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.
Quite clever of this tiny flower to incorporate both the names of two birds and two hyphens in its name.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A post to cover the first half of May, excepting for a weekend walk with friends which I’m saving for a separate post. These first couple of photos are from a wander around Gait Barrows. There was actually a pair of Buzzards soaring overhead. I took lots of photos whilst not straying too far from cover, because I’m very wary of Buzzards in the spring and summer.
I went to Foulshaw frequently, sometimes on consecutive evenings. It was often quite cool by the time I got there. Sometimes I did see the butterflies and dragonflies which I’d hoped to see, but rarely managed to get any photographs.
I think I saw at least one Reed Bunting during every visit. I even started to recognise their song.
…is on display in the hide by the bird feeders. Why did I take a photo of it – purely vanity! – some of the photos on it are mine, from the blog. Fame at last!
Although I always had a wander around first, on many of my visits I ended up sitting in that hide and photographing birds on and by the feeders for quite some time.
Initially, when I noticed this Water Rail, I quickly snapped a couple of photos, thinking, for some reason, that it was a Moorhen. I suppose the shape and the beak are similar, but otherwise there’s little resemblance. Then, when it dawned on me what I was looking at, I turned my attention from the feeders to the Water Rail beneath them. I’ve occasionally seen Water Rail before, at Leighton Moss, when the meres were frozen over. But only briefly. I’ve more often heard them: they make an extraordinary racket, squealing like pigs. I’ve never photographed one before. I assumed that I was incredibly lucky, but a couple of visits after this one, I was talking to a lady who told me: “Oh, he’s always there.” And on another visit, a Wildlife Trust volunteer told me that he thought that Water Rails were becoming less shy and are now often seen beneath feeders in various wetland reserves.
Oh well, I was still very chuffed to have had such a good view of what has always been a very elusive bird.
This photo was my attempt to emulate an amazing photo of these orchids which I’d seen online. At the time that I took it, I was disappointed with it, because it’s not a patch on the photo which inspired it, but with hindsight I rather like it – it does at least hint at the profusion of orchids on that area of The Lots.
I haven’t ventured out on the hills on my own all that much this year. Of course, we were supposed to stay ‘local’, what ever that meant, for quite some time, then those restrictions were relaxed, but I don’t seem to have got back into the habit somehow. This walk, on the sprawling moors of Baugh Fell being the notable exception. It began inauspiciously, in the parking area just off the Sedbergh to Kirkby Stephen road, south of Rawthey Bridge, with low cloud obscuring the Howgill Fells and a light drizzle falling. I was heading for the path which cuts across the slopes of Bluecaster heading into the upper reaches of the River Rawthey.
Along the path I leap-frogged a group of three who had set-off from the same parking spot just before me. They were the last people I would see for quite some time.
The waters of all of the streams which feed into the Rawthey ultimately end up in the Lune, and so fall under the remit of my Lune Catchment project. On the map, Needlehouse Gill and Uldale Gill look like an interesting alternative way up onto Wild Boar Fell. Whin Stone Gill, on the other hand, skirts Holmes Moss Hill, one of the boggiest places I have ever walked, so I might be leaving that one for a while!
Anyway, sticking with the Rawthey, as I continued upstream I passed a series of small cascades, including this one…
Behind which, through the trees, you can just about make out Uldale Force, contained within it’s own little amphitheatre.
It’s not Yorkshire Dales tallest, widest, or most spectacular waterfall, but it’s a smashing spot. At the back of my mind, when I’d planned this walk, I’d been thinking that I might manage a brief dip in the pool at the bottom of the fall, but it was still a bit damp, and quite cool, so I reluctantly abandoned that idea.
I took solace instead in the abundance of Primroses growing on the far bank – this photo just shows one small section of an absolute mass of flowers.
From Uldale Force, it’s necessary to climb up above the river and it’s steep banks for a while, but I soon rejoined the watercourse further up.
The Rawthey passes through a rocky little ravine for a while, where progress was quite slow, as I crossed and recrossed the stream. (Somewhere, the River Rawthey becomes plain old Rawthey Gill.)
At some point the sun had come out. I came across a rather tempting little pool and hatched a new plan: make a brew, swim whilst the tea cooled a bit, get out and drink the brew to warm up. Perfect. Or it would have been had I remembered to pack a gas canister. So I abandoned that plan in a fit of pique.
At Rawthey Gill Foot, (perhaps where the name change occurs?) the landscape opens up and the feeling of space is immense. This would prove to be a feature of the day.
As I climbed and the slopes on either side of the Rawthey began to rise again and enclose the gill, I came across a series of delightful little pools, just about large enough for a dip.
I’m pretty sure this…
…is the one I swam in, not that there was room for more than a couple of strokes. What was it like? It was the first of May, so it was pretty bracing, but the sun was shining, the views were great and there was absolutely nobody about, so I enjoyed it immensely.
Would have liked a cup of tea afterwards though.
All of the streams hereabouts look like they would repay exploration. It would be good, in dry weather, to camp in the vicinity of Rawthey Gill Foot and have a proper explore. Some of the streams drain the other way, down into Grizedale, and into the Clough River, but that’s another tributary of the Lune, so it’s a win win from my point of view.
Plodding up the stream I was really in my element – following a watercourse into the hills has always been a favourite occupation of mine. Progress can be slow, but there always seemed to be another little fall just around the corner to keep me entertained.
As I approached the top of the gill, I was careful to keep left at every opportunity, thinking that would have me emerging onto the plateau of Baugh Fell near to the East Tarns. I must have left it too late to turn left however, so that I actually came out just below Knoutberry Haw. The ground ahead looked worryingly flat so I cut left where I could see rocks, eventually hitting the ‘ridge’ between Knoutberry Haw and Tarn Rigg Hill.
Now I had a view to the south, of familiar hills from a very unfamiliar direction.
There was a couple by the trig pillar on Knoutberry Haw. I was so surprised to meet other people that I marched right past without taking a photo of the trig.
You can see that there is a faint path, but it was surprisingly easy to lose.
Incidentally, although the sun was still shining, by now I had donned all of my clothing, including hat, gloves and cag to keep out the biting wind. The idea that I had been swimming a few hours earlier seemed preposterous.
Wild Boar Fell dominated the view all day. It’s far too long since I’ve been up there.
West Baugh Fell was very firm and stony, I can’t imagine that this gets boggy. I was revelling in the space and the light and the emptiness.
I elected to descend directly toward the car, down the shoulder named Raven Thorn on the map. Not my best decision. It was hard going – wet and tussocky. After rain I suspect it would be purgatorial. Eventually, I gave it up as a bad lot and dropped back down to the track I had started the day on.
Right near the end of my walk I met three trails bikers. I was all ready to be disapprovingly cross, when the lead rider popped up his visor, beamed at me and asked me how I was and where I’d been – it was one of B’s rugby team, who lives nearby. It was then that I realised that I don’t know whether to pronounce Baugh as ‘bore’ or ‘bow’ or quite possibly in some other way.
Thirteen miles and a little over 500m of ascent according to MapMyWalk. I once had the bright idea of attempting this walk in an evening after work. I’m glad I didn’t!
As you can see, lots of blue lines draining away from Baugh Fell, and all of them eventually feed into the Lune, so loads of scope for return visits.
The first of May, the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was obviously a bit changeable with some sunshine, but some very dark clouds and showers about too. I managed to eke out 5 miles by walking small loops, returning to the house each time; one through Eaves Wood, one via the Cove and the Lots, and finally which took me to Woodwell.
I’m always happy to spot the mauve flowers of Coralroot. I knew that it probably wasn’t native to this area, but didn’t realise just how rare it is in the UK.
This last photo was the last of several failed attempts to catch the drama of these dark clouds with one tiny cloud on the right really catching the sun and shining quite brightly. It was quite a sight.
I would be heading out in the direction of the Howgills the following day.
A post to round of the final week of April. The orchid is from and a short Sunday afternoon stroll across The Lots. Earlier in the day I’d had a walk along the Lune with The Tower Captain, whilst our respective lads were training at Underley Park, home of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC.
These last two photos from a lazy evening stroll whilst A was dancing.
The next time she has a lesson, I was more ambitious and drove to park by Leven’s Bridge for a walk by the River Kent.
This circular route was a firm favourite when the kids were younger. It’s around three miles – not too taxing for little legs. Not bad for an evening stroll either.
Later in the walk, I encountered both the Bagot Goats and the Bagot Fallow Deer, both unique to the Levens Deer Park. I took photos of the goats, but it was too dark by then. (This post, from the early days of the blog, has photos of both, and of the boys when they were cute and not towering teenagers)
TBH and I had a half-hour stroll along Morecambe Promenade, prior to picking up B from meeting his friends in Heysham.
Early April, when the branches are mostly bare and the birds are busy mating and nesting is a great time to spot and take photos of birds. This Bullfinch photo is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t taken on a walk, but through our window, by where I was sitting on a Thursday evening.
On the Friday, when I got home from work, having finished for the Easter break, I headed out for a wander round Heald Brow, to the south of the village.
I think someone had been doing some major pruning, because a better view of Hazelwood Hall had opened up from the adjoining Hollins Lane. My interest in the hall is due to the gardens, which I believed to be designed by Lancaster architect Thomas Mawson, although the current Wikipedia entry is slightly confusing on that score and seems to imply, in one section, that in fact Mawson’s son Prentice was responsible, only, later on, to state that it was Mawson himself who designed the garden working with another son Edward.
Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.
On Heald Brow, I noticed a Great-spotted Woodpecker in a very distant tree. I’ve included the photo, rubbish though it is, just to remind myself that I saw it, because, quite frankly, I was chuffed that I could pick it out in the tree-tops.
Likewise this Bullfinch. I know that it’s the second of this post, but I don’t seem to have seen many this year.
The Saturday was a glorious day, a great start to our holidays, so I set-off for Gait Barrows in search of birds and butterflies.
I did take no end of photos of butterflies and other insects and even more of birds, but above all else I took pictures of Primroses which seem to have proliferated all around the reserve.
There were Drone flies everywhere and I took lots of, I suppose, quite pointless photographs of them, but then occasionally what I took to be another Drone Fly would instead transpire to be something more interesting, like this Bee-fly…
I was quite surprised to see this machinery in the woods by Hawes Water, but the path from Challan Hall around to Moss Lane, which is supposed to be wheelchair friendly, had been getting increasingly muddy and Natural England were having it widened and resurfaced, so bully for them.
I can’t really identify lichens and, I think because I can’t, I don’t always pay them the attention they merit. I think this is Ramalina farinacea, but I wouldn’t take my word for it, and, looking again, I think there are probably at least three different lichens in the photo above.
Although it was months ago, I remember my encounter with this Comma butterfly very vividly. It was sunning itself on some limestone, as you can see, and I slowly edged toward it, taking a new photo after each stride. Eventually, I upset it and it moved, finally settling on a nearby tree-trunk, at which point I started edging forward again.
What struck me was that, if I hadn’t seen the Comma land, I don’t think I would have picked it out. Whilst the underside of its wings are drab in comparison to the patterned orange of the upper wings, the underwings are beautifully adapted to conceal the butterfly in a superb imitation of a tatty dead leaf.
…is a warbler. I don’t think it’s a Chiff-chaff, they have a very distinctive song which I can actually recognise, so I can recall getting excited because this had a different song. Sadly, I can’t remember the song at all, and can’t identify which warbler this is without that additional clue.
No such confusion here…
…this is a make Kestrel. I wish I’d managed to capture it in flight when it’s colours looked stunning.
And I suspect that this is a Chiff-chaff…
Though I couldn’t swear to it.
Another mystery here…
…with a bone suspended in a Blackthorn bush. I know that Shrikes impale their prey on the thorns of this tree, but Shrikes are quite small and I think that this bone is probably a bit too big for that. Also, Shrikes are very rare in the UK these days and are not generally seen this far West (although I know that they have occasionally been spotted at Leighton Moss).
I was back at Gait Barrows the following day, but the skies were dull and I didn’t take many photos. On the Monday, I had another local wander, including a visit to The Cove…
The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…
As if to prove my point that working for a living, or at least commuting to work, really gets in the way of enjoying life, my MapMyWalk account shows almost daily walks through January, February and up to the 7th of March. Schools reopened on the 8th and for the next fortnight I don’t seem to have walked very far or very often at all.
Anyway, eventually I started to get out and about again:
Whilst chaffinches seem to be flourishing, I feel like I don’t see nearly as many Greenfinches now as I did even five years ago. Hardly scientific, I know, but worrying none the less.
This one was having a good old spring sing-song. It was one of many birds in evidence in the hedges and trees in the caravan park at Far Arnside, but the only one content to pose for a portrait.
I think this was the walk when I bumped into an old friend and colleague who I hadn’t seen for years. We sat at opposite ends of a bench and had a very long chat. Some of her news was sad, but it was still good to catch up.
As so often on a walk round the coast, it was the sky and the light on the bay which were the stars of the show.
For once I didn’t go all the way around to Arnside, or climb the Knott, but at White Creek doubled back on the higher path which parallels the coastal one and returns to Far Arnside.
In the morning, TBH and I completed our usual Sunday trip around Jenny Brown’s Point.
And the afternoon brought a trip to The Lots.
A Roe Deer buck in the garden. There’s still some fur on his antlers. And his winter coat is looking extremely shabby.
A very grey day, I think. This photo from the Cove is a bit shy of any colour.
He’s back! It looks like he has some bits of moss on his antlers. My guess is that he’s been rubbing them on any available surface in an attempt to remove the itchy bits of skin.
I’m quite surprised by the very red tinge of his antlers. I suppose that’s because they still have a blood supply, although mature antlers, once the covering skin has been shed are dead bone, I think.
Another grey day. Another trip to The Cove…
Blue skies at last! And a high tide in Quicksand Pool.
The Bay is well-known for its rapid tides. On this occasion we watched what looked like some very powerful cross-currents at Jenny Brown’s Point.
Well, I must have gone back to work. I mean physically back to work, rather than working from home. Until March I’d been out for a walk most days, but then the wheels came off. Working for a living is highly inconvenient. Anyway – here’s most of March:
Spring! I’m sure that the celandines had been flowering for a while at this point, and the Cuckoo Pint leaves hadn’t recently appeared on the floor of Eaves Wood…
Maybe it was the blue skies and sunshine which made me pay attention to them. And to the wash of yellow catkins on the Hazel trees.
I do remember showing TBH the tiny red male flowers, like little starfish, on the Hazels, which apparently she hadn’t seen before.
There’s a garden on The Row which has an amazing display of crocuses every year, which I always make a point of going to see.
A walk around Gait Barrows most memorable for this pair of Buzzards. I’ve become very wary (well frightened, if I’m honest) of these birds, having been attacked a few times by highly aggressive/protective tiercels during the nesting season. On the other hand, they are beautiful birds, and I’m drawn to them, like a moth to the flame perhaps. So here, I was gradually creeping towards the tree they were perched in, hoping that it was too early in the year for them to take umbrage, but also half hiding behind a small hummock, the top of which can be seen in the photo.
The light, unfortunately, was a bit rubbish, which doesn’t really square with these two views of Hawes Water…
…which can’t have been taken very long afterwards.
I must have been a bit late leaving the house, since the sun was already setting.
To the Pepper Pot and then The Cove with TBH and ‘Little S’.
One of those days when the a layer of cloud coverage had a very visible edge with clear skies beyond.
A walk around the coast to Arnside for a pie with TBH. No return over the Knott however and not many photos either.
I’m assuming that there followed a couple of weeks of very iffy weather, because I don’t seem to have got out much until later in the month. Or a couple of weeks of extreme lassitude on my part. Or both.