Getting About

P1320655

These photos are from another end of September autumnal walk. It was the Sunday after my longish walk in the Bowland Hills, but the weather was much nicer and I was joined, at least initially, by TBH and Little S. (Who is, of course, now much taller than me).

20200927_131613

We took our usual preferred route around the coast to Arnside. I think this might have been the weekend when this usually quiet route was thronged with people, presumably all enjoying the slight relaxation in the lockdown restrictions.

20200927_133146
20200927_140649

I have to confess to being a little jealous of the three people sailing small dinghies on the Kent estuary. It looked like great fun. I’ve done a bit of dinghy sailing over the years and have always enjoyed it. TBH and I are contemplating joining Arnside Sailing Club, although I suspect she is most enthused by the fact that they own a few stand-up paddle-boards.

After an alfresco lunch in Arnside, TBH and Little S left me for a direct route home, but, it being a beautiful afternoon, I was keen to prolong the walk.

P1320657
A distant Ingleborough from the south side of the Knott.
P1320658
Looking South, Eaves Wood, Warton Crag and Ward’s Stone, where I’d been the day before.
P1320659
Looking out to The Bay.
P1320661
The Fells of the Lake District from near the Toposcope.
P1320662
Looking South down the coast from Heathwaite – notice the edge of the firm sand and the channel beside it.
20200927_164426
Pano Looking South.
P1320673
Red Admiral on Buddleia.

The hedge on the coastal side of the caravan park at Far Arnside was full of Buddleia and Bindweed and they, in turn, were festooned with bees and butterflies, which kept me distracted for quite a while. Since I was on my own, there was nobody to moan about my entering ‘Butterfly Mode’.

P1320676
P1320684
P1320677
P1320681
P1320690
P1320694
P1320698
Burdock I think.
P1320699
P1320708

The sands had looked so attractive from the Knott that I decided to drop down that way and follow the edge of the firm sand to Knowe Point.

20200927_173203
P1320711

Overhead, two people were flying powered paragliders. Apparently, this arrangement is called a paramotor. Makes sense I suppose. It certainly looked exhilarating.

P1320716

I was intrigued by the potential of this mode of transport and, as is often the case, found myself lost down a rabbit-hole of Youtube videos. I have to say that low-level flying looked like terrific fun. I’m not much good with heights though, and this feat of daring gives me sweaty palms even when I think about it.

20200927_174028
Looking back to Arnside Knott and Heathwaite.

Meanwhile, at work, a new colleague has been talking about her husband’s love of land yachting, which looks more up my street and which these great expanses would no doubt be ideal for. The problem, of course, with paramotors, land yachts and sailing dinghies, is that they all require kit and cost money. With Shanks’ Pony you can get away with a cheap cag and a pair of shoes which is why I think it’s always destined to be my favourite way of getting about (although, of course, some people do seem to rather obsess over their endless gallimaufry of expensive gear).

Getting About

September Colour.

P1320569
Evening Primrose.

The day after my Arnside Knott walk was another cracker. I was out three times, twice around home and also for a short stroll in Kirkby Lonsdale whilst B was at rugby training.

P1320570
Creeping Thistle.

I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on my home patch after the relative dearth beneath the trees in the Tarn Gorge. I took a huge number of photos, of which just a small selection have been chosen for this post.

P1320572
Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
P1320579
Nipplewort.

Nipplewort is a tall straggly weed, without, at first glance, a great deal to offer, but the small flowers are well worth a closer look.

P1320600
Grange from the Cove.
20200920_114953
River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122337
Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122417
St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
P1320605
Hoverfly.
P1320609
Common Darter.
P1320614
P1320616
Guelder Rose berries.
P1320620
Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
P1320623
P1320626
P1320627
P1320633
Yet another Common Darter.
P1320637
More Guelder Rose berries.
20200924_173452
A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

Harlequins, Angelica and Ragwort Honey.

P1300870
Mid-July brought clouds and rain.

In an effort to start catching-up, I’ve shoved photos from at least three different walks into this post.

P1300874
A mature Roe Deer buck in the fields close to home.
P1300879
Wildflowers in Clarke’s Lot.
P1300878
Lady’s Bedstraw.

If you click on the photo and zoom in to enlarge on flickr, you will see that, unbeknown to me when I took the photo, two of the flower heads are home to ladybird larvae, of which more later in this post.

P1300880
Fox and Cubs.
P1300884
Tutsan berries.
P1300885
Mullein.
P1300888
Feverfew.
P1300889
P1300892
P1300904
Hoverfly on Marsh Thistles.
P1300911
Guelder Rose Berries.
P1300914
A Carpet Moth – possibly Wood Carpet.
P1300916
Hogweed busy with Soldier Beetles.
P1300917
P1300918
Meadow Sweet.
P1300920
Broad-leaved Helleborine?

I was very chuffed to spot this rather small, straggly Helleborine – at least, that’s what I think it is – by the path into Eaves Wood from the Jubilee Wood car-park, because although I know of a spot where Broad-leaved Helleborines grow every year, by the track into Trowbarrow Quarry, I’ve never seen one growing in Eaves Wood before.

P1300923
Common Blue-sowthistle.
P1300927
Common Blue-sowthistle leaf.
P1300935
Dewberry.

Dewberries are fantastic, smaller, juicier and generally earlier than blackberries, every walk at this time offered an opportunity at some point to sample a few.

P1300941
Broad-leaved Helleborine.

These are some of the afore-mentioned Helleborines, not quite in flower at this point, in fact I missed them this summer altogether.

P1300946
P1300947
Lady’s-slipper Orchid leaves.

I missed the Lady’s-slipper Orchids too. Some leaves appeared belatedly, after the rains returned, long after they would usually have flowered. I don’t know whether they did eventually flower or not.

P1300949
Dark-red Helleborine?

And I kept checking on the few suspected Dark Red Helleborines I’d found at Gait Barrows, but they seemed reluctant to flower too.

P1300951
The pink gills of a fresh Field Mushroom.

As well as the Dewberries, I continued to enjoy the odd savoury mushroom snack.

P1300952
P1300958
Broad-leaved Helleborine by Hawes Water.
P1300969
Wild Angelica with ladybirds.
P1300972
Wild Angelica.
P1300976
Wild Angelica.
P1300985
Yellow Brain Fungus.
P1300988
Dryad’s Saddle.
P1300990
A slime mould?

I thought that this might be Yellow Slime Mold, otherwise know as Scrambled Egg Slime or, rather unpleasantly, Dog Vomit Slime, but I’m not really sure.

P1300992
P1300995
White-lipped Snail.
P1310002
Comma butterfly.
P1310003
Red Campion.
P1310028
False Goat’s Beard? A garden escapee.
P1310029
Inkcaps.
P1310036
Harebells.
P1310058
A profusion of Ragwort at Myer’s Allotment.
P1310045
Honey-bee on Ragwort.

Spying this Honey-bee on Ragwort flowers, I was wondering whether honey containing pollen from a highly poisonous plant might, in turn, be toxic. Then I began to wonder about the many insects, especially bees, which were feeding on the Ragwort: are they, like the Cinnabar Caterpillars, impervious to the alkaloids in the Ragwort.

It seemed perhaps not; although there were many apparently healthy insects on the flowers, now that I started to look, I could also many more which had sunk down between the blooms. Some were evidently dead…

P1310071
A Ragwort victim?

Whilst others were still moving, but only slowly and in an apparently drugged, drowsy way.

P1310053
A drowsy hoverfly.

If the Ragwort is dangerous to insects it seems surprising that they haven’t evolved an instinct to stay away from it.

P1310051
Mullein.
P1310067
Yellow Rattle.
P1310072
P1310074
Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
P1310084
Gatekeeper.
P1310089
Mixed wildflowers at Myer’s Allotment.
P1310091
Bindweed.
P1310098
A Harlequin ladybird emerging from its pupae.

The leaves of single sapling by the roadside were home to several Harlequin Ladybirds in various stages of their lifecycle. Unfortunately, the leaves were swaying in a fairly heavy breeze, so I struggled to get sharp images.

P1310100
Discarded pupae?
P1310104
Another emerging Harlequin.
P1310108
Harlequin larvae.

Fascinating to see, but the Harlequin is an invasive species from Asia, so worrying for the health of our native ladybirds.

P1310112
Rosebay Willowherb.
P1310117
Greater Plantain.
P1310118
Burdock.
P1310121
Hogweed.
P1310127
Small Skipper.
P1310132
Red Admiral.
P1310138
Melilot.
P1310135
Bee on Melilot.
Harlequins, Angelica and Ragwort Honey.

Bonanza

P1300439
Lambert’s Meadow

Another walk during which I took more than two hundred photos. This was a longer walk than the last one I posted about, taking in Lambert’s Meadow and parts of Gait Barrows. It was still only around five miles, which, in ‘butterfly mode’ kept me occupied for three hours.

P1300438
Yellow composites – can’t identify them, but they look good.
P1300413
Another Seven-spot Ladybird on a Spear Thistle.
P1300416
Meadow Brown
P1300428
White-lipped Snail and a Copse Snail.

I was looking at something else altogether, when I noticed that a patch of nettles on the perimeter of lambert’s Meadow were surprisingly busy with snails.

Whilst most snails in the UK live for only a year or two, apparently Copse Snails can live for up to seventeen, which seems pretty extraordinary.

P1300427
Another White-lipped Snail?
P1300429
White-lipped Snail.
P1300431
Another Copse Snail?
P1300432
Common Spotted-orchid.
P1300444
Meadow Brown.
P1300449
Ringlet.
P1300447
Meadow Brown.

There were some Comma butterflies about too, but they were more elusive and my photos didn’t come out too well.

P1300450
A St. John’s Wort – possibly Pale St. John’s Wort.
P1300452
Busy Marsh Thistle.
P1300453
A faded Bumblebee?

I suspect that this Bumblebee was once partly yellow, but has faded with age. A bit like my powers of recall.

P1300456
Male Large Skipper.
P1300468
Female Brown Hawker.

Lambert’s Meadow was superb this summer. It felt like every visit brought something new to see. I can’t remember ever having seen a Brown Hawker before, so was excited to see this one. In flight it looked surprisingly red.

Later I saw another…

P1300510
Brown Hawker.

…this time high on a tree trunk. I’ve read that they usually hunt in the canopy, so I was very lucky to get so close to the first that I saw. The fact that they generally haunt the treetops probably explains why I haven’t spotted one before.

I love the way the light is passing through dragonfly’s wings and casting those strange shadows on the tree trunk.

P1300482
Guelder Rose berries.
P1300480
Male Small Skipper.
P1300494
Great Willowherb

As I made my way slowly around the meadow, I noticed that a group of four walkers had stopped by some tall vegetation, mostly Figwort and Great Willowherb, at the edge of the field and were enthusiastically brandishing their phones to take pictures of something in amongst the plants. I had a fair idea what they might have seen.

P1300488
Female Broad-bodied Chaser
P1300497
Female Broad-bodied Chaser.
P1300525
Male Broad-bodied Chaser.

There were a number of Broad-bodied Chasers there and, after the walkers had moved on, I took my own turn to marvel at their colours and snap lots of pictures. They’re surprisingly sanguine about you getting close to them with a camera.

P1300506
Common Knapweed.
P1300509
Male Small Skipper
P1300530
A Sawfly – I think! On a Yarrow flowerhead.

This Sawfly was another first for me. I’ve spent a while trying to identify which species it belongs to, but have reluctantly admitted defeat. Depending on which source you believe, there are 400 to 500 different species of sawfly in Britain. They belong to the same order as bees, wasps and ants. If you’re wondering about the name, apparently female sawflies have a saw-like ovipositor with which they cut plants to create somewhere to lay their eggs.

P1300537
Soldier Beetle on Ragwort.

There were Soldier Beetles everywhere, doing what Soldier Beetles do in the middle of summer. This one was highly unusual, because it was alone.

P1300540
Meadow near Challan Hall.
P1300544
Creeping Thistle.

Creeping Thistle is easy to distinguish from other thistles because of its mauve flowers. The fields near Challan Hall had several large patches dominated by it.

P1300548
Red-tailed Bumblebee on Spear Thistle.
P1300553
Ladies Bed-straw.
P1300554
Swallow.
P1300555
Burdock.
P1300566
Three-spined Stickleback.
Three-spined Stickleback.
P1300569
Leech.

I was watching a pair of Wrens which had a nest very close to the bridge over the stream which flows from Little Haweswater to Haweswater, and also watching the sticklebacks in the stream itself, when I noticed a strange black twig floating downstream. But then the ‘twig’ began to undulate and apparently alternately stretch and contract and move against the flow of the water. Soon I realised that there were several black, worm-like creatures in the water. Leeches. The UK has several species of leech, although many are very small, which narrows down what these might have been. I suspect that they are not Medicinal Leeches – the kind which might suck your blood, but the truth is I don’t know one way or the other.

P1300612
Mushroom.

A wet spell after a long dry spell always seems to provoke a bumper crop of Field Mushrooms. This summer that happened much earlier than in 2018, when the fields were briefly full of mushrooms, and in not quite the same profusion, but for a few days every walk was enlivened by a few fungal snacks.

P1300590
More mature mushroom.

I only eat the smaller mushrooms raw, before the cup has opened and whilst the gills are still pink. The bigger examples are very tasty fried and served on toast, but they need to be examined at home for any lurking, unwanted, extra sources of protein.

P1300598
Gait Barrows Meadow.
P1300599
Buzzard.
P1300600
Self-heal.
P1300603
Common Centuary

Common Centuary was growing all over the Gait Barrows meadows in a way I’ve never noticed before. I made numerous return visits, hoping to catch the flowers open, but unfortunately never saw them that way

P1300606
Another Gait Barrows view.
P1300619
A native allium – Wild Onion?

I think that this is Wild Onion, also known as Crow garlic. A lengthy section of the hedge-bottom along Moss Lane was full of it. These odd looking things are bulbils – which is how the plant spreads. Whilst trying to identify this plant, I came across photos of another native allium – Sand Leek – growing on the coast near Arnside. It’s very striking, but I’ve never spotted it. A target for next summer.

Bonanza

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

P1250882

A grey day in November. Loyal readers may recognise this view, as I opened a post with it once before. It’s taken from a footbridge over Rusland Pool. On that occasion the view was obscured by mist, I was heading up onto the hill on the right, and I would later get a proper drubbing in an absolute downpour. The best that can be said for the weather this day is that at least it was better than it had been for that previous visit. In fact, although it looked ready to rain all day, I only had to endure a little drizzle.

By the time I’d taken the photo above, I’d already come up and over the wooded ridge between the Rusland Valley and Newby Bridge, where I was parked.

When does a stream become a river? I followed the Rusland downstream, eventually reaching it’s confluence with the River Leven. Rusland Pool is so small it seems appropriate to call it a stream, but on the other hand it does drain an entire valley.

P1250887

The confluence of Rusland Pool and the River Leven.

This used to be a favourite spot of mine, it’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s odd that I haven’t visited for many years.

P1250891

This was a quiet walk, though I did meet other walkers from time to time. I also had to put up with the continual popping of shotguns from the ‘sportsmen’ who were hunting alarmingly close to where I was walking.

P1250892

P1250895

P1250894

River Leven.

This was mid-November, and there was actually quite a bit of autumn colour in the trees still, but in the gloom, it hasn’t come out well in photos. The berries have fared better…

P1250897

…I think that these are Spindle berries.

I’ve long wanted to have a proper gander at Roudsea Wood. The sign says that you need a permit. There’s a building on the reserve, and I could hear someone inside, so I knocked on the door to ask for a permit, but they didn’t respond. So I took that as tacit permission.

P1250900

P1250903

P1250910

P1250911

P1250915

In the background of this photo…

P1250916

…is the Ellerside Ridge, where I’d walked the autumn before.

P1250921

Haws.

This Holly seemed unusually endowed with berries…

P1250925

P1250923

P1250926

P1250928

Bryony.

I’m always on the lookout for likely looking swimming spots; here on the banks of the Leven someone has constructed their own little diving board …

P1250929

There’s a small ladder leaning against a likely looking overhanging branch on the far bank too.

P1250932

This is the bridge at Low Wood. It’s a Grade II listed building:

“Bridge. C18 or early C19. Stone rubble. 3 elliptical arches with 2 round cutwaters to each side, which are roughcast, with caps. Parapet has plain coping. Probably associated with Low Wood ironworks, the site later taken over for gunpowder works, of which the Clock Tower works (q.v.) remain.”

from the Historic England website.

Low Wood is a sleepy little hamlet. I sat on a bench and dug out my stove to make a brew. It had warmed up a little, was rather pleasant in fact.

Then suddenly…

20191116_130212

…a host of kayakers appeared, lugging their kayaks back to their cars. I’ve paddled an inflatable canoe down part of the Leven from Windermere, but not the section downstream from Newby Bridge, which I strongly suspect would be a bit too exciting for an inflatable.

I think this…

20191116_130325

…must be the Clock Tower Works referred to above.

“Grade II* A mid-C19 saltpetre refinery associated with Lowwood Gunpowder Works and remains of an earlier C18 ironworks.”

from the Historic England website.

20191116_132312

Backbarrow.

20191116_133408

Another view of Backbarrow. Coniston Old Man, in the background, has a few patches of snow on it.

Back at Newby Bridge, I took some photos of the bridge…

20191116_141438

…hence fulfilling a promise I made here. This is another listed Grade II*:

Bridge over river Leven. Date uncertain, repaired in C17. Stone rubble with limestone coping. Long narrow bridge with 5 segmental arches stepped up to centre, triangular cutwaters between rise to form refuges to both sides.

from the Historic England website.

When I wrote about this bridge before, I said that it had been built in 1651, but Historic England’s ‘repaired in C17’ suggests that it may be even older than that.

P1250935

Before I drove home, I sat on a bench overlooking a weir on the Leven and made one final brew.

P1250934

A highly enjoyable stroll, despite the grey skies.

Screenshot 2020-04-08 at 08.26.21

And that, folks, will be my one and only post about last November. What did I do for the rest of the month? Search me!

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

All Good Things

P1220533

All good things must come to an end, or so they say. And so: to the last weekend of our holiday. Actually, these photos were all taken on the Friday. The Saturday was rather damp. I still got out for a walk and took lots of photos of a hugely varied selection of fungi, but I must have only had my phone with me and the photos are all hopelessly blurred. On the Sunday, I was out so late that the few photos I took were almost completely dark, but for a thin line of light along the western horizon.

P1220482

Red Admiral.

On the Friday then, I was out in the garden, drawn out by the butterflies on the Buddleia. A subsequent walk took me past this old postbox on Cove Road…

P1220486

To The Cove itself…

P1220487

And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

P1220488

Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

P1220489

These are tiny plants, extremely easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted a couple your eye seems to tune in, and pretty soon you’re realising that there are loads dotted about. In ‘Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ David Lang says that Autumn Lady’s-tresses are mainly distributed in the southern half of England, so we must be lucky to have them on The Lots and at Jack Scout.

P1220492

The Latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, the second part of which presumably refers to the way that the flowers spiral around the stem.

P1220491

Carline Thistle.

P1220495

Maybe not the most promising flower – a brown thistle, but I’m very fond of them.

P1220496

As you can probably tell.

P1220499

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

P1220501

An Inman Oak.

P1220502

Rosehips.

Back in the garden, the seedheads on the Staghorn Sumach caught my eye…

P1220505

Apparently this can be used as a seasoning, and something similar is used in the Middle East – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try it yet.

Earlier in the summer we’d seen a lactating Roe Deer hind on our patio and I wondered if she had hidden a fawn, or fawns, nearby.

P1220511

Then we had a few visits from a hind, possibly the same one, with two fawns in tow. That’s the hind at the top of the post.

P1220513

The fawns’ white spots were beginning to disappear, but were still visible.

P1220526

They came right up under the kitchen windows. I was particularly pleased to catch the mother whilst she was in the sun, because that way you can see the wonderful colour of their summer coats.

P1220536

They’ve been back since, or at least a similar family have, but now have duller, winter fur and the fawns have completely lost their spots.

image

I took this photo, as I often do, to remind me to go to the advertised talk. Which, a couple of weeks later, I duly did. Very good it was too.

I’ve seen Brian Yorke talk before. He’s very knowledgable and funny to boot. Unless you live locally, you might not have the chance to to catch up with one of his talks on flowers or ferns or bird migration, but he does have an excellent website where you can keep up with his latest finds and quirky drawings.

Anyway, back to the Friday: in the evening, we met with some friends for a beach bonfire, a chinwag and a few convivial drinks…

P1220544

I think that it was our good friend G who suggested the event.

P1220543

I hope it becomes a regular thing.

P1220550

B seemed to enjoy hunting for driftwood logs to sit on and/or burn.

P1220553

Sitting around a fire on a beach inevitably has me thinking back nostalgically to happy weekends on the Welsh coast a long time ago, with a different group of friends.

Finally, one last image of a Roe Deer, this time one of the young ones, as it passed through a sunny spot beneath our kitchen window…

P1220539

All Good Things

Imagine Dragonflies

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – Red Bridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

P1220410

Hawes Water.

P1220412

Cormorant.

P1220416

Speckled White.

P1220417

Common Darter.

P1220419

Eyebright.

P1220433

Common Darter.

P1220434

Bryony.

P1220442

Hart’s-tongue Fern.

P1220446

Lily-of-the-Valley.

P1220451

Yew.

P1220471

Another Speckled Wood.

P1220474

Sloes.

P1220476

Haw’s.

P1220479

Tawny Mining Bee (?) on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

P1220458

Migrant Hawker.

A lazy, local walk at the tail end of the summer holidays when the hot, sunny conditions recalled the beautiful weather from earlier in the year. Once again, there were huge numbers of Darters about and lots of Speckled Wood butterflies and I took a ridiculous number of photos of both. There were lots of larger dragonflies about too, but, frustratingly, they wouldn’t pose for photos. On several occasions I almost caught one during a brief pause, perched on bracken or a branch, but, somehow or other, always contrived to miss the moment. I’d almost become resigned to failure, when this beauty flew over my shoulder and landed high on a tree ahead of me. I got one chance and then it flew again. But it made my day.

Imagine Dragonflies

Home Alone

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – The Row – Bottoms Lane – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Shore – The Cove.

P1210601

Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

When we returned from France, for the rest of the family three weeks under canvas stretched into four weeks. After just one night at home and a frenzy of laundry and repacking they were all camping again with their respective guiding and scouting units – the DBs with the Scouts, TBH as leader of the local Guides and A with the Explorer Scouts. They were all on the same field though, at the Red Rose international camp (I’m not sure if these things are still called jamborees?). Although there were scouts and guides from around the world at the camp, for us it was very local, just a few miles down the road at the Westmorland County Show-ground near Crooklands, which was fortunate, since in the hasty repacking many items had been forgotten.

P1210613

A (very hairy) Hoverfly.

That left me at home ‘on me tod’. Although these photographs show lovely blue skies and sunshine, the weather that week was generally atrocious and it’s a testament to the the organisers and our local leaders that the kids all had a wonderful time on their very damp camp.

P1210622

Limestone pavement at Gait Barrows.

Left to my own devices, I naturally tried to get out for walks as often as possible and, with the weather the way it was, and all the driving I’d recently done, I opted to stay close to home when I did go out.

P1210626

Orpine.

In fact, since the end of the summer and through the autumn my walks have mainly been local – I’ve been beating the bounds quite a bit and have lots of walks to catch up on, with lots of photos of all the old familiar things – local views, flowers, butterflies, leaves, trees, rocks, bugs etc. You have been warned!

P1210628

Devil’s-bit Scabious.

This is the the tall plant which caused my much confusion last year. The flower-heads seem to stay closed like this for a very long time before opening and revealing the more familiar scabious form.

P1210634

Common Darter.

P1210638

P1210636

Elderberries (I think).

P1210640

Sloes.

This being late summer, there were berries everywhere. Mostly they weren’t ripe yet, but fortunately the blackberries were. This was the first of many blackberry fuelled walks.

P1210641

Blackberries.

P1210648

Mushroom.

P1210649

Forage!

P1210651

More mushrooms.

P1210657

Tea!

This has been a bumper year for autumn fungi, which started with an abundance of field mushrooms. I remember something similar happening after the long, hot, dry summers of 1975 and 1976. And going out with my Mum foraging for mushrooms. Although, since I almost certainly didn’t eat mushrooms then, being as fussy a child as my own kids are now, I wonder if I’ve made this up. Mum?

Anyway, fried in plenty of butter, these mushrooms were delicious. I also like to eat the small ones raw, just after picking them. There’s no taste quite like it.

P1210658

Gait Barrows.

P1210668

Red-tailed Cuckoo Bumblebee (perhaps), on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

Cuckoo Bumblebees don’t collect pollen for their larvae, but instead take over the nests of their host bumblebees, in this case Red-tailed Bumblebees. Although I am, as ever, tentative with my identification, what makes me think that this is a cuckoo bee are the lack of pollen baskets and the very hairy legs, both of which are apparently tell-tales. This species is one of many insects which has been confined to the south of Britain, but is now spreading northwards with the changing climate.

P1210671

Hawes Water.

Home Alone

Yummy Apple Pie

IMG_2053

Our friends J, E and C came to visit for a weekend. It rained. That can happen of course, especially here in the North Wet of England. We decided to enjoy ourselves anyway. On the Saturday we walked over to the pie shop in Arnside for a late lunch. I’m not sure that anybody actually sampled the yummy apple pie, but I think everybody enjoyed what they did have. The apparent small hedgehog in the front of the photo above is, in fact, a large Scotch Egg. I had one of those for my lunch, with some salad. It was both the biggest and the tastiest Scotch Egg I’ve ever had.

TBH had managed to double book herself that day and was also supposed to be out for her monthly walk with another friend, Dr R. That was a problem easily solved though: we killed two birds with one stone and Dr R joined us for our pie shop outing.

The weather was, as I say, hardly optimal…

IMG_2047

And the views from the Knott were less extensive than usual….

IMG_2048

There was a deal of mud to contend with…

IMG_2037

But everyone seemed to be happy…

IMG_2041

B meanwhile, couldn’t wait for his pie and decided to investigate the flavour of Sloes, despite my warnings…

IMG_2046

Trepidation.

IMG_2043

Consternation.

IMG_2044

Tribulation. “It’s not Fry’s”.

If you’ve never tried a Sloe, well, to say that they are tart is something of an understatement. They’re also packed with tannic acid and do something strange to your tongue and the roof of your mouth – imagine taking the most over-brewed tea you’ve ever tasted, and then boiling off some of the liquid to make a more concentrated liquor, that just might have a similar effect.

If you haven’t tried Fry’s Chocolate Cream, or the ‘Five Boys’ bar, well you’re probably a bit late. Fry’s was bought by Cadbury’s, which got swallowed in turn, and now they’re produced in Poland apparently, and I imagine they aren’t quite what they once were. It was the first mass produced chocolate bar, according to Wikipedia at least.

This must have been a very successful advertising campaign. The image has certainly always stuck with me. The Harris family, who lived across the road from us when I was a boy, had this on the wall in their hall. I wonder if it was a print, or if, as I suspect, an original enamel advert. Dave Harris, the pater-familias, loved antiques. He collected earthenware jars and Codd bottles, which I think he unearthed himself, digging in likely spots with another neighbour, Charlie Tear.

TBH, incidentally, loves Fry’s Turkish delight, and usually gets some at Christmas, but since it doesn’t fit in with her new vegan regime, will have to make do with something else this year. Which gives me a great idea for a present – it’s a good job she rarely reads my witterings!

Anyway, I digress. I can’t recall what we did on the Sunday, but I didn’t take any photos, so I imagine that the weather was even less conducive to walking and that we mainly relaxed in our kitchen. It was a very relaxing weekend all round. It’s always good to see J and her daughters.

Yummy Apple Pie

Middleton Nature Reserve

P1160474

Migrant Hawker.

Being the continuing adventures of a taxi-driving Dad.

Last Saturday, B had a rugby match, playing hooker (he’s suitably bonkers) for his school team away at Morecambe High (where, many moons ago, I used to teach). Unlike some of his contemporaries, B doesn’t seem too concerned about whether his team win or lose, just so long as the result seems fair, and at the end of the game declared: “That was fun!”, despite his team having taken a bit of a hammering.

Afterwards, we dashed home, but, in my case, only for a quick turn around, as I took Little S to a nerf gun birthday party in – guess where – Morecambe. I realise that the rational thing to do would have been to take both boys to both events, but it seemed easier at the time to do it this way. With S dropped off, only a few minutes late for his war game, I had the best part of two hours to kill and decided to go hunting for one of the three Wildlife Trust reserves which I knew to be somewhere around Heysham. Idiotically, I hadn’t checked the exact locations in advance, so resorted to driving around, with more hope than confidence, until I spotted a likely looking car park and found that I had stumbled upon Middleton reserve.

P1160472

After a bite of lunch, and whilst walking around the reserve, I met a man who told me that he remembered when this was the site of a petrochemical plant. Now it has two large ponds and a mixture of meadows and scrub.

P1160471

Hoverfly, possibly Helophilus pendulus, on an Alder leaf.

P1160480

Fox and cubs.

This patch of waste ground maybe a tad unprepossessing at first glance, but look a little closer and there is a great deal to enjoy. I was very much put in mind of Richard Mabey’s marvellous book The Unofficial Countryside, which is about how nature, left to its own devices, can reclaim scraps of once industrialised land like this.

The sun was warm and there were no end of dragonflies about, although few of them would pose for a photo.

P1160485

Female Common Darter.

P1160486

Speckled Wood.

P1160494

Blackberries.

There were lots of flowers still in bloom and it was obvious that, had I had been here earlier, in the summer, there would have been even more to see.

P1160491

Wild Carrot, the ancestor of all domestic carrots.

P1160493

When the flowers turn into spiny seeds, the umbel curls in on itself.

P1160490

P1160499

More hoverflies on what I assume are Michaelmas Daisies.

P1160500

A willowherb?

I could hear the contact calls of small birds from all sides and, with lots of teasels and other tall seed-heads about, I wondered whether they might be Goldfinches. Eventually, they flew across the path ahead of me, then settled above me, on teasels growing on a high bank. Here’s some of them…

P1160511

The photo didn’t come out brilliantly and only a small part of the charm are here, but the flocks of Goldfinches which gather at this time of year are delightful, so I wanted to include the photo anyway.

P1160518

Common Toadflax.

P1160523

Mute swans – could they still be nesting in mid-September?

P1160525

There were plenty of half-hidden reminders of the areas past – the remnants of tarmac covered surfaces, these huge tyres, odd bits of buildings here and there, but they mostly seem to be slowly disappearing.

P1160527

Abundant Haws.

P1160528

P1160534

Crane Fly.

A blade of grass apparently dancing in a way completely contrary to the direction of the wind alerted me to this spider, which was busy constructing a web.

P1160540

P1160544

P1160551

Male Common Darter.

P1160559

As I came to the end of my walk and was running out of time before needing to head off to pick up Little S, I came to a really sheltered spot where, not only were there even more dragonflies, but, in addition, the Common Darters were sunning themselves in obvious spots, as seems to be their wont.

P1160562

Male Common Darter.

P1160563

Male Common Darter.

P1160568

Alder cones.

P1160572

Male Common Darter.

P1160574

Mating Common Darters. I’ve been confused in the past by the colour of females like this one, expecting the females to be yellow, but this pale blue colour is apparently typical of older females.

P1160576

Drone fly, or something similar, on Evening Primrose.

P1160579

Guelder Rose berries.

Middleton Nature Reserve