Another early start for the kids. Knowing that a busy day was in prospect, and that the forecast was for the weather to deteriorate (which it did) I put Sam in the baby-carrier and took him for an early walk. I decided that it was time to get back to Middlebarrow wood to look for the ‘green flower’ that I didn’t find when I went looking for it in January. Since it was a lovely sunny morning I opted to pop up to the Pepper Pot first. Although we had missed the dawn chorus by quite a margin the birds were still in pretty full voice. I noticed lots of blackbirds singing this morning and am beginning to be able to distinguish between blackbirds and song thrushes.
I took the steepest most direct route up Castlebarrow which meant that I passed this beech, which I rarely resist the temptation to photograph:
Although it was sunny, there was a cold breeze, and when we reached the Pepper Pot the view was hazy:
The wooded hill on the left is Warton Crag. Behind that is the high stretch of moorland around Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Bowland Fells.
From Castlebarrow there are two routes to Arnside tower. I usually take the shorter more obvious route so today I decided to try the other. I haven’t been this way for some time; I’m not sure why because it’s a delightful path. It crosses an area of limestone pavement:
Before dropping down in a shallow gully:
Any sufficiently large grassy clearing here is colonised by mounds like this:
It’s an ant hill. Not as spectacular as the wood ants I saw last weekend, but if you root around in the soil with your fingers you often find the small yellow ants that make the mounds. Something has been digging in this particular mound. Green woodpeckers eat ants, but judging by the scale of the damage, perhaps this is the work of a badger, who are apparently also partial to ants.
I briefly left the wood at Arnside Tower.
Stepping into the ruin to take some photos I disturbed a group of jackdaws flying around the ramparts. They flew away over the fields. I noticed that many of them had twigs in their beaks. The fields and the woodland fringe here was also noisy with rooks.
Back in the woods there are breeding pens for pheasants. Although I didn’t see any today I could hear both the anxious rattle that they make when disturbed (not unlike a grouse), and their less panicked two note hoot. For more on pheasants (including recipes) see Tom’s post here.
Near the pens were a series of holes dug between the roots of trees. I suspect that it was a fox’s earth – I imagine that a family of foxes would get through quite a lot of pheasant.
Beside the path, I came across what I was looking for – Green Hellebore:
After finding this clump I was confident that I would find many more, because that has been the case in the past, but not today. The flowers are unspectacular, but quite pretty on closer examination. The woodland here is commercial forestry, but apparently this footpath will be closed for part of this year whilst many of the conifers are felled, with the long term aim being to restore more natural woodland. I was making a real effort to listen carefully as I walked today and that paid dividends when a I picked out the call of a jay. I found the jay high in a tree, but not it’s companion which I could hear calling from the other side of the path. As I watched, the jay began to make a mewing call which I would normally associate with buzzards rather than jays. (Unless a buzzard was nearby throwing it’s voice.)
To get back into Eaves Wood I walked across the open end of Middlebarrow quarry. The quarry is no longer used and it has been extensively planted with trees. Despite its vast size, the quarry is quiet well hidden and very rarely spoils views of the area.
I climbed a little to a good vantage point over the quarry. I could hear stacatto chuck chuck noises across the quarry and when I looked more carefully a large party of jackdaws was flying along the cliff-face near to the top.
In Eaves Wood, a soft laughing chatter alerted me to the presence of a woodpecker, which I watched for a moment in the treetops.
The path along the edge of Potter’s field now has quite extensive patches of flowering violets in a variety of colours. Including these nice lilac ones.
Nearby a single plant was also flowering in spectacular fashion:
I think that it’s honesty.