New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

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Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

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…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

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…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

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The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

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In Eaves Wood.

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In Burtonwell Wood.

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I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

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Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

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Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

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Ragwort.

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Dandelion.

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Gorse.

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Daisy.

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

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Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

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The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

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…exquisitely ochre fungi.

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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

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This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

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Jack Scout.

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I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

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More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

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Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

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Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

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Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

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New Year Floral Survey

Lest We Forget

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Mean and moody clouds seen from the Cove on a November Saturday with the tide well in.

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Much brighter weather on the Sunday.

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Ragwort.

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These autumnal images come from a walk in Eaves Wood and then down to Woodwell on Armistice Day. Later we we were back at the Pepperpot, where a beacon was lit, one of many around the country, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Lest We Forget

Comfortable Silences

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

A mid-October Sunday and another day which brightened up into a cracker after a most unpromising start. B must have been playing at home and I’d been for a wander along the Lune from Underley Park under dark skies and beside a river which, if not quite in spate, was swollen, fast flowing and looking as if it would present a stern challenge to canoeists.

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In the afternoon, I walked around the coast as far as White Creek and from there up to Heathwaite without, unusually, ever going up to the top of the Knott.

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I enjoyed watching this flock of birds heading north rather faster than I was. I suspect that they were Oystercatchers, but it was hard to tell.

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I was interested to see, now that we were definitely into Autumn, what I could still find flowering. Some things weren’t particularly unexpected….

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Devil’s-bit Scabious.

I was pleased to see some butterflies too: quite a few Speckled Woods, a large White and this…

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Small Copper Butterfly.

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Betony is another late-flowering plant, so not out of place in October. But…

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…this Burnett Rose was a bit unexpected.

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Oystercatchers – unmistakably this time.

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The view from Park Point.

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Holly is normally a spring flowering plant, so these flowers go down as surprise of the day.

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This is one of the two short tunnels of White Creek Mine. The colour of the rock here suggests that this is another haematite mine – an iron oxide ore mainly used in the manufacture of paint apparently.

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Two views south along the coast from Heathwaite.

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It was a fairly clear day – was that Blackpool Tower I could make out down the coast?

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Yep!

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The (becoming) obligatory Ingleborough zoom.

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I thought this pair of crows looked like old friends, comfortable with each others silence…

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‘Did you…..?’

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‘Oh, no? Okay. Think I’ll grab a snooze.’

 

Comfortable Silences

Brighter Later

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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.

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Rosehips and blue tits.

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The Forest of Bowland hills and Carnforth Salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

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Quicksand Pool and the chimney at Jenny Brown’s.

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Traveller’s Joy.

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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.

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Flesh-fly.

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Greenbottle.

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A hoverfly – Scaeva Pyrastri. Very handsome with it’s curving white markings, not really shown to best advantage here, sadly.

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Some flower-heads were very busy!

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Bluebottle.

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Wasps.

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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…

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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

Thermophilous

Hagg Wood – The Row – Jubilee Wood – Waterslack Wood – Middlebarrow Quarry – Black Dyke – Red Hills Wood – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – Far Arnside.

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A Red Admiral. The ivy was thronged with other insects too – particularly wasps, but bees and hoverflies and several Red Admirals to boot.

A sunny Sunday in September and a walk which just about encapsulates the obsessions which fuel this blog: butterflies, fungi, and robins; an ascent of Arnside Knott; views of the bay, the Cumbrian Fells and of Ingleborough; some detective work to identify a plant; clouds; some backlit leaves; and a novel botanical term thrown in for good measure.

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Once again there was lots of fungi to see that day – this photo will stand in for the many I took.

I managed to get out for numerous walks that day; B had played rugby against Vale of Lune that morning, a team which features many of his school friends, and whilst they were warming up, and again when they were changing and eating, I squeezed in a couple of little wanders on what was a very bright, but initially quite chilly, morning.

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This bridge on the edge of Middlebarrow Wood is looking decidedly worst for wear.

Later, I was out again on a glorious autumn afternoon and, as has become my habit, I headed for the Knott.

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Arnside Knott.

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Middlebarrow Wood and a distant Arnside Tower.

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The Kent viaduct and the Eastern Fells. It was a clear day – you can just about pick out Skiddaw in the northern lakes if you know what you are looking for.

I’m pretty sure that this was the day when I exchanged pleasantries with a chap near the top of the Knott. We admired the view and he told me that he recognised me from numerous Silverdale Coffee mornings and then advised me to lose some weight. Naturally, I told him, in no uncertain terms, to mind his own business, before eviscerating him with a rusty spoon.

No I didn’t. But I was tempted.

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The Kent and the Coniston Fells.

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You’re never far from a bench on a walk in this area, particularly on the Knott.

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Looking south, the Bowland Fells and the bay.

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Bramble leaves.

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Bracken.

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Another view south, taken by another bench.

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Ingleborough, taken at the full extent of the zoom.

From Heathwaite I took a path which I thought would curl around to Hollins Farm, but instead it took me to a gate and then steeply downhill to meet the coast path near the caravan park at Far Arnside. Another new path for me – it seems amazing that there could be still paths so close to home which I don’t know, given how I’ve criss-crossed the area so obsessively over many years. This one is a delight and opens up new possibilities for walks taking in the Knott. I’ve been back already.

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Robin in full song.

There’s a time, at the tail end of summer, when the birds stop singing. It’s always cheering to hear their voices return to the local woods.

Some Buddleia bushes at Far Arnside were even busier with Red Admirals than the ivy had been close to the start of the walk.

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With the Red Admirals was a close cousin of theirs…

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…a Painted Lady.

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Far Arnside coast.

The plant growing abundantly here is Rock Samphire, which is apparently “thermophilous, growing well and increasing in numbers with warmer summers”. (Source.) Knowing that, and given the summer we had, it’s not surprising to see so much of it growing here.

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These purplish globes are the seed pods.

Rock Samphire was once a popular vegetable, more popular in fact than the unrelated, and now very trendy, Marsh Samphire. I’ve tried it and found it a bit strong, but maybe I should give it another go, steamed and served with lashings of butter perhaps? Or, maybe without quite so much butter?

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From Far Arnside I walked back on the mud of the bay. The sun disappeared behind a cloud; I didn’t much appreciate the shade, but I was very taken by the light.

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Another Robin.

Currently, there’s a gale howling beyond the window and it’s been raining most of the day. Looking back at these photos of a sunny day has been a real tonic. Perhaps that’s what I should have told the old gent on the Knott: “Leave me alone, it’s not my fault: I’m thermophilous, I thrive and grow well in warm summers”. It would have been a new excuse at least.

Thermophilous

All Good Things

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All good things must come to an end, or so they say. And so: to the last weekend of our holiday. Actually, these photos were all taken on the Friday. The Saturday was rather damp. I still got out for a walk and took lots of photos of a hugely varied selection of fungi, but I must have only had my phone with me and the photos are all hopelessly blurred. On the Sunday, I was out so late that the few photos I took were almost completely dark, but for a thin line of light along the western horizon.

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Red Admiral.

On the Friday then, I was out in the garden, drawn out by the butterflies on the Buddleia. A subsequent walk took me past this old postbox on Cove Road…

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To The Cove itself…

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And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

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Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

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These are tiny plants, extremely easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted a couple your eye seems to tune in, and pretty soon you’re realising that there are loads dotted about. In ‘Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ David Lang says that Autumn Lady’s-tresses are mainly distributed in the southern half of England, so we must be lucky to have them on The Lots and at Jack Scout.

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The Latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, the second part of which presumably refers to the way that the flowers spiral around the stem.

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Carline Thistle.

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Maybe not the most promising flower – a brown thistle, but I’m very fond of them.

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As you can probably tell.

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

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An Inman Oak.

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Rosehips.

Back in the garden, the seedheads on the Staghorn Sumach caught my eye…

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Apparently this can be used as a seasoning, and something similar is used in the Middle East – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try it yet.

Earlier in the summer we’d seen a lactating Roe Deer hind on our patio and I wondered if she had hidden a fawn, or fawns, nearby.

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Then we had a few visits from a hind, possibly the same one, with two fawns in tow. That’s the hind at the top of the post.

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The fawns’ white spots were beginning to disappear, but were still visible.

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They came right up under the kitchen windows. I was particularly pleased to catch the mother whilst she was in the sun, because that way you can see the wonderful colour of their summer coats.

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They’ve been back since, or at least a similar family have, but now have duller, winter fur and the fawns have completely lost their spots.

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I took this photo, as I often do, to remind me to go to the advertised talk. Which, a couple of weeks later, I duly did. Very good it was too.

I’ve seen Brian Yorke talk before. He’s very knowledgable and funny to boot. Unless you live locally, you might not have the chance to to catch up with one of his talks on flowers or ferns or bird migration, but he does have an excellent website where you can keep up with his latest finds and quirky drawings.

Anyway, back to the Friday: in the evening, we met with some friends for a beach bonfire, a chinwag and a few convivial drinks…

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I think that it was our good friend G who suggested the event.

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I hope it becomes a regular thing.

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B seemed to enjoy hunting for driftwood logs to sit on and/or burn.

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Sitting around a fire on a beach inevitably has me thinking back nostalgically to happy weekends on the Welsh coast a long time ago, with a different group of friends.

Finally, one last image of a Roe Deer, this time one of the young ones, as it passed through a sunny spot beneath our kitchen window…

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All Good Things

Imagine Dragonflies

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – Red Bridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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Hawes Water.

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Cormorant.

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Speckled White.

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Common Darter.

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Eyebright.

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Common Darter.

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Bryony.

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Hart’s-tongue Fern.

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Lily-of-the-Valley.

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Yew.

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Another Speckled Wood.

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Sloes.

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Haw’s.

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Tawny Mining Bee (?) on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

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Migrant Hawker.

A lazy, local walk at the tail end of the summer holidays when the hot, sunny conditions recalled the beautiful weather from earlier in the year. Once again, there were huge numbers of Darters about and lots of Speckled Wood butterflies and I took a ridiculous number of photos of both. There were lots of larger dragonflies about too, but, frustratingly, they wouldn’t pose for photos. On several occasions I almost caught one during a brief pause, perched on bracken or a branch, but, somehow or other, always contrived to miss the moment. I’d almost become resigned to failure, when this beauty flew over my shoulder and landed high on a tree ahead of me. I got one chance and then it flew again. But it made my day.

Imagine Dragonflies