Lambert’s Meadow Intermission

P1350355
Lambert’s Meadow.

We were at home for a few days before heading off for our big summer trip. I guess we must have been busy, I didn’t get out much, but when the sun shone I did have a wander to Lambert’s Meadow, to see what I could see. Our trip, which I’ll hopefully get to soon, was to the USA. I didn’t take my camera, but I did take a ridiculous number of photos on my phone, so there’s a lengthy selection process ahead.

The photos from this short local wander can be a bit of a dress rehearsal then; I took three hundred, a nice round number, and about par for the course when I spend a bit of time at Lambert’s Meadow.

P1350348
Male Migrant Hawker.

Of course, there’s a great deal of repetition; my first eleven shots that day were all of Migrant Hawkers; there were several on and around a thicket of brambles where I entered Burtonwell Wood from Silverdale Green. An easy decision in this case, just to crop the most likely looking pictures and then chose my favourite.

On the other hand, this Common Carder bee, on the same set of unripe blackberries, only posed for a single photo.

P1350350
Common Carder Bee.

When I look at the photos which have come up to scratch, although I took quite a lot of photos of bumblebees, of various species, there’s a preponderance of Common Carder bees amongst the ones I’ve chosen. Admittedly, I am a bit biased in favour of Common Carders, for two reasons; firstly their lovely ginger colour, and then the fact that they are relatively easy to distinguish from other common species; but I think that there may be a bit more to it than that; I seem to have more luck getting sharpish images of Common Carders than of other bumblebees; I’m beginning to think that they may linger that little bit longer on flowers than other species.

The single shot I took of the disappearing rump of a Roe Deer in the woods was a bit disappointing, and so is not here, partly because I get much better opportunities to photograph deer in our garden. This tiny spider feasting on a fly, on the other hand, is included because I rarely manage to catch spiders with their prey, even though it was taken in the shade and isn’t especially sharp.

P1350357

I’ve decided to keep the photos largely chronological, and not to group them thematically, and, for instance, put all of the hoverflies together, something I have done on occasion with previous similar posts.

P1350361
Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus pendulus.

This particular hoverfly might be Helophilus pendulus. Sometimes called ‘the Footballer’ apparently, because of its bold markings. Rather lovely in my opinion. However, there are several very similar species, so I could be wrong. Helophilus means ‘marsh-lover’ which would fit well with this location.

I did put these two snails together, the better to compare and contrast their shells…

P1350370
Garden Snail.

This first is definitely a Garden Snail, with its dark bands on its shell.

P1350364
Copse Snail?

My best guess is that this is a copse snail; they are usually more mottled than this, although they do seem to be quite variable.

P1350371
Small skipper.

There were lots and lots of butterflies about, which was rather wonderful, although at first I thought none of them would alight long enough for me to get any decent photos. However, if you hang around long enough, your chance eventually comes.

P1350391
Honey bee on Common Knapweed.

This photo gets in because of the photo-bombing bug. I think the bug might be a Potato Capsid, but my confidence is even lower than usual.

P1350400
Common Darter.

There were lots of dragonflies about too, but they were mostly airborne, and surprisingly difficult to spot when they landed.

P1350402
Guelder Rose berries.
P1350405
Another Common Carder bee.
P1350415
Angelica, tall and stately.
P1350412
And very busy with a profusion of insects.
P1350432
Sicus ferrugineus.

With a bit of lazy internet research, I’ve unearthed two different ‘common’ names for these odd looking flies: Ferrugineus Bee-grabber and Thick-headed Fly. The photo in my Field Guide shows a mating pair and this pair, although they moved around the mint flower a lot, didn’t seem likely to be put-off. In fact when I wandered back around the meadow I spotted a pair, probably the same pair, still mating in much the same spot. The adults feed on nectar, but the larvae are endoparasites, over-wintering and pupating inside Bumblebees.

P1350436
Sicus ferrugineus again.

Ferruginous means either: ‘containing iron oxides or rust’, or ‘reddish brown, rust-coloured’; which seems appropriate. I’m guessing that ferrugineus is the latin spelling.

P1350443
Female Common Blue and Hoverfly?
P1350445
Female Common Blue.

You’ll notice that a lot of the insects are on Mint flowers. Earlier in the year it would have been Marsh Thistles.

P1350456
Drone-flies. Probably.

My best guess is that these are Drone-flies. They are excellent Honey bee mimics, but, as far as I know, don’t harm bees in any way, so good for them. More lazy research turned up this titbit:

“Recent research shows that the Drone-fly does not only mimic the Honeybee in look, but also in the way that it moves about, following the same flight patterns.”

Source

P1350459
Meadow Brown.

I haven’t counted, but I’d be willing to bet that I took more photos of Meadow Browns than of anything else. There were a lot about. I resolved not to take any more photos of what is, after all, a very common and slightly dull species, at which point the local Meadow Brown community seemed to agree that they would disport themselves in front of my lens at every opportunity, in a ‘you know you want to’ sort of way, and my resolve kept crumbling.

P1350468
Silver Y Moth.

Silver Y moths, on the other hand, seem to stay low in the grass and continually flap their wings, which must be very energy inefficient. Although they breed in the UK, they also migrate here (presumably from mainland Europe).

“The Silver Y migrates to the UK in massive numbers each year – sometimes, an estimated 220 million can reach our shores in spring!”

Source

The scientific name is Autographa gamma which I rather like. And gamma, γ, is at least as good an approximation as y to the marking on the moth.

P1350486
Female Common Blue Damselfly, green-form (I think).
P1350493
Rather tired Ringlet.

For a while I watched the dragonflies darting about overhead, trying to see where they went when they flew into the trees. Eventually, I did notice the perch of another Migrant Hawker, high overhead…

P1350501
Migrant Hawker.
P1350505
Volucella pellucens.

Volucella pellucens – the Pellucid Fly, or the Pellucid Hoverfly, or the White-banded Drone-fly. Three ‘common’ names; I’ve used apostrophes because for a creature to have a ‘common’ name suggests it’s a regular topic of conversation in households up and down the country, which seems a bit unlikely, unfortunately.

“The fly is very fond of bramble blossoms”, according to my Field Guide.

“Its larvae live in the nests of social wasps and bumblebees, eating waste products and the bee larvae.

Source.

P1350510
Common Blue Damselfly?

This damselfly has me a bit confused; it has red eyes, but those beer pump handle markings (my Dragonfly field guide says ‘rockets’ – I think messers Smallshire and Swash need to get out more) suggest the blue-form of the female Common Blue Damselfly, so I’m going for that. This makes me think that I have probably misidentified damselflies in the past. What am I talking about? Of course I’ve misidentified damselflies – I’ve probably misidentified just about everything! All I hope for is that my percentage accuracy is gradually improving – I’ll settle for that.

P1350516
Volucella pellucens – bucking the trend by feasting on Mint, instead of Bramble.
P1350521
Comma

Like the Silver Y, the Comma is named for a mark on its wings, but it’s on the underside so you can’t see it here.

P1350522
Comma.

I took lots of photos of rather distant Commas and then this one landed pretty much at my feet, so close, in fact, that I needed to back up a little to get it in focus.

P1350523
Green-veined White.

White butterflies don’t often rest long enough to be photographed. They are also very confusing – this could, to my non-expert-gaze, be a Small White, a female Orange-tip, or a Green-veined White. But the underwings reveal that it is a Green-veined White.

P1350529
Green-veined White.
P1350531
Meadow Brown.
P1350533
Volucella pellucens, on mint again.

Brambles have a very long flowering season – maybe Pellucid Flies like to branch out when other favoured plants are available.

P1350534
Hoverfly.

The sheer variety of Hoverflies is amazing, but also frustrating, because they are so hard to identify. This could be a Drone-fly, but it has dark patches on its wings. I’m edging towards Eristalis horticola but with my usual very low degree of confidence.

P1350537
Green Bottle.
P1350538
Another Meadow Brown.
P1350540
Another female Common Blue Damselfly – not so heavily cropped – I liked the grass..
P1350543
Sicus ferrugineus – not perturbed by me, my camera or the presence of one of the White-tailed Bumblebees.
P1350548
Ichneumon wasp?

This creature led me a merry dance; it was constantly on the move, roving around the leaves and stems of a Guelder Rose bush, then flying off, disappearing from view, only to return seconds later. At first I thought it was a Sawfly, but it was very wasp-waisted so now I’m inclined to think it was an Ichneumon wasp.

Tentatively, it could be a male Ichneumon extensorius which has the bright yellow scutellum, black unbanded antennae and black and yellow legs and body. However, my online source says “hardly any British records exist for this species”, which is a bit off-putting.

P1350549

Whatever it is, it kept me well-entertained for a few minutes.

P1350561

Eugh! A slug! But even this slug, which was on an Angelica stem, has a rather striking striped rim to its foot.

P1350565
Male Common Blue Damselfly.
P1350581

When I spotted this creature, on a Figwort leaf, at first I thought I was seeing another of the yellow and black creatures I had seen before. It has a yellow scutellum, and substantially yellow legs. But – the antennae are orange, it lacks the narrow waist, and its abdomen is heavily striped. It was much more obliging than the previous creature, both in terms of posing for photos and in terms of being readily identified. It turns out this is a Figwort Sawfly.

“The larvae feed on Figwort plants and are usually seen in August and September. The adults are carnivores mainly, hunting small flies and other insects.”

Source

Hmmmm – usually seen in August and September – I think I need to go and have a look at some Figworts.

Incidentally, I was hoping I would see some Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonflies, and usually look out for them in an area of tall plants – Great Willow-herb and Figwort – by the path which crosses the meadow. I didn’t see any, but in looking I noticed that the generally tall Figwort plants were much shorter and less numerous than usual. I suspect they were suffering due to our unusually hot and dry summer.

P1350594
Male Common Blue Damselfly.
P1350600
Soldier Beetles – as usual making love not war.
P1350610
My ‘hunting ground’.
P1350612
Large Skipper. Not large. Notice the much more mottled wings than the Small Skipper at the start of this lengthy post.
P1350625
Large Skipper.
P1350628
Gatekeeper.

Blimey – I made it to the end! Well done if you did too. If my holiday posts take this long to put together, I will never catch up!

Advertisement
Lambert’s Meadow Intermission

Whit’s End II

20220531_131857
Dame’s Violet, Green Alkanet, Cow Parsley, Buttercups, Docks.

The next time I escaped from the woes joys of decorating, I managed a slightly longer walk. I think I wanted to visit this little scrap of verge where Elmslack Lane becomes Castle Bank and I knew I would find Dame’s Violet flowering.

20220531_132749

From there I walked along Inman’s Lane along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, then along the Row. Inevitably, I was heading for…

P1350140
Lambert’s Meadow.
P1350025
Mating Crane flies. Possibly Tipula oleracea which is common and favours damp grasslands.

It’s quite easy to ignore Crane Flies, Daddy-Long-Legs; they’re common and plentiful, their larvae – leatherjackets – are a garden pest and I think some people are freaked out by their ridiculously long legs. But I thought the silvery-grey hue of this amorous pair, and the golden iridescence caught in the wings of the lower partner where very fetching.

P1350034
Ichneumonid Wasp?

I think this is an Ichneumonid wasp. It could be a sawfly, a digger wasp or a spider-hunting wasp, but on balance I’m going for an Ichneumon. After that I’m struggling. Apparently, there are around 2500 British species. Identifying them requires a microscope and an expert. Most species are parasitoids, meaning that they lay their eggs in other species of insects, caterpillars and grubs, and the larvae will eat and eventually kill the host. From my limited reading, I get the impression that each species of wasp will specialise in preying on the caterpillar or larvae of one particular species.

P1350037
Mating Chrysolina polita. Perhaps.

Some of the photos which follow are bound to look familiar, if you read my last post. Hardly surprising that if you walk in the same place just a couple of days apart, the bugs and beasties which are about and active are likely to be the same each time.

P1350039
Mating Chrysolina polita. Perhaps.
P1350056
Weevil, possibly Phyllobius pomaceus.
P1350064
Ichneumon Wasp?
P1350077
A Honey Bee. I think.
P1350080
Scorpion Fly, female.
P1350083
Scorpion Fly, female.
P1350087
Sawfly, Tenthredo mesomelas. Possibly.
P1350092
Troilus luridus.

I’m reasonably confident that this Shield Bug is Troilus luridus. I’ve seen this given the common name ‘Bronze Shield Bug’ online, but my Field Guide gives another species that title, so I’ll stick with the latin name.

P1350103
Green Shield Bug.

I took lots of photos of this Green Shield Bug and as a result was lucky enough to catch it in the act of taking wing…

P1350113
Green Shield Bug.

You can see how the outer wings have adapted as a cover for the hind wings, so that when they’re on a leaf or a stem it’s hard to imagine that they even have wings.

P1350114
Hoverfly.
P1350115
Variable Damselfly, female, I think.

Variable Damselflies are not listed in the handy booklet ‘An Atlas and Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Arnside and Silverdale AONB’, a publication whose long title completely belies its actual brevity. So, if this is a Variable Damselfly, which I think it is, the species must have fairly recently arrived in the area.

P1350119
Green-veined White on Ragged Robin.
P1350120
Greenbottle.
P1350122
Another female Variable Damselfly on Guelder Rose.
P1350130
Chrysolina polita. I think.
P1350134
Dandelion Clock.
P1350138
Silver-ground Carpet Moth.
P1350139
White-lipped Snail.
P1350141
A very different White-lipped Snail.
P1350144
Brown-lipped Snail.
P1350148
Nettle leaf with rust fungus – Puccinia urticata?
20220531_201825
Later in the day, a double rainbow from our garden.
Whit’s End II

Half Term at Home

20220214_151443
The Cove

Not sure what happened during the first half of February. Rain probably; by the bucketload. The most significant thing to happen over half-term is that my parents came to visit, which was terrific – it had been a long while since we had seen them.

I think we had some mixed weather that week, but I managed to get out for several local walks and even saw some blue skies and sunshine.

20220214_160922
View from Castlebarrow.
20220214_163047
Winter Aconites and Snowdrops.
20220215_111425
Snowdrops in Eaves Wood.
20220215_113416
Eaves Wood.
20220215_113550
The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood.
20220215_115341
Hawes Water.
20220215_115823

I wondered whether all the tree-felling by Hawes Water would affect the Snowdrops there, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had any impact.

20220215_115900
Snowdrops.
20220215_115907

I know this second photo looks much the same as the first, but there’s an insect on one of the flowers in the centre of the photo. Perhaps a drone fly. I thought it was pretty unusual to see a fly outside in the middle of February.

20220215_115845
Scarlet Elf Cup.
20220215_120118
New rustic picket fence around the restored summer house by Hawes Water.
20220215_120402

This is Jelly Ear Fungus or Wood Fungus. It’s allegedly edible – I have eaten it, in a restaurant years ago and I can’t say I was impressed.

20220215_120636

These black cords, called rhizomorphs, are how Honey, or Bootlace, fungus spreads. They grow beneath the bark of an infected tree, but can also spread beneath the soil to reach new trees. Honey fungus will kill its host tree. I think it’s quite common in this area.

Honey Fungus mushrooms are bioluminescent (the gills glow in the dark), although their ghostly greenish light emissions are usually far too weak to be visible to the human eye in a normal woodland environment, even on a moonless night. To see this effect it is necessary to sit close to some of the mushrooms in total darkness (in a windowless room) until your eyes have become accustomed to the dark and your pupils are fully dilated.

Source

A rash of fungus appears along Inman’s Road, the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, every autumn. I think it’s Honey Fungus. It’s never occurred to me before to bring some home to test the bioluminescence, but I think this year I will.

20220215_121220
Lumpy Bracket fungus?

I think that this might be Lumpy Bracket fungus, partly because in the same way that Jelly Ear fungus usually grows on Elder, this fungus typically grows on Beech, especially stumps, which is exactly what was happening here. Where a large number of Beeches have been (controversially) felled by Hawes Water, many of the stumps now host this fungus.

20220215_121932
Gloucester Old Spot piglets at Hawes Villa farm.

I thought, obviously mistakenly, that Hawes Villa had stopped keeping pigs. Happily, I’m wrong.

20220215_125045

Walking along Bottoms Lane I was struck by the abundance and diversity of the mosses and lichens living in the hedge.

20220215_125241
How many different species here?
20220215_125202
20220216_161750
Back in Eaves Wood again.
20220216_162328
By the Pepper Pot.

Because there were cold winds blowing all week, my Dad, who really suffers with the cold, was understandably reluctant to venture out. TBH had the bright idea that the gardens at Sizergh Castle might be relatively sheltered. She was right.

20220217_124157
Family photo – I took several, but none in which everybody managed to look at the camera simultaneously.

A is in a wheelchair – lent to us by the National Trust for our visit – because she had broken a bone in her ankle whilst dancing. Little S (you can see here how diminutive he is!) delighted in pushing her around at great speed and alarming her with his ‘driving’ skills.

20220217_135021
More Snowdrops in the grounds of Sizergh.
20220219_145255
The Winter Aconites again.
20220219_150044

Four fields between Holgates and Far Arnside had been seeded with what looks to me like Ribwort Plantain. A bit of lazy internet research reveals that it can be used as fodder. Certainly, when we’ve been back to the fields, after stock have been introduced, the leaves have been pretty thoroughly stripped off. I read that growing plantain can improve soil structure. And also, more surprisingly, that its seeds are used as a thickening agent in ice-cream and cosmetics.

20220219_150707
Far Arnside.
20220219_152211
Looking to Knowe Point.
20220219_152226
The Bay.
20220219_153655
Grange. Hampsfell behind with a dusting of snow.
20220219_154009
Turning the corner into the Kent Estuary.

The weather le me down a bit here. I walked around the coast in glorious sunshine, but by the time I’d climbed the Knott from White Creek, not the longest of ascents, it had completely clouded over.

20220219_164815
Bit of snow on Arnside Knott too.

And finally, on a very damp final day of the break, the flocks of Starlings which roost at Leighton Moss briefly gathered above the field behind our house, so that we had a grandstand view from our garden.

P1340557

Magic!

Half Term at Home

The Bug Hotel

P1340183
Copper Underwing.

The day after my Hawes Water wander. Another attempt to replicate the fun I had in the meadows of the Dordogne. It started, in rather gloomy conditions, in our garden.

P1340185
Long-tailed Tit. Not all that blurred!
P1340190
Possibly the same Long-tailed Tit. But they’re usually in groups, so it could just as easily be another.
P1340201
Mating flies in the beech hedge.
P1340207
Speckled Wood butterfly.
P1340223
Hoverfly on Montbretia.
P1340233
Common Carder Bee on Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.

When the weather brightened up, I set-off for a short wander, taking in Lambert’s Meadow, my go to spot when I’m hoping to see dragonflies in particular, and a wide selection of insect life in general, and a trip to the Dordogne is not on the cards.

P1340276
Lambert’s Meadow.

In my post about the meadows around the campsite we stayed on in France, I began with a photo in which I’d caught five different species all in the one shot, which I was delighted by, because it seemed to represent to me the sheer abundance and variety of the wildlife to be seen there.

I’ll confess, I was bit shocked that Lambert’s Meadow could match that tally…

P1340236

So…what have we got here? I think that the two black and white hoverflies may be Leucozona glaucia. I think the bug closest to the middle could be the sawfly, Rhogogaster Picta. I wondered whether the tiny insect at the bottom might be a sawfly too, but the long antennae and what looks like an even longer ovipositor have persuaded me that it is probably some kind of Ichneumon wasp. But that’s as far as I’ve got (there are apparently approximately 2500 UK species). I think the social wasp at the top is probably Vespula Vulgaris – the Common Wasp. And about the insect on the top left I have no opinions at all – there isn’t much to go on.

P1340243

I always assume that very pale bees like this are very faded Common Carder bees, but I’m not at all sure that’s correct.

P1340245
Large Rose Sawfly?

I think this might be a Large Rose Sawfly, although surprisingly it seems like there might be several UK species of insects which have a striking orange abdomen like this. I’m also intrigued by what the funky seedheads are. I suspect that if I’ve written this post back in August, I probably would have had a pretty fair idea because of where they were growing in the meadow.

P1340246
Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Male?
P1340247
Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Female?

There’s around 300 species of cranefly in the UK. Me putting names to these is essentially a huge bluff – I have even less idea than usual. I’m reasonably confident that they are at least craneflies and that the first is a male and the second female, but after that I’m pretty much guessing, based on a little bit of internet research.

P1340254
Volucella Pellucens on Mint.

This is a hoverfly which I often see and which is sufficiently distinctive that I can actually be confident about my identification. Especially since I found this very helpful guide. The common name is apparently Pellucid Fly, which is odd; pellucid means translucent or clear, as in a pellucid stream, or easy to understand, as in pellucid prose. I’m not sure in which sense this fly is pellucid. The females lay their eggs in the nests of social wasps like the Vespula Vulgaris above. The larvae grow up in the nest, from what I can gather, essentially scavenging – so a bit like wasps round a picnic table. Even wasps get harassed!

P1340261

I am going to have to bite the bullet and shell out for a proper field guide to hoverflies I think. They are so fascinating. Well, to me at least! These two, at first glance both black and yellow, but then so differently shaped and patterned, but I don’t have a clue what species either might belong to.

P1340269

This, on the other hand, also black and yellow……

P1340272
Tachina Fera

…is clearly not a hoverfly. Don’t ask me how I know. Well, go on then: it’s extremely bristly, and it has a chequered abdomen. At least it’s quite distinctive. My ‘Complete British Insects’ describes it as ‘handsome’ which even I can’t quite see. It’s a parasitoid, which is to say that its larvae will grow up inside a caterpillar.

P1340278
Possibly Eristalis arbustorum.

Apparently Eristalis arbustorum “can have quite variable markings on its body and some can be almost totally black”. (Source) Which makes my heart sink a bit – what hope do I have if members of an individual species can vary so much? At least this genuinely is handsome.

P1340280

A couple more unidentified bees to throw in.

P1340286
P1340292
The Guelder Rose hedge.

Up to this point I’d been slowly pacing around the meadow, snapping away. I hadn’t walked far at all. As I approached the large area of Guelder Rose in the hedge, my pulse quickened a little, whilst my pace slowed even more. This is an area in which I frequently spot dragonflies. And the area just beyond, of tall figworts and willowherbs, is possibly even more reliable.

P1340256
Guelder Rose berries.

There were a few dragonflies patrolling the margin of the field. And a some Common Darters resting on leaves quite high in hedge, making them difficult to photograph from below. But then…result!

P1340298
Migrant Hawker.

Sometimes hawkers visit our garden, but it’s rare that I spot them when they aren’t in motion, hunting.

P1340305
And again.

An absolutely stunning creature.

A little further along…

P1340321
Migrant Hawker on Figwort.
P1340338
And again.
P1340325
Honey bee, I think.

Our friend P has hives in Hagg Wood, not too far away. Minty honey anyone?

P1340345
A very tatty Skipper.
P1340353
Small White.
P1340367
Common Darter on Figwort.

Views from the walk home…

20210822_152618
Looking a bit black over The Howgills.
20210822_152346
But the sun catching Farleton Fell.
20210822_152447
Rosehips.

Well, I’ve enjoyed choosing this selection of photos from the hundreds I took that day. I hope you did too. I don’t know why I didn’t spend more time mooching around al Lambert’s Meadow last summer. I’m looking forward to some brighter weather already.

The Bug Hotel

Green Dock Beetle

20210821_154559
Hawes Water

I was missing the flower rich meadows of the Dordogne and the multitude of butterflies and moths and other insects which the abundant flowers attract. So I set out for a short meander around Hawes Water, with my camera with me for once, with the express intent of finding something interesting to photograph.

Some patches of knapweed growing between Challan Hall and Hawes Water gave me just what I was after.

P1340088
Tree Bumblebees? On Common Knapweed.

Mainly bees, which by late summer have faded quite a bit and so are even harder to identify than they are earlier in the summer.

P1340090
Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.

Not to worry – I very happily took no end of photos.

P1340092
Tawny Mining Bee? On Common Knapweed.
P1340101
Another Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.
P1340123
Not-even-going-to-guess bee. On Ragwort.
P1340126
A drone fly, a bee mimic – one of the Eristalis species?
P1340148
Green Dock Beetle

I think this is a Green Dock Beetle. Pretty colourful isn’t it? I took lots of photos of this charismatic (or should I say prismatic?) little fella. With hindsight, I think the patterns on the knapweed flowerhead are pretty special too. Apparently, the larvae of these beetles can strip the leaves of a dock plant in no time flat. Likewise the massive leaves of a rhubarb plant. I don’t recall seeing them before, but shall be checking out docks more carefully this summer.

More about dock beetles here and here.

P1340149
Green Dock Beetle.
P1340155
Episyrphus Balteatus? In flight!
P1340150
Not sure about the bee – but look what’s lurking below the flower – an orb-web spider.
P1340173
Phaonia valida?
P1340175
Devil’s-bit Scabious.
20210821_143958

And finally, the hedgerow close to home which was cut down has new fences along each side and there’s plenty growing in that space – whether or not that’s the hawthorns and blackthorns of which the hedge was originally composed remains to be seen.

Green Dock Beetle

August: Garden Wildlife + Foot Golf.

P1340035
Blurred Long-tail Tit. All Long-Tail Tits are blurred.
P1340037
Blue Tit.

Some plants in the garden are fantastic value, not just in themselves, but for the wildlife they attract.

P1340048

I think these tall yellow daisies are Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. Related to sunflowers, they’ve spread like mad in our garden, giving a long-lasting bright splash of colour in mid to late summer.

This is what the BBC Gardener’s World website has to say about them…

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies​/​moths and other pollinators. It nectar-pollen-rich-flowers and has seeds for birds.

The long stems seem to be good places for dragonflies to rest. And they are certainly attractive to pollinators.

P1340039
Hoverfly. Possibly a Drone Fly.
P1340053
Brown-lipped Smail.
P1340057
Greenbottle.
P1340050

Marjoram also seeds itself quite freely around the garden and seems to be particularly attractive to bees. I hope this is a Garden Bumblebee, seems appropriate, but the white-tailed bumblebees are difficult to distinguish between.

P1340043
Peacock.
P1340046
And another.
P1340082
A pair of fawns, their spots beginning to fade. They came right up to our windows, seemingly unaware of the people watching on the other side of the glass.
P1340069

And, completely unrelated, TBH booked us all in for a family session of Foot Golf at Casterton golf course. As you can see, the views there aren’t bad at all.

20210813_141942

We were all a bit rubbish at the golf, but we had a good giggle.

August: Garden Wildlife + Foot Golf.

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

P1330064

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.

P1330098
View of The Howgills.
20210402_151805
Forsythia catching the sun.
P1330068
Hazelwood Hall.

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.

Hazelwood Hall 1926

Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.

P1330069

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.

P1330092

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.

P1330099
Violets

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.

P1330103
P1330104
Primroses with Bee-fly.
P1330105
Blue moor grass – typical of limestone grassland.
P1330107
Hazel catkins catching the sun
20210403_145354
All that’s left of one of the former hedgerows. Still need to have a proper look at what’s grown back.
P1330122
A Drone Fly, I think, but it’s the texture of the wood which I really like.

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…

P1330139
20210403_153206

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.

P1330142
Cherry blossom?
P1330143

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.

P1330144
P1330154
Honeysuckle leaves, some of the earliest to appear, catching the light.
P1330166

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.

P1330185

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.

This…

P1330194

…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…

P1330215

…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…

P1330222

Though I couldn’t swear to it.

Another mystery here…

P1330236

…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).

P1330239
Ash flowers beginning to emerge.
P1330243
More Hazel catkins.
P1330244
And again!
20210403_183321
White violets.

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…

20210405_164343

The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

September Colour.

P1320569
Evening Primrose.

The day after my Arnside Knott walk was another cracker. I was out three times, twice around home and also for a short stroll in Kirkby Lonsdale whilst B was at rugby training.

P1320570
Creeping Thistle.

I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on my home patch after the relative dearth beneath the trees in the Tarn Gorge. I took a huge number of photos, of which just a small selection have been chosen for this post.

P1320572
Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
P1320579
Nipplewort.

Nipplewort is a tall straggly weed, without, at first glance, a great deal to offer, but the small flowers are well worth a closer look.

P1320600
Grange from the Cove.
20200920_114953
River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122337
Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122417
St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
P1320605
Hoverfly.
P1320609
Common Darter.
P1320614
P1320616
Guelder Rose berries.
P1320620
Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
P1320623
P1320626
P1320627
P1320633
Yet another Common Darter.
P1320637
More Guelder Rose berries.
20200924_173452
A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

Wildlife Pics from the Dordogne

P1310508
Shield Bug, Pale Clouded Yellow, Meadow Brown, Knapweed Fritillary, and wasp, sawfly or ….a?

Conspicuous by their absence from my last post – I know, my last epistle was quite some time ago, suffice to say that online teaching is, despite what the gutter press seem to think, pretty all-consuming and involves spending most of the day stuck in front of a screen, so blogging has dropped out of favour as a spare-time activity – anyway, as I was saying, notably missing – notable, that is, to long-suffering followers at least – notably missing from my account of our trip to the Dordogne last summer were the plethora of wildlife photos which usually occupy around nine tenths of most of my posts. Fear not, that’s because I’ve saved them all up for one gargantuan holiday-snap snore-fest, with no people or views at all! (You can’t say you weren’t warned.)

This first photo neatly epitomises one of my favourite things about our trips to France – the sheer abundance and variety of the flora and fauna, well – particularly the insects.

Although there’s a lot of photos here – some might say too many – it’s a tiny sample of the many I took. Whilst my family and friends were floating down the river on rubber rings, or reading their books, or swinging through the trees doing their best Tarzan impressions, I wandered around the local woods and fields, camera in hand. Sorting through the vast assortment of resulting shots, choosing some favourites, and then trying, with varying degrees of success, to identify some of the more exotic species has been a highly enjoyable but fairly lengthy process. Not that I’ve restricted myself to the more exotic species here, I’m almost as happy to be photographing things which are very common at home…

P1310432
Meadow Brown on Horse Mint

I generally consider my memory to be atrocious, but weirdly, I’m confident that I can remember where each of these photos were taken. This Horse Mint, for example, grows behind the wall which runs alongside the road into the village. Whereas this thistle..

P1310819
Another Meadow Brown.

…was growing in a field next to the river, upstream of the campsite, a particularly happy hunting ground.

P1310516
Pale Clouded Yellow

Every trip seems to bring something new. I didn’t know, for example, that there was such a thing as a Pale Clouded Yellow.

P1310519
Pale Clouded Yellow
P1310942
Clouded Yellow

Ordinary, bog-standard Clouded Yellows sometimes appear in Britain as migrants. I saw one near Arnside once, a couple of miles from home, which really confused me at the time, because I knew what it was, but really didn’t expect to see it flying in a field in Cumbria, having only previously spotted them in France.

I don’t think that Cleopatra’s occur in the UK, I’ve certainly never seen them before.

20200818_160800
Cleopatra

They proved to be quite elusive, so I was quite chuffed to catch this one on my phone, although, with its wings closed, it looks very like a common-or-garden Brimstone. When they open their wings however….

P1310943
Cleopatra

…they’re quite different.

P1310877
Knapweed Fritillary

We were a few days later into the summer this trip. It’s amazing what a difference those few days made. Some butterflies have a brief lifespan in their adult phase. On our last trip we saw quite a few Swallowtails and Scarce Swallowtails, as well as numerous Silver-washed Fritillaries. Not this time.

P1310911
Knapweed Fritillary

But I did see lots of fritillaries. At the time, I was convinced that there were two different species, but looking at the photos now, it seems to me that they are probably all Knapweed Fritillaries.

P1310546
A pair of Knapweed Fritillary

I usually saw them in pairs, and often with one of the pair raising the back of its abdomen in what I took to be part of some sort of wooing process.

P1310550
A mating display?
P1310660
Wood White?
P1310661
Wall Brown
P1310657
Rock Grayling.
P1310751
Grizzled Skipper?

This little chap was compensation for a long and fruitless chase of a much larger butterfly, which may or may not have been my first, and so far only, sighting of a Camberwell Beauty.

P1310608
Common Blue.
P1310628
Common Blue
P1310832
Common Blues.
P1310870
Common Blue.

I’d already had an uncommonly good summer for spotting and photographing Common Blues around home, and they were abundant again both in the Dordogne and then, after we moved on, in the Tarn Gorge. Somehow their blue seemed even more vivid in the French sunshine.

20200818_155810
Holly Blue. I think.
P1310530

If anything, grasshoppers were even more abundant, more elusive, more variable and more difficult to identify than the butterflies.

P1310532
P1310638
P1310766
P1310769

Some of the larger ones have very striking red or blue wings, sadly only visible in flight.

P1310926
Striped Shield Bug on Wild Carrot.
P1310452
Striped Shield Bugs – mating?
P1310771
Striped Shield Bug on Wild Carrot with a passenger.
P1310860
Hairy (or Sloe) Shieldbug.
P1310971
Assassin Bug?

There are thousands of species of Assassin Bug apparently, of which this may be one.

P1310559

My first thought was that this was a Carder Bee, but it has no pollen baskets, so now I’m wondering if it’s even a bumblebee at all. I’ve concluded that, not very confident at identifying bees on my home patch, I shan’t even attempt to do so with these French bees.

P1310881
P1310988
P1310786

I will say that this isn’t a bee, but something imitating a bee’s markings. I’m not sure whether it’s a bee-fly or a hoverfly, although I’m inclined to the latter.

P1310454

I saw a few of these large and strikingly ugly black and orange flies.

P1310450
P1310793

As with the bees, I saw a number of wasps, or wasp like creatures, which don’t seem to be in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ guide. There were some very thin waisted black and orange bugs which I think were ichneumon wasps of some kind. But I’m not sure whether the black and white creature below, sharing a flower with a burnet moth, is a wasp or a sawfly…

P1310558

Here’s another…

P1310522

…with a fritillary. And something similar, but yellow and black…

P1310569

Last time I took lots of photos of damselflies, dragonflies and demoiselles. Not so much this time, although the demoiselles were still present in large numbers by the river. Here’s a solitary damselfly…

P1310739

And what I thought was an unusually hairy, stunted and unglamorous dragonfly…

P1310777
Robber Fly

…but which I’m now pretty sure is a species of Robber Fly. Having said all those uncharitable things, I should say I’m actually quite chuffed to have spotted this, if only because I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. That short, stout proboscis is for piercing prey and injecting venom. And the stiff hairs on its face, visible here, are called the mystax, from the Greek mystakos, also the origin of our ‘moustache’, via Latin, Italian and French. Which is the kind of trivia I find very satisfying.

All of which brings me to the last section of my insect photos, the moths.

P1310556
Six-spot Burnet Moth
P1310983
A colourful micro moth.

One of the wildlife highlights of our last trip had been the almost daily sightings of Hummingbird Hawkmoths, This time, the Meadow Clary which they seemed to favour had mostly finished flowering and to begin with I saw far fewer. Then, after my pursuit of the suspected Camberwell Beauty, I wandered into a part of the campsite I hadn’t previously ventured into. Having said there would be no views, here it is…

P1310938

It was unmown, full of wildflowers and a haven for butterflies. And in one corner, there was lots of Meadow Clary still in bloom, and loads of Hummingbird Hawkmoths too..

P1310961
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

I have to confess that I was fascinated by them.

P1320019
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

An example, I believe, of convergent evolution, Hummingbird Hawkmoths have evolved in a similar way to hummingbirds in order to occupy a similar ecological niche. Like hummingbirds, they use very rapid wingbeats to hover close to species of tubular flowers and use their long tongues to reach the otherwise inaccessible nectar.

P1320020
Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Meadow Clary
P1320023
Hummingbird Hawkmoth
P1320056
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

I guess they must land and rest sometimes? But those legs don’t look particularly practical.

Whilst the insects sometimes left me bewildered, the flora is even more diverse and confusing. I think I would have to move to France, massively improve by rusty schoolboy French, buy a comprehensive local field guide, live in the Dordogne for a decade or two, and then I might muster the same semi-confident familiarity that I’ve grasped with the plants around home.

A couple of very distinctive species did stand out however…

P1310934
Thornapple

This one, it turns out, is no more at home in the region than me, being native to North America.

P1310595
Thornapple

I was struck by the way the seedpods form in the nodes, where the stems branched, which seems unusual.

P1310596
Thornapple leaves.

Don’t be fooled by the presence of the word ‘apple’ in its name, because apparently the whole plant is poisonous.

P1310597
Thornapple seeds – highly poisonous.
P1310602
Thornapple seeds.
P1310601
Thornapple flowers.

They were growing in amongst the sunflowers and where the height of the sunflowers had forced them, they had grown to around two metres high.

P1310617
Field Eryngo?

Although I think this is Field Eryngo, I actually saw it, not in the fields, but growing in clearings in the woods. It looks like a thistle but is actually related to our own Sea Holly.

P1310618
P1310716

Unfortunately, I have no idea what this plant is, with its striking red stems, tiny white flowers and colourful berries.

P1310715

It was growing by the cycle path at the edge of the village, and I suppose might have been introduced.

P1310713
P1310712
P1310817
Seedheads of a mallow? I liked the shapes.
P1310416
Robin’s pincushion galls.
P1310570
A Common Lizard I think.
P1310574

These four photos are all, I think, of the same lizard, which was basking on the wall one morning when I walked past on the way to the bakery and still in the same spot when I came back.

P1310576
P1310591
P1310681

This last is on the wall of the Chateau we visited, so definitely a different lizard!

P1320071

And finally, this toad had apparently been our lodger and was revealed as such only when we took the tent down in preparation to move on the Tarn Gorge.

Wildlife Pics from the Dordogne