In Search of Butterflies and Orchids

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

After my early morning outing, I took A and S for a dip at our local swimming hole. I didn’t swim – I settled down on the shingle by the river, down behind the bank, which kept the wind off, and enjoyed a couple of cups of tea and a book.

The following afternoon, I tried to entice the kids out for a bike ride, but only A was interested. It was TBH’s idea – I wanted to visit Myer’s Allotment, Trowbarrow Quarry and Gait Barrows, on the hunt for butterflies and orchids and TBH suggested that connecting them by cycling between them would make it feasible to include all three in one afternoon trip.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

After my flurry of visits last spring, this was the first time I’d visited Myer’s Allotment since. I never seem to see many butterflies here, which is ironic since it’s a Butterfly Conservation Reserve, but there are always compensations, chiefly the fantastic view of Leighton Moss.

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I’m pretty hopeless with yellow daisies, but I think that this might be Rough Hawkbit, based more on the photo I took of the very hairy leaves than on the flower.

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Song Thrush with snack.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Black-tailed Skimmer.

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Only the second time I’ve seen a Black-tailed Skimmer and both have been at Myer’s Allotment.

Another short ride brought us to Trowbarrow Quarry…

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…where there were lots of these…

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Common Spotted Orchid.

But far fewer of these…

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Bee Orchid.

I’ve been aware that these can be found in the area for quite some time, but am very pleased to have finally seen some. The flower is adapted to mimic a bee apparently, in order to attract bees to facilitate cross-pollination. The plants take five to eight years to reach maturity, but are usually monocarpic, meaning that once they have flowered and set seed they die and won’t flower again.

Whilst A and I were crawling about looking for Bee Orchids to photograph, a movement caught the corner of my eye and turning I spotted this tiny…

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Dingy Skipper.

Which flew close enough to this…

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Common Twayblade.

…to attract my attention and which in turn was growing close to…

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Another Bee Orchid.

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Another Speckled Wood.

On a warm, sunny afternoon the open glades at Gait Barrows seem to be perfect for butterflies.

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Common Blue on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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Rock Rose.

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This has me very confused. The flower looks like a Crane’s-bill flower, but the leaves, seen out-of-focus in the background,  are more like a pea type plant

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Another Dingy Skipper. 

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We saw lots of Dingy Skippers and several orange butterflies. Mostly they were pretty elusive, but one sat where I could get a couple of photos…

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I think that this is a Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary.

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Large Red Damselfly.

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Azure Damselfly. I know – it looks very like the Common Blue Damselfly above. Fortunately they have a distinctive mark on the second segment of their abdomens.

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Female Broad-bodied Chaser.

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Common Blue Butterfly.

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Our Trusty Steeds.

TBH’s walk/cycle idea, henceforth know as going on a Wicycle, worked very well. Might even do it again some time. It’s even possible that if we do it a few times, I might finish one of our short cycling sections without feeling jelly-legged when I switch back to Shank’s Pony.

In Search of Butterflies and Orchids

Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Bull’s Head

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Sunday, fortunately, brought more settled weather and some sunshine. The title of the post should really be ‘Heron Corn Mill, Lunch at the Bull’s Head, Haverbrack and Beetham Fell’ but that’s a bit long, and this present one mirrors that of an earlier post.

The photo above shows the Heron Corn Mill, on the left, and the modern paper mill on the right, with, in between, the mill pond on the Bela backed up behind this weir…

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The corn mill seems to have had a new lease of life in recent years and, although it doesn’t take long to look around, it’s worth a visit, especially since it’s free, with a handy car-park which has an honesty box with a request for a £2 donation for all-day parking.

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From the Corn Mill a footbridge takes you across the river and then the path winds around the paper mill, beside the River Bela…

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We crossed the busy A6, hoping to get some lunch at the cafe at Beetham Garden Centre. This wasn’t the original plan. We had been hoping to revisit The Ship at Sandside. Naively, I had been expecting that we could just rock-up when we pleased and order Sunday lunch. Andy pointed out that, on a Bank Holiday Sunday, a popular pub might be busy, and that an advance booking might be advisable. I made a phone call and discovered that he was quite right: a booking was advisable, or would have been, if I’d rung a couple of weeks earlier. So it was that we were a party in search of somewhere to buy lunch and were travelling more in hope than in expectation.

The cafe at the Garden Centre looked excellent. And full.

There were surprisingly few rumblings of discontent as we continued. If anybody was angry about my lack of organisation, they kept it to themselves. Unlike this pair of female Chaffinches…

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…which were brawling in the road.

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I’ve seen birds fighting before, but not fighting birds with such complete disregard for what was going on around them, as these two were. I have lots of other photos, but they are mostly blurred shots, showing the moments when one or both birds briefly disengaged and flew a little into the air before diving back into the fray, in a bid to gain the upper-hand.

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A male Chaffinch kept making appearances over the adjacent hedge. Whether he was an anxious or disinterested spectator will remain as mysterious as the cause of the ruckus in the first place.

When the fight either finished or possibly moved on to another venue, we retraced our steps to the corn mill.

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Small White. Or Green-viened White. White anyway. The unopened and partially opened buds are Oxeye Daisies – I’m amazed that I haven’t noticed that very striking, bold pattern before.

We crossed Dallam Deer park, the deer obligingly, if somewhat distantly, makng an appearance for our guests.

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Outside the Bull’s Head in Milnthorpe we hesitated. I’ve never heard any opinions about it, good or bad. I think I might have had a pint here and watched part of a football match, many moons ago. Which is not much to go on.

TBH asked a girl, who was smoking a fag in the doorway, what the food was like, and she assured us that it was excellent. Later, I noticed that the same girl was collecting glasses in the pub and wondered whether she was an employee. But if we were gently duped, we didn’t lose out in any way. The food was very good, with an amazingly wide variety on offer, but everything apparently cooked from scratch. I’m very surprised that nobody has recommended it to me before. Judging by the prices on the menu, it was good value too, although we didn’t have to worry about that, since Andy very generously picked up the tab.

At this point, our boys gleefully revealed their own agenda: since we were in Milnthorpe and the sun was shining, they insisted on visiting the play area and trying out the new equipment there. It was only a brief stop and it gave me a chance to watch the many bumblebees on the flowering shrubs in the border there. They seemed mainly to be of two species: Early Bumblebees, with two yellow stripes and an orange tail and Tree Bumblebees…

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…which, now that I know how to identify them, seem to be everywhere I go.

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Dallam Hall and the Bela.

We continued our walk along the Bela, following it out to its confluence with the Kent…

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Whitbarrow Scar across the Bela and the Kent.

At the Orchid Triangle, there were…

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…orchids! I think that this is Common Spotted Orchid. And this…

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…is Common Twayblade…

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….which according to my orchid field guide is ‘a close companion of nearly all our most beautiful and rare orchids’. (Of which, more in a forthcoming post.)

From the Orchid Triangle, it’s a short, but very rewarding, climb up Haverbrack.

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Red Admiral.

From Haverbrack we crossed Cockshot Lane, walked through Longtail Wood to Beetham Fell and The Fairy Steps…

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Here’s Andy negotiating the steps without touching the sides, so that the fairies will grant him a wish…

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Sort of.

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Rock Rose.

Dropping down through the woods back towards Beetham we stumbled across a Roe Deer. We watched in hushed silence for a moment, until A broke the spell with, “It’s only a deer, I can see those in the garden at home.”

I think our kids do appreciate what they have, living here, but maybe they’ll have to move away before they really appreciate it properly?

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I mooted the idea that some of us might walk home from Beetham, but when the initial enthusiasm evaporated I was secretly relieved – we were out of water and I was gasping for a cup of tea.

Later, the Shandy Sherpa and TBF joined me for a wander around Eaves Wood in the gloaming. We spent quite a while watching the juvenile Woodpecker featured in a recent post, and as long again sitting by the Pepper Pot absorbing the peace and quiet. A marvellous day.

Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Bull’s Head

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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A Brimstone on Bluebells in Eaves Wood.

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Robin on fence post, 16 buoys field.

I’d been a disappointed with the quality of my photos of the Eiders I’d seen at Jenny Brown’s Point, but put it down to low light. Now that I was out again, a couple of evenings later, I noticed that my photos were still grainy and lacking definition. Realisation dawned that camera muppetry was once again to blame, or perhaps I should say photographer muppetry: somehow I’d inadvertently changed the ISO setting. Again. This time to 1600. Resetting the ISO is paradoxically one of those things which is really easy to do accidentally, when you don’t want to, but nigh on impossible to achieve when that is your actual intention. I wasn’t reduced to tears, but there may have been a slight elevation in my blood pressure and a good deal of bad-tempered muttering.

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Goldfinches seem to be everywhere at the moment, which is no bad thing. Especially when your camera is finally working properly again and you need something to take your mind off the infuriation caused by a misbehaving inanimate object.

A section of garden by Challan Hall Mews is completely over-run with Campion. My kind of gardening: I can’t imagine much effort is required and it looks fantastic.

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On the open ground by Hawes Water I turned over a rotting log, beneath which I once found a Common Lizard. This time I found a large ground beetle, agile, fast moving and therefore rather difficult to either photograph or identify…

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In size and shape very like a Violet Ground Beetle. But not very violet.

This damselfly, by the Hawes Water boardwalks, was much more obliging…

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I think that this might be a female Common Blue Damselfly. However, I find it very difficult to identify male damselflies, and females are even more hard to distinguish.

I’ve seen quite a few Orange-tips whilst I’ve been out and about this spring. But the rule with Orange-tips, and in fact most ‘whites’, is that they never sit still long enough to be photographed. Well, not usually anyway…

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This was the second I’d managed to photograph that day.

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I think that this is a solitary bee.

“Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but look closely and there are smaller furry bees moving from flower to flower. There are around 20,000 described bee species worldwide. Most of these bees are known as solitary bees with only 250 bumblebee species, 9 honey bee species and a number of social stingless bees worldwide. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees.”

This from the Wildlife Trusts website.

Some of our cuckoo bee species have a yellow collar like this, but they generally also have a paler tail and are much bigger than this bee was. As to which of the 250 species this is from – I have no idea.

This…

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…also had me confused. At first I suspected that it was some sort of hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a Honey Bee doing a really good impression of a hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee. Perhaps. If it is a Honey Bee, it’s a good deal paler then those I’m used to seeing, but then I think Honey Bees are quite varied.

Is there anybody out there wants to lend me a hand, with my one man b….entomological identification?

Oh no, now I’m misquoting Leo Sayer. Shoot me now!

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

A Saturday Triptych – Second Helpings

Sharp’s Lot – Fleagarth Wood – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Clifftop

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Welsh Poppy.

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Welsh Poppies.

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Dandelion Wine anyone?

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I intend to keep an eye on this tree, as well as the Mystery Sycamore, since it’s close to home, but I don’t know what species it is.

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Distant Howgills.

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Blue Tit.

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Clark’s Lot (or Sharp’s Lot or Pointer Wood)

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This was something of a butterfly walk, this being the first of several Peacocks I saw, and before this I had already fruitlessly chased both an Orange Tip and a Brimstone.

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I always eagerly await the arrival of new Beech leaves each spring, but this year I’ve really come to appreciate the colour of emerging Oak leaves.

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Field Horse-tail?

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Early Purple Orchid.

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The Old Chimney.

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Bluebell.

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Robin.

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Cowslips.

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Forget-me-nots.

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Primroses and Bluebells.

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Peacock and Violets.

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Another Robin.

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Dandelion with Honey Bee. 

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Banded Snail on Hydrangea leaf.

A Saturday Triptych – Second Helpings

The Wells of Silverdale

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There’s something very satisfying about a hand drawn map, don’t you think? This one is from a leaflet; one from my collection of leaflets detailing local walks, which I have acquired over the years and keep filed away on a shelf. I dug it out because I wanted to compare it with this map…

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Which is from ‘Old Silverdale’ by Rod J. Ireland, which I bought last week, a little birthday present to myself, and which I’ve been poring over ever since. This map shows more wells than the first. At some point, I shall have to see if I can find any trace of the additional wells shown. But on this occasion I contented myself with following the route shown in the leaflet.

 

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Cheery Dandelions.

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Cheery Celandines.

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Elmslack Well.

Yes, I realise that it’s actually a bin. But I’m told that it’s on the site of the old well.

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Inman’s Road.

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Not wells, I know, but these tanks formerly collected and supplied water to Hill House, now the Woodlands pub, so they seem relevant. Mains water arrived in the area in 1938 (there’s still no mains sewers). Until then the wells would obviously have been important. Also many houses had tanks on the roof which collected rain water.

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This photo is the best I managed from a satisfyingly close encounter with ‘the British bird of paradise‘, or more prosaically, a Jay. The Jay moved from branch to branch, but unusually, stayed in sight and not too far away. Sadly, never long enough for me to get any half decent photos.

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This squirrel was more obliging.

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Wood Anemones.

The Toothwort beside Inman’s Road is much taller than it was, but already beginning to look a bit tatty and past its best.

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More Wood Anemones.

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Chaffinch.

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Dogslack Well.

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Comma butterfly.

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Bank Well.

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The light was stunning and making everything look gorgeous.

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Coot chick.

Well, almost everything. This is the kind of face that only a mother could love, surely?

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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I like to think that this is a Raven, sitting atop a very tall tree, regally surveying the meadow and the surrounding woodland. But none of the photos show the shaggy throat which is supposed to make it easy to distinguish between Ravens and Crows. So, I’m not sure.

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Burton Well

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The pond at Woodwell.

There are newts at Woodwell. We hardly ever see them. But today, not only did I see one, but I managed to train my camera on it…

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Blast!

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Golden Saxifrage.

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Woodwell.

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The Ramsons in Bottom’s Wood are looking particularly verdant, but no sign yet of any flowers. On the verge of Cove Road, near to the Cove, the flowers are already on display. The flowers always seem to appear there first.

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Cherry blossom.

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Jackdaw.

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Song Thrush.

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Nuthatch.

On the Lots there were Starlings and Pied Wagtails foraging on the ground.

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Crow – the second evening in a row when a crow has been perched on this branch.

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Pied Wagtail.

It was one of those magical days when lots of birds seemed content to sit still and be photographed. Lots, but not all. The Buzzards were flying above the small copse above the Cove. I watched them through the trees as, once again, they both flew in to perch on a tree at the far side of the wood. This time it was the same tree in which a Tawny Owl obligingly posed for a photo one evening some years ago. They were tantalisingly close, maybe I could get some good photos?

But when I switched on my camera, what did I notice, much closer to hand…

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…a pair of Nuthatches.

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Since I learned to recognise the slightly monotonous song of Nuthatches, I’ve come to realise how very common they are in this area. And I spot them much more often than I used to. As a boy, these were an exotic rarity to me, and fortunately their ubiquity has done nothing to reduce the thrill I still feel when I see them.

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One of the pair sat and pruned itself for quite some time and I took lots of photos before eventually turning my attention back to the tree where the Buzzards…

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…were no longer perched.

I scanned other trees for a while, and then, just as I reluctantly gave up on the idea of seeing the Buzzards again, there they were, not in a tree, but in the adjacent field, one on the ground and the other sat on a dry-stone wall, and showing to much better advantage than before. But before I took any photos, they were off again.

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Starling.

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Bullfinch.

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Morecambe Bay.

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Blackbird – in almost the same spot as the night before.

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Five for silver.

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It was getting a bit dark for bird photos at this point, but this Goldfinch was behaving in a way which I’ve noticed a couple of times recently; it was singing, swivelling sharply through ninety degrees singing again, then back and so on. The precision of it seemed quite aggressive, but at the same time, pretty comical.

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The leaflet says that this walk is ‘about four miles’, but although I’d skipped the out and back to Bard’s Well on the shore, The Move App was telling me that I’d walked five miles. And despite the Jay, the Newt and the Buzzards all evading my camera, this had been a very satisfying five miles.

The Wells of Silverdale

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

The Cove – The Lots

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Small Tortoiseshell.

Sometimes just a short walk, to familiar places, can yield a great deal of diversion and interest. (This was back in October btw)

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There are nine species of social wasps resident in Britain; this is one of them, but I can’t identify which.

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Drone Fly?

If it isn’t a Drone Fly, it’s a similar hover-fly, hoping to be mistaken for a Honey Bee.

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There are four species of brown Bumblebees in Britain; I think that this is one of those.

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Apparently, it’s hard to tell them apart without a microscope, but the most common, and so perhaps the most likely, is Bombus Pascuorum, the Common Carder Bee.

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Another hover-fly imitating something with a sting.

Most of these (poorly identified) insects were photographed on a patch of tall daisies with Dandelion like flowers, growing on the rough stony ground at the back of The Cove.

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…I’ve always struggled with identifying the myriad different yellow daisies…

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…but I thought that with a few photos…

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…of flowers, seed-heads and leaves I would be able to track this one down. However, I’ve consulted four different books and numerous websites and whilst I’ve found several plants which almost seem to fit the bill, all of them have some disqualifying feature, or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself anyway.

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“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.”

Albert  Einstein

Although, in my case, it’s more a case of: the more I try to learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.

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Still, I enjoy the trying.

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

More Butterflies and Leaves

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Saul’s Road – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – White Creek – Far Arnside – The Cove – The Lots

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Red Admiral.

Early October, the weekend after we had a houseful, and in a typical Sod’s Law sort of a way the weather is fantastic, sunny, bright and even warm.

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Comma.

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In Eaves Wood.

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This Crane’s-bill doesn’t quite match any of the plants in ‘The Wild Flower Key’ so I wonder if it is a garden escapee?

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I was a bit puzzled by the colouration of this dragonfly, but having consulted my field guide, I now think that it is probably an older female Common Darter.

I ventured onto a small path on Arnside Knott which I haven’t taken before, which took me past…

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…a fox’s earth?

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Arnside Knott view.

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Arnside Knott panorama.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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This area of marshy foreshore at White Creek has appeared during the time that I’ve lived in the area. It’s become quite wet and treacherous to walk on.

But there were still some Sea Asters…

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…flowering there.

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Burnett Rose.

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Bryony Berries.

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I took these photos of berries and leaves to help me identify a tree I didn’t recognise, but sadly I’m still none the wiser.

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Holly.

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Bell Heather.

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Sunset from the Cove.

I would have been nice if this weather had materialised a week earlier, so that we could have shared it with our friends. But, then again, it’s a bit churlish to complain; I enjoyed having to myself after all.

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These last two ‘bonus’ photos are from a different walk, back in September, when apparently I walked to Jack Scar to take some sunset photos (but no other photos!)

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More Butterflies and Leaves