Company on Calf Top

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Uncle Fester in Barbon

The title says it all really. The restrictions were relaxed, some meeting up outdoors was allowed again – at last. So we arranged to meet in Barbon for a walk.

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Barbon Church

Despite having the least far to travel, we were, inevitably, the last to arrive. Or we would have been, had not the Yorkshire contingent parked in Barbondale, near Blindbeck Bridge I think. Somehow, for reasons I never quite fathomed, this was my fault. Not to worry, we were eventually assembled and ready to embark.

Incidentally, A had driven us to Barbon and would later drive back too. One unexpected consequence of the lockdowns has been that she hasn’t been able to have many driving lessons, so it’s fallen to me to teach her. It was a bit nerve-racking at first, but ultimately, a nice way to spend time together. Hopefully, she’ll soon manage to get a test booked.

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Waxcaps

Our route took us to the highest point in the Middleton Fells, Calf Top, and then back by the same route. (An alternative plan to drop down into Barbondale and return that way was abandoned because the sun was shining and leaving the ridge would have meant dropping into shadow, which seemed a shame.)

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Waxcaps?

The grassy, lower slopes of Eskholme Pike were decorated with lots of colourful Waxcaps. And also clumps of yellow stalks. I couldn’t decide whether they were also Waxcaps, perhaps in a more or less advanced stage of their life-cycle?

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Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
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Thorn Moor

The Middleton Fells give easy walking, without any particularly steep climbs, and expansive views.

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TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
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Crag Hill.
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Professor Longhair leads the way.
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Calf Top from Castle Knott.
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Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
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On Castle Knott.
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A negotiates a boggy bit.
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Looking back to Castle Knott.
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Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
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Nearing the top.
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The Howgills
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TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
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Looking down to the Lune valley.
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Retracing our steps from the top.
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Eskholme Pike
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…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
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It would have been a good day’s walking in any circumstances, but throw in the opportunity to see friends with whom we’d missed several regular annual get-togethers, and the fact that I’d not ventured off home territory much for some months and this became a really special day out. When we said our goodbyes, we agreed not to wait too long before we met for another walk.

Company on Calf Top

November: On the Home Patch

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Sunset from The Cove
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Post sunset light from The Lots

People were going further afield for their daily exercise. I knew this. Every day we drove past the Eaves Wood car park and it was full. I could read about it on blogs. People I met on my walks recounted trips to the Dales and the Lakes.

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Post sunset light from The Lots

And I would be doing the same. Soon, very soon.

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Tree trunk near the mouth of the Kent.

But somehow, I didn’t get around to it.

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Flooded fields from Arnside Knott

I wasn’t particularly worried about what might happen, or any potential consequences.

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Late afternoon skies from Castlebarrow…

I’m a creature of habit. I just seemed to be stuck in a rut of sorts.

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And The Cove.
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Fungi.

Still, there are worse ruts to be in!

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I was still getting out a lot. Frequent visits to The Cove, The Pepper Pot, and around Jenny Brown’s Point, usually with TBH.

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The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least.

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“See that storm over yonder, it’s gonna rain all day.”

This was a memorable walk. The tide was exceptionally high. So much so that we had to turn back and couldn’t get around Jenny Brown’s because the the salt marsh was inundated.

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All of this is usually green!

It was also very windy and squally, with very heavy showers.

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We walked across Quaker’s Stang which was completely exposed to the wind off the sea, and made for very bracing walking.

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The RSPB car park for Allan and Morecambe hides was flooded.
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More fungi.
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Waves (of a fashion) at Jack Scout.
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The lights of Heysham and Morecambe from The Cove.
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Another high tide at Jack Scout.
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The salt marsh when it isn’t underwater! Warton Crag behind.
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Warton Crag again, across Quicksand Pool.
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Jack Scout Rainbow.
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Towering cloud catching late light from The Cove.
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Arnside Prom.

So – I’ve dismissed November with a solitary post again.

What would break my out of my routine? I needed an external stimulus, an intervention you might say…


Here’s something I haven’t done for a while – a tune for the end of the post. I absolute love the interplay of voices on this Levon Helm track….

November: On the Home Patch

October 2020: Rainbow Days

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If you click on this image and then zoom in, you’ll see that the Howgill Fells had a dusting of snow.

Last year, when I got behind with the blog, I dealt with the previous October with a single brief post. Not this time. Last October deserves at least 2 posts.

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Eaves Wood

So, what did I get up to last October? Well, I certainly got out for a lot of walks; almost exclusively from home. I took a lot of photos, generally of cloudy skies, often with a rainbow thrown in for good measure.

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My brolly became my constant companion and my favourite bit of walking kit. It was windy too mind, and my umbrella was turned inside out on a couple of occasions. Which trauma it seems to have survived without any noticeable loss of function.

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Challan Hall and double rainbow.

B took over A’s Saturday morning paper-round, then offered to stand in on Sundays too for his friend E, at which point an ongoing knee problem flared up leaving him unable to walk, requiring surgery and a lengthy convalescence, so muggins ended up doing both rounds. At least I got an early walk in at the weekends. And often an early soaking. I was initially at bit slow finding all of the houses on the rounds, so much so that, on one occasion, the Newsagent sent out search parties. I think I was eventually forgiven – she took pity on me after seeing me doing my drowned rat impression so often.

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Hawes Water and rainbow.
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Eaves Wood from by Hagg Wood.
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The Bay looking moody.
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Sunset from near Hagg Wood.
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Rennie’s Aqueduct, taking the Lancaster Canal over the River Lune. Why was I in Lancaster? I can’t recall.
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Early mist rising off Hawes Water.
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Clearly, it wasn’t always cloudy.
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This has become a bit of a new favourite view, with the Lakeland Fells seen over the woods of Gait Barrows.
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In Eaves Wood.
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Ruskin’s View.

Rugby training, without contact, resumed for B, until the knee injury put a stop to that, which is why I was in Kirkby Lonsdale.

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Fungi intent in taking over a Luneside park in Kirkby.
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Looking toward the distant Howgills.
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Usually when I take photos of Roe Deer in the garden, I use my camera’s zoom to bring them closer. This was taken on my phone, since I hadn’t realised that the deer were there. They eventually hopped over the fence, but were unusually nonchalant about my presence.
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October 2020: Rainbow Days

Le sentier rive gauche du Tarn

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This is, I think, a Scotch Argus butterfly. If I’m right, then this is the third photo of a Scotch Argus which has appeared here on the blog. The first was from a family holiday in the Vosges ten years ago, the second taken much closer to home on Arnside Knott, which has one of only two English colonies. I assume that we call them Scotch Argus because of their rarity in England and relative abundance in Scotland, but apparently they are common across Europe. This had me wondering what they’re called in French, surely not Scotch Argus? A bit of lazy internet research failed to turn up an answer, but I did discover that France has around 250 species of butterfly, as compared to our own miserly total of 57 (or 59 if you included Painted Ladies and Clouded Yellow which both arrive regularly as migrants). No wonder I feel so much at home in France! I also discovered that France has over 30 species of Ringlet, the family to which Scotch Argus belong, so my identification may be incorrect anyway. I’m looking again at my photo from the Vosges and wondering whether it might actually be an Arran Brown?

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Andy had waded the Tarn and discovered a rough, steep path which lead up to the sentier which runs along the left side of the gorge, away from any roads. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss so, on separate days, we had a couple of out and back walks along that path.

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The slopes were heavily wooded, but every now and then gaps in the trees would reveal tantalising views of the towering rock features above or on the far side of the gorge.

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Huge toadstool.
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It was terrific walking which had me daydreaming again about long distance walking in France in general, and about a multi-day wander through the gorge in particular. I’ve subsequently found this blog, which has further sold me on that idea.

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Unlike in the Cirque des Baumes, here in the deep shade of the trees there were still quite a few plants in flower, including some delightful tiny yellow blooms which had mauve bracts or leaves on the end of its stems beyond the flowers. I took lots of photos, but sadly none of them have come out well, perhaps due to the depth of the shade where they were growing.

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On the first of our two walks I saw lots of Wall Browns in the woods.

the wall brown is la Mégère – Megera, one of the Furies, which is arresting, but seems a bit of an over-the-top label for such an inoffensive basker in the sunshine.

Michael McCarthy

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The path gradually climbed, whilst the river dropped, so that we were soon high above the valley bottom.
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A small, sunnny, open glade was very busy with Common Blues.
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For our second walk we had less sunny conditions, but since this section of the path had quite a bit of up and down, maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.

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Les Détroits, I think.
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Southern Smooth Snake?

At the end of the walk, as I waded back across the river, I was startled to spot a snake, motionless on the riverbed. I fumbled my camera out and bellowed to the others to come and see what I assumed was a dead snake. I was even more startled when it shot off across the rocky river-bottom. I knew that snakes could swim on the surface but haven’t seen one submerged before.

That’s the last of my photos from France last summer and as I look out at leaden grey skies, I’m slightly sad about that fact. I’ve hardly been anywhere since though, so I should be able to make swift inroads into catching-up.

Le sentier rive gauche du Tarn

A Walk to Ironbridge

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So, back to Shropshire in July – we walked from Much Wenlock to Ironbridge and back again.

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Little S was hugely impressed by just about everything about Shropshire, including the fact that the houses were built from brick. Having grown up in the midlands, that seems perfectly normal to me, but up here in the north-wet I suppose red brick buildings are a rarity.

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As you can see, the weather was glorious.

As we approached the edge of the Severn Gorge, we entered woodland. The woods were full of hollows like this one…

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…some of one much deeper than this one. This is one of the many places in the UK which claims to have been the seat of the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, and there were certainly many coal and mineral deposits here. Perhaps these hollows, which seemed like they could be railway cuttings, were once part of the local mining industry.

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Looking down to Ironbridge.
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I think these huge fungi might be Artist’s Bracket. Apparently, it’s possible to rub and scratch the white surface of the underside of the brackets, revealing a brown layer below and producing a drawing.
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Ironbridge and it’s eponymous iron bridge. I think Little S took this photo, he showed a sudden interest in my camera and I had to share it with him that day. He took some odd photos, including some of the back of Andy’s head!
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River Severn.
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I thought I vaguely remembered a school trip to Ironbridge when I was ‘knee-high to a grasshopper’, (as my grandad used to say), but I remembered the bridge being black. Apparently, it was grey until quite recently, but I can’t find any record of it’s having been black. Having said that, four of the adults in our party had grown up in the midlands and we all thought we could remember it as black, so maybe I’m not making it up?

The bridge was built between 1779 and 1780, opening on New Year’s Day 1781. It seems to have lasted pretty well!

We took a similar, but slightly shorter route back to the campsite. It had been a very pleasant walk, in great company and superb weather.

A Walk to Ironbridge

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.

Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

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Warton Crag

Another collection of photos from several local walks. The weather, at this point, was very mixed and there were several days when I didn’t take any photos at all.

A visit to Woodwell yielded lots more photos of newts, although the light was poor and the photos are all decidedly murky.

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A pale newt.

This newt seemed much paler than any of the others. I also thought it looked bloated – a female with eggs to lay?

It certainly was of great interest to other newts. I watched some of them follow it around the pond. Eventually three gathered around it and all of them seemed to be nudging its belly. Just after I took this photo…

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…there was some sort of excitement and the newts all seemed to thrash about and then disperse rapidly.

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Here’s another newt which looks very swollen in its midriff, as does the lefthand one of this pair…

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Small Skipper
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Dryad’s Saddle.
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Comma.
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Mottled Grasshopper – I think.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade Leaves
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Soldier Beetles – making love not war.
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Musk Mallow.
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A Mallow? Perhaps a garden escapee?

Mallows are often quite big plants, but this was low growing and I can’t find anything which comes even close to matching it in ‘The Wildflower Key’.

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Wild Thyme.
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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars.
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Honey Bee on Rosebay Willowherb.
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Red Clover
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Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.
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The Limestone Seat at Jack Scout.

My obsessive compulsive photography of butterflies, even common and rather dull species like Meadow Browns, sometimes pays dividends. This brown butterfly…

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White-letter Hairstreak.

…turned out to be a kind I had never seen before. That’s not entirely surprising since hairstreak species generally live up in the treetops. I wonder if it’s significant that the photograph of this species in the little pamphlet guide to the butterflies of this area also depicts a White-letter Hairstreak feeding on Ragwort?

This Ragwort was in the shade and although the butterfly stayed fairly still and I was able to take lots of photos, I was struggling to get a sharp shot.

Two walkers approached, I assumed, from their respective ages, a father and son. The Dad observed my antics with an arched eyebrow and observed:

“It’s not going to open its wings is it? Not to worry, there’s another one behind you, and it does have its wings on show.”

I turned around to see…

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Small Skipper.

…a Small Skipper. Lovely, but not the once in a blue moon opportunity I had been enjoying. I did find the hairstreak again. It even moved into the sunshine, but then insisted on perching in awkward spots where I couldn’t get a clear view…

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White-letter Hairstreak.
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Traveller’s Joy.
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Toadstools.
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Water Lily.
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Brown-lipped Snail.
Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

Bonanza

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Lambert’s Meadow

Another walk during which I took more than two hundred photos. This was a longer walk than the last one I posted about, taking in Lambert’s Meadow and parts of Gait Barrows. It was still only around five miles, which, in ‘butterfly mode’ kept me occupied for three hours.

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Yellow composites – can’t identify them, but they look good.
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Another Seven-spot Ladybird on a Spear Thistle.
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Meadow Brown
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White-lipped Snail and a Copse Snail.

I was looking at something else altogether, when I noticed that a patch of nettles on the perimeter of lambert’s Meadow were surprisingly busy with snails.

Whilst most snails in the UK live for only a year or two, apparently Copse Snails can live for up to seventeen, which seems pretty extraordinary.

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Another White-lipped Snail?
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White-lipped Snail.
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Another Copse Snail?
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Common Spotted-orchid.
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Meadow Brown.
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Ringlet.
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Meadow Brown.

There were some Comma butterflies about too, but they were more elusive and my photos didn’t come out too well.

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A St. John’s Wort – possibly Pale St. John’s Wort.
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Busy Marsh Thistle.
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A faded Bumblebee?

I suspect that this Bumblebee was once partly yellow, but has faded with age. A bit like my powers of recall.

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Male Large Skipper.
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Female Brown Hawker.

Lambert’s Meadow was superb this summer. It felt like every visit brought something new to see. I can’t remember ever having seen a Brown Hawker before, so was excited to see this one. In flight it looked surprisingly red.

Later I saw another…

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Brown Hawker.

…this time high on a tree trunk. I’ve read that they usually hunt in the canopy, so I was very lucky to get so close to the first that I saw. The fact that they generally haunt the treetops probably explains why I haven’t spotted one before.

I love the way the light is passing through dragonfly’s wings and casting those strange shadows on the tree trunk.

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Guelder Rose berries.
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Male Small Skipper.
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Great Willowherb

As I made my way slowly around the meadow, I noticed that a group of four walkers had stopped by some tall vegetation, mostly Figwort and Great Willowherb, at the edge of the field and were enthusiastically brandishing their phones to take pictures of something in amongst the plants. I had a fair idea what they might have seen.

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Female Broad-bodied Chaser
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Female Broad-bodied Chaser.
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Male Broad-bodied Chaser.

There were a number of Broad-bodied Chasers there and, after the walkers had moved on, I took my own turn to marvel at their colours and snap lots of pictures. They’re surprisingly sanguine about you getting close to them with a camera.

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Common Knapweed.
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Male Small Skipper
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A Sawfly – I think! On a Yarrow flowerhead.

This Sawfly was another first for me. I’ve spent a while trying to identify which species it belongs to, but have reluctantly admitted defeat. Depending on which source you believe, there are 400 to 500 different species of sawfly in Britain. They belong to the same order as bees, wasps and ants. If you’re wondering about the name, apparently female sawflies have a saw-like ovipositor with which they cut plants to create somewhere to lay their eggs.

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Soldier Beetle on Ragwort.

There were Soldier Beetles everywhere, doing what Soldier Beetles do in the middle of summer. This one was highly unusual, because it was alone.

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Meadow near Challan Hall.
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Creeping Thistle.

Creeping Thistle is easy to distinguish from other thistles because of its mauve flowers. The fields near Challan Hall had several large patches dominated by it.

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Red-tailed Bumblebee on Spear Thistle.
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Ladies Bed-straw.
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Swallow.
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Burdock.
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Three-spined Stickleback.
Three-spined Stickleback.
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Leech.

I was watching a pair of Wrens which had a nest very close to the bridge over the stream which flows from Little Haweswater to Haweswater, and also watching the sticklebacks in the stream itself, when I noticed a strange black twig floating downstream. But then the ‘twig’ began to undulate and apparently alternately stretch and contract and move against the flow of the water. Soon I realised that there were several black, worm-like creatures in the water. Leeches. The UK has several species of leech, although many are very small, which narrows down what these might have been. I suspect that they are not Medicinal Leeches – the kind which might suck your blood, but the truth is I don’t know one way or the other.

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Mushroom.

A wet spell after a long dry spell always seems to provoke a bumper crop of Field Mushrooms. This summer that happened much earlier than in 2018, when the fields were briefly full of mushrooms, and in not quite the same profusion, but for a few days every walk was enlivened by a few fungal snacks.

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More mature mushroom.

I only eat the smaller mushrooms raw, before the cup has opened and whilst the gills are still pink. The bigger examples are very tasty fried and served on toast, but they need to be examined at home for any lurking, unwanted, extra sources of protein.

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Gait Barrows Meadow.
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Buzzard.
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Self-heal.
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Common Centuary

Common Centuary was growing all over the Gait Barrows meadows in a way I’ve never noticed before. I made numerous return visits, hoping to catch the flowers open, but unfortunately never saw them that way

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Another Gait Barrows view.
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A native allium – Wild Onion?

I think that this is Wild Onion, also known as Crow garlic. A lengthy section of the hedge-bottom along Moss Lane was full of it. These odd looking things are bulbils – which is how the plant spreads. Whilst trying to identify this plant, I came across photos of another native allium – Sand Leek – growing on the coast near Arnside. It’s very striking, but I’ve never spotted it. A target for next summer.

Bonanza

Home from Carnforth

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Warton and Warton Crag behind.

Long-suffering readers of this blog may remember that there was a time when I worked one afternoon a week in Carnforth and a walk home from there was a weekly part of my commute. These days it’s not something I do very often, which is a shame because it’s a great walk, with numerous route options, all of them enjoyable.

On this occasion, one of the boys bikes need dropping off at the cycle shop for repairs; I can’t remember if this was when B had so completely buckled one of his wheels that it was beyond repair, or when the derailleur on S’s bike broke and his chain fell off.

“I put my chain by the path and somebody stole it!”

Later, when the whole family went to Trowbarrow to look for the ‘stolen’ chain, I asked, “Where exactly did you leave it?”

He pointed. Directly at a broken, black bike chain, which he apparently couldn’t see.

“Did you leave it beside this chain? Or could this be yours?”

“It wasn’t there earlier!”, he was adamant.

Anyway, I saw the opportunity to accompany TBH to the bike shop, and then to walk home afterwards.

After TBH dropped me off, I’d walked across the fields from Millhead to Warton and then climbed up to the Crag Road, where a stile gives access to the top of a lime kiln. The slight elevation of this spot gives some nice views…

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough on the left.

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Warton again and the Bowland Hills on the horizon.

A set of steps lead down beside the lime kiln…

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So I had a wander down…

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…to peer inside.

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Another distant view of Ingleborough.

I followed the limestone edge up to the back of the large quarry car park and then headed on up to the top.

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The Bay from near the top of Warton Crag.

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It was a hot day and I dropped down from the top to my new favourite view point, where tree-clearance has exposed a small crag and some expansive views.

I sat for some time, drinking in the views as well as the contents of my water bottle. A buzzard coasted past. I’d already watched another hovering above the fields near Millhead.

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Foxgloves.

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Male Scorpion Fly. Is it holding a morsel of food?

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Red Admiral.

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A hoverfly – Platycheirus fulviventris – possibly?

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Greenbottles.

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I think that this striking fungi is a very dark specimen of Many-zoned Polypore or Turkeytail fungus. 

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This fungus varies enormously in colour. It generally grows on dead wood and is here devouring a tree stump.

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Dog Rose.

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Honeysuckle.

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Hoverfly – Episyrphus Balteatus.

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I was happily photographing roses and honeysuckle when an orange butterfly flew across the path, almost brushing my face as it passed. I tried to follow its flight, but soon lost it. I assumed it was a fritillary of some kind; I’m always disappointed if they pass without giving me a chance to identify them. Fortunately, a little further down the path, I came across another fritillary feeding on a red clover flower…

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It’s a Dark Green Fritillary, exciting for me because I’ve only seen this species once before.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Cinnabar Moth.

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A white-tailed bumblebee species on a Bramble flower.

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Reflexed Stonecrop.

At Barrow Scout Fields, the gulls were making a fuss; it’s often worth a few moments scrutiny to see what’s upsetting them. I’m glad I stopped this time…

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At first I assumed that I’d spotted a Marsh Harrier with a gull chick, but only one gull gave chase, and that half-heartedly, and the gulls are usually extremely energetic when mobbing the resident harriers. Anyway, I could soon make out that the raptor was carrying quite a large fish. It seemed likely that it was an Osprey, which the photo confirms. It made a beeline northwards, presumably heading back to the nest at Foulshaw Moss, on the far side of the River Kent. The nest has webcams stationed above it and I’ve been following the progress of the nesting pair and their two chicks online, so was doubly pleased to see one of the parent birds with what looks to me like a good sized family take-away.

I’m, intrigued by the fish too. Barrow Scout Fields were three agricultural fields until they were bought by the RSPB in 2000 and restored as wetlands. Have the RSPB stocked the meres they created with fish I wonder, or have fish eggs arrived naturally, on the feet of wading birds for example? Whichever is the case, the fishing Osprey and its large prey are surely testament to the charity’s successful creation and management of this habitat.

I hadn’t moved on from watching the disappearing Osprey, before another drama began to unfold in the skies overhead…

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Two raptors this time, with one repeatedly nose-diving the other. The slightly smaller bird, the aggressor, is a Marsh Harrier, a female I think, which is probably defending a nest in the trees at the edge of Leighton Moss.

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The agility of the other bird, a Buzzard, which repeatedly flipped upside-down so that it could face its attacker, was astonishing.

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I have no sympathy with the Buzzard, since I’ve been subjected to similar dive-bombing attacks by Buzzards on several occasions. This went on for quite some time and I took numerous photos; I was royally entertained.

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Looking across towards Leighton Moss.

I peeked over the bridge here to peer into the dike running alongside the Causeway Road and saw a Water Forget-Me-Not flowering in the middle of the dike. Sadly, it was in deep shade and my photo has not come out too well. I shall have to revisit.

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Yellow Flag Iris.

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Unnamed tributary of Quicksand Pool.

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Spear-leaved Orache.

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Sea Beet, with flowers…

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Both sea beet and orache (in its many guises, there are several British species) are prized as spinach substitutes by foragers. I really must get around to trying them both.

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Quicksand Pool.

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A roof finial (I think that’s the right term) at Jenny Brown’s cottages. I’m surprised I haven’t photographed it before. 

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Speckled Wood butterfly.

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This seemed to be the day which just kept on giving: after the dark green fritillary, the osprey, the aerial battle between the harrier and the buzzard, one last gift – a group of Eider Ducks resting on the sands at the edge of Carnforth Salt Marsh. I’ve seen Eiders here before, but not often. It was a shame they were so far away, but when I tried to get closer they swam away.

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Oystercatchers.

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Quicksand Pool and Warton Crag.

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Looking along the coast to the Coniston Fells.

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Another Dog Rose at Jack Scout.

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Large Skipper female.

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Curled Dock (I think).

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Named for its curly leaves.

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If I’m right, then these flowers will turn red then eventually brown.

Curled Dock is yet another spinach substitute apparently, crammed with vitamins.

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Hedge Woundwort.

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The mystery vigorous plant in Woodwell pond is revealed to be Arum Lily or Calla Lily. 

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A non-native relative of our own Cuckoo Pint – the showy white part is a spathe not petals.

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Close to home and a distant view of the Howgills on the horizon.

A lovely walk of a little under eight miles – who’d believe so much interest could be crammed into one short stroll?


Now, if your patience isn’t completely exhausted, some fishing songs. First up, a tune I’ve always liked:

This one, is actually ‘Sufficient Clothes’ but was released as ‘Fishing Clothes’ after a Lightnin’ Hopkins was misheard.

Listening to it again, it turns out there’s not too much fishing in this one either:

But it is by the late, great Tony Joe White. Seems I don’t actually know many songs about fishing after all.

Home from Carnforth

Lambert’s Meadow and Trowbarrow

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The view from beside the Pepper Pot. I’m trying to remember whether or not the fields had been cut for silage at that point, or if the general yellowy-green hue is due to how dry it had been. I’m inclined to the former, because I know that the weather had broken by then and we had finally had some rain.

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I cut through Lambert’s Meadow again, principally in the hope of seeing more dragonflies.

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The hint of yellow edging the white tail on this bumblebee might make it a Buff-tailed Bumblebee, but all the usual provisos about DNA testing being required to accurately distinguish between different species of white-tailed bumblebees apply.

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This however, is more distinctively a Tree Bumblebee.

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I was in luck – a male Broad-bodied Chaser.

I’ve been wondering about Broad-bodied Chasers quite a bit of late. When I first photographed one, back in 2010, I felt that it was a real fillip, a red-letter day. This year, obviously, has been exceptional, because I’ve been able to get out, locally at least, far more often, but even before this year I’ve generally seen and photographed lots of Broad-bodied Chasers, including the ones which seem to visit our garden each summer. Have their numbers increased since 2010, or have I just ‘tuned in’ somehow? I would say that I see females more often than males, and we’ve only ever seen females in the garden. Even though it is now clear to me that they are relatively common locally, I still feel that spotting one is a cause for celebration, mainly because they are so colourful.

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This is Broad-leaved Helleborine, growing, as it does every year, by the track which leads to Trowbarrow Quarry. It occurs to me that, since this was a month ago, I ought to go back to see if it’s flowering yet. Since the beginning of June the weather has, of course, deteriorated greatly and I haven’t been venturing out as often or as far as I would like.

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The width of the flower and the looped markings made me think that this was Heath Spotted-orchid. However, that likes acidic soil, I think, so not the most likely thing to find in a former limestone quarry. Nearby I photographed another flower, more prominently lobed which looked like a halfway house between Heath-spotted and Common Orchid. And of course orchids hybridise, just to add to the confusion.

The quarry in question was Trowbarrow…

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Which I was visiting in case the Bee Orchids were flowering…

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The Bee orchid gets its name from its main pollinator – a species of bee – which is thought to have driven the evolution of the flowers. To attract the bees that will pollinate the plant, it has flowers that mimic their appearance. Drawing them in with the promise of love, the bees attempt a mating. As they land on the velvet-textured lip of the flower, the pollen is transferred and the poor bee is left frustrated. Sadly, the right species of bee doesn’t occur in the UK, so Bee Orchids are self-pollinated here.

Source

I have to confess to being slightly flummoxed by how a flower could have evolved so precisely as to be able to fool a male bee into thinking that the flower is a female bee of the same species. How does that process start and how long would it take?

I’d left it quite late and the orchids were in the shade, making me think of a return visit the following day if the sun was shining.

I suspected that the rains which had come after a long dry spell might have stimulated the emergence of some fungi…

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…which it had, if not in the numbers and variety I’d expected.

Lambert’s Meadow and Trowbarrow