We were over in Cumbria; Duncan went over to give a talk on our time in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the rest of the family came over at the weekend. Our Saturday trip out took us to Clints Quarry Nature Reserve, near Egremont; Duncan has known this site since before it became a Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve in 1984.
The site is best known for its various orchid species and other limestone plants but November is far from a time to spot these in their colourful glory. A pair of buzzards were being mobbed by a pair of ravens as we entered the site and there were sightings of a few other smaller birds as we circumnavigated the reserve.
The ponds were full of water as were many of the old trackways that carried railway lines to extract the stone; the air was still and the pools provided impressive reflections. A few plants were still in flower including dog daisy and mouse-eared hawkweed but it was probably the ferns and, sometimes tiny, mosses and lichens that provided the main botanical interest, even if it’s hard to identify them all.
There has been a lot of well needed scrub clearance in the quarry over the past few weeks or months which followed grazing by sheep. This work should help keep the important grassland areas open and allow the flowers to thrive and, with them, the insect life that makes the site so colourful at other times of year.