Trip reports

Hutton Roof

Coal tit perched on bramble bush
rspb images

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Six members met at Plain Quarry car park between the villages of Burton in Kendal and Hutton Roof, in the company of local naturalist Bryan Yorke. Here we started to explore and seek out the wildlife that inhabits this area of limestone woodland and fell that straddles the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria. The first part of our walk took us within a few minutes out onto the open hillside with its rocky outcrops and limestone pavement; this being the haunt of the cuckoo in spring and early summer and occasionally at other times of the year, the great grey shrike. Bryan explained how this latter species which feeds on insects, small birds and small rodents, stores its food by impaling their carcases on thorns (blackthorn or gorse in particular) and it is for this habit that the shrike family are often referred to as "butcher birds".

Treading the slippery and fissured limestone pavement with care we made our way down hill back towards the woodland, by now it was drizzling and visibility had been reduced considerably. It had become clear that the weather would now preclude any good sightings of birds, however we did manage to glimpse or hear the following species: willow warbler, chiffchaff, green woodpecker, buzzard, mistle thrush, robin, coal tit, great tit, wren, jay, blackcap, stonechat and blackbird.

Of the plant species we saw that day we identified the following: primrose, blue moor grass, wild strawberry, parsely piert, pale St. John's wort (last year's remnants), dog violet, wood sorrel, wood anenome, rosettes of ragwort, rosettes of mallow, rosettes of early purple orchid, gooseberry (probably a garden escapee), maidenhair spleenwort, hart's tongue fern, herb robert, dandelion, ramsons (still in bud), cuckoo pint and dogs mercury.

Our thanks are due to Bryan for guiding us that day and for the above list of birds and flora.

Michael Gardner