Unusually, for my recent posts, all of these photos are from a single lazy local walk, a few miles spaced out over several hours, during which I took lots of photos and stopped for several brews.
Quite clever of this tiny flower to incorporate both the names of two birds and two hyphens in its name.
I managed quite a bit of swimming this summer, but am still jealous of this solitary bather, since I’ve never swum in Hawes Water. It’s quite hard to see how you could get in through the reeds, although a couple of the houses on Moss Lane have private jetties.
Early April, when the branches are mostly bare and the birds are busy mating and nesting is a great time to spot and take photos of birds. This Bullfinch photo is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t taken on a walk, but through our window, by where I was sitting on a Thursday evening.
On the Friday, when I got home from work, having finished for the Easter break, I headed out for a wander round Heald Brow, to the south of the village.
I think someone had been doing some major pruning, because a better view of Hazelwood Hall had opened up from the adjoining Hollins Lane. My interest in the hall is due to the gardens, which I believed to be designed by Lancaster architect Thomas Mawson, although the current Wikipedia entry is slightly confusing on that score and seems to imply, in one section, that in fact Mawson’s son Prentice was responsible, only, later on, to state that it was Mawson himself who designed the garden working with another son Edward.
Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.
On Heald Brow, I noticed a Great-spotted Woodpecker in a very distant tree. I’ve included the photo, rubbish though it is, just to remind myself that I saw it, because, quite frankly, I was chuffed that I could pick it out in the tree-tops.
Likewise this Bullfinch. I know that it’s the second of this post, but I don’t seem to have seen many this year.
The Saturday was a glorious day, a great start to our holidays, so I set-off for Gait Barrows in search of birds and butterflies.
I did take no end of photos of butterflies and other insects and even more of birds, but above all else I took pictures of Primroses which seem to have proliferated all around the reserve.
There were Drone flies everywhere and I took lots of, I suppose, quite pointless photographs of them, but then occasionally what I took to be another Drone Fly would instead transpire to be something more interesting, like this Bee-fly…
I was quite surprised to see this machinery in the woods by Hawes Water, but the path from Challan Hall around to Moss Lane, which is supposed to be wheelchair friendly, had been getting increasingly muddy and Natural England were having it widened and resurfaced, so bully for them.
I can’t really identify lichens and, I think because I can’t, I don’t always pay them the attention they merit. I think this is Ramalina farinacea, but I wouldn’t take my word for it, and, looking again, I think there are probably at least three different lichens in the photo above.
Although it was months ago, I remember my encounter with this Comma butterfly very vividly. It was sunning itself on some limestone, as you can see, and I slowly edged toward it, taking a new photo after each stride. Eventually, I upset it and it moved, finally settling on a nearby tree-trunk, at which point I started edging forward again.
What struck me was that, if I hadn’t seen the Comma land, I don’t think I would have picked it out. Whilst the underside of its wings are drab in comparison to the patterned orange of the upper wings, the underwings are beautifully adapted to conceal the butterfly in a superb imitation of a tatty dead leaf.
…is a warbler. I don’t think it’s a Chiff-chaff, they have a very distinctive song which I can actually recognise, so I can recall getting excited because this had a different song. Sadly, I can’t remember the song at all, and can’t identify which warbler this is without that additional clue.
No such confusion here…
…this is a make Kestrel. I wish I’d managed to capture it in flight when it’s colours looked stunning.
And I suspect that this is a Chiff-chaff…
Though I couldn’t swear to it.
Another mystery here…
…with a bone suspended in a Blackthorn bush. I know that Shrikes impale their prey on the thorns of this tree, but Shrikes are quite small and I think that this bone is probably a bit too big for that. Also, Shrikes are very rare in the UK these days and are not generally seen this far West (although I know that they have occasionally been spotted at Leighton Moss).
I was back at Gait Barrows the following day, but the skies were dull and I didn’t take many photos. On the Monday, I had another local wander, including a visit to The Cove…
The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…
A new traffic light had been installed at Waterslack where a footpath crosses the railway line. I suggested to the Network Rail engineer, who was there testing the lights, that I could claim the privilege of being the first to use the crossing, but he told me that they’d already been on for 20 minutes and that he had crossed several times, which made him first.
He was wrong, obviously.
I realised yesterday that I’ve been writing posts about this January since the start of June. So two months to write up one: this is obviously not sustainable! At this rate, there’ll come a point pretty soon where I’m exactly a year behind and it will seem like I’m strangely in sync. January, as Pilot used to sing, has been hanging on me.
Clearly, this won’t do – so back to portmanteau posts. This one winds-up the final week of the month, glossing over a couple of walks when the weather was a bit grim and the light not so suited to taking photos.
No such problems on the Monday, when I had another long lunch break walk.
It was still cold, and the edges of Hawes Water were partially frozen over.
I headed for the ‘top’ of the limestone pavements…
…and settled down for some soup and a cup of tea (in the insulated mug)…
I was sitting in a favourite spot of mine, close to a small set of steps which have a rustic handrail…
This Robin seemed intent on joining me for my repast. Sadly, I didn’t have any bread to share.
Later, I was out again and took a turn by The Cove and The Lots.
On the Friday, after work, TBH and I were out by Hawes Water again and were rewarded by some stunning late-afternoon light.
I was back that way, on my own, on the Saturday, presumably to capture the obligatory Snowdrops picture.
It was a walk which finished quite late!
On the Sunday we repeated our usual circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point, but the weather wasn’t up to much. And that’s January dealt with. Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic!
And so to a tune. Something by Pilot? Ex-members of the Bay City Rollers? Not on my watch.
…which is more than can be said for the poor old blog!
So..this is the second-half of a snowy January Saturday. Near the end of my morning walk with TBH and A the sun finally made an appearance. After lunch, when I set out again, this time alone, there was still some blue sky in evidence, enough to patch a sailor’s trousers, as my mum puts it. On south facing slopes the snow soon melted, leaving an odd patchwork of green and white.
I was heading, initially, for Gait Barrows. This…
…is usually a tiny little spring which creates a small pool before disappearing back underground. On this occasion, as you can see, it was creating a stream which had flooded the gateway and was flowing across the adjacent field.
From Gait Barrows, I crossed Coldwell Meadow, heading for the ruin of Coldwell Limeworks in Back Wood, but was distracted by the sound of this cascade on Leighton Beck..
It’s not very big, but a bit of a rarity in limestone country where the water is often below the surface. No name is given on the OS map, but it’s close to the wonderfully named Creep-i’-th’-call Bridge, so maybe Creep-i’-th’-call Falls, which has a nice ring to it?
Near Arnside, by Black Dyke, I was fortunate to find a way around this flooded section of path.
I climbed Arnside Knott, soon entering the cloud to find that the snow had clung on under the cover of the cloud.
Whilst I generally enjoy the views from the Knott, it was quite exhilarating to be in the clouds and the monotone woods and apparently cut-off from the surroundings.
The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.
This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.
I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.
The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!
I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rugby training, without contact, resumed for B, until the knee injury put a stop to that, which is why I was in Kirkby Lonsdale.
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.
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.
There were some Comma butterflies about too, but they were more elusive and my photos didn’t come out too well.
I suspect that this Bumblebee was once partly yellow, but has faded with age. A bit like my powers of recall.
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…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
There were Soldier Beetles everywhere, doing what Soldier Beetles do in the middle of summer. This one was highly unusual, because it was alone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Our friends from Herefordshire needed to drop their son back at Lancaster Uni and suggested meeting up for a walk, but the weekend they were travelling coincided with the government relaxing their rules on having guests in your house, so we invited them to stay instead.
It was so great to see them and enjoy something approaching normality after the strange experience of lockdown.
The weather on the Saturday was atrocious, but we made do with copious cups of tea, catching up and played some board games.
The Sunday was much nicer, even sunny for a while, so we compensated for the Saturday by going out twice, before and after lunch.
First up was a wander around Gait Barrows, specifically to see the extensive lowland limestone pavements there.
They really are amazing and visiting them with friends who hadn’t seen them before was liking seeing them afresh.
THB and B decided that it was appropriate to lie down and ‘sunbathe’ although they were both still wearing coats.
By the afternoon, it had clouded up quite a bit. I remember that it was very windy too.
But it was still nice enough for us to enjoy a stroll to Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout and Woodwell, where the newts didn’t disappoint and put in an appearance for our guests.
As often seems to be the case now, I was too busy nattering to take many photos, which is perhaps how it should be, but is a bit frustrating in retrospect.
Still, a brilliant weekend, but not one we shall be repeating any time soon, in light of today’s retightening of the rules. Of course, if we registered as a B’n’B, they could probably pay to visit – the virus doesn’t infect paying customers as we all know.
The view from Castlebarrow – Warton Crag, Clougha Pike and the shorn fields around home.
Unlike my last post, this one features photos taken on numerous different walks, over a week.
I climbed Arnside Knott to watch the sunset. By the time I reached the top, it had clouded up, so these shots from beside the Kent Estuary earlier in the walk were better than those taken later.
In my many visits to Gait Barrows I’d noticed a few low sprawling shrubs with pointed glossy leaves. I kept checking on them to see what the flowers looked like.
I’m very pleased to report that this is Wild Privet, especially since I have been misidentifying Geans as Wild Privet until this year.
“What I did not fully realise when I set out was the unexpected reward that comes from searching for wild flowers. Flower finding is not just a treasure-hunt. Walking with your head down, searching the ground, feeling close to nature, takes you away from a world of trouble and cares. For the time being, it is just you and the flower, locked in a kind of contest. It is strangely soothing, even restorative. It makes life that bit more intense; more than most days you fairly leap out of bed. In Keble Martin’s words, botanising takes you to the peaceful, beautiful places of the earth.”
Scorpion Fly, female.
“Meanwhile Brett was diverted by the insects visiting the flowers…I felt an unexpected twinge of envy. How exciting life must be, when you can take a short walk down to the river bank and find small wonders in every bush or basking on a flower head, or making themselves comfortable under a pebble. Why don’t more of us look for Lesne’s Earwigs instead of playing golf or washing the BMW?”
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.
Large Skipper, female.
Possibly a Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee.
A Calla Lily at Woodwell again.
Both quotes are from ‘Chasing the Ghost’ by Peter Marren.
Songs about flies?
‘Human Fly’ by The Cramps.
‘I am the Fly’ Wire.
Other songs which spring to mind: ‘Anthrax’ by The Gang of Four for its line ‘I feel like a beetle on its back’, or, similarly ‘Song from Under the Floorboards’ which has Howard Devoto declaring ‘I am an insect’. But I’ve shared both of those before, I think. Californian punk band Flipper also recorded a version of ‘There Was An Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly’, but, to be frank, I never really liked it. It’s altogether a very punky collection of songs. I’m not sure whether that reflects a squeamishness about insects in mainstream music, or just the fact that it’s with punk that I am best acquainted? There must be some good butterfly songs, but aside from ‘Caterpillar’ by The Cure, which, again, I’ve shared before, I can’t think of any at present.