Another Orchid Hunt

P1190753

Cartmell Fell, the Kent and Whitbarrow Scar from Arnside Knott.

An unexpected window for an evening stroll. I set out intending to walk around the Knott, rather than up it, but, as you can see from the photo above, I did eventually climb to the top. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some more photos from the garden first…

P1190695

As if to prove my point about fledglings lacking caution, this little ball of fluff, a juvenile blue tit, sat in the Sumach in our garden and didn’t move or flinch as I approached with my camera despite noisy entreaties from a parent bird.

P1190697

P1190694

For once, I didn’t start from home, but gave the walk a kick-start by parking in a lay-by on the south side of the Knott. From there the view of Arnside Tower…

P1190699

…makes it seem to still be in a good state of repair, rather than the semi-ruin which the view from the far side, which I more usually post, suggests.

I took the gradually ascending path which has become something of a favourite, but then cut back down into the fields of Heathwaite…

P1190706

P1190701

There were lots of Common Spotted-orchids, here seen with Quaking Grass – they often seem to be companions. I’d also been tipped off, by Craig who looks after the local National Trust properties and was one of the attendees of the Grass course I did, that there were some less common orchids growing there.

These…

P1190708

…which have been protected from grazing rabbits…

P1190724

…are Fragrant Orchids, which I’ve previously seen at Tarn Sike nature reserve last summer. There were also some growing outside the netting, rather bedraggled specimens, but I was able to confirm for myself the strong carnation like scent which gives them their name.

Nearby another netted area held…

P1190719

…Lesser Butterfly-orchids, another flower which I was seeing for only the second time, having unexpectedly come across one in a tiny churchyard, also last summer.

There were a few Northern Marsh-orchids nearby too, but they were in the shade and my photos came out even less sharply than the ones above, so I’ve omitted them.

P1190713

Dropwort.

I was also hoping to find the Spiked Speedwell which I’d seen flowering here last summer, another first last year, but couldn’t find any, which was not entirely a surprise since Craig had told me that the long spell of hot, dry weather was adversely affecting the speedwell.

P1190728

Looking south along the coast.

P1190729

A poser. The shape and colour suggests Northern Marsh-orchid, but the markings on the flower look like Common Spotted-orchid. They do hybridise, so that’s probably the explanation.

P1190732

By now the light was glorious.

P1190733

But the sun was beginning to sink.

P1190734

I had one more spot to check out. Craig had perfectly described a patch of bracken, by the path in Redhill Pasture, where there were more Lesser Butterfly-orchids…

P1190744

The path continues to skirt the hill from here, but was in the shade, so I decided to climb so that I could keep the light for longer.

P1190749

A thrush’s anvil.

P1190752

A thrush.

I made an unfortunate choice, following a different path than the one I usually take, which petered out leaving me stranded in very tall bracken, which might not have been so bad were there not brambles and blackthorn growing concealed by the bracken.

Still, the views were worth it…

P1190753

P1190757

And there were wild strawberries to accompany the views – small but very tasty.

P1190766

Across Silverdale Moss to the Pennines.

Advertisements
Another Orchid Hunt

A Walk from Claughton

P1190597

Claughton Hall Farm.

A mid-week, post-work stroll. I wanted a shortish walk and not too much of a drive, so that I could guarantee an early finish. For one thing, I wanted to get back to take B to Lancaster for a late start to a school-trip to France. And for another thing, the forecast was for the weather to finally break, with rain expected as the evening progressed and gale force winds in the early hours. So I’d been poring over the map, looking at Lune tributaries close to my work-place in Lancaster. The slopes behind the villages of Caton and Claughton have several streams – Mears Beck, Westend Beck, Barncroft Beck and Claughton Beck – to which there is, frustratingly, little or no access. However, whilst inspecting these I inevitably noticed the gothic script close by denoting Claughton Hall and was instantly intrigued. A quick search on the internet and I knew that this was something I had to go and see for myself – “Large house, c.1600 with C15th remains, moved to present site and rebuilt 1932-5.” (from Historic England).

The house, which used to be in the village of Claughton, was dismantled and rebuilt half way up the moors above the village. One wing was left in situ however, now called Claughton Hall Farm and seen in these first two photos.

P1190600

Claughton, incidentally, is pronounced Klaften by locals and probably a hundred and one other ways by the rest of us.

P1190599

St. Chad’s Church.

St. Chad’s Church is next to the farm. There has apparently been a church on this site for almost a thousand years, although the current building only dates back to 1815, so it’s a shame to see it locked-up and abandoned and disappearing behind thickets of weeds and saplings.

P1190598

There’s only one path from Claughton which heads up into the hills so I decided just to do an out and back. There look to be a couple of other good options, but both require a little more time and effort.

I hadn’t gone far up the track before I came across this…

P1190603

…by a path which was shadowing Claughton Beck. This seem to me like a kind invitation to visit the falls, so, pleasantly surprised, I left the track and set-off by the beck, but didn’t get far before I came across a tangle of fallen trees blocking the path and elected to turn back again…

P1190606

P1190609

Honeysuckle.

Despite the gloomy skies, I was enjoying the views down the valley to the hills around Kirkby and, dominating the view, Ingleborough.

P1190610

I was also intrigued by the low, partially wooded hill in the middle distance, which I now know to be Windy Bank, behind Hornby and between the Lune and the Wenning, and which is now on my list of places I need to visit for a walk.

image

Lune Valley pano.

Sadly, behind me there was no view of Claughton Hall, only a dense hedge of Leylandii, or something similar. I reflected that the impulse which drives somebody to move their home away from a village and half-way up a hill might also lead them to screen themselves completely from the outside world, but I’ve since discovered that the hall could still be photographed from the track relatively recently. The gateway was open and I suppose I could have taken a wander down the drive, but I’ve settled instead for a photo of the hall, from around 1910, before it was moved…

Picture

Source

From this point on, the walk turned into a bit of a birding excursion, as these Lune Catchment walks have often been prone to do.

P1190616

Juvenile Wren, at least I think it’s a juvenile.

It may partly be to do with the time of year: there are lots of fledglings about and they don’t seem to share the caution of their parents. Then to, the parents themselves are busy fussing over their brood, providing food and guidance.

P1190617

Along the track there were several more of these curious headstones and I began to think that perhaps they weren’t an open invitation to the hoi-polloi like me. Maybe they’re for visitors to the hall?

P1190619

Hedge Woundwort. The gorgeous ginger bumblebee just wouldn’t pose for a photo.

P1190627

This strikes me as unusual, although I’ve no real idea whether it is or not: Claughton has a brickworks which is supplied from a clay-pit (essentially a large quarry) on the hillside above, via this aerial ropeway.

P1190624

P1190629

Skylarks.

P1190631

I passed Moorcock Hall, a farm, and then the wind-farm on Caton Moor. The towers are huge and, up close, a bit oppressive.

P1190637

P1190640

I was convinced that this must be a juvenile Stonechat. I’m not sure why I was so sure, since I can’t recall ever having seen one before.

Perhaps stupidly, I’d set off with just my camera and a map for company. No bag, or coat, or other kit. To the north I’d seen the hills of the Lake District slowly disappear in a miasma. There’d been odd drops of rain in the air and I’d wondered about the sanity of continuing. But when I reached the summit of Caton Moor, which I’ve never visited before, it brightened up and I was even treated to a little weak sunshine.

P1190643

The Three Peaks from Caton Moor.

P1190644

Ward’s Stone from Caton Moor.

P1190647

There were clear paths heading off towards Littledale and Roeburndale, which would be the two other possible walks I could envisage on Caton Moor. I was particularly taken with the path towards Roeburndale. Another time.

P1190652

Small Heath butterfly.

I saw loads of these on my evening walks last summer, so I was pleased to finally see one this year.

P1190654

Walking back past the wind-farm I kept seeing a pair of Painted Lady butterflies. I couldn’t understand how I kept losing them and then seeing them as they flew up apparently from almost under my feet. Then I spotted one with its wings closed…

P1190658

Beautiful, but also cunningly disguised.

P1190667

I also saw a family of the same kind of birds that I seen on the wall when I was on the way up…

P1190670

P1190672

But this time with an adult male Stonechat initially with them on the wall…

P1190673

…though he soon flew off.

A lovely outing and the rain held off until I was safely ensconced in my car. By the time I got home it was raining hard and when I dropped B off it was pelting down. The wind also eventually arrived, if anything even worse than forecast. There was a lot of debris on the roads the following morning and we drove past the end of a lane which was blocked by a fallen tree.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 22.13.24.png

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 22.18.29.png

 

A Walk from Claughton

Another Tour of Farleton Fell

P1190570

Beetham Fell, Kent Estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and Lakeland Fells from Farleton Fell.

The Explorer Scouts, with A amongst them, were trying out scree running on the slopes of Farleton Fell. Since it would fall to me to either take A and her friends or collect them, I decided that I would do both, earn double the brownie points, and get out for a walk of my own whilst I waited for them to finish. I dropped them off near Holme Park Farm, but since there isn’t much scope for parking there, I drove up to the high point of the Clawthorpe Fell Road and left the car there (near the spot height of 192 on the map at the bottom of the post). After fulfilling a promise I made to myself not so long ago – of which more later – I set off following the wall which forms, initially at least, the eastern boundary of the access area on Newbiggin Crags.

image

There’s a track here, not marked on the map, close-cropped and with different vegetation than the surrounding area; I would hazard a guess that this is an old track, in long use.

P1190539

It follows a level shelf which circles the hill and makes for very pleasant walking.

P1190542

Scout Hill.

It was a gloomy evening, very overcast, but the forecast had said that it would brighten up, so I had high hopes.

Eventually, the track swings westward and climbs a shallow, dry valley with a low, limestone edge on the right…

P1190545

The grassy slopes below the edge…

P1190556

Had lots of orchids…

P1190558

They were mostly quite dried-up and finished. These had me confused at the time, but looking at them now I feel sure that they must be Early Purple Orchids. In the fields around home these have long since shrivelled up and disappeared, but I suppose the extra bit of elevation must be sufficient to make the flowering both begin and end a little later here.

The path brings you to the little col between the twin summits of Farleton Knott and Holmepark Fell. If I’d had a little more time I would have stayed with the path – it drops down to the paths which follow the base of the western edge – but I was conscious of the time, and too tempted by the view from the top.

P1190561

P1190562

Farleton Knott.

P1190563

Looking back down the dry valley, sunshine finally arriving.

P1190566

Middlebarrow, Arnside Knott, Beetham Fell.

P1190568

Looking along the edge to Warton Crag.

P1190575

Hart’s-tongue Fern.

P1190576

Meadow-oat Grass – I did learn something on my course.

P1190579

Returning by a higher route on Newbiggin Crags. Ingleborough still in the murk in the distance.

P1190583

Skylark – I think.

P1190590

Coal Tit.

P1190596

The sunshine has reached the hills to the east by the time I was approaching the car again. The wind had picked up too; the little wind-turbine in the centre of this photo was whizzing around now. I’d walked past it twice earlier – the first time it wasn’t turning at all and the second time only rotating lazily.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 22.09.49

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 22.09.18.png

You can see on the map above why I’d already walked past the wind turbine twice. I detoured down to Whin Yeats Farm, where there’s a…

image

…portashop?

image

An honesty box, a fridge, and milk and cheese for sale…

image

I’d seen this advertised on a previous visit to Fareton Fell and resolved to try this local produce when an opportunity arose. The next evening, the boys and my Father-in-Law joined me to sample the cheeses…

image

I think this is the Farmhouse on the left and the Fellstone on the right. Both very tasty. The consensus was that we preferred the Fellstone. B described it as being ‘like Manchego, but stronger’, which is high praise, because he’s very fond of Manchego. I shall be getting those again.

 

Another Tour of Farleton Fell

An Introduction to Grasses.

image

Exactly a week after my Grassland Monitoring course and I was on another course, organised again by Morecambe Bay Partnerships, this time on grasses, and based here in Silverdale.

image

Initially, there was a presentation in the Green Room of the Gaskell Hall, introducing a handful of species commonly found in the major habitats in this area. Then we progressed to The Lots to test our new found knowledge.

And finally, went down to The Shore to look at the grasses on the salt marsh.

P1190528

Botanising.

I’ve had a couple of Field Guides to non-flowering plants – grasses, sedges, rushes, and ferns – for quite some time, but never seem to have got to grips with them. I still think that I’m going to find them challenging, but maybe now that I’m familiar with a few, I can start to slowly chip away at the others, like I have done with flowers.

Having said that, I didn’t make a good start – I took no pictures of grasses to add to this post, but when we got down to the shore and there were some flowering plants to see, out came my camera!

P1190526

Sea Milkwort.

P1190530

Sea Plantain.

P1190531

P1190534

Thrift.

P1190535

These leaves, I was told, belong to an Orache. There are several, I’m not sure which this is. Not very exciting to look at I know, but it pleased me, because I knew I recognised the name and that I would find it, and I subsequently have, in the pages of the first field guide to plants which I bought – Richard Mabey’s ‘Food for Free’. Apparently, young leaves can be picked and used like spinach. Perhaps I should try it.

image

When we’d finished, I walked home by a circuitous route across the sands to The Cove. Many people were out making the most of the firm surface created by the long spell of dry weather we were enjoying. We were all surprised by two microlights flying surprisingly low above the beach, you can see one in the photo above.

An Introduction to Grasses.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

image

For reasons too tedious to go into, after work one afternoon I needed to leave my car on Aldcliffe Road and walk across town to Caton Road. It was frankly, a bit too hot for my liking, especially since I was still in my work clothes, but it did give the compensation of a walk along the canal. Now, I’ve walked along this stretch of water many, many times over the last twenty years, but I’ve never before had the impression that it was particularly densely populated with fish. On this occasion, however, it was blatantly teeming with them.

image

This photo doesn’t really capture it, but shoals of them were just below the surface, spreading ripples across the canal. I could see they they were striped, with a greenish, orangey tinge, so I assume that they were Perch.

image

Red Valerian again. Native to the mediterranean, it has been naturalised in the UK for centuries.

In the old wharves, opposite the Water Witch pub, there were, if anything, even more fish, but much smaller ones.

image

Whether these were simply shoals of smaller Perch, or something else entirely, I couldn’t say.

image

They could be though, since apparently Perch spawn in shallow water in spring. I can’t recall ever seeing anyone fishing this stretch of water, which is curious since…

Perch flesh makes exceptionally good eating. Adjectives that have been used to describe their flesh include white, firm, flaky, and most importantly, boneless and well-flavoured. On the continent perch are farmed and eaten in large numbers. Indeed, in Finland perch is the third most important fish by weight, after herring and sprats.

Perch also make good sport. On a summer’s evening the smaller perch can be seen queuing up to take the bait – perfect angling for beginners – while the larger, solitary individuals are sufficiently secretive and wary to make a specimen hunters life interesting. Although no where near the size of a decent pike or salmon, a large perch is a stunning animal. The Scottish rod record stands at 4lb 14oz (2.21 kg), but bigger perch undoubtedly swim in Scottish waters.

Source

I was tickled, in this passage, by the image of the Perch forming an orderly queue to take the bait. How very British.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

An Orchid Hunt

P1190481

Female Broad-bodied Chaser in the garden again.

P1190488

The final day of our Whit half-term holiday. TBH and I were out for a turn, looking for various kinds of orchids: I’d heard the previous day that there were Fly Orchids flowering at Trowbarrow Quarry, and felt that there would probably be Bee Orchids too, TBH wanted to see the Lady’s-slipper Orchids at Gait Barrows.

P1190497

The Elder was in flower and TBH had been busy making cordial, as she habitually does at this time of year. Very nice it is too.

P1190513

Trowbarrow.

P1190499

Comma butterfly.

P1190501

Fossilised coral at Trowbarrow.

P1190502

P1190506

Common Spotted-orchid and Quaking Grass.

P1190507

Common Blue Butterfly on Bird’s-foot Trefoil its principal food-plant.

P1190510

Northern Marsh-orchid. Possibly.

P1190515

Bird’s-eye Primrose by Hawes Water. At the southern limit of its range.

P1190517

P1190518

Common Spotted Orchid again.

P1190520

Northern Marsh-orchid or maybe a hybridisation of same with Common Spotted-orchid.

I didn’t find what I was looking for at Trowbarrow and at Gait Barrows the Lady’s-slippers were rather dried-out and exhausted looking.

P1190523

It was a very pleasant walk though.

 

An Orchid Hunt

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

P1190478

This tower, on Kirklands, by Kent’s Bank, which is a sort of suburb of Grange-over-Sands, was built as a folly, but nobody seems to know when or by whom. Allegedly, it’s on the site of a much earlier church and apparently open-air services are still held here sometimes in the summer. I was here as a continuation of the grassland monitoring, with Morecambe Bay Partnerships, which I helped with last year. We had a very short refresher course in the Victoria Hall in Grange and then came out here for some in-the-field revision. There’s no official public access to this area: we had permission, but judging by the well-walked paths in the area, the locals probably have a sort of de facto right-to-roam anyway. One of the volunteers in the party also volunteers on archeological digs and has worked here on three caves which revealed evidence of human habitation going back to just over ten thousand years ago. Also, even older remains of horses, elk and lynx.

P1190477

The hillside behind the folly, dipping into the cloud, is Hampsfell (not featured on this blog for far too long). The fact that lowly Hampsfell was in the cloud gives an indication of the weather – after several days which, even when cloudy, were still quite hot – the weather had turned overcast and a bit chilly.

P1190432

The hill seen across the Kent Estuary here is Arnside Knott – this spot is really not far from home, although it takes quite a while to drive because of a lack of a road bridge over the lower reaches of the Kent. One day, hopefully, a pedestrian bridge alongside the rail bridge will connect Arnside and Grange. On this occasion, I risked Northern Rails dodgy service and caught the train.

P1190434

Here’s the ‘team’ heading downhill. The low, wooded hill in the distance is Humphrey Head, another place I haven’t been to for quite some time.

P1190458

Botanising.

It was good to be out with like-minded people, not necessarily for a tutorial as such, but just to get back into the routine of how to carry out the surveys and the very close observation which is required in order to pick out some of the very tiny species which can be good indicators of healthy limestone grassland.

I did often get distracted by other things however. There was a Kestrel hovering overhead which I photographed several times, but on such a gloomy day none of the pictures came out very well.

Also…

P1190451

…this very dark and hairy insect which I thought would be distinctive enough to easily identify from a field guide. But sadly not: it looks to me like a mining bee, an Andrena speciesbut I’m not confident that it is one of those, and not at all sure which particular species.

P1190462

Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

P1190470

Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.

P1190436

Bird’s-foot Trefoil (a food plant of the Six-spot Burnett Caterpillar).

P1190439

A Bedstraw. There are lots of different bedstraws and distinguishing between them is exceptionally difficult.

P1190440

Mouse-ear-hawkweed. There are lots of different Hawkweeds too, but this one, at least, is relatively easy to pick out.

P1190447

Lesser Trefoil (I think).

P1190449

Pig-nut. This plant has tiny tubers which taste, well, nutty. Pigs love them, and apparently they used to be very popular with country children too. Hard to try them now because it’s illegal to dig-up plants on somebody else’s land.

P1190459

Rock Rose (in profusion).

P1190466

Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.

P1190467

Yellow Rattle seed capsules. They rattle, hence the name.

P1190471

Burnet Rose.

P1190464

Kidney Vetch.

P1190473

Heath Speedwell (that was the consensus opinion anyway).

Previous visit to Hampsfell here.

Previous visit to Humphrey Head here.

How to forage for pignuts.

Findings in Kent’s Bank Cave.

 

Kirklands Kent’s Bank