Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

The Cove – The Lots

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Small Tortoiseshell.

Sometimes just a short walk, to familiar places, can yield a great deal of diversion and interest. (This was back in October btw)

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There are nine species of social wasps resident in Britain; this is one of them, but I can’t identify which.

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Drone Fly?

If it isn’t a Drone Fly, it’s a similar hover-fly, hoping to be mistaken for a Honey Bee.

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There are four species of brown Bumblebees in Britain; I think that this is one of those.

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Apparently, it’s hard to tell them apart without a microscope, but the most common, and so perhaps the most likely, is Bombus Pascuorum, the Common Carder Bee.

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Another hover-fly imitating something with a sting.

Most of these (poorly identified) insects were photographed on a patch of tall daisies with Dandelion like flowers, growing on the rough stony ground at the back of The Cove.

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…I’ve always struggled with identifying the myriad different yellow daisies…

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…but I thought that with a few photos…

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…of flowers, seed-heads and leaves I would be able to track this one down. However, I’ve consulted four different books and numerous websites and whilst I’ve found several plants which almost seem to fit the bill, all of them have some disqualifying feature, or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself anyway.

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“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.”

Albert  Einstein

Although, in my case, it’s more a case of: the more I try to learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.

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Still, I enjoy the trying.

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Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

More Butterflies and Leaves

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Saul’s Road – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – White Creek – Far Arnside – The Cove – The Lots

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Red Admiral.

Early October, the weekend after we had a houseful, and in a typical Sod’s Law sort of a way the weather is fantastic, sunny, bright and even warm.

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Comma.

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In Eaves Wood.

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This Crane’s-bill doesn’t quite match any of the plants in ‘The Wild Flower Key’ so I wonder if it is a garden escapee?

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I was a bit puzzled by the colouration of this dragonfly, but having consulted my field guide, I now think that it is probably an older female Common Darter.

I ventured onto a small path on Arnside Knott which I haven’t taken before, which took me past…

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…a fox’s earth?

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Arnside Knott view.

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Arnside Knott panorama.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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This area of marshy foreshore at White Creek has appeared during the time that I’ve lived in the area. It’s become quite wet and treacherous to walk on.

But there were still some Sea Asters…

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…flowering there.

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Burnett Rose.

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Bryony Berries.

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I took these photos of berries and leaves to help me identify a tree I didn’t recognise, but sadly I’m still none the wiser.

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Holly.

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Bell Heather.

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Sunset from the Cove.

I would have been nice if this weather had materialised a week earlier, so that we could have shared it with our friends. But, then again, it’s a bit churlish to complain; I enjoyed having to myself after all.

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These last two ‘bonus’ photos are from a different walk, back in September, when apparently I walked to Jack Scar to take some sunset photos (but no other photos!)

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More Butterflies and Leaves

A Slow Ripening Fruit

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So, here in my online diary we’ve reached the tail-end of September and my memory of that time is slightly hazy. Fortunately, I have photographs to help; here are Little S (who in just a few more years will be towering over me) and TBH approaching the top of Warton Crag.

From where, even on a cloudy day, there’s always some sort of view…

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But we weren’t on our own…

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…oh no!…

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Because this was our annual At Home weekend when some of our old friends congregate at our house.

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I know what happened, for the simple reason that it was undoubtedly the same things that always happen on these weekends: a bit of a walk each day, despite the weather, which actually wasn’t too bad this time around; endless cups of tea, a few beers, loads of food, including a takeaway from the local curry house and the usual recycling of old stories and even older jokes.

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One the Saturday we walked to and from Warton Crag, via Leighton Moss and Summer House Hill.

On the Sunday we must have visited Jack Scout because that’s where this giant limestone seat is, but I can’t recall how we got there or back again.

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“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”

Aristotle

These curious Turkeys jumped up onto a wall to assail us as we passed their field.

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Must be time for another caption competition…?

A Slow Ripening Fruit

Toxoplasma Gondii – a mystery solved?

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“Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in more than one billion people worldwide, has been shown to inspire neurotic, self-destructive behaviour in rats. The protozoa’s reproductive cycle depends on infecting cats, which it does by getting them to eat rats and mice in whose brains the parasite commonly resides. When the parasite infects a rat or mouse, it increases dopamine levels in its host, inspiring it to wander around recklessly in a way more likely to attract the attention of cats; the mice and rats also become attracted to the small of cat urine an odor that, under normal circumstances, causes them to flee or freeze. “Fatal feline attraction” is the name for this phenomenon. In people, the presence of toxoplasma gondii has been linked to schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, poor attention and reaction times, and greater likelihood of car accidents.”

From ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan

All of which might explain the behaviour of this vole, which TBH and I encountered back in June, and which had us puzzled and enchanted in equal measure because of its apparent lack of fear of our presence.

The quote might seem like an odd paragraph to find in a book ostensibly about food, but it’s from a footnote and is backing up the assertion that it’s possible that the microbiota in our bodies might influence our moods and even our mental health. The book is absolutely fascinating and I heartily recommend it anyone with an interest in food (i.e. everyone,surely?) – bit late for your Christmas lists I know.

Toxoplasma Gondii – a mystery solved?

Ulverston Lantern Festival

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Last year we stumbled upon the Ulverston Lantern Festival when we tried to stop in Ulverston for fish and chips on the way home from a walk across the sands to Piel Island, found that all of the roads into the town centre were closed and chose to park on the outskirts and investigate.

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This year we did much the same thing, this time on the way home from our trip to Roa Island.

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I think that there’s more to it than this, but the part of the Festival we’ve seen is a huge parade through the town with people displaying their amazing lantern creations, accompanied by marching bands of drummers.

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Some of the lanterns are amazing – witness the enormous Gruffalo above – but what I really like about it is the sheer number of people who are involved: it seems to be a superb community event.

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Last year’s theme seemed to be toys, this year I think it must have been woodland creatures. I took lots of photos, thinking that they were coming out sharply despite the darkness. Oddly, the camera’s video function seems to have coped rather better with the light conditions:

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Edit: WordPress doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that this is a video. Click on it and a new tab will open in flickr where you will be able to watch it. (It’s only 15 seconds and you can hear one of the marching bands into the bargain.)

Ulverston Lantern Festival

Strawberry Dahlia Anemone

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Green Shore Crab.

Another one of our sporadic visits to Roa Island occasioned by a relatively low tide falling on a Saturday when we were all free.

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Roa Island Lifeboat Station and Piel Island.

I’ve reported before that every overturned rock on Roa Island reveals hordes of Shore Crabs. This crab wasn’t even bothering to hide…

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Although in amongst the rocks and shells it was actually surprisingly difficult to spot.

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Sponge. Myxilla incrustans?

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Butterfish.

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We caught numerous Shannies and Butterfish.

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Shanny.

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Starfish.

And found lots of Starfish and Brittlestars.

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This is my favourite photo from the day, but also something of a conundrum: the banded tentacles are a distinctive feature of the Dahlia Anemone, whilst the red, spotted body is characteristic of the Strawberry Anemone. So this must be a Strawberry Dahlia Anemone?

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Sponge. Estuary Sponge?

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Long-clawed porcelain crab. I think.

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Common Brittlestar.

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Ophiocomina nigra – the Black Brittlestar. Possibly.

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Four-horned Spider Crab.

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As the tide reached it’s lowest point and some areas of seaweed were revealed, we were able to find lots of small spider crabs, I suspect of several different species. What a lot of these small spider crabs have in common is the way in which they decorate themselves with bits of weed or seashells. Also the fact that they are hard to hold still to photograph, unlike their surprisingly docile larger cousins…

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Edible Crab.

Something I think I’ve only really fully appreciated since we started to visit Roa Island is the fact that really low tides will always be at around sunset…

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(..or too early in the morning for us to have made it around the Bay to Roa!)

 

Strawberry Dahlia Anemone

Minimum Monument

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“Minimum Monument is a poignant and moving display featuring thousands of figures made out of frozen water by the artist, her team of technicians and volunteers – a public intervention artwork which is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet and the communities it supports.”

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“Néle Azevedo has be working from a temporary studio in K Village with volunteers and her creative team to make over 3,000 200mm tall icemen.”

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“We’ve been working on the moulds for the past two weeks – getting them filled and frozen, then the sculptures were de-moulded and fettled by hand before being stored in freezers and the process starts over again. ”

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“The icemen and women will be transported to Kendal Castle on Sunday morning.”

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“On Sunday Azevedo will invite members of the public to place the beautifully crafted sculptures on the ruins of Kendal Castle where they can watch as these tiny ice figures melt and return to rain water.”

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I’m not sure if this art is the kind of thing which Michael Gove recently derided as ‘modish crap’. Probably.

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“Is this = to Turner, Ruskin, even Holman Hunt – of course not.”

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Which limited frame of reference suggests that the underlying questions is: is this art Victorian?

Of course, Turner’s own art was controversial in it’s day. Had Twitter existed then, no doubt some self-publisizing, narcissistic, failed politician would have been using it to rail against Turner’s non-conventional vision.

(In a politically bleak year a lone high-spot was watching Gove skewer himself with his own back-stabbing machinations.)

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Anyway, we enjoyed Minimum Monument immensely and there were a lot of other people there who also seemed to be thoroughly engaged and appreciative.

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Naturally, I took a preposterous number of photos.

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It was interesting to see how people had chosen to group the figures.

Almost all of the sculptures were placed on the walls, facing in to the castle. This couple…

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…being a rare exception.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and walked down into Kendal…

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…where there were numerous other activities on offer.

We added to a large clay sculpture…

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…donned goggles for a 3D virtual reality flight over the Lake District, watched a three handed show (a mime I seem to remember) and visited St. Thomas’s Church to see this…

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…enormous model of the moon by Luke Jerram.

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A highly enjoyable day!

(The quotes at the top of the post are from the Lakes Alive website.)

Minimum Monument