Whit’s End II

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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.

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

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Lambert’s Meadow.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mating Chrysolina polita. Perhaps.
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Weevil, possibly Phyllobius pomaceus.
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Ichneumon Wasp?
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A Honey Bee. I think.
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Scorpion Fly, female.
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Scorpion Fly, female.
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Sawfly, Tenthredo mesomelas. Possibly.
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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.

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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…

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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.

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Hoverfly.
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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.

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

Whit’s End I

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Sawfly, possibly Tenthredo mesomelas.

One of the advantages of teaching, it can’t be denied, are the very generous holidays. And what would you do with those holidays? Decorate the house of course! Famously, painting the Forth Road Bridge, colloquially at least, is a Sisyphean task, needing to be recommenced as soon as it has been finished. It sometimes feels like our household decorating is on a similar scale. On this occasion, with A imminently leaving home*, she and Little S were swapping rooms. Both rooms needed redecorating, in the case of A’s room, twice, after she decided she didn’t like the pink paint she had initially chosen. All of their belongings had to be shifted, the furniture was moved and in some cases replaced. It was a major undertaking.

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White-lipped Snail

When a lull in proceedings provided an opportunity to sneak out for a bit, I didn’t go far, but went on a Lambert’s Meadow safari, to see what I could see. On this occasion, the first thing I spotted was a gorgeous bluey-green weevil on a nettle. My photographs of the tiny creature didn’t come out well, but I saw another later. After that, my eye seemed to be in, and it turned out, of course, that there was plenty to see, if you looked carefully.

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Brown-lipped snail.
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A nettle leaf nest. Lots of species live on nettles, including many of our common, colourful garden butterflies.
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Another Brown-lipped snail.
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Water Avens.
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Ragged Robin and Guelder Rose.
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Guelder Rose.
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Cucumber Green Orb Spider.

This spider was tiny. The photos (I took loads) don’t really do it justice; to the naked eye it seemed to be luminous yellow. I was very chuffed to have spotted it, since it was absolutely miniscule.

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Guelder Rose flower with a very long-legged fly. Some sort of mosquito?
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Green Shield Bug.
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Scorpion Fly, male. The curled ‘stinger’ is for display only.
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And again – possibly the same fly.
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A leaf beetle – possibly Chrysolina polita.

Leaf beetles have become firm favourites – they are so often bright, shiny, metallic colours. As often seems to be the case, once I’d seen one of them I suddenly seemed to spot lots more.

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Mating Chrysolina polita (perhaps).
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I drew a blank with this one. It had orange elytra (hard front wing which protects the hind wing). I think it is probably some kind of Soldier Beetle.
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A colourful fly.
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Common Blue Damselfly.
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Azure damselfly (I think).
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Yellow dung fly, male.
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Common Carder Bee on Ragged Robin.
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Another Scorpion Fly. This time a female, without the extravagantly curled tail.
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And again.
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7-Spot Ladybird.

I don’t know why this should be the case, but I often seem to spot ladybirds in the hedges along Bottom’s Lane.

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Ladybird, probably a Harlequin.
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Ladybird, probably a Harlequin.
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Wych Elm seeds. I think.

My modus operandi on my entomology wanders is to walk slowly scanning the vegetation for any movement on contrasting colours. I kept getting caught out by Wych Elm seeds which seemed to have settled all over the place – a good sign I hope.

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Dewberry Flowers?

These flowers seemed to be a bit on the big side to be bramble flowers, and based on the fact that I’ve found Dewberries before along Bottom’s Lane before, I assume that they are Dewberry flowers.

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Dewberry Flowers?

As ever, I’m more than ready to be corrected by anybody who actually knows what they are talking about.

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New Sycamore Leaves
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Spangles – made by tiny gall wasps.
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Ants and aphids.

I remember reading that ants ‘farm’ aphids, but I’m not sure that I’ve often seem them together.

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A Soldier Beetle, possibly Cantharis Rustica.
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Weevil, possibly Phyllobius pomaceus.
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Cantharis Rustica again, I think. You can see the ‘robust mouth parts’ well here. (Source)

When I got home, in no hurry to be indoors, I had a wander around our garden, photographing some of the ‘weeds’ growing there.

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Pink Campion.
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Welsh Poppy.
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Bumblebee on Aquilegia.
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Aquilegia Vulgaris.
Whit’s End I

Close to Home

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Green Hellebore.

A brief interlude from Wainwright-bagging for a throwback post from the days when I used to do local walks! The walk was short, with hardly any up and down, and all the photos, taken with my camera not my phone, are of wildflowers not mountain views.

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Green Hellebore.

I wanted to visit the largest patch of Green Hellebore I know, in Middlebarrow Wood. I was late this year in going to see them, which you can tell because the flowers already have large pea-like seed-pods protruding from them.

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Wych Elm Seeds.

I’m reasonably confident that these are Wych Elm seeds. Wych Elm seems pretty common locally. Other Elms have similar seeds, so I could be wrong, but Wych Elm grows further north than other species and is also more resilient to Dutch Elm disease.

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Wych Elm Seeds.

As a butterfly fanatic, it’s good to see these trees doing well locally because the White-letter Hairstreak is solely reliant on Elms, it’s the food-plant of the caterpillar and apparently they thrive on Wych Elms particularly.

Not that I’ve seen many White-letter Hairstreaks though, just the one in fact. They’re usually quite elusive because they tend to be high in the trees.

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Primroses.
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Colt’s-foot.
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Goat Willow – male catkins.

I’m sure I’ve read, somewhere, that you shouldn’t identify Willows just from their catkins, but I think, thanks to this very handy guide, that these photos all show Goat Willow catkins. It should be easy to check, since other willow species in Britain seem to all have thin leaves whereas Goat Willow leaves are rounded.

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Goat Willow – male catkins.

Goat Willow is a dioecious plant, with each tree having either male or female flowers. Dioecious is one of the many botanical terms I’ve learned as a consequence of writing this blog. It’s a shame that my family won’t play me at Scrabble, because that would be a handy word to have up your sleeve when you end up with a fistful of low-scoring vowels.

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Goat Willow – male catkins.
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Goat Willow – female catkins, and some sort of fly.

Goat Willow, if these are Goat Willow, is one of the species also known as Pussy Willow, because of the hairy nature of the male catkins.

Close to Home

Easter Hols Are Here

Eaves Wood – Inman’s Road – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – The Green – Clifftop Path – Hollins Lane – Heald Brow – Hollins Lane – Woodwell – Bottom’s Wood – Spring Bank

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Inman’s Road in Eaves Wood.
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Wych Elm seeds. I think.
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Toothwort.
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Heading down towards Hawes Water.
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Clougha Pike and Carnforth salt-marsh from Heald Brow.
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Backlit daffs.
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New honeysuckle leaves.

The first day of our Easter break and, having overslept, I opted for a local walk rather than heading to the Lakes.

Easter Hols Are Here

September Colour.

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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.

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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.

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Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
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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.

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Grange from the Cove.
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River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Hoverfly.
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Common Darter.
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Guelder Rose berries.
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Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
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Yet another Common Darter.
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More Guelder Rose berries.
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A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

Middleton Nature Reserve

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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.

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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.

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Hoverfly, possibly Helophilus pendulus, on an Alder leaf.

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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.

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Female Common Darter.

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Speckled Wood.

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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.

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Wild Carrot, the ancestor of all domestic carrots.

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

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More hoverflies on what I assume are Michaelmas Daisies.

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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…

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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.

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Common Toadflax.

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

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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.

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Abundant Haws.

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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.

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Male Common Darter.

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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.

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Male Common Darter.

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Male Common Darter.

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Alder cones.

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Male Common Darter.

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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.

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Drone fly, or something similar, on Evening Primrose.

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Guelder Rose berries.

Middleton Nature Reserve

A Corvid Walk

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Later in the day, after my walk from Brockhole, with the weather now much improved, I was out for another stroll, a standard Hagg Wood, Silverdale Green, Stankelt Lane and across the Lots to the Cove wander.

The trees were absolutely full of small birds, but whilst they were very easy to hear, they were much less easy to see. The Oak above had a family of Blue Tits, which tantalised me by briefly showing themselves then hopping about in the branches, mostly obscured by leaves.

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The Sycamore helicopters which only recently appeared have changed colour already and are now tinged with red.

I watched these two Crows for a while.

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Shortly after I took this first photo, the Crow at the front leant a little too far forward, over-balanced and did an involuntary forward-roll, then sprang back-up and comically continued as if nothing had happened.

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Of course, I’m anthropomorphising, but it’s almost impossible, I suspect, not to project human emotions on to animals when you watch them going about their daily business.

Jackdaws can regularly be found in certain places in the area: Trowbarrow, Arnside Tower, the quarry on Warton Crag. I’ve realised recently that Stankelt Road is another such venue. These chimney pots had four birds perched on them…

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But when all four had flown away, perhaps unnerved by my attention, I could still hear the sounds of Jackdaws from that direction…

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There were more birds in the chimney pots! I think that these are juvenile birds sitting in nests. Some hopped out for a look around…

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…and a bit of an explore…

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When I lived around the corner on Emesgate Lane, I used to get a lot of squawking and detritus down my own chimney, most memorably an abundance of cherry seeds one summer. I suppose that may well have been Jackdaws too.

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A Corvid Walk

More Spring Colour

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Sharp’s Lot – Pointer Wood – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – The Shore

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A couple of nights after my last visit to Hagg Wood, I was out again, but this time with some better light to catch the new leaves on one of the Inman Oaks.

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And the palette of greens in Hagg Wood…

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Not all of the oaks had new leaves yet…

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The stronger light was short-lived…

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I watched this blackbird for a while. It repeatedly, diligently wiped either side of its beak against the branch it was perched on. I can’t think why.

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In Pointer Wood there’s a Wilding Apple I like to visit. It’s almost in flower…

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More Wych Elm.

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The ‘Primrose Garden’.

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I arrived on the coast a little too late for the sunset.

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As I walked across The Lots I watched a man walking his dog out on the Bay. It’s been looking unusually firm and sandy near the coast recently and I couldn’t resist having a walk on the ‘sand’. In this case appearances weren’t misleading and I enjoyed my stroll, doubling back along the coast to pretty much where I had just come from.

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Sometimes our actions can have unexpected, or indeed unintended consequences. One knock-on of my renewed determination to get out and about as often as I can is the fact that even though April is a month in which I often take a lot of photos, this year I have still far exceeded my standard haul. Also, I noticed with some surprise today, I’ve published a post every day this month so far. In fact, my streak has lasted a little longer than that. That too has consequences. For one thing, a few more people seem to be reading my blog (or at least visiting, and sometimes clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’, which isn’t necessarily the same as reading). Also, I now feel under some pressure to keep it going; at least till the end of the month, although I’m not sure that I can manage it. We shall see…

More Spring Colour

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Hagg Wood – Home – Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Burtonwell Wood – The Row – Ring O’Beeches – Eaves Wood – Elmslack Lane

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A beautiful, bright, clear spring day. Perfect for going back to work!

By the time I got out for a walk, after work and our evening meal, the sun was quite low, it had clouded up and the light was far from ideal for photography. Also, it helps to have a battery in your camera if you want to take photos, which is why I walked home again from Hagg Wood and then retraced my steps yet again.

First port of call, following that palaver: the oak trees in the fields near home. Had they put on new raiment like the ones we walked past the day before on the shores of Ullswater?

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They had, and in the same marvelous lemony-green.

As I walked towards Hagg Wood I was struck by the subtle variation in colours of the various trees coming into leaf in that small copse. We make a great deal of fuss about Autumn leaves, but Spring Colour seems only to refer to the latest palette for this season’s cat-walk.

Part of that plethora of hues was provided by these seed pods…

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I’ve been surprised by how many trees there are in the area carrying seeds of this kind. I believe that these are characteristic of Elms, and given our northern location, I’m assuming that this is Wych Elm, which, fortunately is more resistant to Dutch Elm disease than English Elm.

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Blackthorn.

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Gean, or Wild Cherry.

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Ivy.

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Hawthorn (blossom soon to appear!).

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Hazel (I think).

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A Rose, Dog Rose I assume.

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Rowan.

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Again, I assume that this is Wych Elm, although the seeds are so much more abundant that I wondered whether this was a different species than the first tree. Apparently the seeds are good to eat. I shall sample some and report back soon.

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Sycamore.

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Crab Apple?

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Ash. Leaves almost with us.

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Elder?

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Another Sycamore. But not just any old Sycamore. This is….

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The tree formerly known as the Mystery Tree now revealed as a not particularly mysterious Sycamore. Ten points then to my Mum and Dad, who had it tabbed as that all along.

I have decided, having enjoyed making frequent visits in anticipation of leaves appearing on this tree, to continue dropping by and to dip my toe into Tree Following.

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Although there was much more of this walk still to come, that’s it for this post, since, as you can see, the light was fading fast.

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Tarns and Birketts above Grasmere

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Helm Crag and Seat Sandal above Grasmere.

Early December, I have a Monday off work; the school is closed, a one day holiday. Ordinarily, I would prefer not to have an extra day off in December, when daylight is short and the weather is likely to be ropey, but it seems that I am in a very tiny minority amongst my colleagues who voted to continue our recent practice of having a long weekend in December.

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But, as luck would have it, when the day came around, the forecast was pretty fair and I was glad to have a day to myself with no Dad’s Taxi duties to perform. So it was that I had parked up in the long lay-by on the A591 just outside Grasmere (thus avoiding exorbitant parking fees) and was climbing out of the village toward Silver How.

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Grasmere.

It was a frosty morning, with a few wisps of mist still clinging to the valleys.

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Langdale Pikes. The rocky hummock in the middle distance is Lang How.

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A sundog or parhelion.

I’ve posted photos of this phenomena before. I’ve even been told that they are a common occurrence, but I don’t feel that I see them all that often.

Parhelion: a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the atmosphere.

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Langdale Fells from Silver How.

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Helvellyn and Fairfield from Silver How.

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Grasmere and Rydal Water.

The broad ridge which runs along the northern edge of Langdale abounds in knolls and small tarns. The latter seem mostly to be choked with plants and on their way to drying out. My aim was to climb the knolls, well – the ones which qualify as Birketts at least – and to visit all of the tarns.

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Silver How Tarn.

For the names of the various tarns I’m following the lead of John and Anne Nuttall in their ‘The Tarns of Lakeland’ guides (two volumes, well worth having).

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Brigstone Tarn and Lang How.

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The Nuttalls don’t give a name for the small tarn in the foreground, the one behind is Youdell Tarn.

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Youdell Tarn with the Langdale Peaks behind.

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I’ve included this photo because it was taken from Lang How and it shows Swinescar Pike (the grassy hummock on the left) and Castle How (the broad grassy lump on the right).

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Looking back along the ridge from Little Castle How. Windermere in the distance.

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Great Castle How has two summits: on the OS map, one is named and the other has a spot height. The photo above shows the top with a spot height (left of centre of the photo) and was taken from the other top…

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This is the named top…

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…from the one with the spot height.

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Easedale Tarn.

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Castle How Tarns with Blea Rigg behind.

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One of the (three) Castle How Tarns.

Blea Rigg is another Birkett and I had originally half-intended to include it on the route, but it’s probably best that I didn’t: I descended by Easedale Tarn and arrived back in Grasmere with little daylight to spare. Still I hadn’t done too badly: four Birketts, eight tarns and one Wainwright (Silver How), all crammed into one relatively short walk.

I enjoyed my excursion into tarn bagging. I believe there’s a tradition of bagging the tarns by swimming in them. I opted not to do that; I would have had to break the ice to do so, and I suspect that many of the tarns, choked with reeds as they are, are rather shallow to swim in. From the photographer’s point of view, it probably makes at least as much sense to visit tarns as it does to climb to summits. Some tarns are well off the beaten track too, which is another bonus. I think you can expect more tarn-bagging walks as and when I can find the time – I think I may have another stray Monday off next December…

 

 

Tarns and Birketts above Grasmere