Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

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Warton Crag

Another collection of photos from several local walks. The weather, at this point, was very mixed and there were several days when I didn’t take any photos at all.

A visit to Woodwell yielded lots more photos of newts, although the light was poor and the photos are all decidedly murky.

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A pale newt.

This newt seemed much paler than any of the others. I also thought it looked bloated – a female with eggs to lay?

It certainly was of great interest to other newts. I watched some of them follow it around the pond. Eventually three gathered around it and all of them seemed to be nudging its belly. Just after I took this photo…

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…there was some sort of excitement and the newts all seemed to thrash about and then disperse rapidly.

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Here’s another newt which looks very swollen in its midriff, as does the lefthand one of this pair…

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Small Skipper
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Dryad’s Saddle.
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Comma.
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Mottled Grasshopper – I think.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade Leaves
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Soldier Beetles – making love not war.
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Musk Mallow.
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A Mallow? Perhaps a garden escapee?

Mallows are often quite big plants, but this was low growing and I can’t find anything which comes even close to matching it in ‘The Wildflower Key’.

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Wild Thyme.
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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars.
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Honey Bee on Rosebay Willowherb.
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Red Clover
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Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.
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The Limestone Seat at Jack Scout.

My obsessive compulsive photography of butterflies, even common and rather dull species like Meadow Browns, sometimes pays dividends. This brown butterfly…

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White-letter Hairstreak.

…turned out to be a kind I had never seen before. That’s not entirely surprising since hairstreak species generally live up in the treetops. I wonder if it’s significant that the photograph of this species in the little pamphlet guide to the butterflies of this area also depicts a White-letter Hairstreak feeding on Ragwort?

This Ragwort was in the shade and although the butterfly stayed fairly still and I was able to take lots of photos, I was struggling to get a sharp shot.

Two walkers approached, I assumed, from their respective ages, a father and son. The Dad observed my antics with an arched eyebrow and observed:

“It’s not going to open its wings is it? Not to worry, there’s another one behind you, and it does have its wings on show.”

I turned around to see…

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Small Skipper.

…a Small Skipper. Lovely, but not the once in a blue moon opportunity I had been enjoying. I did find the hairstreak again. It even moved into the sunshine, but then insisted on perching in awkward spots where I couldn’t get a clear view…

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White-letter Hairstreak.
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Traveller’s Joy.
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Toadstools.
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Water Lily.
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Brown-lipped Snail.
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Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

Antlers, Ram’s-horns but no Crests

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A returning Roe Buck?

Last summer we had visits to the garden from a male Roe Deer with lop-sided, asymmetric antlers. This summer it seemed like he had returned. Except the fact that this buck has only single tines on his antlers suggests that he is only one year old and therefore not the same buck that we saw last year. Maybe wonky antlers are a common complaint?

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Is he self-conscious about his unmatching antlers?

At the tail-end of June and into the start of July I made several visits to Woodwell. The recent rains had restored the pond there. The minnows are gone again: it will be interesting to see how soon they reappear.

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Great Ram’s-horn Snail?

I was glad to see that the Ram’s-horn Snails had survived the drought. Britain apparently has several different species of Ram’s-horn Snail but I believe that the others are all much smaller than the Great Ram’s-horn. I was confused by the fact that some of the snails were black and others…

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Definitely a Great Ram’s-horn Snail.

…red. I’d previously read that the red colouring is due to the presence of haemoglobin. But the black snails must surely have haemoglobin too? A little lazy internet research turned up a guide to freshwater aquariums which suggested that the red colour is actually due to a recessive gene. I wonder which is true?

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Newt – Smooth or Palmate?

What kept drawing me back to Woodwell was the presence of numerous newts. I’ve seen them there before from time to time, but never this reliably or in these numbers. Over several visits I took lots of photos – all of which, frankly, are a bit rubbish. Oh well. I enjoyed watching them, so no loss there.

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I’m fairly confident that they aren’t Great-crested Newts, but I’m not at all sure whether they’re Smooth Newts or Palmate Newts. Apparently it’s usually quite difficult to distinguish between the two. During the breeding season, the males of both species develop very distinctive characteristics and it becomes much easier to tell them apart. None of these newts seemed to show those adaptations clearly. Maybe the fact that the pond had dried out had delayed their breeding season. Even if that was the case, they now seemed extremely keen to pursue each other around the pond.

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Having looked at lots of pictures, if I had to stick my neck out, I would say that these are Palmate Newts, but with absolutely no confidence at all. It has occurred to me that it’s possible that both species were present, who knows?

Antlers, Ram’s-horns but no Crests

Home from Carnforth

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Warton and Warton Crag behind.

Long-suffering readers of this blog may remember that there was a time when I worked one afternoon a week in Carnforth and a walk home from there was a weekly part of my commute. These days it’s not something I do very often, which is a shame because it’s a great walk, with numerous route options, all of them enjoyable.

On this occasion, one of the boys bikes need dropping off at the cycle shop for repairs; I can’t remember if this was when B had so completely buckled one of his wheels that it was beyond repair, or when the derailleur on S’s bike broke and his chain fell off.

“I put my chain by the path and somebody stole it!”

Later, when the whole family went to Trowbarrow to look for the ‘stolen’ chain, I asked, “Where exactly did you leave it?”

He pointed. Directly at a broken, black bike chain, which he apparently couldn’t see.

“Did you leave it beside this chain? Or could this be yours?”

“It wasn’t there earlier!”, he was adamant.

Anyway, I saw the opportunity to accompany TBH to the bike shop, and then to walk home afterwards.

After TBH dropped me off, I’d walked across the fields from Millhead to Warton and then climbed up to the Crag Road, where a stile gives access to the top of a lime kiln. The slight elevation of this spot gives some nice views…

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough on the left.

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Warton again and the Bowland Hills on the horizon.

A set of steps lead down beside the lime kiln…

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So I had a wander down…

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…to peer inside.

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Another distant view of Ingleborough.

I followed the limestone edge up to the back of the large quarry car park and then headed on up to the top.

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The Bay from near the top of Warton Crag.

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It was a hot day and I dropped down from the top to my new favourite view point, where tree-clearance has exposed a small crag and some expansive views.

I sat for some time, drinking in the views as well as the contents of my water bottle. A buzzard coasted past. I’d already watched another hovering above the fields near Millhead.

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Foxgloves.

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Male Scorpion Fly. Is it holding a morsel of food?

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Red Admiral.

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A hoverfly – Platycheirus fulviventris – possibly?

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Greenbottles.

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I think that this striking fungi is a very dark specimen of Many-zoned Polypore or Turkeytail fungus. 

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This fungus varies enormously in colour. It generally grows on dead wood and is here devouring a tree stump.

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Dog Rose.

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Honeysuckle.

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Hoverfly – Episyrphus Balteatus.

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I was happily photographing roses and honeysuckle when an orange butterfly flew across the path, almost brushing my face as it passed. I tried to follow its flight, but soon lost it. I assumed it was a fritillary of some kind; I’m always disappointed if they pass without giving me a chance to identify them. Fortunately, a little further down the path, I came across another fritillary feeding on a red clover flower…

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It’s a Dark Green Fritillary, exciting for me because I’ve only seen this species once before.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Cinnabar Moth.

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A white-tailed bumblebee species on a Bramble flower.

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Reflexed Stonecrop.

At Barrow Scout Fields, the gulls were making a fuss; it’s often worth a few moments scrutiny to see what’s upsetting them. I’m glad I stopped this time…

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At first I assumed that I’d spotted a Marsh Harrier with a gull chick, but only one gull gave chase, and that half-heartedly, and the gulls are usually extremely energetic when mobbing the resident harriers. Anyway, I could soon make out that the raptor was carrying quite a large fish. It seemed likely that it was an Osprey, which the photo confirms. It made a beeline northwards, presumably heading back to the nest at Foulshaw Moss, on the far side of the River Kent. The nest has webcams stationed above it and I’ve been following the progress of the nesting pair and their two chicks online, so was doubly pleased to see one of the parent birds with what looks to me like a good sized family take-away.

I’m, intrigued by the fish too. Barrow Scout Fields were three agricultural fields until they were bought by the RSPB in 2000 and restored as wetlands. Have the RSPB stocked the meres they created with fish I wonder, or have fish eggs arrived naturally, on the feet of wading birds for example? Whichever is the case, the fishing Osprey and its large prey are surely testament to the charity’s successful creation and management of this habitat.

I hadn’t moved on from watching the disappearing Osprey, before another drama began to unfold in the skies overhead…

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Two raptors this time, with one repeatedly nose-diving the other. The slightly smaller bird, the aggressor, is a Marsh Harrier, a female I think, which is probably defending a nest in the trees at the edge of Leighton Moss.

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The agility of the other bird, a Buzzard, which repeatedly flipped upside-down so that it could face its attacker, was astonishing.

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I have no sympathy with the Buzzard, since I’ve been subjected to similar dive-bombing attacks by Buzzards on several occasions. This went on for quite some time and I took numerous photos; I was royally entertained.

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Looking across towards Leighton Moss.

I peeked over the bridge here to peer into the dike running alongside the Causeway Road and saw a Water Forget-Me-Not flowering in the middle of the dike. Sadly, it was in deep shade and my photo has not come out too well. I shall have to revisit.

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Yellow Flag Iris.

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Unnamed tributary of Quicksand Pool.

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Spear-leaved Orache.

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Sea Beet, with flowers…

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Both sea beet and orache (in its many guises, there are several British species) are prized as spinach substitutes by foragers. I really must get around to trying them both.

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Quicksand Pool.

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A roof finial (I think that’s the right term) at Jenny Brown’s cottages. I’m surprised I haven’t photographed it before. 

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Speckled Wood butterfly.

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This seemed to be the day which just kept on giving: after the dark green fritillary, the osprey, the aerial battle between the harrier and the buzzard, one last gift – a group of Eider Ducks resting on the sands at the edge of Carnforth Salt Marsh. I’ve seen Eiders here before, but not often. It was a shame they were so far away, but when I tried to get closer they swam away.

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Oystercatchers.

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Quicksand Pool and Warton Crag.

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Looking along the coast to the Coniston Fells.

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Another Dog Rose at Jack Scout.

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Large Skipper female.

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Curled Dock (I think).

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Named for its curly leaves.

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If I’m right, then these flowers will turn red then eventually brown.

Curled Dock is yet another spinach substitute apparently, crammed with vitamins.

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Hedge Woundwort.

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The mystery vigorous plant in Woodwell pond is revealed to be Arum Lily or Calla Lily. 

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A non-native relative of our own Cuckoo Pint – the showy white part is a spathe not petals.

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Close to home and a distant view of the Howgills on the horizon.

A lovely walk of a little under eight miles – who’d believe so much interest could be crammed into one short stroll?


Now, if your patience isn’t completely exhausted, some fishing songs. First up, a tune I’ve always liked:

This one, is actually ‘Sufficient Clothes’ but was released as ‘Fishing Clothes’ after a Lightnin’ Hopkins was misheard.

Listening to it again, it turns out there’s not too much fishing in this one either:

But it is by the late, great Tony Joe White. Seems I don’t actually know many songs about fishing after all.

Home from Carnforth

The Beast In Me

Eaves Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Woodwell

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Focaccia again.

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Nature’s flower arranging: cow parsley, green alkanet and dame’s violet and the odd buttercup.

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Dame’s violet, white flowers, or pink…

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…but can be purple. Much commoner locally than I previously realised.

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Water Avens

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Watercress.

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Valerian.

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Bugle.

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At Woodwell there was a real commotion in the sycamore at the back of this photo. The dispute involved a pair of jays and a crow, all of which had a great deal to say about whatever neighbourly dispute they’d entered into. At first I thought that a nest had been disturbed, but eventually all three birds left, so that seems unlikely.

Initially though the crow and the jays withdrew to neutral trees; the crow affected indifference, but the jays were still keeping a beady eye on the crow.

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I climbed the path which ascends the cliff behind the tree – at this point the jays were still hanging about – but still couldn’t see what it might be that they had so noisily fallen out over.

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I was intrigued by this very vigorous plant, growing in the mud of the pond at Woodwell, since I didn’t recognise it – it’s flowering now, almost a month later, so hopefully I should be able to identify it, when I get around to it.

The pond had very nearly dried out; subsequently it did dry out, so I guess that the minnows, which had recently reappeared having been wiped out by the last long dry spell, will be gone again.


If you like a good cover, and you don’t already know them, then try Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums. I have four of them, although more material from the recordings was released posthumously. There are so many good songs on the albums that it was hard to choose, but here are songs by Depeche Mode, U2, Nick Lowe and Nine Inch Nails, given the unique Johnny Cash sound:

Strictly speaking, ‘The Beast In Me’ isn’t a cover because it was written specifically for Cash. Nick Lowe has recorded the song himself and his version is also great.

If you have 10 minutes, this video…

…has interviews with both Cash and Lowe about the writing of the song, Lowe’s version is quite amusing, and a live performance by Cash in Montreux in 1994.

‘Hurt’ is from the last album released before Johnny Cash died and I think he sounds a little frail on it. It’s a bleak song, and the official video (not the one I’ve posted), taken together with the song, is extremely poignant. I’d recommend it, but only if you’re feeling buoyant.

The Beast In Me

Rain?

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And then, towards the end of April, a funny thing happened. It rained. Outrageous! We’re just not used to that here in Sunny Silverdale.

Not that it rained much. And Woodwell pond, which had been in danger of drying out, needed it. As did all the other flora and fauna, no doubt.

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Early purple orchid.

The orchids on the lots looked good after a wash and brush up.

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And another.

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Green-winged orchid.

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Horseshoe vetch above the Cove.

Much as I’m enjoying the sunshine, everything is looking more than a bit scorched and we could do with some more of that rain. Preferably overnight! (Not that I’m greedy or anything).


Rain?

I Like Birds

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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.

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And Green Hellebore.

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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.

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Crows.

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Heald Brow.

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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!)

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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.

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

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…they were open and looking magnificent.

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Lichen.

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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).

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

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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…

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

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…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.

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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?

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

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…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…

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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…

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

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Warton Crag from Heald Brow.

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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.

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Daffodils on the bank on Cove Road.

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Primroses in the same spot.

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

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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.

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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.

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The flooding extends into the woods.

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Scarlet Elf Cup.

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Eaves Wood.

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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…

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Sunset from the Cove.

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Chickens!

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Woodwell.

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The path near Woodwell, flowing well.

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

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Arnside Tower.

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

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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.

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Flooded woodland.

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Including over the path.

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

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Flotsam at the Cove.

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Eaves Wood.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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…had clearly only just been born.

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

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Quicksand Pool.

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Post-sunset sky from The Cove.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

Half-term Happenings: Warton Crag

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

New Year Floral Survey