Late March

As if to prove my point that working for a living, or at least commuting to work, really gets in the way of enjoying life, my MapMyWalk account shows almost daily walks through January, February and up to the 7th of March. Schools reopened on the 8th and for the next fortnight I don’t seem to have walked very far or very often at all.

Anyway, eventually I started to get out and about again:

The 20th

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Greenfinch

Whilst chaffinches seem to be flourishing, I feel like I don’t see nearly as many Greenfinches now as I did even five years ago. Hardly scientific, I know, but worrying none the less.

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Greenfinch having a bit of a shake.

This one was having a good old spring sing-song. It was one of many birds in evidence in the hedges and trees in the caravan park at Far Arnside, but the only one content to pose for a portrait.

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Daffodils in the woods near Far Arnside.

I think this was the walk when I bumped into an old friend and colleague who I hadn’t seen for years. We sat at opposite ends of a bench and had a very long chat. Some of her news was sad, but it was still good to catch up.

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Green Hellebore in the woods near Far Arnside.
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As so often on a walk round the coast, it was the sky and the light on the bay which were the stars of the show.

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A Common Whelk shell. Perhaps.
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White Creek
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Small Egret.

For once I didn’t go all the way around to Arnside, or climb the Knott, but at White Creek doubled back on the higher path which parallels the coastal one and returns to Far Arnside.

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The ‘higher ‘ path.

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Calves at Far Arnside.
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The 21st

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In the morning, TBH and I completed our usual Sunday trip around Jenny Brown’s Point.

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And the afternoon brought a trip to The Lots.

The 27th

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A Roe Deer buck in the garden. There’s still some fur on his antlers. And his winter coat is looking extremely shabby.

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A very grey day, I think. This photo from the Cove is a bit shy of any colour.

The 28th

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He’s back! It looks like he has some bits of moss on his antlers. My guess is that he’s been rubbing them on any available surface in an attempt to remove the itchy bits of skin.

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I’m quite surprised by the very red tinge of his antlers. I suppose that’s because they still have a blood supply, although mature antlers, once the covering skin has been shed are dead bone, I think.

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Another grey day. Another trip to The Cove…

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The 30th

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Blue skies at last! And a high tide in Quicksand Pool.

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The Bay is well-known for its rapid tides. On this occasion we watched what looked like some very powerful cross-currents at Jenny Brown’s Point.

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White Violets.

Right. April in my sights…

Late March

Four Seasons in one Week

Monday

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The Euros have been playing havoc with my resolve to catch up with the blog, so here’s another week-to-view post covering a walking/working-from-home week back in mid-January.

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On a few occasions when my timetable allowed, I wandered over to Myer’s allotment for lunch with a view. On this occasion, I remember, it started to drizzle as I sat down with my flask of soup, and stopped just as I packed up to leave.

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A bonus stroll, later in the day, with TBH and A.

Tuesday

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A wet day!
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A very monotone view from the Cove.

Wednesday

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Another wet day. I didn’t get out for a walk at all. But these Roe Deer visited the garden. One or two of my lessons were punctuated by my commentary on the wildlife and/or weather I could see through this window.

Thursday

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A trip to the Pepper Pot.
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And then the Cove.
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Nice reflections on the mud of the Bay.
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Friday

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Back to the Cove, yet again.
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The view is just a little different every time. Certainly contrasts with Tuesday!
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Myer’s Allotment lunch again.
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Another trip to the Pepper Pot.
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And back to the Cove to finish the week.
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Four Seasons in one Week

My Parents and Other Visitors

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Mum and Dad on the Lots.

My mum and dad spent a week at Thurnham Hall, on the other side of Lancaster. Very generously, they booked us a few nights there too. Little did we realise then that it would be the last time we would see them this year.

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The River Condor at Condor Green.

How nice then, to get to spend some time together. Most days we managed a bit of a walk, aiming for somewhere without contours, by the Lune Estuary near Glasson, across the Lots at home, or along the prom at Morecambe for example.

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Gatekeeper on Ragwort.

We did embark on one overly ambitious walk, from Thurnham Hall to Wallings Ice-Cream Parlour on the other side of Cockerham. The long-grass in the fields and the surprisingly sodden tracks which followed were energy sapping for all concerned. Fortunately, once we’d sampled the ice-creams, we arranged a taxi for a couple of drivers to collect our cars and then return for the rest of the party.

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The Marina at Glasson.

We played ‘Ticket to Ride’ and no doubt other games, and ate out a few times, now that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was in full swing. After a curry in Lancaster I had a brainwave about walking back to Thurnham Hall, basing my intended route on a hazy memory of the map. It was much further than I had thought, and it was pitch black by the time I reached Galgate. Fortunately, TBH was happy to come out and pick me up.

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Bit low in the water?
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Roe Deer right outside our back door.
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The Lune Estuary.
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Sea Lavender (I think).
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Sculpture on Morecambe Prom, ‘Love, The Most Beautiful Of Absolute Disasters’ by Shane Johnstone. Locally known as ‘Venus and Cupid’. It commemorates the 24 cockle-pickers who died in the Bay in 2004.
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The view across Morecambe Bay.

Now, though we won’t see them over Christmas as we usually would, with the vaccines being rolled out, we have the real prospect of safely meeting with my mum and dad again to look forward to. Bring it on!

My Parents and Other Visitors

Harlequins, Angelica and Ragwort Honey.

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Mid-July brought clouds and rain.

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

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

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

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Fox and Cubs.
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Tutsan berries.
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Mullein.
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Feverfew.
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Hoverfly on Marsh Thistles.
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Guelder Rose Berries.
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A Carpet Moth – possibly Wood Carpet.
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Hogweed busy with Soldier Beetles.
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Meadow Sweet.
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Broad-leaved Helleborine?

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

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Common Blue-sowthistle.
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Common Blue-sowthistle leaf.
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Dewberry.

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

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Broad-leaved Helleborine.

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

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Lady’s-slipper Orchid leaves.

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

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Dark-red Helleborine?

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

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The pink gills of a fresh Field Mushroom.

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

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Broad-leaved Helleborine by Hawes Water.
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Wild Angelica with ladybirds.
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Wild Angelica.
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Wild Angelica.
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Yellow Brain Fungus.
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Dryad’s Saddle.
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A slime mould?

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

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White-lipped Snail.
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Comma butterfly.
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Red Campion.
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False Goat’s Beard? A garden escapee.
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Inkcaps.
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Harebells.
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A profusion of Ragwort at Myer’s Allotment.
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Honey-bee on Ragwort.

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

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

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A Ragwort victim?

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

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A drowsy hoverfly.

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

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Mullein.
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Yellow Rattle.
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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
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Gatekeeper.
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Mixed wildflowers at Myer’s Allotment.
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Bindweed.
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A Harlequin ladybird emerging from its pupae.

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

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Discarded pupae?
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Another emerging Harlequin.
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Harlequin larvae.

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

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Rosebay Willowherb.
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Greater Plantain.
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Burdock.
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Hogweed.
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Small Skipper.
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Red Admiral.
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Melilot.
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Bee on Melilot.
Harlequins, Angelica and Ragwort Honey.

Antlers, Ram’s-horns but no Crests

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A returning Roe Buck?

Last summer we had visits to the garden from a male Roe Deer with lop-sided, asymmetric antlers. This summer it seemed like he had returned. Except the fact that this buck has only single tines on his antlers suggests that he is only one year old and therefore not the same buck that we saw last year. Maybe wonky antlers are a common complaint?

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Is he self-conscious about his unmatching antlers?

At the tail-end of June and into the start of July I made several visits to Woodwell. The recent rains had restored the pond there. The minnows are gone again: it will be interesting to see how soon they reappear.

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Great Ram’s-horn Snail?

I was glad to see that the Ram’s-horn Snails had survived the drought. Britain apparently has several different species of Ram’s-horn Snail but I believe that the others are all much smaller than the Great Ram’s-horn. I was confused by the fact that some of the snails were black and others…

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Definitely a Great Ram’s-horn Snail.

…red. I’d previously read that the red colouring is due to the presence of haemoglobin. But the black snails must surely have haemoglobin too? A little lazy internet research turned up a guide to freshwater aquariums which suggested that the red colour is actually due to a recessive gene. I wonder which is true?

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Newt – Smooth or Palmate?

What kept drawing me back to Woodwell was the presence of numerous newts. I’ve seen them there before from time to time, but never this reliably or in these numbers. Over several visits I took lots of photos – all of which, frankly, are a bit rubbish. Oh well. I enjoyed watching them, so no loss there.

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I’m fairly confident that they aren’t Great-crested Newts, but I’m not at all sure whether they’re Smooth Newts or Palmate Newts. Apparently it’s usually quite difficult to distinguish between the two. During the breeding season, the males of both species develop very distinctive characteristics and it becomes much easier to tell them apart. None of these newts seemed to show those adaptations clearly. Maybe the fact that the pond had dried out had delayed their breeding season. Even if that was the case, they now seemed extremely keen to pursue each other around the pond.

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Having looked at lots of pictures, if I had to stick my neck out, I would say that these are Palmate Newts, but with absolutely no confidence at all. It has occurred to me that it’s possible that both species were present, who knows?

Antlers, Ram’s-horns but no Crests

Trampled Underfoot

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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!

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Here’s the same view without the mist.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wintercress again, with quite distinctive, shiny leaves…

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Green-veined white butterfly.

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

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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

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Common carder bee.

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A very ragged peacock butterfly.

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Another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

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Brown silver-line moth.

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As yet unidentified micro-moth.

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And yet another ‘new’ perspective on Hawes Water.

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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.

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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!

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Lily-of-the-valley.

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Biting stonecrop, almost flowering.

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

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Foxglove pug moth, possibly.

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

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

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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

Distractions and Digressions

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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…

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

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

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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…

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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…

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Another Unfortunate Distraction. Oh no!

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

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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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.

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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

A Man Of No Convictions

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We imagine that as soon as we are thrown out of our customary ruts all is over, but it is only then that the new and the good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.

This is Pierre, in ‘War and Piece’ talking about his incarceration following the sack of Moscow. Seemed apposite somehow.

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Arnside Knott from near Know Point. I’d walked across the sands from Park Point – something I’d been thinking of doing for a few days beforehand.

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Female chaffinch.

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Roe Deer Buck in Eaves Wood – one of a pair I encountered.

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Late sun on Silverdale and the Bowland hills.

A man of no convictions, no habits, no traditions, no name…emerges – by what seems the strangest freak of chance – from among all the seething parties…is borne forward to a prominent position. The incompetence of his colleagues, the weakness and inanity of his rivals, the frankness of his falsehoods and his brilliant and self-confident mediocrity raise him…his childish insolence and conceit secure him …glory. He more than once finds himself on the brink of disaster and each time is saved in some unexpected manner.

He has no plan of any kind; he is afraid of everything; but the parties hold out their hands to him and insist on his participation.

He alone, his insane self-adulation, his insolence in crime and frankness in lying – he alone can justify what has to be done.

He is needed for the place that awaits him and so, almost apart from his own volition and in spite of his indecision, his lack of plan and all the blunders he makes, he is drawn into a conspiracy that aims at seizing power, and the conspiracy is crowned with success.

Do you have a clear picture? Can you guess who the passage describes? Yes – you have it – it’s Napoleon. In Tolstoy’s words. I’ve edited out all of the specific references to times and places which would give the game away. I can’t help thinking that this might fit quite a few leaders past and present. There’s a great deal more of this in ‘War and Peace’; I think it’s fair to say that Tolstoy did not hold Napoleon in high regard.


A Man Of No Convictions

Company

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Two Roe Deer in the field behind our house – they ran out of next-door’s garden when I walked into ours.

Although many of my lockdown walks have been solo outings, A has often accompanied me, TBH too and often the three of us have gone out together. More often than not, I’ll set out with A and/or TBH, but then, when they turn for home, I’ll add a little extra loop on to the route.

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Lambert’s Meadow.

B has also occasionally joined me, Little S less so, but we have managed to drag him out occasionally. (Little S incidentally is almost as tall as me now, whilst B has overtaken me).

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A Blue Tit on a neighbour’s gable end.

Even if I do set out alone, my walks are very rarely solitary affairs: with the weather set fair for so long, many of our neighbours and friends around the village have often been gardening or relaxing in their gardens as I pass. Inevitably, I stop for an appropriately socially-distanced conversation.

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A distant view of the Howgills.

Equally, some of our other friends in the village are getting out just as often as I am and I frequently meet a few people whilst I’m out and, again, we stop and chat for a while.

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The Kent estuary and the hills of the Lake District from Arnside Knott.

Frankly, I’m far more up to date with some of the people I know locally than I would be in more normal circumstances.

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A ‘new’ path – new to us anyway – from Heathwaite down to the shore.

On the other hand, there are other friends who live locally who I haven’t seen at all. It’s all a bit odd really.

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A at the Pepper Pot.

In addition, there’s lots of company in terms of wildlife – I’ve seen Roe Deer, both in the garden and during walks a lot over the last few weeks, even more than I normally wood. I’ve also seen more jays, tree-creepers and nuthatches than I would have had a chance to normally. On the other hand, I’m missing the birds I might have seen at Leighton Moss which, aside for the public footpath, is closed.

I suppose, likewise, I’m much more up to date with the places I visits on my local walks, but am feeling a bit out of touch with walks I would usually do, but which are a little further afield. I’ve missed the Purple Saxifrage on Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough this year, for example. Not a great hardship, I know, but a shame none the less.

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Our local postbox.

Talking of familiarity, A was amused by the fact that I took this photo of the postbox which is only just around the corner from home, and which I must have walked past thousands of times. But I’d forgotten that it’s VR postbox, dating all the way back to the days of Queen Victoria. We don’t have any remotely modern postboxes in the village I don’t think, but most of them are GR, so a least a bit newer than this one.

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Coal Tit.

I watched this Coal Tit investigating a crevice in the wall which borders the lane which runs past our house.

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I’ve seen Coal Tits there again since, but not often enough to be sure that there’s a nest in there.

And so, to today’s musical offering. After the sad news of the death of keyboard player Dave Greenfield, it had to be something by The Stranglers. I’ve dithered for quite a while over this one, because there are so many of their songs that I like, but in the end I’ve plumped for the first one which sprang to mind, Nice’n’Sleazy:

Company

Seismic Noise and Mast Years

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Early light on St. John’s Silverdale.

One consequence, apparently, of the current situation, has been the reduction of seismic noise; that is seismic readings caused by human activity. The journal Nature reports a drop by one third in Belgium, and I read somewhere, sorry, I can’t remember where, that in London it’s down by about a half.

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Heading towards Hawes Water. A fence on the left has been partially removed. Similar fences, between woodland and pasture, have been removed across the Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. Will they be replaced or is this part of a new management plan?

It’s difficult to gauge whether paths around Silverdale are quieter now than they usually are, because I’m not normally out myself mid-week in the daytime. I think that they have got busier, though, since the extra clarification which has made it clear that it’s okay to drive a short distance for your daily exercise.

I didn’t drive for this walk, in fact I haven’t driven anywhere for weeks, but I did walk a little further than usual, as I have done from time to time.

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The cairn at Gait Barrows.

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Ash flower buds.

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Beech mast.

TBH and I have both been noticing on our walks (and runs in TBH’s case) that, when we are beneath Beech trees this spring, every step brings a satisfying crunch. The local Beeches seem to have produced a bumper crop of mast last year. That’s not unusual: every three to five years Oaks and Beeches produce a huge crop and those years when that happens are know as mast years.

It seems that the reasons why this occurs are not completely understood. A Guardian piece on mast years hypothesises that it’s the spring weather which dictates: Oaks and Beeches are wind pollinated, so a warm and windy spring produces a lot of flowers which are successfully pollinated. If that theory is correct then this year ought to be a mast year.

On the other hand, this article, on the Woodland Trust website, posits that the lean years control the population of frugivores*, like Jays and Squirrels and then, in the bumper years, the remaining populations of these creatures can’t possibly eat all of the seeds so that some are bound to get a chance to germinate and grow.

This second theory would seem to require some element of coordination between trees, which in turn would imply that trees must communicate in some way. That might seem unlikely, but that’s exactly the thesis advanced by Peter Wohlleben in his book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, which I read last summer while we were in Germany and found absolutely fascinating.

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Anyway, back to my walk: I’d left Gait Barrows via the small hill Thrang Brow which is enough of a rise to give partial views of the Lake District hills, but that view never seems to translate well in photographs. From Thrang Brow a slender path heads of through the woods of Yealand Allotment. I don’t often come this way, but always enjoy it when I do.

A bright yellow sign on the far side of a wall attracted my attention…

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And I’m glad that it did, because just over the wall was a small group of Fallow Deer…

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Fallow Deer.

Sadly, most of the group were almost hidden by trees so I only got a chance of a clear photo of this one individual.

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Limekiln in Yealand Allotments.

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Peter Lane Limekiln.

I’d been thinking of incorporating Warton Crag into my walk, but I was thirsty and the weather was deteriorating, so took the path which cuts across the lower slopes to the north of the crag. Just as I took this photo…

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View of Leighton Moss.

…it began to rain. TBH, bless her, rang me and asked if I wanted her drive over to pick me up, but the rain wasn’t heavy so I decided to carry on.

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Tide line on Quaker’s Stang.

On Quaker’s Stang, an old sea defence, previous high tides had left a line of driftwood and dried vegetation right on the top of the wall, and, further along, well beyond the wall on the landward side. I’ve often wondered about the name – apparently ‘stang’ is a measurement of land equivalent to a pole, rod or perch. That sounds like it might offer an explanation, except a pole, or a rod, or a perch, is five and a half yards and Quaker’s Stang is a lot longer than that.

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This tree is very close to home. I spent the last part of my ‘walk’ watching and photographing the antics of another Treecreeper in its branches.

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Treecreeper.

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I suppose a treecreeper qualifies as an LBJ, a Little Brown Job, except that sounds derogatory and, in my opinion, Treecreeper’s are stunning, in their own muted way.

*Frugivore was a new word to me, and I’m always happy to meet one of those. Apparently, it’s an animal which lives wholly or mostly on fruit.

The idea of compiling a kind of day-y-day playlist originated when Andy and I were discussing a mixtape I made, many moons ago, for our long drives up to Scotland for walking holidays. One of the songs on the tape was The Band’s ‘The Weight’. It’s still a song I adore. As well as the original, there’s a great version by Aretha Franklin, but here (subject to it not getting blocked) is Mavis Staples singing it with Jools Holland’s orchestra from one of his hootenannies:

I’ve seen Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra a couple of times live and can definitely recommend them. Last time I saw them, at Cartmel Racetrack, we went with friends and took the kids with us. There was a fair there too, and several support acts, including the Uptown Monotones who have become a firm favourite. Anyway, the kids were mortified when the adults all had the temerity to dance. In public! One of my sandals fell apart whilst I was dancing, I’m not sure whether that was a consequence of my vigorous enthusiasm or my inept clumsiness. Or both.

Seismic Noise and Mast Years