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

P1210721

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.

P1210722

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.

P1210724

Marooned tree-trunk.

P1210725

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

P1210728

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.

P1210738

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

P1210740

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.

P1210742

Looking along the shore towards Grange.

P1210745

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

P1210755

Burnett Rosehip.

P1210759

The Kent Estuary.

P1210760

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.

P1210763

A shower on the far bank.

P1210773

P1210793

Meathop Fell across the Kent – bathed in sunshine again.

P1210810

The Kent at New Barns.

P1210812

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.

P1210816

Sea Plantain.

P1210823

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.

P1210826

P1210830

Mallards.

P1210838

Sea Campion.

P1210839

Another hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

P1210854

And yet another kind, also unidentified.

P1210847

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

P1210849

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

P1210857

Sea Aster.

P1210856

P1210859

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

P1210865

And another, on Common Knapweed, I think.

P1210872

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

P1210877

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.

P1210887

P1210888

More fungi.

P1210891

Bedeguar Galls, home to wasp grubs.

P1210892

P1210900

Common Darter, this colouration is typical of older females.

P1210911

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.

P1210924

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

P1210921

P1210926

Blackberries – I ate plenty during this walk.

P1210929

A male Small White (I think).

P1210931

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

image

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

P1210942

Bittersweet.

P1210950

Painted Lady.

P1210955

Leighton Beck.

P1210964

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?

P1210965

P1210968

It wasn’t only me enjoying the blackberries!

P1210969

Heron.

P1210972

Middlebarrow and Arnside Knott.

P1220001

Unidentified Umbellifer.

P1220005

Arnside Knott across Silverdale Moss.

P1220006

Little Egret.

P1220020

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.

P1220026

Speckled Wood.

P1220027

Orpine.

P1220038

More fungi.

P1220054

Grasshopper (possibly Common Green Grasshopper).

P1220056

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.

P1220059

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

P1220074

P1220081

Banded snail.

P1220083

P1220085

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

P1220097

Fine way to finish a fine day.

Advertisements
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.

P1210707

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.

P1210713

Red Bartsia.

P1210714

P1210715

Water Mint.

P1210717

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.

P1210601

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.

P1210613

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.

P1210622

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.

P1210626

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!

P1210628

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.

P1210634

Common Darter.

P1210638

P1210636

Elderberries (I think).

P1210640

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.

P1210641

Blackberries.

P1210648

Mushroom.

P1210649

Forage!

P1210651

More mushrooms.

P1210657

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.

P1210658

Gait Barrows.

P1210668

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.

P1210671

Hawes Water.

Home Alone

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

P1190478

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.

P1190477

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.

P1190432

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.

P1190434

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.

P1190458

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…

P1190451

…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.

P1190462

Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

P1190470

Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.

P1190436

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

P1190439

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

P1190440

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

P1190447

Lesser Trefoil (I think).

P1190449

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.

P1190459

Rock Rose (in profusion).

P1190466

Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.

P1190467

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

P1190471

Burnet Rose.

P1190464

Kidney Vetch.

P1190473

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

Middleton Nature Reserve

P1160474

Migrant Hawker.

Being the continuing adventures of a taxi-driving Dad.

Last Saturday, B had a rugby match, playing hooker (he’s suitably bonkers) for his school team away at Morecambe High (where, many moons ago, I used to teach). Unlike some of his contemporaries, B doesn’t seem too concerned about whether his team win or lose, just so long as the result seems fair, and at the end of the game declared: “That was fun!”, despite his team having taken a bit of a hammering.

Afterwards, we dashed home, but, in my case, only for a quick turn around, as I took Little S to a nerf gun birthday party in – guess where – Morecambe. I realise that the rational thing to do would have been to take both boys to both events, but it seemed easier at the time to do it this way. With S dropped off, only a few minutes late for his war game, I had the best part of two hours to kill and decided to go hunting for one of the three Wildlife Trust reserves which I knew to be somewhere around Heysham. Idiotically, I hadn’t checked the exact locations in advance, so resorted to driving around, with more hope than confidence, until I spotted a likely looking car park and found that I had stumbled upon Middleton reserve.

P1160472

After a bite of lunch, and whilst walking around the reserve, I met a man who told me that he remembered when this was the site of a petrochemical plant. Now it has two large ponds and a mixture of meadows and scrub.

P1160471

Hoverfly, possibly Helophilus pendulus, on an Alder leaf.

P1160480

Fox and cubs.

This patch of waste ground maybe a tad unprepossessing at first glance, but look a little closer and there is a great deal to enjoy. I was very much put in mind of Richard Mabey’s marvellous book The Unofficial Countryside, which is about how nature, left to its own devices, can reclaim scraps of once industrialised land like this.

The sun was warm and there were no end of dragonflies about, although few of them would pose for a photo.

P1160485

Female Common Darter.

P1160486

Speckled Wood.

P1160494

Blackberries.

There were lots of flowers still in bloom and it was obvious that, had I had been here earlier, in the summer, there would have been even more to see.

P1160491

Wild Carrot, the ancestor of all domestic carrots.

P1160493

When the flowers turn into spiny seeds, the umbel curls in on itself.

P1160490

P1160499

More hoverflies on what I assume are Michaelmas Daisies.

P1160500

A willowherb?

I could hear the contact calls of small birds from all sides and, with lots of teasels and other tall seed-heads about, I wondered whether they might be Goldfinches. Eventually, they flew across the path ahead of me, then settled above me, on teasels growing on a high bank. Here’s some of them…

P1160511

The photo didn’t come out brilliantly and only a small part of the charm are here, but the flocks of Goldfinches which gather at this time of year are delightful, so I wanted to include the photo anyway.

P1160518

Common Toadflax.

P1160523

Mute swans – could they still be nesting in mid-September?

P1160525

There were plenty of half-hidden reminders of the areas past – the remnants of tarmac covered surfaces, these huge tyres, odd bits of buildings here and there, but they mostly seem to be slowly disappearing.

P1160527

Abundant Haws.

P1160528

P1160534

Crane Fly.

A blade of grass apparently dancing in a way completely contrary to the direction of the wind alerted me to this spider, which was busy constructing a web.

P1160540

P1160544

P1160551

Male Common Darter.

P1160559

As I came to the end of my walk and was running out of time before needing to head off to pick up Little S, I came to a really sheltered spot where, not only were there even more dragonflies, but, in addition, the Common Darters were sunning themselves in obvious spots, as seems to be their wont.

P1160562

Male Common Darter.

P1160563

Male Common Darter.

P1160568

Alder cones.

P1160572

Male Common Darter.

P1160574

Mating Common Darters. I’ve been confused in the past by the colour of females like this one, expecting the females to be yellow, but this pale blue colour is apparently typical of older females.

P1160576

Drone fly, or something similar, on Evening Primrose.

P1160579

Guelder Rose berries.

Middleton Nature Reserve

Gait Barrows Again

P1150658

Female Common Darter.

A very pleasant wander around Gait Barrows which happened almost a month ago now – how the summer has flown by! It was memorable for the large number of dragonflies I saw – although very few would pose for photos – and, rather sadly, for the dead Fox cub I came across.

P1150670

Male Migrant Hawker.

As I manoeuvred to find a good position from which take the photograph above, I almost trod on this large Frog…

P1150666

P1150682

Bumblebee on Betony.

P1150688

Speckled Wood.

P1150697

P1150708

P1150709

The ‘mystery plant’ – flowers still not open, but showing more colour – I need to go back to check on their progress.

P1150724

Broad-leaved Helleborine.

P1150729

Hoverflies on Hemp Agrimony.

P1150733

Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

P1150739

Wall-rue (I think), a fern.

P1150746

Knapweed and St. John’s Wort.

P1150748

Grasshoppers have often been evident from their singing on local walks, but I haven’t always seen them, or my photos haven’t come out well when I have.

P1150759

P1150754

Although this doesn’t have the distinctive shieldbug shape, I think that this is a fourth instar of the Common Green Shieldbug – an instar being one of the developmental stages of a nymph. This website is very helpful.

P1150766

Hoverfly.

P1150777

On a previous walk I’d been thinking that Hemp Agrimony, which is very common at Gait Barrows, was a disappointing plant in as much as it’s large flower-heads didn’t seem to be attracting much insect life, but that seems to have been a false impression, because on this occasion quite the opposite was true.

P1150781

Buff Footman (I think), a moth.

P1150788

Another Common Green Shieldbug nymph – perhaps the final instar.

P1150801

The verges of one particular overgrown hedgerow at Gait Barrows are always busy with Rabbits, which usually scatter as I approach, but two of them played chicken with me – not really seeming very concerned and only hopping on a little each time I got closer.

P1150807

Time was marching on and I was keen to head for home, but I diverted slightly up the track towards Trowbarrow because I knew that I would find more Broad-leaved Helleborines there. These were much taller and more vigorous than the single plant I had seen earlier.

P1150817

Curiously, there was a wasp feeding on the flowers, as there had been on the first one I saw. I noticed earlier this year that wasps seem to like Figwort, perhaps the same is true Helleborines.

P1150820

Figwort and Helleborine both have small, tubular flowers – it may be the case that wasps are well adapted to take advantage of this particular niche – different insects definitely favour different kinds of flowers.

P1150827

Gait Barrows Again

Burns Beck Moss

P1140829

A post work outing which neatly divides into two parts, so I’ve decided to split it over two posts. The first of which covers a trip to Burns Beck Moss Nature Reserve. It’s a wetland reserve with Burns Beck, a tributary of the Lune naturally, running through it. It’s access land, but the information board near the entrance asks that you stick to the path, and given how wet it is, it seems both reasonable and sensible to use the mostly-duckboarded route.

P1140823

I was struck by how many Ringlets I saw, in fact by how many I’ve seen generally so far this summer. Since then, today in fact, I’ve chatted with somebody much better informed than I am, who tells me that species like Ringlets, and also Meadow Browns and Gate-keepers, which can feed on a variety of grasses, have been very successful in recent years and have been extending their range northwards, perhaps because of our milder winters and wetter summers which benefit grasses.

P1140835

This small bridge over the beck was home to a pair of Common Lizards, happily sunning themselves until I came along and disturbed them.

P1140838

P1140841

P1140847

P1140858

Wind Farm on unnamed (on OS map) hill south of Burns Beck Moss.

There was a lot of Valerian flowering on the moss; it seemed to be very attractive to a variety of hover-flies.

P1140850

P1140861

P1140863

P1140864

P1140869

Small Skipper.

P1140875

A Crane Fly, couldn’t say which one.

P1140877

Possibly Snipe Fly.

The flies which are missing from my photographs are the many Horse Flies, or Clegs, which were making a meal of my calves. This has happened on many of my other evening walks this summer, but I haven’t usually reacted – this time I ended up with numerous angry red weals which itched like crazy and took the best part of a week to disappear completely.

Opposite the reserve an old quarry gives plenty of off-road parking. The road-side verges and the edges of the quarry provided more flowers to photograph…

P1140883

A Willow-Herb?

P1140887

Meadow Crane’s-bill: more often seen on verges than meadows these days.

P1140886

Pencilled Crane’s-bill (I think), an introduced species.

There was lots of Hogweed on the verges, all of it very busy with Soldier Beetles and numerous small flies, but I also spotted this small, but rather handsome moth…

P1140891

I’ve tried, in vain, to identify it from my Field Guide.

P1140894

Likewise, this flower, which seems very distinctive, with it’s pea-type flowers and very narrow leaves. I thought it would be very easy to identify, but…wrong again! It was growing, very successfully, from spoil heaps of gravel at the edge of the quarry and shall remain a mystery, at least for now.

Burns Beck Moss