Wednesday 3 March 2021

What in tarnation? It's Watendlath Tarn


What ends we go to, to bring you the best of Cumbria and The Lake District. Literally this week, as we're back in the puddle hills, visiting one of the smaller puddles; Watendlath Tarn. This delightful spot, just south of Derwent Water, has all the peace and tranquility you need at this time of the year, particularly when the weather is as fine as it is today; bright sunshine and not a breath of wind. There are quite a few birds on and around the water including Canada and Greylag Geese, a Merganser showing off his high speed dart'n'dive fishing technique, and that 'v' shaped ripple in the middle of the tarn is a wild swimmer. Good luck to you girl.

I think I'll leave it a few months, myself, but don't let me deter you, if you want to strip off and join her. (She is, I hasten to add, wearing a swimming costume, before you go frightening the ducks).

We're going to leave the tarn until later and walk up onto the fells for a bit to see what we can find up there. Here be dragons. Well, a delightful Dragon Horn lichen to be precise. Lichens come in all shapes, as this Porpidia species, clinging to this nearby rock, proves. Lichens, as we've said before, are symbiotic organisms consisting of a fungus and either algae or cyanobacteria as a partner. A fungus on it's own can't convert sunlight, carbon and water into complex sugars, and algae and cyanobacteria can't digest rock and get to other useful chemicals. By working together the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. Plants and fungi work in the same way but they don't form a new, distinct organism. Lichens are monogomous whereas plants and fungi have a more open relationship, so to speak.

Here we are, up top, and the landscape is a palette of yellows, reds and browns. Despite the lack of vibrant greens, there is life up here. In these small pools, for example, are some Caddisfly larvae. Caddisflies are no more flies than Butterflies are. In fact, Caddisflies and Butterflies/Moths are far more closely related to each other than either of them are to true flies. They both have scaly wings in their adult state for a start, which no true fly would ever countenance. Caddisflies not only have scaly wings but they're hairy as well, which, along with their large antennae, is how you can tell them apart from moths. I've just seen a water beetle too, but he's a bit camera shy.

And talking of beetles, we have our first dung beeetle of the year! I know I'm getting excited but I haven't seen a beetle in months, and this is the second in less than five minutes. This particular Small Dung Beetle is one of the fifty or so Aphodiine dung beetles which are very common in northern temperate climes. Their larvae live chiefly in dung pats. I think that this one is Aphodius prodromus which is widespread in the UK and occupies all types of habitat. Any coleopterists with us today who'd care to comment? Let's walk back down to the tarn and have a look at some of the little rills and becks that feed it.

This is a good one, down here by the bothy. Being close to human activity, and doubtless the odd bird feeder about, there is a plethora of small birds darting around in the still bare branches. Ronnie Robin has escaped from our Intrepid Local Guide's pocket as usual; there's a Wren taking an early lunch of the invertebrates living in the moss on the roof of that outbuilding; Blue Tits and Coal Tits flitting about everywhere; and spuddling about in the shallows, a Pied Wagtail. Quite a cosmopolitan society.

Our Intrepid Local Guide says she has a surprise for us for our lunchtime soup venue today, and this is it: Surprise View (Yes, it's actually called that) and what a magnifivent spectacle it is. That's Derwent Water below us with the whole of Bassenthwaite Lake visible in the distance. A beautiful place to end today's outing and don't forget to pop into Steve's Nature Plus for more stuff throughout the week.

All the best


Steve's Books

The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies

All you need to know to identify any type of insect, spider, worm or snail very simply and find out more about it.

Yvonne: This was a gift for a family so that the children can understand what they see on days out. The second was for me. Logical and easy to use. If you know anyone who likes nature you can be confident that gifting this book will give years of pleasure.

The Eggs of Saramova

A science fiction novella for those who don't like science fiction. A fast-paced thriller that is, literally, out of this world (and it starts right here in Crete).

Too new for reviews yet!

Not Just For Twisted Women by Steve Daniels 

A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.

Janet: If you are short on time but enjoy reading and are maybe not into long extended novels then Not Just For... Twisted Women provides readers with concise stories that stand alone and most certainly entertain with their ultimate twists. Loved it.

Helen: A very good read! Well written and entertaining!

Margaret: Each quick tale gives a glimpse into a character's life and has an often humorous twist at the end. I would love to read more.

Yvonne: These days many people find it hard to find the time to read a novel, so this book of short stories is ideal to dip into. It is also makes a good gift.

See sample pages of all my books and keep abreast of latest publications here:

Crete Nature Catch-up

Series 1 - Welcome to Lasithi

Series 2 - The Rhythm Of Life

Series 3 - A Journey Begins

Series 4 - The Milonas Valley

Series 5 - This Is Ferma

Series 6 - Upland Villages

Series 7 - The Forty saints

Series 8 - Sunday Strolls

Series 9 -Stormy Weather



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