Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Arnside and Silverdale

Helen had a business opportunity that required us to visit the North West.  We ummed and ahhed and finally made a snap decision to make a long weekend of it.

Some hasty research showed us that we could see lot of wildlife and a side of the country we've not yet seen, by visiting Arnside and Silverdale, which we duly did.  A nine-hour trip up on Friday was broken with a brief stop at the Knapp and Papermill Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve.

On a lovely summer's day with the sun coming out late morning we saw our first ever White Admiral butterfly:

As well as the more frequently seen Comma:

And a Small Skipper (told apart by the orange underside of the antenna):

From the reserve the journey took twice as long as it should have due to delays on the M6 but we arrived tired and hungry and looking forward to a couple of days in the locale.

Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast we drove to Arnside for a circular walk we had planned there.  On arrival the tide was mostly out:

Enabling us to walk along the estuary edge and around a few small coastal cliffs, principally made of limestone:

As we continued walking the tidal siren sounded so we headed up to the woodland path (surprisingly quiet woodland, possibly too fragmentary to host much wildlife) and then sat and watched the incoming tide across the bay.  As the tide moved lots of birds headed to roost, including this small flock of Oystercatchers:

We managed to get lost on the path as our walk had no map, however we retraced our steps and then took an alternative route up to Arnside Knott.  We wanted to see fritillaries on the hill and indeed had a fleeting glimpse of a Dark Green Fritillary however nothing like what we wanted so we'll have to visit again, probably in mid-July for the best chances.

We did however find ourselves right in the middle of the Scotch Argus emergence:

As long-time birders only we were surprised by how many people go out looking for butterflies!  We met lots of them on the hill and they really helped us with IDs, locations, etc.

We also saw Large Skipper, which despite its name is very diminutive:

We drove on from Arnside to the The Warton Crag, a Local Nature Reserve, which is essentially a large jutting mound of limestone.  On the way up there is plentiful wild marjoram, being enjoyed in this case by a Peacock butterfly:

The views from the summit are spectacular:

On Sunday we started at RSPB Leighton Moss, which was very quiet (the height of summer is like that for birding), we did however see Ruff, Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret in the time we were there.  We also had a glimpse of the resident Otter.  We decided however to move on and our final stop for the weekend before heading to the hotel next to the meeting, was at Gait Barrow NNR, all in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Beauty.

Along the bare limestone rocks we saw another first for us, the Grayling butterfly:

I learned more about some of our native plant species, including this zigzag clover:

We got lost on this walk too and very nearly managed two complete circuits before heading on, not that it mattered because the walk, over a limestone pavement and surrounding woodland, was fascinating.  It is a delightful part of the world and one we'd be very happy to visit again.



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