Another Series of Sorties to Assorted Spaces

Or Radius of Activity II

A number of short trips to report on. On Good Friday the boys and I sped down to Woodwell. We hoped to see frogs in the pond but found only frogspawn. Later S was on his bike again, this time joined by his sister A and I…

It was her idea to go out – she wanted to join the vicar and a few parishioners on a walk across the Lots which included several stops to read the passion from the Gospel of Saint Mark. A bit of a departure for me!

On Saturday we were in Eaves Wood. Climbing up Elmslack Lane towards the wood we saw several brimstone butterflies, our first of the year. As we entered the wood we bumped into friends and the children (of all ages) climbed trees, carved names on tree trunks, collected sticks and ended up building a den together…

We played hide and seek, as we often do. I took some photos from one of my hiding places…

Balancing on tree trunks is another great woodland activity

On Easter Sunday, whilst the girls were at church, the boys and I had an outing to Hyning Scout Wood. It’s just a couple of miles away, on the outskirts of the village of Warton. (Or should I say that the village of Warton is on the outskirts of Hyning Scout Wood?). But despite its proximity, I don’t know it well and the boys have never been there before. It’s definitely somewhere that is worth further investigation. There are a number of sizeable sweet chestnut trees in the wood…

…and although the nuts are reputed not to ripen this far north I have occasionally found palatable ones locally in the past. There is also an abundance of wild gooseberry bushes. And large areas of bluebell leaves, which bodes well for a few weeks time…

The boys had a whale of a time. We found a small hollow which proved to be the source of endless fun. They decided that it was their rabbit hole…

They climbed up the steep banks at the side…

…and then leapt back in again…

They grubbed around in the leaf-litter looking for mini-beasts…

Or a millipede curled up in the prickly remnants of a sweet chestnut shell…

The sun shone briefly and a nearby tree-stump was very comfortable to sit on, if I’d had the foresight to put a book in a pocket I would have been as content as the boys were to go no further. But I eventually persuaded them to go a little further. They were OK, they found more tree-trunks to balance on…

This one was host to the fungi King Alfred’s Cakes…

Another was huge, and very rotten (it made disturbing cracking sounds when I balanced on it).

It had also been host to some sort of fungi…

…I think that these ‘bootlaces’ may be honey fungus which kills trees, and also can make the wood fluorescent,  but I am probably wrong!

As we were leaving the wood we found a plant which is new to me…

…although curiously I recognised it as moschatel even before I got home and looked it up – clearly too much time spent pouring over field guides. The scientific name is Adoxa moschatellina. Apparently adoxa means ‘not worth mentioning’ and the flower is tiny and not immediately striking, but what the photograph doesn’t show is that five flowers form a cube – the uppermost one has four petals (that’s the one seen in the centre of the photo) and the other four each have five petals. It’s unusual nature lends it a little charisma.

Also by the edge of the wood we found the Hyning lime kiln…

That afternoon we (all of us but A who had been invited to join some friends for a walk by the Lancaster canal) were back at Leighton Moss for a very brief visit. At the pond dipping area we hoped to see frogs, but once again found only frogspawn….

…the trees reflected here are these alders…

…beyond which I briefly spotted one of the marsh harriers flying. Next to the nest which we have noticed before (see previous posts) a second has appeared…

This is a neater and more compact affair and the eggs are more difficult to see, although still evident. A moorhen was nearby and I assumed that this was its nest.

Water and sticks both exert a powerful influence on the boys, the conjunction of the two is irresistible.

We usually play pooh sticks here but they needed on this occasion to get a little closer. Fortunately they never got any closer than this.

Easter Monday was a bit of a wash out. Well…it was a bank holiday. But on Tuesday we were all back at Leighton Moss to join an organised Wildsquare walk…

Our guide, seen in the foreground here, was informative and witty and pitched it perfectly for the kids whilst still managing to point out many things which I wouldn’t have seen or heard or recognised without his help.

After Lunch at the visitor centre A and B walked home with me via Trowbarrow quarry and Eaves Wood. We passed the pond dipping area on our way and were able to confirm that the second nest is a moorhen nest…

On the path between Trowbarrow quarry and Moss Lane I spotted this skull…

I knew that B would be determined to bring it home, and he has.

He was keen to add this to the ‘rabbit skull’ which he was given last week. He was also very keen to identify this skull and helped me to search through my natural history library looking for help. We found none and so naturally fell back on Google, which led me to this blog which in turn brought me to this handy identification guide. Apparently the large gap between the incisors and the other teeth is typical of rodents and rabbits. Our skull has a second set of incisors behind the first making it either a rabbit or a hare. Which means that the ‘rabbit skull’ he was given isn’t a rabbit skull at all. Now that I’ve looked at it properly, I don’t think that it is a skull of any sort.

Anyway…bugs, dens, pooh-sticks, hide and seek, leaping, climbing, nests, skulls….it’s a wonder we ever find any time for our wii.

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Another Series of Sorties to Assorted Spaces

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