Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

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Little S was invited to a party at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole. Looks like another job for taxi-Dad! Once I’d dropped him off with our friends, I had around three hours to wait until the party would finish. The forecast hadn’t been great, but not diabolical either, so – just for a change – I thought I’d get out for a walk!

I started on Mirk Lane which took me up to Newclose Wood where I found another Woodpecker nest. The adult was back and forth to the nest, but it was very difficult to get a clear view for a photograph.

The path, seen above, brought me out to a minor road on the outskirts of a hamlet seemingly composed entirely of fairly new houses. This set the tone for much of the walk, taking me past many large expensive looking properties, most of them with great views across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes. Many of the gardens, and hedges, were full of Rhododendrons which were flowering and looking splendid.

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Wansfell above was lost in cloud, but the weather generally held, bar a few occasional drops of rain. The whole route was resplendent with wildflowers, changing subtly as I climbed the hill and came back down again.

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Foxgloves.

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Meadow Crane’s-Bill, probably.

One short section of roadside verge had three different Crane’s-Bills.

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French Crane’s-Bill, I think. A species introduced from the Pyrenees.

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Wood Crane’s-Bill (I think).

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Windermere.

Skelghyll Lane took me past more grand properties. At one point, I was pleased to see a smaller, more rustic looking building with a traditional round Cumbrian chimney, but then realised that it was actually a garden folly.

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Holbeck Ghyll.

I passed a hedge absolutely cloaked with tent moth caterpillars…

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Water Avens seedhead.

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Low Skelghyll.

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Hol Beck.

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Early Bumblebee on Marsh Thistle (I think, in both cases).

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Marsh Lousewort.

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Lousewort.

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Robin Lane.

Robin Lane, which is part of the old route from Ambleside to Troutbeck, is a favourite of ours and very familiar, but it was really interesting to approach it via the lanes from Brockholes which I’ve never walked before.

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Windermere.

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Cantharis Rustica (Soldier Beetle).

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Lady’s Mantle.

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Wain Lane, by which I returned to Brockhole, has handsome stone barns all along its length.

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Ribwort Plantain.

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Garden Chafers.

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Roe Deer.

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White-lipped Snail.

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Silver-ground Carpet Moth.

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Honeysuckle.

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Another Wain Lane Barn.

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Another Roe Deer.

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Middlerigg Tarn.

I’ve never been to Middlerigg Tarn before. It’s difficult to get a proper view of the tarn, it being bordered by trees and a high wall, but there are one or two gaps. It’s not in the Nuttall’s Guide to the tarns of the Lake District, or in Heaton-Cooper’s, but it is a very peaceful spot.

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Yellow Irises.

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White Clover.

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Comfrey.

As I was almost back to Brockhole, I was looking over into a field on my right at pony dressed in a Zebra-skin print coat. I noticed a buzzard, relatively close by, sitting on the ground…

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Sadly, it took off just as I was taking a photo.

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White Stonecrop.

I’d been worried about arriving late for the end of the party, but actually arrived with half-an-hour to spare, so was able to get some soup and a pot of tea in the cafe there. Then when I picked up S, he declared his intention to stay a little longer to play on the adventure playground. The weather had improved considerably so that I was able to sit in the sun and read the book I’d brought for just such an eventuality – ‘Counting Sheep’ by Philip Walling.

I’d seen a lot of sheep of many different kinds during my walk. Apparently the UK had more breeds of sheep than any other country. Here are a few examples from my walk…

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This looks some of the very dark Scottish sheep, like Hebridean or Soay, but I’m not sure that it is either of those.

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I’m pretty sure that this is a Swaledale.

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I think that this is a Blue-faced Leicester, but as ever, stand ready to be corrected.

 

 

Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

Nice Weather for….Snails

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Brown-lipped snail.

After a prolonged spell of mostly dry weather, the rains had started to reassert themselves. I decided to get out for s short walk anyway, but to leave my camera at home. But when I stepped out the front door I was almost immediately confronted by an abundance of snails. They were clearly relishing the damp. It was late and very overcast, but the lovely strawberry tones of that first brown-lipped snail had me thinking that a quick tour around the garden could precede my longer wander.

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Another Brown-lipped Snail in paler, more pastel shades.

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A really tiny snail, possibly some sort of Glass Snail.

Elsewhere in the garden, Brown Garden Snails abounded.

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Apparently, they are good to eat. I’ll pass thanks.

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I’m not sure which kind of snail this is…

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…but the swirls of white and dark chocolate colouration on the shell were delightful.

The retaining wall in the back garden was not only busy with snails, but one of the crevices in the wall…

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…was occupied by a very bronzed and relaxed frog. Relaxed in as much as it didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by me or my camera.

Nice Weather for….Snails

A Saturday Triptych – Second Helpings

Sharp’s Lot – Fleagarth Wood – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Clifftop

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Welsh Poppy.

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Welsh Poppies.

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Dandelion Wine anyone?

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I intend to keep an eye on this tree, as well as the Mystery Sycamore, since it’s close to home, but I don’t know what species it is.

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Distant Howgills.

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Blue Tit.

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Clark’s Lot (or Sharp’s Lot or Pointer Wood)

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This was something of a butterfly walk, this being the first of several Peacocks I saw, and before this I had already fruitlessly chased both an Orange Tip and a Brimstone.

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I always eagerly await the arrival of new Beech leaves each spring, but this year I’ve really come to appreciate the colour of emerging Oak leaves.

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Field Horse-tail?

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Early Purple Orchid.

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The Old Chimney.

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Bluebell.

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Robin.

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Cowslips.

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Forget-me-nots.

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Primroses and Bluebells.

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Peacock and Violets.

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Another Robin.

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Dandelion with Honey Bee. 

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Banded Snail on Hydrangea leaf.

A Saturday Triptych – Second Helpings

Pond Life

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Most of the time the sea in the Bay is pretty placid. But once in a while we do get some waves. Here’s some evidence from one of our local walks with our American cousins.

On another local walk we visited Burtonwell Wood rift cave…

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The passage runs parallel to the cliff-face, and part way along there’s a spot where it’s possible to climb up to a ‘window’…

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From the cave we walked to Woodwell. We often visit, but this time we came prepared with nets and plastic tubs…

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The kids caught quite a variety of pond life. I think that this…

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…is probably a Three-Spined Stickleback. (But, as always, I stand ready to be corrected.)

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Pond Skaters.

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I’d call that upside down insect a Water Boatman, my field guide tells me that it is a Common Backswimmer (also know as a Water Boatman). The rather splendidly red snail is a Great Ramshorn (I think).

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This must be a Water Beetle, but I’m really not sure which kind.

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Here, the Water Boatman has a silvery sheen due to a trapped air bubble which it uses to enable it to breath.

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We were all fascinated by the contents of our tubs.

Well…almost all…

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Later that day we wandered into Eaves Wood for a bit of tree-climbing. Professor A can never resist joining the kids…

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Once again, B’s busted arm proved to be a great hindrance…

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Here we all are by the Pepper Pot…

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Pond Life

Cornucopia

The day after my Langden Castle walk (so over a week ago now) and my third post-work walk in as many days. Once again, I found myself drawn back to Gaitbarrow. I had an idea that I might enjoy a brisk circuit for a change, but as usual I was easily distracted. It was just one week after my previous visit, but in the interval so much had changed. One of the principal changes was that in every sunny spot, there were hosts of damselflies…

Damselfly

There are several species of blue damselflies, and I can’t usually identify them, but I’m reasonably confident that this is a common blue damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum, because in a full-size version of this cropped photo… 

Damselfly II 

…its just about possible to make out the black shape on the second segment of the abdomen which identifies it as such.

Blue-tailed Damselfly 

Blue-tailed damselfly.

Once I’d paused to photograph the damselflies, I soon noticed grasshoppers jumping and spiders scurrying about…

Wolf spider 

Wolf spider, Pardosa lugubris, carrying egg-sac.

I made a brief foray into the boggy meadow where I recently saw a roe deer. Even after some drier weather the middle section of the path has become welly territory. Some creatures appreciate some damp conditions of course…

Frog 

After the ‘banded snail killing ground’ of my last visit, it was nice to find a banded snail which was clearly flourishing…

Banded snail 

In the meadow on the shore at the end of Haweswater, something drew me into a small scrubby tree in amongst the reeds. I can’t remember now what it was that first attracted my attention, but when I had thoroughly tangled myself in its branches, I discovered that it was flowering, in a very undemonstrative way….

Unidentified tree flower 

Naturally there was a resident damselfly, its silvery wings catching the light beautifully…

Damselfly 

And now that I had started to look, I realised that the tree was also home to a troop of banded snails….

Banded snail 

More banded snails 

Yet another banded snail 

B is always excited by cuckoo spit, I think for the same sort of reasons that makes Horrible Histories in all of its many guises so appealing. I stooped to photograph a gobbet for him…

Cuckoo spit 

..and as I did so, I caught a flicker of movement amongst some grass stems beside a charred log. I didn’t see what moved the grass, but I was hopeful: I rolled away the log, and hey presto!….

Common lizard 

…a common lizard.

Another contrast with a week before: in the meadows….

The flower meadow 

..the yellow rattle is now flowering in abundance…

Yellow rattle 

From the meadows, I took a different route across the limestone pavements than I usually follow. There were still plenty of damselflies to see…

Damselfly on bleached tree root 

…on a weather bleached root stump….

Damselfly on oak leaf 

…on some oak leaves.

Equally abundant, and a delight which will bring me back this way at this time of year, was lily-of-the-valley….

Lily-of-the-valley 

Lily-of-the-valley II 

This one….

Lily-of-the-valley with spider 

…had a tiny spider clinging to it…

Spider on lily-of-the-valley

Sadly, I don’t know what species this one is.

Avocets and bugs galore by Allen Hide; ring ouzels, stonechats and reed buntings in Bowland; and a variety of delights at Gaitbarrow: my cup runneth over.

Cornucopia

Woodwell and Jack Scout

Ramsons

The day after my idle afternoon stroll. The weather was still holding fair, although much colder than it had been. I nipped out for another short wander, calling in on a couple of local spots I haven’t visited in a while. In Bottom’s Wood the ramsons are tall and verdant and almost in flower…

Almost flowering 

Ash buds are bursting open…

Ash flowers, bursting out. 

At Woodwell the pond is silting up, and the water level was very low after the long fry spell of weather. There were very few tadpoles to be seen this year, but even more small fish than ever. I’ve never photographed the fish here. The camera’s autofocus seemed intent on keeping it that way…

Confused autofocus 

But I eventually got some clear(ish) shots…

Fish 

My best guess is that these are minnows, but I’m not confident about that and as ever stand ready to be corrected.

Another fish 

This pond skater seems to have made a catch…

Pond skater 

I think that there are at least three types of snail in the pond. Here’s one of the ‘rounded, green shell variety’ (I’ve got a book with these in somewhere – now what have I done with it?)

Pond snail 

One edge of the pond is greeny yellow with flowering golden saxifrage.

Golden saxifrage 

And some trees are coming into leaf at last…

New sycamore leaves 

From Woodwell I went down to Jack Scout to find some thing of a surprise. The banks and channels have changed. The wall which extends into the bay from Jenny Brown’s Point has all but disappeared, with only a small section close to the shore visible. The rest has disappeared under a new sandbank.

Where's the wall? 

Looking across Morecambe Bay. Heysham power station on the horizon right of centre.

Clougha Pike

Cliffs at Jack Scout. The dark line right of the cliffs is the Bowland Fells, Clougha Pike on the extreme right-hand end.

Shells 

Seashells.

Cow's mouth

A sloppy and muddy surface here has been replaced with a fairly sandy surface, pleasant to walk on. This small cove is Cow’s Mouth which was one of the embarkation points when lots of traffic crossed the sands of the bay bound for Furness.

Sun and clouds

I was able to follow the shore back around to the village, mostly walking on the sand, although a channel under the cliffs necessitated retreating onto the shingle at the top of the beach…

Shingle 

…and then onto the cliff path.

Coastal lichen 

Sea-cliff lichen.

A sizable flock of birds whizzed overhead with an impressive whoosh, then flew low over the water. Very impressive to watch. I was pretty sure that they weren’t oystercatchers. My blurred photos of them in flight showed white edges to the wings and a large white shape on their backs, but the most telling photo was the one I took after they had landed…

Redshank

…redshanks!

Woodwell and Jack Scout

So good to be back home again

Playing pooh sticks

Pooh sticks.

It’s nice to be away obviously. I adore the Llyn Peninsula. The Vosges and the Pas de Calais had much to recommend them and are both areas I would like to revisit. Jersey made quite an impression, as you may have noticed if you’ve been following recent posts. But it is nice to be back.

Because of my extended raving about Jersey, I’m a little behind (no change there then) and have several local strolls to catch up on. The first began at Leighton Moss, where on summer Sunday mornings one can share with the expert enthusiasts in the opening of moth traps which have been out on the reserve the night before. On this particular Sunday there were more caddis flies than moths, but there were some interesting specimens, and it being later in the year, different ones than those we see on our annual ‘mothing’ day, also here at Leighton Moss.

Feathered Gothic 

Feathered gothic.

Sallow 

Sallow.

Centre-barred sallow 

Centre-barred sallow.

We walked from there to Trowbarrow, a quarry jointly owned by the RSPB and the BMC. The ankle-biters were very excited there by the small puddle by the shelter stone (where the quarrymen used to hide during blasting and practice their close-harmonies and Chuck Berry riffs). I was busy trying to catch up with dragonflies and grasshoppers to photograph, without much success, when I noticed this tiny caterpillar snacking on a leaf on a sapling.

Caterpillar munching on leaf 

On a leaf above the caterpillar I then spotted this forest bug.

Forest bug 

I assumed that it was a coincidence that they were on the same plant, but I now find that forest bugs feed on caterpillars, amongst other things, so perhaps something more purposeful and sinister was afoot.

On yet another leaf on the same plant was this…

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..what? A gall? An egg?

This tiny spider…

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..seemed to be eating, or perhaps removing, a seed from its web. Perhaps like this hapless fellow.

Red admiral 

Red admiral.

One reason I had wanted to come this way was to catch these flowers whilst they were still in bloom, having seen them in seed last year…

Helleborine 

…too late! I think that these are helleborines. Johnny-on-the-spot was in the right place at the right time and posted photographs back in early August.

Not too late however, for ragwort…

Ragwort

…which was plentiful in the rough on the return leg of our journey across the golf course. Ragwort is the food plant of…

Cinnabar caterpillar 

…cinnabar moth caterpillars, which were also plentiful.

Another cinnabar caterpillar 

Ragwort can be poisonous to cattle or horses when dried in feed. The caterpillars absorb alkaloids from the ragwort and can therefore feed brazenly in the open, and are brightly coloured to warn potential predators of their unpalatable status.

Banded snail

Banded snail.

So good to be back home again