Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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A Brimstone on Bluebells in Eaves Wood.

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Robin on fence post, 16 buoys field.

I’d been a disappointed with the quality of my photos of the Eiders I’d seen at Jenny Brown’s Point, but put it down to low light. Now that I was out again, a couple of evenings later, I noticed that my photos were still grainy and lacking definition. Realisation dawned that camera muppetry was once again to blame, or perhaps I should say photographer muppetry: somehow I’d inadvertently changed the ISO setting. Again. This time to 1600. Resetting the ISO is paradoxically one of those things which is really easy to do accidentally, when you don’t want to, but nigh on impossible to achieve when that is your actual intention. I wasn’t reduced to tears, but there may have been a slight elevation in my blood pressure and a good deal of bad-tempered muttering.

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Goldfinches seem to be everywhere at the moment, which is no bad thing. Especially when your camera is finally working properly again and you need something to take your mind off the infuriation caused by a misbehaving inanimate object.

A section of garden by Challan Hall Mews is completely over-run with Campion. My kind of gardening: I can’t imagine much effort is required and it looks fantastic.

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On the open ground by Hawes Water I turned over a rotting log, beneath which I once found a Common Lizard. This time I found a large ground beetle, agile, fast moving and therefore rather difficult to either photograph or identify…

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In size and shape very like a Violet Ground Beetle. But not very violet.

This damselfly, by the Hawes Water boardwalks, was much more obliging…

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I think that this might be a female Common Blue Damselfly. However, I find it very difficult to identify male damselflies, and females are even more hard to distinguish.

I’ve seen quite a few Orange-tips whilst I’ve been out and about this spring. But the rule with Orange-tips, and in fact most ‘whites’, is that they never sit still long enough to be photographed. Well, not usually anyway…

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This was the second I’d managed to photograph that day.

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I think that this is a solitary bee.

“Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but look closely and there are smaller furry bees moving from flower to flower. There are around 20,000 described bee species worldwide. Most of these bees are known as solitary bees with only 250 bumblebee species, 9 honey bee species and a number of social stingless bees worldwide. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees.”

This from the Wildlife Trusts website.

Some of our cuckoo bee species have a yellow collar like this, but they generally also have a paler tail and are much bigger than this bee was. As to which of the 250 species this is from – I have no idea.

This…

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…also had me confused. At first I suspected that it was some sort of hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a Honey Bee doing a really good impression of a hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee. Perhaps. If it is a Honey Bee, it’s a good deal paler then those I’m used to seeing, but then I think Honey Bees are quite varied.

Is there anybody out there wants to lend me a hand, with my one man b….entomological identification?

Oh no, now I’m misquoting Leo Sayer. Shoot me now!

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Birds by the Bela

River Bela – ‘Orchid Triangle’ – Dallam Bridge

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A dance lesson for A and a short stroll for me, with more gawking than walking. I wasn’t too surprised to see the Pied Wagtails by the River Bela, but I was slightly taken aback moments later to spot a Wheatear – a passage bird?

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Whitbarrow Scar across the Bela.

On the ‘Orchid Triangle’ some orchid leaves in evidence – heavily spotted Early Purple and what I assume is Common Twayblade. No flowers yet, but plenty of other flowers incuding Cowslips and Bluebells. The latter in particular were attracting this very handsome bee…

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…which was quite small. I assume that it’s some sort of Solitary Bee. It has the ginger thorax of a Tree Bumblebee, but not much white on the tail and a good deal of very pale yellow hair too.

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Marsh Tit.

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Grey Heron and Little Egret perched at the Heronry.

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I walked past a substantial Oak which was liberally festooned with Gall Apples like this one. I was surprised by how fresh and apple-like they looked.

Birds by the Bela

A Saturday Triptych – Garden Interlude

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Home from my second walk of the day, I transferred the ham from the stockpot to the oven, sorted out some vegetables and put on the pease puddings to cook, not necessarily in that order.

Whilst that was all on the go, I decided to cut the grass. But of course, there were distractions, namely, a Bee Fly on the Green Alkanet. I saw, or perhaps noticed properly, one of these for the first time last year and have seen them several times since. I’ve written before, I know, about the process of seeing something, doing a little research, putting a name to it, finding out a little about it and ever after noticing that it’s a much more common phenomena than you previously knew. The same seems to apply to Bee Flies. The wings are blurred in the photo because even when the fly is perched, as this one is, they still flutter their wings, giving a misleading impression of hovering.

The same correlation between naming, knowledge and noticing seems to apply to Tree Bumblebees…

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…this one was much smaller than the one I posted pictures of recently, maybe this was a worker?

Talking of which….the lawn still needed to be cut.

A Saturday Triptych – Garden Interlude

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

Quince, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Sunset

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This cheery Quince is on one of the verges of Cove Road, practically on our doorstep. About a week before I took these photos, I’d previously tried to capture the Sparrows which like to congregate here, but was frustrated by low light. Then, the flowers had been tight buds, like small scarlet berries.

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We have a couple of Quince in our garden, they’ve been there since we moved in, stuck in pots – little more than large buckets really – and ‘trained’ against an east-facing wall. They aren’t very happy and in twelve years have barely grown, producing few flowers and no fruit.

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I think I should stick them into a border. Maybe then I can have a go at making Membrillo to go with the Manchego which the kids like so much.

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A lot of recent walks have been at the end of a sunny day, but when the sun has been dipping behind cloud. By contrast, this one took place on a wet day which had brightened up.

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Blackbirds, female and…

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…male.

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Forsythia.

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This was a couple of days before the Spring Equinox, but nobody had told the woodland plants which exploit the period before the trees come back into leaf; the Ramsons (above), Dog’s Mercury and Cuckoo Pint which carpet the local woods were all in full swing, not waiting for any official starter’s pistol.

I didn’t go very far, just up to the Pepper Pot to look at the bay and the sky…

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…then down through Eaves Wood by a route I don’t often take…

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And along to The Cove to look at the bay and the sky some more.

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Finally across The Lots and home along Spring Bank an appropriately named local street.

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When I turned the corner from the lane into our front garden I almost walked into a Roe Deer buck. I’m not sure which of us was more startled. Earlier, when it had been raining, the boys had been anxious to point out to me the pair of Roe Deer which were foraging at the bottom of our garden. Now there were four deer. They fled into our neighbour’s garden. I followed them as best I could, by walking round into our back garden. I didn’t get any photos of the deer, but I did spot an enormous Bumblebee…

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…which was very industriously exploiting the large patch of these early flowers which I have never been able to identify. I took lots of photos, all of them a bit rubbish, but it was quite dark at this point!

Quince, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Sunset

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

The Cove – The Lots

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Small Tortoiseshell.

Sometimes just a short walk, to familiar places, can yield a great deal of diversion and interest. (This was back in October btw)

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There are nine species of social wasps resident in Britain; this is one of them, but I can’t identify which.

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Drone Fly?

If it isn’t a Drone Fly, it’s a similar hover-fly, hoping to be mistaken for a Honey Bee.

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There are four species of brown Bumblebees in Britain; I think that this is one of those.

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Apparently, it’s hard to tell them apart without a microscope, but the most common, and so perhaps the most likely, is Bombus Pascuorum, the Common Carder Bee.

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Another hover-fly imitating something with a sting.

Most of these (poorly identified) insects were photographed on a patch of tall daisies with Dandelion like flowers, growing on the rough stony ground at the back of The Cove.

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…I’ve always struggled with identifying the myriad different yellow daisies…

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…but I thought that with a few photos…

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…of flowers, seed-heads and leaves I would be able to track this one down. However, I’ve consulted four different books and numerous websites and whilst I’ve found several plants which almost seem to fit the bill, all of them have some disqualifying feature, or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself anyway.

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“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.”

Albert  Einstein

Although, in my case, it’s more a case of: the more I try to learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.

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Still, I enjoy the trying.

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

Ineluctably, Carn Fadryn

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No trip to Towyn Farm is complete without an ascent of Carn Fadryn. Little S calls it Birthday Hill, because he has so often climbed it on his birthday. This year we were a little later, but he was still keen to return. Many of the rest of the party wanted to stay on the beach however, so it was a select band, just S, TBH and myself who made the trip.

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Most of the usual elements were present, including Gatekeepers….

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…and Labyrinth Spiders.

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Lots of Gatekeepers in fact.

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Expanding views as we climbed.

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Oh, and did I mention the Gatekeepers? This was one of five on a small patch of Bell Heather.

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The tapestry of flowers was as colourful as ever.

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We always seem to spot several Dor Beetles.

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And…

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…Gatekeepers!

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The extensive views from Carn Fadryn could be specifically designed for the panoramic function on my camera. (Click on the pictures to see larger versions).

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Something I don’t recall being so noticeable on previous visits was the profusion of Bumblebees taking advantage of the flowers.

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This very pale species seemed particularly prevalent.

We didn’t see Choughs this year, which we sometimes have, but we were compensated by a large and very boisterous group of ravens flying near the summit. Large groups of ravens, I believe, are often composed of juvenile or immature birds which  have not yet paired up with a partner. That might explain the exuberant, tumbling, acrobatic flights of some of the birds – adolescent showing off.

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Wild Thyme.

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English Stonecrop.

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The presence of Butterflies on the summit is also something of a fixture. This year there were several Red Admirals and a couple of tatty looking Painted Ladies.

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Ineluctably, Carn Fadryn