All Good Things

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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.

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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…

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To The Cove itself…

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And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

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Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

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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.

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

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Carline Thistle.

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

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As you can probably tell.

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

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An Inman Oak.

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Rosehips.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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I hope it becomes a regular thing.

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

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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…

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All Good Things

Imagine Dragonflies

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

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Hawes Water.

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Cormorant.

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Speckled White.

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Common Darter.

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Eyebright.

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Common Darter.

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Bryony.

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Hart’s-tongue Fern.

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Lily-of-the-Valley.

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Yew.

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Another Speckled Wood.

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Sloes.

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Haw’s.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Common Darter.

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Elderberries (I think).

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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.

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Blackberries.

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Mushroom.

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Forage!

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More mushrooms.

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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.

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Gait Barrows.

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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.

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Hawes Water.

Home Alone

Yummy Apple Pie

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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…

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

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There was a deal of mud to contend with…

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But everyone seemed to be happy…

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

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Trepidation.

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Consternation.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Hoverfly, possibly Helophilus pendulus, on an Alder leaf.

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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.

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Female Common Darter.

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Speckled Wood.

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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.

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Wild Carrot, the ancestor of all domestic carrots.

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

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More hoverflies on what I assume are Michaelmas Daisies.

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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…

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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.

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Common Toadflax.

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

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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.

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Abundant Haws.

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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.

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Male Common Darter.

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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.

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Male Common Darter.

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Male Common Darter.

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Alder cones.

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Male Common Darter.

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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.

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Drone fly, or something similar, on Evening Primrose.

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Guelder Rose berries.

Middleton Nature Reserve

Brew with a View Too.

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Hagg Wood.

The very next evening, after my Arnside Knott excursion, I was out a bit earlier and able to enjoy the sunshine a little more, although the breeze was cool.

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Wilding apples.

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Hedgerow lichen.

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Sloes.

I was intending to brew-up and watch the sunset again, but I was also intent on collecting some sloes. I had gardening gloves with me, the thorns on Blackthorn are vicious, but, in the end, didn’t use the gloves, finding that a bit of circumspection was sufficient to protect my hands.

The hedgerow had been cut-back hard, earlier this year, and the hard, tart ‘bullies’ were disappointingly sparse.

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Haws.

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Hips.

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More wilding apples – I tried one of these, it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

Fortunately, the Blackthorn bushes on Sharp’s Lot, National Trust land, had been left well alone and I fairly quickly filled my cup. They’re in the freezer now, I need to weigh them and decide whether I have enough for the Sloe Gin I intend to make (or maybe Sloe Vodka – I’m not find of Gin).

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TBH is a bit bemused, “But you don’t even like Sloe Gin!”

Which isn’t quite true, but she does have a point: I don’t really drink spirits these days. In truth, I’m a bit puzzled by my own enthusiasm; I think it’s maybe got more to do with the making than the drinking. Well, we’ll see.

My walk brought me to Jack Scout, but a little too late really: the sun hadn’t set, but it had dropped behind a band of cloud on the western horizon. Nevertheless, I fired up the stove again…

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…and watched the light fade behind the clouds whilst I drank my char.

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Brew with a View Too.

Gait Barrows Again

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Female Common Darter.

A very pleasant wander around Gait Barrows which happened almost a month ago now – how the summer has flown by! It was memorable for the large number of dragonflies I saw – although very few would pose for photos – and, rather sadly, for the dead Fox cub I came across.

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Male Migrant Hawker.

As I manoeuvred to find a good position from which take the photograph above, I almost trod on this large Frog…

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Bumblebee on Betony.

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Speckled Wood.

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The ‘mystery plant’ – flowers still not open, but showing more colour – I need to go back to check on their progress.

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Broad-leaved Helleborine.

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Hoverflies on Hemp Agrimony.

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Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

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Wall-rue (I think), a fern.

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Knapweed and St. John’s Wort.

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Grasshoppers have often been evident from their singing on local walks, but I haven’t always seen them, or my photos haven’t come out well when I have.

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Although this doesn’t have the distinctive shieldbug shape, I think that this is a fourth instar of the Common Green Shieldbug – an instar being one of the developmental stages of a nymph. This website is very helpful.

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Hoverfly.

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On a previous walk I’d been thinking that Hemp Agrimony, which is very common at Gait Barrows, was a disappointing plant in as much as it’s large flower-heads didn’t seem to be attracting much insect life, but that seems to have been a false impression, because on this occasion quite the opposite was true.

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Buff Footman (I think), a moth.

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Another Common Green Shieldbug nymph – perhaps the final instar.

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The verges of one particular overgrown hedgerow at Gait Barrows are always busy with Rabbits, which usually scatter as I approach, but two of them played chicken with me – not really seeming very concerned and only hopping on a little each time I got closer.

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Time was marching on and I was keen to head for home, but I diverted slightly up the track towards Trowbarrow because I knew that I would find more Broad-leaved Helleborines there. These were much taller and more vigorous than the single plant I had seen earlier.

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Curiously, there was a wasp feeding on the flowers, as there had been on the first one I saw. I noticed earlier this year that wasps seem to like Figwort, perhaps the same is true Helleborines.

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Figwort and Helleborine both have small, tubular flowers – it may be the case that wasps are well adapted to take advantage of this particular niche – different insects definitely favour different kinds of flowers.

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Gait Barrows Again