Drunkard’s Walk

A random walk is a mathematical formalisation of a trajectory that consists of taking successive random steps.

The steps in my Thursday afternoon commuting walk from Carnforth were neither random nor arbitrary, but drawn out on a map my route would probably resemble the madcap to and fro of a drunkard’s walk. I zigged and zagged my way home.

On the verge of the Crag Road these chocolate brown seedheads were host to a number of ladybirds.

Nearby some hogweed…

…was also very busy, with a number of spiders…

This is the same spider seen from a different angle.

Excepting a couple of pages in a ‘Complete British Wildlife’ guide, which bravely attempts to do everything – flowers, fungi, fish and fowl – in less than 400 pages, I have nothing on spiders, which given how captivated I have become is a situation I shall have to remedy.  Which is a long way round saying that I don’t know what this is.

On the other hand, I do have an idea at least about this hoverfly which was feasting on the same plant. I think that this is melanostoma scalare.

The day had begun wet and then turned pleasantly sunny, but as I climbed the rising path on a small limestone edge dark clouds were advancing from the south and I could see that I was in for a wetting. I could here the steady pip pip of a woodpecker and searched for it in the tree tops on the hillside below me. A jay flew across the path ahead of me. In the past I would probably have been distracted by the jay and have assumed that I had misidentified the call I had heard and that it had been the jay and not a woodpecker, but I am becoming more confident about identifying some bird songs and calls and my continued search revealed…

…a male greater spotted woodpecker. Whilst I watched the woodpecker and took numerous photos, a kestrel dropped from a tree-top nearby and glided away to a more distant tree-top perch. I managed to get a couple of photos – better than the ones I took the week before in as much as they are recognisably of a kestrel – but still pretty poor. Was this the same bird?

A recurrent feature of recent walks has been the stark contrast between dark clouds hanging overhead whilst sunny weather was visible nearby. The weather was closing in fast….

….and yet to the west, over the bay, the sun still shone brightly, and in the opposite direction Ingleborough was catching the sun to great effect…

I briefly saw the goldfinches again as they lifted chattering from the scrub next to the path.

When the rain arrived…

…the shower was quite short-lived. It was still raining when I reached the top of Warton Crag, but there were some signs to encourage optimism.

I took the path towards Cragfoot, but then turned right, back toward the Coach Road. In almost the same spot where I encountered a very large brown toadstool a week ago, this time I found…

….that most recognisable of toadstools – fly agaric. When it comes to mushrooms, I don’t have the same excuse that I do with spiders: in fact I have a couple of very good guides. But the difficulty of identifying many of the multitudes of species is a little off-putting. However, I’m prepared to hazard that this…

…might be an inkcap, maybe shaggy inkcap, before admitting defeat again for this…

Having anticipated a buzzard last time I came this way, and not seen one, this time the buzzard twice caught me unawares, ghosting silently from tree to tree – each time out of sight long before my camera was in hand and ready to use.

From the coach road I took a sharp left on a path back towards Cragfoot. In the woods and fields this way there were hundreds of pheasants. Pheasants behave very strangely: a moving person is terrifying to them and they will run away or take off in a loud whirr of wings and clacking alarm call from a perfectly good hiding place right beneath your feet. Stand still though and they will walk right up and take acorns from around your feet…

  I’ve posted photos of the gaudy males before, but seen close to the more subtle markings of the female are perhaps more beautiful.

Fallen trees seem to be particularly popular with the pheasants as perches.

From just above Leighton Moss a view opens up. After the rain, the sky had cleared and a distant and cloud-capped Skiddaw was visible over Dunmail Raise.

On the telephone wires…


…and in the adjacent field…

…starlings were gathering.

Crossing Quaker’s Stang the low sun helped me to decide to take one more zig – or was it zag? – and head around the shore to Jack Scout.

I stopped first for a very peppery snack of what I hope was water-cress..

Blue skies again!

There were the inevitable herons and egrets near Jenny Brown’s point and an unequal competition with some long-tailed tits who seemed to be deliberately teasing me with my inability to catch their bobbing and weaving in the trees with my camera.

Quicksand Pool

Drunkard’s Walk

2 thoughts on “Drunkard’s Walk

  1. An excellent series of postings, Mark. You do seem to get full value from your camera. And I get full value from your writing – I’ve learnt ‘quotidian’ which having looked up the definition I’m surprised isn’t in more general use (excepting of course in your neck of the language), and a ‘charm of goldfinches’ – another obvious phrase that I can’t recall coming across.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    How very kind of you to say so Martin. I hope there’s something of value in my recent posts, if only because they reflect upon an excellent series of walks, which I’ve enjoyed immensely.
    My camera is a treasured possession and my almost constant companion. I think that it is beginning to show a little wear and tear now. Part of me would like to save up some pennies for a DSLR, but aside from the expense I’m not sure that I want to get too bogged down with technical complexities or weighed down by the many lenses I would need to do all the work which my one camera does now. Anyway, that’s one to ponder, in the mean time I shall just enjoy getting out there and taking lots of photos.

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