Coniston to Ambleside

20210817_131312
Coniston – a gloomy start.

This was the day after the second of our walks from Brockholes. TBH and I had dropped B off there again, and had decided to spend the day in the Lakes before picking him up at the end of his shift. We’d had the bright idea of using the local buses so that we could do a point-to-point walk.

We parked up in Ambleside and then got thoroughly lost in the vast Hayes Garden World complex looking for the loos. Due to a lack of clarity on the bus timetable, and possibly a degree of muppetry on our part, we missed the first bus and ended up playing silly golf in a very busy Ambleside to pass the time until the next bus.

The bus didn’t take the most direct route and I felt both sorry for, and amused by, some of the tourist traffic which met the bus. The driver didn’t take any prisoners, but could squeeze the bus through gaps with only a few millimetres to spare.

20210817_142157
Tarn Hows Cottage.

From Coniston, we followed the Cumbria Way past Tarn Hows, stopping very early for a brew and a bit of lunch. The minute we stopped, of course, it began to spit with rain. I’d originally had grandiose plans to climb either Holme Fell, or Black Crag, or both, but the time we’d lost and the need to be on time for B, prompted us to abandon those options.

20210817_143055
Holme Fell. catching some sunshine.

Tarn Hows was predictably busy, but the rest of our route was very quiet. We left the Cumbria Way after Tarn Hows, and bumped into a family of runners who we know from B’s rugby team. Small world!

Our route actually took us most of the way to the top of Black Crag. Once we’d crossed the watershed, the Langdale fells dominated the views for most of the rest of the walk.

20210817_153221
Bowfell, Lingmoor, Langdale Pikes.
20210817_153757
Jay feather.
20210817_160841
20210817_161234
Low Arnside.

There’s no village of Arnside here, but High and Low Arnside farms, High Arnside Tarn, Arnside Intake and Arnside Plantation.

20210817_161551

On this long section, with its great views, we saw one other walker, a dutchman on his first visit to the Lakes, who was, he told us, very taken with what he had seen.

20210817_161702
Pano.
20210817_162457
Stepping stones.
20210817_162710

Possibly the reason this path is little used is that it deposits you on to the busy road between Ambleside and Coniston. I’d thought we would be able to get back on to the Cumbria Way, but I was mistaken. Fortunately, there is a permission path alongside the road for much of the way.

20210817_164356
Fungi.

On the lane up to Skelwith Fold we witnessed some more motoring muppetry, with one car having to reverse around another, the driver of which had admitted defeat, to allow a van to pass. People got out of vehicles, examining bodywork which had at no point been in any danger of being scuffed, and some heated exchanges took place, but only, I think, between two occupants of the car whose driver had been apparently paralysed, like a ‘cragfast’ sheep.

20210817_170934
The view from Skelwith Fold.
20210817_171210
With a handy guide to the view – what a lovely memorial.
20210817_171455
Skelwith Fold.
20210817_172959
River Brathay.

A permission path took us, from the wonderfully named Bog Lane, down to the Brathay and a spot which I’ve earmarked as a fine looking swimming hole for when it’s warmer again.

20210817_173643

I may have told TBH that a walk from Coniston to Ambleside would be 6 miles, prompted by a route description I’d found online which said the same. It seemed wise, in the circumstances, to stand in front of this signpost to hide the evidence to the contrary, especially since we still had some way to go.

We very much enjoyed this walk and I can definitely see us using the buses in the Lakes again to enable us to walk similar point-to-point routes.

No map from MapMyWalk showing the route since it had one of its occasional tantrums and refused to work.

Coniston to Ambleside

June. Well, Most of it.

P1330920
Cotton-grass at Foulshaw Moss

The year is almost up and the blog is stuck in June. So….better get a shift on.

P1330901
Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.

First off, some shots from an evening to Foulshaw Moss when A was dancing.

P1330909
An Orb-weaver Spider, possibly a Larinioides cornutus female.
20210612_133352
The limestone hills of home across Morecambe Bay.

Next door neighbour and all-round good-egg BB was interested in our ebikes; I suggested he borrow one and join me for a trip. We cycled to Morecambe. As you can see, the weather was fantastic, but there was a strong wind blowing, unusually, from the South, so that cycling along the Prom was an uphill struggle. The compensation was that on our way back again we felt like we had wings. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of our memorable refreshment stops, at the Hest Bank for a pint on our outward trip and at The Royal in Bolton-le-Sands for a lovely meal and a couple more ales in their sunny beer garden.

20210612_133356
Bike maintenance BB style.
20210612_135328
Choppy waves from the end of the Stone Jetty in Morecambe. Lake District Fells beyond.
20210613_110616
X-Ray and TBH in Clarke’s Lot.

Old friend X-Ray visited to catch up. It was very grey day, but we dragged him out for our usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point anyway.

20210613_111952
Warton Crag and Clougha Pike beyond.
P1330952
Another Foulshaw Moss view.

Another taxi-Dad trip to Foulshaw Moss. Things have moved on since then – A has passed her driving test and doesn’t need any more lifts to Milnthorpe. I shall need a new excuse to visit Foulshaw Moss.

P1330946
Sedge Warbler (I think).
P1330968
Foxglove.
P1330973
Birch Polyp.
P1330987
Azure Damselfly.
P1330991
Green Lacewing, possibly Chrysopa perla.
P1330998
Crane Fly.
20210619_163755
TBH cycling past the visitor centre at Leighton Moss.

Finally, a shorter bike ride with TBH which took us to Holme and back via some very quiet lanes. It almost went horribly wrong when I made the mistake of leaving TBH a little behind (she having chosen not to use an ebike) and she, inexplicably, took a left turn, even though I’d mentioned the fact that we would go through Yealand Redmayne. It all worked okay in the end, after a few puzzling moments and a bit of cycling back and forth looking for each other.

A couple more June bike rides to follow… eventually.

June. Well, Most of it.

Company on Calf Top

20201205_104025
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.

20201205_104240
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.

20201205_111635
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.)

20201205_111811
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?

20201205_112213
20201205_113228
Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
20201205_114342
Thorn Moor

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

P1320769
TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
20201205_123428
Crag Hill.
20201205_123533
20201205_123540
Professor Longhair leads the way.
20201205_124444
20201205_125132
Calf Top from Castle Knott.
20201205_125136
Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
20201205_125204
On Castle Knott.
20201205_130044
A negotiates a boggy bit.
20201205_132105(0)
Looking back to Castle Knott.
20201205_132815
Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
20201205_132844
Nearing the top.
20201205_135430
The Howgills
20201205_135634
TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
20201205_135641
20201205_135836
Looking down to the Lune valley.
20201205_140822
Retracing our steps from the top.
20201205_140826
20201205_145321
20201205_151139
20201205_151152
Eskholme Pike
20201205_152845
…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
P1320776

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

20201106_162354
Sunset from The Cove
20201106_163329
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.

20201106_163333
Post sunset light from The Lots

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

20201107_134735
Tree trunk near the mouth of the Kent.

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

20201107_154159
Flooded fields from Arnside Knott

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

20201107_161645
Late afternoon skies from Castlebarrow…

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

20201113_170343
And The Cove.
20201114_141118
Fungi.

Still, there are worse ruts to be in!

20201114_141823

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

20201115_105355

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

20201115_114142
“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.

20201115_114215
All of this is usually green!

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

20201115_114412
20201115_114806
20201115_115723

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

20201115_115951
The RSPB car park for Allan and Morecambe hides was flooded.
20201115_121936
More fungi.
20201115_132935
Waves (of a fashion) at Jack Scout.
20201119_163948
The lights of Heysham and Morecambe from The Cove.
20201121_150921
Another high tide at Jack Scout.
20201122_121851
The salt marsh when it isn’t underwater! Warton Crag behind.
20201122_122633
Warton Crag again, across Quicksand Pool.
20201122_124036
Jack Scout Rainbow.
20201122_155121
Towering cloud catching late light from The Cove.
20201128_125916
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

20201004_154536
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.

20201004_161946
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.

20201004_162308

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.

20201006_165659
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.

20201006_170143
Hawes Water and rainbow.
20201006_171350
20201008_171337
Eaves Wood from by Hagg Wood.
20201009_174705
The Bay looking moody.
20201009_182239
Sunset from near Hagg Wood.
20201010_101814
Rennie’s Aqueduct, taking the Lancaster Canal over the River Lune. Why was I in Lancaster? I can’t recall.
20201010_100604
P1320718
P1320719
Early mist rising off Hawes Water.
20201011_083723
Clearly, it wasn’t always cloudy.
20201011_091127
This has become a bit of a new favourite view, with the Lakeland Fells seen over the woods of Gait Barrows.
20201011_095213
In Eaves Wood.
20201011_115154
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.

20201011_120839
Fungi intent in taking over a Luneside park in Kirkby.
20201011_145208
Looking toward the distant Howgills.
20201015_173838
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.
20201015_181235
October 2020: Rainbow Days

Le sentier rive gauche du Tarn

P1320386

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?

P1320387

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.

P1320389

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.

P1320394
Huge toadstool.
P1320400
P1320416

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.

P1320421

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.

P1320422
P1320423
P1320426

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

P1320435
P1320439
P1320443
P1320452
P1320456
The path gradually climbed, whilst the river dropped, so that we were soon high above the valley bottom.
P1320458
P1320460
A small, sunnny, open glade was very busy with Common Blues.
P1320461
P1320465
P1320481
P1320483
P1320488
P1320490
P1320496
P1320497
P1320510

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.

P1320511
P1320512
P1320516
Les Détroits, I think.
P1320519
P1320522
P1320524
P1320528
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

P1310186

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

20200719_145345

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.

20200719_150354
20200719_150625

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…

P1310194

…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.

P1310198
Looking down to Ironbridge.
P1310200
P1310201
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.
P1310212
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!
P1310214
River Severn.
P1310216
20200719_172443

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.

P1300870
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.

P1300874
A mature Roe Deer buck in the fields close to home.
P1300879
Wildflowers in Clarke’s Lot.
P1300878
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.

P1300880
Fox and Cubs.
P1300884
Tutsan berries.
P1300885
Mullein.
P1300888
Feverfew.
P1300889
P1300892
P1300904
Hoverfly on Marsh Thistles.
P1300911
Guelder Rose Berries.
P1300914
A Carpet Moth – possibly Wood Carpet.
P1300916
Hogweed busy with Soldier Beetles.
P1300917
P1300918
Meadow Sweet.
P1300920
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.

P1300923
Common Blue-sowthistle.
P1300927
Common Blue-sowthistle leaf.
P1300935
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.

P1300941
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.

P1300946
P1300947
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.

P1300949
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.

P1300951
The pink gills of a fresh Field Mushroom.

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

P1300952
P1300958
Broad-leaved Helleborine by Hawes Water.
P1300969
Wild Angelica with ladybirds.
P1300972
Wild Angelica.
P1300976
Wild Angelica.
P1300985
Yellow Brain Fungus.
P1300988
Dryad’s Saddle.
P1300990
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.

P1300992
P1300995
White-lipped Snail.
P1310002
Comma butterfly.
P1310003
Red Campion.
P1310028
False Goat’s Beard? A garden escapee.
P1310029
Inkcaps.
P1310036
Harebells.
P1310058
A profusion of Ragwort at Myer’s Allotment.
P1310045
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…

P1310071
A Ragwort victim?

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

P1310053
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.

P1310051
Mullein.
P1310067
Yellow Rattle.
P1310072
P1310074
Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
P1310084
Gatekeeper.
P1310089
Mixed wildflowers at Myer’s Allotment.
P1310091
Bindweed.
P1310098
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.

P1310100
Discarded pupae?
P1310104
Another emerging Harlequin.
P1310108
Harlequin larvae.

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

P1310112
Rosebay Willowherb.
P1310117
Greater Plantain.
P1310118
Burdock.
P1310121
Hogweed.
P1310127
Small Skipper.
P1310132
Red Admiral.
P1310138
Melilot.
P1310135
Bee on Melilot.
Harlequins, Angelica and Ragwort Honey.

Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

P1300782
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.

P1300640
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…

P1300650

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

P1300658

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

P1300688
P1300741
Small Skipper
P1300743
Dryad’s Saddle.
P1300750
Comma.
P1300756
Mottled Grasshopper – I think.
P1300770
Enchanter’s Nightshade.
P1300769
Enchanter’s Nightshade Leaves
P1300779
Soldier Beetles – making love not war.
P1300809
Musk Mallow.
P1300792
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’.

P1300804
Wild Thyme.
P1300813
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars.
P1300817
Honey Bee on Rosebay Willowherb.
P1300819
Red Clover
P1300822
Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.
P1300823
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…

P1300847
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…

P1300844
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…

P1300850
White-letter Hairstreak.
P1300851
Traveller’s Joy.
P1300859
Toadstools.
P1300864
Water Lily.
P1300868
Brown-lipped Snail.
Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

Bonanza

P1300439
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.

P1300438
Yellow composites – can’t identify them, but they look good.
P1300413
Another Seven-spot Ladybird on a Spear Thistle.
P1300416
Meadow Brown
P1300428
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.

P1300427
Another White-lipped Snail?
P1300429
White-lipped Snail.
P1300431
Another Copse Snail?
P1300432
Common Spotted-orchid.
P1300444
Meadow Brown.
P1300449
Ringlet.
P1300447
Meadow Brown.

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

P1300450
A St. John’s Wort – possibly Pale St. John’s Wort.
P1300452
Busy Marsh Thistle.
P1300453
A faded Bumblebee?

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

P1300456
Male Large Skipper.
P1300468
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…

P1300510
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.

P1300482
Guelder Rose berries.
P1300480
Male Small Skipper.
P1300494
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.

P1300488
Female Broad-bodied Chaser
P1300497
Female Broad-bodied Chaser.
P1300525
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.

P1300506
Common Knapweed.
P1300509
Male Small Skipper
P1300530
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.

P1300537
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.

P1300540
Meadow near Challan Hall.
P1300544
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.

P1300548
Red-tailed Bumblebee on Spear Thistle.
P1300553
Ladies Bed-straw.
P1300554
Swallow.
P1300555
Burdock.
P1300566
Three-spined Stickleback.
Three-spined Stickleback.
P1300569
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.

P1300612
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.

P1300590
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.

P1300598
Gait Barrows Meadow.
P1300599
Buzzard.
P1300600
Self-heal.
P1300603
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

P1300606
Another Gait Barrows view.
P1300619
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