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