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

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!

Trampled Underfoot

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We had a succession of misty mornings. Generally, I was too slothful to be out for a walk early enough to capture them in photographs. I saw an amazing drone shot, on Faceache, which showed the very top of Arnside Knott poking above a sea of mist. To be up there then would have been amazing. Next time!

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Here’s the same view without the mist.

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I had another go at photographing the many bees on our cotoneaster; this time, the sun was shining and the results we’re much more satisfactory. I think that this is a honey bee.

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Whilst this is an early bumblebee. There were red-tailed bumblebees and tree bumblebees too, but they proved to be more elusive on this occasion.

Whilst the cotoneaster was highly popular, the bees weren’t completely ignoring the other flowers nearby.

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I assume that this is a common carder bee, although the ginger hairs on its legs are confusing me a little and the flowers, although they are growing in our garden, look very like Druce’s crane’s-bill on the wildflowerfinder website, a cross between french crane’s-bill and pencilled crane’s-bill.

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Red valerian had begun flowering on stony verges, dry-stone walls and limestone cliffs. It’s an introduced plant, originating in the Mediterranean, but seemingly very much at home here. In fact, the flowers can be pink or white as well as red. The bees seem to like it as much as I do.

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I spent an age trying to get a clear photo of this little bee, and I’m glad now that I did; I think that this is a red mason bee, which makes it a new one to me and so very pleasing.

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Wintercress again, with quite distinctive, shiny leaves…

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Green-veined white butterfly.

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These rabbit kits were looking very chilled. But there was an adult on sentry duty nearby…

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In flight, this butterfly was so pale that I thought I was looking at some sort of white, but the underside of the wings, as much green as yellow, and their distinctive shape, reveal that this is actually a female brimstone

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Common carder bee.

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A very ragged peacock butterfly.

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Another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

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Brown silver-line moth.

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As yet unidentified micro-moth.

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And yet another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

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Small heath butterfly.

I think of small heath butterflies as my companions on my summer evening post-work wanders, but I’ve never seen one close to home before.

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I took a few photographs of the small heath, I suppose I was fairly motionless for a while, so much so that this blue-tailed damselfly seemed to think that I was part of the furniture and landed on my sock. Quite tricky to get a photo!

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Lily-of-the-valley.

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Biting stonecrop, almost flowering.

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It was a shame I couldn’t get a better angle for a photo of this speckled yellow moth, it’s colour was lovely.

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Foxglove pug moth, possibly.

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Star of Bethlehem, in the hedge-bottom, Moss Lane.

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As I walked back into the village from Gait Barrows, there were roe deer in the fields either side of the road.

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After sharing a song by the band Trampled Underfoot, I thought I would post the song of the same name. I heard this on Radio 6 a few months ago and was quite taken aback; I’m only familiar with the most obvious and well-known Led Zep tracks and was surprised by how funky this sounded. Now I obviously need to trawl through their back catalogue in search of more gems. So many songs to listen to!

Trampled Underfoot

Distractions and Digressions

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Early light on Grange.

In the first few weeks of working from home I was often out early for a pre-work jaunt. Sadly, I think these photos come from the last of those. I seem to have fallen into the habit of stumbling out of bed and downstairs to the computer just in time to start working. Once I’m on the computer, I enter that curious world where time seems to operate differently and what seems like five minutes of reading and composing emails can turn out to be a lot longer. On occasion, it’s been two hours later before I’ve surfaced and properly kick-started my day with a cup of tea.

An earlier start on a sunny, pin-sharp morning is a much better way to start the day, obviously. Must Try Harder!

It’s less than two miles to the toposcope on the Knott, even by the slightly longer route I’ve been using to avoid going through the yard at Arnside Tower Farm, which seems like an insensitive thing to do in present circumstances, so it’s isn’t like the walk need take too long.

Anyway, back to this particular walk…

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It looked like it would have been a very fine morning to be out in the Coniston Fells.

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And although there was a little cloud clinging to the tops, non-too-shabby in the Eastern Fells as well.

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Mid-level clouds, I’d say – altocumulus?

The later starts are not the only change since lockdown began. During the latter part of April, I really pushed myself to ‘beat’ my total mileage for January. I did it, just, but towards the end it began to feel a bit like hard work. So once we’d slipped into May, I took a little rest for a couple of days. It was hot and I think I may have even lazed in the garden one day, rather than go out for a walk.

I know, shocking decadence! Lying down on the job…

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Then my little rest was extended by a couple more days: I had a bit of a scare – high temperature, stiff and sore all over, but nothing too drastic, the kind of thing that might have kept you off work for a day or two in normal circumstances. Briefly though, it was a bit worrying. I even had a test, arranged online and very efficiently carried out by squaddies in a car park in Lancaster, well, in fact, self-administered, but with socially-distanced assistance from the young soldiers. I have to say, I’m full of admiration for all those people who have put themselves in harm’s way during this crisis to keep the rest of us safe and well-fed. Anyway, by the time the text arrived giving me the all clear, I was feeling fine and straining-at-the-leash to get out again, having self-isolated whilst waiting for the test result.

None of that, though, is the main reason that my mileage for May fell well short of my total for April. June is not likely to be any different either. Perhaps I should say ‘main reasons’, plural, the reasons being Unfortunate Distractions and my inability to resist them. Distractions like…

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A common carder bumblebee busy collecting pollen from bush vetch flowers.

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I took a lot of photos because both the bee and the flowers were marvellous colours, perfectly complementing each other and the light was ideal.

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There are three all-ginger bumblebee species in the UK, but the common carder is prevalent and I’m not sure that the other two, the moss carder and the brown-banded carder, are found in this neck of the woods.

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Is this too many photos of one bee for one blog post? I took a lot more!

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Bush vetch is a leguminous plant, i.e. of the pea family. The flowers are small and, I suppose, easily overlooked, but well worth closer examination.

This wasn’t helping me get home in time for a pot of tea and some breakfast and to make some dough before starting work.

Fortunately, I was nearly home and just needed to walk along Townsfield to finish my walk. Confusingly, Townsfield is both a road, a cul-de-sac, and a field. As I turned into the road, a pair of roe deer crossed the road ahead of me and leapt gracefully over the drystone wall with striking ease.

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Another Unfortunate Distraction. Oh no!

The Unfortunate Distractions ran across the field and then wandered along the hedgerow opposite.

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I think this was the same pair I’d surprised in Eaves Wood a few days before. He had almost entirely changed into his summer coat with just a few scraps of the older, duller winter fur still evident; she, on the other hand, had hardly begun to shed her warmer winter garb. Not too dissimilar from most human couples I would think, like me and TBH in shorts year round and still wrapped up well into the summer respectively. Or rehashing the same old arguments about the settings on the thermostat. Our thermostat is remote from the boiler and seems to move mysteriously around the house. I can never find it, when I want to turn it down anyway. Takes an age touring all the rooms turning all the radiators down individually! (Oops! Shhhh. Don’t tell.)

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Not that these are really a couple as such. For a while I’ve almost always seen roe deer in pairs, but roe deer, of either sex, are not monogamous. The rut is not until later in the year, but I assume that the large number of mixed gender pairs I’ve been seeing is in some way part of the wooing process.

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He looked smaller than her, but I don’t think he was immature, his antlers have three tines, although his brow tines are very small. Three is as many as they get, at age three.

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He’s also definitely got a coronet and maybe some pearling, which is what develops as they age. They aren’t particularly long-lived creatures, with various sources giving something like six or seven years as an average and anything between ten and sixteen as a maximum in the wild.

Again, I took many more photos than the, perhaps too many, I’ve shared here. Whilst I was watching the deer, half-hiding behind a telegraph pole – me, not the deer – I was in turn being watched, by a house sparrow, on the next telegraph pole…

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Probably thought I was bonkers, since any thought of a shower, breakfast or bread-making before work were now definitely out of the question.

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Stratocumulus or cumulus?

At lunch time that day I had to pop to the shops, which is a legitimate reason to be out, obviously. Can I ‘pop’ via the Cove and the Lots do you think? Well, I did, and no harm done.

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I’ve bunged this one on the end because I like to finish with a sunset photo. B wanted to go to Jack Scout one evening to catch the sunset. We contrived to just miss it, after putting too much faith in the BBC weather website. I took lots of photos, but all essentially the same. Lovely walk all the same.


Tunes. Today, two very full-on songs and then, in each case, a deliciously different cover version.

Back to my punk roots to kick off, with Black Flags ‘Wasted’ all 51 raging seconds of it…

…and then Camper Van Beethoven’s brilliant cover…

…it’s from their ‘Telephone Free Landslide Victory’ album, which, if you haven’t heard it already, you should definitely seek out.

Next up, ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos’ from Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’

Which was totally transformed by Tricky on his ‘Maxinquaye’ album…

Finally, not music, but a movie trailer, for Alex Cox’s weird and wonderful 1984 comedy science-fiction b-movie strangeness ‘Repo Man’.

Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton star, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and Iggy Pop feature on the soundtrack. Great film.

Distractions and Digressions

Cotoneaster, Galls, Quiz

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Another portmanteau with photos from various days and walks.

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I spent ages photographing a wide assortment of bees on a cotoneaster in our garden. I’ve noticed whilst walking through the village that bees seem to go mad for cotoneasters; every one I’ve passed has been thronged. The light wasn’t ideal and bees will dodge about, so this is the only sharpish picture. And it’s of….a white-tailed bumblebee, or a northern white-tailed bumblebee, or a cryptic bumblebee or a buff-tailed bumblebee. Apparently, the workers of all four species are virtually indistinguishable, and it may require a DNA test to separate them. I haven’t quite got the lab set up yet, so it will have to remain a mystery.

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I keep seeing a coal tit, or possibly different coal tits, dipping in and out of the drystone wall across the track from home, but it isn’t the same hole each time, so maybe there’s something tasty in there, rather than a nest? I am pretty sure that there are both great tits and coal tits nesting either in, or near, our garden because there seems to be a constant chattering of young and I’ve frequently seen both kinds of tits carrying food into shrubs by our neighbour’s fence.

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Aquilegias again.

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This is my flagrant attempt to plagiarise a photo I saw of the orchids on the Lots by a local photographer. His picture was absolutely stunning. I shall have to try again another time. I think I probably shouldn’t have had the setting sun actually in the picture.

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The Bay from the Cove.

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Horseshoe vetch.

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Black-headed gulls.

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Green-winged orchid.

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This is the tree, in the corner of a field close to home, in which I watched a tree-creeper earlier in the spring. It’s a lime, I don’t know which kind, but I have found how how to tell – it’s all down to the hairs on the underside of the leaves apparently. I shall probably check tomorrow.

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All three of our native species have their own mite which infests the leaves and induces them to produce these lime nail galls. (In the process of finding this out I’ve discovered a book “Britain’s Plant Galls: a Photographic Guide” – so tempting!)

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I took lots more, mostly blurred, photos of roe deer in mid-May. Most often, I saw them in pairs, like these two. I wish I could remember where I saw them.

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Post sunset from Castlebarrow.

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And from the Lots.

Around this time, when we should have been camping in Wasdale, we had out first zoom quiz with our camping cronies. I think we’ve had four now. It’s no substitute for sitting around a camp fire after a day in the hills and a barbecue, but it’s a lot better than not seeing each other at all. Better yet, we have volunteers to write the next two quizzes. The Silverdale posse are surely due a win.

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I can’t claim responsibility for this screen shot and I hope nobody objects to me using it. It occurs to me, looking at it again, that we may be falling down, as a quiz team, due to a significant lack of headgear.


Tunes. Three crackers:

Cotoneaster, Galls, Quiz

Roanoke

Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Hagg Wood

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Early purple orchids.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Apple blossom.

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Cherry tree.

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Speckled wood butterfly.

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Another speckled wood butterfly.

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Ramsons flowering in Burtonwell Wood.

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Cuckoo flower.

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Red-tailed bumblebee.

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Red-tailed bumblebee with photo-bombing seven-spot ladybird.

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Oak catkins.

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Welsh poppies.

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A speedwell. Probably germander.

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Lunch on the patio – homemade bread, home-roasted ham in the sandwich, homemade coleslaw.


Roanoke

Exhale.

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I think that this is a female orang-tip, but white butterflies are almost as tricky little brown birds. (Not as awkward as yellow dandelion like flowers however!)

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White tail, three bands of yellow – I think that this might be a garden bumblebee (bombus hortorum) which would be entirely appropriate because it was in our garden when I photographed it.

A and I walked around Know Point on the sands.

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We spotted a spring issuing from the base of the cliff…

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…I’ve realised that all of the channels on the Bay close to the shore, some of them quite wide and deep in places, are fed by deceptively small springs like this.

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We ran out of sand and had to clamber up the rocks…

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..and down again to Cow’s Mouth…

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I’d quite forgotten about the little cave there…

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As we rounded the corner towards Jack Scout, the tide came racing in…

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Fortunately for us it’s an easy scramble up the rocks and into Jack Scout.

I spotted this in Fleagarth Wood….

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These little painted stones seem to be everywhere. I know this idea predated the lockdown, but present circumstances  seem to have given the craze new impetus. I thoroughly approve. Especially when they are as skilfully rendered as this.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood – almost in flower.

Now that I have ‘finished’ ‘War and Peace’, I wanted to read something completely different. I’ve actually started several books, but some have fallen by the wayside and two have emerged as joint ‘winners’. The first is ‘A Pelican at Blandings’, which, now I’m well into it, I realise I have read before. It doesn’t matter. I love P.G.Wodehouse and particularly the Blandings novels. I haven’t read them all, but I have read several, some of them repeatedly. The plots are much the same every time, it’s the manner of the telling  which is important and, as ever, this one is making me smile (again).

The other book is ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley. Its superbly written and so densely packed with ideas that I’m beginning to feel like I should be reading it very slowly with pencil in hand to underline passages and scribble notes in the margins. I was feeling very smug, reading a chapter about the elevation of shopping to an end in itself rather than a means to an end, when I came across…

My own compulsion is buying books…in the hope of acquiring secret esoteric knowledge….I have increasing numbers of unread purchases. A new book retains its lustre of potential for about six weeks and then changes from being a possible bearer of secret lore into a liability, a reproach, a source of embarrassment and shame.

Oh dear. That’s me. We’re surrounded by tottering heaps of my compulsively purchased secondhand tombs.

Still, both ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Age of Absurdity’ have been rescued from those stacks, so there’s hope for the other neglected volumes yet.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Tunes. First, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ a great Bill Withers song you may not know:

Then Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, built around a sample from Mr Withers

Finally, the marvellous Hackney Colliery Band’s cover of same:

 

All very different. All brilliant.

Exhale.

The Other Kingdoms

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Cheery cherry blossom on Cove Road.

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Grange-Over-Sands from the Cove.

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The Bay and Humphrey Head from the Cove.

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Eaves Wood – the path to the beech circle.

The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

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Squirrel.

Another item from my list was ‘read more poetry’ a goal which I have singularly failed to meet.

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New beech leaves.

It’s usually at this time of year that I become most enthusiastic about poetry, habitually scanning through my e.e.cummings collection, looking for something new about spring to furnish a post full of photographs of the usual collection of my favourite springtime images. Newly emerged beech leaves, for example.

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This year cummings should have had a run for his money because I’ve acquired large collections by Frost, MacCaig and Oliver all of which I was very keen to dip in to.

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Caledonian pines.

However, I have been reading ‘War and Peace’, another item from my list, which has turned out to be pretty all-consuming. Fortunately, I’d already read quite a chunk of the Mary Oliver collection before I completely submerged in Tolstoy.

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My first speckled wood butterfly of the year.

I’ve finished now. Well, I say I’ve finished; in fact I have a handful of pages of the epilogue left still to read. Which probably seems a bit odd, but in the last 50 or so pages Tolstoy abandons his characters (again) and turns back to tub-thumping. Historians have all got it wrong and he is just the man to set them straight.

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Speckled wood butterfly – my first of the year, looking newly minted.

Don’t get me wrong: although it took a while, I was completely hooked by the book and really enjoyed the various intertwined stories of the characters. But there are many lengthy historical sections about the stupidity, vanity and in-fighting of generals which are not so interesting. In particular, Tolstoy is at pains to dismiss any notion that Napoleon was is any way a military genius and spends many pages making his point. There are also several philosophical digressions about history and what drives the actions of nations and peoples. Whenever I was reading these sections I was reminded of the Gang of Four song ‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’, which makes the same point but way more succinctly.

Whilst these digression are often interesting in themselves, I did find they were often a frustrating distraction from the story. Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has sections of polemic laced through the story which, it seemed to me, are entirely redundant. And I’ve heard it said of Moby Dick that it’s best to skip the chapters which are solely Melville’s detailed descriptions of Atlantic whaling. Having said that, Tolstoy’s character assassination of Napoleon is hilarious, and I’ve just found a guide to the book which says, ‘Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.’ It also says that the book will take 10 days at most to read and I’ve been reading it for more than a month. So, doubly an idiot, obviously.

The journey of the central characters is totally absorbing though, so I would definitely recommend it.

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Untidy nest.

Anyway, back to the walk: when I first spotted this nest, it had two crows in it and I got inordinately excited, as I always do when I find an occupied nest. However, they soon left the nest and on subsequent visits the nest has always looked empty. Now the leaves on the surrounding trees are so dense that I can’t even see the nest.

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Crow.

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On our walks together TBH and I have frequently found ourselves passing comment on the fact that livestock seem to be being regularly moved about. I don’t know whether that’s standard husbandry or perhaps because of the prolonged dry spell we’ve had.

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There’s a herd of young calves, for instance, on the fields between Holgates and Far Arnside which seem to have been moved into just about every available field at some point.

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I was examining these trees, trying to work out which was coming into leaf first, and only then noticed all the splendid dandelions.

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Dandelions.

Of course, once you stop to look at the flowers, then you notice other things of interest too…

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Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius))

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Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).

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Daisies (of the Galaxy)

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Ash flowers.

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Silver birches line a path on the Knott.

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And have come into leave.

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Beech buds.

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Partially opened.

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Opened.

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Hazy views from the Knott.

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Herb Paris…

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…flowering this time.

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Bramble leaf.

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Linnets. (?)

I got very excited about this pair, purely because I didn’t know what they were. I’ve subsequently decided that they are linnets, but I have a poor record when it comes to identifying this species, having previously incorrectly identified red poll as linnets on more than one occasion. If they are linnets, then they’re missing the striking red breast and throat of a male linnet in its breeding plumage.

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There were several small groups of birds flitting overhead, including, I think, more linnets and, without any doubt, a small charm of goldfinches.

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Goldfinches.

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I also caught a fleeting glimpse of what I think was a redstart – I’ve only seen them in the hills before and was doubting my own eyes to a certain extent, but they do arrive in the UK in April and the RSPB distribution map does show them as present in this area, and mentions that they favour coastal scrub when in passage, so maybe I was right after all.


One of my favourite Clash songs…

“You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin’
At the end of The Harder They Come”

Ivan is the character played by Jimmy Cliff in the film ‘Harder They Come’, so it’s entirely appropriate that Jimmy Cliff eventually covered the song…

I always enjoy Nouvelle Vague’s unique take on punk and post-punk songs, it’s well worth a trawl through their repertoire..

And of course, the Paul Simenon’s, bass line was sampled by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, for Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good to Me’…

It’s been covered by German band Die Toten Hosen and live by the Red Hit Chilli Peppers, and Arcade Fire, and probably lots of others. There’s a nice dub version out there and Cypress Hill didn’t so much sample it as rewrite the lyrics for their ‘What’s Your Number?’.

The Other Kingdoms

Too Far?

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Notices like this went up around the village in the early days of the virus. With the twenty-twenty vision which hindsight provides, and in light of the clarification subsequently issued to police forces, it’s easy to see that the notice is not entirely correct. But it’s not my intention to criticise: the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Watch were simply doing their best to interpret instructions which were clear in their intent but completely lacking in detail. To some extent, we’ve all had to make our own decisions about exactly what constitutes ‘staying at home’, when, in fact, we don’t actually have to stay at home all the time.

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Whelk Eggs.

Apparently, my Dad tells me, one of my second cousins was stopped by the police, only this week, and told that cycling isn’t exercise and that he should go home.

It’s not only the police who have at times been over-zealous however, and there seems to be quite an inclination, in conversation and online, to find fault with other people’s choices. Usually, online at least, swiftly followed by a second wave of condemnation heaped on the whoever dared to criticise and so on.

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The ‘other’ Holgates caravan park at Far Arnside – it looks far bigger from the Bay than it does when you walk through it.

There’s been quite a bit of discussion, in local Faceache forums, about whether it’s acceptable or not to cross Parish Boundaries whilst exercising. Some of it, it’s fair to say, was tongue-in-cheek, but I think it at least echoed the kind of conversations many people have been having.

So, it’s possible that on this walk, and I suppose on a handful of others, I went a little too far?

Initially I walked out into the bay until some dark lines off to my right attracted my attention and I turned in that direction. They turned out to be the far bank of a broad channel…

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Morecambe Bay – the tiny dots on the horizon are Heysham Nuclear Power Plant.

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I turned and followed the edge of the channel back towards the shore north of Far Arnside.

Eventually, I was forced to deviate somewhat in order to cross a meandering side-stream..

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Shelducks and Mallards. Grange-over-Sands promenade behind.

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Closer to shore the channel held a lot more water and was evidently quite deep.

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The bank was crumbling and clearly unstable.

Although the channel eventually ran quite close to the cliffs, it was still possible to keep following it round towards Arnside.

I was a bit nonplussed when I rounded Park Point and saw that the channel simply petered out…

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From this point there’s always a view of part of the Eastern Fells of the Lakes. You’ll struggle to see it in the photo above, but I thought I could pick out some remnants of snow up there. Fortunately, with the magic of the superzoom….

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I could confirm my suspicion.

I keep changing my mind about which hills are visible from Park Point, but my current thinking is that this looks like a view of Fairfield and the western half of the horseshoe.

Just around the point, I was struck by the sudden profusion of shells…

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Cockle shell.

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Mussel shell.

I assume that it’s to do with how the tides flow around the point, perhaps creating eddies or a lull and hence causing shells carried by the currents to be deposited.

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I followed the estuary up towards Arnside.

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Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

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A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Not a great photo, I know. They were on the far side of the river. But I’m never entirely confident about the difference between Mergansers and Goosanders, so I’m hoping that, if I make some brief notes here, then the details might stick for future reference. That often seems to work.

The male Merganser, on the right, has a wispy crest, a white neck-band and an orange-brown breast. The female is quite dark, with no clear delineation between the plumage on her head and neck.

Here’s a pair of Goosanders which I watched as they fished just a little further upriver.

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The male doesn’t have the crest, has a white breast and far more white generally. The female has a very obvious dividing line between the colours of her neck and head.

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Lesser Black-backed Gull, who was every bit as interested in the Goosanders as I was. Whilst I’m making notes – the yellow legs distinguish this from  a Great Black-backed Gull.

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Female Goosander.

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Male Goosander.

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Pigeon.

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Scurvy-grass. Packed with vitamin C apparently.

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Train crossing the viaduct – I couldn’t tell whether it had any passengers or not.

In Arnside I stuck to the edge of the estuary, rather than walking along the Prom. I couldn’t avoid a short road-walk and passing through the railway station however and if I transgressed then I suppose this is where, not that I was ever closer than the stipulated two metres away from any residents of Arnside.

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It looked like the old bridge had been closed off for repairs and replaced with a temporary, scaffolding bridge…

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Which was high enough to give a good view along the Kent Estuary…

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I walked along the old rail embankment which borders the estuary here, eventually turning off to cross Arnside Moss and then follow Black Dyke and the railway line back towards Eaves Wood.

In the fields by Black Dyke which were flooded for several weeks in the winter, there was a fair assembly of Shelduck, Lapwings, Canada geese, Greylag geese, and Herons, almost as if all of these waterfowl were loyal to the erstwhile lake even now that it had drained away.

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Hart’s Tongue Fern.

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New leaves emerging.

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Willow catkins – with, I think, a honey bee, thoroughly dusted in yellow pollen.

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Ginger thorax, black abdomen, white tail: a Tree Bumblebee. A species which is a comparatively recent arrival in Britain.

I’d been thinking that it was about time that I saw some Coltsfoot flowering, and sure enough, there it was beneath the willows.

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A different willow catkin, or possibly the same species at an earlier stage – but I’m inclined to the former. Willows are a tad confusing.

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A section of Eaves Wood, where most of the trees had been felled, was resplendent with Primroses, which is, I think, exactly the point – flowers of this sort, which seem to prefer open woodland, violets, primroses etc are important food-plants for various butterflies, some of them rare.

And so, a tune: it has to be Little Richard. A has been practising a dance to ‘Long Tall Sally’ and who can resist that? Or ‘Tutti Frutti’ and it’s opening ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom’, a vocalisation, apparently, of the driving drum beat which Richard wanted for the song. However, I’ve gone for something a bit less obvious, which you might not have heard before, Freedom Blues:

Too Far?