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Crossbills flying over Hutton Roof plus!

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Yes it's been like this for many a day now!  new tarns springing up everywhere

It was great to hear from Robert in Kendal who informed me that he had a party of 10 Crossbills crossing SE over the Hutton Roof Common on 6th November 2017.

Still not had any reports of the Shrike this year, but you never know he can turn up late! Yet after saying that his favourite day of arrival (with at least 3 visits over the past 10 years has been the "4th November")

Besides reading lots of more up to date books, occasionally I love to go back on the old MIGRATION OF BIRDS by Charles Dixon published way back in 1897 and it is always interesting although perhaps much dated, to read what went on well over a century ago and here is just one small extract from that very book. (with follow on extracts to appear soon)

"The Perils of Migration" (Chapter VIII) from that great book

The migration of birds is beset with dangers and full of perils.  It would scarcely be possible to over estimate the mortality among birds of passage directly due to migration.  One very significant proof of this great mortality is presented in the fact that of the immense numbers of birds flying south or west in Autumn, only a very small percentage come north or east again in the spring!

Most people have remarked the great gatherings of Swallows, Martins, and Swifts, just previous to migration in Autumn, yet where do we see such similar multitudes in Spring?  The majority of these birds are young ones, neither so strong of wing nor so robust of frame as their parents, and it is among these that the highest mortality is reached. The death rate of a large town standing at, say, fifty or sixty per 1000, creates something like a panic among its human inhabitants; but there can be no doubt whatever that the death-rate among birds on migration reaches ten times that amount per 1000, and during exceptional circumstances very much more!  From the moment that a migrant bird sets out on its journey it is exposed to quite a new set of dangers, whilst many other ordinary perils of its existence are very much intensified.  From one end of its road to the other successive dangers surround it, and enemies of every kind have to be eluded.  Migration, then, instead of being a pleasant journey in the van of advancing spring, or in the wake of retreating summer, is the most fatal undertaking in the life of migrant birds, and comparitively few survive it.

The Perils of Migration may be divided into three important classes, viz., those arising from Fatigue due to the mechanical portion of season-flight; those arising from the Natural Enemies of each species; and thos arising from Blunders and Fatalities on the way.  Probably the first class of perils is the most fatal one;  a journey with little rest by the way of even a couple of thousand miles, is a great strain on the endurance, especially of small Passerine birds; whilst a sea flight of, say, 300 miles, with no opportunity for rest of any kind, and in many cases not even the chance of snatching a mouthful of food en route, must tax these tiny migrants to such an extent that only the strongest survive the journey.  Of the countless thousands of birds that perish during migration, by far the greater number probably succumb at sea.  Many instances are on record of great numbers of drowned migratory birds being washed ashore, especially after stormy weather.  Some of these tired migrants save themselves by getting a chance rest on some passing ship, but the majority, especially when flying by night, quietly drop into the remoreseless sea and perish!  ......

above is a short extract from the book and soon I will put forward a further two or three paragraphs of this incredible book!

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2017 Autumn Visible Bird Migration Daily Records over Hutton Roof and Burton In Kendal

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Just a little sketch showing the directions of migration over Hutton Roof (Click over to enlarge)

IF YOU WANT TO CHECK OUT HISTORIC RECORDS PLEASE CLICK OVER THE FOLLOWING LINKS:





2017 - Almost Daily Records below:-


Monday 18th September 2017 - Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal 0645hrs to 0745hrs and later Top of Clawthorpe Rd (apex) Nr. Whinn Yeates, Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 0930hrs. Winds North 6-7mph, 7c, 78% Cloud, 1019mb pressure
Really quiet today with very little moving, probably because of the pressure with the winds moving complete around and eventually to take on Southerly directions ready for tomorrow. A couple of unrecognizables eg: Small Duck (Wigeon size), and possible Egrets.

Chaffinch: 19 (Mainly to the West, some to the East)
Meadow Pipit: 2 SE
Starlings: 119 all E (one party 100 stretching wide) Obviously ex roost which seems to be growing in numbers.
Swallow: 15 SE (one party)
Mistle Thrush: 2 to NW
Goldfinch: 8 S/SE (5,3)
Grey Lag Goose: 7 (2W at 0648 and 5SW at 0735)
Small Duck: 4 SE (larger than Teal maybe early Wigeon?)
Egrets? from a long way 3 very high to the SE at 0705 (brilliant white)
also Kestrel x 2

Top of Clawthorpe Road, Nr. Whinn Yeates 0900hrs to 0930hrs
Meadow Pipit: 20 mainly SE (in 7,4,3,2,2,1,1)
Goldfinch: 38 S/SE (8,20,10)
Chaffinch: 10 (1E all others W)
Mistle Thrush: 1 S
Song Thrush: 6 SW (thought to be early continentals)
Swallow: 2 W

Sunday 17th September 2017 - Top of Clawthorpe Road (apex) Nr. Whinn Yeates, Hutton Roof 0645hrs to 0845hrs then Mike Taylors Fields, Vicarage Lane Burton 0900hrs to 0930hrs

Wind: N 7-12 mph, 10% Cloud, 7c, 1016 pressure.  Very cold throughout - never really got going, what birds did come through more or less dried up from 0800hrs.

Meadow Pipit: 60 all SE (best parties:1x6,1x5, 3x4)
Chaffinch: 44 (26 E all others W) thats the out direction for birds here eg: E to W or W to E
Goldfinch: 49 (11 W, 38 S (best 30,10,8)
Linnet: 15 (7s,6s,1E,1E)
Swallow: 2 E (1E,1E)
Alba Wagtail: 3 SE (1,2)
Siskin: 1
Mistle Thrush: 3 SE
Pink Footed Goose: 1 small party audible only.
Others included: Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1

Mike Taylors fields, Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal 0900hrs to 0930hrs.

Chaffinch: 15 (4 SE and the rest all W) (4, then 3x2 and 5x1)
Grey Wagtail: 1 (E)
Swallow: 6 S (5,1)
Goldfinch: 2 (1W 1E)
Meadow Pipit: 1 SE

Out this afternoon - doing fern (aculeatums) investigations so will check out the birds on or going over Holme Park Fell at the same time.


Saturday 16th September 2017 - Top of Clawthorpe Road (apex) Nr. Whinn Yeates, Hutton Roof 0700hrs to 0900hrs then mobile on Holme Park Fell 0900hrs to 1300hrs

Was winds from the North/North West at about 7mph, Cloudy at first but became sunny from 0900hrs.

Good migration day, but nothing has good as yesterday. Without doubt the Hirundines were on the move yesterday and gone a lot quieter today. Geese coming through again early on.  First wintering Snipe are in on Holme Park Fell

Chaffinch: 85 (with the majority going West) but perhaps a third of them to the East (7,5s,4s etc)
Meadow Pipit: 140 all SE (best 5,4 but mainly pairs) most birds were flying side on to compensate wind.
Goldfinch: 35 (9,2,6,2,5,11)
Swallow: 25 (best 6,5)
House Martin: 18 (5,9,4)
Linnet: 11 (2,6,1,2)
Alba Wagtail: 2 SE
Siskin: 3W
Skylark: 10 (grounded Farleton)
Starling: 35 in dribs and drabs to the E (prob x roost LM)
Great Spotted Woodpecker: 1S
Goosander: 1 SE at 0840hrs
Greylag Goose: 15 all SE (7SE at 0754hrs) (3SE at 0755hrs) (5SE at 0815hrs)
Pink Footed Goose: 124 S (44 S at 0745hrs), (40 S at 0800hrs), (40S at 0855)
Snipe 3 (first winter birds on Holme Park Fell.
Chiffchaff: 1 On Holme Stinted Pastures.

Ravens: 6, Kestrel: 1, Sparrowhawk: 2, Peregrine Falcon 2.
Red Admiral: 2 S.

Friday 15th September 2017 - Top of Clawthorpe Road (apex) Nr. Whinn Yeates, Hutton Roof
0630hrs to 0830hrs -Rain at first light then OK 10 mins after and got better throughout to sunshine and clouds - Excellent morning and a shame to have to pack it in.
Most of the movement SW,S and SE

Meadow Pipit: 113 S,SE (best parties, 3@8, 6@5)
Chaffinch: 91 mainly W or E (best parties, 1@12, 2x8, 1@7, 2x6)
Goldfinch: 37 S (best parties, 1@15,1@13,1@8)
Linnet: 22 S (best party 20)
Reed Bunting: 2 S
Siskin: party audible only
Redpoll: party audible only
Swallow: 61 (best parties 44,20,7) Mainly SW or SE
House Martin: 12 (2,3,2,4,1)
Alba Wagtail: 5 all SE in singles
Pink Footed Goose: 123 all SW (2 skeins 1@63 at 0750hrs, 1@60 at 0805hrs

Also presumed local: 2 Starling E, 1 Green Woodpecker W, Ravens, Blackbirds and Tits, 4 Thrushes to SW (high at first light).


Thursday 14th September 2017 - Holme Park Fell, (Hutton Roof Complex) 0900hrs to 1100hrs

It was fine with light winds. I was mobile all the time so not able to concentrate on flight lines, but did manage to get a snapshot and it was obvious that Migration has now started with plenty of movement from Mipits, Hirundines and Geese.  On my way up to the far side of the fell I had two separate pairs of Wheatear, A family group of four Stonechats, I could hear Skylark going overhead to the South (unseen), also had two parties of Goldfinch crossing to the South (1 at 40, 1 at 12), At least 25 Meadow Pipits S to SE in 5,4,3s and mainly singles or pairs, Also had a party of 3 Linnet to the SE, 9 Swallows to the SE (2,1,1,1,4) also 1 Cormorant out to East then return to West.  The first Pink Footed Geese came over this morning with a party of 20S at 0940hrs followed by another party of 30 to the SW at 0950hrs, both parties where really high and would have been missed but for the calling birds.  Wish I could have spent more time. brilliant stuff!

Tuesday 12th September 2017 - Holme Park Fell, (Hutton Roof Complex) 0800hrs to 1200hrs

On my way going through the Holme Stinted Pastures I could hear a couple of Willow Warblers along with lots of other mixed calls from several others of the commoner species. My highlight came shortly after ascending up on the Fell with three Whinchat posing on the uppermost branch of one of the sparse larger trees that you find on the fell. The wind was quite strong as well and not the best day for passing birds, although I did have the odd Swallows and Meadow Pipits willing to brave it with their exit South. I did also look for Pink Footed Geese because I usually get them around this date but none today were recorded.

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Whinchats and Aculeatums on Holme Park Fell

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Todays garden was Holme Park Fell checking out almost everything I could 
Tuesday 12th September 2017 - Holme Park Fell, (Hutton Roof Complex) 0800hrs to 1200hrs

My mission today was to go and find "Polystitchum" ferns notably the "Aculeatum" (Hard Shield Ferns), but not the straightforward ones but specimens which came under the heading of variety.  The weather was OK one moment, and before long a terrific downpour and wasn't I thankful for my little umbrella. On my way going through the Holme Stinted Pastures I could hear a couple of Willow Warblers along with lots of other mixed calls from several others of the commoner species. My highlight came shortly after ascending up on the Fell with three Whinchat posing on the uppermost branch of one of the sparse larger trees that you find on the fell. The wind was quite strong as well and not the best day for passing birds, although I did have the odd Swallows and Meadow Pipits willing to brave it with their exit South. I did also look for Pink Footed Geese because I usually get them around this date but none today were recorded.

I managed to find a further 6 Dark Red Helleborines (E. Atrorubens) and 1 Broad Leaved Helleborine (E. Helleborine) - obviously gone over now, also close by a nice little colony of Lily of the Valley (obviously gone over now).  Additionally it was a pleasure to find Birds Foot Sedge (Carex Ornithopoda) - Nine clumps.

Of special interest for today was searching out some of the spent Aculeatums I did find one which had a split at the top of the frond and many others, but the special thing was that they are taking on a "lonchitis" feel to some of their pinnae on the upper parts and maybe something is going on here with some of them.  Here are a couple of photos to try and show you what I mean.

Aculeatum with a split rachis (Click over to enlarge)
Interesting Aculeatum fronds (Click over to enlarge)
You notice on the top photo the fronds are above ground and are going over quickly, yet on the lower photo the fronds are about a yard or so down in a grike and therefore maintaining their freshness a lot longer.

In the top frond you can see the split in the rachis (ramosum), but you also see how the pinnae is more fused and almost typical to what you might see in the lonchitis (holly fern), also if you look at the bottom photo you see a frond showing the scythe feature more associated with lonchitis, but more important in this photo is the small frond which is at the left hand side at the bottom with some of its pinnae going over, you can well see the "lonchitis" shapes here.  Its all very interesting and give some good indications that something is going on here. I have consulted with my good friend Alec (fern guru) and he also is very interested in what might be going on here.

A couple more photos showing the lie of the land at my search points.


Both of these photos show roughly the area where I have been working (Click over to enlarge)
And now a couple of photos showing some of the nearby limestone. There are some interesting shapes up here.



Some lovely shapes up here - please click over to enlarge

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Willow Warblers/Chiffchaffs and Stonechats

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My beautiful garden this morning with Willow Warblers and Stonechats (Click over to enlarge) also more photos below

Monday 4th September 2017 - Holme Park Fell 0930hrs to 1100hrs

I am not too sure of the name of the area, but it is sort of NW and across from Rawley Copse towards the bottom of the Holme Park Fell area.  It's a lovely area which I have walked through many times and its always crossed my mind as the perfect bird gathering area and this morning it was exactly that.
I listened and watched for over a hour or so and viewed no less than ten (but I do think there were lots more tucked away in the bushes) Willow Warblers/Chiffchaffs hopping from tree to tree with some of the birds that beautiful yellow/greeny colour.  And beside these I also heard many more in the surrounding areas giving it the "hou whit" calls.  I also had a beautiful male Stonechat in the close company of a immature bird which was really drab and short of colour, it was more of a mixture of greys.  Also large party of Coal Tits together with many Blue and Great Tits. Also a 40 plus and a 20 party of Goldfinch enjoying the spoils of the spent Ragwort and Thistles. A immature Robin, a Green Woodpecker, but nothing much moving in the skies today and although I bet there would have been Wheatear on the Holme Park/Farleton Fells, I probably did not go far enough over to check them out! What a cracking little area this is.  The berries on all the hawthorns is incredible this year with all the trees well laden, the Thrushes are already having a field day.

Here are more photos showing today's terrain. It lies below the rocky patchwork limestone terrain of Holme Park Fell and as you can see has bracken and open spaces with hawthorns and lots and lots of individual Gorse and Juniper bushes etc etc etc. It has to run through your mind that how many Yellow Browed Warblers has this place held, I wonder if the next corner I will see a Dartford Warbler perched on the uppermost twig of a gorse bush of maybe Bluethroats have passed through!! I am well pleased with my Willow Warblers and Stonechats, but the terrain looks just right for a Warbler party.

I could not resist but look for more gentians on the fell side and did find more here and there, all now in the book with their appropriate gps.  Most of the gentians were still closed with there being little sun around, but just the odd one two had decided to open, so I found one with three flowers and got the camera out and has I was taking the picture the three flowers instantly turned into four flowers, it was just like popcorn exploding, and if you had blinked you would have missed it! I have never seen petals and sepals open in front of my eyes with a split split split split second show...... fantastic... and then there were four..

Gentianella amarella today on Holme Park Fell (Click over to enlarge)







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Wheatears, Linnets and Autumn Gentians (2nd September 2017)

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The beautiful "Autumn Gentian" on Holme Park Fell (Hutton Roof) today
Click over to enlarge - see more below

Whilst heading out over Farleton to again check out some of the Autumn Gentians, it was pretty good with the birds and butterflies as well.  It started by having a flock of six Meadow Pipits fly past and I guess they were resting up on their migration, for today they just seemed like a local flock. All morning odd Mipits were taking up so I guess there would be plenty all in all.  Two really nice Linnet flocks 1@20 and 1@24 went past me in a West direction (not sure about these whether on the move or again resting up and local for the day movers), another large party 40 plus of Goldfinch feeding up on some spent Ragwort.  Could hear Curlews twice, high and could not find, but guess it is just about the right time for Curlews moving back to our coast.  The special sight for me today was seeing three Wheatear sat proud and upright on the projecting escarpment on Holme Park Fell what beauties they are and I will try and get up most mornings over the coming weeks, looks a cracking place for Wheatears.  Also put up 3 Skylarks.

Butterflies were also good today with two Wall Brown butterflies on Farleton in fact one was on the wall and easy to photograph. Also had another Small Heath (2nd brood).

Wall Brown on Farleton today (Click over to enlarge)


Wow! I am surprised to see the "Autumn Gentians" flowering so soon! but some really nice spectacles today especially on Holme Park Fell (Hutton Roof), and it can only get better over the coming week. Here are some of the photos showing some of the Gentians.







A beauty with mixed colours (Click over to enlarge)
And showing the beauty with a white plant closeby

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Autumn Gentians are about one week away!

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

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

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

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




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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







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

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

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

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

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



Fungi found in the beech woods of Dalton Crags

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



Puffballs covering tree stump

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



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

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

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

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

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

Holly Fern No.1 (Click over to enlarge)

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

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Swallows, Flying Ants, Black Nightshade etc

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


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

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

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

I wonder if this is "Interjectum" ?

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

A pair of "Helophilus" Hover Flies

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


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

Black Nightshade
Black Nightshade No.2
Plenty of Black Nightshade

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

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

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

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Comma Butterfly, Orchis flowers and Orchid flowers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orchis (Click over to enlarge)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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