Heysham Moss

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St. Peter’s Church, Heysham.

Back in the summer, when the sun was shining, and the rules changed (how many times have they changed since then?), so that we were allowed to meet five friends outdoors, all B seemed to want to do was meet his school friends in Heysham and swim with them in the Bay. Personally, I wouldn’t choose to swim in the Bay, and particularly not right next to a Nuclear Power Plant, but B is old enough and daft enough to make his own choices these days, and my own squeamishness is probably not well-founded.

Since public transport was still frowned upon, I found myself with time to kill between dropping him off and meeting him for the return journey.

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The graveyard at St. Peter’s has a stunning view across the Bay to the hills of the Lakes.

I first visited St. Peter’s church in Heysham village, the picturesque part of Heysham, hoping to look inside and see the Viking hog’s-back graves there, but that will have to wait, since the church was locked up.

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The remains of St. Patrick’s Chapel.
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11th Century rock-cut graves and the Lake District hills again.

From Heysham headland, I drove a short hop to visit Heysham Moss. It’s a Wildlife Trust reserve which has been on my radar for a while. Last time I came looking for it, I took a wrong turn, but, fortuitously, stumbled upon Middleton Nature Reserve. This time I had satnav and a postcode. Sadly, whilst these got me to the right neck of the woods, I couldn’t see the entrance – it’s just away from the road on a right-of-way – although I was parked really close to it. I spent a frustrating half-an-hour venturing along narrow, slippery, nettle-fringed paths, which I presume are the preserve of local kids and/or dog-walkers, but none of which got me into the reserve. Having returned to the car and decided to ‘have one more go’, I quickly found the entrance. I’m glad I tried again.

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Common Hemp-Nettle. Possibly.
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The reserve is very wet in places, as the name Moss implies, but it also has a large area of raised peat, quite rare I think in lowland areas.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

There were lots of butterflies and dragonflies about, not all of them very cooperative when I wanted to take photos. Also, a few Silvery Y Moths, a day-flying summer immigrant.

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Marsh Woundwort.
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Marsh Woundwort.
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Very square stems.
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Wild Angelica.
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 Ichneumon extensorius. Male. Possibly.

I had great fun taking numerous photos of what I now think is a male  Ichneumon extensorius. Apparently, this is a dimorphic species, in that the male and the female are very different.  Ichneumon wasps are parasites, laying their eggs in the bodies of moth and butterfly caterpillars. But the adults eat nectar, which fits with the behaviour of this male, which was feasting on the angelica and seemed quite oblivious of my attention.

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Common Fleabane – I think – an attractive daisy when the flowers are properly open!
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Skullcap – I think.
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Redshank. Perhaps.
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Busy Soldier Beetles.
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Purple Loosestrife.
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Meadow Vetchling?
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A pale bee – some sort of Carder? – with very full, very yellow pollen baskets.
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Bog Myrtle.
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Small Copper.
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Common Darter.
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I think this is Wild Angelica again – a very purple example.
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Great Willowherb.
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Heysham Moss

I just about had time for a circuit of the reserve – I shall definitely be back for another look.

Heysham Moss

Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

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Warton Crag

Another collection of photos from several local walks. The weather, at this point, was very mixed and there were several days when I didn’t take any photos at all.

A visit to Woodwell yielded lots more photos of newts, although the light was poor and the photos are all decidedly murky.

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A pale newt.

This newt seemed much paler than any of the others. I also thought it looked bloated – a female with eggs to lay?

It certainly was of great interest to other newts. I watched some of them follow it around the pond. Eventually three gathered around it and all of them seemed to be nudging its belly. Just after I took this photo…

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…there was some sort of excitement and the newts all seemed to thrash about and then disperse rapidly.

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Here’s another newt which looks very swollen in its midriff, as does the lefthand one of this pair…

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Small Skipper
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Dryad’s Saddle.
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Comma.
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Mottled Grasshopper – I think.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade Leaves
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Soldier Beetles – making love not war.
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Musk Mallow.
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A Mallow? Perhaps a garden escapee?

Mallows are often quite big plants, but this was low growing and I can’t find anything which comes even close to matching it in ‘The Wildflower Key’.

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Wild Thyme.
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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars.
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Honey Bee on Rosebay Willowherb.
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Red Clover
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Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.
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The Limestone Seat at Jack Scout.

My obsessive compulsive photography of butterflies, even common and rather dull species like Meadow Browns, sometimes pays dividends. This brown butterfly…

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White-letter Hairstreak.

…turned out to be a kind I had never seen before. That’s not entirely surprising since hairstreak species generally live up in the treetops. I wonder if it’s significant that the photograph of this species in the little pamphlet guide to the butterflies of this area also depicts a White-letter Hairstreak feeding on Ragwort?

This Ragwort was in the shade and although the butterfly stayed fairly still and I was able to take lots of photos, I was struggling to get a sharp shot.

Two walkers approached, I assumed, from their respective ages, a father and son. The Dad observed my antics with an arched eyebrow and observed:

“It’s not going to open its wings is it? Not to worry, there’s another one behind you, and it does have its wings on show.”

I turned around to see…

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Small Skipper.

…a Small Skipper. Lovely, but not the once in a blue moon opportunity I had been enjoying. I did find the hairstreak again. It even moved into the sunshine, but then insisted on perching in awkward spots where I couldn’t get a clear view…

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White-letter Hairstreak.
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Traveller’s Joy.
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Toadstools.
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Water Lily.
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Brown-lipped Snail.
Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

Elderflower Foraging

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Eaves Wood

Well – that answers one question: the hay was yet to be cut. TBH had been making elderflower cordial, but wanted to try a new recipe (spoiler alert – it’s very nice) and asked if I could bring back 40 heads of elderflower. No problem, I said, there’s loads at Gait Barrows.

I took a circuitous route to Gait Barrows – calling in first at Lambert’s Meadow, Myer’s Allotment and Trowbarrow Quarry.

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I can’t identify this tiny fly, but I was quite taken by its orange speckled wings.

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Volucella pellucens – a striking hoverfly, the larvae of which live in wasps nests as scavengers. Even wasps get pestered in their homes: a comforting thought somehow.

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I’ve been thinking that I really must make more of an effort with grasses and the like, but now I’m looking at a page of sedges which look, to my untutored eye, practically identical. This is one of them, I think, maybe Glaucous Sedge? This is the female spike – pretty striking I thought.

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Another sedge perhaps, maybe one of the many yellow sedges?

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Azure damselfly.

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Another hoverfly.

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I thought taking photos of our wild roses might likewise encourage me to begin trying to distinguish between them, but I clearly need to make notes about the leaves and the thorns and the colour of the stems and I’m probably too lazy to do that. Having said that, since Dog Roses are usually pink, I shall assume that this is a Field Rose.

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A cowslip which has gone to seed.

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Oedemera lurida – the larger green insect on the right.

The flower here is one of those yellow daisies over which I have so much difficulty. I’ve been reading, and enjoying, ‘Chasing The Ghost’ by Peter Marren. It’s subtitled ‘My search for all the wild flowers of Britain’. Except, it turns out that actually it’s his search for the last fifty species he hasn’t seen. Excluding all of the ‘casuals’ – non-native plants which have self-seeded from a garden, or from bird-food or somesuch. And he isn’t going to try to see the many sub-species of dog-rose or whitebeam because they are too numerous and too troublesome to tell apart. Likewise the hawkweeds, of which, apparently, 415 subspecies have been identified. So far. Peter Marren is a Proper Botanist, and he needs expert help. Another comforting thought.

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Yellow Rattle – gone to seed and now showing the ‘rattles’ – the pods in which the seeds literally do rattle. 

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Common Blue butterfly.

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Oedemera lurida again, this time on Mouse-ear-hawkweed, a yellow daisy which has the decency to be easy to identify.

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Unidentified (solitary?) bee on unidentified flower.

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The view from the bench at Myer’s Allotment over the meres of Leighton Moss. 

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Tutsan. 

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Tutsan, from the French toute-saine meaning all healthy. Herbalists laid the leaves over wounds and apparently it does have antiseptic properties. Tutsan has a reputation for inducing chastity: allegedly, men should drink infusions made from the plant, and women should spread twigs below their beds.

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The leaves, when dried, are reputed to smell like ambergris and so it is also called Sweet Amber. Ambergris, known in China as ‘dragon’s spittle fragrance’, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated or excreted by sperm whales. I remember a dog-walker found some on Morecambe beach year or two ago and sold it for thousands; tens-of-thousands even. It must be true, I read it in a tabloid.

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We have quite a bit of it in our garden. Tutsan that is, not ambergris. It’s a weed I suppose, but a beautiful plant which is interesting year round; the berries go from yellow through red to black. It seems that hoverflies like it just as much as I do!

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The Trough.

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Trowbarrow quarry – there were quite a few people climbing.

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Maybe I should have asked them to fetch me down some elderflowers?

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I couldn’t resist another visit to the Bee Orchids…

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…to try to catch them whilst the sun was shining on them…

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A Gait Barrows view.

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An unusually tall and prolifically flowered Elder. Most of the flowers would have been out of reach, but I didn’t even try, so confident was I that I knew of a plentiful supply of Elder up on the limestone pavement.

There were plenty of other distractions in the grykes up on the pavement. For instance, now that it has just about finished flowering, I spotted several more patches of Angular Solomon’s-seal…

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Tutsan grows in the grykes too, but the red leaves are a sign that it is not exactly flourishing, presumably with little soil or water to thrive on.

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Bloody crane’s-bill.

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Eye bright.

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Field Rose?

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Female Large Skipper. (Large compared to a Small Skipper, but still quite diminutive).

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I watched this bird circling far overhead. Everything about it – size, shape, the way it flew – convinced me that it was a raptor, but if it was I now can’t pin it down to any particular species. I thought it might be another Peregrine, but I can’t see any sign of the moustaches a grey, male Peregrine might show in any of my, admittedly rather poor, photos.

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When I arrived at the spot where I was convinced I would find an abundance of elderflower, I found two stunted shrubs growing from grykes – each with a handful of unopened  flowers, neither use nor ornament for making cordial I assumed.

I eventually found another area of pavement, with a handful of small specimens, which did have almost enough flowers for our purposes.

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With those stowed away in my rucksack, I headed home via Hawes Water. On the disturbed ground there, after last year’s work, there were several tall Mullein plants growing…

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I had to have a closer look because the leaves often have interesting residents. This isn’t what I was expecting however…

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A pair of mating Green Shield Bugs!

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Green Shield Bugs live on the sap of a variety of plants. I didn’t realise that they used to be confined to the south of the country, but have been progressing steadily northward with climate change.

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Best not to pick up Shield Bugs since they can release a noxious smelly liquid, giving them their alternative name of ‘Stink Bugs’.

Incidentally, I picked up my copy of ‘Bugs Britannica’ to see what it had to say about Shield Bugs and discovered that it was co-written by Richard Mabey and Peter Marren. I think mainly by Peter Marren, because I believe that was when Richard Mabey was suffering from the depression which he would go on to write about in ‘Nature Cure’.

Mr Marren is, it seems, a pan-lister, a phenomena which he discusses in ‘Chasing the Ghost’: pan-listers are spotters who are like twitchers on steroids – they have tick-lists for all living things larger than bacteria apparently – fungi, plants, insects, birds, slime-moulds, lichens, etc. Even in the UK that’s tens of thousands of species.

It occurred to me that I might fit into that bracket, except I’m much too lazy. I don’t keep lists and I only very rarely travel to see something in particular. Although, I’ve always enjoyed myself on the few occasions that I have done that – I’m thinking of the saxifrage on Pen-y-Ghent or the gentians in Teesdale.

Anyway, what I was actually on the look-out for were caterpillars of the Mullein Moth…

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Once you get close, they are quite hard to miss!

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Years ago, when we lived on The Row, some Mullein appeared in our garden and, although I suppose they are weeds, they’re large and quite striking, so we left them to flower. Then the voracious caterpillars appeared and completely stripped the plants of leaves and flowers.

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Bird’s-eye Primrose.

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When I reached the meadows near Challan Hall, I realised that there were perhaps a dozen Elder trees here, all of them plastered with blossom.

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I didn’t need much more, but I cam back a day or two later to discover that the trees were mostly on steep banks, leaving most of the flowers out of reach, and even where they weren’t, the trees were well protected by an understorey of brambles and nettles.

The cordial is well worth it though.

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The verge of the railway line had a fine display of Oxeye Daisies.

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This should have been my first stop for elderflowers – a small elder growing behind our garage.

Elderflower Foraging

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.

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

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

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Male house sparrow – with nesting material? – on the wall by the ginnel to Townsfield. 

The photos in this post are drawn from walks on several consecutive days, which were obviously a bit gloomy, judging by the photos.

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Oxeye daisy.

Never mind, there always plenty to see none-the-less.

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Speckled wood butterfly.

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Germander speedwell.

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I thought this might be creeping jenny, but it’s not, it’s the very similar, and related, yellow pimpernel.

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Which I found flowering on the margin between woods and grassland on Heathwaite. I was on my way up the Knott.

I’ve walked past this gateway many times recently and thought that maybe I’d never been through it.

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This time I tried it and discovered a path which I don’t think I’ve walked before. It runs parallel to other paths I have walked and wasn’t really significantly different to those, but I was still pleased to find a route which was new to me.

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The views were a bit limited, the lakeland hills being shrouded in low cloud, but Cartmel Fell, running up to Gummer How was clear, as was Whitbarrow Scar.

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And there’s always the Bay to admire.

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Lady’s mantle displaying the recent rain.

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The Bay from the Cove.

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Sea radish.

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Blackbird – sometimes blackbirds can be quite bold, this one didn’t seem at all bothered by my interest.

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Surprised by movement in a puddle on a path, I looked down to see this fairly large black beetle. It was swimming quite proficiently, but I couldn’t work out why any kind of water beetle would be in a puddle quite a way from any open water on the one hand, or what any other kind of beetle would be doing swimming at all on the other. I suppose I should have fished it out to have a closer look.

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Salad burnet. 

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Lady’s mantle again.

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Bird’s-eye primrose by Hawes Water.

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Gloucester Old Spot pig.

Sadly, the farm at Hawes Villa is going to close. Apparently they’ve lost the battle for planning permission for the yurts on their campsite and without the extra income that brings in the farm is not profitable. A great shame for the family and the village and that the conservation breeding programme has come to an end. On a personal note, we filled a freezer with pork from the farm and it was great to be able to buy local produce from a source that we could see with our own eyes was genuinely free range with excellent welfare.

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Just missed the sunset from Jack Scout. Again.

Oxeye daisy, germander speedwell, creeping jenny, yellow pimpernel, lady’s mantle, bird’s-eye primrose, sea radish – don’t our wildflowers have great names? The lady’s mantles pictured above are, I suspect, one of the garden varieties, which self seed freely and so have become naturalised. The latin name is Alchemilla mollis which I think also has something of a ring to it; Alchemilla from alchemy, because of the supposed herbal benefits of the plant.


After yesterday’s post with four songs all covered by one singer, todays I’ve gone for almost the opposite: covers of songs all originally performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

‘As Long As I Can See The Light’ by the incomparable Ted Hawkins

‘Proud Mary’ by Solomon Burke. I think the version by Ike and Tina Turner is better known; I believe it was Solomon Burke who suggested they should cover the song.

‘Born on the Bayou’ by Trampled Underfoot.

‘Lodi’ Dan Penn

‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ Dwight Yoakam

‘Wrote A Song for Everyone’ Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy (if the name sounds familiar, he’s from the great band ‘Wilco’).

Hmmm. Got a bit carried away there. If you’re a big fan of Creedence, and I am, you might argue that none of them are a patch on the originals. I’m not sure, but I think there’s some good stuff here. Do you have a favourite – I’m struggling?

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

Different Perspectives

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Morecambe Bay, with lots of horseshoe vetch rather imperfectly captured in the foreground.

When I was at secondary school, in my mid-teens, I spent my lunchtimes playing cards, or football; listening to, or later, a sixth-form privilege, playing records in the music club, which is the only time I remember ever being in the school’s one and only lecture theatre; bunking off into town to borrow books or records from the library, or occasionally buying records; even more infrequently going to the pub with friends for a sneaky beer (way under-age and in uniform, how times have changed); but sometimes, quite frequently to be honest, I would slope off to the school’s library for a quiet half-hour. I’ve always been a bookworm. Back then, I liked to read New Scientist each week, and sometimes leaf through the English edition of Pravda, because it tickled me that the school bought it, and then I had an assortment of favourite books, which I would revisit. There was a dictionary of quotations of which I was very fond; I also remember reading about Russell’s paradox and the paradoxes of Zeno, which could have been in a maths text, but I suspect I more likely discovered them in an encyclopaedia; and there was a coffee-table style book of the photographs of Ansel Adams.

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Burnet Rose.

All of which is my long-winded way of introducing the f/64 group and their dedication to pin-sharp photographs, with a huge depth of field, achieved using a very small aperture.

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I’m going to guess that these are pollen beetles of some description, the smaller ones anyway.

I was already a photographer, of sorts, by then. My Grandad gave me an old Agfa camera of his own which he’d replaced. It was 35mm, not SLR, but it was necessary, for each photo, to set the aperture and exposure, for which purpose he also gave me a clunky light-meter which was almost as big as the camera. I don’t think I took any very startling photos, limited as I was by the cost of processing the films, but it did give me a great grounding in the mechanics of operating a camera.

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Bloody crane’s-bill, I think.

When I finally did get an SLR camera, thanks to my parents largesse, it incorporated a light meter and was semi-automatic. And since the switch over to digital cameras, the couple that I’ve owned seem to have become increasingly autonomous and do everything but choose the subject which is to be photographed, and that’s surely only a matter of time.

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Bell heather, I think.

I do switch off the full automatic mode when I’m using the telephoto for nature shots of small or distant things.

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Wood ant. Small, but not all that small compared to other British ant species.

And I’ve recently remembered that the camera has a ‘landscape’ setting and started using that again, but I need to remind myself how that’s set up. The camera generally defaults to f2.8 because the wide aperture lets plenty of light in which means the huge zoom works better than on many equivalent cameras, but that also decreases the depth of field, which is not ideal for landscape pictures

I’ve also remembered that what captivated me in Ansel Adams black and white photographs, all those  years ago, was the sharp detail in the foreground, the distant mountains and even in the clouds. I’ve been trying to remember to include some foreground in the pictures, maybe by kneeling or lying down or by finding something striking to frame in the foreground.

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This picture, for example, of Grange and Hampsfell, could really do with a bit more interest in the foreground. To be fair, the reason I took it was to show the channel, which was no longer right under the cliffs and which seems to be connected to the River Kent, which is how the OS map shows it.

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These two, with a bit thrift for colour, are what I was thinking of, although how successful they are I’m not sure.

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It kept me entertained, thinking about it, anyway.

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Oystercatchers.

The f/64 photographers were based in California and had all of the advantages that offers in terms of scenery and particularly in terms of light. Even in the good spell of weather we’ve had, you can’t always guarantee decent light in the North-Wet of England.

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The pictures, long-suffering readers will almost certainly recognise, were taken on a walk around the coast to Arnside, which was followed with a return over the Knott, creature of habit that I am.

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New Barns and Arnside Knott.

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Close to Arnside, where there’s a small public garden abutting the estuary, there was a real hullabaloo in the tall pines growing in the garden. The noise was emanating from a conspiracy of ravens, some of which were in the trees and some of which were circling above, clearly agitated. This single individual was holding itself aloof from the fuss, coolly going about its business.

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It eventually flew up on to the wall and then proceeded to hop and prance about there, looking, I thought, very pleased with itself, like a mischievous and slightly disreputable uncle enjoying a fag outside, whilst the family party audibly descends into a squabble within.

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Train crossing the Kent viaduct.

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Arnside.

From the end of the promenade, I climbed up through the old Ashmeadow estate where there a small area of allotments. There something very comforting about a well tended allotment, I always think, not that I’d ever have the patience to keep one neat and tidy myself.

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From there I was up onto Redhill Pasture, where, any day now, I should be able to assist with the wildflower monitoring project again; we’ve just had the go ahead from our local National Trust officer.

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Redhill Pasture.

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Lakeland Fells from Redhill Pasture.

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Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture.

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Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture, again.

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Forest of Bowland and Arnside Tower from the south side of the top.

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Morecambe Bay from the south side of the top.

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Goldfinch – there were several together on this telephone line.

Through a bit of sleight of hand, I can finish with a sunset, although, in truth, these photographs are from the evening before the rest of the photos. I had a late walk on the sands and then found a sneaky way up on to Know Hill.

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It wasn’t a great sunset, but I like the different perspective the slight gain of height gives and the view of the Coniston Fells beyond the Bay.

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I shall have to try this again sometime.

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Today’s tunes all can only really be things I can remember playing when it was my turn on the decks during the rather subdued disco with nowhere to dance, in the lecture theatre, which I think was a weekly affair. To set the scene, most of my contemporaries would play tunes from Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ album with an admixture of The Thompson Twins and, bizarrely, Thomas Dolby. As we progressed through the sixth-form I guess you could add The Smiths and U2 to that list.

There was a very vocal and fairly large minority of headbangers, or grebs, as we called them, who felt that music began and ended with Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and the like.

And then there was me and my mate A.S. It’s not that I didn’t like what my other friends played; mostly I did, but they all played the same things. The sixth-form committee had a pretty vast and reasonably varied collection of 45s, why not dip into it?

‘Babylon’s Burning’ The Ruts

‘Echo Beach’ Martha and the Muffins

‘Nut Rock’ Bumble Bee and the Stingers

‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ The Drifters

Also, always the Tommy Opposite, I knew full well that some of my choices really got up peoples noses. We did sixth-form parties too, and rented ourselves out, mostly for eighteenth birthday parties. We were very cheap, but you might find as many as 10 thirsty DJs arriving with the PA and the lights. Happy times.

Different Perspectives

Fine WX on Whitbarrow

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Green Hairstreak.

My first Green Hairstreak and, therefore, very exciting for me, I can tell you. In fact, my first Hairstreak of any description. As is the way of these thing, I saw a few more that day and then another closer to home in Eaves Wood a couple of days later. Just before we saw this, we also saw a butterfly or a moth which, unfortunately, I didn’t get a decent photo of. It looked, in terms of the general shape, like a butterfly; had brown forewings with a little dash of white and orange hindwings with a chocolate brown crescent on each. The latter is very characteristic of the many yellow underwing moth species, but I can’t find one that fits otherwise, and, like I say, it really looked more like a butterfly. I think it’s destined to remain a mystery.

The occasion was an ascent of Whitbarrow with our friend BB and three of his kids. Here he is…

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…on the excellent path which climbs the southern end of the escarpment.

When we reached the higher ground we settled in this sheltered spot which also has excellent views.

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BB had brought his portable radio kit with him and wanted to get on the airwaves and play with that. Equally, I’d brought my Bushbuddy stove and wanted to play with that…

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I don’t use it all that often and was reminded of one reason why that is, as it took an age to bring a small kettle of water to the boil for a brew.

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The view along the edge towards Gummer How.

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Ingleborough and Farleton Fell seen over a broad meander in the Kent.

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Whitbarrow is a limestone plateau and it’s a fair walk to the top at Lord’s Seat.

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It was lovely walking, but windy, and we soon had to put several layers back on. The contrast in the temperature compared to our sheltered lunch spot was amazing.

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Lord’s Seat.

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Scout Scar with the Howgills in the background.

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The Kent, Morecambe Bay and Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott again.

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Green Tiger Beetle.

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All the routes down the western side of Whitbarrow are steep, the route we took being no exception.

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Gummer How.

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The edges from near Witherslack Hall.

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Whitbarrow has appeared on the blog many times now. It seems to have become my go-to choice for a walk with friends. Perhaps because I feel like it deserves to be better known. On this occasion, it was actually BB’s suggestion. He has fond memories of climbing it when he was a boy.

Oh, WX, by the way, is amateur radio shorthand for weather.

And that’s 73 from me. (I’ll let you look that one up).

 

Fine WX on Whitbarrow

Herb Paris, Lily of the Valley and more…

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A Monday evening. With A hobbling about on her dodgy knee after her long DofE training walk, dancing was out of the question for her, so there were no taxi-dad duties for me to perform. I escaped to Gait Barrows, ostensibly to see whether the Lady’s-slipper Orchids were flowering. Some of them were, as you can see above, but some were yet to fully open…

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This is another of my annual flower pilgrimages and it served as a useful excuse, but really, with the sun still shining I was hoping for butterflies. I did see some: Orange-tips, Brimstones, Speckled Woods, but generally they wouldn’t settle to be photographed. Fortunately, there was a great deal more to see, in fact the Lady’s slippers were the last pictures I took in a great haul and I was tempted to appropriate Conrad’s phrase and title the post ‘blogger’s gifts’.

Usually, having come in search of the orchids, I’m a little late for the Lily-of-the-valley. The small areas completed dominated by the broad leaves are always still in evidence…

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But I often struggle to find any flowers; this time there were far more than I’ve ever seen before…

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The tiny, white bells are still quite shy and retiring, but utterly enchanting.

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In addition to the flowers there were hoards of Damselflies about. I took lots of photos, but will content myself with just two…

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Common Damselfly.

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Azure Damselfly.

The colours look very different, but that’s a function of the light which was falling on them at the time. The easiest way to distinguish these males is the pattern on the second segment. The Common damselfly has a solid black omega  – Ω; whilst the Azure has an elongated u, like – ∏ – but the other way up. (You may need to click on the photos to view zoomable images on flickr to pick this out).

Walking through some warm glades, which act as a sun-trap and have often been good for butterflies on previous visits, I spotted something in flight which had all the colour of a butterfly, but which was bigger and more co-operative with regards being photographed…

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Broad-bodied Chaser.

In flight, I thought that it was yellow (the field guide says ‘ochre’), so assumed that it was a female, but the males also start life that colour, but then produce ‘pruinescence’, a dusty blue covering, which process has begun for this male, and is more advanced in this male…

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… which was also basking in the sun, just a few yards from the first dragonfly.

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There were lots of these…

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…Brown Silver-line moths about.

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Maidenhair Spleenwort.

I need to make a concerted effort with ferns and grasses. Hopefully, I can pick up quite a bit relatively easily, since presently I know next to nothing. I think the fern above is Maidenhair Spleenwort. It’s possible that this…

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…is another spleenwort, or Wall Rue? I’m not sure.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil. New flowers – they will soon be egg-yolk yellow.

I did eventually manage to photograph one butterfly…

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Green-veined White on Bugle.

In pursuit of an Orange-tip, I turned onto a slim-trod along a ride which I have never taken before.

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Which, it transpired, was a very happy choice.

The path brought me to a gate, overlooking a field…

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…which helped me to reset my bearings, since I recognised it.

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Only a couple of days before, I had been reading, again, about Herb Paris. A highly unusual plant, which has been frustrating me, because I know that it grows locally in many locations, but I have never stumbled across it. Anyway, I read that it often grows alongside it’s close relative Dog’s Mercury, a very common plant hereabouts, and when I saw Dog’s Mercury blanketing the woodland floor, I optimistically thought: maybe there will be some Herb Paris nearby.

And was then very surprised when my wish-prophecy came true..

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It’s an odd plant with quite a strange flower, but after years of waiting, I was very pleased to see it.

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From this point, the path seemed to peter out and though I continued doggedly for some time, I eventually admitted defeat and turned to retrace my steps. Except, then I was distracted by another, even slighter tread which was heading into the woods. Almost immediately, I was confronted by a pile of feathers…

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Then another, and another…

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And then several pairs of bird-less wings…

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The wings were all busy with flies, but also with several of these rather striking orange and black beetles – oieceoptoma thoracicum. They aren’t here feast on the carrion, but on the other insects which are attracted to the wings.

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The last time, and the first time, that I saw one of these was on another warm spring day, on Yewbarrow above the Winster Valley, when B joined me for a fabulous walk. It was eight years ago, which I think says something about the power of blogging as an aide memoire; my memory is generally pretty dreadful, but although I didn’t remember their latin name, I did instantly recognise the insects and recall their predatory lifestyle.

That walk was a good one, and the post has a much better photograph of this actually rather handsome beetle. That day we found several badger setts, but these wings were untidily strewn around a Fox’s earth. I found a dead fox cub not so very far away from this spot last year and one summer saw a fox, late one evening, running along the woodland fringe near here. B is quite keen to see the earth, I don’t know whether there is any mileage in bringing him late one evening in the hope that we might see the resident foxes too.

The path which I had diverted onto was clearly a path made by the foxes. It soon forked and forked again. It was difficult to follow, but I persisted and eventually it brought me to a ‘proper’ path, which I recognised, and which was close to where the Lady’-slippers flower.

Down at Hawes Water, work was still continuing quite late into the evening…

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Having started with the last photo I took, here are the first two:

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Stacked timber and…

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planks from the old boardwalk, by the Gait Barrows carpark.

Herb Paris, Lily of the Valley and more…

Wren Gill

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A bit of an odd one this because these photos were almost all taken in a brief flurry at the end of our little outing, shortly before we set-off to return to our car, and those that weren’t were taken in another short burst roughly three hours before. It’s easy to distinguish between the two sets, because soon after the first ones were taken, when the kids were eating their lunch and I was making a brew…

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…the cloud finally broke and the sun shone for much of the rest of the afternoon.

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Carabus problematicus.

This beetle was on the patch of rock where I set up my stove. It scampered away rather shyly and when I fetched it out from under a boulder, I noticed a rather unpleasant smell – I’m not sure if this was a defence mechanism from the beetle or the scent of something else concealed by the boulder. The beetle looks very like the one in my previous post, but I think that the obvious striations on its back mean that it is of a related, but different, species.

Anyway, between the two sets of photos, we were playing in the stream. It was a week after our visit to Tongue Pot; B was really keen to go back there, but I persuaded him that there were opportunities for swimming closer to home. We drove to Sadgill, in Longsleddale, and then walked up the valley until we reached the access land and a convenient gate in the wall. The track, which heads towards the Gatescarth Pass, was busy, not with walkers, there was just one other party of adults and toddlers, heading for the stream like us, but with four-wheel drives and trials bikes. I’ll let you fume on my behalf.

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I’ve called the post Wren Gill and higher upstream that’s how it begins. But down the valley it’s the River Sprint and, to add to the confusion, the OS map has Cleft Ghyll too, although that’s written in black rather than blue, so may refer to the narrow deep-sided ravine the stream briefly flows through.

We followed the stream bed from just beyond the boundary of the access land up to where the stream poured over a waterfall out of Cleft Ghyll. Then we walked down to where we’d started and did it all again.

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The first time we tried to keep reasonably dry and kept out of the deeper water, which gave us a chance to have a bit of a reccy first and also meant that nobody got too cold too quickly. The second time we took the opposite approach and swam wherever we could.

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We found a couple places where we could jump in, much to B’s delight, and also a powerful cascade which made a brilliant waterslide, although I was a bit disappointed that the kids all seemed to be able to get down without getting dunked in the pool at the bottom, a feat which I failed to replicate.

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After a few days without rain, the water was much warmer than it had been in the River Esk a week before. The weather helped too. It would be interesting to go back after a longer dry spell to have a go at the Cleft Ghyll section and beyond. Anyway, the kids are definitely sold on the idea of messing about in streams.

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