Ian says….. First day back at the caravan and as we drove away from the site a Weasel crossed the road in front of us but as I was looking left to check for traffic I missed it . Pauline wanted to check on a flower – Monkshood – that grows close by so I jumped out of the car and waited to see if the weasel would reappear! Within a couple of minutes Pauline was on her way back and just as she approached the weasel ran back across the road! We waited for another few minutes but it didn’t show again so we carried on. A call in at Sizergh found it busy but we stopped for an hour – alas no Hawfinches! With the ‘Wild About Britain’ meet we were hosting not far off, we needed to start looking round and checking on things we hoped to show our visitors and also to look for new stuff. I wasn’t sure how much more tree felling was going to be done around the badger sett or for how long so we thought we had better start checking some of the other setts in the area. There is a sett in Brigsteer wood that is not really suitable for a group watching, but I wanted to know how much activity there was just in case. The sett is spread out over thirty yards or so and as I approached there were two fox cubs sat out side one of the entrances on the edge of the sett – they let me get reasonably close before going underground – pity I wasn’t carrying the camera…. One thing Pauline did grab a photo of was a young tawny owl still in the nest! The tree chaps discovered this nest when checking before felling and told us that a youngster was in! Pauline held up her phone and took a quick snap which turned out rather well!
It was back for tea and then off to ‘my’ badger sett for 8.00pm – but it was a ‘long’ hour before they emerged so I was going to have to make a real effort to put some peanuts out as often as I could to get them coming out earlier. The next few days the weather wasn’t very kind – we checked on the fox cubs a few times but nothing – we also blanked when we looked for Otters and the Ospreys at Esthwaite. (its going really well doncha think?!) The Redpoll was still visiting the bird table at the caravan along with up to eight Bullfinch plus all the usual visitors, so at least that was reliable …. For now.
We photographed Mergansers on the River Leven and also Dipper at another site. Driving up the western side of Windermere we heard Wood Warbler so we had to stop and get the cameras out.
As we started to check on the condition of some of the Orchids we began to panic as they appeared to be at least two to three weeks behind due to the very cold weather during early spring. A drive through the Lakes gave Pauline an opportunity to take some landscape shots before we nipped home again for appointments and visiting.
Back up to the caravan and we continued to ride round checking the state of the flowers we wanted to show our guests. At Gait Barrows N.R. the Ladies Slipper Orchid wasn’t going to be in flower in time, the Butterfly orchids on several grass verges were still in tight bud and didn’t look like they would be in flower but the Green Winged Orchids at the Lotts near Silverdale and the Fly Orchids at Sandside were both looking good. Another specialty – Birds Eye Primrose at Challen Hall and a lot of the commoner flowers were also looking very nice and after an interesting phone conversation between Pauline and Rob Petley Jones who is in charge at Gait Barrows our worries where over!
For those who want to know how the WAB meet went check out the Link Wild About Britain over the next few weeks as other peoples pics and comments are posted.
Pauline says …. ‘Panic hardly describes the terror I was beginning to feel as the meet approached and I realised the star of the show (Ladys Slipper) was going to be missing! Gait Barrows (Natural England site) were also hosting their own show by holding an open viewing of their ‘slippers’ over the bank holiday weekend but they had a card up their sleeve! I left a message for Rob and he got back to me on the Thurs morning with the news that he would be bringing potted slippers and planting them out! Rob’s hard work in ‘creating’ a beautifully natural looking area in which to show them off meant that ‘Cinderella would be attending the ball’ after all ….. and I wouldn’t be squirming around pointing folk at bunches of green leaves while saying ‘you should see them when they’re flowering – they really are something’ ! …..