20th 2014 to Easter Monday 6th April 2015. Also we were further honoured last year by the appearance of yet another Shrike which stayed for two weeks.

                                A little sketch I did last year when both Shrikes were present

No one seems to know the reason why our Chaffinch counts have been so low this year!  I have spoken with other recorders and they too are experiencing low counts.  It remains a mystery as yet to what’s been going on with this species.  Take last year between Sept 30th and Oct 20th I had 10,714 Chaffinch passing through Burton early morning whilst the comparable period this year I have only managed to record 1,103. So we are well short of birds this year compared to past years. 
Yesterday I was surprised to see two Wall Brown butterflies over on Farleton which is quite late and is probably another indicator of how mild the weather has been for the time of year.  Lots of Red Admirals have been recorded passing through to the South whilst on their autumn migration.

Bryan Yorke – 20th October 2015

December 2015 - Burton News

It’s that time of year again when the bulk of the bird migration has passed by us and there is little now in the skies to record.  After saying that this year has been very poor in relation to our more common species like the Meadow Pipits or the Chaffinch with very few records compared to previous years.  Although it’s been poor in our area they have been doing OK at 50% of the national recording sites.  Theories as to what might have gone wrong in the North West are already being submitted and the most likely maybe that they suffered earlier in the breeding season with the sudden change in weathers.  I am sure that before long we should get some answers!
It was nice to see our wintering party of Yellowhammers mixed with Tree Sparrows were starting to collect around the Slape Lane/Vicarage Lane areas and I must have counted at least 15 Yellowhammers (6th November).  Also I love to see and hear the hooting or kew-wick calls of our local Tawny Owl, but last month, it was even more special to see a Barn Owl quartering the fields in our village.
Most days now are taken up going up on to Hutton Roof Common in search of the Great Grey Shrike, which up to today (November 20th) has not been seen or recorded, but I will certainly let you know if any do turn up.  The weather is forecast to turn this week-end (22nd November) and bring in lots of cold weather from the North, and I’ll bet a Shrike or two may just take advantage and cross over the North Sea from the Scandinavia’s and into Cumbria!
What has turned up in good numbers so far this year are Snipe and Woodcock and I am accidently flushing them on most days whilst up on Ploverlands and throughout Hutton Roof.  It’s always said that the Woodcock will arrive on the first full moon in November! I was reading that Woodcock may be down in numbers by as much as 40% so it’s great to see them up on Hutton Roof.  We are also lucky locally in that Dr. Stuart Sharp from Lancaster University is currently conducting a survey on the numbers of Woodcock found breeding and wintering on the Dalton Hall Estate.
Little in the way of flora this last month, with the exception of some nice rare variant ferns which have been found in Dalton Crags. Four different “scollies” have been found. (Scollies = “Asplenium scolopendrium” or more commonly called the Hart’s Tongue Fern)

February 2016 - Burton News

Without doubt the seasons are showing some very strange occurrences with the odd hedgehog being seen around Burton on cold mornings in January, and what about the local records of Peacock Butterflies being seen over Christmas and the New Year! Is this a sign of things to come and how things are to be in the future!
Early to mid- January usually sees high numbers of Pink Footed Geese passing through to the North, having crossed over from Norfolk and Lincolnshire and making their way back to their Solway staging post in preparation for their long flights back to Iceland and other far off destinations.
Dalton Crags as usual is always a hotspot for overwintering thrushes with some good counts of Fieldfare and Redwing noticeable.  This year I have only had scores of Fieldfare and little in the way of Redwing (but probably under recorded), where some years I have recorded hundreds. The Crags at this time of year are also a great spot for hearing the “yaffling” Green Woodpeckers and especially for hearing the haunting echoing “drumming” of the Great Spotted Woodpeckers which have already started their “drumming rituals”.
It won’t be long now before we are seeing Skylarks making their return North to their respective upland breeding grounds and usually I witness them going over the Burton skies, either from over Uberash roughs on Hutton Roof and sometimes I have counted good numbers also going over Tarn Lane. They are usually the first of the smaller birds to return and I have always reckoned that Valentines Day (Feb 14th) to be a good marker. This month I would love to share this poem with you.

“Signalling Love”

Pecker, not one but two doth drum and prod and peck those rotted trunks.
Belated echo from this side to that side and back with just the lane between,
Whilst Nuthatch calls fast whip, whip, whip, but never so fast as pecker pecks.

Bordered walls of pure green which does not change its shade,
nor darkens, with age whatever the time of year,
 It’s velvet look and feel so soft and kind to touch,
 so snug its cover, and fits those fossils like it’s glove.

Pecker, it’s time for you to mate, and make your holey place to rest and nest,
You’ve chose that peaceful hallowed place where many souls do lie,
That place to see the deer run past, the doe and fawn amongst it’s cast.

And from that budding canopy, the distant lure of constant chorus sings out,
so sweet a sound you’ll ever hear, approaching love is all so near.

(written 20th January 2014 whilst walking down Dicken Lane from Dalton hamlet)

April 2016

As I write (20th March), we have been under high pressure with the weather for several days, and I have noticed that the bird migration has almost come to a halt with very few birds passing through, although these beautiful sunny days you could be forgiven for thinking lots of birds should be passing through Burton.  So any day now I would expect things to change if the forecasters have got it right. The last week of March can be very interesting having in the past had early Swallows on Hutton Roof Common, and arrivals of the Chiffchaffs in Thornleigh and every chance of a Wheatears sat on the walls of Dalton Crags (deforested).
On March 15th over Dalton Crags I was treated to a very rare sighting of the spirit of the “Green Woodpecker” (see photo below).  Seriously the sky was filled with “Lenticular Clouds” which eventually became lots of various shaped flying saucers. On my way back and reaching the Plain Quarry Car Park I was treated to a very early Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly hawking the area.
Green Woodpecker - Lenticular Clouds

On St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) I went over to the Park Side of Hutton Roof to check out our treasured Daphne Mezereone, that sweet smelling flower.  Sure enough some of the flowers were open but the majority of the plant were still in bud and needed another week at least before you saw their full beauty.  Other early flora included the Celandines and quite a few primroses coming through.
I was told and shown recent photos of the Glow Worm larvae being found on Farleton Fell (early March). It also later transpired that a sighting of the actual Glow Worm beetle was seen on Dalton Crags (upper) back in 2011.  Far too early yet, but must try and locate around the June time. Will I be able to stay up long enough to allow this is another matter!!
I always reckon that April is probably the most exciting month for the birds with the arrivals of the small warblers including the Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and what about our Dalton specials the beautiful Tree Pipits with their sort of descending song (can’t wait!).  Other rare birds calling in and passing through our area will include the Northern Greenland Wheatears which again make their grouped presence known on Dalton Crags (upper).
It has been known for the Cuckoo to appear during the last week of April although normally you would expect to hear the bird anytime from the 1st of May.
By the time you read this I would expect the Swifts to be leaving their wintering quarters to make the long perilous journey back to us, what could be nicer than hearing those little black beauties making their presence known with their “screaming” as they fly above Main Street in little squadrons. We are so privileged to have these magnificent birds on our very own doorstep.
Bryan Yorke


May 2016 - Burton News

It’s all started again for another year with almost all of our regular Chiffchaffs having now returned to their regular haunts, at the time of writing (21st April) I think we are still waiting for “Pear” of Pear Tree Cottage. The earliest I had this year was Craig and Craggy who hail from Plain Quarry and whom I first recorded on the 31st March.

Back to the Warblers and for me it’s always great to hear the very first Willow Warbler, even if it is only singing in broken song.  My first was in lower Dalton Crags when I just could make out dear Willow as she sung in half- hearted song.  The date was 9th April with more and more of the little beauties arriving daily. So far in April I have been fortunate to count large falls within Dalton especially on 12th, 15th with a peak over the mornings of 20th and 21st.

I am told early Swallows had been seen at the usual “early spot” over by Whassett.  For me this year the earliest birds seen were on the 12th April over near the Borwick fisheries.  The first main entry at local sites came over the weekend of the 15th and 16th April.  Since that date birds have been coming through in good numbers and also it was noted odd birds where back on territory at Russell Farm, Green Dragon and elsewhere.

My first returning Blackcap was on 17th April in or around Plain Quarry

My first Tree Pipits arrived yesterday (20th April) when three were recorded in upper Dalton Crags (deforested area) they are still very quiet – no song being offered just the odd three syllables, but any day now they will crack up in song!

Today (21st April – Our Queen’s 90th birthday) I had my first Northern Greenland Wheatear with three beauties all stood to attention with their almost straight backs.  Everything ticked the boxes for these beauties to have been the rarer “leucorhoa race” and to think they have travelled from far down in Africa and although only calling off here at Dalton Crags for a day or maybe two at the most, will then continue their journey all the way up to either the Faroes, Iceland or Greenland.  They are one of the long distance travellers.

Other records come in are Common Redstart noted on Hutton Roof Common 14th April and also one on Burton Fell on the 19th April.

This next week or two should see – Garden Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and more Redstarts.  And during the first week of May and just has the Burton News drops through your letterbox we may be seeing and hearing our familiar Dalton Cuckoo! Who knows..

Butterflies recorded: Brimstone (19th April), also odd Small Tortoiseshell, and lots of Peacocks).
Flowers include: Wood Anemone, Wild Strawberry, Ground Ivy, Dog Violets, Red Campion, Stitchworts.

OURS SWIFTS ARE EXPECTED BACK ANYDAY NOW! And we have been busy clearing the Ivy away on the Royal so they will have a direct entry to their regular sites.  Hopefully once the birds are back and established we can start to observe and report on our local populations. If you want to join us this year why not check us out at the following website:

Bryan Yorke


Flying in the dark through a moonlit sky,
Falling from high like little angels,
Floating down on a wavering leaf,
The “confusion” has now begun.
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Daytime closed you was not seen,
Whilst morning wakes your plenty,
So tread so soft our leaf explorer,
A “bouquet” of special prize to us,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Your music is a descending tale,
Which finish the year “hou whit”,
A choir of pairs sings thy will,
A “Fall” would be a lot of thee,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Sylvia’s hand of lucid intricacy
You thread that weave so delicately,
To house and raise a splendid cast,
It’s a start to a “Wrench” fulfilled
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Bryan Yorke - 2015


June 2016 - Burton News

Well it all starts with a “Cuckoo” which I was lucky to see in Dalton Crags on the early date of April 23rd, I don’t know whether this was one of our local birds or just a bird passing through our area and resting up, the outcome of which was never established.  On May 2nd our first confirmed calling male bird was back in Dalton Crags delighting everyone with its regular calling. Since that day we have been privileged with regular daily sightings and plenty of Cuckoo calling.  Also we have had sightings of a pair plus in Dalton plus a additional bird calling from down between Crag House Farm and the nearby Cockshoot area.
Swallow and House Martin numbers (so far counted) remain similar to last year although a general trend of thought is that there are fewer birds in our skies these days. The Warblers are all doing OK with probably more Garden Warblers than Blackcaps this year, good numbers yet again of Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers.  Redstarts are doing well and accounted for with the safe return of all our regulars on the Dalton Hall estate and also the ones on Burton Fell and over by Kelker and Park Wood.  Scrambling out on most days in readiness to monitor our beautiful little Spotted Flycatchers who should be making their appearance any day now!  I have over the years been able to establish at least four pairs in our area and hope to increase that number this year with more observations.
I can’t make my mind up yet in regards to the fabulous Tree Pipits, most territories have been taken up in parts of Dalton, Lancelot and Burton Fell, although at the time of writing (May 20th), I have still not had the 3 pairs which are usually within the Dalton deforested and none yet recorded over by Majors Nursery on the Dalton Hall Estate. Maybe it’s been too cold for them, but I do expect to be able to record them any day now!  Will also do my Yellowhammer check in the next week or so.
The first of our local Swifts arrived back on the 3rd May, with increases in numbers counted during the daytime of the 4th May (when the bulk arrived) and by the evening of 4th May, 14 birds were counted flying above Main Street.  We had our first Burton Swift Study Group meet on 19th May when 7 birds were seen, and two established nesting sites so far were again confirmed already for this season, one on the Royal and one on the Manor.  I am sure there will be more and hopefully this will increase week by week now. Our next meet will be on Thursday 2nd June at 2000hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall and anyone interested would be most welcome to attend.
Local flora over the month and since our last issue have included: Bugle, Ramsons, Bluebells, Spring Sandwort, Woodruff, Early Purple Orchids (good numbers again, plus a beautiful “pure white” specimen found in Lancelot), Spring Cinquefoil, Parsley Piert, Greater Stitchwort, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Red Campion, Wood Anemone, Garlic Mustard, Cuckoo Flower, Herb Paris (with a strange oddity of a five leaved Herb Paris in Lancelot), Tormentil, vetches, Wood Sorrel, Herb Robert, Common Milkwort, Yellow Pimpernel, Sanicle, Primrose and Cowslips, Crosswort, Germander Speedwell. Fairy Foxglove (probably introduced at Plain Quarry). The month of June should bring in Cow-wheat, Angular Solomon’s Seal, Lily Of The Valley, Fly Orchids and there is also the chance of a early Epipactis.
Ferns are coming through fast and furious with lovely specimens of Rigid Buckler Ferns, Limestone Ferns, Scollies unravelling, and what could be nicer than our very own rarity, the  Holly Ferns which will look great by the end of the month and not forgetting of course our Green Spleenworts.
Another rarity at its best right now is the lovely Carex Ornithopodia (well well well! thought somehow it had something to do with birds!  Yes the Birds Foot Sedge showing well in Lancelot (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve).

Butterflies have included: Dinghy Skipper, Speckled Woods, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tips, Green Veined White, Large White


July 2016 - Burton News

It’s a record! We have more Swift’s nest in Burton this year than at any time during the past three years (since we have been counting). At the time of writing (June 20th) we have recorded no less than 22 individual nesting sites.  Lots more immature Swifts will have accompanied the adults on arrival and will remain for a few weeks before setting off back on the long journey.  Usually these non breeders (which can be non breeders until their third year) will set of on their return journey to Africa around the middle of June, whilst the mature birds don’t leave until their young have fledged which can be anywhere from about the third week in July to mid August.
The Adult Cuckoo’s are also on their way back having started to leave the UK from about the 15th June onwards, and this departure will carry on until the first weeks of July. The successful young Cuckoo’s will start to leave us during August.  It has always amazed me in that these young birds do not have any guidance or help by their parents to negotiate the journey back to Africa, it’s all down to their own volition. To think all this navigational stuff was programmed into that small egg. Also interesting to get several reports of a Cuckoo being heard over on the Farleton side as well.
Most of our regular migrant species have all returned to be with us OK and numbers at first counts seem to be reasonably stable (but not at all sure with the hirundines!).  Although after saying this I still feel that maybe the Spotted Flycatchers are struggling with very few records again this year. And besides the migrants I am struggling to record Yellowhammers this year, but hopefully I will get some better counts over the coming weeks. During the month I have had further records kindly offered to me of single Hawfinches being seen in the Dalton and Burton areas. Also a Ring Ouzel was recorded in early June near Whin Yeates.  A rare sighting of a Firecrest near Dalton Hamlet.
Butterflies this month have included a fabulous display and the best for years of the migrant “Painted Ladys” with several being seen in Dalton and on the Common from the 6th June onwards. Also on the same day I recorded the emergence of the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary which could be seen throughout Dalton, Lancelot and the Common and drastically increased in numbers over the following days. Also in the last few days (June 20th) we have been honoured with the emergence of the first Meadow Browns, and Large Skippers. Also seen in good numbers are the Speckled Woods. Soon this month we will see the Ringlets the Common Blues and the Northern Brown Argus and the Dark Green Fritillaries.  I wonder if anyone will be lucky enough to see the High Brown Fritillary on Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Reserve).
We have done extremely well this year with the Fly Orchids showing at five different sites on Hutton Roof.  Also starting to show are the early signs of the Broad Leaved Helliborines and the Dark Red Helliborines, but we should get the best of the Dark Reds from about the middle of July and the best of the Broad Leaved following on and into early August.  This year will be so special with the Orchids, and I can’t wait to further research our special hybrids the “Epipactis Schmalhauseneii”  (hybrid between the Dark Reds and Broad Leaved of which we have about 20 in total on Hutton Roof).  Also it will be so interesting to see what sort of Palens variants we will get this year. (A rare variation of the Dark Red Helliborine).  If we are lucky we may also get the Green Flowered Helliborine or the Heath Fragrant Orchid.
The Lily Of the Valley and the Angular Solomon’s Seal will have gone over by now. Some of the other plants which have started showing since last month have been: Heath and Limestone Bedstraws, Crosswort, Lesser Meadow Rue, Hairy Rockcress and soon we will also get Biting Stonecrop, hopefully we will also get the rare Pale St. John’s Wort, and the Northern Bedstraw etc.
By the way more and more villagers are turning up on our popular Swift nights and you would be most welcome to attend. We generally meet up on Thursday evenings outside of the Memorial Hall at 2030hrs, but just to make sure we have not altered times etc, please check out our Blog at: or phone at the number below and this will give you the more up to date details.

August 2016 - Burton News

It’s nice seeing all the new young birds around at the moment, only this morning (July 21st) I had a family party of at least five Marsh Tits just as you start to climb Burton Fell. And whilst spending time watching them, I noticed in the distance what I thought could well have been young Redstarts! Let’s hope they all make it.
In general the birds have gone really quiet and just now and again you may hear a little disrupted call from the Chiffchaff or the hou- whit contact call of the Willow Warblers whilst one bird for sure will not go just so quiet and that’s the presence of our little scolding Jenny Wren, which gives a lot of noise for such a little lady!
A week ago in the area heading from Clawthorpe  to Burton Fell I heard several Whitethroat calling for the first time this year – that was nice.
My months been taken up with the rare orchids on Hutton Roof, finding them and checking them out to see if they were standard or hybrids or variants. Photographing them and listing them in the register for future year comparisons. I have had some fantastic specimens this year. I have managed to locate at least 20 Smalhauseneii hybrids and lots and lots of the Lemon Petalled Atrorubens varieties. And guess what?  we have had something really special on Hutton Roof.  I found a orchid which was short on colour in fact in part it was light green, with brilliant white epichile and transparent around the stigma areas.  It’s called the Epipactis atrorubens variant “Albiflora” and it turns out that it’s the very first of its type to be found on English soil (on carboniferous limestone).  Sadly the Dark Red Helliborines have almost all gone over their best, but at least very soon (2 weeks away) we should start to see their larger cousins the Broad Leaved Helliborines making their appearance.
It doesn’t seem two minutes since they arrived! And anytime now they will be preparing for their long journey back to Africa.  The Burton Swifts Bird Study Group have been doing weekly observations and it looks like our village Swifts have done OK again this year with most of the regular old nest sites having been used again.  Usually the birds start to depart back to Africa from around the third week of July and by the end of the first week in August our skies are quiet again. I just love to hear their screaming calls as they travel throughout the village.
Following on from them will be the Swallows and House Martins but they will probably be a few weeks later and will be seen travelling South over Burton until at least the middle of September.  I find areas off Vicarage Lane to be good vantage points to watch them come either from the Lyth Valley direction or you get them coming over Curwen Wood and passing over Lancelot and Dalton.
Butterflies this month have included the Dark Green Fritillaries, but sadly not had any or heard of any reports of the rarer High Brown Fritillaries, also have had a very late Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, and lots of Graylings on the limestone pavements.
Flowers this month have included the Dark Red Helliborine, Broad Leaved Helliborine (not yet flowered 21/7/16), Common Rock Rose, a rare White Albino Self Heal, Common Milkwort amongst many others.  Our ferns are doing extremely well especially with the Rigid Buckler, Limestone Fern, Beech Ferns and the Maidenhair and Green Spleenworts and not forgetting our very special Holly Ferns.


September 2016 - Burton News

Most of our village Swifts left us on 5th August, although further birds were leaving us on a steady daily basis after that date with only 10 seen by the 14th August and since then just a single bird was observed as late as the 18th August taking food into a nest site on the front Royal cottage elevation.  At the time of writing (21st Aug) no further records have been made.  It looks very much like the screaming aerial beauties have left us again for another year.  They brought hours of delight to many villagers who spent time observing their antics and recording their nest sites.  It’s already in my diary for next year around the 4th May when hopefully our dear birds will be back again in the village.

Ten of our local Swift nest sites are on the Royal Hotel Cottage and its rear annexe buildings where building work is proposed to be carried out later in the year.  Earlier this year I was fortunate to briefly discuss with the building contractor about the possible provision of including the original nest sites within the old build site renovation work and he assures me that he will do everything possible to try and accommodate this.  It has been arranged that a couple of us from the Burton Swift Bird Study Group are hoping to meet the contractor on site at the commencement of the building works to discuss this further.  Thankfully our group’s observation notes and nest site photographs which we have taken over the past few months will now go a long way to helping us point out the individual nest sites to the contractor.  Let’s hope it all works out well for the returning Swifts.
After receiving emails on the 19th August, it was all system go down to Station Road and on to the Canal at the steps there and not far away some 100 yards in the Kendal direction a report which hit the national media of a rare “Greenish Warbler” had been seen and heard earlier in the day, although sadly I never managed to see it on my visit, but bird lovers had assembled from far and wide on the lookout for this irregular visitor to the UK.
Since the last issue I have been out on Hutton Roof most days recording and studying and photographing our superb orchids and witnessed some fine spectacles this year.  Although most of the Atrorubens (Dark Reds) have gone well over now, they have been followed by a grand array of Helliborines (Broad Leaved) and a small amount of these, the ones especially lying close to or even under canopy have presented themselves with a lovely rich dark “purpurea” look.
I think this year in particular it has been a really good year for the lovely Grayling butterfly, I’ve seen scores of them especially on Burton Fell. Their camouflage is spectacular which almost blends in with their backgrounds, but most intriguing is when on landing and after a two second delay they seem to tip over sideways.  Other butterflies seen this month include a well washed Dark Green Fritillary (middle of August, which is quite late), odd Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Peacocks and lots of Large Skippers, and a couple of days ago (19th) a Brimstone passing over Burton Memorial Hall Car Park.
I think the next week or two I will try and check out our most beautiful Autumn Gentians which should be showing well on both Hutton Roof and Farleton.  Also must try and find some special ferns! Oh and before I forget must go in such of that rare Hutton Roof “Hedgehog” the Spiny Puffball fungi. And then it’s a question of taking in the “Visible Bird Migration” which is going on right now! But usually we get good numbers locally from about the 10th of September……..


October 2016 - Burton News 

It’s now that time of year for me to be on sentry duty just on the high ground of Vicarage Lane, getting up early (Oh ek!!) and doing my daily counts of birds passing through our village whilst on visible migration to their destinations further south.
This morning (21st Sept) in just three hours I had over 300 Chaffinch passing over our village heading South East, presuming they probably travel over to next stop Capernwray and then maybe onward to Arkholme and on and on and on. This will have only been a token of what really goes through at this time of year, because they come through on a very broad front and besides the corridor I watch there is also another corridor down near St. James Close where birds can be seen actually going in a line south almost following the Motorway on their journey South. In fact I have tried to summarize this time of year from many hours counting over several years and I would estimate it possible that we actually get as many as up to 2000 Chaffinch a day which would mean up to 100,000 during the time of Autumn migration would have passed over our village, and that’s only Chaffinch.  We also have large numbers of other regular species like Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Goldfinches, Swallows and Martins and Pied Wagtails and Reed Buntings. Just at the present it is very likely that most of the birds coming our way could well have come from over the Whitbarrow or Lythe Valley areas and areas further North, but before long you also get continental birds as well which will before reaching us travelled from as far as maybe the Baltics or European areas to be with us and these too will travel the skies of Burton whilst making their onward journey South.
So far I have had my worst year yet for migrating Swallows with far less numbers being seen than in previous years. I would in most years get large bands going through taking a corridor along the line of the trees above Lancelot and above Russell Farm in Dalton hamlet, but very few have gone through this way this year. 
Quite a few skeins of Pink Footed Geese have been recorded coming through our skies.  I had my first skein of 21 birds on 10th September which is very early, usually I have my first from around the 16th September.  It will not be long now before we are getting our winter thrushes Fieldfare, Redwing, additional continental Song Thrushes and Blackbirds expect them from early to mid October and usually peaking around the third week of October.  We will also soon get additional continental Starlings (usually peaking October 25th).  Many of the Starlings have travelled from the Baltics or Northern Europe and make their winter home with us and roosting each night at our local RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss.
Did you know that lots and lots of Red Admiral Butterflies will have flown over the village on recent sunny days, In fact I had ten coming through above the maize during one of my bird counting spells on 13th September all going through in a direct line to the South.  I have had this going on quite late in the year, in fact during the 1980s on one sunny morning on the 2nd November I had several coming through whilst watching passing Fieldfare and Redwing.  I never at that time realised they were also making a long migration back into Central Europe.  I know migration is difficult for small birds, but never realised that such a fragile little butterflies also migrated.
Most of the flora has finished and I guess I might just get some time searching out the rare ferns on Hutton Roof but this will have to wait until the bird migrations have almost finished.


November 2016 - Burton News

Most of last month and probably the first ten days of this month will have been taken up with “vismigging”.  You might just say what on earth is “vismigging”! Well it is a term used in the birding (birdwatching) fraternity which stands for visible bird migration. And I must hold my hand up to being a fully “fledged” vismigger!
As I write this article we are slap bang in the middle of Autumn bird migration (Oct 22nd), with birds passing through Burton in large numbers on their way to their wintering grounds which might just be a short Southerly shift of some 50 or so miles or in some cases will take the birds all the way down and into France or Spain.  Each morning during the time of the migration (mid September to mid November), I will usually be stood above Vicarage Lane observing the behaviour of the birds, whilst at the same time trying to count the amount of birds going through in singles, pairs or much larger parties. And then subsequently offering the records on my own blogsite which can be found at ( and also to the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society and also the records to a European site called Trektellen.
Whilst counting the birds this year I also witnessed not hundreds, but thousands of wasp passing by me in fact at times I was wondering just who was on migration, the wasp were coming past me every few seconds following the line of the ivy clad hedgerows and always in a west to east direction and never seen to return!  Some of these wasp appeared extra large and had me wondering if they could have been hornets.  This movement seemed to go on for days or rather weeks and is still happening has I write this. Where on earth had all these wasp come from and where could they be going? Does anyone have any answers?
After being tipped off about Jackdaws behaving strange and to be seen to be trying to catch insects mid air in a sort of clumsy overgrown flycatcher fashion. It alerted me to take a look outside our house on Glebe Close and sure enough I noticed plumes of a ghostly large white midges up against the Yew tree across the road and just by chance the timing must have been perfect because I also witnessed a Jackdaw come out of the tree and it also behaved so clumsily whilst attempting to try and catch these midges.  Very strange behaviour!
I have already had some good counts during October with the Chaffinch which had their best counts so far on 3rd with 713 birds passing through, and almost 700 on both the 15th and 16th.  It is still possible to get even more yet!  The incoming wintering Thrushes are also doing well passing over Burton with the best count of Redwing on 9th  October when I had 2586 birds over a three hour period all going West. Our Fieldfares are also doing well with a count of 3165 on the 20th and another good count today (as I write this) on the 22nd with a count of 3007 over four hours, on both occasions the birds have headed either North or North West.  Numerous skeins of Pink Footed Geese have gone through and on the 21st  of last month I had four Whooper Swans passing through. Excellent counts this year with Goldfinch.  Also had a late Swallow on the 20th October but guess what, it was heading in a North West direction! Maybe it does not want to leave us!
A record has been passed on to me of a Kingfisher having been seen on one of the local becks down on the mosses.
I wonder what sort of counts tomorrow will bring?


December 2016 - Burton News

Following on from last month I now have the outcome of the 2016 Autumn visible bird migration figures of birds recorded flying over Vicarage Lane of regular daily samples from October 1st to 31st and the numbers totalled as follows: 12,493 Fieldfare, 13,104 Redwing and 12,577 Chaffinches. 138 hours were put in to the counting which generally was between first light and 2 to 4 hours after.  In the majority of cases all birds were seen to head off in a South to South East direction as though heading to Capernwray or Arkholme and onward. This being only a sample count with many more birds actually going over during the full day, makes you wonder just how many would be involved!
It’s been nice to record a couple of parties of Whooper Swans going over Burton whilst calling. I have got used to calling them “A Herd of Whiteness” which is I believe what you call a group of them. Also this Autumn we have been fortunate to record Pintail and Wigeon along with lots of the more commoner Mallard.
It’s that time of year again when if we are lucky may see Thrushes congregating and feasting on the masses of berries which this year seem abundant especially with the Rowans and Hawthorns.
If we are lucky we might just see Waxwings, which this year have and are already being seen in large numbers especially in the North of the County. It was great to receive a recent record from Robert Ashworth who had a small party of four seen on the 5th November in Dalton Crags which were crossing over towards Lancelet Clark Storth. 
Snipe and Woodcock which may well have travelled all the way from the Baltics to get to us and which always like to over winter on Hutton Roof have already been seen but usually only after they are accidentally disturbed and take to the air.
Will the Robin in your garden this Winter be the same Robin you have had in your garden all Summer? Probably not! It could well be one that has moved down from Scotland or even further afield whilst your regular summer Robin could well have moved further South, but there again if you had spoilt your summer robin with lots of juicy mealworms or the like, then probably it will be that same old Robin!


February 2017 - Burton News

I have had further reports of Waxwings being seen on Hutton Roof together with more local records from Dalton hamlet together with a party of twenty being witnessed just off Vicarage Lane. A quick inspection of the berry trees today (Jan 20th) and there is not much left to tempt the passing forager!  Not a lot in the way of Redwing or Fieldfare this year compared to past years, normally Dalton Crags is full of them.

The Pink Footed Geese have been coming over with the odd skein being seen above Burton, but I am told the best skeins may have been witnessed over Elterwater on both the 18th and 19th January.  The birds are probably on their return migration from say Norfolk or Lincolnshire (or even Lancashire) and all moving to a North West direction and eventually coming down at Caerlaverock and congregating with others to feed up before their final exit journey on their way back to Iceland.

Goldcrest having been seen and heard quietly whispering away on both Vicarage Lane and again I heard them whilst climbing up through Dalton Crags. They always say that when you can’t hear the Goldcrest calling, it’s time to order the hearing aids! Well I can just about hear them, but maybe they are getting quieter by the year!  Bullfinches have been heard “piping” their pitiful plaintive call “peeu” from both Dalton Lane and also again from out of the old Vicarage grounds.

On Hutton Roof and Dalton good numbers of Woodcock, Snipe and even occasional Jack Snipe have been recorded, all usually sitting tight until disturbed! It might be nice this coming summer to see if I can actually stay up long enough and make some attempt to try and count the breeding Woodcock – I have lovely memories of the past of roding birds over on Leighton Moss, making that unforgettable call which went something like “kwa- kwa tiswik”

Saying that I have been promising myself for the past few years that I should also try and stop up later and give it a bash looking around Dalton Crags on the summer nights (July) for “gloworms” because I do know they have been seen there in recent years

Yesterday (Jan 20th) I stopped in my tracks on the way back down through Dalton Crags, just at the point where I take the track over the "bonk" (well that’s what I have always called it), and especially because it came into my mind that I must do a short piece on this special place and maybe get a drawing, or sketch a map etc., So what makes it so special and why on earth should I give it a new name and call it "Hypericum Way"? Well you could if you wanted turn it into a lovely short circular walk of up to one hour and cover a short distance of less than a mile, but wait for it! – It’s so special because- you can see Perforatum (H. Perforated), Pulchrum (Slender), Hirsutum (Hairy), Androsaemum (Tutsan), and to round off with the rare Montanum (Pale St. John's), that's five of the hypericum family all very close to one another and all on one short footpath and they look like very friendly neighbours! and the bonus is that when these plants are showing their best, the Tree Pipit and the Garden Warbler will also be serenading you within a "stone throw" away.

It’s a quiet time at the moment, but I guess everyday produces a story if I get out there and really want it!


March 2017 - Burton News

It’s that time of year again (Feb 20th), just noticed a couple of hefty frogs crossing the Close to try and get to their breeding pond.  In certain parts of Cumbria they have road signs showing “Toad Crossings” but really I guess they should be called “Toad and Frog Crossings”. To be honest it’s going on everywhere at this time of year even in our little cul-de-sac!
The Song thrushes have kicked off and are in full song and if you go up Dalton it’ s as if they were having a competition which can sing the loudest and sweetest whilst perched on their uppermost sentinel point. Their cousins the Mistle’s started singing three weeks ago.
I have been sat here enjoying my thoughts of the beautiful song thrush whilst in song at this very time of the year and have written the following poem (with the aid of the thrush) entitled

 "The Language of the Song Thrush (Feb/March time) which I hope you can enjoy:

Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
Some may call him a "Throstle",
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It's such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!
wee hoo whit,
wee hoo whit,
wit woo,
wit woo,
her kleep kleep,
her kleep kleep,
chit chit chit chit,
See-it, see-it"
I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles",
and love to all who'll take time to listen to him.

Now moving on I wish to report a “Exhultation” of Skylarks witnessed to the South of Dalton Crags! OK I will admit it! There was only three – but still a beautiful trio of choristers pleasing the straying eye with their ascending sequences whilst uttering the mimic of the Tree Pipit and others. But most interesting was that this was witnessed on the 5th February – SO EARLY! I don’t think I have ever had them back before Valentine’s Day. It seemed strange watching and listening to them whilst at the same time your cheeks were burning icy cold! I went up again the following day but they had gone – maybe it had got too cold for them so they had headed the short distance back to the coast!

Reports of overhead Oyks (Oystercatchers) and Curlews going high above the village have been brought to my attention.  Also a nice report of a Great White Egret seen down on the mosses was a nice record to receive.
I guess this month, we may get the early Chiffchaff from about the third week (a early regular in most years from the Thornleigh area or further up in Plain Quarry area.  Again from the third week in March I have had the odd early Swallows hawking around the Trig Point on Hutton Roof whilst on their way through, although I would not really expect them with confidence  before about the end of the first week in April. There is every possibility you may be lucky enough to catch a “Herd Of Whiteness” (a group of Whooper Swans) crossing over the village just like I had back in 23rd March 2013.

Hope you enjoy your nature


Burton News – April 2017

The Crags this morning (Mar 21st) were wild and wonderful!  But not much birdlife about.  Why should there be with the wind blowing at about 25 mph SW with regular snow flurries or hailstones and yet after saying that we did have the local Skylark which kept singing throughout.  With the roar of noisy winds and still the intermittent tingling song from that brave songster could be heard.  You looked for the little lark amongst that universe of blue, black and white mixed up sky, and if you were lucky enough to locate him, he seemed to hold his position steady and hardly wavered whilst hovering in ascension and seemed oblivious to whatever the wind threw at him.
Chiffchaff (Craig) our first Warbler of the year had arrived back on March 15th and was calling out with his welcome song “Chiff-Chaff-Chitty”, which you could hear from the Plain Quarry Car Park. Some places in our region had very early arrivals of Chiffchaffs from the 10th of the month onwards. I guess most of Burton’s 30 or so Chiffchaffs should be back with us by about the middle of April at the latest, let’s hope so.
Outside of our immediate area but still close enough there have been early reports of arrivals of Sand Martin, Wheatear and the odd Swallow, so for me it’s well worth checking out the skies on a regular basis looking for the “early birds”.
I have been going up Dalton and Hutton Roof on most days looking for the absent (as yet) Great Grey Shrike, but my main passion at this time of year is to count the Meadow Pipits (Mipits) which can now be seen on most days crossing over the upper Crags or deforested area heading North West to their respective breeding grounds.  The movement made a fine start on March 15th with several birds crossing over the Crags, and if you listened carefully you could be hear their contact calls with their regular “pssst” “pssst” as they flew over.
This month (April) everywhere comes alive and from the end of the first week we will probably get Willow Warblers back with us calling with their welcomed melodic descending warbles. Only a couple of years ago, it was about the middle of April when one morning I had over 100 recorded singing birds between Plain Quarry and Park Wood.  Most of these will have been birds just passing through and will have arrived during the previous evening or come down from the skies at first light.  I think our local population in Dalton and Hutton Roof is probably around 50 pairs at best.
Also our Blackcaps will be returning in early April and their cousins the Garden Warblers will come in from around the last week of April.  Also this month our Tree Pipits will be back in Dalton displaying with their “parachuting” descending flight. I can’t wait to start watching from the last week in April for the rarer larger “Northern Greenland Wheatear” (leucorrhoa) which call off in small parties in upper Dalton and will stay sometimes feeding up for two or three days before moving off.  They tend to co-ordinate their arrival with the early hatch of small crane fly!
I wonder if our Dalton Cuckoo (or Cuckoo’s) will arrive on its regular date which is usually May 1st, although we do have records in the past from mid to late April.


 May 2017 - Burton News

Birdwise April has been a great month as you would expect with the arrival of my first Wheatear (Eurasian Oenanthe) on the 1st of April and seen on the walls of upper Dalton.  On the same day Mike Lee (from off Vicarage Lane) was lucky enough to see a Red Kite going over. Also on the same day down in Manchester several flocks of Redwing numbering approx. 500 in total were seen heading over to the East/North East ( per Simon Johnson). Obviously a sure sign our Thrushes were heading back to their native Scandinavia. The same day I had my first Willow Warblers with three in Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT) and two in Burton Fell.
The day after (April 2nd) also proved productive with a further six Wheatear (Eurasian) plus close by a “Exhultation” of 21 grouped Skylarks in the fields as you commence to climb the pavements on to Farleton Fell.  The following day I could only find three Wheatear, but did have my first of the year Yellowhammer back on territory near to Newbiggin on Farleton.  I also had my first Swallow on April 3rd flying over nearby Dockacres.
Over the month there has been a gradual increase in Willow Warblers and only yesterday (20th April) I had no less than 50 plus singing birds scattered around Dalton and Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT). I remember on or around the same day some 5 years ago when I had over 100 Warblers singing away between Plain Quarry and Park Wood.  Some of these moved on the following day.
Our first Swallow was back on territory at Green Dragon Farm on April 7th ( per Robert at Kendal) and a further three Swallows were back at Russell Farm on April 9th (per Alec at Dalton)
The 12th of April brought in my first Blackcap in Lancelot Clark Storth (lower section) and by the 15th I had no less than six separate birds calling from with Lancelot.
It will not be long now before our beautiful Swifts are gracing our Main Street, screaming away and chasing one another whilst at the same time negotiating the many wires in their paths.  Already a Swift has been seen on 17th April heading North over the Chew Valley further down the Country. I expect ours to be coming back to the village on or within a day or so of the 4th May. People regularly say how can you be so precise with the date! It’s quite simple really because that’s the day which has proved most regular over the last 8 years. I guess for some of us we are a little concerned about their outcome this year with not knowing when the work on the Royal will commence. We are just hoping and perhaps praying that the birds will be able to go about their business without problems in the short time they will be with us and before they head back to Africa in early August. Anyone interested in our “Swift watch” which is usually for one hour or so on a Thursday please come along we meet at the Memorial Hall about one hour before dusk.  Dates and times will be published in our Burton Swift Bird Study Blogsite which can be seen at:
On the 19th of April I had two of the “Big” Wheatear belonging to the leucorrhoa race which call off in Dalton (upper/deforested) on their way to their respective breeding grounds in Greenland, Iceland or the Faroe Islands. To think these birds have travelled all the way up from South Africa and they are only about half way along their journey when they reach us.  The birds are slightly larger (only ringers who have them in the hand would measure the larger primaries. They stand more upright. They are slightly darker on their backs (not always) and they are more orangy around the throat and upper chest, and the best give away is the late arrival time for this species and the usual grouping (mid to late April onwards). Usually the birds time their arrivals with the hatch of small craneflies.
Our pair of Stonechats in Dalton (upper/deforested) have been a pleasure to watch all month whilst on their precarious low perches whilst wavering about in the wind!
Has I write this (April 21st) our Garden Warblers have not yet arrived, although I would expect them any day back to the Plain Quarry, Lower Dalton areas.  Our Cuckoo generally makes his appearance about the 1st of May, our local House Martins should be back any day and of course our long awaited Swifts from early May.
Our flowers are doing very well and this month (April) have seen, Dog Violets, Parsley Piert, Primrose and the start of Cowslips, Rue Leaved Saxifrage, and only yesterday (20th April) several of the Early Purple Orchids have started to show with much Magenta starting to show through.  The most beautiful Blue Moor Grass has sprung everywhere and before long the Wild Strawberries will be coming out, they are in flower as I write.


June 2017 - Burton News

Right on cue! with some of our Swifts arriving back with us on May 5th with increases in numbers over the following days. We have already started our village Swift watches which are usually held on Thursday evening’s meeting at the Memorial Hall at 1900hrs and everyone would be very welcome to attend.  So far we have had two meets and we already think that we could have counted over twenty Swifts in the skies over Burton and the Swifts are already the birds are showing much interest in their regular nesting sites at the Royal and the Manor and both Cocking Yard and Clawthorpe Hall. They are fascinating to watch as they scream whilst chasing one another low over the village and other times you may struggle to see them because they have climbed to such a great altitudes.
This last month (May) has seen arrivals by all the regular summer visitors which have travelled great distances (thousands of miles) to be with us at this time of year for the purpose of their breeding and have included Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers.  Additionally I have also had two separate sightings along the Canal of the beautiful little Sedge Warblers which have been a pleasure to watch and to listen to.
The Cuckoo came back early this year and was present from the 24th April in Dalton Crags (upper) and we have also had two more Cuckoo’s recorded as well, one of these must have been one of the females which showed some brown around the neckline. I wonder who the host victims will be this year – more than likely a choice between the Meadow Pipit and the Tree Pipit. It’s not unknown for the Cuckoo to choose host as small as a Wren!
It’s great to see our resident Stonechats are still with us and breeding in Dalton Crags, just at the time of writing (May 21st) the male bird is stunning with such a colourful plumage and at times emitting its “alarm chakking call”.
Well it looks great at the moment with most of the birds safely back and all the regular sites plus some new ones as well seem to be taken up.  I have to press checked 75% of the sites so far and all looks good for another year.
Not too sure about the Swallows because their numbers have been dwindling for some time now (not just a local trend but more of a national trend) with numbers down at most of our local farms but no factual evidence to back this up.
These sunny days have produced some nice butterflies over the past month with record numbers of the lovely yellow Brimstones being seen in Dalton hamlet, Plain Quarry and several places on Hutton Roof.  We have also seen good numbers of Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Orange Tips and more recently Speckled Woods and this week we have had our first sightings of Dinghy Skippers on Hutton Roof. I don’t think it will be long now before we are starting to see our Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries flitting about.
It’s just the right time now to go out and look at the splendid Lily Of The Valley flowers which we are so fortunate to have within our nearby limestone pavements and for me the best population has to be hidden away in Dalton Crags.  Also there are fabulous populations of the lovely “Bugle” and “Yellow Pimpernel” is reasonably common.  Our ferns are also looking good especially the rare (but local for us) Rigid Buckler Fern is looking really well and can be seen well in both Dalton and other parts of Hutton Roof.  Also well worth watching out for Angular Solomon’s Seal which makes its appearance this month and can be seen tucked safely away in the shallow limestone grikes.  The Early Purple Orchids are now almost over for another year and yet another rare orchid – the Fly Orchid is just starting to show. Worth checking out Plain Quarry and seeing all the Fairy Foxglove growing from the ledges of the limestone rocks. (Best now May 21st).
If you want to read a regular digest of Nature Notes why not check out my Blog which is called “I Love Arnside and Silverdale (but really it’s all about Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof) which can be found on the internet at the following address:


July 2017 - Burton News

So far it’s been a strange “how do you do” with our Swifts and although we did get good numbers in early May on their arrival, the numbers seem to have dropped off a bit since.  Some of the villagers are checking them on Thursday nights when we set off from the Memorial Hall at around 8pm and try and check out their status.  So far we have not yet been able to confirm birds present at a couple of the regular breeding sites, but there again we could be missing them! Hopefully we will soon get on top of the situation and have good news to report soon. If you want to join us on our Swift watch please come along you would be most welcome. If you want more information we have our own Burton Swift webpage on the internet which you can easily access from the following address:
I wonder where does time seem to go? Already we are half way through the twelve week Swift season and by the end of July our Swifts will be departing Burton and setting off on their long journey back to Africa.
We are well on with the bird breeding season and most of the little beauties have gone quiet now with just the occasional flurry of song from the many Warblers we have in and around the village. The Warblers who have travelled all the way up from Africa and the Continent to be with us seem to be in good numbers this year especially our Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs with more territories than ever being recorded.  We have also done well this year with the Garden Warblers, Redstarts and the Whitethroats.
It was over a week ago since our Cuckoo was last seen (14th June) and he or she will be well on their way back to Africa by the time you read this.  As a rule our local Cuckoo departs somewhere around the middle of June and her offspring will be raised by the unsuspecting foster parents before they themselves leave during early August.  It beats me how they know how to get back to Africa on their own steam without being shown by a parent bird.  It’s obviously all built into that egg! (see illustration)
Some of the rarer butterflies are now on the wing and I have been seeing regular numbers of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Dinghy Skippers and lots of Small Heaths whilst up on Hutton Roof.  By the time this article goes to print I would also expect to start seeing Ringlets, and the larger fritillaries like the Dark Green Fritillary and if we are really lucky maybe the rarer High Brown Fritillary and another special we have here the Northern Brown Argus.
This is one of the best times of the year for me, because it is the start of our rare orchid season when we have all those specials like the Dark Red Helleborines and the Broad Leaved Helleborines in flower on Hutton Roof. I love looking for them and taking photographs of them. I have over the years done surveys and counted no less than 2000 of the Dark Reds and some 500 of the Broad Leaved. Hutton Roof is the second most important area in the whole of the United Kingdom for the Dark Red Helleborines.  And it gets better! The two mentioned orchids do get together and hybridize and produce a beautiful strong plant which goes by the name of Epipactis Schmalhausenii (as yet no common name). Hutton Roof is the only place in the whole of the UK where these rare hybrids can be found and as a rule I usually have somewhere around the mid- teens to check each year. We also have many rare variations of Orchids which I guess make it a attraction to the many orchid lovers.
At first I wasn’t sure what they were because they looked very much like little snakes, but I soon realized that they were a group (not sure of pluralities!) of Slow Worms huddled up together and right on the summit of Hutton Roof. I was difficult to try and count them but we do estimate there were four in number.  What surprised me most was the place I found them, because the area would have very little in the way of water.
Hope you have a enjoyable start to the summer with equinox having just gone.  Time just seems to go so quickly.

Sloworms huddled together on top of Hutton Roof


September 2017 - Burton News.

Well it keeps coming around but oh too quickly for me!
When our Swifts disappear from our skies and the screaming stops so abruptly – no more entertainment from those special aerial acrobatics dashing up Main Street with only a foot or so from the tarmac road at times, or chasing one another in a noisy screeching regimental display like a team of “red or black arrows” with the ultimate precision.  Well already I may be getting withdrawals and must now accept that there twelve week season is again over for another twelve months.
For the village Swift watchers it’s been a funny sort of season with very few birds seen during the normal daylight hours and we think they have been getting the bulk of their insects from outside of the village.  This year we expect that at least 22 nest sites have been occupied within the village producing at least 35 young birds (estimated) which is more or less in line with most years.
We think the bulk of the Burton birds left us in 3 separate departures with a lot of birds on the morning of the 6th August, then a secondary bulk departure of at least a further 20 plus on the morning of Friday 11th August and then a final small party of eight or so on Sunday the 13th August.  But that is not the full story! Because has I write this column (18th August 2017) I did see a straggler Swift still hawking the skies last night just behind the King’s Arms, we suspect that the bird is part of a pair which has nested on the front of the Royal Cottage building, and so it will be very interesting to see just how late this birds goes! So it’s eyes to the sky for a few more days yet!  On behalf of Burton folk thank you Swifts for yet another great year and have a safe journey back to the African Congo, I suspect most of you are well on the way.
Oh it’s been a good year for our Orchids (a real cracker!!) with record numbers of Dark Red Helleborines and also Broad Leaved Helleborines, just on Burton Fell I reckon I counted over 650 Dark Reds and 138 Broad Leaved, but I guess on the whole of Hutton Roof there could be in excess of 2000 Dark Reds and maybe some 400 Broad Leaves. The season produced some stunning looking plants and like most years some of them were extra special with several varieties and not only that we also have the rarer suspected hybrids amongst them. Like most years I have taken lots and lots of photographs of our orchids and you may wish to check them out on my orchid devoted website at ( There is so much interesting stuff going on up on the Fell, but again as I write the Orchid season comes to an abrupt end, so I must now try and catch up on my records and writings over the coming months.  I guess we still have one flower which should be at it’s best right about now and that’s the “Fellwort” or “Autumn Gentian” (Gentianella campestris) I have recorded this just leaving the Trig heading East, or leaving Uberash Breast heading down the footpath towards the parking areas – almost following a horizontal line of Burton Fell boundary wall.  It’s also seen on the footpath heading from Clawthorpe Lane park up area heading towards the Farleton side yet keeping tight to the boundary wall on the West side.
Most of the summer butterflies have now dropped off, although we are still getting lovely Peacocks Brimstones and Commas, but as I write I am seeing very worn Meadow Browns and good numbers still of the White butterflies.  Also lots of dragonflies this week in particular, they are so flitty as they fly over the bracken of the Burton Fell areas.
Thankfully we still have lots of Swallows and House Martins in the village and over the coming weeks I will prepare myself for starting off with the “Visible Bird Migration Counts” which I tend to do annually usually from good watch point areas highly elevated on Vicarage Lane, although sometimes (depending on the species, weather and winds) I do also sometimes observe from up near Whinn Yeates. Eg: (Whinn Yeates is best for moving Meadow Pipits N to S direction) and (Vicarage Lane is best for moving Chaffinch NW to SE directions) I guess we are so lucky to have all this happening on our own doorstep! It really is so satisfying to be able to see such spectacles, the only drawback might be that I need to set my alarm clock much earlier, because it is the “early bird” hours that are the best.
If you do want to check any of my “Wildlife Blogs” maybe I can suggest you head too:

“I Love Arnside and Silverdale” is at:

“Epipactis Atrorubens and More” is at:

“Burton Swift Bird Study Group” is at:


November 2017 - Burton News 

Well this past month for me as all been down to bird migration and I have had little time for anything else. I am literally up with the birds every morning, or maybe a little bit before them! And even in the shrouds of darkness I will take my position near the brow of Vicarage Lane, at the top of Mike Taylor’s fields.  So to the owners of the passing cars if you were wondering who that chap was with the flat cap and just stood there with his binoculars around his neck or sat down in his collapsable seat, that will probably be me.
It’s a cracking place to start the morning just so you can get an idea of what’s going on and which directions most of the birds are heading. The majority of birds that are crossing through will have come from the Lythe Valley areas and beyond and after passing me overhead will leave by heading in the directions of maybe Caton or even the Trough of Bowland and onward with their South Easterly routing. Although at this point the main corridor which they use will be to the South East, occasionally you will get slight deviations from this because of the winds on that particular day and the birds will make small adjustments accordingly eg instead of SE may go SSE or even South  Another good area I use is a little bit further on the lane and down into the dip, I think Mike says it is called “The Tram”.  Now this is also good to get a closer view of the whole of the West flank of Hutton Roof on one side whilst at the same time able to observe the “horizon” view in front of you, which can be really good for picking up birds crossing over from Curwen Wood and Farleton areas before they cross over Lancelot and fly above Dalton and onward. The only drawback about this particular viewpoint is that on a sunny day the sun rises directly in front of you and can make things quite unbearable for direct watching (which is certainly not recommended) and you need to do what I do and sort of “peep” the view, let me try and explain. If you see me stood there with my umbrella opened up on a lovely sunny day it is because I am using the brolly purely to try and block out the direct sun and therefore “peeping” down the sides of the brolly to see birds crossing over and it does work! Gosh I bet this can be a very strange sight to the passer-by but yes it does go on. I assure you I have not lost it, YET!
So down to business, I guess the main quarry at this time of year at this site are Chaffinch of which on good migration days in Mid- October you can if you are lucky get as many as 1000 birds passing through at the Vicarage Lane site, but that would be exceptional. Between say 100 and 500 numbers are more regular, but on a poor day you rarely get less than 100 over a couple of hours. Goldfinches also do well here and most mornings I will get between 50 and 100 passing through in their small tight groups which you instantly recognize by their low bobbing type flight.  Another bird to do well especially this year maybe the Linnet which I have had some good little parties come through over the past couple of days. Enough said about the small passerine birds and now what about the finches!
It’s also a great time for the Thrushes, with the last couple of days producing parties of Redwings and just the odd party of Fieldfares.  The Redwings will have travelled down from Iceland or may well have travelled across the North Sea from the Scandinavia’s to be with us for the Winter. Only yesterday (20th Oct) nearly 100,000 Redwings were recorded entering the country from various points starting at the Shetlands and all the way down the East coast. All those birds are expected to cross over the country in the next few days and probably joined by even more which will come in on a daily basis. Fortunately this year we do have really good stocks of berries on the hawthorns, rowans etc which should go a long way to help them get through the Winter months.
Well we have recently had storm “Orphelia” on the 16th of October and we are now having storm “Brian” right now has I write this article, so between them we have had some terrific winds blowing at 30mph with gust exceeding 40mph, probably sensible would have been to stop at home, but I needed to go out and witness the situation of how the birds were managing this adverse weather on their migration and to be honest did not really expect to see much, but quite to the contrary I found quite a lot of birds braving these storms almost head on and going through whilst trying to cut the winds with much “side on” flight and being taken through by the wind and occasionally would get chance to try and compensate their positions in between the wind breaks. Some of them would get blown back and had to go in a large arc and try again and again and again, but they did and would eventually get through although I am sure at the same time they must have burnt up lots of energy in their quest.
Over the past month (October) I have also had numerous parties of Pink Footed Goose go through to the South West (probably to Martin Mere) and some heading South East (probably to Lincolnshire and Norfolk.  On one day I was very privileged to have a small party of Whooper Swans which went over Burton heading in the direction of Ingleborough.
I’ll finish off now so I can get a early night in readiness for yet another watch tomorrow morning when you never know the Fieldfare may just well have started coming through.
Before I forget I must try also to get up on Dalton Crags soon because the Shrike could well make his attendance in November – the just would be the icing on the cake!!.


 December 2017 - Burton News

Well I feel like crying!  Yes we never really got our Fieldfare this year, most of them must have travelled straight down Europe without crossing over to the UK. It’s a real shame for the birders because this species is probably one of the most “waited in anticipation for” out of all the Winter migrants!  We did get a sampling of 2,681 birds on the 30th October and also a further 925 birds over Burton on 1st November, but that’s been it! We would in most years get at least 7-10 thousand of the “chackers” coming through this area, and what about back in 2009 when I had over 20,000 mixed thrushes in a single morning coming over Whin Yeates and I think this included 10 thousand or more Fieldfares.  No one knows for sure why we have not had them this year, but most seem to think that the weather conditions were never right for a good East to West move this year and for most of the period we held blocking winds (Westerlies) right at the crucial time of their anticipated crossing of the North Sea.  After saying that, we are noticing some nice nomadic parties feeding up in the areas of both Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.  Lots of berries around this year so the ones that have come through have plenty to go at.
Maybe few thrushes however this year has been something really special for the numerous Hawfinch that have entered the country from the East side.  It’s quite obvious they must have been struggling getting food and have decided to make the long journey west to join us.  There have been well over 1,000 additional records throughout the Country of Hawfinches during the past couple of months. One bird which bore a ring was actually found dead close to one of the bird observatories in the South of England and they checked the bird which was very emaciated and well below its necessary weight to survive and it was confirmed to have been previously rung in the Netherlands. We have had three Hawfinch recorded from Hutton Roof this year, whether these are continentals or some of our local stock birds we will never know! Odd records of Waxwings are just starting to come through from East Lancashire so I wonder if they will arrive up here in due course. Also a Hoopoe was seen around the middle of November in the Lancaster district.  But I guess the jewel in the crown has to be a late Swallow seen on November 17th at Leighton Moss.
I have been kindly invited by Anne and Barry to offer one of my presentations at the Burton Memorial Hall on Thursday evening 25th January 2018 to commence at 7.30pm.  This one is about Birds and their Migrations through our village, which we expect to witness each year, and I have included lots of information and some superb bird photos together with lots of comical sketches which I am sure you would enjoy. Also lots of bird calls for you to familiarize yourself with and I have included some accounts of our Great Grey Shrike visits and some interesting tales about our “yafflers” the Green Woodpeckers and not forgetting our fabulous little Warblers.  It would be so nice if you were to come along and support our Memorial Hall’s branching out into regular nature presentations. And during February we are also having a further presentation by the local Swift experts Tanya and Edmund Hoare from Sedbergh, who will be giving an insight into the life of our Swifts. In these future presentations it is hoped to cover all aspects of local nature which will be delivered by experts in their fields.  I will also be doing another presentation which captures the rare wild flowers of Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof together with its magnificent nationally rare Orchids and besides lots of photos, lots of other interesting information, but that’s for another day.


February 2018 - Burton News

Well at long last I am sure we are on the winning side!  It is becoming lighter and hopefully soon a little warmer…
Only last week (around the middle of January) I was getting local reports of skeins of Pink Footed Geese moving over Burton in a North West/West direction.  These could probably be birds on their way back through from Lincolnshire or Norfolk and heading to the West to say Caerlaverock near Dumfries where they will spend time feeding up, before they decide to make their long journeys back to Iceland or even Greenland.  It is so regular of an event on dates around the middle of January.  After saying that there are still many migratory geese who may stay around until the middle of March.
The large Whooper Swans can sometimes be seen heading North West over Burton village at a date somewhere around March 15th to 21st. They also will be on their return journeys back to Iceland or maybe Greenland. I have seen groups with as many as 20 in one party, some call this a “wedge” or a “gaggle” but to be honest with you my favourite plural for Swans is “a herd of whiteness”. It is so special to witness this and always gives me the expression of excitement and amazement!
I did start to notice changes during early January with thrushes behaviour, they are becoming more intolerant of one another by their fighting and chasing, as though exhibiting territorial authority or perhaps early indications of pairing up in readiness of yet another breeding season etc.  Also in early January I noticed that Mistle Thrushes had started singing again. But the beauty of them all for me as yet to appear with the song of the “Throstle” and very soon now (anyday) I would expect to start hearing Song Thrushes (or throstle’s) giving us their most varied vocal repertoire’s from the high points of the highest conifers near to “Nineteen Trees” or from the ancient trees of the Old Vicarage amongst the many locations around the village.
Talking about thrushes, this year has been very poor for Fieldfare and Redwing numbers compared to most years.  As a rule I would see them on most days whilst traversing Dalton Crags with many birds present, in fact sometimes over one hundred or so feeding up within the lower crags, but this year it is quite noticeable to me that they just seem to be absent! (or almost!)  This probably correlates to the very poor year we had with birds entering this country back in October and November.
Our regular Stonechats have definitely over wintered on Dalton Crags again this year and have been seen on most visits by myself and several reports from others.  Also in early January I received reports that a pair of Meadow Pipits were seen on the Common which probably indicates that they may have also over wintered as well.  Plenty of continental Snipe and Woodcock present on Hutton Roof.  Also had reports that the Marsh Tits and the Tree Sparrows have also been seen.  Sometimes just around the trees above Plain Quarry at this time of year you can see a massive collective roving party of small birds which in the past have numbered anything up to one hundred or so (collective) and will probably include: Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits and Robins and Dunnocks, and if you are really lucky you may be fortunate to see Brambling as well.
Please don’t forget the next nature presentation which will be given in the Memorial Hall on Thursday February 22nd and it’s called “Celebrating Our Swifts” and given by our local Swift experts Tanya and Edmund Hoare from Sedbergh.  If you love our Swifts then you must come along, because you will really enjoy this lovely presentation in celebration of the aerial wizards.


February 2018 - Burton News

Well at long last I am sure we are on the winning side!  It is becoming lighter and hopefully soon a little warmer…
Only last week (around the middle of January) I was getting local reports of skeins of Pink Footed Geese moving over Burton in a North West/West direction.  These could probably be birds on their way back through from Lincolnshire or Norfolk and heading to the West to say Caerlaverock near Dumfries where they will spend time feeding up, before they decide to make their long journeys back to Iceland or even Greenland.  It is so regular of an event on dates around the middle of January.  After saying that there are still many migratory geese who may stay around until the middle of March.
The large Whooper Swans can sometimes be seen heading North West over Burton village at a date somewhere around March 15th to 21st. They also will be on their return journeys back to Iceland or maybe Greenland. I have seen groups with as many as 20 in one party, some call this a “wedge” or a “gaggle” but to be honest with you my favourite plural for Swans is “a herd of whiteness”. It is so special to witness this and always gives me the expression of excitement and amazement!
I did start to notice changes during early January with thrushes behaviour, they are becoming more intolerant of one another by their fighting and chasing, as though exhibiting territorial authority or perhaps early indications of pairing up in readiness of yet another breeding season etc.  Also in early January I noticed that Mistle Thrushes had started singing again. But the beauty of them all for me as yet to appear with the song of the “Throstle” and very soon now (anyday) I would expect to start hearing Song Thrushes (or throstle’s) giving us their most varied vocal repertoire’s from the high points of the highest conifers near to “Nineteen Trees” or from the ancient trees of the Old Vicarage amongst the many locations around the village.
Talking about thrushes, this year has been very poor for Fieldfare and Redwing numbers compared to most years.  As a rule I would see them on most days whilst traversing Dalton Crags with many birds present, in fact sometimes over one hundred or so feeding up within the lower crags, but this year it is quite noticeable to me that they just seem to be absent! (or almost!)  This probably correlates to the very poor year we had with birds entering this country back in October and November.
Our regular Stonechats have definitely over wintered on Dalton Crags again this year and have been seen on most visits by myself and several reports from others.  Also in early January I received reports that a pair of Meadow Pipits were seen on the Common which probably indicates that they may have also over wintered as well.  Plenty of continental Snipe and Woodcock present on Hutton Roof.  Also had reports that the Marsh Tits and the Tree Sparrows have also been seen.  Sometimes just around the trees above Plain Quarry at this time of year you can see a massive collective roving party of small birds which in the past have numbered anything up to one hundred or so (collective) and will probably include: Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits and Robins and Dunnocks, and if you are really lucky you may be fortunate to see Brambling as well.

Please don’t forget the next nature presentation which will be given in the Memorial Hall on Thursday February 22nd and it’s called “Celebrating Our Swifts” and given by our local Swift experts Tanya and Edmund Hoare from Sedbergh.  If you love our Swifts then you must come along, because you will really enjoy this lovely presentation in celebration of the aerial wizards.


March 2018 - Burton News

Thanks especially to all who attended my presentation recently in the Memorial Hall. I was well pleased with the capacity turn out and the warm reception I received from the people of Burton and much further afield.  Our forthcoming nature presentation is by local geology expert Peter Standing who will give his lecture which is called “50 Shades of Grey Limestone” on 22nd of this month in the Memorial Hall.  He will be telling us amongst other things about the wealth of local geology which we have on our own doorstep! 
It’s been great this week (as I write 20th February 2018) to have a little sunshine and several hints of Spring or of nature awakening for yet another year.
It is that time of year when we might just be lucky and receive a visit from the Great Grey Shrike, remember the one! which is also called the “butcher bird” because it impales its prey on the hawthorn trees we have up near the Trig Point.  Although I have been up there checking and so far we are drawing a blank, but there again he may come on his regular day of arrival, which would be the 4th March.  So far Shrikes have already been seen in the country at Dorset, Gloucestershire and Northumberland so fingers crossed and lots of walks up the Crags to the Trig point! It’s now almost four years since we had a visit so we are long overdue for another visit.
There are two special things that for me kick off the “nature calendar (or year)”, the first is the early return of the Skylark and to hear her in full song! A few days ago I was able to confirm that “Sky” was back on territory over by Dalton Crags (upper), she is always the very first of our larks to return. She sounded so happy with her lovely song of Spring, which she sang whilst ascending towards the heavens!  And I guess the other special thing just has to be the versatile “Song Thrush” who so pleasantly sings from the uppermost branch of the tree, and will give off “wolf whistles” and lots of many, varied vocal pleasantries to anyone who is prepared to listen.  I feel I can listen to the “throstle” and enjoy writing his song into verse with many words in a sort of English language, not that he would every understand it.

The Language of the Song Thrush (March time)
Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
some may call him a “Throstle”,
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It’s such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!,
Wee hoo whit,
Wee hoo whit,
Wit Woo,
Wit Woo,
Her Kleep Kleep
Her Kleep Kleep,
Chit chit chit chit,
See-it, See-it”
I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles"
and his love to all who’ll take time to listen
29th March 2015

Reports have been coming in of individual sightings of Little Egrets being seen in the fields above Vicarage Lane and a couple of days ago I too managed to see one crossing the ploughed fields low to the ground in the same area.  Also had some nice reports from Reg saying that his Yellowhammers have also been visiting his garden in Morewood, which seems to have become an annual pilgrimage for them at this time of the year and long may it continue, but as yet very few other local records of Yellowhammers from the houses (off Vicarage Lane), although we do have another record of them being seen over on Mowbray Drive.  I have had some nice sightings of the Tree Sparrows and also had occasional reports of them mainly from the Vicarage Lane areas.  It’s been so nice to be able to confirm that Marsh Tits are regulars and seen and heard in Lancelot Clarke and also they are holding territory from areas along the “Nineteen Trees” stretch and quite regularly visit the bird table at Pear Tree Cottage which Alec and Linda have had the pleasure to witness over recent months.
Information is also coming through that our Cuckoos have now left South Africa and are currently heading North, in fact one of the radio-tagged birds has already reached the west coast of Mid-Africa.  We normally get our first bird back in Dalton Crags somewhere around the 1st May.

I would imagine the first butterflies should start emerging this month and certainly worth looking out on sunny days for the lovely Brimstone. 

April 2018 - Burton News

It’s been a lovely day today (March 20th) and I guess Vernal Equinox has come round again and for once it’s sunny! So let’s hope things are beginning to get better, it’s been a crazy month with the weather, and subsequently the wildlife have obviously been on a roller coaster with strong winds, heavy rains, plenty of snow and everything else in between.
At the beginning of March there were plenty of displaced Tewits (Lapwings) about and they were reported from the back of Dalton Business Centre, also I had them at the field opposite the Old Station Pub (now rebuilt into a large dwelling) and what we think may have been the same birds were seen again in the fields opposite Church Bank, also spending time in Curwen Wood Park. More were also reported from Hilderstone.
Also at the beginning of the month we had lots of reports of Fieldfare around with a party of at least 100 in Curwen Wood Park, also individuals or small parties were recorded from both Vicarage Close stripping some rowan berries, and also an individual feeding in a garden on Morewood Drive. Also a party of about twenty birds reported from Dalton hamlet. Also had some nice reports of a 200 party heading North over Burton and also some in the fields at Hilderstone (records via Reg).
The Yellowhammers are still visiting Reg’s garden up on Morewood Drive on a daily basis.
Song Thrushes are singing on their territory but most have been a little subdued because of the weather, the same situation has occurred with our territorial Skylarks, although after saying that things began to spring back to normal today (March 20th), I had several on territory and singing on Holme Park Fell.
I was wondering if we have had a “fall” of Stonechats I had up to five in upper Dalton Crags on March 13th with a further two seen the following day on Holme Park Fell, normally we would only have our resident overwintering pair on Dalton Crags.  Also had a large party of up to 30 Meadow Pipits crossing over Holme Park Fell and heading out to the NW on the same day as the Stonechats.
Sand Martins were seen at Leighton Moss on March 15th and a possible Swallow was crossing Holme Stinted Pastures on 19th March. A Wheatear was reported back at Ocean Edge foreshore at Heysham on March 16th and also up to five Chiffchaffs were reported on the same day down at Middleton Nature Reserve nr. Heysham.
Further afield flocks of up to 700 Hawfinches have been reported down in Surrey.
Please be on the look out for “Herds of Whiteness” (Whooper Swans) passing over Burton heading North which they normally do anytime between the (18th March and the first week in April).
This next month should see our Swallows coming in good numbers from about the end of the first week and peaking towards the third week of April. Our House Martins can be a little later than the Swallows and our Swifts should be back with us from anytime from the last few days in April, but usually about the first week in May. Also in April we will get our Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and towards the end of the month we should start to see our Garden Warblers and Tree Pipits. From mid-April it is always worth checking out upper Dalton Crags for the “big” Wheatear (Northern Greenland “leuchorrae” group) which may stop off for a day or two to feed up and break their long journey to Iceland or Greenland (or even the Faroe Islands). And also in the last week of April (but usually May 1st) we may get our Cuckoo’s back in Dalton Crags.
Hutton Roof’s beautiful sweet smelling Daphne Mezereone is going to be late this year and expected to flower around the end of the first week in April and so I have already got a visit booked in my diary. Also I have been checking out lots of Early Purple Orchid rosettes at the top of Lancelot Clark Storth now beginning to show and hopefully we should have yet another good show anytime from the middle of April onwards.
I have been invited to give my presentation “Orchids and Rare flora of Hutton Roof” at the Memorial Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday April 26th. I am hoping to show some lovely orchid photos along with several showing the rare hybrid and the many varieties we have up on Hutton Roof which are of National importance. I am sure if you are interested in the flora of our local area you would enjoy this, so please come along on the night, it would be great to see you and you would also be helping to support our Memorial Hall funds. 


May 2018 - Burton News  

It was great yesterday (19th April 2018) to feel that sunshine and what a difference it made to the birds especially the migrants. I checked out Holme Stinted Pastures, Holme Park Fell, Farleton, Hutton Roof common, Burton Fell and Lancelot and counted no less than 38 Willow Warblers in song and that was only on my path, there could well have been over one hundred on the Hutton Roof Complex as a whole, but despairingly only about 4 Chiffchaffs which at this stage appear to be well down I would normally have counted maybe 8 by now covering the same territory!  Not only was I treated to these fabulous little Warblers, but also had my first of the year Northern Greenland Wheatear which were obviously feeding up and would probably disperse by nightfall to proceed on their fantastic journey towards Greenland or Iceland or even the Faroe Islands, also had my first Tree Pipit which gave me the added spectacle of a fine display by leaving the high tree and climbing in a vertical line to a high point where it then parachuted down on bowed wings whilst at the same time delivering the most beautiful of calls before it again alighted on a much lower tree. I also had my first of the year Blackcaps in Lancelot. What a day it was and not forgetting the Stonechat and the Yellowhammer.
The following couple of days also brought more migrants over the Hutton Roof complex with a further 40 Willow Warblers (bringing my total to 78), 2 Chiffchaffs and 1 Common Whitethroat in Lancelot, another Blackcap and a Garden Warbler now in at Plain Quarry. The breeding pair of Stonechat were seen again yesterday (21st April) in Dalton Crags deforested.
The lovely weather has brought out the butterflies with several Peacocks recorded and nice to have a very early male Orange Tip, my first Comma in Lancelot and a Brimstone in Plain Quarry Car Park.
I am told from a good source (the Warden) that Whitbarrow (Hervey Reserve) that they had their first Cuckoo arrival yesterday (19th April 2018) which is quite early, we normally get ours up on Dalton Crags around the last few days of April or a regular date is the 1st of May.  More great news I learnt was that the first of our local Redstarts arrived back just off Dalton Lane on the 18th, thanks to Alec for letting me know. Robert from Kendal sent me his report for the 19th when he had 2 Blackcaps singing away at Plain Quarry and also a further 3 Tree Pipits in Dalton Crags.
Earlier Notes: Looking back over the month the first Wheatear (Eurasian) was reported over at Farleton on March 25th (thanks to Steve M), I had a “Herd of Whiteness” with 16 Whooper Swans heading NW over Farleton on March 29th, my first Chiffchaff calling in Holme Stinted Pastures on March 29th. Had my first two Swallows on the lines at Cowan Bridge on 9th April and also my first Willow Warbler on Holme Stints on the same day.  Also an extremely early record of the first House Martin returned to Dalton Hall on that same day. I had 2 Brambling in Lower Dalton Crags and also another Chiffchaff from the Plain Quarry population was recorded. Also on the 13th Victor (Chiffchaff) arrived back from just behind Vicarage lane (thanks Mary). Also another Chiffchaff on the canal was heard on 18th (thanks Sandra).
I have found some more of the rare Daphne Mezereone up on Holme Stinted Pastures, just starting to go over, but still managed a lovely photo or two and will obviously keep my eye on this for next year.
Some of our beautiful local woods are beginning to get carpeted with lovely Wood Anemone and Bluebells and populations of Herb Paris are starting to show.  The Early Purple Orchids are about three week away yet but building good rosettes. Can you believe far South of England and the plants are already out at their best!
“So where are the Swallows today, yesterday and everyday,
The skies are so quiet without your “chattering”, come back soon I pray”


June 2018 - Burton News

Can’t be absolutely sure but I do think we have at least two pairs of Cuckoos on Hutton Roof, we have our usual one that frequents Dalton Crags and Lancelot, and we have another calling bird that frequents a line between Newbigging, Kelker and the Rakes (part info thanks to Mike Westgate). On several occasions last year and again this year I have heard a bird calling from West of the timber yard as though in a wooded clough or forestry area.  I cannot weigh up whether this is one of our birds already mentioned or whether it is a new location!
On 5th May along with John Osborne (Natural England), we did our annual “Dawn Chorus” walk over in Park Wood for the Hutton Roof Village and for once we got great weather and as usual had a good attendance to check out the 15 species which included some of our migrants including the Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Willow Warblers. We were also pleased to hear the distant Cuckoo.
This year has been exceptional around our area especially with Garden Warblers and Willow Warblers, with all the regular territories taken up but lots more new territories formed as well.  It’s really good to report good news for a change.  I have not yet done my annual Redstart survey, but already I have had the Kelker bird calling from his usual spot!
Just as you may expect, the lovely Early Purple Orchids have been outstanding, with several hundred on the top of Burton Fell and again a couple of hundred at the top of Holme Stinted Pastures. I managed to check most of the variables which is of particular interest to me, and did find a couple of nice mixed tone colours amongst the many magenta offerings.  Our sole double pure white albino Early Purple Orchid in Lancelot did come through OK again this year and did start to look stunning but sadly got taken down by hare or rabbit just before it’s prime.  I think perhaps I will try and cage this one in readiness for next year’s appearance.
We are having a great year with the Fly Orchids just starting to flower (20th May), I have done a rough survey from the six sites I have found on Hutton Roof and our total numbers stand at 30 flowers (approx.). Already only last week we found a further 7 new to us plants to add to the records (thanks to help from Dr. Richard “Hawkeye”)
The primula’s have been phenomenal this year with good numbers of Primrose, but an exceptional yield of cowslip especially in the areas of Dalton Crags (deforested) and parts of upper Lancelot.
Our beautiful Angular Solomon’s Seal came on very quickly, it had shoots of 2” by the 5th May, yet within ten days the first flowers were showing from the same plant. I have so far checked out about 10 populations out of our total of 40 populations on Hutton Roof and most of them are looking great.
Our rare ferns are looking pristine at the moment especially the unravelling new Rigid Buckler Ferns and the Limestone Ferns, I need to get up on the very top and check out our special Holly Ferns soon.
Last months (May) butterflies so far have included a lovely Holly Blue on Burton Fell (record via Robert Ashworth), also I had my first Dingy Skipper at Plain Quarry on 21st May and I have recorded, Peacocks, Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, Large Whites and Green Veined Whites
One day I decided to do some photography of plant shoots and to see how long it was before they reached a mature flower and in some cases it was only a question of a fortnight from “the off”.

“Shooting shoots along the way
Some rare stuff in Morecambe Bay,
They “log on” in the month of May,
Creating the most enjoyable of days

Four of our village Swifts arrived back by 1930hrs on the evening of May 3rd and by May 11th the numbers had swelled up to 15 birds.  We held our first Swift watch on 17th May when members of our group met at the Memorial Hall at 2000hrs and did a count of all the regular nest sites.  We did establish at least one of the regular sites being used.  It’s very early days yet!  If anyone would like to join us why not come along on a Thursday night.  If you just fancy reading about our Swifts then why not go online to our dedicated “Swift site” which can be reached at:


August 2018 - Burton News

Well the Orchids are well over now! Where usually they would have gone on into the middle of August, but all this dry weather has reaped havoc causing severe dehydration to both our Orchids and for that matter lots of other plants as well.  I guess a term could be summed up as “short lived bloom”
Not all,  but most of the Dark Red Helleborines came through OK, but quickly went over, and the heavier build rare hybrids (Schmalhauseneii) which I guess need far more rain to survive all suffered with stunted growth and quite a lot just gave up midway during their growth and eventually receded back to the ground.  Also I checked my regular study area on Burton Fell where we have over 150 of the Broad Leaved Helleborines and none of them made it to full maturity.  Again they too suffered with severe dehydration and just gave up.  I had three that did produce a few flowers at the bottom of their bent over spikes and that was it. If you do want to see some of the photos I took of the orchids then please feel free to visit my orchid blog at:  and then go to the left pane and click over “Diary pages for 2018” and you will see all what’s been going on with the Orchids.  
The wild thyme was obviously suffering with very little on show compared to most years when you would normally see it everywhere especially on the sides of ant hills, but the fritillaries (Dark Green Fritillary) just had to make do with modest amounts this year because the dry weather had severely limited the quantity around.  Again Hypericums were suffering by being stunted or just not coming through in their normal numbers.  There was little in the way of Common Rock Rose with full colonies having been naturally burnt out and subsequently I have to report far lower records of the rare Northern Brown Argus butterfly and the blues.
Most of the butterflies were around in reasonable numbers and I had good records of the regulars including Dark Green Fritillaries, Small Heaths, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, Speckled Woods.  It was also recorded that the rare High Brown Fritillery had been seen over in Holme Stinted Pastures.
Our village Swifts seem to have done well this year with so far 25 sites recorded (19th July 2018), but we hopefully still have more to add yet.  It’s such a shame but by the time you are reading this, it is possible that quite a lot of our Swifts will have left the village and be on their way back to Africa.  The return migration from our village usually starts somewhere around the 28th of July, with follow ups during the early days of August. Each week during the Swift season we have held “Swift Watch” when villagers meet up at the Burton Memorial Hall and go around the various Swift nesting sites in the village recording the Swifts activity and which established nest sites are active.  Over the 5 years we have built up quite a comprehensive record, which has been so useful in many respects. It also helps to be able to pass on this information in regards to local building and planning concerns.  If you would like to check out our devoted Swift pages and the records then please check out the site of the Burton Swift Bird Study Group on the following blog address at:
A lot of the birds have stopped singing now and the Warblers having actually started going back to Africa. I have had very few Willow Warblers singing during the past month, in fact the odd ones I have had have been giving their contact call of “hou-whit” rather than their full song. The redstarts gave up singing about one month ago.  Next month (August) will be the time to check out for returning Spotted Flycatchers and Whinchat which normally call off around the Hutton Roof areas on their way back.
More local nature notes on Burton and Hutton Roof can be found on my blog by checking out: