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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…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 species, but I’m not confident that it is one of those, and not at all sure which particular species.
Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.
Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.
Bird’s-foot Trefoil (a food plant of the Six-spot Burnett Caterpillar).
A Bedstraw. There are lots of different bedstraws and distinguishing between them is exceptionally difficult.
Mouse-ear-hawkweed. There are lots of different Hawkweeds too, but this one, at least, is relatively easy to pick out.
Lesser Trefoil (I think).
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.
Rock Rose (in profusion).
Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.
Yellow Rattle seed capsules. They rattle, hence the name.
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.