I Like Birds

20200321_154208

Daffodils at Far Arnside.

These photos are all from the weekend in March after schools in England all closed for an indefinite period. So, strictly speaking, a couple of days before the lockdown arrangements came into force. The week before had been pretty frantic at work, trying to get everything organised for the new arrangements before we were all sent home, so it was great just to get out and relax and enjoy the obvious signs of spring.

20200321_154218

20200321_154300

And Green Hellebore.

20200321_160031

TBH on the coast path.

From Far Arnside, TBH and I climbed up to Heathwaite and then returned home.

On the Sunday I had a wander down to Heald Brow in the morning and then walked round Jenny Brown’s Point with TBH in the afternoon – a fairly similar walk.

P1260014

Crows.

P1260016

Heald Brow.

P1260031

I’m pretty sure this Bumble-bee was a queen: only queens survive the winter and then can be seen in early spring searching for a site for a new nest. They nest is cavities, apparently abandoned mouse holes being a favourite. I watched this one wandering around in the moss for quite some time. I’m not very adept at identifying bees but I think this might be a White-tailed  Bumble-bee, Bombus Lucorum.

The very hairy leaves around the bee are Mouse-ear-hawkweed. The fauna surveys which I’ve helped with in recent years are definitely having an impact on my recall of trivia like that. The bizarre thing is how chuffed I was to recognise the leaves and know that the flowers would be appearing soon (coming to a blog near you!)

P1260033

Last year Heald Brow was my go to spot for Primroses, but on this occasion I couldn’t find many flowering and wandered around rather aimlessly trying to work out where they’d all gone.

P1260037

For the most part, the Blackthorn flowers were just clusters tight little buds, but in places…

P1260035

…they were open and looking magnificent.

P1260039

Lichen.

P1260040

I have an endless supply of blurred photographs of Long-tailed Tits. Even more than other species of tits, they seem to be constantly on the move, bobbing about with a frustrating knack of moving just as the camera shutter opens (or whatever equivalent activity takes place inside a digital camera).

P1260041

So I was happy when this one decided to pose for a couple of photos.

P1260043

I heard something on the radio recently, and I can’t remember the source, sorry, but apparently, because their vision extends into the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, the blue on the head of a male Blue Tit is an iridescent spectacle for other Blue Tits.

This episode of Radiolab, about how animals see colours, and in particular the visual acuity of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp, is absolutely fascinating.

At Woodwell…

P1260053

This very vigorous plant, which I don’t recognise…

P1260046

…caught my eye. It remains a mystery – I shall have to keep an eye out to see if it flowers at some point. I’d been checking on Woodwell periodically anyway, waiting for the reappearance of minnows after they were wiped out here by the hot summer of 2018, which dried the pool out completely. The good news is that they’re back; the bad news that the photos I took of them are all a bit useless.

P1260060

Ramsons or Wild garlic in Bottoms Wood. Around this time, it may even have been on that weekend, I saw a group of four people squatting in the woods here, stuffing black bin bags full of Ramson leaves. I presumed they were intending to supply a restaurant somewhere. Either that, or they really love Wild Garlic Pesto, who knows?

P1260062

I love the colour and form of emerging Sycamore leaves, and who can resist the cheeriness of…

P1260065

…Celandines.

Unlike Long-tailed Tits, Robins are often happy to sit still and pose for a portrait. I usually crop my bird photos, but was close enough to this Robin that I didn’t feel the need in this case…

P1260067

I probably took a dozen photos of this Robin. There always comes a point, when I’m photographing Robins, when the Robin turns its head on one side and stares straight at me, as if to check whether I might be a threat or not…

P1260069

And, as often as not, then continues to ignore me and sing…

P1260070

20200322_170418

Warton Crag from Heald Brow.

20200322_172104

A newish footpath sign at Jenny Brown’s cottages. Rather handsome I thought.

In a comment, Andy has, I think unwittingly, challenged me to make a Lockdown playlist, which is exactly the kind of game I like to play. Challenge accepted. If you know Eels marvellous album ‘Daisies of the Galaxy’, then the post title will have been a dead give away:

I’m more than a bit surprised that I haven’t used this song before.

I Like Birds

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.

20200217_095423

Daffodils on the bank on Cove Road.

20200217_095433

Primroses in the same spot.

February half-term brought lots more rain. I know it did, because I remember the flooding…

20200217_134012

View from by Arnside Tower of the flooding by Black Dyke.

…and how it steadily got worse. But I have lots of photos showing blue skies and sunshine.

20200217_135120

Arnside Knott.

The explanation for that apparent contradiction is simple: because the weather was poor it seemed a bit pointless to drive anywhere to walk, but there were pleasant interludes between the storms and, being at home, I was poised to take advantage of them.

20200217_135604

The flooding extends into the woods.

20200217_135927

Scarlet Elf Cup.

20200218_094352

Eaves Wood.

20200218_094129

Because of the extensive flooding of Silverdale Moss and the adjoining fields between the railway line and Arnside Tower Farm, the circuit around Middlebarrow and Eaves Wood became a bit of a favourite – and has remained so actually.

Not that I neglected my other favourite local wanders…

20200218_174744

Sunset from the Cove.

20200221_151322

Chickens!

20200221_161400

Woodwell.

20200221_161325

The path near Woodwell, flowing well.

20200221_163934

Lambert’s Meadow. You can just about make out the new bridge in the foreground – it was thoroughly submerged.

20200222_095719

Arnside Tower.

But I kept coming back past the tower to see the expanding lake below its slightly elevated position.

20200222_095734

The flooding again – it was getting wider every day.

Until, this day, when I met a former colleague who was out walking her dog and chuckling to herself as I approached.

“You’ll need wellies”, she explained, glancing at my shoes.

20200222_101655

Flooded woodland.

20200222_101950

Including over the path.

I managed to get dry-shod past the flooded section of path, but it was surprisingly difficult to do so.

20200222_105937

Flotsam at the Cove.

20200223_091107

Eaves Wood.

20200224_130354

My first attempt at Pain de Campagne. Sadly, it didn’t taste like the wonderful bread we bought in France, but it was still very palatable.

20200224_141825

Daffodil at Far Arnside.

I had a stroll over to Far Arnside to check on the wild daffodils there, but only a few were  open.

20200224_141933

Green Hellebore at Far Arnside.

The Green Hellebore was all flowering though, in several patches on both sides of the path – I can’t decide if it has spread or if I just missed all but the largest patch on previous visits.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember what else we did during half-term, aside from me making bread and getting out for local walks. I’m sure we did do other things, but if I didn’t photograph it…..Oh – we decorated B’s room, that occupied a fair deal of time. In the process, I discovered the Radiolab podcast which does science, history, human nature, all of it in a very engaging way. Perfect for when we have time on our hands, you’d think, which makes it all the more inexplicable that I haven’t listened to any episodes for a few weeks. Actually, I think that’s because I got into the habit of listening to it when I was doing boring quotidian tasks – ironing, painting, etc none of which I’ve been doing much of over the last few weeks.

This pattern of frequent local walks over ground which is very familiar, to both myself and regular visitors to this blog, has continued after half-term, particularly since schools were closed and I have been working from home. Which gives me a bit of a dilemma as to how to organise forthcoming posts. I can’t write a post per walk, since then I will never catch up. I don’t think I have the mental capacity to organise the posts thematically, so I shall probably just amalgamate several walks into a single post as I have done here. Anyway, I’ve taken an awful lot of photos, so there will have be some sort of selection process. Gird yourselves.

Lady Love, Robin Trower. The British Jimi Hendrix apparently. I thought we’d adopted Hendrix anyway. Great tune regardless – dig that Cow Bell!

One upside of working from home is that I can listen to music whilst I’m working. I’ve been listening to things I only have on vinyl and haven’t played for years. This one dates back to a compilation album my parents bought me for Christmas when I was a nipper. I remembered how much I liked the compilation, but had forgotten how magnificent this song is.

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

The Green – Woodwell – Gibraltar Farm – Jack Scout – Jenny Brown’s Point – Fleagarth Wood – Woodwell – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack

P1240245

On the Friday of half-term my mum and dad were travelling home. Later in the afternoon I got out for a walk, I suspect my brother was with me and possibly TBH, but, to be honest, I can’t really remember.

I do remember that this calf…

image

…had clearly only just been born.

P1240246

The Bay, Humphrey Head, Grange and the distant Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

P1240247

Quicksand Pool.

P1240254

Post-sunset sky from The Cove.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

Half-term Happenings: Warton Crag

image

On the Tuesday of the half-term week my brother took his kids to Kendal to see how far his Swiss Francs would go in British shops. (The answer being a very long way.)

image

TBH had some reason to pop to Carnforth so I sponged a lift part of the way. She dropped me by the limekiln on the Low Road. From there a path climbs to the High Road. It’s a path I rarely use because the only way to get there is from a fairly busy road, so this was a good opportunity to reacquaint myself with this, albeit short, section of local footpath.

image

King Alfred’s Cakes on a tree-stump.

From the High Road I took another path I don’t often use, which wends its way up to the top of Warton Crag.

image

It was quite gloomy over the Bay, but the view from the Crag is always worth the climb.

image

Warton Crag Beacon.

Whilst I often head north to climb Arnside Knott, it’s much less often that I find myself walking up the Crag. There are various sound reasons for that fact, but the bizarre thing is that I find myself feeling guilty for neglecting the Crag, as if it were an old friend to whom I’m showing a cold-shoulder. I have to remind myself that Warton Crag, site of a some sort of Bronze Age settlement, made of limestone laid down beneath a shallow, warm, pre-historic sea and subsequently scoured by glaciers, is probably not overly bothered by my choices!

image

Down at Barrowscout Field the reeds had been cut and the trimmings burned; hence the smoke drifting across the photo above.

image

I returned home via Quaker Stang, where there was evidence of a recent spring tide, then Heald Brow, Woodwell and Bottom’s Wood.

The following day we went Go-Karting on an indoor track in Preston, which was great fun, but unfortunately I have no photos of the action to share. Anyway, the boys were both quicker than me, so the less said about that the better.

Half-term Happenings: Warton Crag

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.

P1230826

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….

P1230830

…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…

P1230832

…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…

P1230835

P1230838

The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

P1230847

In Eaves Wood.

P1230848

P1230852

In Burtonwell Wood.

P1230854

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.

P1230862

Heald Brow.

P1230864

Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

P1230871

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.

P1230870

Ragwort.

P1230875

P1230880

Dandelion.

P1230881

Gorse.

P1230882

P1230884

Daisy.

P1230889

Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

P1230894

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…

P1230903

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.

P1230904

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

P1230907

…exquisitely ochre fungi.

P1230909

Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

P1230910

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.

P1230911

P1230915

Jack Scout.

P1230919

P1230924

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.

P1230927

P1230928

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.

P1230929

P1230931

P1230932

Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

P1230934

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.

P1230942

Next time will have to do.

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

New Year Floral Survey

Exploding Kittens

Untitled

The Cove on Boxing Day.

We spent Christmas at home here in Silverdale. My mum and dad and my brother and his family came to stay for the week. We packed a fair bit in: walks, turkey, stuffing, lots of games, trampolining (well, not all of us), a trip to the flicks, turkey pie, a get together with two of our cousins and their families, a take-away curry (no turkey in sight), more games, more walks, far too much chocolate etc.

The very serious expressions here…

image

…don’t really convey how funny the card game Exploding Kittens is to play. We also played: Fives-and-Threes, One-armed Pete, Mexican Train (all dominoes), Camel Super Cup, Code Names (picture version), Tension, Caboodle, Pictionary, and probably several others which I have temporarily forgotten.

My own current favourite of the new games we bought each other is Kingdomino which we’ve played quite a bit since Christmas and which, especially with just two players, really makes you think, whilst being easy to understand and quick to play.

image

At the Pepper Pot on Christmas Day.

On Boxing Day we had a fairly long walk, about 5 miles, to the cove, across the Lots, through Bottom’s Wood to Woodwell, along the clifftop path to the Green, through Burtonwell Wood to the rift cave, on to The Row and home through Eaves Wood.

Untitled

The weather started bright, but rain clouds were building and, whilst we didn’t get wet, it did cloud over. Still, a lovely stroll and there was more to come…

Exploding Kittens

The Wells of Silverdale

P1100396

There’s something very satisfying about a hand drawn map, don’t you think? This one is from a leaflet; one from my collection of leaflets detailing local walks, which I have acquired over the years and keep filed away on a shelf. I dug it out because I wanted to compare it with this map…

P1100397

Which is from ‘Old Silverdale’ by Rod J. Ireland, which I bought last week, a little birthday present to myself, and which I’ve been poring over ever since. This map shows more wells than the first. At some point, I shall have to see if I can find any trace of the additional wells shown. But on this occasion I contented myself with following the route shown in the leaflet.

 

P1100398

Cheery Dandelions.

P1100399

Cheery Celandines.

P1100401

Elmslack Well.

Yes, I realise that it’s actually a bin. But I’m told that it’s on the site of the old well.

P1100402

Inman’s Road.

P1100403

Not wells, I know, but these tanks formerly collected and supplied water to Hill House, now the Woodlands pub, so they seem relevant. Mains water arrived in the area in 1938 (there’s still no mains sewers). Until then the wells would obviously have been important. Also many houses had tanks on the roof which collected rain water.

P1100404

This photo is the best I managed from a satisfyingly close encounter with ‘the British bird of paradise‘, or more prosaically, a Jay. The Jay moved from branch to branch, but unusually, stayed in sight and not too far away. Sadly, never long enough for me to get any half decent photos.

P1100405

This squirrel was more obliging.

P1100409

Wood Anemones.

The Toothwort beside Inman’s Road is much taller than it was, but already beginning to look a bit tatty and past its best.

P1100414

P1100420

P1100422

More Wood Anemones.

P1100423

Chaffinch.

P1100424

P1100426

Dogslack Well.

P1100427

P1100432

Comma butterfly.

P1100435

Bank Well.

P1100434

The light was stunning and making everything look gorgeous.

P1100436

Coot chick.

Well, almost everything. This is the kind of face that only a mother could love, surely?

P1100440

Lambert’s Meadow.

P1100448

I like to think that this is a Raven, sitting atop a very tall tree, regally surveying the meadow and the surrounding woodland. But none of the photos show the shaggy throat which is supposed to make it easy to distinguish between Ravens and Crows. So, I’m not sure.

P1100450

Burton Well

P1100453

The pond at Woodwell.

There are newts at Woodwell. We hardly ever see them. But today, not only did I see one, but I managed to train my camera on it…

P1100454

Blast!

P1100455

Golden Saxifrage.

P1100456

Woodwell.

P1100462

The Ramsons in Bottom’s Wood are looking particularly verdant, but no sign yet of any flowers. On the verge of Cove Road, near to the Cove, the flowers are already on display. The flowers always seem to appear there first.

P1100463

Cherry blossom.

P1100464

Jackdaw.

P1100468

Song Thrush.

P1100473

Nuthatch.

On the Lots there were Starlings and Pied Wagtails foraging on the ground.

P1100487

Crow – the second evening in a row when a crow has been perched on this branch.

P1100492

Pied Wagtail.

It was one of those magical days when lots of birds seemed content to sit still and be photographed. Lots, but not all. The Buzzards were flying above the small copse above the Cove. I watched them through the trees as, once again, they both flew in to perch on a tree at the far side of the wood. This time it was the same tree in which a Tawny Owl obligingly posed for a photo one evening some years ago. They were tantalisingly close, maybe I could get some good photos?

But when I switched on my camera, what did I notice, much closer to hand…

P1100496

…a pair of Nuthatches.

P1100499

Since I learned to recognise the slightly monotonous song of Nuthatches, I’ve come to realise how very common they are in this area. And I spot them much more often than I used to. As a boy, these were an exotic rarity to me, and fortunately their ubiquity has done nothing to reduce the thrill I still feel when I see them.

P1100500

One of the pair sat and pruned itself for quite some time and I took lots of photos before eventually turning my attention back to the tree where the Buzzards…

P1100505

…were no longer perched.

I scanned other trees for a while, and then, just as I reluctantly gave up on the idea of seeing the Buzzards again, there they were, not in a tree, but in the adjacent field, one on the ground and the other sat on a dry-stone wall, and showing to much better advantage than before. But before I took any photos, they were off again.

P1100507

Starling.

P1100508

Bullfinch.

P1100514

Morecambe Bay.

P1100521

Blackbird – in almost the same spot as the night before.

P1100525

Five for silver.

P1100531

It was getting a bit dark for bird photos at this point, but this Goldfinch was behaving in a way which I’ve noticed a couple of times recently; it was singing, swivelling sharply through ninety degrees singing again, then back and so on. The precision of it seemed quite aggressive, but at the same time, pretty comical.

P1100539

The leaflet says that this walk is ‘about four miles’, but although I’d skipped the out and back to Bard’s Well on the shore, The Move App was telling me that I’d walked five miles. And despite the Jay, the Newt and the Buzzards all evading my camera, this had been a very satisfying five miles.

The Wells of Silverdale