Last year on our return from Scotland we called in at Arneside Knot and Gait Barrows where we had a great time with butterflies and orchids. Unfortunately, we were rather too late for the Lady Slippers though apparently one or two flowers were still out as I found out later. We were intending to do the same this year had the Sottish trip gone ahead, though as it tuned out we may have been a bit early.
This weekend seemed to be the perfect time so we headed up, leaving at 5am and arriving at Gait Barrow shortly before 9am. The weather was just right too, warm and sunny but not the sweltering heat and humidity of last year.The walk up to the limestone pavement was a bit disappointing, with little to show apart from fresh Common Blue Damselflies.
Up at the top, the taped off areas showed where the Lady Slippers were, not that you needed any hints as they were by far the most conspicuous flowering plants on the reserve. To say it was a stunning sight would be an understatement. Ok the tubes that many were growing in wasn't exactly natural but it was clear that they were seeding and colonising the area, so some were sort of wild.
The only other plant of note, pointed out to me was a small patch of Angular Solomon's Seal, and one or two patches of Wild Columbines.
Unlike last year we saw few butterflies-one Brimstone, a few Small Whites and Speckled Woods and several Dingy Skippers. Duke of Burgundys were supposed to be flying but numbers here recently have been rather low, and there were no signs of Small pearl Bordered or Dark Green Fritillaries. Apart from a few faded Early Purples there were no other orchids either-the marsh was dry so there were no Early or Northern Marsh and we could not see any Common Spotted or Twayblades either.
The only birds of note were Tawny Owls-one was seen perched in the open and another was seen flying through the woods being mobbed by Blackbirds.