On Saturday 14th July a group from Rochdale Field Naturalists’ Society set off on a two-centred coach trip to South Cumbria. All were relieved that the previous day’s rain had gone as both of our destinations promised sightings of a wide variety of butterflies and dragonflies.
The first location was Foulshaw Moss which is a raised mire with scattered pools and ditches broken up by small patches of trees. Cumbria Wildlife Trust are working with Natural England to restore this unique habitat much of which has been lost to drainage and tree planting. On leaving the coach the group set off along the various boardwalks that make the otherwise difficult terrain accessible. It was soon noticed that the last two months of hot, dry weather had resulted in the water levels of the moss being much lower than normal, meaning that although there was an abundance of wild flowers some of the expected marshland species were not spotted. However the reserve’s nesting Ospreys were seen by all and courtesy of the telescope trained on the nest by volunteers members were lucky to see the head of one of the chicks popping up for a look around. Continuing around the boardwalk the group saw Emerald, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies as well as several species of Dragonflies, including Southern Hawker and the rare Emperor Dragonfly. Several small Common Lizards were seen taking advantage of the boardwalk to bask in the sunshine.
The group then moved on to the second location at Latterbarrow which is another small Cumbria Wildlife Trust Reserve with very different habitats of rocky pasture, flower meadows and deciduous woodland. The sun was now really hotting up and, rather like the basking lizards at Foulshaw, the Field Naturalists were soon soaking up the sunshine while having a picnic lunch before setting off to explore the nooks and crannies of this delightful location. The flower meadows and pastures were full of flowers and yielded an amazing fifteen species of butterflies including Brimstone, Purple Hairstreak, Grayling and Silver Washed Fritillary as well as good numbers of more familiar species.
Some members walked further up to the limestone pavement at Yewbarrow and were rewarded on their way with good views of a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher, which posed for the photographers. It is amazing to think that in just a few weeks time this young bird will be flying off to Africa for the winter. Harebells, Wild Thyme and Carline Thistles were in flower at the top and both Buzzards and Ravens were seen circling in the cloudless blue sky. The return journey downhill was completed just in time to board the coach for the return to Rochdale.
A wonderful day out to one of the less visited parts of Cumbria resulting in a trip list of 24 species of Birds, 25 species of Wild Flowers, 7 species of Dragonfly and 16 different Butterflies.