Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Heald Brow primroses.

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Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

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I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

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This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

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A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

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On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

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There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

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Cuckooflowers.

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Pheasant.

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At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

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…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

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Violets.

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I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

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The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

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…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

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…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

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It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Cowslips.

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Hoverfly.

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Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

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New oak leaves.

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Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

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I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

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Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

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Bank Well.

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Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

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One final Peacock butterfly.

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More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

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Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

Easter Miscellany

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I’ve decided to combine a hotchpotch of images from a sequence of local walks into one ragbag, catch-all post. These first few photos come from a very short outing, a circular route, but essentially to Lambert’s Meadow and back.

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Once at the meadow, I was mesmerised by the abundance of flies on the flowers along the edge of the field, beside a drystone wall. I was particularly surprised and delighted by the ubiquity of Bee Flies, a species I didn’t know about until relatively recently, but which I now realise are, at least in early spring, extremely common.

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There were lots of hoverflies about too. I keep promising myself a field guide and will surely get around to ordering one soon. Probably.

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Comma butterfly.

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Ash flower.

Later, I was out for a slightly extended version of my standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots. I was too early to catch the sunset from the Lots, but it was setting as I turned for home near Hagg Wood…

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The next day, I took B, some of his closest friends and Little S down to Preston for an early birthday treat for B – some indoor go-karting. I hadn’t intended to take part in the racing myself, but one of the friends had to drop out at the last moment, so I ended up taking part by default. Sadly, all of the boys were faster than me with the exception of Little S, who was in an underpowered ‘junior’ cart.

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This is our glamorous post-race lunch: sandwiches out of the car boot in the car-park on an industrial estate.

That evening, I managed to get out for an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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I love the fact that the powerful zoom on my camera brings Ingleborough so close…

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…and the light and shade which it revealed.

This tree…

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…which must have fallen a long time ago, but which has continued to grow despite that set-back, has featured on the blog before. It’s very close to the trig pillar on the Knott and the boys used to like climbing on its branches.

It’s a beech and on this occasion was liberally festooned with buds which looked like they would imminently burst forth with fresh green leaves.

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Nearby Sycamores were slightly ahead in that game…

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By the toposcope, I stopped for a brew, something I don’t do nearly as often as I should.

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A couple of days after that, a Sunday, and I was in Garstang with B for a rugby match. Whilst both teams were warming up I had a short wander by the River Wyre and looked at some sculptures in a small community park there.

We were impressed by our hosts score board…

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…and by the final score in what had been a very close match.

That evening, I was back on Arnside Knott.

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Willow catkins.

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Birch buds again. Possibly the same ones.

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Roe deer buck.

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Kent Estuary.

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Larch flowers and…

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…cones.

 

Easter Miscellany

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

Mouse Will Play

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Copridding Wood – Arnside Knott – Redhill Woods – Hagg Wood – Black Dyke – Silverdale Moss – Gait Barrows – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Redbridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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Big clouds and the beach at Far Arnside.

The best day of my solo week was the Thursday, which was windy and changeable, but which also brought quite a bit of sunshine. Because the forecast wasn’t great, I decided to stay close to home again.

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Sloes.

Last autumn, I collected some sloes with a view to making some sloe gin. I was a bit early and the sloes hadn’t had their first frost yet, but I’d read that you can just stick them in the freezer and achieve the same affect, which I duly did. I’m sure that I warned TBH about the sloes. Well, fairly sure. Anyway, she forgot, and added the sloes to her breakfast smoothie one morning, thinking they were frozen blueberries. The resulting smoothie was more crunchy than smooth, being full of bits of the stones from the sloes and it was also mouth-puckeringly tart.

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Marooned tree-trunk.

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I’ve posted pictures of these fossilised corals from Far Arnside a couple of times before.

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They aren’t always easy to find, which doesn’t make much sense, I know, but I was pleased to find them again on this occasion and spent a happy few moments seeking them out on the rocks.

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Vervain?

This delicate and inconspicuous plant bears slender spikes of pale lilac flowers. It is hard to understand why our ancestors regarded such a modest and unassuming plant as immensely powerful.

from Hatfield’s Herbal by Gabrielle Hatfield

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Can’t think that I’ve noticed this plant before, but there was quite a bit of it blowing about in the stiff wind on the rocks hard by the shore. It was apparently sacred to the Druids, widely regarded as a panacea in the Middle Ages, and thought to be both used by witches and proof against witchcraft.

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Looking along the shore towards Grange.

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A similar view taken not too much after the previous photo. You can see that the weather was very changeable.

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Burnett Rosehip.

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The Kent Estuary.

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A Tellin. I don’t know whether it’s a Thin Tellin or a Baltic Tellin, but I was interested to read that the creatures which occupy these shells can live beneath the sand at densities of up to 3000 per cubic metre.

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A shower on the far bank.

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Meathop Fell across the Kent – bathed in sunshine again.

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The Kent at New Barns.

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Big Clouds over Meathop Fell.

After our stay in the Tarn Gorge, where most flowers seemed to have already gone over to seed, I was on the look-out to see what was still in bloom at home. The refreshing answer was that there was so many things flowering that I soon lost count.

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Sea Plantain.

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A Hoverfly on a Hawk’s-beard. I wish I could be more specific, but Britain has several species of Hawk’s-beard and over 250 kinds of hoverfly and I can’t be sure about either of these.

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Mallards.

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Sea Campion.

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Another hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

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And yet another kind, also unidentified.

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Creeping Thistle and, I think, a Mason Bee (22 resident British species).

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Mason bees, although closely related to social wasps, are solitary hunters which stock their nests with various insects to feed their larvae.

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Sea Aster.

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Yet another kind of hoverfly, perhaps a Drone Fly, this time on Yarrow.

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And another, on Common Knapweed, I think.

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This has been quite a year for fungi, and this walk was no exception, with many different sizes, colours and forms seen.

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A rather faded Brown Argus butterfly.

This area is unusual because it’s on the northern limit of the Brown Argus and the southern limit of the Northern Brown Argus, but has both species. I’ve rarely seen either though, so this was a bit of a bonus.

In Greek mythology, Argus was a giant with a hundred eyes.

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More fungi.

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Bedeguar Galls, home to wasp grubs.

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Common Darter, this colouration is typical of older females.

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The view from the Knott, excellent though it was, was curtailed somewhat by clouds obscuring the larger hills of the the Lake District, which, to some extent at least, justified my decision not to head for the hills for a walk.

I stopped for half an hour, to sit on a bench and make a brew. I chatted to a couple of chaps I’d met earlier in the walk and was also befriended by a wasp, which was apparently fascinated by my phone and insisted on crawling all over it.

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A bumblebee on what looks like Marsh Woundwort, although it wasn’t growing in a remotely marshy spot.

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Blackberries – I ate plenty during this walk.

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A male Small White (I think).

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That bumblebee again. I can’t see any pollen-baskets, so is it a male or a Cuckoo Bee?

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Arnside Knott pano (click on this, or nay other, image to see larger version on flickr.

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Bittersweet.

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Painted Lady.

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Leighton Beck.

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Greater plantain.

A common plant with many names: Broad-leaved Plantain, Rat’s-tail Plantain, Banjos, Angel’s Harps. To the Anglo-Saxons it was Waybread, one of their nine sacred herbs and another powerful medicinal plant. I remember playing with these as a child – gently pulled away from the plant, a leaf would bring with several long thin fibres – the challenge was to get longer ‘guitar strings’ than your friends. Who needs Fortnite?

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It wasn’t only me enjoying the blackberries!

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Heron.

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Middlebarrow and Arnside Knott.

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Unidentified Umbellifer.

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Arnside Knott across Silverdale Moss.

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Little Egret.

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These look like mutant Blackberries, but in fact they are a related species: Dewberries. They have fewer segments and are so juicy that they tend to disintegrate when picked. In my opinion, they’re superior to blackberries. They’re apparently more common in Eastern England, but I now know several spots where they grow.

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Speckled Wood.

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Orpine.

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More fungi.

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Grasshopper (possibly Common Green Grasshopper).

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This is the field adjacent to the one where I found lots of mushrooms just a couple of days before. All along this track there was a new rash of small mushrooms.

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A little later I passed through another field with, if anything, even more mushrooms.

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Banded snail.

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Of course, mushrooms are fine in the field, but even better with a piece of rump steak and a creamy blue cheese sauce….

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Fine way to finish a fine day.

Mouse Will Play

As The Crow Flies

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – The Green – The Clifftop – Woodwell – Bottom’s Wood – The Lots – The Cove.

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A dull and damp day, so I didn’t take all that many photos, except of the host of insects which were feeding on a clump of Devil’s-bit Scabious at the edge of Lambert’s Meadow. None of them came out too sharply, but I’ve chosen this one of a hoverfly because I liked the neat pattern on it’s abdomen.

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Red Bartsia.

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Water Mint.

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Speckled Wood.

And finally, not really relevant to this post, but here’s a song by the brilliant Tony Joe White, who died last week…

It seems odd to me that he wasn’t better known.

As The Crow Flies

Home Alone

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – The Row – Bottoms Lane – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Shore – The Cove.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

When we returned from France, for the rest of the family three weeks under canvas stretched into four weeks. After just one night at home and a frenzy of laundry and repacking they were all camping again with their respective guiding and scouting units – the DBs with the Scouts, TBH as leader of the local Guides and A with the Explorer Scouts. They were all on the same field though, at the Red Rose international camp (I’m not sure if these things are still called jamborees?). Although there were scouts and guides from around the world at the camp, for us it was very local, just a few miles down the road at the Westmorland County Show-ground near Crooklands, which was fortunate, since in the hasty repacking many items had been forgotten.

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A (very hairy) Hoverfly.

That left me at home ‘on me tod’. Although these photographs show lovely blue skies and sunshine, the weather that week was generally atrocious and it’s a testament to the the organisers and our local leaders that the kids all had a wonderful time on their very damp camp.

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Limestone pavement at Gait Barrows.

Left to my own devices, I naturally tried to get out for walks as often as possible and, with the weather the way it was, and all the driving I’d recently done, I opted to stay close to home when I did go out.

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Orpine.

In fact, since the end of the summer and through the autumn my walks have mainly been local – I’ve been beating the bounds quite a bit and have lots of walks to catch up on, with lots of photos of all the old familiar things – local views, flowers, butterflies, leaves, trees, rocks, bugs etc. You have been warned!

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Devil’s-bit Scabious.

This is the the tall plant which caused my much confusion last year. The flower-heads seem to stay closed like this for a very long time before opening and revealing the more familiar scabious form.

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Common Darter.

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Elderberries (I think).

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Sloes.

This being late summer, there were berries everywhere. Mostly they weren’t ripe yet, but fortunately the blackberries were. This was the first of many blackberry fuelled walks.

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Blackberries.

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Mushroom.

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Forage!

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More mushrooms.

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Tea!

This has been a bumper year for autumn fungi, which started with an abundance of field mushrooms. I remember something similar happening after the long, hot, dry summers of 1975 and 1976. And going out with my Mum foraging for mushrooms. Although, since I almost certainly didn’t eat mushrooms then, being as fussy a child as my own kids are now, I wonder if I’ve made this up. Mum?

Anyway, fried in plenty of butter, these mushrooms were delicious. I also like to eat the small ones raw, just after picking them. There’s no taste quite like it.

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Gait Barrows.

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Red-tailed Cuckoo Bumblebee (perhaps), on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

Cuckoo Bumblebees don’t collect pollen for their larvae, but instead take over the nests of their host bumblebees, in this case Red-tailed Bumblebees. Although I am, as ever, tentative with my identification, what makes me think that this is a cuckoo bee are the lack of pollen baskets and the very hairy legs, both of which are apparently tell-tales. This species is one of many insects which has been confined to the south of Britain, but is now spreading northwards with the changing climate.

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Hawes Water.

Home Alone

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

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This tower, on Kirklands, by Kent’s Bank, which is a sort of suburb of Grange-over-Sands, was built as a folly, but nobody seems to know when or by whom. Allegedly, it’s on the site of a much earlier church and apparently open-air services are still held here sometimes in the summer. I was here as a continuation of the grassland monitoring, with Morecambe Bay Partnerships, which I helped with last year. We had a very short refresher course in the Victoria Hall in Grange and then came out here for some in-the-field revision. There’s no official public access to this area: we had permission, but judging by the well-walked paths in the area, the locals probably have a sort of de facto right-to-roam anyway. One of the volunteers in the party also volunteers on archeological digs and has worked here on three caves which revealed evidence of human habitation going back to just over ten thousand years ago. Also, even older remains of horses, elk and lynx.

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The hillside behind the folly, dipping into the cloud, is Hampsfell (not featured on this blog for far too long). The fact that lowly Hampsfell was in the cloud gives an indication of the weather – after several days which, even when cloudy, were still quite hot – the weather had turned overcast and a bit chilly.

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The hill seen across the Kent Estuary here is Arnside Knott – this spot is really not far from home, although it takes quite a while to drive because of a lack of a road bridge over the lower reaches of the Kent. One day, hopefully, a pedestrian bridge alongside the rail bridge will connect Arnside and Grange. On this occasion, I risked Northern Rails dodgy service and caught the train.

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Here’s the ‘team’ heading downhill. The low, wooded hill in the distance is Humphrey Head, another place I haven’t been to for quite some time.

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Botanising.

It was good to be out with like-minded people, not necessarily for a tutorial as such, but just to get back into the routine of how to carry out the surveys and the very close observation which is required in order to pick out some of the very tiny species which can be good indicators of healthy limestone grassland.

I did often get distracted by other things however. There was a Kestrel hovering overhead which I photographed several times, but on such a gloomy day none of the pictures came out very well.

Also…

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…this very dark and hairy insect which I thought would be distinctive enough to easily identify from a field guide. But sadly not: it looks to me like a mining bee, an Andrena speciesbut I’m not confident that it is one of those, and not at all sure which particular species.

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Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

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Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil (a food plant of the Six-spot Burnett Caterpillar).

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A Bedstraw. There are lots of different bedstraws and distinguishing between them is exceptionally difficult.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed. There are lots of different Hawkweeds too, but this one, at least, is relatively easy to pick out.

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Lesser Trefoil (I think).

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Pig-nut. This plant has tiny tubers which taste, well, nutty. Pigs love them, and apparently they used to be very popular with country children too. Hard to try them now because it’s illegal to dig-up plants on somebody else’s land.

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Rock Rose (in profusion).

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Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.

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Yellow Rattle seed capsules. They rattle, hence the name.

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Burnet Rose.

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Kidney Vetch.

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Heath Speedwell (that was the consensus opinion anyway).

Previous visit to Hampsfell here.

Previous visit to Humphrey Head here.

How to forage for pignuts.

Findings in Kent’s Bank Cave.

 

Kirklands Kent’s Bank