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.

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New Year Floral Survey

Mending Wall

Eaves Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Trowbarrow Quarry – Storrs Lane – Red Bridge Lane – Golf Course – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – Hagg Wood.

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A half-term Monday, no work, not a cloud in the sky: better get out for a local walk!

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In Eaves Wood.

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The circle of beeches.

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Waterslack.

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Woods near Challan Hall.

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Exmoor ponies, used for conservation grazing.

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The only fly in the ointment that day was the new fencing and padlocked gate near Hawes Water. It looked as though the intention will be to keep the public off the grassland which borders the lake which the old boardwalk used to cross. That will protect the habitat of the plants which grow there – Bird’s-eye Primrose at the southern end of its range and Grass of Parnassus for example – but will also mean that people like me who enjoy seeing those plants will no longer enjoy that simple pleasure. I could be wrong of course, I hope I am: the fencing was far from finished and I haven’t yet been back to check.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
from ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost

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The bright sunshine went some way to alleviate my concern about the number of poor photographs of fungi I’ve taken this autumn; with better light the camera coped admirably.

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Birch polyps.

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Hawes Water.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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This female pheasant seemed unusually sanguine about my close proximity. I couldn’t decide whether or not she might be sitting on a very late clutch of eggs.

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I rather liked this new (to me) carving on a dead tree by the visitor centre at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.

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By contrast, the following day the whole family went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach in bitterly cold weather. We’d bought tickets from a charity auction.

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Poor Little S wanted somebody to accompany him on all of the white knuckle attractions, but the rest of us were relatively cowardly. TBH did eventually agree to join him on the ‘Ice Blast’.

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Here they are, both looking very nervous, shortly before being sent hurtling skyward…

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I was up for taking him on ‘The Big One’ – I like rollercoasters, but it was shut due to the high winds. We had to settle for the old rickety wooden ones, which left me feeling pummelled and slightly nauseous. I must be getting old.

Here’s the rest of the family on something much tamer, but wet, which is why I refused to join them.

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To finish, another snippet of my diverse musical taste, in contrast with the previous post, this harks back to the late eighties when I waited eagerly for each addition of Maximumrocknroll where I could discover obscure punk bands, like, for example, Angst.

This song is the opener from their album “Mending Wall’. The fact that the album was named after the Frost poem was what put it into my mind, but I suppose that the song is also tangentially relevant, since it seems to be, in some way, about an inability to adapt to change (although I don’t think padlocked gates at nature reserves are explicitly mentioned). Angst were on SST records, run by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and home not only of Black Flag, but also of Husker Du (at least for a while), Sonic Youth (for one album I think), the Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust and a host of others including, best of all in my opinion, the Minutemen. Simply being on the label was recommendation enough for me and most of the records I bought on spec turned out to have been worth a punt.

Do people still become single-mindedly obsessed by the output of a favourite record label? I hope so. I was quietly pleased to see that Maximumrocknroll is still going strong.

Mending Wall

Comfortable Silences

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

A mid-October Sunday and another day which brightened up into a cracker after a most unpromising start. B must have been playing at home and I’d been for a wander along the Lune from Underley Park under dark skies and beside a river which, if not quite in spate, was swollen, fast flowing and looking as if it would present a stern challenge to canoeists.

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In the afternoon, I walked around the coast as far as White Creek and from there up to Heathwaite without, unusually, ever going up to the top of the Knott.

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I enjoyed watching this flock of birds heading north rather faster than I was. I suspect that they were Oystercatchers, but it was hard to tell.

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I was interested to see, now that we were definitely into Autumn, what I could still find flowering. Some things weren’t particularly unexpected….

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Devil’s-bit Scabious.

I was pleased to see some butterflies too: quite a few Speckled Woods, a large White and this…

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Small Copper Butterfly.

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Betony is another late-flowering plant, so not out of place in October. But…

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…this Burnett Rose was a bit unexpected.

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Oystercatchers – unmistakably this time.

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The view from Park Point.

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Holly is normally a spring flowering plant, so these flowers go down as surprise of the day.

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This is one of the two short tunnels of White Creek Mine. The colour of the rock here suggests that this is another haematite mine – an iron oxide ore mainly used in the manufacture of paint apparently.

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Two views south along the coast from Heathwaite.

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It was a fairly clear day – was that Blackpool Tower I could make out down the coast?

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Yep!

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The (becoming) obligatory Ingleborough zoom.

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I thought this pair of crows looked like old friends, comfortable with each others silence…

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‘Did you…..?’

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‘Oh, no? Okay. Think I’ll grab a snooze.’

 

Comfortable Silences

Northern Sky

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Early October, (am I catching up?) and an early, pre-rugby outing to watch the sun rise over Ingleborough.

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And to admire the fungi in Eaves Wood.

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As I’ve noted before, by dropping down the hill a little, I can experience the illusion of multiple sun rises.

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At the circle of beeches the light was lovely…

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…and the ground sprinkled with small white toadstools.

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Long before I began to piece together some knowledge about other local flora and fauna, I tried to get to grips with fungi, mainly for culinary purposes; if I could identify the species of toadstool then I could safely find the ones which are safe and good to eat.

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I even went on a foraging course and learned to take spore prints.

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But Britain has thousands of species and I find them almost impossible to distinguish between, so these days I generally settle for taking photos and buying my mushrooms from the supermarket.

On the other hand, I know where I stand with deer, and this pair…

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…are unmistakably Roe Deer.

 

Northern Sky

Brighter Later

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The first Saturday in October began overcast and rather autumnal, but brightened up whilst I was out for the first of my strolls that day, a circuit via Clark’s Lot, Hollins Lane, Heald Brow, Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout and Woodwell.

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Rosehips and blue tits.

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The Forest of Bowland hills and Carnforth Salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

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Quicksand Pool and the chimney at Jenny Brown’s.

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Traveller’s Joy.

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Grange-over-Sands, blue skies and the Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

The remaining photos could be from that same trip, but may well be from my second walk of the day, a familiar turn around the Cove and the Lots, because both routes finished along the same bit of track close to home. The fence around the vicarage grounds is liberally festooned with ivy and, on that day, the ivy was absolutely overrun with insects, particularly wasps, but also various flies, hoverflies and ladybirds.

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Flesh-fly.

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Greenbottle.

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A hoverfly – Scaeva Pyrastri. Very handsome with it’s curving white markings, not really shown to best advantage here, sadly.

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Some flower-heads were very busy!

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Bluebottle.

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Wasps.

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Drone fly.

I should probably celebrate the fact that I’m so easily engrossed by flies which are generally considered to be pests gathered on a plant which many would regard as a persist weed. Sometimes, however, the habit of gawping can have it’s downsides: a couple of weeks later, whilst I was similarly occupied, a wasp got trapped between my glasses and my face and stung me just below the eye for its troubles. On this occasion though, prolonged staring helped me to spot this…

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I think that this might be the pupal stage of a ladybird, although I’m not at all confident about that, and if I am right, I still don’t know which of the many varieties of ladybird this might be.


 

Brighter Later

Do You Remember?

Eaves Wood – Middlebarrow Quarry – Black Dyke – Redhills Wood – Arnside Knott – Hollins Farm – Holgates – Cove Road

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On Arnside Knott.

The end of September, and a momentous weekend for the surfnslide crew as they dropped off their first born at university for his first term. Since he’s studying at Lancaster, they could at least drop in on us for the weekend while they were in the area. On the Saturday afternoon, we managed to squeeze in, around our various other commitments, a wander up the Knott.

By Black Dyke, which follows the railway line, we passed a couple of middle-aged camera wielding chaps who had the unmistakable air of trainspotters. I don’t know how long they had been waiting already, but they must have been patient types, because we were enjoying the view from the Knott….

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…by the time that the train they were surely waiting for went across the viaduct…

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It must have been relatively late that we were on the Knott, and the light was gorgeous…

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I’ve taken so many photos of fungi this autumn; sadly, most of them have been rather disappointing, not quite in focus. This one is a bit sharper…

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…and, for once, it’s something which is easy to identify, almost the quintessential toadstool in fact: Fly Agaric.

I don’t know what these are…

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…but I like the patterns the splitting caps have made.

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Crepescular Rays.

I really must endeavour to catch up with the blog, because I can’t for the life of me recall what we ate that evening, whether or not we ordered a curry, as we often do, but I do vaguely remember playing some games and that TJF, who seems to have a knack for these things, was on the winning team for most, if not all, of them.

Now, altogether…

Ba de ya, say that you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day
There was a
Ba de ya, say that you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, golden dreams were shiny days

Do You Remember?

Walk Interrupted

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

A Friday evening saunter, in September, up to Castlebarrow for the view.

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Ingleborough and Trowbarrow Quarry from Eaves Wood, another extreme zoom.

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More fungi.

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Evening light in the woods.

And then down to the Cove, a little too early for the sunset.

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Evening light at the Cove.

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Shelduck.

But then my onward progress across the Lots was stalled because I’d forgotten that there was a dance performance taking place there. I was told that I could, discretely, continue, but after talking to one of the staff there, who was huddled by a wall, I decided to turn back anyway.

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Another Cove sunset.

With the happy consequence that I was at the Cove for the sunset after all.

Walk Interrupted