Stob a’ Choire Odhair

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Loch Tulla, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh.

Our annual walking weekend in Scotland was back on the menu, after a Covid absence last year. On the Saturday, with a mixed forecast, but with the potential for clearing skies later in the day, most of the party were heading for Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, opposite our accommodation at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The Tower Captain and I had ticked those off on a previous visit, and he was keen for fresh ‘bags’, so instead, we parked down by Loch Tulla, intending to climb Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar.

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Abhainn Shira

As we were on the bridge over the Abhainn Shira, four Red Deer stags waded across up stream – you can just about see them in the photo.

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Abhainn Shira and Araich

We started out in a light rain which quickly became a bit of a downpour. Not to worry, the scenery was still pretty spectacular despite the weather. Particularly the waterfalls…

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Allt Coire na Muic and Creag an Steallaire.

…of the Allt Coire na Muic.

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Aonach Eagach and Allt Toaig.

All of the streams seemed to be running pretty high, including the ones we had to cross…

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Allt Caolain Duibh.

The ascent route has some excellent zig-zags, which took some of the sting out of a steep slope. The rain desisted, but we soon into the cloud and a fairly strong wind.

By the time we reached the top of Stob a’ Choire Odhair it was extremely windy, the sort of wind which has you staggering about, and the wind was driving icy precipitation – either soft hailstones or hard snowflakes – into every nook and cranny of our clothing.

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Stob a’ Choire Odhair.

It was pretty fierce, and given that our ascent had taken rather a long time, I wasn’t at all keen on continuing to Stob Ghabhar. I was quite surprised, when I mentioned this, that TC immediately acquiesced.

We decided to drop down the ridge towards Stob Ghabhar, giving us a slightly different descent route. At one point, we dropped down a fairly steep, rocky section of path and suddenly the howling gale was stilled. The absence of the noise and the buffeting felt quite odd. We took advantage of this sheltered haven and stopped for hot drinks and butties.

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The bealach between Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar. TC mid-stagger.
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The onward ridge?

The respite was short lived however, as soon as we resumed our descent we were back in the powerful hold of the storm and staggering about again.

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Allt Coirein Lochain.

And then we dropped slightly below the bealach into Coire Toaig and relative peace and calm…

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Coire Toaig.
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Aonach Eagach and Allt Toaig, again.
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The Tower Captain recrosses the Allt Caolain Duibh.
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Sunshining, but more weather to come.

Despite the fact that we had a couple more showers, the descent was delightful.

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Allt Coire na Muic and Creag an Steallaire again.
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Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.

Our enjoyment was only tempered by the realisation that the others were probably enjoying superb views from their chosen hills, which had cleared and were bathed in sunshine, whilst our own route, or at least the higher part of it, remained stubbornly in the cloud…

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Stob Ghabhar – still in the cloud.
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What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? Rather than pleasure found in the misfortune of others, pain occasioned by another’s good luck? Of course, the Germans have a word for it – Gluckschmerz, literally luck-pain. You can see that TC is upset by it here…

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The Tower Captain following the Abhainn Shira.

Actually, I think we were both enjoying this part of the walk, now that it wasn’t raining and the views and scenery were rather good.

The shed behind TC is the Clashgour Hut, a corrugated iron monstrosity which belongs to Glasgow University Mountaineering Club. It’s bookable. Maybe it’s much more comfortable on the inside than the exterior suggested, but, frankly: rather you than me.

We saw a number of Red Deer stags as we neared the end of our walk, including one in the garden of one of the remote houses we passed.

Then, as we sat in the car gently steaming and finishing off the contents of our flasks, one wandered through the car park…

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Red Deer stag.
Stob a’ Choire Odhair

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

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Three days at the beginning of January to finish our Winterval* break. First off, an Arnside Knott walk. As you can see, it was fairly bright, but very cloudy elsewhere, so the views were highly truncated. No Cumbrian Fells on display, and to the south…

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…Warton Crag looking a bit hazy, and the Forest of Bowland, usually the horizon, nowhere to be seen.

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Flooded fields and Silverdale Moss.
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Low winter sun over Humphrey Head.
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Sunset.
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The next day’s walk, our ‘standard’ Jenny Brown’s Point circuit, is represented by this single photo of high tide in Quicksand Pool. A grey day!

The next day, a Monday, in lieu of our New Year’s Day Bank Holiday, we had four Roe Deer in the garden: a male and three females.

He was easiest to photograph, since he didn’t move about too much, often sitting quite still…

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…also giving himself a thorough grooming…

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…occasionally shaking himself in much the same way a dog would, and every now and then having a bit of a snack…

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The females were much more intent on feeding themselves. They have a long gestation period and so maybe they were all pregnant and that was the reason for their greater appetite?

I took hundreds of photos, many of them very poor, but it was interesting to be watching them. I was surprised by how catholic their tastes were. We are all too aware that in the spring and summer the deer will come into our garden and eat lots of flowers, but in the middle of winter they seemed keen on just about anything green.

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Even the rather leathery looking leaves of our large Fatsia japonica didn’t escape unscathed.

Brambles and Ivy too were firmly on the menu…

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Through my zoom lens I could see the deers’ long tongues, seemingly well adapted for grasping leaves and tearing them from the plants.

Two of the does roamed the garden together, never straying from each others’ sides.

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The other female occasionally joined them, but mostly plowed her own furrow. Then she joined the buck on our lawn…

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And they sat, companionably ignoring one another…

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I’m not sure how long I would have sat watching the deer, but then I got an offer of a lift to Arnside from A, who is working in a Care Home there. It was raining a little, but the forecast was for better to come, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

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High tide – the Kent viaduct. Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow behind.
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Arnside Prom. This was a very high tide, the slipway here was almost submerged.

I walked around the coast, as far as the Coastguard station, from where I had to turn inland since the path was underwater.

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I followed the road to New Barns. The tide had receded somewhat, although the salt marsh was still inundated…

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From New Barns I was able to follow the shore again. It had stopped raining, and some blue sky started to appear.
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White Creek.
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Hampsfell and Meathop Fell across the Kent Estuary from White Creek.

The remainder of the walk was enlivened by my attempts to capture the crepuscular rays illuminating Morecambe Bay.

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Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then shadow sweeps it away. You know you are alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.

Anne Dillard from ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

I’ve quoted this before, but, somewhat to my surprise, it was ten years ago, so I think that’s okay. I’ve been slowing rereading ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’, which put it in mind, but anyway I’ve come to think of days like this as Partly Cloudies.

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When I eventually got home, the three does had disappeared, but the buck was still stationed on our lawn, bold as brass. Nowhere else to be, no calls on his time. Nice work if you can get it!

*Winterval – not a term I ever normally use, but I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone would bite!

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

August: Garden Wildlife + Foot Golf.

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Blurred Long-tail Tit. All Long-Tail Tits are blurred.
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Blue Tit.

Some plants in the garden are fantastic value, not just in themselves, but for the wildlife they attract.

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I think these tall yellow daisies are Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. Related to sunflowers, they’ve spread like mad in our garden, giving a long-lasting bright splash of colour in mid to late summer.

This is what the BBC Gardener’s World website has to say about them…

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies​/​moths and other pollinators. It nectar-pollen-rich-flowers and has seeds for birds.

The long stems seem to be good places for dragonflies to rest. And they are certainly attractive to pollinators.

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Hoverfly. Possibly a Drone Fly.
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Brown-lipped Smail.
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Greenbottle.
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Marjoram also seeds itself quite freely around the garden and seems to be particularly attractive to bees. I hope this is a Garden Bumblebee, seems appropriate, but the white-tailed bumblebees are difficult to distinguish between.

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Peacock.
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And another.
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A pair of fawns, their spots beginning to fade. They came right up to our windows, seemingly unaware of the people watching on the other side of the glass.
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And, completely unrelated, TBH booked us all in for a family session of Foot Golf at Casterton golf course. As you can see, the views there aren’t bad at all.

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We were all a bit rubbish at the golf, but we had a good giggle.

August: Garden Wildlife + Foot Golf.

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