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

The Three Amigos Ride Again

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It’s quite a long time since CJ, X-Ray and I have been out for a stroll together. Back in 2010 it seems, although we started a walk together in January 2011, but X-Ray turned back for the comforts of the tea-shop. It was very satisfying then, that the team were back together at the end of last week. Here we are – I’m represented by my rucksack – on the summit of Whitbarrow. We’d parked near Witherslack Hall and took the relatively steep ascent from there.

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Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott from Whitbarrow.

The walk southwards along the plateau is delightfully easy walking and the Kent Estuary and the small hills of home loom larger in the view as the distance closes.

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Field Scabious (I think).

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As we dropped down through the trees towards the village we came across this mystery…

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Something hanging in netting from a tree. Artwork?

We passed through the village of Beck Head and visited the Hikers’ Rest Self Service Cafe which I first came across on a family walk just after Christmas.

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CJ, who wasn’t carrying a rucksack, bought himself a bottle of water. The cafe is well-stocked with reading material. Here X-Ray is reading a randomly selected sentence from The Complete Sherlock Holmes. From that clue, CJ correctly identified the story as The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk. Quite a party trick.

We strung some paths and lanes together, across the Winster valley, to reach the Derby Arms for lunch. The beer was good, the sun continued to shine (rather contrary to the forecast) and the food, particularly the Thai Chicken Broth, was vey palatable.

At that point CJ had to speed back to the cars, needing to make an assignation at Oxenholme Station prior to a planned wild-camp at Sprinkling Tarn, so took the direct route via the road. X-Ray and I took a slightly more circuitous route.

First stop was Latterbarrow, where the wildflowers were stunning (I can’t think why I didn’t take any photos)

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Meadow Browns.

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A pleasant walk through woods brought us to Witherslack Church, also known as Barwick’s Church…

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There’s a little more about this church in this post about my first visit back in 2010 with B.

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We sat in the churchyard for a while and I watched this Red-Tailled Bumblebee’s progress around the flowerbeds.

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One final short, steep climb over Yewbarrow and a steady descent brought us back to the car. We still had one final treat in store however: a fox cub strayed on to the road as we drove back down the valley.

A very fine walk; hopefully our next outing will come around less than six years from now.

The Three Amigos Ride Again

Free Lunch

Across the fields and the golf course to Leighton Moss – Free Lunch – Home via Myer’s Allotment

Silverdale has an annual food fair, a recent innovation, and this year TBH won a voucher there in the raffle, exchangeable for lunch for two in the cafe at the Leighton Moss visitors’ centre. The boys were, indeed are, still at school, but TBH and A had now finished so the three of us wandered over for a bite. When we got there, it was to find that their electricity was off due to some work being done by the suppliers, but the centre has photo-valtaic panels and they seemed to be coping remarkably well. A enjoyed her humus and falafel wrap, despite it being ‘too leafy’ and TBH and I both loved our prawn salad.

TBH couldn’t be induced to venture onto the reserve (and to be fair, we did need to get home for the boys return from school) but the promise of striking Cinnabar Moth caterpillar lured TBH and A to join me in visiting Myer’s Allotment on our return journey. Here they are…

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…enjoying the view from the top of the hill.

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There was plenty to see within the reserve too.

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Rock Rose.

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Harebells.

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Self-heal.

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A lone Common Red Soldier Beetle – must be hunting!

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Normal service is resumed! Caption competition anyone? I think that those contrasting antennae are very expressive.

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Hoverfly on Ragwort.

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Bumblebee on Ragwort.

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Meadow Brown.

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I suppose the Meadow Brown is one of or drabbest butterflies. But I have to confess that I’m still captivated none-the-less.

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Damselfly.

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Red-tailed Bumblebee.

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Gatekeeper  Butterfly and Common Red Soldier Beetle.

Ardent followers of Beating the Bounds, if such a beast exists, will have seen photographs of Gatekeepers many times before; most, if not all, taken in North Wales, where we camp each summer and where Gatekeepers are extremely common. In fact I associate them with that area, because I’ve always assumed that we don’t get them here. Oops. Wrong again. Mea culpa.

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I almost missed this Gatekeeper too. It was resting low on Ragwort, very still, with its wings folded and very close to the ground. The dark patches are apparently scent scales and are only found on males.

I was studying that particular Ragwort because of its other residents…

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Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

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There weren’t as many caterpillars evident as there had been on my previous visit, but there were enough to make good on my promise. Not that it mattered particularly; A was very happy photographing butterflies with her iPod. Nice to see that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree!

Free Lunch

Pulchritudinous Pruinosity

Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – Myer’s Allotment.

Later that day: A Tour of Trowbarrow

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Ragged Robin

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A Green-veined White on Cuckooflower.

Cuckooflower is one of the food-plants for the caterpillars of Green-veined  White. This butterfly was flitting from Cuckooflower t0 Cuckooflower, ignoring the many other blooms on offer. Green-veined Whites favour damp areas, which makes Lambert’s Meadow a perfect environment for them.

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Emerald Damselfly (I think).

At Myer’s Allotment my every step seemed to raise clouds of damselflies. Once landed again, they weren’t always easy to pick out against the ground, despite, in some cases, their vivid metallic colouration.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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The Cinnabar.

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Bee Fly.

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Myer’s Allotment view.

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Broad-bodied Chaser (again).

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Black-tailed Skimmer.

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A new dragonfly to me and therefore very exciting. This is either a female or an immature male. Males ‘develop a blue pruinescence on the abdomen darkening to the rear with S8-10 becoming black’. (This from the British Dragonfly Society website).

S8-10 refers to the eighth to tenth segments of the tail.

Pruinescence, or pruinosity, is a dusty looking coating on top of a surface. Well I never. I particularly like pruinosity and shall be using it at every suitable opportunity. ‘Look at the pruinosity on ‘ere!’ for example.

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Another Green-veined White. (I think).

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Common Blue.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil (with bee).

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Fossilised Coral at Trowbarrow.

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More Trowbarrow fossils.

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I think that this might be a Tree Bumblebee, a species which only arrived here from Mainland Europe this century and has spread rapidly, helped by the profusion of bird-boxes in the UK, where it tends to build nests, even sometimes evicting resident Blue Tits in the process. (Yes, I know, the temptation to draw some kind of political parallel here would be almost overwhelming were I of the persuasion that we can somehow up-anchor and sail away across the Atlantic, as many people seem to be at present. But I’m not.)

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Common Blue Damselfly.

Pulchritudinous Pruinosity

Good Friday: Myers Allotment

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The first day of our Easter break and the sun was shining. I walked up to Clarke’s Lot to check on the grike which is filled every year with primroses. Only a few flowers so far this year.

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By Slackwood Lane bark peeling from the trunk of a gean, or wild cherry, was catching the sunlight.

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I generally try to avoid walking on the roads, but Slackwood Lane does have the advantage of perhaps the best view of Leighton Moss…

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It also brought me to the bottom end of The Row…

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..and hence to…

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I’ve been intending to have a wander around this reserve for years, but somehow seem to have never got around to it, despite it’s proximity to home.

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I really enjoyed this visit and I suspect I will be back sooner rather than later.

Because it’s a Butterfly Conservation reserve, I was expecting to see butterflies. I know that’s illogical, and I realised that at the time too, but never-the-less, every slight movement had me spinning around expectantly. I didn’t see any butterflies.

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But there quite a few bumblebees about. Most were bobbing from spot to spot, efficiently evading my camera, but I spotted this one amongst the leaf-litter, keeping almost perfectly still. It wasn’t dead, as I thought at one point,  but I’m not sure what it was up to.

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This could be Bombus Hortorum a common and widespread bee, or, more intriguingly, it might be Psithyrus Barbutellus, a cuckoo bee which preys on Bombus Hortorum in much the same way that Cuckoos prey on other birds.

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I thought these striking yellow legs might help with identification, but it seems not! Maybe they are just dusted with pollen?

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Coltsfoot.

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At a coffee morning I acquired Roger Phillips’ ‘Grasses, Ferns, Mosses and Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland’, and consulting that I’m inclined to say that this…

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…which was growing on an oak tree, is Common Polypody.

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A number of paths criss-cross the allotment and I shall have to make several visits to attempt to make a good mental map of the place.

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Hazel catkins.

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I returned home via the Row, Lambert’s Meadow and Burton Well Wood.

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Marsh Marigold in Lambert’s Meadow.

In Burtonwell wood I finally saw a butterfly, but wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of it. I did catch some emerging leaves..

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Sycamore.

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Honeysuckle.

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Ivy. (OK – not emerging these).

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Celandines.

Good Friday: Myers Allotment