A Weekend in Lincolnshire

We’re just back from three weeks away, but I’m still not quite up to date with what we were doing before our holidays; so….

It had been a long time since we had seen my mum and dad. A was busy (A seems to nearly always be busy these days), TBH stayed at home to look after A, but the boys were both very keen to visit their grandparents. On the Saturday, we popped into Lincoln, because the boys both needed new trainers, but in the afternoon I had time to have another wander around the nature reserve close to where my parents live.

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I was struck by the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on display.

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And even more so by the profusion of bees, hoverflies, moths and butterflies; particularly the latter. I didn’t have my camera with me, so instead experimented with the zoom function on my newish phone – it’s up to x8, presumably a digital zoom – spending a very happy hour taking hundreds of photos. All of which are a bit rubbish. Oh well, lesson learned.

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The following day we all went for a wander around the Far Ings reserve which is on the banks of the Humber, not far from the Humber Bridge…

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Despite the cloudy skies it was really very warm that day.

I always enjoy a trip to where I can see unfamiliar plants which I don’t see growing close to home. This, I think, is Weld…

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…or Dyer’s Rocket, a native British plant which was once very important for the yellow dye produced from it. Apparently, it took 3-6 pounds of Weld to dye one pound of wool.

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This is Viper’s-bugloss, once thought to be a remedy for snake-bites. I have seen this growing in the car-park at Leighton Moss, but not elsewhere, so I assume that it was introduced.

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I think I’ve seen Common Mallow growing here in Lancashire too, but it’s much more common down in Lincolnshire. It was popular as both a food and a medicine in Roman times, with one use being as a cure for hangovers.

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This creeping plant is White Bryony. The unrelated Black Bryony is quite common around home. Both plants are poisonous. The ‘black’ and ‘white’ refer to the colour of the roots. Apparently, the roots of White Bryony were passed off by the unscrupulous as Mandrake roots which reputedly had magical properties, had to be imported from the Eastern Mediterranean, and so were expensive.

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More Dyer’s Rocket.

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Borage.

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The Humber and the Bridge again.

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After our pleasant stroll we retired to a local cafe for lunch. In the porch of the cafe, Swallows were nesting…

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So, here’s an idea of how my phone’s zoom performs. The first photo is without zoom, and this…

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…is with x8. You can see that the nestlings have very striking, Adam Ant style face stripes, which is how I know that they are Swallows and not Martins, so the zoom can be helpful, even if it doesn’t produce the sharpest images.

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A Weekend in Lincolnshire

One Summer Evening

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There were lots of climbers enjoying the evening sunshine at Trowbarrow. Sadly, down in the base of the quarry it was already shady. I had come in search of Bee Orchids…

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And found that there were lots flowering, more than last year I think.

Almost as an afterthought, on the way home I called in at Leighton Moss to take in the view from the skytower…

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I thought I might see some Red Deer out amongst the reeds and meres, and sure enough, there they were…

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What I hadn’t anticipated was the commotion caused by a Marsh Harrier making regular raids on a group of nesting Black-headed Gulls.

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The photos didn’t come out very well, but watching the acrobatics of the harrier and the organised and vociferous defence of the gulls was breathtaking.

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When the harrier stayed away for a while, some of the gulls turned their attentions to the deer and attempted to drive them away too. The deer looked more bemused than worried.

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The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

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One Summer Evening

Back to Foulshaw.

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Monday evenings mean dance lessons for A and, in the past, has often meant a small window of opportunity for me to get some fresh air, sometimes with a visit to Foulshaw Moss.

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Somehow, this year it hasn’t quite worked out that way on very many occasions, but I did make a second visit to the vast expanses of the moss back in early June.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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I noticed quite a few of these large pink flowers on bushes well away from the boardwalks – I assume that these are Rhododendrons.

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Marsh Cinquefoil.

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Tree Bumblebee on Marsh Cinquefoil.

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Male Lesser Redpoll.

Goldfinch and female Lesser Redpoll.

Back to Foulshaw.

Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

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A hazy view toward Morecambe Bay from Clougha Pike.

Okay, the weather has been a bit ropey so far this summer, but there have been some pleasant days too. This was another evening outing, this time taking advantage of the proximity of the western edge of the Bowland Fells to Lancaster, where I work.

I parked in the Rigg Lane car park and from there took an almost out and back route, via Clougha Pike, except that I diverted off the ‘ridge’ path to visit the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture and then followed the track from there which looped around back to the main path east of Grit Fell, from where I turned back for the car via Grit Fell and Clougha Pike again.

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The Bowland Hills are moorland, but occasional, scattered rocky knolls add some character.

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The Andy Goldsworthy sculpture, Caton Moor wind farm beyond.

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Near to the sculptures, this neat curved structure…

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..is intriguing.

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It occurred to me that it might be a Grouse Butt, although it’s quite large for that and also very poorly camouflaged.

Seen from Lancaster or Morecambe, Clougha Pike looks very imposing, but on the map it barely seems to be a summit in its own right, looking more like an edge on the flanks of Grit Fell. Approached from Grit Fell however, it does have a clear independent identity…

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I found a party of four enjoying a picnic on the summit, so dropped down the edge a little way before stopping for my own snack and brew. Whilst I sat, I had a superb view of a male Kestrel flying very close by parallel to the edge. I’d seen a male Kestrel, possibly the same on, as I first reached the edge during my ascent. There had been Meadow Pipits too, many Red Grouse, and some Curlews, loudly demonstrating their objections to my presence.

As seems to be obligatory this year, this hill walk included several encounters with hairy caterpillars…

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I saw three of these hirsute fellows…

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All making no attempt what so ever to hide in any way – apparently their hairs make them unpalatable to many birds who might otherwise eat them. Unusually, I recognised this species: they are Oak Eggar Moth caterpillars. I’ve seen them before, several times, on Carn Fadryn and Yr Eifl on the Llyn Peninsula, on Haystacks and, most recently, on Skiddaw last summer.

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Clougha Scar.

A very pleasant outing, and I was still home in time to vote in the European elections.


This weekend, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

A huge thank you to those who have donated already. Since the event is almost upon us, I shall soon stop pasting this onto the end of posts, I promise. Preparations have gone reasonably well and I’m beginning to think that it’s at least possible that I will get close(ish) to the ten hour target time, all things being equal. Either way, you’ll eventually hear all about it…

 

Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

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River Wenning and Hornby Castle.

A post-work walk, with, for once during this non-event of a summer, some sunshine.

I’d noticed Windy Bank, the high ground which rises between the valleys of the Lune and the Wenning, when I walked from Claughton this time last year, and thought that it would make a pleasant evening walk.

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Windy Bank from the bank of the Wenning.

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River Wenning.

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Confluence of the Lune and the Wenning.

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River Lune.

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The far bank of the Lune, pock-marked with holes which look prefect for Sand Martins to nest. There weren’t any in evidence, but I should probably go back to check my hunch.

I followed the Wenning down to where it meets the Lune and then turned to follow the Lune upstream.

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Lapwing again. There were Little Egrets and Oystercatchers about too.

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A broken egg.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

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The Lune.

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Loyn Bridge.

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Loyn Bridge – ancient, but of unknown date.

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Melling, with Ingleborough behind.

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My summer evening walks in and around the Lune always seem to bring at least one encounter with a Hare.  Usually, they’re so still and so well disguised that I’m almost on top of them before I spot them and then the Hare will disappear so quickly that any thought of getting a photograph is superfluous almost as soon as I have had it. This Hare, by contrast, was wandering along the path towards me, seemingly quite relaxed and unconcerned, and then, having spotted me, by choosing to squeeze through the wire fence, had to stop for a moment so that I did get a few photos.

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I saw another Hare shortly afterwards, but that was a standard fleeting affair.

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Last summer, I was convinced that I’d mastered the difference between Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but clearly I was wrong. I think that this is one of those, and I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’m really not sure.

The route comes from Mary Welsh’s Cicerone Guide ‘Walking in Lancashire’. She lists it as 7 miles, but by the time I’d finished that evening, I’d walked over 11, which was really more than I’d intended to do. The reason being that the path became very unclear as it approached Melling. I should never have been close to this railway bridge over the Lune.  (If you examine the map below, you’ll see that I did a lot of faffing about).

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I was also trying to avoid a large herd of bullocks who seemed very agitated by my presence. In the end, I had no option but to walk right through the middle of the cattle, where they were tightly confined between a hedge and a body of water. They surrounded me and were very skittish, with the ones behind me making little feints and charges, which was a bit unnerving.

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Melling.

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Barley (?) on Windy Bank.

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Gragareth and Ingleborough from Windy Bank.

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Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

Lapwings at Leighton Moss

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On the Tuesday evening after our weekend away in Wasdale, A and B had, as they usually do, Explorer Scouts over at Silverhelme Scout Camp on The Row. TBH was on taxi duty and she suggested that she could drop me off so that I could walk home. That seemed like a first rate idea, and so it was that I found myself on Storrs Lane at the point where the path which skirts around the back of Leighton Moss leaves the road. I popped into Lower Hide and ended up staying much longer than I had intended to, which often happens.

Although there were plenty of other birds about, it was some Lapwings right under the hide windows which kept me entertained.

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This adult male had chosen a prominent position in order to keep a watchful eye on the area. It looks like he’s on the remnants of some sort of nest. Not a Lapwing nest, I don’t think. Maybe something like a Coot.

When this first bird moved on, a second came stalking through the reeds…

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To take over the same position. At first, I assumed that the birds must be a pair, but this is another male. You can tell because the black patch extends all the way down his throat and further down his breast than it would on a female. Also, those striking plumes on his head are longer than those sported by a female.

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This, is a female…

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She looks a bit chubby, but that’s because tucked away under her skirts she’s hiding her entire brood…

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I watched as the chicks repeatedly made forays to explore the shallow margins of the mere…

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There were five chicks in all, but two was the most I managed to catch on camera at once…

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Her’s the matriarch without any chicks sheltering beneath her apron…

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You can just about see that she has some slight mottling in the black plumage on her throat, which is absent in males.

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The chicks seemed quite adventurous and would disperse over a fairly large area. This one came right up under the windows of the hide…

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But then the chicks, presumably acting on the some signal from an alert parent, would all turn and head back to the protection of their mother…

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And disappear into her feathery shelter…

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This chick…

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…seemed to be more independent than its siblings and was much less hasty when returning…

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Lapwings at Leighton Moss

More Bad Birdwatching

Or: The Walk that Wasn’t.

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A Monday evening. I’d dropped A and her friend off in Milnthorpe for their dance lesson, then driven to Foulshaw Moss for a bit of a walk. This was my first visit of the year and I didn’t get very far before I discovered that Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been busy and built a hide near to the car park, with several bird-feeders just beyond it. I settled down, just for a quick look I thought, before I continued, but then was so happy watching the birds on the feeders that I didn’t move again until the need to go back to pick up the dancers at the end of their lesson was so pressing that I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

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The ‘bad’ birdwatching of the title refers to my misidentification of these birds on previous visits to Foulshaw. I thought that they were Linnets. Now, I’m almost equally convinced that they are Lesser Redpoll. Lesser because Common Redpoll are winter visitors and paler, but I’m more than ready to be corrected. When I’ve seen them before it’s been groups flitting about, usually high in the tree-tops. These feeders gave me a much better opportunity to observe them close-up.

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Male.

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Female.

They are finches, but much smaller than the Goldfinches and Chaffinches which were also visiting the feeders.

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Goldfinch.

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Female Blackbird.

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Male (I think) Great-spotted Woodpecker.

There were plenty of other birds about to keep me entertained, including a Jay in the trees behind the feeders and a male Reed-bunting hopping about below the feeders, tantalising me by never quite being fully in view.

More Bad Birdwatching