Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Heald Brow primroses.

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Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

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I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

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This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

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A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

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On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

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There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

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Cuckooflowers.

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Pheasant.

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At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

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…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

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Violets.

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I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

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The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

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…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

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…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

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It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Cowslips.

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Hoverfly.

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Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

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New oak leaves.

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Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

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I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

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Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

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Bank Well.

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Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

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One final Peacock butterfly.

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More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

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Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

Uitwaaien.

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside – Sandside – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Coldwell Meadows – Gait Barrows – Hawes Water – Sixteen Buoys Field – Eaves Wood.

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Arnside Knott and the Kent estuary from Beetham Fell.

Uitwaaien (v) (from Dutch) To take a break to clear one’s head; lit. “to walk in the wind”.

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Silverdale Moss, Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower.

A long walk, on the last day in March. I needed to uitwaaien. I didn’t take my camera and, to begin with at least, didn’t take many photos with my phone.

Eventually, of course, I would regret the lack of a camera with a zoom: in the photo above you can see a small white speck which is a Great Egret. I have seen them before locally, but this one glided in and landed quite close by. It was interesting to watch it fishing and see just how similar to a Heron they are in all but looks and how unlike a Little Egret. I really would have liked to get a good photo though.

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In this photo the tiny specks which look like there might have been dust on the camera lens are actually hirundines, my first of the year and much earlier than I expect to see them. I suspect that they were Martins of some sort, but can’t be sure. I do know that they lifted my spirits considerably.

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Primroses.

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Hawes Water.

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I was worried that all of the tree-felling at Hawes Water would put an end to my annual pilgrimage to see the Toothwort which flowers there, but the although the trees which host the Toothwort have been felled, the flowers have reappeared. I think that, like the Martins, this was the earliest I have ever seen them. I did take some photos, but they didn’t come out too well. There are, of course, numerous photos from previous years of the rather odd looking flowers dotted about this blog.

When I got home it was to find that the kids had made tea, not entirely unexpected, since it was Mother’s Day, but welcome none the less. B’s pork, leek and apple stew was delicious. Rather better than when I make it, I thought. I’ve told him he’s delegated to make it regularly, but he doesn’t seem too keen.

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This last photo is from a midweek wander across the Lots, a couple of days after the walk which garnered the rest of the pics.

Uitwaaien.

Half Term Happenings II

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Back to mid-February, when we are ‘at home’ for the visit of numerous guests.

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We’d been for a midday wander around Jenny Brown’s Point, when I don’t seem to have taken any photos at all, and were then out again, climbing Arnside Knott and then pausing at the Pepper Pot, on our way home, to watch the sunset.

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Don’t be deceived by my brother’s shorts, the breeze had turned very cold, as you might expect in February.

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I actually took quite a few more photos, mostly of people, but the camera has an HDR facility, which I forget to turn off. It’s great for landscapes, but makes people look like strange Frankenstein monsters.

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The sun disappearing behind Humphrey Head.

 

Half Term Happenings II

Tramp

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A bit of a wander from the end of January. Before I left the house I’d been watching a large flock of Curlews in the field behind the house. Here’s a portion of them…

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Snowdrops.

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Pepper Pot.

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Slime mould?

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Goldcrest.

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Jelly Ear fungus.

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Stinking Hellebore.

I’m not sure that Stinking Hellebore is really a local wildflower – it likes alkaline soils so grows well here, but not in may places, so is probably a garden escapee. It’s apparently best seen on the chalk hills of Hampshire.

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Jackdaws.

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Snowdrops.

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More Hellebores, this time from our garden. 

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And the title? Well, it all came from mishearing….

‘The Champ’ by The Mohawks on Radio 6. My mistake is not too surprising, since this is a cover of ‘Tramp’, first recorded by Lowell Fulsom and cowritten by Fulsom and Jimmy McCracklin (who recorded the album ‘High on the Blues’, a favourite of mine) and most famously performed as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. The song has had quite an eventful history, with lots of versions recorded, some of which have also been heavily sampled. Salt and Pepa recorded a reworking of the tune, but when the b-side started to get more airtime that was released separately as a single. And the b-side was…Push It, their big hit.

Anyway, enough pop trivia for now. I really like The Mohawks cover, but for me nothing will ever top the moment in the Thomas/Redding version when Otis’s voice soars into the line ‘I’m a lover’.

Tramp

New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

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Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

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…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

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…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

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The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

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In Eaves Wood.

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In Burtonwell Wood.

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I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

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Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

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Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

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Ragwort.

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Dandelion.

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Gorse.

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Daisy.

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

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Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

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The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

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…exquisitely ochre fungi.

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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

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This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

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Jack Scout.

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I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

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More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

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Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

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Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

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Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

New Year Floral Survey

Starling Pillowcase.

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A couple of weekend walks from the same day in December. First a turn around Eaves Wood in some revitalising sunshine and then a late walk up to Heathwaite and then the Knott via the ‘new’ path I found from Far Arnside. Along the way I encountered a large flock of Starlings feeding noisily in amongst some calves. After the sun had set, I watched two large raptors soaring over the estuary against a backdrop of the last of the colour in the sky from the sunset.

How many songs do you know which mention Starlings? At the moment I can only think of one…

‘Starling Pillowcase and Why?’ by Leicester’s vastly under-appreciated Yeah Yeah Noh, an archetypal John Peel band if ever there was one and a real blast from my past.

‘I remember sun through the cloud…’

Starling Pillowcase.

Crumbs of Comfort.

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Once I’d taken Little S home, I returned to Lancaster to collect B who was back from his trip to Twickenham. Later, I sneaked out one last time for a walk in the final embers of the weekend’s lovely light.

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Sun dropping behind a Morecambe Bay wind farm.

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Someone had left a pile of crumbs on the wall alongside the clifftop path by The Cove and this Robin rather personably dropped in to share the crumbs and the view of the sunset.

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Now that I’ve squeezed five posts out of this one weekend, I can let you in on a secret: at the time, at least at the beginning of the weekend, I felt slightly aggrieved not to be getting out for a ‘proper’ walk on such a fine weekend. With hindsight and a little perspective, that seems, well, more than a bit churlish. I didn’t do too badly, living off the crumbs, did I?

No tenuous link to this haunting song, it’s just been stuck in my head since I first heard Marc Riley play it on 6 Music.

Crumbs of Comfort.