Roding in the Gloaming

A gloriously sunny day and I was in Ambleside, but sadly stuck inside for a course. On the drive up I stopped in the car park of Sizergh Castle because a friend had suggested that I might see hawfinches there. I didn’t, but there were lots of song thrushes and blackbirds catching worms or singing gleefully. And both a kestrel and a pair of jays graced me with fly-pasts.

The course was in a place called Kelsick Hall on the outskirts of Ambleside on the lower slopes of Wansfell Pike, of which we had tantalising views from the windows. When I arrived this morning two roe deer were crossing the field just beyond the perimeter of the car park.


Made the most of the lengthening evenings tonight with a walk in the owl-light. Parked at Woodwell after eight.

And set off for Heald Brow.

From Heald Brow the path drops down a steep bank densely overgrown with hawthorn, gorse, brambles and ash.

This is the view form the top of the bank looking across the saltmarsh to Warton Crag. In the centre of the picture you can just about follow the sinuous curve of Quaker’s Stang a raised bank that protects the fields behind it from the tide.

The Ash flowers have now fully emerged:

A few weeks ago these were red and purple globes that I assumed were emerging leaves. You live and learn.

The saltmarsh is occasionally inundated by the tide, but sheep are still grazed here. The fences have bits of dried grass and seaweed hung from them by the sea:

Towards Jenny Brown’s Point, near to the old copper smelting works chimney, the bank of Quicksand Pool is eroding rapidly.

At this rate this walk will require Wellies soon.

Turning the corner at Jenny Brown’s Point and entering the scrub at Jack Scout, I was suddenly out of the cold easterly wind for a moment. The air was full of small flies and a bat scuttled across the sky before I lost it in the bushes. The light was fading fast now and in this photo the camera seems somehow to have been able to exaggerate the light levels:

I sat and watched the bay for a while and thought about how lonely it would be out there as darkness descended.

As I was heading back to the car a woodcock flew overhead alternately issuing sharp whistles and a strange low noise which is difficult to describe. This is the woodcock’s display or roding flight and it’s the only time I ever see woodcock.

Apparently when it isn’t almost dark they look like this:

Roding in the Gloaming

6 thoughts on “Roding in the Gloaming

  1. Hi Mark..
    Some of the places you take us to have great names.. as well as great views.. We get woodcocks flying up and down the street in the early hours. The noise is quite weird until you know what is making it. The woodcock seem to fly just above the lamp post and their orange glow. This is an old Council Estate sold off to private housing a few years bak.. it isnot the place you’d expect to see them. We do have woods and a golf course and a RSPB reserve near by so that must help.

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    Hi Alistair,
    Isn’t Southampton a bit out of your way? I suppose a view of Wansfell is better than nothing.

    I agree Tom, last night’s walk was particularly rich in poetic names:

    Woodwell, Hollins Lane, Heald Brow, Quaker’s Stang, Quicksand Pool, Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout, Cow’s Mouth, Gibraltar Farm, Wolfhouse, Lindeth Road.

    (In that order) To me they are very evocative, but then each is associated with the memories of hundreds of visits, sunsets, birds, friends that accompanied me etc.

  3. I’m most envious of you living in Silverdale. I can recall chancing upon spoonbills at Jenny Browns Point, and many a welcome pot of tea and home made cake by the old log fire at the Wolf House Gallery….

  4. beatingthebounds says:

    Hi Martin,
    I’ve seen the spoonbills myself feeding on the pools on the saltmarsh, a very curious thing to watch. As far as I know they still return each year. Apparently another pair successfully bred down on the Ribble a few years ago. We have both little and great egrets as well now although I’ve only seen the former.
    I ended up in Silverdale more by accident than good management, but I’m always aware of how fortunate I am to have landed here.

  5. Congratulations on being the 1st blogscribe in history to allude to both Harry Lauder and Dylan Thomas in the same blogpost!

    Take a look at my new comment on my recent book club post, send me your email, and I’ll sign you up.

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