A Long Awaited Visit.

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Mum and Dad by the Pepperpot.

At the end of August, my Mum and Dad came to stay for a few days. It was the first time we’d seen them for quite some time, so it was great to have them with us, and also very handy that we had some pretty good weather for their visit.

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Coming down from Fleagarth Wood towards Jenny Brown’s Point.

I think we sat out on our patio quite a bit, but we also managed to get out for a number of walks.

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Sea Aster.
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Dad near Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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Warton Crag and The Forest of Bowland on the horizon.
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Roadworks – the wall at Jenny Brown’s point was repaired. Signs said that the road was closed, even to pedestrians, but that turned out not to be the case.
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Colourful hanging baskets at Gibraltar Farm.
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Little S passing Woodwell Cottage.
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Another walk.
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Half Moon Bay. Sadly, there’s a Nuclear Power Station just to my left and behind me when I took this photo.

I think Mum and Dad were particularly impressed with our walk on Heysham headlands.

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Ship – Anna Gillespie.
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Across the Bay to the hills of the Lake District from Heysham Headland.
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Another view across the Bay.

B likes to come to Heysham headlands with his friends to watch the sunset and to swim when the tide is in, and I can see why.

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Rock cut graves.
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St. Patrick’s Chapel.
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The Spirit of Heysham by Michael Edwards.

I should mention that we had lunch at Tracy’s Homemade Pies and Cakes cafe, which was amazing value and very tasty. Highly recommended.

We had a day out in Kirkby Lonsdale too, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos. I was shocked by how busy it was; we did well to find car-parking spaces. I knew that it was touristy, but hadn’t expected it to be so thronged.

Looking forward to some more blue sky days, and for infection rates to settle down so Mum and Dad can visit for a few more walks and a postponed Christmas dinner.

A Long Awaited Visit.

The Bug Hotel

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Copper Underwing.

The day after my Hawes Water wander. Another attempt to replicate the fun I had in the meadows of the Dordogne. It started, in rather gloomy conditions, in our garden.

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Long-tailed Tit. Not all that blurred!
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Possibly the same Long-tailed Tit. But they’re usually in groups, so it could just as easily be another.
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Mating flies in the beech hedge.
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Speckled Wood butterfly.
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Hoverfly on Montbretia.
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Common Carder Bee on Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.

When the weather brightened up, I set-off for a short wander, taking in Lambert’s Meadow, my go to spot when I’m hoping to see dragonflies in particular, and a wide selection of insect life in general, and a trip to the Dordogne is not on the cards.

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Lambert’s Meadow.

In my post about the meadows around the campsite we stayed on in France, I began with a photo in which I’d caught five different species all in the one shot, which I was delighted by, because it seemed to represent to me the sheer abundance and variety of the wildlife to be seen there.

I’ll confess, I was bit shocked that Lambert’s Meadow could match that tally…

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So…what have we got here? I think that the two black and white hoverflies may be Leucozona glaucia. I think the bug closest to the middle could be the sawfly, Rhogogaster Picta. I wondered whether the tiny insect at the bottom might be a sawfly too, but the long antennae and what looks like an even longer ovipositor have persuaded me that it is probably some kind of Ichneumon wasp. But that’s as far as I’ve got (there are apparently approximately 2500 UK species). I think the social wasp at the top is probably Vespula Vulgaris – the Common Wasp. And about the insect on the top left I have no opinions at all – there isn’t much to go on.

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I always assume that very pale bees like this are very faded Common Carder bees, but I’m not at all sure that’s correct.

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Large Rose Sawfly?

I think this might be a Large Rose Sawfly, although surprisingly it seems like there might be several UK species of insects which have a striking orange abdomen like this. I’m also intrigued by what the funky seedheads are. I suspect that if I’ve written this post back in August, I probably would have had a pretty fair idea because of where they were growing in the meadow.

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Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Male?
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Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Female?

There’s around 300 species of cranefly in the UK. Me putting names to these is essentially a huge bluff – I have even less idea than usual. I’m reasonably confident that they are at least craneflies and that the first is a male and the second female, but after that I’m pretty much guessing, based on a little bit of internet research.

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Volucella Pellucens on Mint.

This is a hoverfly which I often see and which is sufficiently distinctive that I can actually be confident about my identification. Especially since I found this very helpful guide. The common name is apparently Pellucid Fly, which is odd; pellucid means translucent or clear, as in a pellucid stream, or easy to understand, as in pellucid prose. I’m not sure in which sense this fly is pellucid. The females lay their eggs in the nests of social wasps like the Vespula Vulgaris above. The larvae grow up in the nest, from what I can gather, essentially scavenging – so a bit like wasps round a picnic table. Even wasps get harassed!

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I am going to have to bite the bullet and shell out for a proper field guide to hoverflies I think. They are so fascinating. Well, to me at least! These two, at first glance both black and yellow, but then so differently shaped and patterned, but I don’t have a clue what species either might belong to.

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This, on the other hand, also black and yellow……

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Tachina Fera

…is clearly not a hoverfly. Don’t ask me how I know. Well, go on then: it’s extremely bristly, and it has a chequered abdomen. At least it’s quite distinctive. My ‘Complete British Insects’ describes it as ‘handsome’ which even I can’t quite see. It’s a parasitoid, which is to say that its larvae will grow up inside a caterpillar.

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Possibly Eristalis arbustorum.

Apparently Eristalis arbustorum “can have quite variable markings on its body and some can be almost totally black”. (Source) Which makes my heart sink a bit – what hope do I have if members of an individual species can vary so much? At least this genuinely is handsome.

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A couple more unidentified bees to throw in.

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The Guelder Rose hedge.

Up to this point I’d been slowly pacing around the meadow, snapping away. I hadn’t walked far at all. As I approached the large area of Guelder Rose in the hedge, my pulse quickened a little, whilst my pace slowed even more. This is an area in which I frequently spot dragonflies. And the area just beyond, of tall figworts and willowherbs, is possibly even more reliable.

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Guelder Rose berries.

There were a few dragonflies patrolling the margin of the field. And a some Common Darters resting on leaves quite high in hedge, making them difficult to photograph from below. But then…result!

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Migrant Hawker.

Sometimes hawkers visit our garden, but it’s rare that I spot them when they aren’t in motion, hunting.

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And again.

An absolutely stunning creature.

A little further along…

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Migrant Hawker on Figwort.
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And again.
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Honey bee, I think.

Our friend P has hives in Hagg Wood, not too far away. Minty honey anyone?

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A very tatty Skipper.
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Small White.
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Common Darter on Figwort.

Views from the walk home…

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Looking a bit black over The Howgills.
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But the sun catching Farleton Fell.
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Rosehips.

Well, I’ve enjoyed choosing this selection of photos from the hundreds I took that day. I hope you did too. I don’t know why I didn’t spend more time mooching around al Lambert’s Meadow last summer. I’m looking forward to some brighter weather already.

The Bug Hotel

Green Dock Beetle

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Hawes Water

I was missing the flower rich meadows of the Dordogne and the multitude of butterflies and moths and other insects which the abundant flowers attract. So I set out for a short meander around Hawes Water, with my camera with me for once, with the express intent of finding something interesting to photograph.

Some patches of knapweed growing between Challan Hall and Hawes Water gave me just what I was after.

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Tree Bumblebees? On Common Knapweed.

Mainly bees, which by late summer have faded quite a bit and so are even harder to identify than they are earlier in the summer.

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Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.

Not to worry – I very happily took no end of photos.

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Tawny Mining Bee? On Common Knapweed.
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Another Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.
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Not-even-going-to-guess bee. On Ragwort.
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A drone fly, a bee mimic – one of the Eristalis species?
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Green Dock Beetle

I think this is a Green Dock Beetle. Pretty colourful isn’t it? I took lots of photos of this charismatic (or should I say prismatic?) little fella. With hindsight, I think the patterns on the knapweed flowerhead are pretty special too. Apparently, the larvae of these beetles can strip the leaves of a dock plant in no time flat. Likewise the massive leaves of a rhubarb plant. I don’t recall seeing them before, but shall be checking out docks more carefully this summer.

More about dock beetles here and here.

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Green Dock Beetle.
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Episyrphus Balteatus? In flight!
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Not sure about the bee – but look what’s lurking below the flower – an orb-web spider.
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Phaonia valida?
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Devil’s-bit Scabious.
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And finally, the hedgerow close to home which was cut down has new fences along each side and there’s plenty growing in that space – whether or not that’s the hawthorns and blackthorns of which the hedge was originally composed remains to be seen.

Green Dock Beetle

Gardadale – Local Walks

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When the Herefordshire Holidaymakers had to cancel their planned summer trip to Lake Garda, due to Covid restrictions and uncertainties, and us with no plans of our own, for the same reasons, the obvious thing to do seemed to be to invite them to join us in Sunny Silverdale instead. Happily, they agreed. We drove home from Towyn to tidy up a bit and inflate some airbeds, whilst they had the more onerous task of returning home, getting all of their washing done and hoping back into their cars for the long drive north.

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In the early part of the week, we even had some half-decent weather, and, I think fairly soon after they had arrived, we had a wander up to the Pepper Pot and then down to The Cove.

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Slowworm.
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TBH insisted that we should have a wander on the sands, which turned out to be quite wet and very sticky. Andy was in new shoes. It seems to me that it’s the destiny of walking shoes to eventually get muddy, but Andy was mortified that his pristine trainers were sullied by Morecambe Bay sludge and complained bitterly at every opportunity for the rest of the week.

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Later in the week, we repeated our favourite route, around the coast to Arnside and back over the Knott. It was raining when we came over the Knott, so I understand why I didn’t take any photos then, but it’s a bit rum that I only took one as we walked around the coast. Probably too busy wittering.
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Knapweed in Clark’s Lot.
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Towards the end of the week, when we walked around Jenny Brown’s Point, the weather was decidedly un-Italian. Still, with good company, you can still enjoy a walk and I quite like some dark clouds when there’s some sunlight to reflect off the sea.
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We finished the week (I think) with another short climb up to the Pepper Pot. It was a lovely week, as always when the Herefordshire Hearties visit. We had a number of trips out too, so more posts to follow.

Gardadale – Local Walks

The Lanes Above Brockholes

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A and TBH walking in the rain.

During the summer, B got a job at the Lake District Visitors’ Centre at Brockholes on the shore of Windermere. It was well-paid, but quite a long way from home. Although he could get there by bus, we often found ourselves giving him lifts – so, when we could, we took advantage of the fact that we were in the lakes and tried to squeeze a walk in too.

This posts covers two such, quite similar, walks, which were about six weeks apart. The first, in early July, was on a day which started wet and got progressively wetter as it went on, and so is only represented by that first photo of A and TBH and their brollies.

In August, TBH and I had a much more promising day.

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Although there were some dark clouds about too.

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The views hereabouts are dominated by Windermere, and are an excellent reminder that you don’t need to climb the high fells to get great views.

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We climbed a little above Robin Lane to sit by this pillar, make and enjoy a brew and soak in the views.

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Coniston and Langdale Fells.
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Wansfell.
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Low Skelghyll.
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Coniston and Langdale Fells again – the Pikes now in view.

Just a couple of hours each, but both memorable and enjoyable outings.

And, for the first time in an age, here’s a tune:

I’ve listened to this song, and to Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers in general, a lot over the last two years. Hope you enjoy it.

And our time is right now, now we can do anything we really want to.
Our time is now, here in the morning of our lives.

The Lanes Above Brockholes

Walney Island to Ulverston

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At the ‘start’.

Another section of the Moecambe Bay Cycleway. B deigned to join TBH and I. We caught the train to Barrow, planning to cycle back towards home, possibly as far as Grange – which turned out to be more than a bit optimistic. We were lucky with the train – at Grange we saw other cyclists being turned away, which must have been very frustrating if you had already bought a ticket. The top photo shows TBH and B at the northern terminus of the MBC, on the western coast of Walney Island – so although this is ‘the start’ we had already cycled here from Barrow Station.

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Common Mallow.
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A wind farm out to the west.

I’d been a little worried that the route through Barrow might be a bit hard to find, but I needn’t have been concerned, since it was well sign-posted.

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Barrow Docks.

The Pacific Grebe, seen here, is a nuclear fuel carrier, perhaps not so surprising given the proximity of Sellafield power station to Barrow.

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Black Combe and Western Fells across Cavendish Dock.
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Off-road cycling between Roosecote Sands and Cavendish Dock.

It was a gloomy day, but the views were fine and, at this point, the cycling was both off-road and flat and so nice and easy.

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Drinker Moth caterpillar (I think).
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Rampside Leading Light – The Needle.

We’ve often driven past ‘The Needle’ before, usually on our way to Roa Island and/or Piel Island (where they’re currently on the lookout for a new ‘King and Queen’ or, more prosaically, tenants for the local pub – if you’re interested). The Needle is the only surviving leading light of 13 built in the Barrow area in 1875 to guide shipping.

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Looking across Cartmel Sands.
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B was, as ever, ‘starving’ – he is a growing lad after all – and was very pleased to spot this little kiosk. TBH and I had cups of tea, whilst he tucked into half a dozen freshly fried doughnuts.

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Doughnut stop.

Shortly after this stop, we turned inland and followed an undulating route through a series of tiny villages. Once again, I ought to have taken more photos than I did – of the large duck pond in the middle of Leece for example, or of Gleaston Watermill: not to worry, it just means I shall have to go back, perhaps when the sun is shining. I did feel compelled to stop to photograph Gleaston Castle:

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Gleaston Castle.

Built in the 12th Century and possibly never finished, the castle is not open to the public and is in a parlous state apparently.

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The view from Birkrigg Common to the Lake District Fells.

We called in at Conishead Priory, now a Buddhist meditation centre, hoping to buy lunch, but settled for drinks since, bizarrely, TBH couldn’t get anything vegan. Well, B did have some sandwiches, but he is a growing lad after all. MapMyWalk tells me that there were roughly 300m of ascent on this route, which doesn’t seem like that much, but I found it exhausting. When B declared that his knee was playing him up, I was only too pleased to magnanimously concede that we could cut our route short and catch the train home if he insisted.

We haven’t as yet attempted the next section of the MBC, between Ulverston and Grange. On the map, it looks far hillier than any of the parts we have done to date. One for next summer – but perhaps we shall have to build up to it.

Walney Island to Ulverston

June. Well, Most of it.

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Cotton-grass at Foulshaw Moss

The year is almost up and the blog is stuck in June. So….better get a shift on.

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Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.

First off, some shots from an evening to Foulshaw Moss when A was dancing.

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An Orb-weaver Spider, possibly a Larinioides cornutus female.
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The limestone hills of home across Morecambe Bay.

Next door neighbour and all-round good-egg BB was interested in our ebikes; I suggested he borrow one and join me for a trip. We cycled to Morecambe. As you can see, the weather was fantastic, but there was a strong wind blowing, unusually, from the South, so that cycling along the Prom was an uphill struggle. The compensation was that on our way back again we felt like we had wings. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of our memorable refreshment stops, at the Hest Bank for a pint on our outward trip and at The Royal in Bolton-le-Sands for a lovely meal and a couple more ales in their sunny beer garden.

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Bike maintenance BB style.
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Choppy waves from the end of the Stone Jetty in Morecambe. Lake District Fells beyond.
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X-Ray and TBH in Clarke’s Lot.

Old friend X-Ray visited to catch up. It was very grey day, but we dragged him out for our usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point anyway.

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Warton Crag and Clougha Pike beyond.
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Another Foulshaw Moss view.

Another taxi-Dad trip to Foulshaw Moss. Things have moved on since then – A has passed her driving test and doesn’t need any more lifts to Milnthorpe. I shall need a new excuse to visit Foulshaw Moss.

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Sedge Warbler (I think).
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Foxglove.
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Birch Polyp.
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Azure Damselfly.
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Green Lacewing, possibly Chrysopa perla.
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Crane Fly.
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TBH cycling past the visitor centre at Leighton Moss.

Finally, a shorter bike ride with TBH which took us to Holme and back via some very quiet lanes. It almost went horribly wrong when I made the mistake of leaving TBH a little behind (she having chosen not to use an ebike) and she, inexplicably, took a left turn, even though I’d mentioned the fact that we would go through Yealand Redmayne. It all worked okay in the end, after a few puzzling moments and a bit of cycling back and forth looking for each other.

A couple more June bike rides to follow… eventually.

June. Well, Most of it.

Whit Week

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Horseshoe Vetch

For our Whit week half-term break we were joined by our old friends from Herefordshire and also by Jay-D, who was without her girls. The kids are all growing up and I’m afraid we might have to get used to holidays without them.

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Ramsons

We didn’t stray too far on this holiday – lots of local walks; lots chats and cups of tea before, during and after said walks. So with good friends to walk with, I took photos of….flowers…

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Orchids and Buttercups on The Lots
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Jay-D and TBF on The Lots.

Oh, and when we stopped for a brew near Jenny Brown’s Point, I took a photo, not of the assembled crew, but of my stove…

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A stove!

…a much appreciated hand-me-down from Andy.

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Morecambe Bay and Grange from Jack Scout.

When we stopped for ice-creams at Gibraltar Farm (they make their own), did I take a photo of

(a) Family and friends enjoying their ice-creams?

(b) Caravans?

Judge for yourselves…

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Gibraltar Farm campsite.

TBH has been warning me about my misanthropy for years. Faulty wiring upstairs I expect.

Later, when we repaired to ‘the dip’ for snacks and a mild bit of boozing, I did manage to get some people in shot as well as the fire…

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A beach bonfire.
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The empties cans were upcycled as targets in a game of stone-throwing which I enjoyed immensely. Simple pleasures, always the best.

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Last of the light.
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The schilla slope on Arnside Knott.

We had a wander around to Arnside.

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Herb Paris in Redhill Woods.

I missed the return over the Knott. B was completing a DofE expedition and needed picking up from the Park Quarry car park on Hutton Roof. With hindsight, I set off far too early.

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Forest of Bowland from Hutton Roof

Early enough to have time for an ascent of Hutton Roof crags. The views were very hazy, but it was a fine walk none-the-less.

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Early Purple Orchids on Hutton Roof.
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TBF sashaying around on a scooter.

A fair bit of the holiday was actually spent lazing about at home, in the kitchen or the garden. Playing Kubb and Basketball. And messing about with B’s scooter, which TBF particularly took to.

Many things have been deferred, postponed, put-on-hold or just plain cancelled this year, so this week, simple though it was, came as a great relief. Thank goodness for old friends – even if they won’t pose for photos!

Andy’s posts about his visit, with more photos of people but less flowers, are here and here.

Whit Week

Thirty Photos in Search of an Author.

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The Bay and Grange from Middlebarrow W

Unusually, for my recent posts, all of these photos are from a single lazy local walk, a few miles spaced out over several hours, during which I took lots of photos and stopped for several brews.

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Bugle.
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Sun-dappled path through Middlebarrow Wood.
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Mayflowers.
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Arnside Tower doorway.
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The view from Arnside Tower over Silverdale Moss to Beetham Fell.
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Green Hellebore in Middlebarrow Wood.
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I don’t think I’ve noticed the large size of the seeds which develop inside the flowers.
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Sweet Woodruff.
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Herb Paris.
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Reed beds at Silverdale Moss.
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Paddock near Far Waterslack.
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Buttercups.
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Daisies (of the Galaxy?)
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Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill.

Quite clever of this tiny flower to incorporate both the names of two birds and two hyphens in its name.

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Heading towards Hawes Water.
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A swimmer.

I managed quite a bit of swimming this summer, but am still jealous of this solitary bather, since I’ve never swum in Hawes Water. It’s quite hard to see how you could get in through the reeds, although a couple of the houses on Moss Lane have private jetties.

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Bird’s-eye Primroses growing in some of the cleared land. Vindication of Natural England’s tree-felling policy?
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Femal Mallard.
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Tadpoles and fish in the stream between Little Hawes Water and Hawes Water.
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Azure Damselfly (I think).
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Bluebells, Gait Barrows.
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Limestone Pavement, Gait Barrows
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Angular Solomon’s-Seal growing in a grike.
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Looking towards Trowbarrow from a brew stop.
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Eaves Wood.
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Inman Oaks.
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Blue Tit. I watched blue tits going in and out of this fissure last spring. I wonder of it was the same pair nesting this year?
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This Nuthatch was also in-and-out, of a neighbouring tree, presumably bringing food to a nest.
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Male Blackbird on our garden wall.
Thirty Photos in Search of an Author.

Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.

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TBH in Bottoms Wood

A post to take me a bit further through May. These first six photos were all taken on the same Sunday. I was out for an early walk with TBH, then took B to rugby training in Kirkby, a chance for another brief wander, and finally had a short stroll, which took a long time, around Gait Barrows.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale
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Herb Paris in the woods at Gait Barrows
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A pair of Duke of Burgundy butterflies

Obviously, Duke of Burgundy butterflies are like buses; I’ve waited years to see one, then two come along at once. Seeing me with my camera, a fellow enthusiast asked if I was looking for Duke of Burgundies? And when I replied; ‘That would be nice’, he pointed out where I could find a pair on one of the ropes which cordoned off the path.

“Hurry,” he said, “I’ve been watching them there for 45 minutes. I don’t know how much longer they’ll stay.”

Long enough for me to take lots of almost identical photos! What surprised me was how tiny they were – this is a really diminutive species of butterfly. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found them so hard to spot? They didn’t move at all, so intent on mating were they, so I didn’t get to see their upperwings. Maybe next May.

Duke of Burgundy butterflies are seriously in decline. Here’s the distribution map:

You can see that our population is very much an isolated North-Western outpost. The wonderful Back On Our Map project (BOOM!) are aiming to reintroduce or spread a number of rare species in the area, including Dormice and possibly Pine Martens. At Gait Barrows huge efforts have been made to encourage Primroses and Cowslips which are the food-plants of the Duke of Burgundy caterpillars.

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Big skies over Gait Barrows
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Iridescent clouds above Farleton Fell.

Here’s a curious phenomena which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before – rainbow colours in the sky, but not in a rainbow arc. Sadly, none of the photos I took showed the colours very clearly, but you can just about see them here in this enhanced shot. Fascinating to see; due to tiny ice-particles diffracting the light apparently.

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Another view of Farleton Fell.

One evening whilst A was at a dance lesson, I made a first visit to Hale Moss nature reserve. There were lots of snails and a few Bird’s-eye Primroses dotted about the boggy open ground.

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Hale Moss.
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Holly Blue butterfly, photographed in the grounds at work.

Not much more to say about that one. Not the first Holly Blue I’ve seen, but the first I’ve seen locally. Probably, I think because they’re another small butterfly, and because they tend to fly quite high in the tree-tops.

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Reed Bunting at Foulshaw Moss.
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Male Great-spotted Woodpecker (the females don’t have the red patch on their nape)
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Two male Redpolls.
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Foulshaw Moss.

I was standing on the raised platform at Foulshaw Moss which gives great views over the wetland, when a large white bird flew directly overhead from behind me. By the time I’d got my camera pointing in the right direction, the bird had already travelled a long way, but it was still obviously an Osprey.

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Osprey

The Wildlife Trust had webcams stationed over the nest at Foulshaw and through the spring and early summer I periodically watched the adults and then the chicks. Still special to see the bird ‘in the flesh’ though.

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Osprey being harried by a Crow.
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Perched Osprey.
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Two more views of Foulshaw Moss.
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Sedge Warbler.

This bird was bobbing about in the reeds beneath the platform, singing enthusiastically. I think the prominent eye-stripe makes this a Sedge Warbler. I took lots of photos, but none were quite as sharp as I would have liked.

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And finally, this also flew overhead that same evening whilst I was at Foulshaw Moss – ironically, I think that this is an Osprey too: a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The rotors tilt so that it can take off, land and manoeuvre like a helicopter, but also fly like a plane. But what is an American military aircraft doing flying over Cumbria? Well, RAF Alconbury, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Menwith Hill, RAF Croughton – all US run bases in the UK apparently. None of them are near here, but I guess it must have come from one of them? Good to know that we’re still living in Airstrip One. When will we be ‘taking back control’ of military bases on our ‘sovereign’ territory? Don’t hold your breath.

Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.