Mouse Will Play

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Copridding Wood – Arnside Knott – Redhill Woods – Hagg Wood – Black Dyke – Silverdale Moss – Gait Barrows – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Redbridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

P1210721

Big clouds and the beach at Far Arnside.

The best day of my solo week was the Thursday, which was windy and changeable, but which also brought quite a bit of sunshine. Because the forecast wasn’t great, I decided to stay close to home again.

P1210722

Sloes.

Last autumn, I collected some sloes with a view to making some sloe gin. I was a bit early and the sloes hadn’t had their first frost yet, but I’d read that you can just stick them in the freezer and achieve the same affect, which I duly did. I’m sure that I warned TBH about the sloes. Well, fairly sure. Anyway, she forgot, and added the sloes to her breakfast smoothie one morning, thinking they were frozen blueberries. The resulting smoothie was more crunchy than smooth, being full of bits of the stones from the sloes and it was also mouth-puckeringly tart.

P1210724

Marooned tree-trunk.

P1210725

I’ve posted pictures of these fossilised corals from Far Arnside a couple of times before.

P1210728

They aren’t always easy to find, which doesn’t make much sense, I know, but I was pleased to find them again on this occasion and spent a happy few moments seeking them out on the rocks.

P1210738

Vervain?

This delicate and inconspicuous plant bears slender spikes of pale lilac flowers. It is hard to understand why our ancestors regarded such a modest and unassuming plant as immensely powerful.

from Hatfield’s Herbal by Gabrielle Hatfield

P1210740

Can’t think that I’ve noticed this plant before, but there was quite a bit of it blowing about in the stiff wind on the rocks hard by the shore. It was apparently sacred to the Druids, widely regarded as a panacea in the Middle Ages, and thought to be both used by witches and proof against witchcraft.

P1210742

Looking along the shore towards Grange.

P1210745

A similar view taken not too much after the previous photo. You can see that the weather was very changeable.

P1210755

Burnett Rosehip.

P1210759

The Kent Estuary.

P1210760

A Tellin. I don’t know whether it’s a Thin Tellin or a Baltic Tellin, but I was interested to read that the creatures which occupy these shells can live beneath the sand at densities of up to 3000 per cubic metre.

P1210763

A shower on the far bank.

P1210773

P1210793

Meathop Fell across the Kent – bathed in sunshine again.

P1210810

The Kent at New Barns.

P1210812

Big Clouds over Meathop Fell.

After our stay in the Tarn Gorge, where most flowers seemed to have already gone over to seed, I was on the look-out to see what was still in bloom at home. The refreshing answer was that there was so many things flowering that I soon lost count.

P1210816

Sea Plantain.

P1210823

A Hoverfly on a Hawk’s-beard. I wish I could be more specific, but Britain has several species of Hawk’s-beard and over 250 kinds of hoverfly and I can’t be sure about either of these.

P1210826

P1210830

Mallards.

P1210838

Sea Campion.

P1210839

Another hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

P1210854

And yet another kind, also unidentified.

P1210847

Creeping Thistle and, I think, a Mason Bee (22 resident British species).

P1210849

Mason bees, although closely related to social wasps, are solitary hunters which stock their nests with various insects to feed their larvae.

P1210857

Sea Aster.

P1210856

P1210859

Yet another kind of hoverfly, perhaps a Drone Fly, this time on Yarrow.

P1210865

And another, on Common Knapweed, I think.

P1210872

This has been quite a year for fungi, and this walk was no exception, with many different sizes, colours and forms seen.

P1210877

A rather faded Brown Argus butterfly.

This area is unusual because it’s on the northern limit of the Brown Argus and the southern limit of the Northern Brown Argus, but has both species. I’ve rarely seen either though, so this was a bit of a bonus.

In Greek mythology, Argus was a giant with a hundred eyes.

P1210887

P1210888

More fungi.

P1210891

Bedeguar Galls, home to wasp grubs.

P1210892

P1210900

Common Darter, this colouration is typical of older females.

P1210911

The view from the Knott, excellent though it was, was curtailed somewhat by clouds obscuring the larger hills of the the Lake District, which, to some extent at least, justified my decision not to head for the hills for a walk.

I stopped for half an hour, to sit on a bench and make a brew. I chatted to a couple of chaps I’d met earlier in the walk and was also befriended by a wasp, which was apparently fascinated by my phone and insisted on crawling all over it.

P1210924

A bumblebee on what looks like Marsh Woundwort, although it wasn’t growing in a remotely marshy spot.

P1210921

P1210926

Blackberries – I ate plenty during this walk.

P1210929

A male Small White (I think).

P1210931

That bumblebee again. I can’t see any pollen-baskets, so is it a male or a Cuckoo Bee?

image

Arnside Knott pano (click on this, or nay other, image to see larger version on flickr.

P1210942

Bittersweet.

P1210950

Painted Lady.

P1210955

Leighton Beck.

P1210964

Greater plantain.

A common plant with many names: Broad-leaved Plantain, Rat’s-tail Plantain, Banjos, Angel’s Harps. To the Anglo-Saxons it was Waybread, one of their nine sacred herbs and another powerful medicinal plant. I remember playing with these as a child – gently pulled away from the plant, a leaf would bring with several long thin fibres – the challenge was to get longer ‘guitar strings’ than your friends. Who needs Fortnite?

P1210965

P1210968

It wasn’t only me enjoying the blackberries!

P1210969

Heron.

P1210972

Middlebarrow and Arnside Knott.

P1220001

Unidentified Umbellifer.

P1220005

Arnside Knott across Silverdale Moss.

P1220006

Little Egret.

P1220020

These look like mutant Blackberries, but in fact they are a related species: Dewberries. They have fewer segments and are so juicy that they tend to disintegrate when picked. In my opinion, they’re superior to blackberries. They’re apparently more common in Eastern England, but I now know several spots where they grow.

P1220026

Speckled Wood.

P1220027

Orpine.

P1220038

More fungi.

P1220054

Grasshopper (possibly Common Green Grasshopper).

P1220056

This is the field adjacent to the one where I found lots of mushrooms just a couple of days before. All along this track there was a new rash of small mushrooms.

P1220059

A little later I passed through another field with, if anything, even more mushrooms.

P1220074

P1220081

Banded snail.

P1220083

P1220085

Of course, mushrooms are fine in the field, but even better with a piece of rump steak and a creamy blue cheese sauce….

P1220097

Fine way to finish a fine day.

Advertisements
Mouse Will Play

Home Alone

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – The Row – Bottoms Lane – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Shore – The Cove.

P1210601

Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

When we returned from France, for the rest of the family three weeks under canvas stretched into four weeks. After just one night at home and a frenzy of laundry and repacking they were all camping again with their respective guiding and scouting units – the DBs with the Scouts, TBH as leader of the local Guides and A with the Explorer Scouts. They were all on the same field though, at the Red Rose international camp (I’m not sure if these things are still called jamborees?). Although there were scouts and guides from around the world at the camp, for us it was very local, just a few miles down the road at the Westmorland County Show-ground near Crooklands, which was fortunate, since in the hasty repacking many items had been forgotten.

P1210613

A (very hairy) Hoverfly.

That left me at home ‘on me tod’. Although these photographs show lovely blue skies and sunshine, the weather that week was generally atrocious and it’s a testament to the the organisers and our local leaders that the kids all had a wonderful time on their very damp camp.

P1210622

Limestone pavement at Gait Barrows.

Left to my own devices, I naturally tried to get out for walks as often as possible and, with the weather the way it was, and all the driving I’d recently done, I opted to stay close to home when I did go out.

P1210626

Orpine.

In fact, since the end of the summer and through the autumn my walks have mainly been local – I’ve been beating the bounds quite a bit and have lots of walks to catch up on, with lots of photos of all the old familiar things – local views, flowers, butterflies, leaves, trees, rocks, bugs etc. You have been warned!

P1210628

Devil’s-bit Scabious.

This is the the tall plant which caused my much confusion last year. The flower-heads seem to stay closed like this for a very long time before opening and revealing the more familiar scabious form.

P1210634

Common Darter.

P1210638

P1210636

Elderberries (I think).

P1210640

Sloes.

This being late summer, there were berries everywhere. Mostly they weren’t ripe yet, but fortunately the blackberries were. This was the first of many blackberry fuelled walks.

P1210641

Blackberries.

P1210648

Mushroom.

P1210649

Forage!

P1210651

More mushrooms.

P1210657

Tea!

This has been a bumper year for autumn fungi, which started with an abundance of field mushrooms. I remember something similar happening after the long, hot, dry summers of 1975 and 1976. And going out with my Mum foraging for mushrooms. Although, since I almost certainly didn’t eat mushrooms then, being as fussy a child as my own kids are now, I wonder if I’ve made this up. Mum?

Anyway, fried in plenty of butter, these mushrooms were delicious. I also like to eat the small ones raw, just after picking them. There’s no taste quite like it.

P1210658

Gait Barrows.

P1210668

Red-tailed Cuckoo Bumblebee (perhaps), on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

Cuckoo Bumblebees don’t collect pollen for their larvae, but instead take over the nests of their host bumblebees, in this case Red-tailed Bumblebees. Although I am, as ever, tentative with my identification, what makes me think that this is a cuckoo bee are the lack of pollen baskets and the very hairy legs, both of which are apparently tell-tales. This species is one of many insects which has been confined to the south of Britain, but is now spreading northwards with the changing climate.

P1210671

Hawes Water.

Home Alone

The Kleiner Schillerfalter and Other Beautiful Bugs.

P1200874

One of the things which I really enjoyed in France was the abundance and variety of the butterflies. They were everywhere; although, often quite difficult to photograph. Whilst the Dordogne had been impressive in that regard, the Tarn Gorge area was better yet. What follows then is a collection of photographs of some of the butterflies, and other insects, which I saw in and around the campsite. (There will be even more butterflies to come, from various days out.)

First up, the Lesser Purple Emperor, in German the Kleiner Schillerfalter, or Smaller Shimmer Butterfly. Like many of the other insects here, I spotted this during a short afternoon wander a little way upriver. Here are the underside of the wings…

P1200879

And here when they are slightly open…

P1200891

Brown, orange and white you’ll notice, but when opened a fraction more…

P1200884

Bright, iridescent blue! Absolutely stunning. I’ve been wondering how the wings could  change colour like that and eventually tracked down an explanation: apparently the scales on the wings have tiny structures on them which diffract light waves and subsequently cause interference which gives the iridescent colour.

That was the first and, so far at least, only Lesser Purple Emperor I’ve ever seen; but there were some more familiar species about too.

P1200871

Large Skipper.

P1200916

A very tatty Peacock.

P1200961

Common Blue(?)

P1210009

Comma (Robert le Diable to the French).

P1200903

This is another species which was new to me, although they can be found in England. It’s a Marbled White.

P1210042

Dragonflies like this one…

P1200908

…were extremely common along the river’s edge. I’m pretty confident that it’s Onychogomphus uncatus, the Large Pincertail Dragonfly.

P1200919

There were more Beautiful Demoiselles…

P1200932

P1200943

Although the related Banded Demoiselle…

P1200951

…seemed to be more prevalent. I think that this…

P1200945

…female is a Banded Demoiselle, because they are apparently brighter than female Beautiful Demoiselles.

P1210050

A Blue-winged Grasshopper. I wish I could show you what it looked like in flight, when those blue wings were on show. It’s not only Schillerfalters which can undergo a startling transformation of colour.

P1210555

Another female Great Green Bush-cricket, this time in our Kubb set.

Finally, back to butterflies and one that got away, just about. I saw lots of Swallowtails during our trip, but this is the only one I managed to photograph*.

P1200846

This was in the village of Les Vignes and taken from a considerable distance. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

(*The photograph in a previous post was of a Scarce Swallowtail, a similar and related species.)

The Kleiner Schillerfalter and Other Beautiful Bugs.

Foulshaw Moss Again

P1200321

Figwort.

P1200172

Wasp on Figwort.

P1200173

Green-veined White on Tufted Vetch.

P1200221

Green-veined White on Bramble.

P1200175

Large Skipper on Tufted Vetch.

P1200184

Large Skipper on Thistle.

P1200297

Large Skipper on Bramble.

P1200181

Common Carder Bumblebee (I think) on Thistle.

P1200187

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars on Ragwort.

P1200199

Foulshaw Moss, with Arnside Knott and Meathop Fell on the skyline.

P1200200

Foulshaw Moss, with Whitbarrow Scar behind.

P1200209

Great Spotted Woodpecker, adult, female I think.

P1200210

P1200285

Great Spotted Woodpecker, juvenile.

P1200216

Black Darter, female.

P1200224

Foulshaw Moss.

P1200268

Common Lizard.

P1200260

P1200299

A web-tent. I couldn’t see any caterpillars within.

P1200300

Scots Pines.

P1200305

Reed Bunting, male.

P1200317

Marbled Orb Weaver Spider (perhaps).

These photos were taken just over a month ago on an evening visit to Foulshaw Moss whilst A was at her weekly dancing lessons. Since they were taken, we’ve been away for three weeks, camping in Wales and then France, and this little outing feels like a distant memory.

I have enjoyed looking through them, however, and trying to put names to things I recorded. Not here are the many small birds which tumbled about in the trees, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Linnets and Chaffinches. Also missing are the crickets and/or grasshoppers which I saw, but failed to photograph and the Ospreys, Adders and Large Heath Butterflies which I hope to see when I visit, but which have always eluded me so far.

The Black Darter, Britain’s smallest species of Dragonfly, is new to me, so that should probably be the highlight, but it was the adult Great Spotted Woodpecker, which I heard first and then picked out in flight, flying, unusually, towards me rather than away and landing at the top of a dead Birch relatively nearby, which will stick in my mind. Also, the hordes of Wasps feeding on Figwort flowers, reminding me of my observation last year that the flowers and the Wasps seem to have coevolved so that a Wasp’s head is a perfect fit for a Figwort flower.

 

Foulshaw Moss Again

At Swim Two Becks

Skelwith Bridge – Elter Water – Elterwater – Little Langdale – Slater Bridge – Stang End – Skelwith Bridge.

P1200023

Continuing the theme of my last post – novelty versus familiarity – this is a route I’ve walked countless times over the years, but this iteration was unlike any previous version. It was late afternoon, after work, but still very hot. Skelwith Force was a bit of a misnomer for the normally thunderous waterfall, now relatively tame. I was heading for this large pool in the River Brathay.

P1200024

Purple Loosestrife.

P1200021

Purple Loosestrife – Emily – is this what’s in your garden?

P1200016

Before I got to this point in the river, I was examining another clump of Purple Loosestrife when this Shield Bug landed on my hand and then on the path. I think it’s a Bronze Shieldbug, but I’m not entirely confident.

P1200019

Harebell.

Anyway, the reason I’d strayed slightly from the path and stuck to the riverbank, was that I was looking for a place for a swim. This looked perfect…

P1200022

And it was! The water was deep and quite warm, but cool enough to be refreshing. It was almost immediately deep, straight from the bank, but I found a place where I thought I could ease myself in, except that the riverbed was so slippery that I lost my footing, both feet sliding out from under me, and fell in anyway. It was a beautiful spot for a swim, with stunning views and a host of damselflies and dragonflies keeping me company.

A short walk upstream, past what looked like another ideal place for swimming, brought me to Elter Water…

P1200025

The lake, not the village. I’d had an idea that I might swim here too, but, as you can see, the water was very shallow close in and further out I thought I could see a great deal of weed, which I found a bit off-putting; I decided to bide my time.

If I wasn’t swimming, there were plenty of fish that were…

P1200028

I still had my wet-shoes on and paddled into the water to take some photos. The fish weren’t very frightened of me…

P1200033

I changed back into shoes more suited for walking, but retained my rapidly drying trunks; I had plans for more swimming.

In fact, before I’d left for this part of the Lakes, I’d been poring over the map, looking at blue bits which promised the possibility of a swim. As is often the case, I’d got carried away and had identified numerous potential spots and was toying with the idea of linking them together in an extended walking and swimming journey reminiscent of the central character’s trip in the film and John Cheever short-story ‘The Swimmer’, with your’s truly in the muscular Burt Lancaster role, obviously.

P1200038

Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. I saw, and photographed, loads of them.

P1200043

P1200053

Silver-Y Moth. I saw lots of these too, but they were very elusive to photograph.

P1200046

Lots of Harebells too!

The short climb from the village of Elterwater over to Little Langdale was hot and sticky work, but brought the reward of views of Little Langdale Tarn and the Coniston Fells…

P1200057

This…

P1200064

…is the River Brathay again, flowing out of Little Langdale Tarn.

P1200066

Slater Bridge.

I thought that this pool…

P1200068

…just downstream of Slater Bridge, might have swimming potential, but couldn’t be sure that it was deep enough, so wanted to check the pool I’d seen before, back toward Little Langdale Tarn.

The ground beside the river, even after our long dry spell, was still quite spongy and full of typical wet, heathland vegetation, including lots of Heath Spotted-orchids.

P1200070

Good to have an opportunity to compare these with its close relative Common Spotted-orchid which I’ve photographed around home recently.

P1200073

This pool turned out to be ideal again. I dug my stove out of my bag, to make a cup of tea ready for when I’d had a swim. Whilst I was busy, a dragonfly landed on a nearby boulder. I grabbed my camera, but the photograph came out horribly blurred.  It does show a dragonfly which is exactly the same pale blue as a male Broad-bodied Chaser, but with a much narrower abdomen, making it either a male Black-tailed Skimmer or a male Keeled Skimmer, probably the latter, based on the distribution maps in my Field Guide, which makes it a first for me.

P1200077

P1200074

White Water-lily – the largest flower indigenous to Britain, but it closes and slowly withdraws into the water each day after midday.

P1200075

Yellow Water-lily.

P1200081

Once again, the water was deep right to the bank, but somebody had piled up rocks under the water to make it easier to get in and out. The water here was colder than it had been further downstream, quite bracing even, somewhat to my surprise. I enjoyed this swim even more than the first. The low sun was catching the Bog Cotton on the bank…

P1200082

…and was also making reflected ripple patterns on the peaty exposed bank, which were stunning, but which I can’t show you because they were only visible from the water. In addition, the Bog Myrtle bushes growing along the bank were giving off a lovely earthy, musky fragrance.

It was eight o’clock by now, and I expected to have the river to myself, but a couple arrived for a swim and once they were changed and in the water, I got out to enjoy my cup of tea.

Returning to Slater Bridge…

P1200089

I watched two large dragonflies rapidly touring the area. They were so fast that my efforts to take photographs were doomed to failure. I thought that they were Golden-ringed Dragonflies, like the ones I saw mating near to Fox’s Pulpit last summer. At one point, one of them repeatedly landed momentarily on the surface of the water, or rather splashed onto the surface, making a ripple, and then instantly flew on again, only to almost immediately repeat the procedure. I have no idea what purpose this behaviour served. It was very odd.

P1200099

I still had a fair way to go to get back to the car, but also the last of the light to enjoy whilst I walked it.

P1200103

The post’s title is meant to be a punning reference to ‘At Swim Two Birds’, Flann O’Brien’s wonderfully nutty book, which some people claim is even better than his ‘The Third Policeman’. I probably should reread them both to see what I think now, after a break of a few years; if the house weren’t stuffed to the rafters with books I haven’t ever read, I would set about that task tomorrow. ‘At Swim Two Becks’ seemed appropriate when I thought I had swum in Great Langdale Beck and Greenburn Beck and before I had examined the map again and realised that in fact I’d swum in two different stretches of the River Brathay.

Of course, Heraclitus, whom I am fond of quoting, tells us that you can never step into the same river twice. You can, however, walk the same route twice, but it will never be the same each time. Previous blog-posts of much the same route, none of which involve swimming, Burt Lancaster, John Cheever or the novels of Flann O’Brien:

A walk with my Mum and Dad.

A walk with TBH.

A snowy walk with friends

A more recent walk with different friends.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 00.33.39Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 00.35.43

At Swim Two Becks

An Orchid Hunt

P1190481

Female Broad-bodied Chaser in the garden again.

P1190488

The final day of our Whit half-term holiday. TBH and I were out for a turn, looking for various kinds of orchids: I’d heard the previous day that there were Fly Orchids flowering at Trowbarrow Quarry, and felt that there would probably be Bee Orchids too, TBH wanted to see the Lady’s-slipper Orchids at Gait Barrows.

P1190497

The Elder was in flower and TBH had been busy making cordial, as she habitually does at this time of year. Very nice it is too.

P1190513

Trowbarrow.

P1190499

Comma butterfly.

P1190501

Fossilised coral at Trowbarrow.

P1190502

P1190506

Common Spotted-orchid and Quaking Grass.

P1190507

Common Blue Butterfly on Bird’s-foot Trefoil its principal food-plant.

P1190510

Northern Marsh-orchid. Possibly.

P1190515

Bird’s-eye Primrose by Hawes Water. At the southern limit of its range.

P1190517

P1190518

Common Spotted Orchid again.

P1190520

Northern Marsh-orchid or maybe a hybridisation of same with Common Spotted-orchid.

I didn’t find what I was looking for at Trowbarrow and at Gait Barrows the Lady’s-slippers were rather dried-out and exhausted looking.

P1190523

It was a very pleasant walk though.

 

An Orchid Hunt

Sunshine in the Garden.

P1190186

Bank Holiday Monday was another glorious day. We spent the morning sunning ourselves in the garden again and then most of the afternoon taking an interminably long time to prepare for an overnight trip (of which more to follow).

P1190218

We’ve regularly had a female Broad-bodied Chaser in the garden over the last fortnight. I had convinced myself that it was the same one each time, since it seemed to be quite small of its kind, but then, a couple of days ago, I saw two close together, both of the same size, which has obviously put a huge dent in my conviction. Whether or not it was the same one each time, I’ve really enjoyed taking photos.

 

P1190194

I took some photos of flowers too. This must be a knapweed of some description. TBH has planted them in the garden in several places. The bees seem to like them too…

P1190231

P1190196

Large Red Damselfly.

P1190198

P1190238

P1190200

Peony.

I’ve been noticing the sounds of Starlings a lot whilst out and about, since coming across the nest on the Lots. B and I spotted some Starlings which were surely visiting a nest in a hedgerow beside Moss Lane. There have been a lot of Starlings on the feeders in our neighbour’s garden too.

P1190226

Here they are perched in the top of our Silver Birch.

 

Sunshine in the Garden.