Today was a lesson that you should be careful what you wish for. Margaret had experienced the full force of wet and windy weather when she had visited recently for the reccy, and as a result sightings were limited. I had really hoped for good weather so we could linger and admire the bog, and so the insects and lizards would be showing themselves. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year (without resorting to research, I would guess it was the hottest day we have experienced for years).
So, a day of little shade, and not really any breeze either. We had lunch as soon as we arrived, accompanied by the Morecambe Bay Tick Talk. Awareness of ticks is essential but shouldn’t put us off (read more here). There is a pond near the car park and this was our first stop. Here we saw the first of many Azure Damselflies and Black Darters, and also a single Emerald Damselfly. There was Marsh Cinqefoil in seed alongside the path, and Alder Buckthorn in berry. Marilyn opted to make the most of a bench in the shade and was rewarded with a snake (identified as an adder) swimming leisurely across the pond. The rest of us made our way to our rendez-vous with Simon, the reserve warden.
As we set off on our circular walk of the reserve, boardwalk all the way, Simon explained about the habitats at Foulshaw Moss, and pointed out some of the key species. It is an internationally rare lowland raised peatbog; the only water source is the rain – it is raised above the river levels. Since Cumbria Wildlife Trust bought the site in 1989 they have worked to remove the Forestry Commission conifer plantations and have blocked drainage in order to restore water levels.
Bog Myrtle was abundant, as was Cross-leaved Heath and Heather. Simon found some Bog Rosemary, now in seed. There was plenty of delicate clumps of White Beak-sedge, as well as Bottle Sedge in the deeper water. We made our way to a raised platform for our first attempt to see the Ospreys. With the help of the scopes we could pick out one bird on the nest and one in a neighbouring tree that has been used throughout the season as a perching place. We learnt that one of the two chicks had been flying since last week, and that today the second chick had been in the air. We had good views of one of them circling around the nest area. We stopped at a second viewing point for further Osprey views. There were Sundew flowers just opening in this area and we watched more Black Darters. It was notable during the day that they seemed to perch with their abdomen upright, a technique used on hot days to reduce the body area exposed to the sun.
Other wildlife also took evasive action and hid from the sun. It was too hot for the lizards to be basking! The birds were quiet and not many butterflies, though at our second site, Meathop Moss, we had three sightings of Large Heath. We also saw Bog Asphodel here, and Bilberry and Common Hemp-nettle.
Our third stop was an essential and undisputed refreshment break at The Derby Arms. Some of us had a brief, but very pleasing, visit to Latterbarrow. The abundance of flowers was lovely including masses of betony (including a white one), a few harebells and lots more, and perhaps a glimpse of high flying Silver-washed Fritillary. Another quick drink before the drive to Settle for fish and chips and home at a reasonable hour. Thanks a lot to Simon for his informative guidance.
See the photos here.