Friday 30 June 2023

29 June 2023 Thursday: Evening flowers at Lower Winskill, and Fuscidea cyathoides and Pertusaria pseudocorallina in SD8366: 30 Days Wild

 Thursday is another indoor laptop catching up day. 

but then I had a good evening walk 

  • to see the meadows at Lower Winskill Farm, 
  • then Lichens at Winskill Stones North, outside the reserve.

At 6 pm I drive up to near Lower Winskill Farm where we will have the Meadows Day on Saturday. Tom shows me some of the Meadows and we look at the grasses. Whilst the main grasses in flower are Sweet Vernal-grass and Red Fescue and Crested Dog's- tail, there is some Common Bent just starting to flower.  There is Yorkshire Fog, but says Tom, much less than there used to be. I notice (mostly at the edges) lots of Golden Oat-grass and a little Meadow Fescue - Ryegrass Hybrid and a little Downy Oat-grass.  Eventually in the ungrazed limestone pasture area some Meadow Oat-grass

Found some Meadow Oat-grass at last - and purple Betony

Wuff Wuff. I've found some better Ladies Bedstraw and two pieces of False Oat-grass

Rest of blogpost:- just a bit of lichen stuff:-

Having driven up to Winskill I decided to make use of the height and go for a short lichen walk. I never walked as far as the monad  SD8367 (Catrigg Foss-which only has 18 species  recorded..but stayed in SD8366 monad - The Plantlife Winskill Stones Monad which  is running third our of the 42 monads I have surveyed.

the current leaders are:-

SD8264 - South of Langcliffe Barrel Sykes- Blua  67 (where I was last week)
SD8062 Swaw Beck Gig Station - 61
SD8368 - Plantlife Winskill Stones North (lower part)   - 60 - but 
    after today 62 so can go up one
SD8268 - How Beck above Stainforth - 58

SD8065 Huntworth - 38 (Once the leader, now lying 11th equal)

I found a nice limestone ridge in the setting sun - 8.30pm Which I eventually abandoned as the cattle became too curious. I retreated to the field with my car in and just stopped at an erratic boulder with Parmelia omphalodes. Here I recorded  Fuscidea cyanthoides - chocolaty colour (bottom right) 

Fuscidea cyathoides

I recorded Pertusaria pseudocorallina - I think - It definitely quickly went red with K , no reaction with C

Then there was an unknown grey crust that had very warty areoles. 
C negative and yellowy orange with K

Left C no reactions ; right K Yellow orange

28 June 2023 Wednesday: Peas in garden at St John's. 30 Days Wild

Wednesday was a mostly indoor day - paid two bills online, did publicity on Facebook for The National Meadows Day coming up on Saturday, and more.

But I did go out to take a friend to Coffee morning at St Johns.  There was a man doing the Dales Highway walk who called in. I gave him a tour of the church including the garden at the back. 

See how the peas are growing.

27 June 2023 Tuesday: Lots of ordinary jobs, Doris vinyl, Health tips - 30 Days Wild

 I have no photos from today. 

So I'll show one from yesterday

Here is a picture of the pump track / skateboard track in Millennium Garden near Booths, Settle. It looks like Boris Johnson's hair. 

It is a monoculture of Rye-grass

But my (paper) diary reveals I actually achieve quite a lot on Tuesday:

"100" tidying up items"


Took Doris in the car to do some errands- including going to Peter Allen Flooring on the industrial estate to choose some new vinyl for her new house for the Entrance hall and the backdoor-bedroom-bathroom- kitchen corridor. I wish I was as quick and decisive as she is for making up here mind

I listened to Michael Mosely Podcasts on my laptop and resolved

1. To drink an extra glass of water with every meal

2. To stand up every hour. Sitting is nearly as bad a lying down. The body needs gravity to keep up its bone strength. Astronauts do lots of exercise on the space platform but still come back weak.

3. Divide exercise up into several short sections during the day.

24 June 2023 Saturday: first Day of Blencathra Grasses Sedges and Rushes: 30 Days Wild

Two Day - NON residential course on Gasses, Sedges and Rushes at Blencathra 24-25 June 2023

I and three of the students are fortunate to be able to stay at the centre - they are catering for a Carlisle Rugby club Dads and Lads weekend, and a girls school geography course. So I arrive the night before and set up the lab. The other  students have to find their own accommodation, or live nearby.

At 9 o'clock the students come in.  As a well proved icebreaker, I set them to work "interviewing " the person sat next to them, ready for them to introduce their partner to the rest of the group.  

Who comes on such courses? people often ask me.  

Well, this group includes one seasoned botanist (here on holiday), one retired person, a beginner who is here to accompany their partner, another person who is interested as a hobby, and the rest are here from work - i.e. people working for organisations that do environmental work, from carrying out bat surveys to advising farmers and landowners and planners about what they can do with their land, or working for Natural England.  So an improved ability to recognise different species of plants is useful for them.

After a morning session on Grass parts  we collect our rucksacks and walk up the very steep fellside path above the centre for all of about 1/8 of a mile to the old quarry area.   The bracken beside the path is significantly taller than when a came last year, two weeks earlier. The path is yellow with dead grass.  On the sides of our little quarry heather is still growing.

Many of the grasses are amazingly dead.  Look at the grass in the right of the picture.

Sorry I can't prevent my self from saying this - over and over again - nearly every third sentence.   Cumbria has been having even more of a drought than Yorkshire. It started raining a week ago - so some plants have perked up but many others have died in the six weeks of no rain before that.  The soil at the quarry is very shallow.

I set the students the task of finding 10 grasses before lunch (including rushes and sedges) - a bit optimistic perhaps - I see we only found 9 species of grass here last year.

Nardus stricta (Mat grass) and Aira praecox (Early Hair grass) are both abundant.

But it makes us all look carefully. Over lunch we enjoy the view of the several valleys below. Robert finds a nice plant of Parsley Fern which has both vegetative and reproductive fronds.

We return to the lab, collecting a few more on the path on the way down, and sort the specimens.

I give them my "Introduction to Sedges" talk too - ready for the next day - we go overtime by 17 minutes, but no-one seems to mind. It will  be good to be able to go out the next day first thing, rather than stay inside for the sedges talk first.

They  they go off to their respective hotels or to their homes and six of us will later sit down at the Field Centre dining room.

In the evening I tidy my section of the lab - how have all the students left their parts tidy, and mine is still a pile of books and grasses and papers?

I sit own at my laptop to check emails. And to check the News website: What is this a student was saying about Putin  and the revolt by the  Wagner group mercenaries led by their Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin? 

History in the making. It is Sat 24 June 2023.

The meal to night is Mushroom stroganoff with pasta and there was a different selection of salad - rocket and coleslaw.   Desert was a cakey chocolatey/fruit slab with butterscotch sauce. I pile on lots of extra sauce.

I popped up to the bar. - On many occasions to Blencathra I have missed this, only discovering its where-abouts last year. The lady at the counter turns out to be the cook (or assistant cook) working up here tonight on her day off. - It is only open because of the Carlisle Rugby group she says.

I say how much I am enjoying the salads extra to the main meal. (I could pile salad on and pretend the main meal wasn't too fattening)  She says - interestingly - that this is done specially because schools have to do this now - had to have salad to go with their meals.  (I wondered if this happens at all schools?  My dismal memories from teaching in schools were of most children always selecting gravy and chips)

The rugby club cheerfully invite me to join them for their quiz, but I say I needed to go for a walk.

Which I do. I met one of my group who had done a long walk. But I just walk along the track above the centre, horizontally round to the valley which looks up towards Skiddaw. Eventually I got away from the noise of the A66. 

I noted a few lichens: Baemyces rufus, various Cladonias. The vegetation is so dry, and dying back leaving more space for lichens.

Back in my bedroom I roll down the blinds on the two roof windows so that the room will not get light at 4.30am.  I try to sleep - hoping that we will easily find a parking space close to our Field site tomorrow.


I remember the pictures I took early this morning before breakfast and straight after the heavy rain the previous evening

For example here are some big blobs of a bright yellow lichen growin on the bank retaining wall above the cottages. I think it is Caloplaca flavovirescens. It is growing on hard acid rock, but maybe there is some nutrient input from the ledges and the soil on the bank above.

Caloplaca flavoviresens?  - not at its best when drowned in rainwater.

A sycamore forest in the making - even though it is growing amongst Beech Mast

A sycamore forest in the making - even though it is growing amongst Beech Mast


See our trip the next day on Sunday 25 June


23- June -Friday - Preparations and driving to Blencathra - 30 Days Wild

This afternoon I have to  drive  80 miles  ready for my two day course at Blencathra Field Centre near Keswick. It is on "Grasses Sedges and Rushes". 

( To put this blogpost into context I am pleased to running a course there.  I am sad that Malham Field Centre FSC has now been closed since last September 2022  My course at Malham last August 2022 was cancelled and their lease with the National Trust finishes this August 2023. Some of the A level courses that went to Malham now go to Blencathra) 

Preparations for running a course involve:
1. Finding the boxes of handouts and books in my house.  I have run week long courses just on Grasses at  Kindrogan in the past, and a week on Grasses, Sedges and Rushes at Malham. Plus lots of shorter courses (Both these centres are now closed. Very sad.)  So I have several boxes of handouts and visual aids and bright ideas for these three separate topics. Plus books scattered around the house.
2. Tidying the house.
3. Finishing off urgent jobs that should have been done before.

So what do I do outside today?
1. Take the vegetable peelings outside round to the garden to the composts heap.
2. Does driving count? 
a) Drive to Settle to buy some extra "little notebooks" for some students to stick their grasses in, and some sticky back plastic in case the Field Centre does not have any. and get some spare newspaper for pressing plants.

b) Drive up the A65, past Clapham Common (aka Newby Moor)  and Ingleborough and the drumlins beyond Kirkby Lonsdale to the Motorway - M6 - then up through the Howgills, past Shap, and down to Penrith, then along the A whatever past turnoffs to places I have visited in the past -Tarn, and Eycott and Mungrisedale to Threlkeld and up to the Field Centre. I could split these into a hundred places I know so well. 

Isn't it amazing what the mind can hold?

I visit my room W1.3  with two beds which, when I open the roof window a little  has view across the handkerchief box/jigsaw puzzle picture view of this Part of the Lake District.  

I start to unload some of my boxes to the lab. 

Richard the senior tutor arrives to give me a minibus test/ run. The centre minibuses are new and even bigger than previous ones so I welcome the chance for the practice drive down to the village and back.  He points out that they do have very good wing mirrors (each one is three mirrors together) and electronic sensing equipment an image on a screen for reversing.
I enquire and discover the new minibuses are too big to be driven up to bendy road to Watendlath.  (I am not planning to go there - but I remember it was a challenge driving there even with the old smaller minibuses 20 years ago.)

I have the evening meal at 6.30pm. There is a big group Carlisle Rugby Club- "Lads and Dads" - Teenage  players and their dads - or is it Players and their teenage sons? There is also a girls school from London studying geography A level.  
I meet a participant-Robert - who has attended my courses elsewhere and is coming on my course and a participant Susan who is here for the Introduction to Botany course. The main meal is Cumberland sausage mixed veg and  sautéed potatoes plus a huge selection of salads which I really enjoy. 

I go for a walk round the grounds (actually I did this early Saturday morning - but I'll record it here. 

I do not go down into the field below the centre with the newly planted trees and the  rushes and Oval Sedge (Carex leporina)  - that I explored last year.  It has rained hard overnight and the grass is long. and very wet.  But I discover more footpaths and patches of vegetation amongst the buildings  and holiday cottages of the complex. (The Field Centre was built at a TB hospital)
Agrostis capillaris
Agrostis stolonifera
Alopecurus pratensis
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Arrhenatherum elatius
Cynosurus cristatus
Dactylis glomerata
Descahmpsia cespitosa (In the woodland lower down)
Deschampsia flexuosa (in some mature beech wood)
Elymus repens (As expected, in the beautiful flower garden at the front of the house)
Festucata ovina - a medium size dense tuft of it on the tarmac beyond the toilets, near the beech wood.
Festuca rubra
Holcus lanatus
Holcus mollis
Lolium perenne
Phleum pratense
Poa annua
Poa pratensis
Poa trivialis
 19 species! 

.. And some  Carex pendula in the the woodland path lower down)  This is a native species -- I will be interested to see if this increases over the years.

I  notice a fancy alder tree with cut leaved leaves (need to look this up) 

On the slate wall, holding up the Beech woodland slope at the back I notice patches of a bright orange Caloplaca lichen - not many Caloplacas grow on acid rock. - I must ask April Windle who runs lichen courses here what it might be. - In this photo it is rather wet:

Photos to be added.

Friday 23 June 2023

22 June 2023- Thursday - Yet more lichens along Langcliffe High Road Caloplaca ochracea 30 Days Wild

Thursday Day 23 of 20 Days Wild found me finally doing a couple of urgent jobs that had needed doing for ages, getting material prepared for the coming Grasses and Sedges course this weekend at Blencathra,  and (maybe a distraction activity)- trying to keep the living room the house tidier than it was  half an hour ago.  - I set a pinger to keep reminding myself of this every half hour. I did not go out for lunch. I stuck at my jobs. It was hot and sunny, but I kept the curtains closed.  I also wrote a list of "not to do things" which included lichens, and to keeping the modem switched off.

By 4pm I had achieved some things..  AND I really needed some vitamin D and some exercise.

Perhaps I could just go along the Langcliffe high road just for an hour  and look at the lichens (again in SD8264 - the same square as last week - which now had the third highest score. of 58.) and revisit the seat I had visited a few years ago.

It was hot and sunny. The lane is a good kilometre long- and bordered on both sides by the old limestone wall that had lost of extra sandstone stones in it.

I think my best find was a patch (and only one) of this:-

Caloplaca ochracea

I parked just off the main road, at the beginning of Langcliffe High Road (Langcliffe end) . At the beginning, on the gate post of Langcliffe Hall was some Opegrapha gyrocarpa- this is the second time I have seen it fruiting now.

Opegrapha gyrocarpa fruiting

The seat. It has new "wood" made of plastic.

Some of the dark fruited Lecanora was Lecanora campestris - both on the sandstone in the wall, under the shade of the tree - greywacke, and on the concrete side of the seat arms.

Also on several of the acid rocks was Lecanora rupicola

Lecanora rupicola

Lecanora rupicola

Lecanora rupicola on the right,
young Ochrolechia parella on the left.

A bit further along on acid rock was Caloplaca crenularia

The score for SD8464 is no 67 - it is the winning Monad. 

On the wooden gate was Parmelina pastillifera

Physcia caesia and Parmelina pastillifera

Parmelina pastillifera

Wednesday 21 June 2023

21 June 2023 - Eco-explorers visit Auswick Beck - 30 Days Wild

(Due to the success of this visit out next meeting on Wed 5 July will also be to Austiwick Beck, again meeting at 4pm at Austwick Play area down the track opposite town Head Lane.)

21 June:-

Settle Eco Explorers had a lovely time at Austwick Beck this afternoon. We looked fro creatures in the water. We saw tiddlers - or at least their shadows in one place, and found a caddis larva and some shells.

Mo used the FSC fold out Grasses sheet to help identify this Crested Dog's-tail grass.

We found two caterpillars

We found this caterpillar. I asked Terry Whitaker what it might be and he said "I am fairly certain it is a bright-line-brown-eye caterpillar but as it's not the final instar I can't be 100%" 
See link to  Bright-line Brown-eye on butterfly Conservation Website

On the way back we noticed the Giant Bellflower (Campanula latifolia) just coming out.

And a healthy patch of Good King Henry.   Chenopodium bonus-henricus.  

 The family Chenopdiaceae: See Wikipedia:-  Food species comprise Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus), several Chenopodium species (QuinoaKañiwaFat Hen), Orache (Atriplex spp.), and Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides). The name is Greek for goosefoot, the common name of a genus of plants having small greenish flowers.

Our last Eco Explorers Walk this term will be on Wednesday 5 July at 4pm. We will return to the same spot, parking at Austwick Play Area., opposite Townhead Lane at the NE of the village.

Over the Summer Holidays we plan to have two "Day camps" up at Lower Winskill Farm on 15 and 16 August 2023.  Look out for more news of this. - See pictures of the Day Camps we held in 2022

20 June 2023 Toad Rush in Booth's Car Park and Views 30 Days wild

 It was 8.30 on 20th June- the longest evening -

I should really have been preparing material for the Grasses, Sedges and Rushes course I am to teach at the weekend (at Blencathra) - Rushes have six perianth parts (like petals) and the capsule splits into three...  But instead I drove up the hill beyond Giggleswick- Craven Bank Lane so that I could have a view looking west and so catch the evening sun:

1. It brought back memories of 2020 Lockdown when I walked everywhere. How I valued everything so much more then. I grieved that now life is so rushed - I try to squeeze too much into a day - even too many photographs.

2. I could look and see the hills of my lichen hectad survey SD86 spread out before me - including the hill above Langcliffe SD8264

3. Grasses gleamed in the evening sun - maybe held back because growing in ground that had been parched until two days ago

Crested Dog's-tail

False Oat-grass

Turted Hair-grass in the foreground, looking towards Pendle


Meadowsweet is now out.

Panoramic view of the hills east of Settle  SD8260 to 8266 I think

Dog Rose, almost at the Bypass

Dog Rose, almost at the Bypass


I returned to Booths supermarket at Settle to carry out my original objective - to buy some extra items for the Coffee morning at St John's Church tomorrow.

As I left I noticed -- in the gutter - just by the central pavement

A shoot of Toad Rush... 

I had recorded so many weeds of Settle during 2020 - yet never recorded this.  I can add it to my "Lockdown Plants of Settle Section" of this blog. 


This plant likes damp trackways - yet it has survived here.

And as I look at the picture closely I see it has two green fly on it - even a tiny weed, in a drought - is supporting two other creatures.

Enjoys listening to this music that I was told about today: 33 minutes (contains, explains and contextualises the music) 17 minutes