Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove

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A much more modest wander, this one, before a social event in Grange with TBH and a whole host of other people.

A small herd of cows on The Lots were seemingly a magnet for birds – as I approached several Starlings, a Magpie and a few Jackdaws all winged away from the sward around the cows. But two of the Jackdaws were less perturbed by my presence and continued to strut about between the apparently oblivious cows like a couple of minor officials puffed up with the importance of their office.

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Early Purple Orchids on The Lots.

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Shelduck on the bay, near The Cove.

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This Oystercatcher seems to have had a minor prang – the end of its beak looks like it needs remodelling.

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Cut flowers, by the benches above The Cove.

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An act of remembrance?

These benches are, for much of the year at least, a fabulous place to sit and watch the sunset and I’m sure that they are a favourite spot for a lot of people. Although, admittedly, I rarely come across anyone sitting there, I have, from time to time, had some memorable conversations here whilst watching the sun drop into the sea.

Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

Roeburndale Round

Wray – Hunt’s Gill Bridge – Outhwaite Wood – River Roeburn – Barkin Bridge – Lower Salter – Haylot Farm – Melling Wood – Mallowdale – Mallowdale Bridge – Higher Salter – Harterbeck – Stauvin – Four Lane Ends – Hunt’s Gill Bridge – Wray

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River Roeburn in Outhwaite Wood.

May arrives and brings with it the post-work evening walk season. Well, what I think of as ‘the post-work evening walk season’. Of course, I’ve been walking after work in the evenings all winter, in the rain and the dark, and during the spring, as the evenings have lengthened, my walks around home have gradually lengthened with them. But now there’s enough light to justify a short drive and a longer walk somewhere a little away from my home patch.

If the outing featured in the last post was partly inspired by somebody else’s blog post, then this walk was, I think, influenced by one of my own posts. I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for a while now and am rapidly approaching the one thousand post milestone. Most of my posts illicit a trickle of interest and then disappear without trace, but some have a curious afterlife, which I can follow via my blog stats. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. For example, one post about a walk in the Wye valley gets a visit or two just about every day and the same holds true for a handful of other posts. The oddest of these afterlives is the curious popularity of this post, which attracts lots of readers from India, where, I can only imagine, a teacher or lecturer sets assignments on the essay ‘On Finding Things’ by E.V.Lucas. In search of something to plagiarise, the students who find my post about a family stroll in the woods must be sorely disappointed. Anyway, a post about a walk around Roeburndale, which TBH and I enjoyed four years ago at around this time of year, is another which has been making regular appearances in my stats of late. Which got me thinking about a return visit.

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I was intrigued by this small tree, or large shrub, down by the river on the edge of the wood, by a riverside meadow. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that it is an example of our native, Wild Privet. The flowers are plentiful and quite striking.

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My only nagging doubt is caused by the fact that I remember privet hedges having tiny leaves, but I suppose that they may have consisted of imported cultivars of another privet?

Once again, the Bluebells and Ramsons in Outhwaite Wood were stunning…

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All too soon, the permission path leaves the river and climbs up through the woods to traverse their top edge, close to the field boundary.

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Before eventually dropping down to cross the river by this footbridge…

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This is the stretch of river where I brought the children to swim a few years ago, and we were eaten alive by insects. No such problem on this occasion.

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Roeburndale – Ingleborough in the distance.

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Little Salter Methodist Chapel.

The route which TBH and I had followed turns left here and cuts across the valley before heading down, but I decided to continue onward, adding an extra loop around the head of the valley. (A PDF leaflet of that route can be found here and here, at least at the moment: the link I added to my previous post doesn’t seem to work anymore).

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Approaching Haylot farm I spotted a couple of Hares, a treat since it’s something I don’t see all that often. Years ago – I can date it fairly precisely to the early 1990s – I watched a pair of Little Owls near this farm. I don’t think I’ve seen any since.

Just past the farm, I walked through a small field where I was mugged by a flock of sheep. I’m familiar with the late evening behaviour of sheep at lambing time, whereby they will group together and follow a walker through a field, making a proper racket in the meantime, but this particular flock were the most aggrieved and aggressive bunch I have ever come across, shepherding me out of their field on no uncertain terms, snapping at my heels as I went. Well almost. It was very unnerving.

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More Wild Privet in Melling Wood.

The path through Melling Wood was an absolute delight. Firstly, there were no aggressive sheep. Secondly, the path contoured across the precipitous slopes of Mallow Gill. I definitely need to come back this way again. This path is part of the Lancashire Witches Way which I intend to investigate further.

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Mallowdale Pike and High Stephen’s Head – Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Bowland Fells is not too far behind.

This was a great walk for birdwatching, but I didn’t do so well with my camera. In open fields there were Curlews and Lapwings on every side, but none of my photographs came out very well…

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I could hear Cuckoo’s constantly, and thought I saw one in Outhwaite Wood, as well as a Pied Flycatcher, though I couldn’t swear to either. I missed the Hares too, which were gone before I could train my camera on them.

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Brownthwaite Pike, Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough.

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Just after reaching the road at Harterbeck, I found a comfortable boulder to sit on to enjoy the sunset and have a bite to eat. The farmer was still out and about tending his sheep and came over for a chat. He was tickled by the possibility that I might be walking home to Silverdale that night (which I wasn’t obviously), and also by the fact that I originate from the ‘flat country’ of Lincolnshire. (I know, it’s not all flat Dad, but I’ve given up trying to argue that one).

I decided to follow the road down back to Wray: easy navigation and no more mad sheep encounters. Even though the temperature dropped rapidly once the sun had gone, I was accompanied, most of the way down, by the flickering wings of bats which were coursing up and down the lane.

A great walk, but quite a long one for an evening after work, I estimate close to 10 miles. I was glad to get back to my car in Wray, but already scheming about my next outing.

Roeburndale Round

Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

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We went to a family wedding near Sleaford. Splendid affair, lots of catching up, lovely grub, a bit of a dance, oh….and a wedding. Marvellous.

On our way home on the Sunday we stopped off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We might have done this anyway, the YSP is a favourite day out for us, but this post over on Down by the Dougie definitely swung the decision: the latest Tony Cragg exhibition was something we wanted to see.

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First off, however, we wandered over to the old Chapel…

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Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei

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There were several art works on display in the Chapel, but two particularly caught our attention. This large ‘wall’, ostensibly made of bricks, which are actually wax and have been partially melted….

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And Neither From nor Towards by Cornelia Parker….

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….made from bricks from a row of houses which have slipped over a cliff onto a beach.

This…

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…is an Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold which B fell off during a previous visit.

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71 Steps by David Nash.

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On the way home in the car we each went through our top 5 ‘things’ of the day – the bluebells in the woods featured on everybody’s list.

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One of three Andy Goldsworthy Hanging Tree.

Although we’ve visited the YSP several times before, we’ve never been over to the Longside gallery. Sometimes it has been closed, or we haven’t had time, or it has been too far to walk with the kids. Anyway, this time we put that right. It’s a very pleasant walk over.

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There was an exhibition there of 1960’s British Art. I can’t remember who this was by, but I liked it.

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This, I’m pretty sure, is by Bridget Riley, I think I might have seen it somewhere before. I always enjoy her very geometric paintings, maybe it’s my mathematical brain.

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We walked back over for a very late and enjoyable lunch in the cafe and then finally made it to the Underground Gallery to see some more Tony Cragg sculpture.

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I wish I could articulate what it is I like so much about these sculptures, but I don’t know even where to begin.

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A and I took a lot of photos. Choosing a selection for this post has been difficult.

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I watched an absorbing documentary about both the creative process and then the fairly industrialised realisation of the sculptures. You can see part of it here – it’s in German, although Tony Cragg is English he has lived in Germany for a long time.

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It’s apparent from the film that many of these ostensively abstract sculptures are inspired by shapes from nature or elsewhere. You can see that here: this small piece, clearly the viscera of some alien species…

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Is, in point of fact…

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….a Church!

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Outside, there were several bigger sculptures.

The boys weren’t very impressed by all of this, but this…

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…was a hit. They loved the distorted reflections it gave.

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Our time was almost up. In our whirlwind tour we hadn’t found time to see any of the sculptures by Anthony Caro, or Barbara Hepworth, or Anthony Gormley, or any of the many Henry Moore’s dotted around the park…

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Well, not properly anyway.

The kids insisted on one final visit: to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace…

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I like every bit as much as they do, and I certainly enjoy staring at the sky, but maybe we should come again when the sky is a bit less monotone…

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Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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A Brimstone on Bluebells in Eaves Wood.

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Robin on fence post, 16 buoys field.

I’d been a disappointed with the quality of my photos of the Eiders I’d seen at Jenny Brown’s Point, but put it down to low light. Now that I was out again, a couple of evenings later, I noticed that my photos were still grainy and lacking definition. Realisation dawned that camera muppetry was once again to blame, or perhaps I should say photographer muppetry: somehow I’d inadvertently changed the ISO setting. Again. This time to 1600. Resetting the ISO is paradoxically one of those things which is really easy to do accidentally, when you don’t want to, but nigh on impossible to achieve when that is your actual intention. I wasn’t reduced to tears, but there may have been a slight elevation in my blood pressure and a good deal of bad-tempered muttering.

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Goldfinches seem to be everywhere at the moment, which is no bad thing. Especially when your camera is finally working properly again and you need something to take your mind off the infuriation caused by a misbehaving inanimate object.

A section of garden by Challan Hall Mews is completely over-run with Campion. My kind of gardening: I can’t imagine much effort is required and it looks fantastic.

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On the open ground by Hawes Water I turned over a rotting log, beneath which I once found a Common Lizard. This time I found a large ground beetle, agile, fast moving and therefore rather difficult to either photograph or identify…

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In size and shape very like a Violet Ground Beetle. But not very violet.

This damselfly, by the Hawes Water boardwalks, was much more obliging…

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I think that this might be a female Common Blue Damselfly. However, I find it very difficult to identify male damselflies, and females are even more hard to distinguish.

I’ve seen quite a few Orange-tips whilst I’ve been out and about this spring. But the rule with Orange-tips, and in fact most ‘whites’, is that they never sit still long enough to be photographed. Well, not usually anyway…

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This was the second I’d managed to photograph that day.

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I think that this is a solitary bee.

“Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but look closely and there are smaller furry bees moving from flower to flower. There are around 20,000 described bee species worldwide. Most of these bees are known as solitary bees with only 250 bumblebee species, 9 honey bee species and a number of social stingless bees worldwide. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees.”

This from the Wildlife Trusts website.

Some of our cuckoo bee species have a yellow collar like this, but they generally also have a paler tail and are much bigger than this bee was. As to which of the 250 species this is from – I have no idea.

This…

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…also had me confused. At first I suspected that it was some sort of hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a Honey Bee doing a really good impression of a hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee. Perhaps. If it is a Honey Bee, it’s a good deal paler then those I’m used to seeing, but then I think Honey Bees are quite varied.

Is there anybody out there wants to lend me a hand, with my one man b….entomological identification?

Oh no, now I’m misquoting Leo Sayer. Shoot me now!

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

Sharp’s Lot – Hollins Lane – Fleagarth Wood – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove.

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Warton Crag, Quicksand Pool and a huge washed-up, rust-stained timber.

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Early Purple Orchid.

Another evening stroll, very pleasant in itself, but made lustrous by an unexpected encounter. As I approached Jenny Brown’s Point I spotted a duck on the far side of Quicksand Pool. Even when seen out of the corner of my eye, something struck me about it and so I used the camera’s telephoto to find out whether or not I was really looking at a male Eider or merely another Shelduck…

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A male Eider!

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In amongst the trees at the southern end of Jack Scout I spent a while trying to photograph songsters – a Blackbird, a Robin and an elusive Chiff-chaff.

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Because the tide was well in, I decided to follow the coast rather than the path which runs along the wall where butterflies are more often to be seen. I’m pleased that I did.

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Another male Eider!

Of course, we’ve usually seen Eiders when we’ve been to Piel Island and I also spotted one last time we were at Roa Island, but I’ve never seen their courtship display before.

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A group of seven ducks were drifting on the tide and the males were throwing their heads back along their backs and cooing. It’s a very odd sound. (Better pictures, and a  fuller description here.)

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There was a male Merganser in with the Eiders for a while, not sure what he was up to.

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Black-backed Gull flying across the sun’s glitter path.

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More ‘Long Purples’.

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Sunset from the Lots.

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Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

Irton Pike

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Bluebells in Birks Wood.

During the night I lay awake listening to the wind gathering in the valley, shaking the trees and then a tell-tale roar and moments later the latest gust was upon us, making the tent shake and rattle, creak and groan. Our tent has survived several such windy nights, both here and at Towyn Farm, but this time was once too many it seems and at around 5am the awning came crashing down. Many of the elastic pegging points had given up the ghost, but in other places the pegs had been ripped from the ground. Our folding table had blown clear across the campsite and was looking slightly crumpled. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining and TBH and I quickly stowed away our possessions in the car and then went back to bed for some more fitful ‘rest’.

Later, when we had surveyed the damage – the canvas seemed sound but some of the awning poles were bent and one had snapped – and the wind had moderated a little, we headed out for a walk.

It was gloriously sunny, and at valley level, the weather seemed quite benign, the woods were full of butterflies and the chatter of small birds, but even on the modest heights of Irton Pike you can perhaps tell…

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…there was still a fierce wind blowing.

Andy went to investigate a sheltered looking spot in amongst the trees…

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…which turned out to be a perfect spot for some lunch, a snooze and a bit of unscheduled bird-watching when a Kestrel ‘rebuffed the big wind’ and hovered over the hillside ahead of us.

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In Santon Bridge TBH and I stopped in at this little hall to peruse an exhibition by local artists…

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A walk and some culture, can’t be bad!

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, The Shandy Sherpa and The Ginger Whinger were corrupting our kids by taking them to the pub for a drink. A soft drink no doubt. I suppose they might claim that they were shanghaied into taking on the child-minding duties.

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Anyway, this had the unexpected side-effect that TBH and I had a very quiet and peaceful walk back along the River Irt on our own, enjoying fine sightings of a pair of Mergansers and also a Buzzard.

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More Bluebells, this time in Great Coppice.

Since this was April’s final fling, walking wise, with a bit of guestimation and ignoring the to and fro I do at work, when I am generally on my feet all day, I’ve arrived at a total mileage for the month of just over 110 miles. Doesn’t seem all that much on the one hand, but it’s more than enough to take me to the magic total of a thousand miles for the year, so – job’s a good’un.

Irton Pike

A Saturday Triptych – Garden Interlude

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Home from my second walk of the day, I transferred the ham from the stockpot to the oven, sorted out some vegetables and put on the pease puddings to cook, not necessarily in that order.

Whilst that was all on the go, I decided to cut the grass. But of course, there were distractions, namely, a Bee Fly on the Green Alkanet. I saw, or perhaps noticed properly, one of these for the first time last year and have seen them several times since. I’ve written before, I know, about the process of seeing something, doing a little research, putting a name to it, finding out a little about it and ever after noticing that it’s a much more common phenomena than you previously knew. The same seems to apply to Bee Flies. The wings are blurred in the photo because even when the fly is perched, as this one is, they still flutter their wings, giving a misleading impression of hovering.

The same correlation between naming, knowledge and noticing seems to apply to Tree Bumblebees…

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…this one was much smaller than the one I posted pictures of recently, maybe this was a worker?

Talking of which….the lawn still needed to be cut.

A Saturday Triptych – Garden Interlude