Early April, when the branches are mostly bare and the birds are busy mating and nesting is a great time to spot and take photos of birds. This Bullfinch photo is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t taken on a walk, but through our window, by where I was sitting on a Thursday evening.
On the Friday, when I got home from work, having finished for the Easter break, I headed out for a wander round Heald Brow, to the south of the village.
I think someone had been doing some major pruning, because a better view of Hazelwood Hall had opened up from the adjoining Hollins Lane. My interest in the hall is due to the gardens, which I believed to be designed by Lancaster architect Thomas Mawson, although the current Wikipedia entry is slightly confusing on that score and seems to imply, in one section, that in fact Mawson’s son Prentice was responsible, only, later on, to state that it was Mawson himself who designed the garden working with another son Edward.
Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.
On Heald Brow, I noticed a Great-spotted Woodpecker in a very distant tree. I’ve included the photo, rubbish though it is, just to remind myself that I saw it, because, quite frankly, I was chuffed that I could pick it out in the tree-tops.
Likewise this Bullfinch. I know that it’s the second of this post, but I don’t seem to have seen many this year.
The Saturday was a glorious day, a great start to our holidays, so I set-off for Gait Barrows in search of birds and butterflies.
I did take no end of photos of butterflies and other insects and even more of birds, but above all else I took pictures of Primroses which seem to have proliferated all around the reserve.
There were Drone flies everywhere and I took lots of, I suppose, quite pointless photographs of them, but then occasionally what I took to be another Drone Fly would instead transpire to be something more interesting, like this Bee-fly…
I was quite surprised to see this machinery in the woods by Hawes Water, but the path from Challan Hall around to Moss Lane, which is supposed to be wheelchair friendly, had been getting increasingly muddy and Natural England were having it widened and resurfaced, so bully for them.
I can’t really identify lichens and, I think because I can’t, I don’t always pay them the attention they merit. I think this is Ramalina farinacea, but I wouldn’t take my word for it, and, looking again, I think there are probably at least three different lichens in the photo above.
Although it was months ago, I remember my encounter with this Comma butterfly very vividly. It was sunning itself on some limestone, as you can see, and I slowly edged toward it, taking a new photo after each stride. Eventually, I upset it and it moved, finally settling on a nearby tree-trunk, at which point I started edging forward again.
What struck me was that, if I hadn’t seen the Comma land, I don’t think I would have picked it out. Whilst the underside of its wings are drab in comparison to the patterned orange of the upper wings, the underwings are beautifully adapted to conceal the butterfly in a superb imitation of a tatty dead leaf.
…is a warbler. I don’t think it’s a Chiff-chaff, they have a very distinctive song which I can actually recognise, so I can recall getting excited because this had a different song. Sadly, I can’t remember the song at all, and can’t identify which warbler this is without that additional clue.
No such confusion here…
…this is a make Kestrel. I wish I’d managed to capture it in flight when it’s colours looked stunning.
And I suspect that this is a Chiff-chaff…
Though I couldn’t swear to it.
Another mystery here…
…with a bone suspended in a Blackthorn bush. I know that Shrikes impale their prey on the thorns of this tree, but Shrikes are quite small and I think that this bone is probably a bit too big for that. Also, Shrikes are very rare in the UK these days and are not generally seen this far West (although I know that they have occasionally been spotted at Leighton Moss).
I was back at Gait Barrows the following day, but the skies were dull and I didn’t take many photos. On the Monday, I had another local wander, including a visit to The Cove…
The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…
As if to prove my point that working for a living, or at least commuting to work, really gets in the way of enjoying life, my MapMyWalk account shows almost daily walks through January, February and up to the 7th of March. Schools reopened on the 8th and for the next fortnight I don’t seem to have walked very far or very often at all.
Anyway, eventually I started to get out and about again:
Whilst chaffinches seem to be flourishing, I feel like I don’t see nearly as many Greenfinches now as I did even five years ago. Hardly scientific, I know, but worrying none the less.
This one was having a good old spring sing-song. It was one of many birds in evidence in the hedges and trees in the caravan park at Far Arnside, but the only one content to pose for a portrait.
I think this was the walk when I bumped into an old friend and colleague who I hadn’t seen for years. We sat at opposite ends of a bench and had a very long chat. Some of her news was sad, but it was still good to catch up.
As so often on a walk round the coast, it was the sky and the light on the bay which were the stars of the show.
For once I didn’t go all the way around to Arnside, or climb the Knott, but at White Creek doubled back on the higher path which parallels the coastal one and returns to Far Arnside.
In the morning, TBH and I completed our usual Sunday trip around Jenny Brown’s Point.
And the afternoon brought a trip to The Lots.
A Roe Deer buck in the garden. There’s still some fur on his antlers. And his winter coat is looking extremely shabby.
A very grey day, I think. This photo from the Cove is a bit shy of any colour.
He’s back! It looks like he has some bits of moss on his antlers. My guess is that he’s been rubbing them on any available surface in an attempt to remove the itchy bits of skin.
I’m quite surprised by the very red tinge of his antlers. I suppose that’s because they still have a blood supply, although mature antlers, once the covering skin has been shed are dead bone, I think.
Another grey day. Another trip to The Cove…
Blue skies at last! And a high tide in Quicksand Pool.
The Bay is well-known for its rapid tides. On this occasion we watched what looked like some very powerful cross-currents at Jenny Brown’s Point.
Well, I must have gone back to work. I mean physically back to work, rather than working from home. Until March I’d been out for a walk most days, but then the wheels came off. Working for a living is highly inconvenient. Anyway – here’s most of March:
Spring! I’m sure that the celandines had been flowering for a while at this point, and the Cuckoo Pint leaves hadn’t recently appeared on the floor of Eaves Wood…
Maybe it was the blue skies and sunshine which made me pay attention to them. And to the wash of yellow catkins on the Hazel trees.
I do remember showing TBH the tiny red male flowers, like little starfish, on the Hazels, which apparently she hadn’t seen before.
There’s a garden on The Row which has an amazing display of crocuses every year, which I always make a point of going to see.
A walk around Gait Barrows most memorable for this pair of Buzzards. I’ve become very wary (well frightened, if I’m honest) of these birds, having been attacked a few times by highly aggressive/protective tiercels during the nesting season. On the other hand, they are beautiful birds, and I’m drawn to them, like a moth to the flame perhaps. So here, I was gradually creeping towards the tree they were perched in, hoping that it was too early in the year for them to take umbrage, but also half hiding behind a small hummock, the top of which can be seen in the photo.
The light, unfortunately, was a bit rubbish, which doesn’t really square with these two views of Hawes Water…
…which can’t have been taken very long afterwards.
I must have been a bit late leaving the house, since the sun was already setting.
To the Pepper Pot and then The Cove with TBH and ‘Little S’.
One of those days when the a layer of cloud coverage had a very visible edge with clear skies beyond.
A walk around the coast to Arnside for a pie with TBH. No return over the Knott however and not many photos either.
I’m assuming that there followed a couple of weeks of very iffy weather, because I don’t seem to have got out much until later in the month. Or a couple of weeks of extreme lassitude on my part. Or both.
So: Operation Catch-up is underway. February gets just a single post. Lots of short walks in February, nothing much further than 5 miles and often shorter than that. No ascents of Arnside Knot, but endless trips to Jenny Brown’s Point. I see, from MapMyWalk, that there were a couple of spells when I didn’t get out for several days running – I think a combination of work, inclement weather and decorating were to blame (decorating, I have decided, is one of TBH’s hobbies). As far as I remember, I only left the immediate area once all month.
I think it’s fair to say that the weather was quite variable, as you might expect in February, but as my photos show, there was some blue sky about too from time to time.
A had a physio appointment in Lancaster. Whilst she was there, I took the opportunity to have a wander around Williamson Park and the grounds of the University of Cumbria (in Lancaster, in Lancashire, I know?).
TBH and I were out for our habitual circuit via The Cove and The Lots. We met A walking with her friend S, The Tower Captain’s daughter, and their dogs Hanley and Bramble.
A couple of hedgerows close to home were cut right back, down to the ground, but the roots weren’t dug out, I don’t think, so hopefully they’ll eventually grow back. (Must check on their progress.)
I love the shape of the oaks when their branches are bare.
Several different breeds of sheep here; I think the large one in the middle foreground is a Valais Blacknose sheep, presumably enjoying the ‘Alpine’ conditions in Silverdale. I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember wether I ever noticed any sheep like this when, years ago, I holidayed in Saas Fee, in the Valais Canton of Switzerland, but I can’t recall.
One of several photos I attempted to take of the sky, which had some interesting colours, during a wander around Middlebarrow Woods, where it’s quite hard to find a view which is uninterrupted by trees.
This view was massively enhanced by the presence of a large flock of birds, which, unfortunately, were too far away to show up very well in the photograph.
A walk across the sands, the first for quite some time, with TBH and A, from The Cove to Know Point. It was clearly ‘blueing up’ as Andy often says, so I tried to persuade them both to carry on around Jenny Brown’s Point with me, but I think lunch was calling, so I had to settle for continuing on my own.
The two small figures on the water are on stand-up paddle boards, the toy of choice this summer it seems. It looked idyllic, I have to say. We debated whether we could use our inflatable kayaks in a similar fashion – we haven’t done to date, but maybe this reminder will galvanise some action on my part?
A new traffic light had been installed at Waterslack where a footpath crosses the railway line. I suggested to the Network Rail engineer, who was there testing the lights, that I could claim the privilege of being the first to use the crossing, but he told me that they’d already been on for 20 minutes and that he had crossed several times, which made him first.
He was wrong, obviously.
I realised yesterday that I’ve been writing posts about this January since the start of June. So two months to write up one: this is obviously not sustainable! At this rate, there’ll come a point pretty soon where I’m exactly a year behind and it will seem like I’m strangely in sync. January, as Pilot used to sing, has been hanging on me.
Clearly, this won’t do – so back to portmanteau posts. This one winds-up the final week of the month, glossing over a couple of walks when the weather was a bit grim and the light not so suited to taking photos.
No such problems on the Monday, when I had another long lunch break walk.
It was still cold, and the edges of Hawes Water were partially frozen over.
I headed for the ‘top’ of the limestone pavements…
…and settled down for some soup and a cup of tea (in the insulated mug)…
I was sitting in a favourite spot of mine, close to a small set of steps which have a rustic handrail…
This Robin seemed intent on joining me for my repast. Sadly, I didn’t have any bread to share.
Later, I was out again and took a turn by The Cove and The Lots.
On the Friday, after work, TBH and I were out by Hawes Water again and were rewarded by some stunning late-afternoon light.
I was back that way, on my own, on the Saturday, presumably to capture the obligatory Snowdrops picture.
It was a walk which finished quite late!
On the Sunday we repeated our usual circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point, but the weather wasn’t up to much. And that’s January dealt with. Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic!
And so to a tune. Something by Pilot? Ex-members of the Bay City Rollers? Not on my watch.
A quick stop at home, long enough to pack-up a sarnie and fill an insulated mug with tea, and I was out again, heading for ‘the dip’ where a large tree-stump looked very inviting. It proved to be a comfortable spot from which to enjoy the views and soak up some sunshine and quaff my picnic lunch.
From there I set of along the sands/mud…
…regaining the shore just past Far Arnside.
The insulated mug had been so effective that I hadn’t managed to drink my tea with my sandwich, which gave me the perfect excuse to lay claim to this bench and have another lengthy sun-bathe.
I’d been sitting so long that I was now conscious of the fact that daylight was getting short, so rather than continuing around the coast towards Arnside, I took a steep, direct route up to Heathwaite.
I wandered up to the toposcope on the Knott, where someone had scattered some birdseed, which this very tame Robin was not going to be deflected from enjoying, despite the presence of several people and a couple of dogs.
The small groups of people were there, of course, to watch the sunset.
After my two walk Saturday – a two walk Sunday. Every year, January always seems to find me at a peak of motivation to get outside, I’m not entirely sure why.
One reason to get out on Sunday morning was that I’d seen, on a local Facebook page, photos of these very cheery aconites. I believe this field, near the ‘new’ Cricket pitch, was donated to the National Trust, but the owners first planted this strip with spring bulbs.
I’ve cheated slightly – the photos of the aconites came from the second walk, when the light was better. I’d already seen them on the second of my Saturday walks, but it was virtually dark at that time so I hadn’t taken any photos. Since I knew that TBH would appreciate them, we diverged slightly from our usual Sunday morning routine and set-off that way and then crossed the still snowy Lots…
Our Sunday morning walk, easily completed in an hour and a half, often took over two hours, and on this occasion, admittedly when we took a different, slightly longer, route, stretched to three hours. The reason for this variation being the many conversations we had with friends from the village we met whilst out and about. On this walk we bumped into our friend R, who was walking her dog, and she joined us for a socially-distanced chat. Then we met two groups of mutual friends and stopped both times for lengthy catch-ups. It was all very pleasant, if a little cold.
Because we were walking around Jenny Brown’s Point every Sunday, we were able to watch the rapid changes of the course of Quicksand Pool and the decay of the steep bank on the far side of the stream. We didn’t have to admire the view for long before we would witness large chunks tumble into the water.
Although we were now back on our usual route, we were walking widdershins, in the opposite direction to our habitual outing, and now decided to return via Heald Brow rather than up through Fleagarth Wood. I can’t remember why, probably because it’s more direct and and TBH was ready for some lunch, having been out for so long.
Conscious of how early it would get dark, I had other plans for my lunch, especially since it had suddenly brightened up. I thought a picnic lunch and another walk would be just the ticket; but I’ll save that for another post.
…which is more than can be said for the poor old blog!
So..this is the second-half of a snowy January Saturday. Near the end of my morning walk with TBH and A the sun finally made an appearance. After lunch, when I set out again, this time alone, there was still some blue sky in evidence, enough to patch a sailor’s trousers, as my mum puts it. On south facing slopes the snow soon melted, leaving an odd patchwork of green and white.
I was heading, initially, for Gait Barrows. This…
…is usually a tiny little spring which creates a small pool before disappearing back underground. On this occasion, as you can see, it was creating a stream which had flooded the gateway and was flowing across the adjacent field.
From Gait Barrows, I crossed Coldwell Meadow, heading for the ruin of Coldwell Limeworks in Back Wood, but was distracted by the sound of this cascade on Leighton Beck..
It’s not very big, but a bit of a rarity in limestone country where the water is often below the surface. No name is given on the OS map, but it’s close to the wonderfully named Creep-i’-th’-call Bridge, so maybe Creep-i’-th’-call Falls, which has a nice ring to it?
Near Arnside, by Black Dyke, I was fortunate to find a way around this flooded section of path.
I climbed Arnside Knott, soon entering the cloud to find that the snow had clung on under the cover of the cloud.
Whilst I generally enjoy the views from the Knott, it was quite exhilarating to be in the clouds and the monotone woods and apparently cut-off from the surroundings.