Five Photos

P1250283

A wasp’s nest on the underside of the roof of our summer house (glorified shed). It was a little bit larger than a golf ball. The has been empty for weeks – it was right by the door, perhaps too busy a spot, and the wasps seemed to have abandoned it – but just today we noticed that the nest is once again occupied.

P1250288

Orchids on the Lots.

P1250294

A double rainbow from our garden; a fair indication of the weather we’ve been having this ‘summer’.

P1250333

A roe deer buck on our garden.

P1250330

He has very lop-sided antlers. I wonder whether that will put him at any disadvantage during the imminent rut?

Five photos taken on different days, aside from the last two obviously.

Five Photos

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

P1240701

“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

P1240702

Heald Brow primroses.

P1240704

Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

P1240706

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

P1240710

I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

P1240712

This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

P1240715

A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

P1240724

On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

P1240732

There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

P1240739

P1240741

Cuckooflowers.

P1240751

Pheasant.

P1240759

At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

P1240756

…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

P1240757

Violets.

P1240763

I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

P1240761

The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

P1240768

…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

P1240773

…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

P1240775

It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

P1240780

Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

P1240784

Cowslips.

P1240793

Hoverfly.

P1240794

Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

P1240796

New oak leaves.

P1240798

Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

P1240799

P1240805

P1240809

I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

P1240813

Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

P1240820

Bank Well.

P1240833

Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

P1240839

One final Peacock butterfly.

P1240843

More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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

Gait Barrows Again

P1150658

Female Common Darter.

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

P1150670

Male Migrant Hawker.

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

P1150666

P1150682

Bumblebee on Betony.

P1150688

Speckled Wood.

P1150697

P1150708

P1150709

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

P1150724

Broad-leaved Helleborine.

P1150729

Hoverflies on Hemp Agrimony.

P1150733

Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

P1150739

Wall-rue (I think), a fern.

P1150746

Knapweed and St. John’s Wort.

P1150748

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

P1150759

P1150754

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

P1150766

Hoverfly.

P1150777

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

P1150781

Buff Footman (I think), a moth.

P1150788

Another Common Green Shieldbug nymph – perhaps the final instar.

P1150801

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

P1150807

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

P1150817

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

P1150820

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

P1150827

Gait Barrows Again

Falling for Foulshaw Figwort

P1140275

A juvenile Great Tit and a Blue Tit share a moment.

P1140276

Male Scorpion Fly – rubbish picture, but you can see the appendage which earns its name.

P1140281

Lots of these at Foulshaw at the moment, under the trees at the edge of the reserve.

P1140285

Meadow Vetchling, perhaps?

P1140289

Reading John Wright has made me think about the ways in which insects and fungi are often adapted to exploit particular plants. I saw wasps feeding on Figwort a few times on this visit. A Figwort flower and the head of a wasp seem to be a perfect fit.

P1140295

The dark wings here make me think that this could be a Cuckoo Bumblebee, on a thistle obviously, Marsh Thistle probably.

P1140302

Male Reed Bunting – seems almost obligatory now.

P1140308

After the diverse, but elusive, moths and butterflies of my last visit, this time these small pale moths were to be seen all around the boardwalks in the more open, heathland areas. It’s a ‘wave’. But there are lots of those to choose from: Common Wave, White Wave, Small White Wave, Cream Wave, Small Cream Wave, Silky Wave, Grass Wave – and that’s just the ones which are pale with brownish stripes. Some of these species live in woodland, some have marginal black dots on their wings, or more prominent dark spots in the centre of their hind-wings, or on both wings, none seemed to fit the bill perfectly, but I’m going to tentatively plump for Common Wave, as it’s the best fit as far as I can tell.

P1140312

An Alderfly. Perhaps.

P1140315

Another Cuckoo Bumblebee? On Cross-leaved Heath.

P1140320

I spoke to somebody, who told me they had spoken to somebody else earlier, who had photographed six Adders that day at the reserve, one of them basking on a boardwalk. I didn’t see any snakes at all, but I did spot this Common Lizard.

P1140327

P1140331

The ‘cotton’ from the Bog Cotton has completely coated some areas.

P1140333

Bog Asphodel.

P1140337

Bog Myrtle catkins.

P1140342

Green Lacewing. There are 18 British species and this is one of those, I’m fairly sure.

P1140355

Foxglove seed-heads. Handsome aren’t they.

P1140353

It’s been interesting to visit three weeks running and see how things have progressed. The Meadowsweet is flowering now. Here’s some with Tufted Vetch…

P1140356

I’m sure that I’ve read somewhere that blue and white flowers in a garden together traditionally signify The Virgin Mary, but I can’t remember where I read that, so I may be wrong. It is, however, the kind of useless detail which I tend to remember, unlike, for instance, important things like people’s names.

P1140357

Soft Rush.

P1140363

See: wasp, Figwort – made for each other. Britain has nine species of Social Wasp, but I’m going to tentatively identify this as a Tree Wasp – Dolichovespula sylvestris.

P1140364

I’m quite chuffed with this photo, even though it’s clearly rubbish. I’ve been seeing these birds at Foulshaw and listening to their chatter, and thinking that they were Linnets, but not being sure. I’ve taken lots of photos, but only ever getting silhouettes, which looked right, but hardly proved conclusive. This one is only a slight improvement, but does show a bit of red and confirms that they are Linnets after all.

P1140377

A Saint John’s-wort. There are several different Saint John’s-worts. If I’d taken clear photos of the leaves and the stem, then maybe, just maybe, I would know which this was. But I didn’t; so I don’t.

P1140387

Blue Tit.

P1140388

Common Valerian.

P1140389

Meadowsweet. A powerful analgesic apparently.

P1140379

Figwort and Bindweed.

Figwort grows at Lambert’s Meadow and also in Middlebarrow Wood and probably in lots of other places locally, but it’s not a very inspiring plant where I’ve seen it. At Foulshaw, however, it really seems to thrive – it’s always tall, but here it has huge thick stems and masses of flowers and is generally more impressive and imposing than it is elsewhere that I’ve seen it.

Having been impressed, I decided to look Figwort up in ‘Hatfield’s Herbal’. Apparently Figwort, like Meadowsweet, had a widespread reputation as a painkiller. Mothers used it to quiet teething children. It was renowned as a treatment for piles, once known as ‘figs’ and hence the name. And it was also known as a treatment for Scrofula, now called Glandular Tuberculosis, but once called The King’s Evil, because the touch of a monarch was supposed to cure the disease. Figwort was apparently regarded as the next best thing.

Now this put me in mind of John Graunt and his ground-breaking 1663 book Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality, which I like to use when I’m teaching Statistics. Graunt carried out an analysis of the causes of death recorded in London Parishes over several years.

I don’t particularly enjoy teaching Statistics, but lists like the one above never fail to get students engaged. Both the figures and the causes of death are eye-opening. Simply being a child (a Chrisome is a child less than one month old) is the most common cause of death. ‘Kild by feveral accidents’, “Bit with a mad dogge’ and ‘Suddenly’ usually illicit comment, as does the fact that 454 people have died by ‘Teeth’, 28 by “Wormes’, 114 by ‘Surfet’ (which, yes, is eating too much) and 6 by ‘Murtherd’. Another similar page has ‘Wolfe’ as a cause of death. What are we to make of ‘Rising of the Lights’ or ‘Plannet’ or indeed ‘King’s Evil’? You can find suggestions on this fascinating website. Timpany, disappointingly, is not death by Kettle Drum.

Falling for Foulshaw Figwort

Back to the Bela

P1110683

Another Monday night bout of ballet lesson related Dad’s taxi duties provided a window sufficient for a good long walk, but, unusually, wading through a quagmire of lethargy, I took a while to get going and then eventually set off to repeat the short circuit along the Bela to its confluence with the Kent and back via the Orchid Triangle and the road past the Heronry.

I was photographing a distant Little Egret when I noticed this Heron sat on the river bank. I adopted my standard iterative approach – take a photo, walk a few paces, take another, repeat. As a rule, Herons are very cautious and will soon fly away if you get very close at all, but this one was unusually forbearing, so that when it did take off I was poised to catch another picture…

P1110684

By where the Heron had been a sitting, a Mallard and her chicks…

P1110686

How many in her brood?

P1110689

Seven!

It seems to me that she must be a relatively successful parent, as Mallards go. These are not particularly young ducklings and she still has seven. I well remember the instructive experience of taking our small children to see the ducklings at Bank Well one spring back when we lived nearby. There were 14 little balls of fluff to begin with, the next day there were only 12. Then 10. And so on.  Eventually, there were none. Like ‘ten in the bed’, but more final. A harsh introduction to ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ for the kids.

P1110691

P1110694

A little further along the bank, a pair of Greylag Geese seemed to be without goslings.

The Heron meanwhile, had only moved on as far as the top of the weir.

P1110708

Below the weir, a pair of Mute Swans were feeding…

P1110713

P1110715

The Bela and Dallam Bridge.

It not being as windy as it was last time I came this way, I was able to get some slightly better photos of the Oak Apple Galls

P1110717

When I was in my early teens, my parents let me subscribe to a partwork called The Living Countryside. I’d always loved books about animals and had quite a collection of animal encyclopaedias, but what I loved about The Living Countryside was the fact that it covered only British wildlife and brought everything closer to home. It built up into several large tomes, which sadly I no longer have. Apart from my general enthusiasm, I don’t remember many individual articles, but I do remember reading about gall wasps, because I was so astounded by their life-cycle.

P1110718

This gall contains numerous grubs which will eventually become gall wasps, both male and female. The female wasps are winged and can fly, but weakly. After mating they fly to the ground, burrow down to the roots of an Oak tree and lay eggs. A gall forms on the roots producing a new generation of flightless wasps, all female. This generation is agamic, that is asexual. The wasps crawl up the trunk of the tree and lay eggs on twigs. The eggs irritate the tree, causing it to form the gall around the eggs. And so on.

This seemed, and still seems to me to be more like something you might read in a Science Fiction novel than in a Natural History magazine.

P1110719

The Oak, meanwhile, has its own reproductive agenda and is busy flowering.

This patch of woodland…

P1110731

…is the site of the Heronry. I watched several Herons and Little Egrets fly in and out.

P1110732

I guess that they too have young secreted up there in the trees.

This Chaffinch…

P1110743

…was serenading me when I got back to my car and continued to do so whilst I changed my footwear.

Turned out to be well worth the effort to get out after all, despite my initial lethargy.

Back to the Bela

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.

The Cove – The Lots

P1090022

Small Tortoiseshell.

Sometimes just a short walk, to familiar places, can yield a great deal of diversion and interest. (This was back in October btw)

P1090025

There are nine species of social wasps resident in Britain; this is one of them, but I can’t identify which.

P1090033

Drone Fly?

If it isn’t a Drone Fly, it’s a similar hover-fly, hoping to be mistaken for a Honey Bee.

P1090031

There are four species of brown Bumblebees in Britain; I think that this is one of those.

P1090032

Apparently, it’s hard to tell them apart without a microscope, but the most common, and so perhaps the most likely, is Bombus Pascuorum, the Common Carder Bee.

P1090039

Another hover-fly imitating something with a sting.

Most of these (poorly identified) insects were photographed on a patch of tall daisies with Dandelion like flowers, growing on the rough stony ground at the back of The Cove.

P1090036

…I’ve always struggled with identifying the myriad different yellow daisies…

P1090034

…but I thought that with a few photos…

P1090035

…of flowers, seed-heads and leaves I would be able to track this one down. However, I’ve consulted four different books and numerous websites and whilst I’ve found several plants which almost seem to fit the bill, all of them have some disqualifying feature, or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself anyway.

P1090037

“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.”

Albert  Einstein

Although, in my case, it’s more a case of: the more I try to learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.

P1090045

Still, I enjoy the trying.

Still Trying – a very uninformative post.