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

Sabre Wasp and Much, Much More…

Another commuting home walk. TBH wanted to take the quick route home over the golf course but I turned the other way round to the visitor centre at Leighton Moss. Standing on the duckboards peering into the dipping-pond I was startled by a movement almost under the wooden walkway. A splash and a wriggle and something which was gone almost before I had seen it. Surely a fish – but was it not too big to be swimming in this shallow reed-choked water? The water where I had seen the movement was clouded with mud but I watched and waited: the waterweed moved in an odd way, then a liquid gloop and large ripples – much bigger than the concentric rings around the pond-skaters – spread across the pool. I moved around to another vantage point and then another gurgling splash and the same frustrating half glimpse of movement. But wait – that stick hanging in the water…it has eyes! I don’t have much experience of fish beyond catching sticklebacks in buckets many, many years ago and so I don’t know what kind of fish this might be – I wondered whether it might be an eel?

I was headed for Trowbarrow quarry but before I got there I was distracted again, this time by a comma butterfly…

…and, as is so often the case, once I had stopped to take one photograph I began to notice more things around me – a large dragonfly flew past, then a couple of white butterflies. This peacock butterfly was sunning itself on the middle of the path…

…and a tiny frog crawled away from me and hid, rather imperfectly, on the edge of an old molehill…

On the notice-board at the entrance to Trowbarrow I could hardly miss this impressive creature…

…which I’ve subsequently discovered is a rhyssa persuasoria or sabre wasp:

Using highly sensitive detectors on her antennae, the female locates a horntail grub in a pine trunk and then, although her ovipositor is no thicker than a human hair, she drills through the wood to lay an egg on the grub.

So – is this wasp drilling here?

Speckled wood butterfly on a hazel leaf.

Trowbarrow was busy with climbers and carpeted with flowers, although not the ones promised on the notice-board…

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From there my walk through the woods was accompanied by the calling of a woodpecker and by numerous flowers – many of which I haven’t been able to identify as yet.

This attractive mass…

…of five-petalled white flowers…

…and distinctive ring-tipped seedheads are on a plant with these…

…lobed leaves. I can’t find it anywhere in my books.

This plant is no longer flowering…

…and so I really don’t think I can identify it, but it looks like it might be interesting when it is next flowering.

It was certainly popular with spiders…

At first I thought that this was some sort of crane’s-bill…

…but then I noticed the seedheads which are all wrong for that…

…but they are attractive in their own right and must fairly rapidly decay to release the seeds within…

Considering the flowers, the seedheads and the leaves…

…together I’ve now almost convinced myself that this is musk mallow.

As a first step toward fulfilling my oft stated desire to get to grips with umbelliferae, however: I think that this very tall plant…

…with finely serrated leaflets…

…might be wild angelica…

Whilst this leaf, with a leaf-miner squiggle…

…is from hogweed.

I think that these two are harvestmen rather then spiders – note: one body part rather then two.

…but I can’t identify this bug on a chicory flower.

Wayside tractor.

This is yarrow…

…growing by the roadside like all of the remaining plants in this post.

The yarrow, with its deep, water-gathering tap roots, is one of the most persistent roadside plants. Its basal rosette escapes the mowing-machine as the cutting-blades used on grass banks and verges are set high. This means that only the flowers are lost, and the rest of the plant remains and grows again. Also, yarrows do not flower until after the spring cut and, when the autumn cut takes place, most of the plants are seeding. The species name millefolium, meaning ‘thousand leaf’, refers to the yarrow’s numerous feathery leaves.

The seedheads have an interesting structure too…

 Thistledown.

Nettle flowers.

Bumble bee enjoying tufted vetch.

As I finished the walk the light was gorgeous.

It was only a short walk, but if your eyes are open there is so much to see.

Sabre Wasp and Much, Much More…

Fail Better

 

On Saturday we had things to do in Kendal. I had thought that afterwards I might walk home along the Kent, but by the time we had looked at kitchens and windows and had some lunch it was clear that my original plan was far too ambitious. Another time. However, TBH was taking the kids to Lakeland Wildlife Oasis which seemed a convenient distance, so I walked back from there instead.

My route was improvised as I went. From Wildlife Oasis, which is on the A6, a road runs along the edge of Hale Moss. I followed that briefly, but then what looked on my map likely to be an unmetalled road or a long farm driveway (not a right of way) turned out to be a well walked path closely corralled by two high hedges.  I find on my newer map that it’s marked as a ‘road used as a public path’. It took me to Hale Head Farm which seemed to be a tiny hamlet of perhaps four or five homes, and had I continued it would have taken me to the village of Hale, but I turned right up to Fell End Farm then right on to the road and hence onto a path into the woods on Hale Fell. All of this was new paths to me, which is most unusual so close to home. Once in the woods I soon joined the Limestone Link path, which I have walked before and that took me to the splendid limestone pavement seen above, and then down to Slackhead.

At Slackhead there is an unusual shrine set in an alcove in a wall:

According to Wikipedia this is Saint Lioba (or Leoba). Why she should be here I’m not sure. I think a visit to the imposing parish church in Beetham is called for – might be the place to find out more.

From Slackhead it was back into the woods to climb Beetham Fell and visit the Fairy Steps. On route I made a short digression from the path, drawn by a dead tree heavily decorated with dryad’s saddle…

Whilst I was taking photos a roe deer raced through the trees behind me. It was much to quick for me to get a photo.

Even the dryad’s saddle seems to have moved out of frame!

The Kent Estuary from Beetham Fell.

At the top of the Fairy Steps I sat and drank some tea, took a long draught of the view and supped a few essays from J.B. Priestley’s Delight (about which more perhaps on another occasion).

Tiny salad burnet flower.

The fairy steps.

Wild strawberries (not as ripe as they appear).

The path which descends through the trees towards Hazelslack Farm has one section which is always wet and muddy. Even today it still was, despite the very dry spring we’ve had. I presume that there must be a spring of some sort there in the woods. In the meadows of long grass I thought that I saw a blue butterfly. It was small, had it’s wings closed when I saw it, and the undersides weren’t blue, so quite why I thought that it was blue I’m not sure. Had I managed to get a photo then perhaps I might be able to identify it from my guide books, but I didn’t. I also saw a blue butterfly a while back on the Lots – this one was definitely blue, but although I chased after it for a while , once again I didn’t get a photo. On my way home from work recently I found a woodpeckers nest high above the path in a dead birch, I was drawn initially by the noisy demands of the nestling but after several visits managed to see both the youngster poking it’s bright red-crested head out of the hole, and a parent visiting the nest.

Hazelslack Tower.

I was heading for Silverdale Moss and on a short section of road walking I was stopped in my tracks by a very pleasant aniseed scent. It evidently came from this umbellifer with very large long seedheads…

I tried the leaves and they had a mild and pleasant aniseed flavour, but apparently I should have tried munching on the seeds too. This is sweet cicely which was once added to stewed fruit because the plants natural sweetness reduced the amount of sugar needed.

Some brambles nearby were flowering and were covered in bumble bees. I snapped away with the camera and took a whole host of useless blurred shots. Never mind. Now that I had started to look, the diversity of different insects (not all bees) was fabulous. One stood out – much bigger than the others with very striking black and yellow stripes like a wasp – it might have been a wasp….

…but this, the sole picture I have, is not much use for identification purposes.

Oak apple.

Lime flowers about to emerge, what kind of lime? – I’m not sure but I think I know now what to look for next time I encounter a lime.

After Hazelslack Farm the path crosses a stream, and shortly after two more streams – all three were dry, in sharp contrast to the soggy path on Beetham Fell.

Leighton Beck bed – no water.

This did give me an opportunity to photograph from the streambed the little footbridge which crosses Leighton Beck here.

The footbridge – it’s made from two large slabs of limestone…

This is an area in which I almost invariably see a buzzard. And when I see a buzzard I almost invariably try to take a photo, and almost invariably fail. The autofocus seems to be the problem, but this time I did get a picture…

…this cropped version is not as sharp as I would like, but it’s a start. What was it Beckett said, something about failing better…

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

(What did we do before search engines?)

So this is my best failure to date on the buzzard photo front.

A damselfly on a huge burdock leaf. (Not sure which type – very hard to tell.)

I was now on the path along the edge of Silverdale Moss, which passes my old friend The Cloven Ash…

 

I think that maybe the gap between the two halves of the tree has widened since last time I came this way.

But still standing.

Grass seed-head (can’t do grasses – anybody?)

In the woods near Haweswater I stopped by another very busy patch of brambles. Although there were once again many bumble bees, my eye was caught by a couple of very striking hoverflies in natty two-tone outfits…

This is volucella pellucens, which according to my field guide is ‘very fond of bramble blossom’.

The bramble flowers all seemed to be drooping so that the flies hung underneath which made them a little tricky to do justice to.

 

The next focus of my attention was much more obliging.

Although he moved several times, he kept returning to this dead stalk, his wings loudly whirring like a playing-card fastened to catch the spokes of school-boy’s bike. I say ‘he’ advisedly as this is a broad-bodied chaser and the female is yellow. I’m pretty sure that I saw two females on the edge of the salt-marsh a few weeks ago. I’m also pretty sure that this is the first male I have ever seen. In the flesh that is – I’ve seen them before on other blogs – mainly I suspect at Bogbumper who always has great photos.

Whilst I was snapping away and trying not to chuckle too loudly at my sudden good fortune, this landed nearby…

I must admit that I took it for a moth, because of its thick and hairy body, but I was wrong, it’s a butterfly, a skipper, I think a large skipper (but I’m a bit tentative about that!).

And then (boy the photo opportunities were coming thick and fast)…

…a blue-tailed damsel fly.

Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? And since we dabbled in Beckett before…

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

Well – the sun certainly shone, and if there was nothing new, well then there was a cornucopia of sights and sounds which were new to me.

Fail Better

Glowing Angel Hair

A sunny Sunday stroll with A (and her baby doll). As you can see here, the snow had mostly gone except where it had been compacted down to sheets of ice. Principally our driveway. It was still very cold however with plenty of frost and ice. Any walk with A inevitably involves a great deal of conversation, but this was also a walk of distant views to places where the snow lingered: the Howgills from the field near home…

..,Ward’s Stone and Clougha Pike across Carnforth salt marsh from Heald Brow…

…, and Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man as we turned towards home…

It was also, from my point of view at least, another opportunity to attempt to capture the effects of the low winter sunshine, with varying degrees of success. I was particularly struck by the way the light was catching the ‘angel hair’ on traveller’s joy in a hedge.

It was difficult to get quite the shot that I wanted since the seedheads which were lit-up were high in the hedge and reaching up to get a photo from the right angle involved doing battle with a vicious bramble.

Still – backlit seedheads – another totem for the alphabet, and something else to be on the look out for.

Ash buds

And in my search for images of ‘leaves and stuff’ perhaps I shall make more of an effort to include seedheads, buds, bark, cones….

Glowing Angel Hair