A Saturday Triptych – Fit the First.

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Last Saturday and an early start revealed the forecast clear skies and frost, which had brought a low lying mist, particularly, it seemed down towards Hawes Water. I thought I’d missed the sunrise, but in fact was out just in time to catch it. And when the sun duly gilded the southern flank of Eaves Wood I was induced to bend my steps that way.

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Eaves Wood.

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The Coronation Path.

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Honesty.

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Not a great photo, I know, but I was thrilled to see another Tree-Creeper so soon after my last encounter.

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The Ring O’Beeches.

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A Ruddock.

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Hawes Water mist.

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The rabbits were much more tame than usual. In fact, I felt like all the wildlife I saw was remarkably sanguine about my proximity.

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This is one of the many gap-stiles I’ve been firmly wedged in over the years. It’s particularly awkward because the ground is higher on the far side, but it’s getting easier!

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Hawes Water.

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A Warbler. A silent warbler, so I don’t know which flavour. There were lots of small birds about. In this spot a male Bullfinch was tantalising me with flashes of its scarlet belly from the far side of the hedge.

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Cowslips.

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Another gap-stile, the fat man’s agony. To be honest, this one still requires fair bit of wriggling. I suspect that I will never find it easy to manoeuvre through.

I found myself – I hadn’t planned it – following a new favourite route of my, from Hawes Water, through Yealand Allotment and ’round the back’ of Leighton Moss. I’ve never quite followed exactly this route before this year, but this was now the third time recently.

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This one was singing – a Chiff-chaff.

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Willow catkins.

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Very different Willow Catkins – there are several kinds of willow and it’s a bit of a blind spot for me – I shall have to work on it.

I’d arrived at the Lower Hide. I dithered momentarily – to go in or to continue toward home? Just a brief stop I decided. But then, there was already a birder in the hide, and as is so often the case, a chatty, knowledgeable and generous birder at that.

He told me about recent sightings – a Whitethroat on Walney Island, a Bittern at Martin Mere, and, just that morning, an Osprey perched on a log by the River Bela near Milnthorpe.

“The Cattle Egrets are over there at the back of the mere by the reeds, if you’re interested.”

A nice way to put it, implying as it did, that I was already up to speed about the presence of Cattle Egrets. I wasn’t, although I had been wondering about the cars I’d seen parked along Storrs Lane over the last week – now I knew why they’d been there, twitchers in all probability.

Needless to say, I was interested. I’d never seen Cattle Egrets before, and whilst they were only bright white specks in the distance, with the aid of the powerful zoom on the camera, I would soon have a good view of them and some photos to boot.

What a good time then, for the camera battery to go flat. I’m not sure I’ve ever let this happen before, or not since I bought this new camera with a rechargeable battery, well, not till now at least. I suppose I have been taking a lot of photos recently.

Then, just to rub salt into the wound, a male Marsh Harrier decided to perform a number of leisurely fly-pasts. And then something very strange started to happen. First it was a male Pheasant. It was stood by the path. When I approached, instead of running comically away, or noisily taking to the air squawking and flapping, it sat calmly preening itself, completely ignoring me, even when I was a yard away. Then a Great Tit dropped to a tree trunk beside the path and continued to feed until I was in touching distance. Not one, but three successive male Wrens – normally fast-moving birds, hard to photograph –  landed on prominent perches near to me and began to sing lustily. I felt almost invisible. When I saw a rather portly man with a very large camera jogging along the Causeway ahead of me, I knew, with a sinking feeling, that there would inevitably be a Bearded Tit on one of the grit trays. There was. And me with no working camera. It was a conspiracy – the birds were laughing at me!

Still, it had been a good walk, the sun was still shining, it was still very early. Time to head home for a cup of tea, a bit of a chat with the folks, a bit of pottering, put the ham on to boil, recharge the battery, and then out again…

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A Saturday Triptych – Fit the First.

More Spring Colour

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Sharp’s Lot – Pointer Wood – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – The Shore

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A couple of nights after my last visit to Hagg Wood, I was out again, but this time with some better light to catch the new leaves on one of the Inman Oaks.

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And the palette of greens in Hagg Wood…

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Not all of the oaks had new leaves yet…

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The stronger light was short-lived…

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I watched this blackbird for a while. It repeatedly, diligently wiped either side of its beak against the branch it was perched on. I can’t think why.

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In Pointer Wood there’s a Wilding Apple I like to visit. It’s almost in flower…

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More Wych Elm.

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The ‘Primrose Garden’.

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I arrived on the coast a little too late for the sunset.

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As I walked across The Lots I watched a man walking his dog out on the Bay. It’s been looking unusually firm and sandy near the coast recently and I couldn’t resist having a walk on the ‘sand’. In this case appearances weren’t misleading and I enjoyed my stroll, doubling back along the coast to pretty much where I had just come from.

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Sometimes our actions can have unexpected, or indeed unintended consequences. One knock-on of my renewed determination to get out and about as often as I can is the fact that even though April is a month in which I often take a lot of photos, this year I have still far exceeded my standard haul. Also, I noticed with some surprise today, I’ve published a post every day this month so far. In fact, my streak has lasted a little longer than that. That too has consequences. For one thing, a few more people seem to be reading my blog (or at least visiting, and sometimes clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’, which isn’t necessarily the same as reading). Also, I now feel under some pressure to keep it going; at least till the end of the month, although I’m not sure that I can manage it. We shall see…

More Spring Colour

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Hagg Wood – Home – Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Burtonwell Wood – The Row – Ring O’Beeches – Eaves Wood – Elmslack Lane

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A beautiful, bright, clear spring day. Perfect for going back to work!

By the time I got out for a walk, after work and our evening meal, the sun was quite low, it had clouded up and the light was far from ideal for photography. Also, it helps to have a battery in your camera if you want to take photos, which is why I walked home again from Hagg Wood and then retraced my steps yet again.

First port of call, following that palaver: the oak trees in the fields near home. Had they put on new raiment like the ones we walked past the day before on the shores of Ullswater?

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They had, and in the same marvelous lemony-green.

As I walked towards Hagg Wood I was struck by the subtle variation in colours of the various trees coming into leaf in that small copse. We make a great deal of fuss about Autumn leaves, but Spring Colour seems only to refer to the latest palette for this season’s cat-walk.

Part of that plethora of hues was provided by these seed pods…

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I’ve been surprised by how many trees there are in the area carrying seeds of this kind. I believe that these are characteristic of Elms, and given our northern location, I’m assuming that this is Wych Elm, which, fortunately is more resistant to Dutch Elm disease than English Elm.

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Blackthorn.

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Gean, or Wild Cherry.

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Ivy.

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Hawthorn (blossom soon to appear!).

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Hazel (I think).

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A Rose, Dog Rose I assume.

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Rowan.

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Again, I assume that this is Wych Elm, although the seeds are so much more abundant that I wondered whether this was a different species than the first tree. Apparently the seeds are good to eat. I shall sample some and report back soon.

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Sycamore.

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Crab Apple?

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Ash. Leaves almost with us.

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Elder?

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Another Sycamore. But not just any old Sycamore. This is….

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The tree formerly known as the Mystery Tree now revealed as a not particularly mysterious Sycamore. Ten points then to my Mum and Dad, who had it tabbed as that all along.

I have decided, having enjoyed making frequent visits in anticipation of leaves appearing on this tree, to continue dropping by and to dip my toe into Tree Following.

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Although there was much more of this walk still to come, that’s it for this post, since, as you can see, the light was fading fast.

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Place Fell

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Looking into Deepdale.

The last day of our Easter holiday (apart, that is for TBH who still had the rest of the week to look forward to). We had arranged a walk with our friends Dr R and her daughter E. Dr R is ticking off the Wainwrights and we needed a route which took in something new, but also gave the potential for meeting some none walking members of the party for tea and cake. I hit upon the idea of climbing Place Fell from Glenridding, descending to Howtown and returning on a Lake Steamer to Glenridding.

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Place Fell summit.

And a very fine walk it was, although it was very cold for our second lunch stop on the summit.

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I was pretty confident that this would be an enjoyable walk; it’s one I’ve done many times before, in particular, when we used to have family get-togethers at Easter in the Youth Hostel down below in Patterdale.

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Skimming Stones.

I’m pretty sure (and I will get around to looking it up eventually) that Place Fell has a fair smattering of Birketts, but I wasn’t too bothered about that today. I did however divert up High Dodd simply because it looked very inviting.

I was pleased I did because the view of Ullswater was excellent from there.

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Scalehow Beck from Low Dodd.

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Cascade on Scalehow Beck.

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This waterfall on Scalehow Beck looks like it is probably very dramatic, but it’s difficult to get a decent view of it from the path: the photo only shows the top of the fall.

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I was surprised to see that this tree, an oak, had come into leaf, because I’ve been watching for that to happen at home, but I was sure that it hadn’t.

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The walk around the shore from Sandwick to Howtown through Hallinhag Wood is delightful. And was enlivened for me by the appearance of a pair of Treecreepers, not a bird I see very often.

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Here in the woods, most of the trees were still bare, so this tree, in full leaf…

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…and a cheerful bright green – I think a Sycamore – really stood out.

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Arthur’s Pike and Bonscale Pike.

We arrived in Howtown with only a few minutes to spare before the 5 o’clock sailing of the Steamer and no time for the planned tea and cake interval there.

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But I think we all enjoyed the pleasure cruise. I know that I did!

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I’ve almost reneged on my promise of some ee cummings before the end of April, but after a trip to Howtown I can’t resist this:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

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Walking and Gawking

Eaves Wood – The Row – Bottom’s Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack Lane

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Cherry Blossom.

The forecast was poor, but the rain was meant to stop eventually, late in the afternoon. It didn’t, but then just when it seemed set in for the entire day it suddenly both stopped raining and brightened up, leaving dramatic dark skies to the east, but sunshine overhead.

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Honesty.

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I headed up the Coronation Path (bought in 1953 by the village to give access to Eaves Wood) knowing that I would gain height with a view of those glowering clouds.

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The sun was low filtering through the trees and lighting the new Beech leaves…

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From Castlebarrow, looking over the village, I could see the hills of the Forest of Bowland were still shrouded in a layer of cloud.

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But that it was slightly brighter out over the bay…

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A Robin was serenading me from the top of a Yew tree level with the crag…

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Beech leaves in a rut, Andy Goldsworthy style?

Most of these photos were taken in the early part of the walk. After that the light was generally too poor. When I’d asked TBH to lend me her phone so that I could monitor my mileage, A had very kindly offered me hers instead, but insisted that I use a different App which she assured me was ‘better’ in some unspecified way.

This turned out to mean that the phone, rather disconcertingly, announced aloud, every kilometre, my average speed, split times, distance etc. It took me a bit by surprise the first time, to be spoken to in an American accent whilst I was ostensibly alone in the woods. It was no real surprise, on the other hand, to discover that my speed increases significantly when I stop taking photos.

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After my almost obligatory visit to The Lots and The Cove I walked past a friend’s house and discovered him having a quiet smoke on his front step. Twenty minutes later as we sat chewing the fat over a cup of tea in his kitchen, A’s phone piped up to deliver very disappointing news about my current speed and split time.

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Must try harder obviously!

Walking and Gawking

Very Little and Decidedly Often

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A long time ago, when I could hold these things in my head, or thought I could, I kept a sort of league table of hills ranked by the number of times I’d climbed them. Glyder Fach topped the table, due to the fact that it was one ahead of Glyder Fawr; I usually climbed them together, but had once descended Y Gribin after an ascent via Tryfan. In retrospect however, I must have been excluding, or at least overlooking, the hills of the Peak District many of which were much more familiar to me then than the mountains of Snowdonia or the Lake District. Anyway, I was rather pleased with what seemed to me to be my special connection with this fine mountain and I began to consider it as something of a favourite.

So, in a more modest way, if voting with your feet is any way to judge, then the walk during which I took these photos must be my favourite. It’s a short stroll – clocking-in at just over a mile and a half, I’ve recently discovered – taking in the The Cove and The Lots and, in this simplest version, returning via the centre of the village, usually incorporating a stop to do a bit of grocery shopping.

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Although oft repeated and very familiar, it never loses its lustre, because there’s always something new to see. This, for example, is a Tree Bumblebee (Bombus Hypnorum). I’m reasonably confident of that because apparently the ginger thorax and white tail is distinctive of this species. I spotted it on a Flowering Currant in a garden on Townsfield (which name, rather confusingly, refers both to a field and to the street alongside it).

“B. hypnorum has a natural distribution in Mainland Europe, through Asia and up to the Arctic Circle. It was first found in the UK in 2001, in Wiltshire; but must have arrived from Mainland Europe. It has spread rapidly and is now present in most of England and much of Wales, where it can be very common in late spring to early summer. In 2013 it reached southern Scotland. Much of it’s rapid spread is probably due to it’s habit of setting up home in Bird Boxes, which abound in the UK.”

Source

This was quite a large bee and I wonder whether it might have been a queen?

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Black-headed gulls?

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Because I’ve been visiting The Cove on an almost daily basis I’ve become very familiar with the Shelduck who are ubiquitous on the edges of the Bay at the moment.

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Very Little and Decidedly Often

Historia Normannis at Lancaster Castle

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Historia Normannis, the twelfth century reenactment group, came to Lancaster Castle for the easter Weekend and we decided to go and have a look see.

We arrived just in time for a potted history of Henry II and his sons. It was necessarily brief, with no mention, for example, of Thomas Becket or of John’s treatment of his nephew Arthur. Still, it gave an entertaining picture of the infighting and back-stabbing ways of the Plantagenet Kings and their Barons. (And of Philip II of France come to that).

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After that little history lesson, we strolled the short distance into the city centre…

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…where the usual Saturday market was in full swing.

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Including musical entertainment…

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There were plenty of stalls serving food, and after making various choices, we plonked ourselves on the steps of the former Town Hall (built 1781-1783), now the City Museum (free and well worth a look).

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Back to the castle then for an exposition on how to dress a twelfth century knight in his armour.

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…which seems to be quite a long-winded affair!

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And which ended with a demonstration of combat in which, it seemed at least, not much quarter was given.

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The stalls on period food, and leather-working…

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…herbs and medicines…

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Were fascinating, but for some reason the boys seemed particularly drawn to the area where the replica weapons, shields and armour were on display…

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The next display was a tournament…

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…in which it once again seemed to me that the combatants were giving each other pretty hefty whacks.

Time to head home, but not before making one more stop at our favourite stall…

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B and his friend E. Captions anyone?

Historia Normannis at Lancaster Castle