More Butterflies and Wild Celery

P1280595

Orange-tip butterfly on Dame’s Violet.

P1280596

P1280598

P1280599

As you can see, I was quite taken with the combination of a male Orange-tip and the Dame’s Violet flowers. Ii was Whitsun half-term and I was on my way to Trowbarrow Quarry to look for Fly Orchids. It has become something of an annual ritual – every year I go to look for them and every year I fail to find them. This year I had a good excuse, because apparently, due to the exceptionally dry spring, Fly Orchids were only very short this year. And they’re pretty hard to spot at the best of times. Well, they must be – I’ve never found any anyway.

P1280605

Green-ribbed Sedge again? Maybe.

P1280613

Broad-bodied Chaser.

I’m not sure whether Broad-bodied Chasers are the most common dragonflies in the area, or just the easiest to spot and photograph because of their habit of perching on the end of a stem like this. This is almost certainly a female – males begin their adult life yellow, but rapidly turn blue.

P1280620

B had warned me that Trowbarrow would be busy. He wasn’t wrong. The photo doesn’t really show the extent of it because there are plenty of hidden corners here, and a lot of the visitors were climbers on so out of sight on the quarry-face above. There were lots of picnickers, families on bikes and the afore-mentioned climbers. All seemed to be managing to enjoy the sunshine whilst maintaining sensible distancing. Still, it was a bit of a surprise after it had been pretty quiet for so long.

P1280627

Female Common Blue butterflies and Northern Brown Argus are very similar to each other. Both should have orange spots around the edge of their wings, which were lacking in this case…

P1280629

After consulting this excellent guide, I had decided that this was a Northern Brown Argus, because the long thin body suggests that this is a male and also because of a missing ocellus on the underside of the upperwing. But then I saw a photo of an almost identical butterfly labelled, by someone who I think knows better than I do, as a female Common Blue. So…..I’m not sure!

P1280633

Rock Rose.

P1280640

Male Common Blue – no such confusion.

P1280649

P1280651

Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

P1280662

Common Twayblade. 

If I didn’t find any Fly Orchids, I did at least come across  some Common Twayblade, growing very tall and apparently defying the dry conditions.

20200527_143936

It was a hot day and the sheep had the right idea.

P1280677

Guelder Rose in the hedge on Lambert’s Meadow.

P1280685

Wild Celery near Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1280680

I think this is the plant from which both celery and celeriac were cultivated, but is not one for the forager since it is toxic. The same is true, apparently, of wild almonds. I’m always intrigued by how our ancestors could have managed to domesticate poisonous plants. Why would you even try, from such unpromising beginnings?

P1280682

P1280686

Quicksand Pool.


For no better reason than that I’ve been listening to reggae all day whilst working, three favourites of the genre…

‘Street 66’ by Linton Kwesi Johnson

‘Funky Kingston’ by Toots and the Maytals.

‘This Train’ by Bunny Wailer.

More Butterflies and Wild Celery

Cantering and Moulting

20200418_170923

It hasn’t all been blue skies and sunshine. The day following my sunny walk by the Kent channel was very grey and overcast. I was out on the sands again, but this time heading in the opposite direction, round to Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1270065

I think you could probably count the number of times I’ve ridden a horse on the fingers of one finger, but I have to confess to feeling slightly jealous every time I see this lady on her horse cantering across the sands.

P1270066

It looks pretty exhilarating. All that space to gallop!

We know from our visits to Roa Island that many species of crab can be found in the bay, but we only ever see shore crabs closer to home and even those very rarely.

P1270067

Walk along the tideline, however, and you will see any number of discarded shells. A crab’s exoskeleton doesn’t grow, so in order for a crab to grow it must moult and that means everything, not just the main carapace, but legs, claws, mandibles, the lot.

P1270069

20200418_162200

The land reclamation wall.

P1270077

The old wharf.

P1270083

Little egret.

P1270086

Cowslips

P1270092

Early purple orchids.

I came back by Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots a small National Trust property, where there was a good display of spring flowers.


Cantering and Moulting

October

So, what was October like?

20191006_152256

Muddy, by the looks of it.

20191006_154251

The land reclamation wall at Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1250876

The salt marsh at White Creek.

P1250878

Two views from Arnside Knott.

P1250879

Busy too. These photos are from two walks with TBH, two of our favourite local options – a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point and a stroll around the coast to Arnside for lunch and back over the Knott. But, not much else to report, prior to a couple of trips at half-term…..

Meanwhile, I’m a big fan of Bill Withers….

…probably his two most famous songs, but expect more in forthcoming posts.

October

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

The Green – Woodwell – Gibraltar Farm – Jack Scout – Jenny Brown’s Point – Fleagarth Wood – Woodwell – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack

P1240245

On the Friday of half-term my mum and dad were travelling home. Later in the afternoon I got out for a walk, I suspect my brother was with me and possibly TBH, but, to be honest, I can’t really remember.

I do remember that this calf…

image

…had clearly only just been born.

P1240246

The Bay, Humphrey Head, Grange and the distant Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

P1240247

Quicksand Pool.

P1240254

Post-sunset sky from The Cove.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

P1230826

Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

P1230830

…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

P1230832

…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

P1230835

P1230838

The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

P1230847

In Eaves Wood.

P1230848

P1230852

In Burtonwell Wood.

P1230854

I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

P1230862

Heald Brow.

P1230864

Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

P1230871

Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

P1230870

Ragwort.

P1230875

P1230880

Dandelion.

P1230881

Gorse.

P1230882

P1230884

Daisy.

P1230889

Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

P1230894

Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

P1230903

Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

P1230904

The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

P1230907

…exquisitely ochre fungi.

P1230909

Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

P1230910

This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

P1230911

P1230915

Jack Scout.

P1230919

P1230924

I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

P1230927

P1230928

More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

P1230929

P1230931

P1230932

Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

P1230934

Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

P1230942

Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

New Year Floral Survey

Whirlybird

P1230526

It was an overcast Sunday afternoon almost at the end of November, it had been a busy weekend but now I was moping about the house, not tackling any of the work or chores which needed doing and not getting out for a walk either.

P1230527

Fortunately, Little S and TBH were walking to the Wolfhouse to indulge in tea and cake and dragged me out too. We didn’t have to go too far before we were in the woods, ankle deep in fallen leaves and Little S initiated a leaf fight. It’s hard to be glum when you’re kicking piles of leaves into the air and I was soon perking up.

Leaving the other two to their culinary delights, I continued over Heald Brow and then dropped down to the salt-marsh, and hence to Jenny Brown’s Point as the sun disappeared across the Bay.

P1230538

Four of these helicopters went past, flying very low. Is this an Apache? They seemed very incongruous in the quiet of a winter sunset.

P1230543

I generally tack some music onto my short sunset posts and I wondered, given the helicopters and the rather apocalyptic sky, whether to use ‘The Ride of the Valkyrie’ or The Doors’ ‘This is the End’. Instead, I’ve gone for…

‘Helicopter’ by the massively underrated XTC, from their brilliant ‘Drums and Wires’ album. I’m fond of The Doors too and ‘The End’ might have been more in keeping with my sombre, November Blues mood, prior to the walk, but ‘Helicopters’ is more upbeat and will remind me of Little S’s ‘laughing giggly whirlybird’ leaf fight.

Whirlybird

Brighter Later

P1220925

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.

P1220930

Rosehips and blue tits.

P1220940

P1220942

P1220944

P1220946

P1220949

The Forest of Bowland hills and Carnforth Salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

P1220951

Quicksand Pool and the chimney at Jenny Brown’s.

P1220958

Traveller’s Joy.

P1220960

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.

P1220967

Flesh-fly.

P1220972

Greenbottle.

P1220975

A hoverfly – Scaeva Pyrastri. Very handsome with it’s curving white markings, not really shown to best advantage here, sadly.

P1220979

Some flower-heads were very busy!

P1220981

Bluebottle.

P1220984

Wasps.

P1220989

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…

P1220996

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

New Year’s Eve

Untitled

A day of many changes. Firstly, the weather, which was changeable, but pretty consistently cold and windy. I was out early, up at the Pepper Pot to catch the sunrise, which was a bit of a non-event because of the massed cloud. The photo above was taken at the Ring O’Beeches when it had begun to brighten a little. I walked a circuit around Eaves Wood and then up Bottom’s Lane, into Burtonwell Wood, to The Green, and down Stankelt Road…

Untitled

The Old Post Office.

By the time I was crossing the Lots, the weather had brightened up considerably.

Untitled

Grange seen across the Lots and Morecambe Bay.

Untitled

The tide was unusually high and, with a very stiff breeze blowing, there were waves and whitecaps which is very rarely the case.

Untitled

Another change for us was that we had to say goodbye to our guests…

Untitled

…but we did drag them out for one final local stroll, a shorter affair down through the village to the Shore…

Untitled

Where the car-park seems to be eroding away now that the foreshore has gone.

TBH and I were out again later, through Clarke’s Lot and down the very muddy path through Fleagarth Wood, around Jenny Brown’s Point in the last of the light. It was cold and dingy and I didn’t take many photos, but I couldn’t resist these very early daffs, flowering on the verge opposite the Wolfhouse even before the year had ended.

Untitled

We had hoped to go to the Silverdale Hotel again for the New Year celebrations, but were too late buying tickets, so had a mammoth games session at home instead, which was great fun, and watched the fireworks from London on the telly.

Happy New Year (belatedly).

New Year’s Eve

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

P1160746

Bright skies and big clouds tempted my out into bracing winds on a Friday night after work.

P1160747

Horse Chestnut by Pointer Wood.

P1160750

Traveller’s Joy, Sharp’s Lot.

The path down through Fleagarth Wood to the end of Quaker’s Stang was extremely muddy even then, heaven knows what it will be like now, given all of the rain we have endured since. When I reached the saltmarsh, I was exposed to the full force of the wind for the first time, and was surprised by how brisk it was.

The tide was coming up Quicksand Pool…

P1160757

But the muddy banks were unusually firm, so I continued along them, rather than seeking the road nearby, because that way I kept my view of the retreating sun.

P1160759

P1160762

From Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1160776

Sunset from Jack Scout.

 

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

Moon Over Quicksand Pool

Woodwell – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Woodwell

P1110753

Little Egret in Quicksand Pool.

A very late start, so I parked the car at Woodwell and walked from there.

P1110750

Warton Crag, the moon and the Bowland Fells over Quicksand Pool.

P1110754

Inevitable sunset. The sun setting much further north now.

P1110756

I think that one of the reasons that I particularly like to watch the sun go down from Jack Scout is the way the Coniston Fells’ distinctive outline looms over Grange, behind the darker bulk of Hampsfell.

Moon Over Quicksand Pool