Lambert’s Meadow Kaleidoscope.

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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Black-tailed Skimmer, female.

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Cantharis rustica – a soldier beetle.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Cheilosia chrysocoma (Golden Cheilosia) – two photos, I think of different insects on different Marsh Thistles. A hoverfly which, for some reason, has evolved to resemble a Tawny Mining Bee.

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Four-spotted Chaser.

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Another hoverfly – possibly Helophilius pendulus.

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Bumblebee on Ragged Robin.

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Common Blue Damselfly, female – I think.

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Azure Damselfly.

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Water Avens – and another hoverfly?

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Heath Spotted -orchid.

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Another Common Blue Damselfly.

Just a short walk, but packed with interest. If the large blue and green dragonfly which was darting about had landed to be photographed too, my day would have been complete. It was an Emperor; large blue and green dragonflies which elude my camera are always Emperors. When they do land, they always somehow transform into Hawkers of one kind or another, lovely in their own right, but not Emperors. One day I’ll catch an Emperor in an unguarded moment.

In the meantime, the colours on offer at Lambert’s Meadow will do just fine.

Lambert’s Meadow Kaleidoscope.

Nuthatches and Butterflies

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One route into Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve leaves Red Bridge Lane, crosses a small field and then the railway line and then you are into another field, but this one s part of the reserve. Cross that field and you come to a gate in a hedge beside which stands this big old Ash tree.

As I approached the tree, I could see, on the trunk, an adult Nuthatch passing food to a fledgling. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo, but then watched the pair for quite a while, taking lots of, mostly unsatisfactory, pictures.

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Both birds were on the move, but more so the adult which moved both faster and more widely around the tree. The youngster seemed to be foraging for itself, whilst also emitting high-pitched squeals to encourage the parent to keep it supplied with tasty grubs. Their meetings were so brief that this is the only one I captured, and even then the exchange of food had already happened here.

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This is the juvenile. I’m sure of that fact, but can’t really put my finger on why I’m so confident. I suppose, like a lot of juveniles, it’s a little smaller and dumpier, its colours slightly duller. I think the eye-stripe is shorter and not quite so bold. Looking for some confirmation in my bird books, I came across a distribution map, from a book published in 1988, which shows Nuthatches as absent from this area and only resident further south. I’m quite surprised by that, because when I moved to this area, just a few years after that publication date, one of the first things that struck me was how often I spotted Nuthatches, a bird which, until then, I had only seen relatively infrequently. I see that the RSPB website has a map which shows that they have subsequently extended their range into southern Scotland.

There was a Starling flitting in and out of the tree too and a Kestrel hovering above the field beyond.

Once I was into the woods near Hawes Water I watched several more Nuthatches. All adult birds I think, but all equally busy and perhaps seeking food for nestlings or fledglings too. I took lots more photos, but in the woods there was even more shade than there had been under the Ash and they’re all slightly blurred.

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Common Blue Damselfly

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The flowers of Common Gromwell are hardly showy, but they have succeeded in attracting this very dark bee…

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…at least it’s a bee, but it’s colouring doesn’t quite seem to match any Bumblebee, so I’m a bit puzzled. Any ideas?

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A crow by Hawes Water.

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In the meadow beyond Hawes Water I was very pleased to spot a single Northern Marsh-orchid.

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Hawes Water.

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I assume that this is a day-flying moth. There were loads of them in the meadow, obvious in flight, but then apparently disappearing. I realised that they were folding their wings and hugging grass stems and were then very difficult to spot. I have two photos of this specimen and both seem to show that its head is a tiny hairy outside broadcast microphone, which seems a bit unlikely.

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There are huge warrens and large numbers of rabbits at Gait Barrows. Every now and again, you see a black rabbit in amongst the crowds; a genetic remnant of an escaped domestic pet?

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I think that this is a female Northern Damselfly, and am now wondering if the ‘Red-eyed’ damselflies I posted pictures of recently were the same. Maybe.

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With more certainty, this is a Northern Brown Argus. I’ve pored over this guide, and for once, the ocelli seem to exactly match, making me feel more confident than usual.

Anyway, what ever species it is it looked pretty cool with its wings closed and even better…

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…with them open. In most guides these are brown and orange butterflies; I suspect that the rich variety of colours on display here is due to the deterioration of the scales on the wings, but, truth be told, I don’t really know.

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There were several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries around. Two in particular kept me entertained for quite some time.

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One soon decided to settle down and tried out a few likely looking perches, without moving very far.

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The other was flitting about far more, now close by…

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…then ranging a bit further, then back again. I thought the first had chosen a final spot, although, looking again, you can see that it’s feeding here…

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…not that I can see a flower. Maybe drinking?

The second SPBF was still haring about…

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Every now and again it would ‘bounce’ the settled butterfly, which at first would provoke a brief flight, then progressively less energetic wing-flapping until almost no response followed; just a short of dismissive shrug.

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Eventually, the second butterfly found a perch and stopped moving too. I’ve watched a SPBF do this in the late afternoon once before. I didn’t realise that was so long ago!

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Late afternoon light on Gait Barrows limestone pavement.

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Distant Lakeland peaks on the horizon.

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A late finish.

Nuthatches and Butterflies

The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

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Collared Dove on Cove Road.

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Back on the sands – you can see the grey ‘skin’ which starts to develop on the sand after several hot days with low tides.

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There were people paddling in the channel. Since then B and his friends have started visiting this part of the Bay on hot days for a swim – the water is barely deep enough I gather, but they are still very glad of it.

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In the distance – quite hard to pick out – a group spanning at least three generations had a number of long fishing poles propped up on tripods. B and his mates have also tried fishing here. They caught nothing. Fishing with good friends and catching nothing sounds like the best kind of fishing to me, but I never really caught the fishing bug. We’ve since heard that there are Sea Bass to be had down near Jenny Brown’s at high tide. B assures me that he’s not after Sea Bass, he’s holding out for shark apparently!

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Morecambe Bay may be the most beautiful bay in Britain. Thanks to the tides, it drains more or less completely twice a day. You can be standing on sand that a short while before was under thirty feet of water and vice versa. It’s the vice versa that you have to worry about because the tide comes back in very quickly, not in a line like an advancing army, but in fingerlets and channels that can easily surround you and catch you by surprise. People sometimes go for walks, then belatedly notice that they are on a giant, but steadily shrinking sandbar.

Bill Bryson again. He doesn’t really do lukewarm – he either loves it or hates it. Most beautiful? That’s a bit of a stretch. Sandwood Bay springs to mind as a contender, but I am very fond of Morecambe Bay obviously.

I’ve finished ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ and enjoyed as I always seem to with his books.

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The channel had connected with the Kent and was now much further out from the shore.  Above you can see the now dry channel where it formerly ran.

After a couple of very thirsty walks, I’ve taken to carrying a rucksack on my longer local walks, so I can carry a drink. It’s also convenient to stow my camera away there too, which is all very well, until I want to capture a moment quickly. So these Brimstone butterflies…

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…which were disporting themselves on some Dame’s-violet had to be photographed with my phone. Not entirely satisfactory, but you can see the strong contrast between the buttery yellow male and the much paler female.

When I was wondering about whether or not the House Sparrows in our hedge would nest or not, I was completely forgetting the early morning racket we hear in our bedroom every summer. I’m not quite sure how I managed to forget that cacophony. Even though our house is pretty modern, in each corner of the roof there’s a tiny hole up under the eaves. At least two of them were occupied this year. This male…

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…is just pausing during a prolonged concerto of chirruping.

I’ve continued to make bread every couple of days, but not to take photographs. I made an exception for this one, because I hadn’t made a loaf like this before, a farl apparently…

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Turned out rather well and has become a bit of a favourite.

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TBH admiring the Ox-eye daisies on Cove Road.

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Another wander on the sands. This is the day after the previous walk.

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More sun-seekers. Our neighbour told me that many had driven up from Liverpool.

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Red Valerian outside the Silverdale Hotel.

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More amorous butterflies, once again photographed using my phone, this time Small Tortoiseshells.

The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

Off-comers and Invertebrates

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Since Whit week, whenever the sun has shone, we’ve witnessed the strange phenomena of people sun-bathing on the sands. I know I’m an advocate of our bay, but it isn’t a beach in a conventional sense, since it is more mud than sand. It was actually much busier than this photo suggests, but one thing the bay has going for it is that there is lots of room to spread out. We have also seen people way out, paddling in the sea, much further out than I would ever venture without a guide. Don’t they remember the horrific accident with the cockle-pickers?

My wander down to the beach was a precursor to another trip to gait Barrows.

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I sat on the path and took no end of photos of this tiny butterfly. I suspect that it’s a Northern Brown Argus, but I couldn’t swear to it.

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Equally, I think that this is an Azure Damselfly, but wouldn’t put up a fight if you contradicted me.

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This, however, is a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. I think I’ve seen more of them this year than in previous years put together, although that’s not saying  a great deal, since my previous sightings have been few and far between.

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Finally, a blue-tailed Damselfly.

Off-comers and Invertebrates

Home from Milnthorpe

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The River Bela and Whitbarrow Scar.

After our swim, A had to get home, I forget why now, but I was in no hurry, so asked TBH to drop me off in Milnthorpe, so that I could walk back. I followed the River Bela through Dallam Deer Park and out towards it’s confluence with the Kent. The path then picks up the embankment of the old Arnside branch line, rejoining the road near the ‘orchid triangle’ at Sandside, a small section of roadside verge renowned for the orchids which appear there, not that I could find any on this occasion.

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Common Blue butterfly on unopened Oxeye Daisy.

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Oxeye Daisy.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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When I photographed this flower, I didn’t photograph the leaves; I suspect that I was confident that I knew what I was looking at and, probably, that this was Common Bistort. However, the rounded flower looks more like Amphibious Bistort, a curious plant in that it has two different forms – one adapted to grow on land and the other which grows in water.

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After a lengthy period of dereliction, the Quarry Warehouse was restored as offices several years ago. It stands next to an enormous double limekiln and I wondered whether its presence here was due to the Furness railway line which came right past, but apparently it substantially predates the railway line…

The earliest reference to the warehouse is in a document from 1778 in the form of a lease for 99 years from Daniel Wilson to John Wakefield of Kendal, a shearmandyer. The document is for the lease of a warehouse at Sandside for ‘£5 15s and 10d yearly’. John Wakefield was listed in Bailey’s Northern Directory (1781) as a merchant and manufacturer, and again in 1790 ‘Wakefield, John and Sons’ were still listed as merchants in Milnthorpe.

Source

It’s amazing what a little lazy internet research can throw up isn’t it? I was intrigued by the word ‘shearmandyer’: another search led to lots of references to former residents of Kendal, so perhaps it was a very local term. I presume it refers to someone involved in the wool trade. John Wakefield has a short wikipedia entry. He was quite the entrepreneur: he owned a cotton mill in Burneside, a brewery in Kendal, set-up a bank, invested in a turnpike and owned five ships trading between Liverpool and the West Indies, taking Kendal cotton out and returning with sugar. Strange to think that the cotton was almost returning to where it had presumably come from. He also ran the Gatebeck Gunpowder Mill near Endmoor, for which he was censured at a meeting of his fellow Kendal Quakers.

Milnthorpe itself was once a port, which seems very unlikely now, but the building of the railway viaduct significantly changed the estuary. The Quarry Warehouse apparently once had its own wharf.

Anyway, back to my walk, I’d come this way to try to find a path around the western edge of Sandside Quarry, which Conrad had written about. This is it…

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I was very pleased to find a route close to home which I’d never walked before.

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Yellow Pimpernel.

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Sandside Quarry. Still a working quarry, unlike the many others in the area.

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Limestone pavement.

I had intended to go to the top of Haverbrack to enjoy the splendid view of the estuary from there, but it now occurred to me that I still had quiet a way to go and that it was hot and I didn’t have a drink with me, again, so I decided to head fairly directly home via Beetham Fell and its Fairy Steps…

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…down to Hazelslack Farm and then along the side of Silverdale Moss to Hawes Water and home from there.

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Buzzard.

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Painted Lady – I haven’t seen many this year so far, after a bumper summer last year.

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On the verge of the lane from Hazelslack Farm I enjoyed this mixture of Crosswort and Forget-me-nots. I was confused by the white flowers in amongst the blue until I realised that they too were Forget-me-nots which had faded in the sun.

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I think that this is a Mistle Thrush, rather than a Song Thrush, but that’s because of the ‘jizz’ of the bird on the day rather than anything specific I can pick out on this photo.

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Squirrel in the woods near Hawes Water.

Home from Milnthorpe

A Picnic and a Swim.

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Around when the rules got really silly, well, when they started to get incomprehensible, I wouldn’t like to pretend that they are any more intelligible now, anyway, when they first stopped making much sense, we decided that if we could meet a parent singly in a garden, and, as we had been doing all along, could go for a walk as a family group and bump into another family group and then stand and have a socially distanced natter, then bending the rules a little to meet both of my in-laws together for a socially distanced picnic would be okay. We met at Tebay, where we were very politely, and understandably, ejected from the truck stop car park, which turned out to be a blessing, because we found a parking spot which, after maybe a 50 yard walk, brought us to an idyllic spot on the banks of the River Lune. Admittedly, we were very close to the M6, but the sun was shining, we had the place to ourselves and it was very pleasant.

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There were lots of white flowers at the margins of the river. I’d left my camera in the car, but I suspect a close up would have confirmed that they were Common Water-crowfoot. No photographs here of the focaccia I’d made to take for the picnic, which, due to an oversight on my part had turned out more like salty biscuits.

I’d held out the possibility of a swim after the picnic to the kids and they were very keen, A and B anyway, S had elected to stay at home and exercise his thumbs on his XBox. Now I needed to find somewhere that we could stop which was not too far off our homeward route. Luckily, I stumbled upon this blog post, which hinted at a perfect swimming hole in the Lune Gorge, so perfect, in fact, that the location is withheld, but which also has photographs of two bridges either side…

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…which rather gives the game away, with the aid of an OS map and a bit of patient sleuthing.

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It really was a great spot and clearly not well known; the only drawback was the stuff floating on the water, I’m not sure what it was, some sort of vegetation I think, perhaps due to the unusually dry weather we’d had? TBH chose not to join us, but three of us had a marvellous, refreshing dip and B even managed to find somewhere to jump in from, so he was happy.

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Goldenrod.

The next day, S, now, I think, regretting his previous decision, was keen to get out for a swim. I took the kids to Levens, for a dip in the Kent. We’d heard that it was busy, so we went late in the day, hoping that the crowds would have dispersed. I think they probably had, to some extent, there were very few people actually in the water, but the banks were exceptionally busy with some large groups obviously making no attempt to socially distance. In the end, only S and I swam – A and B were so incensed by what they’d seen that they decided to wait whilst we had a very brief dip.

Where could we go locally to avoid the crowds?

A Picnic and a Swim.

More Butterflies and Wild Celery

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Orange-tip butterfly on Dame’s Violet.

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As you can see, I was quite taken with the combination of a male Orange-tip and the Dame’s Violet flowers. Ii was Whitsun half-term and I was on my way to Trowbarrow Quarry to look for Fly Orchids. It has become something of an annual ritual – every year I go to look for them and every year I fail to find them. This year I had a good excuse, because apparently, due to the exceptionally dry spring, Fly Orchids were only very short this year. And they’re pretty hard to spot at the best of times. Well, they must be – I’ve never found any anyway.

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Green-ribbed Sedge again? Maybe.

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Broad-bodied Chaser.

I’m not sure whether Broad-bodied Chasers are the most common dragonflies in the area, or just the easiest to spot and photograph because of their habit of perching on the end of a stem like this. This is almost certainly a female – males begin their adult life yellow, but rapidly turn blue.

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B had warned me that Trowbarrow would be busy. He wasn’t wrong. The photo doesn’t really show the extent of it because there are plenty of hidden corners here, and a lot of the visitors were climbers on so out of sight on the quarry-face above. There were lots of picnickers, families on bikes and the afore-mentioned climbers. All seemed to be managing to enjoy the sunshine whilst maintaining sensible distancing. Still, it was a bit of a surprise after it had been pretty quiet for so long.

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Female Common Blue butterflies and Northern Brown Argus are very similar to each other. Both should have orange spots around the edge of their wings, which were lacking in this case…

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After consulting this excellent guide, I had decided that this was a Northern Brown Argus, because the long thin body suggests that this is a male and also because of a missing ocellus on the underside of the upperwing. But then I saw a photo of an almost identical butterfly labelled, by someone who I think knows better than I do, as a female Common Blue. So…..I’m not sure!

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Rock Rose.

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Male Common Blue – no such confusion.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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Common Twayblade. 

If I didn’t find any Fly Orchids, I did at least come across  some Common Twayblade, growing very tall and apparently defying the dry conditions.

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It was a hot day and the sheep had the right idea.

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Guelder Rose in the hedge on Lambert’s Meadow.

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Wild Celery near Jenny Brown’s Point.

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I think this is the plant from which both celery and celeriac were cultivated, but is not one for the forager since it is toxic. The same is true, apparently, of wild almonds. I’m always intrigued by how our ancestors could have managed to domesticate poisonous plants. Why would you even try, from such unpromising beginnings?

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Quicksand Pool.


For no better reason than that I’ve been listening to reggae all day whilst working, three favourites of the genre…

‘Street 66’ by Linton Kwesi Johnson

‘Funky Kingston’ by Toots and the Maytals.

‘This Train’ by Bunny Wailer.

More Butterflies and Wild Celery

Heathwaite with A

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A lovely walk with A, around Heathwaite, where the Oxeye Daisies were putting on a display, and up the Knott.

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Aquilegias are abundant in our garden, but usually more elusive in the wild, but one part  of Heathwaite had a small area with several plants. It’s odd how the stems droop whilst flowering, but then straighten up when the seed-heads develop.

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This is yet another poisonous plant, with the roots and seeds potentially being fatal if ingested.

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And yet they look so innocent!

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The Forest of Bowland and the Bay from Heathwaite.

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Lakeland Fells from the Knott.

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Kent Estuary pano.

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Female Green-veined White butterfly on an Oxeye Daisy.

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And on an actual Daisy. (It hadn’t suddenly grown!)


With A back at school for the first time today and B returning later in the week, this old favourite seemed appropriate…

I’ve only discovered this week that a good part of my enjoyment of that tune comes from the sample from this Ike Turner instrumental…

Heathwaite with A

Firsts

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I swear, these magpies were sunbathing. I’d barely left the house, and was heading into the ginnel which would take me to Town’sfield and there they were, sunning themselves on the wall. It was then that I realised that I’d left my camera’s battery and memory card at home. But even after I’d been back to retrieve them, the magpies were still chilling out on the wall.

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Naively, I thought this large and distinctive beetle might be easy to identify. But no. I think that it’s probably a member of the Silphidae family, but beyond that, I can’t decide. On the plus side, I did discover the excellent UK Beetles website and have just spent a half hour or so reading about beetles which bury dead birds and others which prey on snails.

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There’s a fair few insects in this post, some of them difficult to identify; not so this one…

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…my first dragonfly of this summer and my first ever Four-spotted Chaser. The British Dragonfly Society website tells me that this species is common throughout the UK, so I’m not sure how they have eluded me for so long.

Of course, once I’d seen one, I spotted another about five minutes later…

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…and I’ve seen more since.

There were lots of damselflies about too. They’re a bit tricky to distinguish between, but I think that these first two…

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..are Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Their eyes are not as vividly red as I would expect, but then again, they definitely aren’t blue either and they have anti-humeral stripes on their thoraxes which aren’t present in the very similar Red-eyed Damselfly.

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This is another first, in a way, because I have seen this species before, but never in this area.

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One principal way to recognise blue damselflies, of which there are several species, is by the mark on the second segment of their abdomen. By that token, I think that this is a female Variable Damselfly, another first for me.

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And, finally, this is a more familiar Common Blue Damselfly, again, identified by the shape of the mark on the second segment.

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I was struck by the rather face-like shape of this large limestone boulder.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that grasses, sedges and the like are impossible to get to grips with, for me at least. This is a sedge, a female flower and part of the male flower at the top of the stem. I wish I knew more. Possibly Green-ribbed Sedge? I thought the female flower was pretty striking.

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A Dingy Skipper.

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Hoverflies too are very difficult to figure out. It’s a shame; there are around 250 species in the UK and many of them are very striking, but also very similar to each other.

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This distinctive leaf beetle is Cryptocephalus bipunctatus, which is another first for me, not surprisingly, since it is scarce in the UK.

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I’ve photographed this dapper hoverfly before, but not been able to identify it, despite the striking shiny golden thorax. Now, I think I may have tracked it down; it is, perhaps, Platycheirus fulviventris. It’s a shame it didn’t open its wings, because, if I’m right, it also has a pleasing black and yellow pattern on its abdomen.

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Another Dingy Skipper on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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I’d been wandering around Gait Barrows, making my way to the cordoned off area, hoping to see a Duke of Burgundy butterfly. I didn’t.

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But I did see this, which I think is a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

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I only hesitate because distinguishing this from the very similar Pearl-bordered Fritillary is best done by looking at the underside of the wings, but the sun shining through the wings here, nice though it is, has obscured some of the colours slightly.

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None-the-less, I am reasonably confident, especially looking again at this last photo.

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This looks like another place where fencing has been removed – or is this new material waiting to go up?

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What I think is a Dark Red Helleborine with nascent flowers, which have since been eaten.

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Gait Barrows Limestone Pavement.

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Bloody Crane’s-bill.

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Angular Solomon’s-seal.

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Cirrocumulus?

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Finally, on Moss Lane, some Alexanders. I’ve previously seen this growing in Cornwall and on the Yorkshire coast, but not here, so another first of a sort.

All of that in one walk and a good chat with a friend from the village I hadn’t seen for a while. How’s that?

Most of it was undertaken at snail’s pace. A bit like putting this post together! Both the walk and the research were highly enjoyable though.


Only one song springs to mind here…

Who was best Blur or Oasis?

Answer: Pulp.

Firsts

Step Right Up!

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Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

And blow, blow they certainly did. We’re well acquainted with Atlantic storms up here in the North Wet, but we don’t often get really severe winds in the summer when the trees are in their summery finery. TBH warned me not to go down to the beach, so, of course, curiosity got the better of me and I had to go and take a look. And after I’d had a look, I abandoned any thought I’d entertained of heading out onto the sands, turned tail and sort the shelter of the woods. The woodland floor was carpeted with leaves and twigs, but it was still relatively sheltered in there.

Which begs the question, why did I venture out of the woods and across the fields by Black Dyke? I don’t remember, but I do remember that it was more than a bit draughty, was spitting with rain and that dark clouds seemed to be threatening worse to come.

Goldfinches seem to be almost ubiquitous these days; I watched a family of half a dozen flitting back and forth between an ash tree on the edge of the woods and the electric fence. I guess they were impervious because they weren’t earthed?

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Black Dyke.

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The footbridge over Leighton Beck – not much water running under it.

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Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower from the far side of Silverdale Moss.

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I’ve made many visits to Lambert’s Meadow this year. It seems to be a very fruitful spot for insect photos, particularly in the vicinity of this sprawling guelder rose hedge.

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Green-veined white butterfly.

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Marsh thistle. I think.

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The first I’d seen flowering this year.

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I thought they looked rather fine and this early bumblebee liked them too.

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Red campion. Is pink. Why not pink campion?

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Sorrel.

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The Jubilee Wood car-park on the edge of Eaves Wood. Until a day or two before this photo was taken, the car park had been closed and roped off, but here it is open and fairly busy again, reflecting the beginning of the easing of the lockdown restrictions. (This is from about a week before the end of May.)


Tunes – today amusing songs which are also great to listen too in their own right. First up…

‘Here Come the Judge’ by Pigmeat Markham

Allegedly, the first rap record, from 1968.

Then, ‘Werewolves of London’ by Warren Zevon. This one brings back happy memories of howling along with the kids in the car. This was before the boys started laughing at my musical tastes, listening to grime and opening conversations with barely articulated Caribbean slang like, ‘Wagwan fam?’

The next is a song I’ve only recently come across, ‘Sharon’ by David Bromberg.

What those three all have in common, is that they are the only songs I know by each of the artists. To finish, here’s a song by someone who, by contrast, I’ve followed since discovering great songs like this when I was at school, way back when…

That’s so clever.

Can’t help thinking I’m spoiling you here! What else should I have included? ‘Funky Gibbon’? ‘The Streak’? ‘Shut Up’ by Madness? These are all pretty old songs, I’m obviously missing some more recent possibilities.

Step Right Up!