Half Term at Home

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The Cove

Not sure what happened during the first half of February. Rain probably; by the bucketload. The most significant thing to happen over half-term is that my parents came to visit, which was terrific – it had been a long while since we had seen them.

I think we had some mixed weather that week, but I managed to get out for several local walks and even saw some blue skies and sunshine.

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View from Castlebarrow.
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Winter Aconites and Snowdrops.
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Snowdrops in Eaves Wood.
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Eaves Wood.
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The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood.
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Hawes Water.
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I wondered whether all the tree-felling by Hawes Water would affect the Snowdrops there, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had any impact.

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Snowdrops.
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I know this second photo looks much the same as the first, but there’s an insect on one of the flowers in the centre of the photo. Perhaps a drone fly. I thought it was pretty unusual to see a fly outside in the middle of February.

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Scarlet Elf Cup.
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New rustic picket fence around the restored summer house by Hawes Water.
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This is Jelly Ear Fungus or Wood Fungus. It’s allegedly edible – I have eaten it, in a restaurant years ago and I can’t say I was impressed.

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These black cords, called rhizomorphs, are how Honey, or Bootlace, fungus spreads. They grow beneath the bark of an infected tree, but can also spread beneath the soil to reach new trees. Honey fungus will kill its host tree. I think it’s quite common in this area.

Honey Fungus mushrooms are bioluminescent (the gills glow in the dark), although their ghostly greenish light emissions are usually far too weak to be visible to the human eye in a normal woodland environment, even on a moonless night. To see this effect it is necessary to sit close to some of the mushrooms in total darkness (in a windowless room) until your eyes have become accustomed to the dark and your pupils are fully dilated.

Source

A rash of fungus appears along Inman’s Road, the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, every autumn. I think it’s Honey Fungus. It’s never occurred to me before to bring some home to test the bioluminescence, but I think this year I will.

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Lumpy Bracket fungus?

I think that this might be Lumpy Bracket fungus, partly because in the same way that Jelly Ear fungus usually grows on Elder, this fungus typically grows on Beech, especially stumps, which is exactly what was happening here. Where a large number of Beeches have been (controversially) felled by Hawes Water, many of the stumps now host this fungus.

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Gloucester Old Spot piglets at Hawes Villa farm.

I thought, obviously mistakenly, that Hawes Villa had stopped keeping pigs. Happily, I’m wrong.

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Walking along Bottoms Lane I was struck by the abundance and diversity of the mosses and lichens living in the hedge.

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How many different species here?
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Back in Eaves Wood again.
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By the Pepper Pot.

Because there were cold winds blowing all week, my Dad, who really suffers with the cold, was understandably reluctant to venture out. TBH had the bright idea that the gardens at Sizergh Castle might be relatively sheltered. She was right.

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Family photo – I took several, but none in which everybody managed to look at the camera simultaneously.

A is in a wheelchair – lent to us by the National Trust for our visit – because she had broken a bone in her ankle whilst dancing. Little S (you can see here how diminutive he is!) delighted in pushing her around at great speed and alarming her with his ‘driving’ skills.

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More Snowdrops in the grounds of Sizergh.
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The Winter Aconites again.
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Four fields between Holgates and Far Arnside had been seeded with what looks to me like Ribwort Plantain. A bit of lazy internet research reveals that it can be used as fodder. Certainly, when we’ve been back to the fields, after stock have been introduced, the leaves have been pretty thoroughly stripped off. I read that growing plantain can improve soil structure. And also, more surprisingly, that its seeds are used as a thickening agent in ice-cream and cosmetics.

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Far Arnside.
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Looking to Knowe Point.
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The Bay.
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Grange. Hampsfell behind with a dusting of snow.
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Turning the corner into the Kent Estuary.

The weather le me down a bit here. I walked around the coast in glorious sunshine, but by the time I’d climbed the Knott from White Creek, not the longest of ascents, it had completely clouded over.

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Bit of snow on Arnside Knott too.

And finally, on a very damp final day of the break, the flocks of Starlings which roost at Leighton Moss briefly gathered above the field behind our house, so that we had a grandstand view from our garden.

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Magic!

Half Term at Home

6 thoughts on “Half Term at Home

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes, I had a similar experience – I think that in the late seventies there were a couple of hot, dry summers which brought an abundance of mushrooms and puffballs when the weather finally broke.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      The arrival of snowdrops is a massive moment in my year since it heralds the arrival of lengthening days and spring. Always lifts my spirits.

  1. Great post, packed with interesting stuff. Not sure why, but I find fungi absolutely fascinating, probably due to the sheer diversity of looks and the fact that are deeply creepy! And a murmuration of starlings to finish. Marvelous! 😀

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      There’s been a new book about fungi which has been getting really good reviews recently, I shall be on the look out for a second-hand copy, they’re so strange!

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