And not just any old Bank Holiday – the weather is beautiful, English lockdown domestic travel restrictions have been lifted, pubs and restaurants are open, and nobody can fly abroad. The whole world and his wife have come to the Lake District for the weekend. The Intrepid Local Guide, Jack the Navigator Hound, and I are off for a picnic. join us for a lovely, quiet afternoon, with hardly a soul in sight. How? Draw a line between any two lakes and find a place on that line where nothing is marked.
We'll park up (parking tip: if you want to drive home in the same vehicle you arrived in, park off the road. Emergency vehicles must be able to pass you at speed, and if it's a choice between saving a life and not scratching your paintwork, guess where the priority lies), and take a short stroll to where a trickling beck is rippling through this majestic valley. The first area to investigate is a bog, where Cuckoo flowers are growing up through the Sphagnum moss and Stoneflies are lurking among the grasses. Don't worry, they don't bite. These are another of those flies that aren't flies. They form the insect order PLECOPTERA (pp 44-45 in The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies) and they are a good indicator of water quality. The nymphs are aquatic and the female will only lay her eggs in clean water. Look for segmented antennae, chewing mouthparts and two tails (cerci).
Having found a dry spot to relax with our pork pies and scotch eggs etc. we'll spend an hour or two crawling around in the sheep short grass looking at the world of the very small. No big, showy flowers here but miniature Milkworts, Lousewort and Tormentil, all under 2cm tall.
The beetles are about too. The iridescent chap on the left, which is either purple or green, depending on how the light hits him, is a Click Beetle of the ELATERIDAE family. These beetles have an ejector mechanism to avoid predation, and they bounce into the air with an audible click. Oops! There he goes. The other magnificent fellow is a Ground Beetle of the CARABIDAE family.
Retreat!! The problem with nosing around in the undergrowth for beetles is that you may finish up where you're not welcome, such as next to a skilfully hidden nest. Time to go back to our picnic site and watch from a respectful distance. Oh good, the mother has come back. She's a Meadow Pipit. I noticed that all three eggs were the same shape and colour which is good news, for their nests are one of the favoutite targets for the Cuckoo to lay their eggs in. Fortunately, Meadow Pipits are still fairly common up here in The Lakes but they have declined overall and are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
Now, where did I put that bottle which I left cooling in the beck?
Minibeast Monday * Podcast Tuesday * #CumbriaNature Wednesday * Foraging Friday * and other odd bits as they happen throughout the week.
If you'd like to see some of the pictures in more detail, you'll find them in the gallery. These are also available for prints or digital downloads for commercial or scientific use.
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
You can listen to this book for FREE as it is being serialized on the podcast The Author Reads
£7.50 Paperback edition
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.
£4.99 Paperback edition
Crete Nature Catch-up
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