12 June 2018

We went to Apedale in the early moring, around 10 o’clock. It was sunny with a few clouds in there.


We saw loads of orchids, including this one, which was about 30cm tall:

orchid 1

It’s very hard to tell common marsh orchids apart, so we’re not even going to try that! orchid 2

This orchid has some pretty spotty leaves about it:

orchid 3

This orchid was providing a rich nectar source for Burnet moths today:

orchid with burnet moth

It was a big spectacle of Burnet moths today. They were hatching in their hundreds or their thousands today. The field was absolutely covered in them!

lots of moths on the fence

On the fence we could see lots of newly hatched moths, empty chrysalises, and some moths that didn’t quite make it out of the chrysalis.

Danny thinks the Burnet moth is almost the moth equivalent of the ladybird, because they both have spotted wings.

burnet moth on fence post
Burnet moth on fence post
burnet moths mating
The mating season has sprung! These two Burnets are definitely going for it!
burnet moths on ragged robin
The Ragged Robin flowers provide an important nectar source for the Burnets.

You can see how important the Ragged Robin is for the moths, from this little video Mum took:

Lots of people get Burnet moths and Cinnabar Moths confused. Here’s a Cinnabar we also saw today. The main way to tell the difference is that the Cinnabar has stripes and fewer spots than the Burnet moth:


The other moth we saw today was a Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata). We’ve never seen this kind of moth ever before! It is a bad photo because it fluttered off before we could focus.

Clouded border moth

Mum thought this next insect was a strange buggy thing, and was very surprised to find out that it is a cranefly (Nephrotoma flavipalpis):

cranefly 1

The cranefly has very long limbs, carefully arranged to fit on the plant’s stem:

cranefly 2

It’s quite hard to identify hoverflies, but Dad thinks it’s a Migrant Hoverfly (Eupeodes corollae):

migrant hoverfly maybe

Mum spotted this funny little bug on a bramble leaf. It is a Leptoterna bug, either L. dolabrata or L. ferrugata, which are very hard to tell apart. It is in its nymph stage:

Leptoterna dolabrata or ferrugata

We’ve had Greater Stitchwort before, here is its smaller relative, the Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea):

Lesser Stitchwort

We did meet a few dogs, most of them we didn’t get the names of, but Dad thinks one of them is called Pippa.

29 May 2018

We went to Apedale in the afternoon today. It was warm, muggy, and sunny today.


The first thing we saw was a huge Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly. There are hundreds of them buzzing around in the nature pond area.

Four-spotted Chaser 2

It’s called the Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) because it has four wings, with one spot on each wing. The adult eats mosquitoes, gnats, and midges, and is itself predated by emperor dragonflies and green tiger beetles.

These red damselflies were also at the pond, flying in tandem, as a preliminary to mating. We can’t be sure whether they are small or large red damselflies because we can’t see the legs properly in this photo (Large ones have black legs, whilst small ones have red legs).

Small red damselfly

The area around the pond was covered in flowers:

oxeye daisies

These are oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare). They are also called common daisy, dog daisy, and moon daisy.

This pretty flower is Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum), but is also known as Red Robin, Death come quickly, Storksbill, Fox geranium, Stinking Bob, Squinter-pip (Shropshire), and Crow’s Foot:

Herb Robert

It enjoys the shady places at Apedale. Rub the leaves if you dare – they smell really unpleasant!

This is a marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre)This is a great pollinator plant for pollinators like butterflies and bees:

Field thistle

The hedgerows are beginning to fill with dog roses (Rosa canina)Interestingly, the dog rose is one of the national symbols of Romania.

dog rose

This small, low-growing yellow flower is common tormentil (Potentilla erecta). It is a marsh-loving plant, growing in ditches at Apedale. It has a fibrous root which is very bitter to eat, but is used to make a liqueur in Bavaria called Blutwurz:

Common tormentil

Recently the fences have been replaced on parts of the Apedale site, and we were worried that the Burnet moth caterpillars (Burnet moths of all kinds can be seen at Apedale) would be affected, because they use the fences to pupate on. However, they didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all! They were all on the fences, hundreds of them – some were just getting ready to pupate, some were already in their chrysalises:

burnet moth caterpillar

burnet moth caterpillar 2

burnet moth chrysalis

Also, some of the chrysalises were on grass stems:

burnet moth chrysalis 2

Hopefully over the next few days/weeks we will see some Burnet moths.

It was a really good day for ladybirds and beetles. Here’s a Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) about to enjoy a banquet of aphids!

harlequin ladybird with aphids

The Harlequin ladybird is Asian in origin, and first arrived in the UK in 2004. Because it is an invasive species, the Harlequin Ladybird Survey is collecting information to record sightings – you can contribute by clicking here.

Here is the most common true European ladybird – the 7-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). They can devour up to 5000 aphids during their year-long life!

7 spot ladybird

Here are two 14-spot ladybirds (Propylaea quatuordecimpunctata) mating. This species has over 100 colour and pattern variations:

14 spot ladybird mating

This red-headed cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) was sunbathing on a leaf, as this species likes to do. It is common in this country and easy to spot during May-July:

red headed cardinal beetle

There are various different kinds of soldier beetle – this one is the Cantharis pellucidaidentifiable by its red thorax and goggly eyes:

Cantharis pellucida

Along the hedgerows, in places, the air was full of these blue/green lacewings (Chrysopa perla):

lacewing Chrysopa perla

Like the ladybirds, lacewings love to feed on aphids.

We stood for a long time trying to get a photo of this butterfly – the Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) which was fluttering around in the clover and grasses.

dingy skipper

Sadly, this moth-like butterfly is increasingly rare in the UK, so it was good to see. If you look carefully, you can see that one of its wings is rather damaged.

These tiny aphids on a Sycamore leaf caught our eye. The are the common maple aphid (Periphyllus testudinaceus). 

common maple aphid and felt gall

We are not sure if the eggs relate to the aphids (they seem quite big for that!), but the silvery white substance also pictured, is definitely not related to them. It is sycamore felt gall caused by a gall mite called Aceria pseudoplatani

Mum’s favourite photograph and find of the day is this amazing Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis):

nursery web spider

nursery web spider 2

Here’s what it says about this amazing spider on Nature Spot (our favourite wildlife ID website):

[The Nursery Web Spider] likes to sunbathe and typically holds its front two pairs of legs together pointing forwards. During mating the male presents the female with a carefully wrapped insect as a present. The female carries her eggs in a ball shaped, pea-sized sack with her. Just before the babies hatch she builds a silk tent and puts them inside for protection.

We were so excited to get a photo of the female of the species with her eggs in a sack – we spotted the flash of white in the grass first, so that is something to look out for if you want to get a photo of your own!

As usual, the buzzards (Buteo buteo) were out and about, enjoying the thermals in the warm air:


Danny took this great pic of one circling above the car park.

Dogs were a bit thin on the ground today, maybe it was a bit hot for them. We did meet one lovely friendly border collie, but sadly didn’t get its name. Maybe another time.

15 May 2018

We went to Apedale after breakfast in the morning today. It was quite cold and misty when we first got there, but then it became sunnier than ever!


There was a heavy dew on the ground today, which meant we saw lots of slugs and beautiful on the foliage:

dew droplets

These are some alder leaf beetles mating. This little alder tree was covered in alder leaf beetles:

Alder beetle mating

They were once on the way to extinction in the UK, until they were discovered on trees in Manchester in 2004. They are now very common at Apedale.

This is a frog in the pond where we usually see newts, he was half-buried in the mud at the bottom of the pond, which clouded the visibility. We’ve put a circle round it to help you see it:

frog in the pond

There were lots of large red damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). The yellow stripes on the thorax mean that this damselfly is an immature specimen.

large red damselfly

As they get older, the yellow stripes on the thorax will turn red.

This is a footballer hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus), so-called because of the stripy thorax that resembles a footballer’s shirt.

footballer hoverfly

This is a green orb weaver spider, sometimes called the cucumber green spider. Its Latin name is Araniella cucurbitina. It looks as if the spider is weaving a web inside this hawthorn leaf.

green orb spider

Mum spotted that the oak leaves on this sapling were full on holes, so she went for a closer look, and saw it crawling with caterpillars like this one:

caterpillar on oak tree

We think that they might be Tortrix moth caterpillars (Leaf Roller Caterpillars) but we aren’t quite sure yet.

This beetle is a new one to us, one of  the click beetle family (Elateridae) but we have absolutely no idea which type it is, because they all look very similar.

click beetle

Another new insect to us was this very shiny moth, perched on a bramble leaf:

long horn moth 1

longhorn moth 2

Did you know that the antennae are at least twice as long as their body? Not surprisingly, it is sometimes called the green long-horn moth. Its Latin name is Adela reaumerella.

Our last spot today was this scorpion fly (Panorpa germanica). This is a male of the species, identified by the bulbous orange genitalia at the end of its abdomen.

scorpion fly

And also, the goat willow was spreading its seeds:

goat willow seeding

The rowan trees were in flower:

rowan in flower

And the bluebells are still looking beautiful:


bluebells 2








1 May 2018

We went to Apedale in the early afternoon. It was quite warm in the sun, but with a cold wind.

view towards Mow Cop

The very first thing that we heard today was a cuckoo in the car park. There are also several other cuckoos around Apedale too – we heard them all through the walk!

We checked the pond for newts, and we managed to grab a photo:


This is a sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus) almost in full bloom:


There were loads of drone flies, which were mostly enjoying the dandelions:

drone fly maybe tapered

drone flies on dandelion

Here’s one on some wavy bittercress:

drone fly on wavy bittercress

Ali was trying to get a picture of bumble bees but kept failing, but she did manage to spot this possible bees’ nest:

bee in a hole

Can you spot the bumblebee amongst the leaves? We wonder if it’s a buff-tailed bumblebee but we don’t know for sure.

Danny was the first one to spot this weird bug on the side of a tree:

unknown black bug

We think it is a female St. Mark’s Fly (Bibio marci) because it is pretty large, and the other Bibio species are smaller.

This familiar bird is a carrion crow (Corvus corone) which is one of Danny’s favourite birds. He/she had a blue tint in his/her feathers in the sunshine.

carrion crow 1

carrion crow 2

a boy and his crow

After we walked past the carrion crow we looked back and saw him eating some bird seed. It made us think of one of the traps used by Wile E. Coyote to try and catch the Road Runner in Looney Tunes cartoons.

It has definitely been the weather for bracket fungi because there was loads of it around!

bracket fungus 1

bracket fungus 2

It was a lovely day for wildflowers! We’ve got bluebells, greater stitchwort, wood sorrel, celandines, and more wavy bittercress:

bluebell and greater stitchwort
Bluebells and greater stitchwort

greater stitchwort

This is greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea). Here’s some information from The Wildlife Trust’s website:

Greater Stitchwort grows in woods, roadside verges, hedgerows and grassy banks. It has many other common names including ‘Wedding Cakes’, ‘Star-of-Bethlehem’, ‘Daddy’s-shirt-buttons’ and ‘Snapdragon’ – the latter because its stems are brittle and easily break. It’s pretty star-shaped, white flowers bloom from April to June; as the seed capsules ripen, they can be heard ‘popping’ in late spring.

Another woodland plant we spotted is this wood sorrel:

wood sorrel 1

wood sorrel 2

The wood sorrel’s Latin name is Oxalis acetosella. You only see it in April and May in shady woodland.

Another springtime shady woodland plant is Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna).


The poet Wordsworth wrote three poems about the Lesser celandine. Also, it was his favourite flower.

wavy bittercress
Wavy bittercress

new oak apple gall

The red ball that looks like an apple in this oak tree is a freshly-formed oak apple gall.

Dad saw this colourful peacock butterfly that was enjoying the sun down in the grass. He rather naughtily climbed over the fence to get a good picture:

peacock butterfly

We have absolutely no idea what this tiny, fluffy moth is. Mum spotted it sitting on a bramble leaf.

tiny moth or butterfly

We shall do more research to try and find out.

We met loads of dogs today. Mostly we didn’t get their names, but we did see our old friends Amber and Lucy, and Camilo with his sausage-dog friend.

25 April 2018

We went to Apedale just after breakfast today. There were a few April showers, but there were a few sunny spells.



This is the first thing that we saw, an arion ater or black slug:

Arion ater slug

It was quite the weather for slugs, and here’s a Spanish slug (arion vulgaris). It’s a highly invasive species and regarded as a pest:

Arion vulgaris

While we were looking at the slugs, Danny spotted this:

Tipula vittat

It’s a pair of crane flies, mating. We think the species is tipula vittatabut we can’t be totally sure.

There was loads of these small white flowers growing in damp ditches:

Cardamine flexuosa

Cardamine flexuosa (2)

This is a wavy bittercress (cardamine flexuosa).

It was interesting to see what goat willow catkins look like after they have flowered:

Goat willow catkins after flowering

We went to our favourite pond where we sometimes see newts. We saw one newt (the first one of the year) on Monday 23rd. But all we saw this time was lots of pond-skaters.

pond skater

There were loads of horsetails growing today…loads and loads of them!


Horsetails are very ancient plants, having existed since the time of the dinosaurs.

Mum spotted this tiny black caterpillar munching on some grass:

caterpillar of Timothy Tortrix moth

After some research, we discovered that it is a caterpillar of the Timothy Tortrix moth (Aphelia paleana). It’s called Timothy because one of its main food sources is Timothy grass.

There were a lot of drone flies loudly buzzing around a patch of wet moss.

Common drone fly

This is a common drone fly. It’s called a drone fly because its buzzing noise is so loud.

Here’s an alder beetle chewing away at the brand new alder leaves. We’re quite surprised to see one of these so early!

Alder beetle

It’s nice to see all the spring colour coming to the landscape!

Cowslips near the top of the hill
A bluebell in the wood

As well as that, we were quite disappointed not to have heard a cuckoo as we heard our first cuckoo of the year on Monday the 23rd of April. We didn’t see any dogs either!









10 April 2018

We went to Apedale in the afternoon today. It was quite drizzly, cloudy, misty, and a bit cold, but not the worst the weather has to offer.

dreary day

dreary day 2

The monument on the top of the hill looks a bit ghostly in the mist today!

The first thing spotted today were these little mushrooms:

Scurfy twiglet mushroom

Its common name is Scurfy Twiglet, and its scientific name is Tubaria furfuracea. It’s a very common mushroom and it grows on woody debris, twigs etc.

A few steps after an amusing moment with Mum stuck in the mud, we heard a song which attracted our attention high up in a tree:

Thrush signing

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it is a song thrush.

We spotted our very first cowslip of 2018 today:

First cowslips spotted The Woodland Trust website tells us that:

Folklore: cowslips were traditionally picked on May Day to adorn garlands but also other celebrations, such as weddings, as they are pretty flowers. Cowslips have also been called ‘St. Peter’s keys’ or ‘keys of heaven’ because the one-sided flower heads looked like a set of keys, and it has been said that cowslips grew where Peter dropped the key of Earth.

As Danny expected, we saw a few small L’escargots (which is French for snails).

brown or white lipped snail

It is very hard for beginners to identify snails, but this is very likely a young brown or white-lipped snail. We have no idea what this one is though:

small snail

This is one adventurous little snail!


Mum spotted this Turkeytail fungus (Trametes versicolor). It comes in lots of different colours, and obviously got its name because it looks like a turkey tail!

wet goat willow catkins

Last one! This is some goat willow catkins soaked by the rain.

Dogs-wise, we saw Camilo and his friend the sausage-dog in the distance, but we also met a new dog, an Italian greyhound called Pixie, and she was one year old. She was totally adorable and jumped up against Danny and Tommy’s legs!


3 April 2018

We went to Apedale in the afternoon, and it was cloudy with some sunny spells getting through, and it was a bit warmer than recently.

view from the top

Here’s the view from the top of the hill looking north. The fenced-off area in the foreground is to protect the skylark nests.

mining bee 4

This is a mining bee that we spotted going into its nest. There were about five mining bees buzzing around. Here are some pictures of the others:

mining bee 3

There are lots of mining bee species. We think this one might be a tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva). They also like goat willow pollen.

mining bee 2

mining bee 1

Mum spotted a carrion crow perched on the spinny wheel (our nickname for the colliery wheel memorial to the miners’ at the top of the hill):

crow on the spinny wheel

In some myths, crows are associated with darkness and eat the bodies of dead people. But actually they aren’t as dark as myths depict them. Actually they are quite intelligent and you can befriend crows and they can get to recognize humans.

Here’s another picture of the same crow:

crow on the ground

He/she might be down on the ground looking for food. Crows are omnivores so they will eat pretty much anything they can find, including worms, insects, and smaller creatures. It’s possible that it was looking for skylark nests for eggs to eat.

There are still loads of coltsfoot in flower, and there were a few bugs on them:

pollen beetle coltsfoot 2

pollen beetle on coltsfoot

They are tiny pollen beetles, possibly Meligethes aeneus.

It was also nice to see Camilo the pooch and his sausage dog friend again today.

26 March 2018

We went in the afternoon, and the weather was sunny and cloudy at the same time.

The first thing we spotted was this bracket fungus:

bracket fungus

It is called fomitopsis betulinaand its common name is birch polypore, birch bracket, or razor strop. It’s called razor strop for the obvious reason – dried pieces were used to create the sharpest edge on cut-throat razors. It grows exclusively on birch trees. In this picture it is growing on a silver birch.

Here are some more pictures of the fungus:

bracket fungus 2

bracket fungus 3

These two fungi were right at the top of the tree, and Danny thought they looked like a weird bird with a really long right wing.

Danny thought this hole looks like Mr. Badger’s house from The Wind in the Willows novel by Kenneth Grahame.

Mr Badgers House

These flowers are some narcissi. They are not wild flowers, and have been planted round a bench in Watermills Wood.


The patch of primroses near the railway line, is really big now:Primroses

Mum spotted a buff-tailed bumblebee whilst we were walking up the hill – she heard it first, it was so loud! Our first bee at Apedale this year!

Buff tailed bumblebee

Whilst watching for birds in the wood (we heard loads of green woodpeckers, skylarks, blue tits, great tits, jays, crows and the buzzards of course!), mum spotted movement in this hole:

someones home

She thinks it had fur rather than feathers though (it was all very quick!) so it might well be a squirrel den rather than a birds’ nest. We will try and see more on further visits.

The pussy willow catkins on the goat willow trees are flowering now:

pussy willow

The yellow-flowered catkins are male, and they are an early source of pollen for the bees and butterflies.

Here’s a honey bee that we spotted on the goat willow’s trunk:

honey bee

We were glad that this honey bee is not one from Africa, because the African ones are much more hostile, have nasty stings, and are slightly smaller.

We were also excited to see our first butterfly of the year! Here it is:

small tortoiseshell

It was on the goat willow, just like the bees. This type is a small tortoiseshell butterfly, and it was the earliest time we have ever seen one.





20 March 2018

After a VERY snowy weekend, we went to Apedale this afternoon – it was cold and rather dull. As you can see, the pond is still rather icy. We spotted this little orange fish – it’s probably a goldfish, which is not great news. According to this government website, you should not release goldfish into the wild because they carry diseases and parasites which can damage a freshwater ecosystem. They can also interbreed with the threatened species – the crucian carp, putting it at further risk.


The buzzards were very busy – flying over our heads in a slightly threatening manner! Maybe they had found it difficult to find food during the snowy weather:


You can still see the snow over on the Moorlands:

View over to Moorlands

There was loads of this red fungus in the leaf litter and dead branches and twigs on the ground:

Scarlet elf cup

We identified it when we got home. It is a funny looking thing – and not surprisingly, its common name is Scarlet Elf Cup – its Latin name is Sarcoscypha cocinea. It grows during colder times of the year.

But, we all agree, the highlight of today’s visit came when we were driving away, out of Apedale. Up in a tree by the road was this lovely creature:

kestrel 1

kestrel 2

kestrel 3

We thought it was a sparrowhawk at first (not being experts at all in birds of prey, other than buzzards!), but when we got home, we realised that its dark eyes and speckled chest feathers means that it is a kestrel. The first time we have seen one so close.

We also spotted long-tailed tits, blue tits, jays, robins, blackbirds, great tits and wrens. And of course, we met a couple of our favourite dogs, Amber and Lucy. A great afternoon!

13 March 2018

It’s our opinion that this was one of the best walks we’ve had in a while. There were lovely blue skies this afternoon and it was warm enough to take off our coats.

View over towards the moorlands

We heard the skylarks for the first time this year – up by the Miners’ Memorial on top of the hill. Mum took a useless photo of a skylark:


The pussy willow buds were opening:

Pussy willow

Pussy willow is a nickname given to many of the smaller species of the genus Salix (willows) when their furry catkins are young in early spring.

willow tree

Judging by the shape of this willow tree (on the left), we think the species is Salix caprea or more commonly goat willow or great sallow.

There were some really big patches of coltsfoot (tussilago farfara) in the damp areas by the paths. Apparently it is commonly know as coltsfoot because of the shape of the leaves that look a bit like hooves. It is also known as tash plant, ass’s foot, bull’s foot, coughwort, farfara, foal’s foot, foalswort, son-before-father, disheroagie, tushylucky, tushies, baccy plant, cleats and horse foot!


There was a little fly busy eating a meal on one of the coltsfoot flowers.

Coltsfoot and sepsis fulgens fly

We think this is a sepsis fulgens fly or something similar. It is an ant mimicking fly with a dark spot on its wings. It is often seen on flowers but its preferred habitat is animal dung, and as there are cows at Apedale, and horses use the paths there, it seems a likely identification.

We spotted a sparrowhawk up on a branch, but it flew away before we could get closer for a better picture.


Dad spotted this lump in the grass – we wondered if it was an ant hill, and if the holes in the sides were made by woodpeckers.

ant hill maybe

We have seen greater spotted woodpeckers at Apedale and heard green woodpeckers, so we like this idea!

ant hill evidence of woodpeckers

It was interesting to see the galls which grew in such abundance last year. It is easy to see the hole where the wasp has emerged. It’s also interesting to see how many leaves this oak tree has retained over the winter:

gall with hole

We are looking forward to loads more interesting discoveries old and new as spring really gets underway!