Last week we walked the King Charles III England Coast Path from Maryport to Flimby. This week, I thought we'd continue along the path from Flimby to Workington. It's a beautiful sunny day for strolling by the Solway and everything is bursting into bloom. Eight new flowers this week including a few of my old favourites from my time in Crete, the Yellow-horned Poppy, Kidney Vetch and European Searocket.
The butterflies and moths are taking full advantage of nature's largesse. Look for the little yellow/green packets attached to grass stalks. These are the chrysalises of the Burnet Moth, a black day flying moth with red spots (not to be confused with the Cinnabar Moth which is a black day flying moth with red spots and stripes, like this one here). There's a Small Tortoiseshell over there. Their caterpillars feed on nettles but I haven't seen any this year, have you? We saw some Common Blues last week and today there are quite a few Small Blues about. They're unmistakably smaller and grey/black with white borders. Finally some Large Skippers. Skippers have a family all to themselves, the Hesperiidae.
The Lepidoptera are not the only ones taking advantage of the flowers, so are the bees. However the bee over there on the Bloody Cranesbill is an imposter. It's actually a hover fly doing a very good impression of a bumble bee. Flies only have one pair of wings, whereas all other winged insects have two pairs. This is not always easy to see, neither is the fact that flies have compound eyes and bees don't. I find that the easiest way to tell a bee from a fly mimic is to look at the antennae. All flies have very short antennae, whereas a bee's antennae are much more robust.
The path dips down onto the shore here, so let's see who's about in the bird world. A nice flight of Sanderlings for a start, and further out, a flight of Black-headed Gulls. Last week I introduced you to the Passerines, perching birds, including the Stonechats, Linnets and Starlings that we've just left behind us. This week, I'll introduce you to the Charadriiformes, or shorebirds. This group includes nearly all of the small to medium/large birds that you see around our coasts, including the Sanderlings and Gulls as well as the Ringed Plover and Dunlin that are pootling about in the shallows here.
One of the great bonuses of the Cumbrian section of the England Coast Path, is that the west coast railway line follows the same course. This means that we don't have to walk all the way back. We can hop on the train at Workington and admire the scenery from a different vantage point on our way back to Flimby. Meanwhile, there's a nice pile of rocks ahead where we can sit and rest awhile. We'll be sharing them with a number of mobile red dots, which, on closer inspection, are a group of mites (I think these are Whirligig mites). Although mites have eight legs, they are not spiders. On the whole, these are harmless little arachnids, although the Varroa Mite is the curse of beekeepers, and the Itch Mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis) is the little devil that transmits scabies. Rest assured, these are neither of them.
And so we reach Workington, where the River Derwent flows serenely down to the port. I must confess, being a southern softie, that the name 'Workington' always conjured up images of a gritty, industrial, northern town. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 'working' in Workington has nothing to do with labour. The name is mediaeval and means simply the town or settlement of Weorc or Wirc's people. As you can see, it's actually quite a beautiful place and there are even fish in the river. Some quite good sized Mullet down there, if you fancy a spot of fishing.
Steve's Vintage Collectables. (click to visit)
We've been busy on a buying spree this last week so look out for an eclectic collection of quirky items from vintage electric bed warmers, to novelty tea pots and a WW2 Aldis lamp. SVCwithEtsy is rapidly becoming one of Britain's best loved, on line, pre-loved gift shops, with over 100 items always in stock for every occasion. (And don't forget, it's Father's day a week on Sunday, so now is a good time to start looking).
Or why not join the 2.5k members of our Naturalists group?
All the best,