The Safari set off with out Extreme Photographer, without his camera, and we without our maps on the hunt for elusive Lancashire Adders. We had been given a grid reference and directions for a site check out but without the map we were a bit scuppered.
Some of the woodland edge, not that there's much woodland up here, the Bronze Age farmers, Romans, Normans and Tudors saw to that, had some large patches of Red Campion adding a good splash of colour.
We stopped where we thought we ought to be but there are lot of cattle grids up there and we couldn't remember which was the right one. So we tried looking at a few...and that was our downfall! At the top of the hill we knew we'd gone too far and stopped for quick look around - it was then the the Feds rolled up and started asking searching questions as to who we were and what we were up to and if we were after casing out Hen Harriers. to which the obvious answer was yes, if there were any still left to be seen due to them not being protected enough by said Feds but we probably wisely just told them we were looking for Adders, which was the truth. After a bit of idle chat with the officer it and he transpired we had a few mutual acquaintances in the birding world and he then offered more info about other sites no too far away which we took him up on. Had he thought we were Hen Harrier harriers he wouldn't have sent us into the back of beyond...where we promptly met another, well off patch, Fylde birder! AM showed us some super video of our target species he'd taken a few weeks ago on the track we were on and only yards from where we were stood!
He was coming off the hill so we parted and headed up in to the wilds. Meadow Pipits abounded, in fact on the face of it there was little else. A Buzzard soared lazily past but a lunch stop and concerted search at a likely spot didn't give us any Adders but was great for invertebrates. Beetles in particular stealing the show with this unknown Rove Beetle and one of the Carrion Beetles.
An absolutely stonking male Wheatear kept flitting from bush to bush as if it might have been on territory and overhead we watched a big female Peregrine cruising around. Still no Adders or Hen Harriers though.
A pristine Small Copper butterfly successfully evaded the lens but this moth didn't...Common Heath we think, a moth tick!
Star of the lunchtime invert-fest was this gorgeous bumble bee, Bombus monticola, which preferred to walk between flowers rather than fly.A second bumble bee species remains unidentified, could be any one of three or even a species of cuckoo bee looking at the smokiness of the wings.
We couldn't find the reported Ring Ouzel, although by now it was the 'heat' of the day and neither us nor AM saw any Whinchats but we did get a good view of a cracking male Stonechat which was a bit of a relief as they have apparently suffered hard at the hands of the bad weather last winter.
Below is the 'road' were were walking - before the NERC act we would have been able to drive this which although we would have missed some stuff would have given us longer to peruse the good bits.
All in all a really good day out even though we didn't find our target species.
Where to next? Anyone got a 'Get out of jail free card'? Damn - forgot to go bat detecting this evening at the Crem and associated ponds - sorry folks if you were expecting us!!!
In the meantime let us know what the Federali are up to in your outback