Members of the Rochdale Field Naturalists’ Society have experienced every season since the start of 2018. On the most recent coach trip to Grasmere the weather and scenery were definitely autumnal, despite the calendar saying it was March.
The hues of the bracken moorland were russet and wisps of mist and cloud formed and reformed in the valleys and over the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal. The light was magical, the air was still, and in the woodland silence reigned. Most of the group walked the full circuit from Grasmere via William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage and along the “coffin path” to Rydal returning by the lake paths, but others “de-coached” at Rydal and walked straight to Grasmere from there. We all, however, enjoyed beautiful views and, despite the limiting conditions, saw some interesting wildlife.
The two placid lakes themselves contained, among others, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Goosander, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Cormorant, whilst over the surrounding fells a Buzzard soared and Oystercatchers piped noisily as they went about their business. The woodlands surrounding the lakes were the home of many familiar birds such as Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Jay and Long-tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tits. Above the treetops Jackdaws, Rooks and Crows cackled noisily.
On the woodland floor great swathes of Snowdrops carpeted the ground and a few early Daffodils were showing yellow – but no crowds or hosts that would have delighted Wordsworth’s eye. We were perhaps a little early in the season for the Lake District’s famous daffodil display. Nonetheless, our eyes were delighted to see emerging leaves and fronds of Maidenhair Spleenwort, Dog’s Mercury, Ramsons, Hart’s Tongue fern and Dog lichen.
This was also a good day for fungi, with nice examples of Turkey Tail, Birch Polypore, Hairy Curtaincrust, Stump Puffball and Oyster fungus all seen.
Some lucky members of the party spotted a pair of Red Squirrels, the Lake District being one of their few remaining strongholds in the country. Less lucky members had to content themselves with seeing the ubiquitous Greys.
By the end of the afternoon as the light began to fade, the rain that had been forecast for most of the day set in with earnest, prompting many of the party to seek welcome refuge in Grasmere’s many cosy tearooms, to reflect on a satisfying day of nature appreciation amongst delightful scenery.