Nuthatches and Butterflies

P1280823

One route into Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve leaves Red Bridge Lane, crosses a small field and then the railway line and then you are into another field, but this one s part of the reserve. Cross that field and you come to a gate in a hedge beside which stands this big old Ash tree.

As I approached the tree, I could see, on the trunk, an adult Nuthatch passing food to a fledgling. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo, but then watched the pair for quite a while, taking lots of, mostly unsatisfactory, pictures.

P1280826

Both birds were on the move, but more so the adult which moved both faster and more widely around the tree. The youngster seemed to be foraging for itself, whilst also emitting high-pitched squeals to encourage the parent to keep it supplied with tasty grubs. Their meetings were so brief that this is the only one I captured, and even then the exchange of food had already happened here.

P1280851

This is the juvenile. I’m sure of that fact, but can’t really put my finger on why I’m so confident. I suppose, like a lot of juveniles, it’s a little smaller and dumpier, its colours slightly duller. I think the eye-stripe is shorter and not quite so bold. Looking for some confirmation in my bird books, I came across a distribution map, from a book published in 1988, which shows Nuthatches as absent from this area and only resident further south. I’m quite surprised by that, because when I moved to this area, just a few years after that publication date, one of the first things that struck me was how often I spotted Nuthatches, a bird which, until then, I had only seen relatively infrequently. I see that the RSPB website has a map which shows that they have subsequently extended their range into southern Scotland.

There was a Starling flitting in and out of the tree too and a Kestrel hovering above the field beyond.

Once I was into the woods near Hawes Water I watched several more Nuthatches. All adult birds I think, but all equally busy and perhaps seeking food for nestlings or fledglings too. I took lots more photos, but in the woods there was even more shade than there had been under the Ash and they’re all slightly blurred.

P1280877

Common Blue Damselfly

P1280881

P1280882

The flowers of Common Gromwell are hardly showy, but they have succeeded in attracting this very dark bee…

P1280883

…at least it’s a bee, but it’s colouring doesn’t quite seem to match any Bumblebee, so I’m a bit puzzled. Any ideas?

P1280890

A crow by Hawes Water.

P1280891

In the meadow beyond Hawes Water I was very pleased to spot a single Northern Marsh-orchid.

P1280893

Hawes Water.

P1280895

I assume that this is a day-flying moth. There were loads of them in the meadow, obvious in flight, but then apparently disappearing. I realised that they were folding their wings and hugging grass stems and were then very difficult to spot. I have two photos of this specimen and both seem to show that its head is a tiny hairy outside broadcast microphone, which seems a bit unlikely.

P1280897

There are huge warrens and large numbers of rabbits at Gait Barrows. Every now and again, you see a black rabbit in amongst the crowds; a genetic remnant of an escaped domestic pet?

P1280911

I think that this is a female Northern Damselfly, and am now wondering if the ‘Red-eyed’ damselflies I posted pictures of recently were the same. Maybe.

P1280931

With more certainty, this is a Northern Brown Argus. I’ve pored over this guide, and for once, the ocelli seem to exactly match, making me feel more confident than usual.

Anyway, what ever species it is it looked pretty cool with its wings closed and even better…

P1280919

…with them open. In most guides these are brown and orange butterflies; I suspect that the rich variety of colours on display here is due to the deterioration of the scales on the wings, but, truth be told, I don’t really know.

P1280951

There were several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries around. Two in particular kept me entertained for quite some time.

P1280956

One soon decided to settle down and tried out a few likely looking perches, without moving very far.

P1280969

The other was flitting about far more, now close by…

P1280976

…then ranging a bit further, then back again. I thought the first had chosen a final spot, although, looking again, you can see that it’s feeding here…

P1280982

…not that I can see a flower. Maybe drinking?

The second SPBF was still haring about…

P1280990

Every now and again it would ‘bounce’ the settled butterfly, which at first would provoke a brief flight, then progressively less energetic wing-flapping until almost no response followed; just a short of dismissive shrug.

P1280992

Eventually, the second butterfly found a perch and stopped moving too. I’ve watched a SPBF do this in the late afternoon once before. I didn’t realise that was so long ago!

P1290021

Late afternoon light on Gait Barrows limestone pavement.

P1290022

Distant Lakeland peaks on the horizon.

20200601_203733

A late finish.

Nuthatches and Butterflies

The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

P1280806

Collared Dove on Cove Road.

20200530_164830

Back on the sands – you can see the grey ‘skin’ which starts to develop on the sand after several hot days with low tides.

20200530_170148

There were people paddling in the channel. Since then B and his friends have started visiting this part of the Bay on hot days for a swim – the water is barely deep enough I gather, but they are still very glad of it.

20200530_170156

In the distance – quite hard to pick out – a group spanning at least three generations had a number of long fishing poles propped up on tripods. B and his mates have also tried fishing here. They caught nothing. Fishing with good friends and catching nothing sounds like the best kind of fishing to me, but I never really caught the fishing bug. We’ve since heard that there are Sea Bass to be had down near Jenny Brown’s at high tide. B assures me that he’s not after Sea Bass, he’s holding out for shark apparently!

20200530_171125

Morecambe Bay may be the most beautiful bay in Britain. Thanks to the tides, it drains more or less completely twice a day. You can be standing on sand that a short while before was under thirty feet of water and vice versa. It’s the vice versa that you have to worry about because the tide comes back in very quickly, not in a line like an advancing army, but in fingerlets and channels that can easily surround you and catch you by surprise. People sometimes go for walks, then belatedly notice that they are on a giant, but steadily shrinking sandbar.

Bill Bryson again. He doesn’t really do lukewarm – he either loves it or hates it. Most beautiful? That’s a bit of a stretch. Sandwood Bay springs to mind as a contender, but I am very fond of Morecambe Bay obviously.

I’ve finished ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ and enjoyed as I always seem to with his books.

20200530_171406

The channel had connected with the Kent and was now much further out from the shore.  Above you can see the now dry channel where it formerly ran.

After a couple of very thirsty walks, I’ve taken to carrying a rucksack on my longer local walks, so I can carry a drink. It’s also convenient to stow my camera away there too, which is all very well, until I want to capture a moment quickly. So these Brimstone butterflies…

20200530_172407

…which were disporting themselves on some Dame’s-violet had to be photographed with my phone. Not entirely satisfactory, but you can see the strong contrast between the buttery yellow male and the much paler female.

When I was wondering about whether or not the House Sparrows in our hedge would nest or not, I was completely forgetting the early morning racket we hear in our bedroom every summer. I’m not quite sure how I managed to forget that cacophony. Even though our house is pretty modern, in each corner of the roof there’s a tiny hole up under the eaves. At least two of them were occupied this year. This male…

P1280817

…is just pausing during a prolonged concerto of chirruping.

I’ve continued to make bread every couple of days, but not to take photographs. I made an exception for this one, because I hadn’t made a loaf like this before, a farl apparently…

P1280819

Turned out rather well and has become a bit of a favourite.

20200531_143902

TBH admiring the Ox-eye daisies on Cove Road.

20200531_144641

Another wander on the sands. This is the day after the previous walk.

20200531_145144

More sun-seekers. Our neighbour told me that many had driven up from Liverpool.

20200531_150317

Red Valerian outside the Silverdale Hotel.

20200531_172736

More amorous butterflies, once again photographed using my phone, this time Small Tortoiseshells.

The Kent Channel, A Farl, House Sparrows.

Home from Milnthorpe

P1280696

The River Bela and Whitbarrow Scar.

After our swim, A had to get home, I forget why now, but I was in no hurry, so asked TBH to drop me off in Milnthorpe, so that I could walk back. I followed the River Bela through Dallam Deer Park and out towards it’s confluence with the Kent. The path then picks up the embankment of the old Arnside branch line, rejoining the road near the ‘orchid triangle’ at Sandside, a small section of roadside verge renowned for the orchids which appear there, not that I could find any on this occasion.

P1280703

Common Blue butterfly on unopened Oxeye Daisy.

P1280704

Oxeye Daisy.

P1280705

Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

P1280706

When I photographed this flower, I didn’t photograph the leaves; I suspect that I was confident that I knew what I was looking at and, probably, that this was Common Bistort. However, the rounded flower looks more like Amphibious Bistort, a curious plant in that it has two different forms – one adapted to grow on land and the other which grows in water.

P1280712

After a lengthy period of dereliction, the Quarry Warehouse was restored as offices several years ago. It stands next to an enormous double limekiln and I wondered whether its presence here was due to the Furness railway line which came right past, but apparently it substantially predates the railway line…

The earliest reference to the warehouse is in a document from 1778 in the form of a lease for 99 years from Daniel Wilson to John Wakefield of Kendal, a shearmandyer. The document is for the lease of a warehouse at Sandside for ‘£5 15s and 10d yearly’. John Wakefield was listed in Bailey’s Northern Directory (1781) as a merchant and manufacturer, and again in 1790 ‘Wakefield, John and Sons’ were still listed as merchants in Milnthorpe.

Source

It’s amazing what a little lazy internet research can throw up isn’t it? I was intrigued by the word ‘shearmandyer’: another search led to lots of references to former residents of Kendal, so perhaps it was a very local term. I presume it refers to someone involved in the wool trade. John Wakefield has a short wikipedia entry. He was quite the entrepreneur: he owned a cotton mill in Burneside, a brewery in Kendal, set-up a bank, invested in a turnpike and owned five ships trading between Liverpool and the West Indies, taking Kendal cotton out and returning with sugar. Strange to think that the cotton was almost returning to where it had presumably come from. He also ran the Gatebeck Gunpowder Mill near Endmoor, for which he was censured at a meeting of his fellow Kendal Quakers.

Milnthorpe itself was once a port, which seems very unlikely now, but the building of the railway viaduct significantly changed the estuary. The Quarry Warehouse apparently once had its own wharf.

Anyway, back to my walk, I’d come this way to try to find a path around the western edge of Sandside Quarry, which Conrad had written about. This is it…

P1280713

I was very pleased to find a route close to home which I’d never walked before.

P1280717

Yellow Pimpernel.

P1280719

Sandside Quarry. Still a working quarry, unlike the many others in the area.

P1280721

Limestone pavement.

I had intended to go to the top of Haverbrack to enjoy the splendid view of the estuary from there, but it now occurred to me that I still had quiet a way to go and that it was hot and I didn’t have a drink with me, again, so I decided to head fairly directly home via Beetham Fell and its Fairy Steps…

P1280724

…down to Hazelslack Farm and then along the side of Silverdale Moss to Hawes Water and home from there.

P1280734

Buzzard.

P1280746

Painted Lady – I haven’t seen many this year so far, after a bumper summer last year.

P1280748

On the verge of the lane from Hazelslack Farm I enjoyed this mixture of Crosswort and Forget-me-nots. I was confused by the white flowers in amongst the blue until I realised that they too were Forget-me-nots which had faded in the sun.

P1280754

I think that this is a Mistle Thrush, rather than a Song Thrush, but that’s because of the ‘jizz’ of the bird on the day rather than anything specific I can pick out on this photo.

P1280768

Squirrel in the woods near Hawes Water.

Home from Milnthorpe

Firsts

P1280440

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.

P1280449

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.

P1280450

There’s a fair few insects in this post, some of them difficult to identify; not so this one…

P1280459

…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…

P1280477

…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…

P1280464

..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.

P1280469

This is another first, in a way, because I have seen this species before, but never in this area.

P1280496

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.

P1280546

And, finally, this is a more familiar Common Blue Damselfly, again, identified by the shape of the mark on the second segment.

P1280466

I was struck by the rather face-like shape of this large limestone boulder.

P1280480

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.

P1280488

A Dingy Skipper.

P1280493

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.

P1280499

This distinctive leaf beetle is Cryptocephalus bipunctatus, which is another first for me, not surprisingly, since it is scarce in the UK.

P1280502

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.

P1280505

P1280524

Another Dingy Skipper on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

P1280542

P1280543

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.

P1280547

But I did see this, which I think is a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

P1280554

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.

P1280555

None-the-less, I am reasonably confident, especially looking again at this last photo.

P1280562

This looks like another place where fencing has been removed – or is this new material waiting to go up?

P1280564

What I think is a Dark Red Helleborine with nascent flowers, which have since been eaten.

P1280567

Gait Barrows Limestone Pavement.

P1280568

Bloody Crane’s-bill.

P1280571

Angular Solomon’s-seal.

P1280575

P1280580

Cirrocumulus?

20200525_181619

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

Step Right Up!

20200522_172425

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

And blow, blow they certainly did. We’re well acquainted with Atlantic storms up here in the North Wet, but we don’t often get really severe winds in the summer when the trees are in their summery finery. TBH warned me not to go down to the beach, so, of course, curiosity got the better of me and I had to go and take a look. And after I’d had a look, I abandoned any thought I’d entertained of heading out onto the sands, turned tail and sort the shelter of the woods. The woodland floor was carpeted with leaves and twigs, but it was still relatively sheltered in there.

Which begs the question, why did I venture out of the woods and across the fields by Black Dyke? I don’t remember, but I do remember that it was more than a bit draughty, was spitting with rain and that dark clouds seemed to be threatening worse to come.

Goldfinches seem to be almost ubiquitous these days; I watched a family of half a dozen flitting back and forth between an ash tree on the edge of the woods and the electric fence. I guess they were impervious because they weren’t earthed?

P1280362

P1280367

Black Dyke.

P1280373

The footbridge over Leighton Beck – not much water running under it.

P1280374

Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower from the far side of Silverdale Moss.

P1280383

I’ve made many visits to Lambert’s Meadow this year. It seems to be a very fruitful spot for insect photos, particularly in the vicinity of this sprawling guelder rose hedge.

P1280389

Green-veined white butterfly.

P1280404

P1280407

Marsh thistle. I think.

P1280406

The first I’d seen flowering this year.

P1280412

I thought they looked rather fine and this early bumblebee liked them too.

P1280415

P1280408

Red campion. Is pink. Why not pink campion?

P1280436

Sorrel.

20200524_132735

The Jubilee Wood car-park on the edge of Eaves Wood. Until a day or two before this photo was taken, the car park had been closed and roped off, but here it is open and fairly busy again, reflecting the beginning of the easing of the lockdown restrictions. (This is from about a week before the end of May.)


Tunes – today amusing songs which are also great to listen too in their own right. First up…

‘Here Come the Judge’ by Pigmeat Markham

Allegedly, the first rap record, from 1968.

Then, ‘Werewolves of London’ by Warren Zevon. This one brings back happy memories of howling along with the kids in the car. This was before the boys started laughing at my musical tastes, listening to grime and opening conversations with barely articulated Caribbean slang like, ‘Wagwan fam?’

The next is a song I’ve only recently come across, ‘Sharon’ by David Bromberg.

What those three all have in common, is that they are the only songs I know by each of the artists. To finish, here’s a song by someone who, by contrast, I’ve followed since discovering great songs like this when I was at school, way back when…

That’s so clever.

Can’t help thinking I’m spoiling you here! What else should I have included? ‘Funky Gibbon’? ‘The Streak’? ‘Shut Up’ by Madness? These are all pretty old songs, I’m obviously missing some more recent possibilities.

Step Right Up!

Trampled Underfoot

P1280188

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

P1280208

Here’s the same view without the mist.

P1280192

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

P1280203

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

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

P1280201

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

P1280210

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

P1280213

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

P1280216

P1280218

Wintercress again, with quite distinctive, shiny leaves…

P1280217

P1280219

Green-veined white butterfly.

P1280226

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

P1280249

P1280229

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

P1280240

P1280236

Common carder bee.

P1280247

A very ragged peacock butterfly.

P1280248

Another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

P1280251

Brown silver-line moth.

P1280256

As yet unidentified micro-moth.

P1280259

And yet another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

P1280267

Small heath butterfly.

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

P1280282

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

P1280291

Lily-of-the-valley.

P1280292

Biting stonecrop, almost flowering.

P1280296

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

P1280310

Foxglove pug moth, possibly.

P1280315

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

P1280316

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

P1280318


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

Trampled Underfoot

Who’ll Stop The Rain?

P1280096

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.

P1280101

Oxeye daisy.

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

P1280107

Speckled wood butterfly.

P1280109

Germander speedwell.

P1280113

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

P1280114

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.

P1280117

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.

P1280119

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.

P1280120

And there’s always the Bay to admire.

P1280127

Lady’s mantle displaying the recent rain.

P1280130

P1280140

The Bay from the Cove.

P1280142

Sea radish.

P1280149

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

P1280153

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.

P1280156

Salad burnet. 

P1280161

Lady’s mantle again.

P1280166

Bird’s-eye primrose by Hawes Water.

P1280171

P1280174

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.

P1280180

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?

The Beast In Me

Eaves Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Woodwell

P1280045

Focaccia again.

P1280049

Nature’s flower arranging: cow parsley, green alkanet and dame’s violet and the odd buttercup.

P1280047

Dame’s violet, white flowers, or pink…

P1280046

…but can be purple. Much commoner locally than I previously realised.

P1280051

Water Avens

P1280057

Watercress.

P1280062

Valerian.

P1280065

Bugle.

P1280081

At Woodwell there was a real commotion in the sycamore at the back of this photo. The dispute involved a pair of jays and a crow, all of which had a great deal to say about whatever neighbourly dispute they’d entered into. At first I thought that a nest had been disturbed, but eventually all three birds left, so that seems unlikely.

Initially though the crow and the jays withdrew to neutral trees; the crow affected indifference, but the jays were still keeping a beady eye on the crow.

P1280073

P1280074

P1280076

I climbed the path which ascends the cliff behind the tree – at this point the jays were still hanging about – but still couldn’t see what it might be that they had so noisily fallen out over.

P1280077

I was intrigued by this very vigorous plant, growing in the mud of the pond at Woodwell, since I didn’t recognise it – it’s flowering now, almost a month later, so hopefully I should be able to identify it, when I get around to it.

The pond had very nearly dried out; subsequently it did dry out, so I guess that the minnows, which had recently reappeared having been wiped out by the last long dry spell, will be gone again.


If you like a good cover, and you don’t already know them, then try Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums. I have four of them, although more material from the recordings was released posthumously. There are so many good songs on the albums that it was hard to choose, but here are songs by Depeche Mode, U2, Nick Lowe and Nine Inch Nails, given the unique Johnny Cash sound:

Strictly speaking, ‘The Beast In Me’ isn’t a cover because it was written specifically for Cash. Nick Lowe has recorded the song himself and his version is also great.

If you have 10 minutes, this video…

…has interviews with both Cash and Lowe about the writing of the song, Lowe’s version is quite amusing, and a live performance by Cash in Montreux in 1994.

‘Hurt’ is from the last album released before Johnny Cash died and I think he sounds a little frail on it. It’s a bleak song, and the official video (not the one I’ve posted), taken together with the song, is extremely poignant. I’d recommend it, but only if you’re feeling buoyant.

The Beast In Me

Different Perspectives

P1270969

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.

P1270964

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.

P1270942

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.

P1270946

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.

P1270962

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.

P1270948

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.

P1270970

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.

P1270977

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

P1270978

It kept me entertained, thinking about it, anyway.

P1270990

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.

P1270991

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.

P1270999

New Barns and Arnside Knott.

P1280006

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.

P1280009

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.

P1280011

P1280014

Train crossing the Kent viaduct.

20200515_182527

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.

20200515_183102

P1280016

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.

P1280017

Redhill Pasture.

P1280019

Lakeland Fells from Redhill Pasture.

P1280023

Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture.

P1280025

Kent Estuary from Redhill Pasture, again.

P1280029

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

P1280032

P1280035

Morecambe Bay from the south side of the top.

P1280040

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.

P1270926

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.

P1270934

I shall have to try this again sometime.

20200514_213625


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

Distractions and Digressions

P1270846

Early light on Grange.

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

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

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

Anyway, back to this particular walk…

P1270845

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

P1270847

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

P1270851

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

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

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

P1270852

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

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

P1270858

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

P1270861

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

P1270863

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

P1270866

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

P1270867

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

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

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

P1270881

Another Unfortunate Distraction. Oh no!

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

P1270889

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

P1270883

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

P1270886

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

Screenshot 2020-06-09 at 14.48.11

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

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

P1270900

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

20200513_125347

Stratocumulus or cumulus?

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

P1270907

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


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

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

…and then Camper Van Beethoven’s brilliant cover…

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

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

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

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

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

Distractions and Digressions