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Walkmill Woods and Mirehouse Ponds

It was a foggy end to the year as we ventured into Walkmill Wood. Robins and Blue Tits serenaded us but the wildlife was more evident from signs than from actual presence. White streaks showed where the favoured perches and roosts were located and trees stripped of bark to head height showed us that deer were about.

The trees were festooned with Oakmoss, that old stalwart of the perfume industry (see The Self Decorating Christmas Trees of Pica). We decided that the odd small branch would make a great base for a Yuletide table decoration for next year.

Trying to find a little more visibility we moved on to Mirehouse Ponds where a lonely Goosander kept company with a couple of Mallards. These are redident birds in the UK but we get an influx from the frozen waterways of Scandinavia in the winter which more or less quadruples their number.

In this month’s European Nature Almanack I issued a #JanuaryChallenge for northern Europeans to find overwintering insects. I found this one clinging to the front door frame when we got back home to the Old Corn Mill. It is the chrysalis, or pupa case, of one of the Whites & Sulphurs butterflies (Pieridae family). As to which one, we shall have to wait until it hatches. It is presently residing on a cool windowsill in the lab (I don’t want it to hatch too early or it will have no-one to socialise with).

The #JanuaryChallenge for southern Europeans, was to spot butterflies on the wing. Up here in northern europe we do get some adult Lepidopterans in January but they are few and far between. This one, I think, is the aptly named Winter Moth.

See the European Nature Almanack for details of the #JanuaryChallenge and post your photos in our facebook group, Naturalists. If you want to know more about any of the species illustrated, you can find a wealth of information on my iNaturalist page. That’s all for today but if you subscribe to Steve’s Nature Plus I’ll keep you up to date with what’s going on up here in Cumbria and you can tell me what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

Happy New Year to you all,

Steve Daniels 3rd January 2022

Get to know your insects, annelids, myriapods and all the other minibeasts with this massively useful book.

£14.99 (or Euro equivalent). Available on Amazon at The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies

2 thoughts on “Walkmill Woods and Mirehouse Ponds

  1. I wish I’d have know about the challenge at Christmas. In the olive groves below Kritsa, Crete there were butterflies. Now I wish I’d taken more notice, it was brownish. X


    1. Quite possibly a Painted Lady. They are quite common winter butterflies on Crete. There’s still plenty of January left to get a few pics on your phone. x


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