Thursday, 29 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Thursday 29th August 2019 - Hutton Roof - Westmorlandii etc

I set my agenda today to go up high on the local fells and check out scores of hazel bushes intermingled on the beautiful once seabed and now a limestone pavement. Compact stunted Hazels bushes spewing out their triploid white/green kernals before the squirrels had chance to get them, but I was'nt interested in the nuts, I wanted to check out these dark places at the base of the trees just to see if they bore any surprises! 

It was only a few weeks ago that just by chance I was looking at a beautiful helleborine orchid lying in the shadows of one of these small hazels when I found something really special, so special of a orchid I just had to give it a name and immediately called it Westmorlandii.  After all we were standing in what was old Westmorland so why not! I needed a working name to be able to refer to such a wonder.....

It turned out to be so special it is a mystery, a plant that has almost defied recognition, although we do think we know part of its make-up. Without doubt it is a orchid of the Epipactis family, of which we think it may be a phyllanthes or more commonly called a Green flowered helleborine.  But it stops at that for now!  to be able to nail it and get a clear defination on what type of phyllanthes is it! we need lots of reliable morphological study, but this is usually very very expensive, but in some instances it can be necessary to establish more detail and of course so important for the future nomenclature of this rare plant. 

On my way up to the Fell I just got that special feeling today with that wandering mind (set) that I felt compelled I had to pen a ditty or two which I hope you like........

"That's beautiful!
It's all beautiful.
Do you get that warm, comfortable feeling...
These multitudal woods are all crevices of the unknown, yet wonders which just keep on giving. 
Like pockets filled with wealth spread to last to yonder eventide
Instead of birdsong, I can only hear wind,
Albeit howling out more like the flowing tides.
Shut your eyes and take it all in and in and in and out and out and out and in and in and in."

Are you a Willow wren or are you a chiff!
With lots of winge about you,
But the most welcome winge today 
Thanks you little beauty"

I wrote as I walked through this short tracked wood
My thoughts to words to book, were I stood
Let my mind distinctly bind natures sounds
Where all is perfect with no second class
Your always sure of the best

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Tuesday 27th August 2019 - Dalton Crags - Hutton Roof Ploverlands

Painted Lady today in Dalton Crags
Photo: 27th August 2019 - Dalton Crags

Yes I do agree with friends - they have been saying all week that the Painted Ladies along with it's cousins Vanessa atalanta's (Red Admirals) have been constantly moving through South on their migration.  I took special note this morning and reckon when I did have the chance to glance up the ladys were coming through regular at every 3 minute intervals or thereabouts.

One thing I did notice with the Vanessa specimens I had this morning was that the lovely fresh looking gingery brown specimens which were obviously recently hatched were busy on their foodplants and moving in all directions of the compass with casual and seemed quite at ease, yet the more aged or worn or lighter looking or insipid specimens were the ones on the go and all moving South with haste and appearing to give no attention whatsoever to any food sources which lay beneath them.  Whether that's pure coincidence or whether that actually means something I am not sure, but that was certainly the situation.

It was brilliant also for the Wall Browns and there were lots of them on Ploverlands, even several pairs of them doing their fighting or fluttering in tandam or maybe even thats courting in butterfly terms! but whatever it is so good to see this species doing well yet again on Hutton Roof Common. 

I was lucky enough also this morning to see the Small Copper, but just as I tried to take a photo off it went, but again another special on Ploverlands. Quite a good number of Small Tortoiseshells today and it's a real treat to see numbers getting "nearly" back to how they used to be in the 90s!

My main purpose today was to see just how the Ploverlands community of Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian) were fairing.  It's never been the best place in the World for this species, yet I have always found a few to the East side of Ploverlands. I searched, and searched and searched and the situation appeared almost like I experienced on the Farleton side, but here today I never even had a single specimen.  It makes me wonder now if last years failure has carried on through to this year as well.  I think it may have something to do with the dryness in 2018 and the shortage of water, with similarities not too distinct with some of our precious loved orchids.......  It's strange we are not getting the AG's when we are getting the Gentianella campestris (Field Gentians)

I did find a nice little sample of (Sagina procumbens) Procumbent Pearlwort.

A cracking morning for birds on the ground, but little to none on the move overhead, but in Dalton Crags had a single party of six Stonechats, a large party of 15 Linnet, Green Woodpecker x1, and a true bonus with Spotted Flycatchers x2, also a party of 6 Meadow Pipit and a couple of Swallow hawking the Crags. Even a noisy si-si-si-si calling party of Long Tailed Tits

On Ploverlands I had a contained party of 7 Blackbirds, some males and some females. When your a migration follower and you see a party of so many in a group on high places like this allsorts runs through your mind, thinking to yourselves where have they come from! but then I say to myself now come on settle down and get back to LOCAL....

A few photos of some nice things this morning...

 Hover Flies

 Pale Brittlestem

 Pale Brittlestem (underside)

 Wall Butterfly (underside)

Precumbent Pearlwort

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 24th August 2019 - Holme Stinted Pastures - FIELD GENTIANS

Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian) on Holme Stinted Pastures
Photo: 24th August 2019

It was a very nice surprise to learn from both Peter and Richard that the Gentians I had found a few days ago on Holme Stinted Pastures were not Autumn Gentians but the much rarer Field Gentians (see photo above).

On learning this I thought it only right I should go and do a full survey of the area to try and get some ideas of numbers.  I allowed most of the day for doing this work and got on site for about 1030hrs.  By about 1400hrs I had managed to count up to 262 flowers, besides 67 Swallows which had passed me overhead in small parties whilst on their travels to the South. Also numerous Red Admiral butterflies, Painted Ladies, Small Tortoiseshells, Wall Browns, Peacocks, a single Brimstone and Graylings, even had a large blue (4") dragonfly not to mention a couple of Lizards and calling Peregrines and Willow Warblers! a cracking mornings work done and a splitting headace.

Richard Bate text me to say to say he would be here for about 1500hrs, my reply: "Richard I am gagging please bring some water with you". Sure enough he arrived at 1500hrs loaded with his massive cameras in one hand and piled up with large bottles of the most quenching, cool "Highland Spring" nectar.... what a sight for sore eyes, well done Richard!

A quick slurrp then back down to business, just putting Richard in the picture showing him were the Gentians were. Then "Dr Hawkeye" started! what about these here and what about these there, in fact whilst bent down taking photos I can see scores of them all around the place!  These were not in my original count, he seemed to be finding more for fun, in fact we estimated he had found a further 150 or so in addition to the ones I had already tallied previously. 

All the Gentians found were campestris (Field Gentians) we looked everywhere for the amarella (Autumn Gentians) I normally would have expected anything up to a couple of hundred here but today NONE! I wonder if we are too early for them after all I dont normally survey until the first week in September.

It was decided we have a stroll over Holme Park Fell and on to the Farleton side, this track normally provides hundreds (to a thousand or so) AG's but not one today.  But it was nice to be able to show Richard our beautiful white harebells which we are so lucky to have on Holme Park Fell and Farleton, there are several good sized populations scattered around.  It was also nice to see good examples of Squinancywort and even more so to see lots and lots of Spring Sandwort with their beautiful pink anthers.

On my last ditch attempt of the day to check out another regular spot for Autumn Gentian on the Farleton side, guess what? I did find one, in fact the one I found will turn out to be a superb specimen once it flowers (see photo), but I can't believe it to be the only one - surely not!

Passing through Newbiggin crags and onto the fields below, we were lucky to see a single Wheatear resting up, and I noticed it was in a "dark blue" plumage like you would expect to see in the early season males, but can't say until today I have ever seen one in dark bluish plumage whilst on their way back...usually they are brown having completed a moult.

The birding did not finish at that, we later went to the top of Burton Fell to check out some plants and overhead had a late Swift hawking the skies, but seem to go out on a North West routing.  I think maybe it was a late breeder rather than on passage, but I wonder were it was from. 

 Field Gentian

 Field Gentian

 Field Gentian


 Pestle Puffball

 Spring Sandwort


The only Autumn Gentian of the day 

One of our small colonies of White Harebells

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Tuesday 20th August 2019 - Dalton Crags/Painted Lady butterfly

Vanessa cardui PAINTED LADY (click over to enlarge)
Photo: June 2016 - Dalton Crags

It was so peaceful heading over Dalton Crags today, and much enhanced by the visitations from the beautiful Vanessa, or perhaps she is better known as THE PAINTED LADY butterfly. 

The Painted Lady holds so dear to my memories.  It was some twenty years ago and we were on holiday on the beautiful island of Menorca.  It was May 8th and yes I can be so precise with the date because it was "our lass's" birthday and we were having breakfast around the pool with our friend and I had placed her birthday cards all stood up in regimental salute, but the breeze kept blowing the cards down. 

 But what was far more striking was to my right I kept seeing flashes go past at regular intervals and on closer inspection sure enough they were Painted Lady butterflies, before long I was seeing parties of 20 at a time coming through every few minutes.  It took me time to try and work out just what was going on, as they breezed past me fluttering away, some of them were quite low and would hit the villa walls with force, which made them cascade for a yard or so before gracefully composing themselves to elevate past their obstacle and continue with their flightpath North. The movement went on for just over two days and I guess I must have witnessed hundreds of thousands or more. There would have been millions of these little pearls involved in this mass migration from the Atlas Mountains in Morrocco through Spain (then passing us on the Island) before ending their journey in France with many even reaching the UK.

Over those couple of days I saw hundreds dead in the roads which had fallen victim to the cars. I spent a few hours down on the coastline to witness them coming off the sea, it was a fantastic spectacle and something I cannot ever expect to see again. Its true when they say "being in the right place at the right time"

That same year when back in the UK, in early June I decided to specifically search for Painted Ladies and sure enough found them! and obviously because of the dates they must have been specimens from that same migration we had seen earlier......

We locally can get Painted Lady migrations has well.  I remember back about 10 years ago when my dear late friend Charlie rang me to say "get yourself over here now" and so I dashed over to the Beetham Caravan Park (nr Milnthorpe) where he was based and we witnessed Painted Ladies going past at about one per minute and all were coming through at roughly the same height of about 30-40ft and heading from a South East to North West direction. Obviously a very weakened down version of the Menorca event, but even so it showed this beautiful migration in progress. 

These Painted Lady migrations seem to take place perhaps every 7 to 10 years or less and I am now sure that this year is one of those years, when the conditions must just be right and you see numerous of them like we have been seeing in recent months.  I guess that these later sightings maybe a second generation which have arrived from France or even born in the UK. 

If you do want to read more about the fantastic migration of these beauties then can I recommend you to read this piece I have obtained from the BIRDGUIDES...


One of the longest-standing mysteries of migration has finally been solved after scientists discovered where the UK's Painted Lady
 butterfly population goes each autumn. The butterfly, a common immigrant, migrates from the continent each summer to UK shores in varying numbers. But until now scientists did not know whether the Painted Lady made the return journey at the end of the summer, like the closely related Red Admiral, or simply died in the UK.
In one of the largest citizen science projects ever conducted, scientists from Butterfly Conservation, the NERC Centre for Ecology; Hydrology and Rothamsted Research, among others, have discovered exactly what happens to Painted Ladies each autumn. More than 60,000 public sightings of the butterfly during 2009 were collected across Europe, including radar images tracking butterfly movements across southern England, with 10,000 British observers taking part. Scientists discovered that the Painted Lady did indeed migrate south each autumn, but made this return journey at high altitude out of view of butterfly observers on the ground.
Radar records revealed that Painted Ladies fly at an average altitude of over 500 metres on their southbound trip and can clock up speeds of 30 mph by selecting favourable conditions. The findings also revealed that the species undertakes a phenomenal 9,000-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle — almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America. The whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies, but is a series of steps by up to six successive generations; so Painted Ladies returning to Africa in the autumn are several generations removed from their ancestors who left Africa earlier in the year. Richard Fox, Surveys Manager at Butterfly Conservation, was one of the report authors. He said: "The extent of the annual journey undertaken by the Painted Lady butterfly is astonishing. This tiny creature, weighing less than a gram, with a brain the size of a pinhead and no opportunity to learn from older, experienced individuals, undertakes an epic intercontinental migration in order to find plants for its caterpillars to eat. Once thought to be blindly led, at the mercy of the wind, into an evolutionary dead end in the lethal British winter, this amazing combination of mass-participation citizen science and cutting-edge technology has shown Painted Ladies to be sophisticated travellers. We are extremely grateful to the many thousands of members of the public who reported Painted Lady sightings and contributed to this extraordinary discovery."
Radar in Hampshire operated by Rothamsted Research revealed that around 11 million high-flying Painted Ladies entered the UK in spring 2009 with 26 million departing in autumn. Dr Jason Chapman, a researcher at Rothamsted Research, who led the radar studies of Painted Ladies, said: The apparent lack of a return migration of the late-summer generation of Painted Lady butterflies was one of the greatest enigmas in insect migration ecology. But, through a combination of traditional monitoring by butterfly enthusiasts and new radar techniques, we have finally solved this long-standing puzzle. Migrant insects continue to amaze the public and research community alike as they are capable of carrying out the most remarkable journeys."

For results of the 2019 butterfly survey which includes
the best year for Painted Ladies for the last ten years click over this link:

Monday, 19 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Monday 19th August 2019 - Holme Stinted Pastures/Gentianella campestris

Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian)
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019

Not a lot! but a few lovely scattered small communities here and there but these have turned out to be the rarer campestris (Field Gentian).  
 Gentianella campestris
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019

 Gentianella campestris
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019

Gentianella campestris
Photo: Holme Stinted Pastures 19th August 2019..

Lots of beautiful Asperula cynanchica or SQUINANCY - WORT, some in white flowers although most having little pink flowers. You can tell by their profile and arrangement that they are from the Bedstraw family and have a similar general look to the Limestone Bedstraw, but squincys have a cleaner look and are white and not cream looking as the remnants of the Limestone Bedstraws are portraying at the moment....

A strange name! back in the medieval times it was used as a cure for QUINSY which was a nasty version of tonsillitis

A cracking year for Spring Sandwort and Eyebright, after leaving the Stints it could be seen throughout the first third of the track leading over the Holme Park Fell.

Field Mushroom 
Holme Park Fell - 19th August 2019 

Now thats what I call a Mushroom! and yes it really is a field mushroom (the edible kind).  Normally I manage to gather and fill a little bag of button sized to take home, but today instead of there being lots, I just found one and it was this giant.  Never seen a field mushroom so big (10 inch diameter), he would have filled a couple of pans! but lets leave him today for the local voles and wildlife......

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags THE WIG/Stonechats/Painted Ladies......

The Wig on 17th September 2018 (LAST YEAR) - Dalton Crags
thanks to Lyn F for pointing this one out.......

"He's taking liberty of the court your honour! well then he must be "dunked" or maybe placed in the stocks.  I will have a think about it whilst I sip my coffee.........court adjourned ........"

At the start of the Crags (Dalton) this morning, I just had to look to my left to "cock my hat" in salute to the WIG and to check how it was going on! I am pleased to say things are starting to get going and here are a couple of photos showing lots of tiny puffballs in the process of making up your honour's curls. 

The Lawyers Wig - how it is today with lots of little puffballs
Photo: 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags

The Lawyers Wig (close up) - how it is today with lots of little puffballs
Photo: 17th August 2019 - Dalton Crags

It was windy, in fact very windy, blowing at 25mph or maybe about 5 or 6 on the beaufort scale. A little light drizzle thrown in as well. I did not expect to see any butterflies, but I did, but only in the most sheltered parts were I was lucky to have a Large White and even more Painted Ladies. Without doubt it's been the best year on record for the amount of Painted Ladies having hit our shores and spread throughout our great island.... they have been springing up or fluttering almost everywhere - these little beauties....

Birds well I did have a few whilst traversing the upper parts of Dalton Crags deforested, with two male Stonechats from different parts, one with far more colour than the other, also lots of Swallows, a party of 7 going North, then another party of 5 going North and maybe up to 10 hawking throughout that very area.  I can't suggest whether some of these birds were heading out North (which they do) or whether they were just re-aligning their positions ready for another low down attack. They were happy and twittering to themselves has they flew past with a open gape!  A Windhover hovered in all the usual places, I guess looking for field voles.  Coming back down through the Lower Crags I had a party of some 15 Mistle Thrushes obviously feeding up on the many Rowan or assorted berries.

I guess Red Bartsia maybe the flavour of the day, but the Herb Robert are still hanging in there!

Friday, 16 August 2019

SNIPPETS OF WEALTH - Thursday 15th August 2019 - Farleton, Newbigging - Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade etc.

It's been warm down in Barcelona but great witnessing and enjoying aerial manoevres by ALPINE SWIFTS coming down to skim the boating lake for water and listening to the loud shrills from the local PARAKEETS on the Rambles, but certainly little on the SPANISH SPARROWS..

A cropped photo showing our Westmorlandii back in 23rd July 2014
Shows a close up of the flower section.
Now confirmed to be an Epipactis phyllanthese var: unknown but possibly confusa
Incredible find to be so high up on Hutton Roof (lots more photos and info from the link which is shown below)

But great to get back into the reigns of English Nature with more studies on the WESTMORLANDII Orchid which after all has only turned out to be some really really SPECIAL PLANT eg: The species is without doubt from the taxon Epipactis phyllanthes (Green Flowered Orchid) and although the variant cannot be 100% confirmed as yet, it is on good authority that is is thought to be from the "CONFUSA" family. If you want to see the early photos from 2014 and the more recent photos from 2019 and all the history and lively discussion to this please check out at my blog by clicking over the following link:  

Our Swifts have all but gone! and our Swallows are now getting very agitated and forming groups and settling on the local telegraph wires, with some already starting to make their long southbound journies.  I have had reports from Robert (Kendal) to say he has had a WHINCHAT present at the top of Burton Fell on 13th August 2019. On the same day he also had two WHEATEAR in the deforested area of upper Dalton Crags, Stonechats present, Wall and Painted Ladies butterflies still present.......

Yesterday (15th August 2019) I decided to go towards Newbiggin and Farleton and check on our AUTUMN GENTIANS.  What gentians you may ask! I never found one specimen.  I know it is rather early for ours we dont get much as a rule prior to early September, but thought maybe the odd rosette!  but it can never be a disaster there is always something about, so I bobbed along and decided to check on the rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade which you will see from the photos has had a great year.  Also the caterpillars have too!!

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

 All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

All 4 photos here show rare hybrid Intermediate Enchanters Nightshade
Photo: 15th August 2019 - Farleton Knott

Birds again were quiet but still had a couple of Willow Warblers calling their contacts, also had some large finch parties of a 50, a 20 and a 6, but all occasions too far away to be able to differentiate whether they were Linnet or Goldfinch. Startled a Partridge or should I say he startled me and skirted off a few yards to the East. Raven honking.....

Not really a butterfly day today, but still the odd ones about which included even more Painted Lady x3, Grayling x1, and a lovely Wall Brown at the Turtle Stone.

 Limestone Bedstraw, Squinancywort, Thyme Leaved Sandwort, Spring Sandwort, Wild Thyme.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Saturday 3rd August 2019 - Westmorlandii

Today seemed to be mainly about butterflies and one particular orchid.

The butterflies today included: Speckled Wood x2, Peacock x2, Meadow Brown x8, Painted Lady x3, Large White x2, Grayling x19

The birds included a couple of Willow Warblers that were in full song although rather subdued, but what a pleasure to hear them in song like this, you usually just receive their "hou-whit" contact call at this time of year. Also the Nuthatch are getting noisy again.

My main purpose this morning was to check out the fabulous Epipactis orchid which for now I have called "Westmorlandii No.2" although it is much debateable it could well be a very rare Phyllanthes and I guess time will tell.  Here are some current photos showing the plant.

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

Photo: taken 3rd August 2019 - Hutton Roof

If you do want to check out the history of this rare orchid please click on the following link:-

Also for anyone interested in our local Burton Swifts, here are the numbers still with us this morning (Sunday)

Sunday 4th August 2019

(0800hrs) At least 20 Swifts still with us at all low points between Kings and Memorial Hall

Saturday 3rd August 2019

(2100hrs) At least 20 Swifts flying above Memorial Hall and Neddy Hill
(0900hrs) 17 minimum Swifts flying in the skies above the Royal to the Kings with occasional Memorial Hall/Neddy Hill

Friday 2nd August 2019

(2100hrs) Still 30 Swifts over Memorial Hall and down towards Neddy Hill. 
(0900hrs) I had 30 Swifts over Memorial Hall.

also Jane reported 20-30 in screaming party between Cocking Yard and Memorial Hall.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Snippets of Wealth - Friday 2nd August 2019 - Holly Blue, Small Heath, Painted Lady, thistles

A blog covering the past few days both on Burton Fell and mainly on Dalton Crags

Butterflies included: Holly Blue x1, Peacock x1, Dark Green Fritillary x2 (worn), Painted Ladies x11, Large White x3, Meadow Brown x3, Grayling (on thyme) x1, Small Heath x1, Speckled Wood x1.

Birds included: Willow Warbler x2 (in part song!!), Bullfinch, Lots of Swallows and Swifts hawking, Stonechat family party of four, Green Woodpecker yaffling

Today's garden on Dalton Crags
Photo: 2nd August 2019

 A Small Heath butterfly on Burton Fell
Photo: 31st July 2019

 A beautiful Epipactis helleborine (Broad Leaved Helleborine)
Photo: 31st July 2019

This beauty comes up most years and shows a lot of purple in the build of the flower regions. I find this can happen frequently with plants that are in partial canopy
If you want to check out my "orchid diary" please click over this link:

 Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock)
Photo: 1st August 2019 - Dalton Crags

Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock)
Photo: 1st August 2019 - Dalton Crags

Dark Green Fritillary
Photo 2nd August 2019

this was one of the two Dark Green Fritillaries I had today in Dalton Crags, both very well worn but this one was the worst.

Holly Blue butterfly
Photo: 1st August 2019

Showing it feeding on bramble, its a female and you can see that from the markings on the following photo.

Holly Blue butterfly
Photo: 1st August 2019

Harts Tongue Fern (asplenium scolopendrium) var: Marginatum
Photo: 1st August 2019

Painted Lady Butterfly
Photo: 2nd August 2019

Harebells in Dalton Crags
Photo: 2nd August 2019

Probably the best year in a long while for Harebells

A Gall
2nd August 2019 - Dalton Crags