Urswick Tarn Association
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News Archive
Latest update:  23 January 2011
Spring growth is underway around the margins of the tarn  (17 May 2010)

New reed growth

Spring is clearly evident around the tarn with nesting birds and new plant growth shooting up throughout the reed beds.  During winter, the Bullrush [Typha angustifolia] dies back completely and provides no habitat for nesting birds in the spring, as its re-emergence with fresh growth occurs too late for the concealment of nests.  The most common reed around the tarn, Phragmites australis, has stems and foliage which, whilst dead, remain erect at least until the new spring growth has achieved an equal standing.  The Phragmites reed bed is therefore the nesting habitat of choice for several bird species.
Marsh marigold

During the year many plants suited to a wetland habitat may be found around the tarn.  An early variety to make a conspicuous appearance each year is the Marsh marigold [Caltha palustris], seen here within The Landing reed bed.  Its flowers vary in size from 10 to 50 mm in diameter and consist of five yellow sepals with many stamen.  Their flowering season can extend from March to August.
Breeding season for frogs and toads  (29 March 2010)

Mating toads
Toad spawn
The margin of Urswick Tarn, above its rare marl bench, provides an excellent environment for several amphibians to breed.  During March it is common to see frogs and toads returning to the tarn from the surrounding countryside for their annual breeding cycle.  In the process of this migration many sadly become victim to the wheels of passing traffic as they cross the roads from the land beyond.  Enormous numbers of eggs are deposited in shallow water readily identified within the gelatinous clusters of their spawn.  The mortality rate is very high for the emerging tadpoles and young adults as they provide an important part of the food chain of other animals, but many still survive to perpetuate their species.  The fact that the water level in the tarn does not change significantly helps ensure that at least at the egg and tadpole stage of their life cycle they do not perish as a consequence of their nursery habitat drying out.
Tarn reveals evidence of its history back to glacial times (25 March 2010)

Post-glacial till core
A sediment core showing grey bands of till material deposited deep below the fringe of Urswick Tarn around 14000 years ago by the last glacier.  The creamier coloured material to the right, at a shallower depth, is paste-like calcium carbonate which contains evidence of climate history and man's habitation on the peninsula.

Postgraduate researchers from Exeter University spent two days at locations around Urswick Tarn assisting Mark Grosvenor, seen below third from the left, to take cores from the sediment deposits around the tarn.  Mark is working towards a Ph.D. degree in the School of Geography and Urswick Tarn is a key location for his research.  After spending one day taking exploratory cores at a number of sites, two were selected for the extraction of cores for laboratory analysis. 
The Exeter University team - left to right: Rory Findlay, second year under-graduate with Ph.D. researchers Charlotte Evans; Mark Grosvenor and Tom Roland.
The team can be seen preparing to take core  sections, each half a metre in length, at The Landing fen south below the ruin of the former stone hen house which, with tongue in cheek from former times, has been known locally as 'the boathouse'.   The site produced a stratigraphic succession passing initially through the peat layers and then down through the carbonate deposits of the marl bench, all the way to the till deposits left by the last glacier that travelled down the Furness peninsula from the valleys around Coniston. The till deposit marked the end of the soft paste-like carbonate sequence which is of greatest relevance to this particular research programme.  The core segments were carefully wrapped and protected for their journey to Exeter where analysis will be primarily based on pollens and oxygen isotopes, but will also make use of radiocarbon dating techniques.  When laboratory results from these cores become known to those involved in other research programmes focussed on chironomid (non-biting midge) skeletal remains it is probable that further coring will be required around the same location.  Each of the sub-species of chironomids are extremely selective about the environment in which they live (i.e. they are stenotopic) and skeletal remains of their cast larval skins, especially their head capsules, leave an accurate record of the temperature prevailing at the stratigraphic level at which they are found in a core sequence.

The second locality where core segments were collected for laboratory analysis was the lawn of the village chapel at the north end of the tarn.  The depth of coring at both localities exceeded 8 metres.

The Exeter research programme will involve further terrestrial coring plus the taking of core samples from below the tarn itself.  The latter will necessitate the use of a specialist coring device known as a Mackereth corer, trials with which were carried out on the tarn at the beginning of March.  The next coring is expected to take place in early summer.  A particular problem hidden beneath the waters of the tarn are the deep haematite sediments transported to the tarn from the many mines around Lindal in Furness in the nineteenth century via a specially dug underground drain.  These must be penetrated before the carbonate sediments can be accessed and must therefore be shallower than the maximum coring depth of the Mackereth.

The deposits below Urswick Tarn and its surroundings hold many stories yet to be discovered, the Exeter programme being but one line of investigation.  Conservation of the remaining sites that have not already been compromised by the-hand-of-man is extremely important. 

This programme of research by the School of Geography at Exeter University is part funded by the Sir John Fisher Foundation.

News on earlier phases of this work may be seen by clicking the following dates:  15 December 2009 and 23 July 2009.  The latter shows a smaller version of a Mackereth corer than that which will be used for future coring on the tarn.
Maintenance & conservation work by Urswick Tarn Association continues
(8 February 2010)

Clearance of willows on fen area

The fen area to the north west of the former refuse tip at The Landing has had many willows cut down and the burning of their timber continues.  By allowing access to light, the natural flora of the fen will re-established and provide an accompanying habitat for fen fauna.  Willows must be managed in this way on an ongoing basis as they readily establish roots and are prolific in their growth.  Just visible in the above photograph is one of the water channels which were excavated in this area several decades ago to help sustain the fen in its natural wet state.

Hagg to 'boathouse' fen

The felled tree seen in the foreground had grown on The Hagg and got to a size where its summer canopy prevented light getting through to what is intended to be the grassland area of land managed by Urswick Tarn Association.   The distinction between the various modules of land and their associated management objectives are contained in the Management Plan which is prepared and periodically updated by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.  The Management Plan is linked to the terms of Urswick Tarn Association's lease from Urswick Parish Council.  The area with reeds seen stretching down to the tarn edge in the above photograph is the most southerly area of fen at The Landing and may also be seen in close up below.

'Boathouse' fen area with pollarded tree

The photograph on the right is taken at the southern end of The Landing. This is part of the original fen that once existed over the entire area of The Landing. It is now separated from the north west section of fen referred to above by the soiled-over and grassed old refuse tip. A manually excavated water channel may be seen bringing tarn water into the area in order to maintain the wet fen conditions. On the left is an alder which is in the process of being pollarded as a means of extending its life. Its branches had become so heavy in relation to the base of the original tree, which at some time in the past had previously been pollarded, that they were in danger of destroying the tree during a future gale. Following pollarding, the tree is expected to renew its upper growth on a scale that the base is capable of supporting.

Click here to access in pdf format Urswick Tarn Association's work programme document relevant to all of this ongoing work.
Winter memories (10 January 2010)

1947 Frozen tarn
The current extended spell of cold weather, which has retained snow cover for much longer than is normally the case in modern times, invokes memories of when the exception was a winter which did not include such a period of snow cover and freezing conditions.  Half a century ago it was usual for the smaller ponds around Urswick to freeze over and become safe enough for skating.  But even then it was exceptional for Urswick Tarn to become covered in ice with sufficient strength to  allow the tarn to be crossed on foot.  The above photograph, taken in the winter of 1947, shows the youth of the then village community, some wearing skates -  which many villagers possessed in those times - out on the tarn during one of those very cold winters.

John Bolton recorded that in the winter of 1852-53, several days and nights of hard frost covered the tarn with clear smooth ice.  Together with joiner and skate grinder, George Kirkby, he prepared to take soundings of the depth of the tarn through the ice.  He reported that George had said, "Ye'll find it a queer spot, for I assuer ye thair is weed in Girt Ossick Tarn beath thicker an' langer than t' biggest tree i' Bardsea Park".  It is an indication of the lack of knowledge about the depth of the tarn and the influence of local folk lore at that time that Mr. Bolton equipped himself with 2000 feet of fine strong whipcord  before venturing onto the tarn with a brace fitted with a 1.125 inch diameter bit.  Using a weighted line in this way, lowered through a matrix of holes drilled through the ice across the entire tarn, he was disappointed to find that the deepest sounding was only 41 feet.

Ref: Bolton, J. 1869. Geological Fragments of Furness and Cartmel 1869.  Republished in 1978 by Michael Moon with a Gazetteer, Contents List and Dramatis Personae provided by the late Harry Kellett of Dalton.  ISBN. 09-04131-20-3.

Tree and scrub management work continues (1 January 2010)

Tree cover reduction on The Hagg
Tree thinning on fen

The news entry on this page dated 14 October 2009 advised that Urswick Tarn Association had published a work programme relating primarily to The Hagg and The Landing areas.  These photographs show work-in-progress at the beginning of 2010.  Tree thinning on The Hagg will enable the grass based ecology to improve by providing greater light penetration to an expanding variety of grasses and grassland flora.  The wet fen area at The Landing provides for a completely different ecology on ground which covers the rare marl bench which has formed consequential to the carbonate rich waters in Urswick Tarn.  This area is rapidly colonised by willows which must be constantly cut back to enable other flora native to this environment to survive and regenerate.

Click here to access the work programme document in pdf format.
Ph.D. research programme gets underway with Urswick Tarn a key locality (15 December 2009)

Carbonate core
Coring operation

On 15 December Exeter University's Dr. Richard Jones and postgraduate researcher Mark Grosvenor visited a number of sites on the Furness peninsula which will be of relevance to a research project which is now fully underway. Whilst in Urswick a preliminary examination was carried out of the carbonate deposits beneath a meadow on the western side of, and immediately adjacent to, Urswick Tarn.  These photographs show the sample core that was taken and the whitish grey marl which was located at a depth of about 7 metres.  Further coring will take place around and below the tarn during the course of the three year research programme.  A combination of pollen, oxygen isotopes and chironomid skeletal material within the marl will provide dated evidence of both climate fluctuations and man's habitation in the area.  It is anticipated that this will be combined with archaeological knowledge about the many ancient settlements on the peninsula.  Updating information will be provided as the programme advances.

This programme of research by the School of Geography at Exeter University is part funded by the Sir John Fisher Foundation.

See also the entry for 23 July 2009 which appears below by clicking here.
Fencing completed along Gleaston Beck and reed bed at SE corner of tarn
(6 November 2009)
Fencing along Gleaston Beck
Fencing around floating bog
Erosion of the bank of Gleaston Beck has been a problem stretching back over many years which the Tarn Association has been endeavouring to correct and prevent. The erosion has been caused both by livestock taking water from the beck and by the movement of wild geese to and from the adjoining meadow.
Beyond the beck, around the south eastern corner of the tarn, is a floating bog which was prevented from establishing its natural ecology by disturbance from livestock.  This damage also limited the expanse of the reed bed, which at this location consists of Phragmites australis reeds.  These reeds, readily identified by their feather-like flower heads, remain standing throughout the winter and are an important habitat for nesting waterfowl in the spring.

During September a substantial fence was erected to overcome these problems.
Having pursued this objective for so long, Urswick Tarn Association were pleased to secure the joint efforts of the South Cumbria Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.  Sincere thanks are due to Mr. Ben Lamb, Trust Manager with SCRT, and to the Environment Agency South Cumbria Fisheries Team for their considerable help and support in bringing this much needed work to fruition.  The project was only possible because of the generous cooperation of the owners of the meadow - T. Postlethwaite & Co. of Holme Bank Farm - to whom grateful thanks are expressed.  The project was funded by the Environment Agency as part of the South Cumbria Fisheries Action Plan and by Urswick Tarn Association.
Tarnside low fencing
Further work by Mr. Harry Stables has repaired low level fencing within the water around the south-eastern corner of the tarn.  This prevents the wild geese from easily gaining access to the land between the water and the main fence at the meadow and is intended to allow reeds to re-establish.  This section of the tarn had, within living memory, a prolific and dense reed bed which will now be allowed to return, together with the accompanying flora and fauna.

This programme of major improvement has come about following several years of continual effort by Urswick Tarn Association and in particular by its current Chairman, Martin Stables.
Cormorants return to fish the tarn (16 October)
Cormorants on fence
Cormorant silhouettes
The Cormorant [Phalacrocorax carbo] has an almost prehistoric reptilian appearance both when perched and in silhouette when in flight.  The two seen above have recently returned to the tarn where they undoubtedly appreciate the abundance of fish.  The cormorant is a supreme fisher and numbers need to remain at a modest level to avoid impact on the tarn's fish stock.  The RSPB website indicates that there are just over 9000 breeding pairs in the UK, but these increase to in excess of 24,000 pairs over-wintering here.
The problem with geese (15 October 2009)

Grazing geese
In the above photograph, over 370 geese are grazing on land immediately adjacent to Urswick Tarn.  The flock consists almost entirely of Greylags [Anser anser] and on some days the flock is even larger.  Most mornings they fly in after a night spent elsewhere and draw attention to their dramatic flight formations with their loud and distinctive voices and the noise of air turbulence produced by their powerful wings.
But they present a number of significant problems.  Geese feed on land, typically grazing on grass and harvest stubble, but spend a large amount of time on water where, unseen by the observer, they defecate, adding nutrients which cause algal growth, reduced water quality and all of the knock-on ecological consequences which result from an excess of nutrients in the water.  Further, they are responsible for damaging the reed beds which are an important habitat on which many other species depend.  Sadly, in the case of Urswick Tarn, this adds to the large amount of damage done by humans over recent decades.  Additionally, they are responsible for erosion along the land boundary with the tarn and the resulting destruction of waterside flora.  In some locations these attributes of wild geese necessitate control measures being implemented, but these are far from easy to implement.
Those with an inclination to observe the geese flocks may be interested to try and identify male-male pairings since it has been established [Reference 1] that homosociality is common, particularly amongst greylag geese, but only involving ganders. 

Ref 1: Kotrschall, K., Hemetsberger, J., Weiss, B.M.  2006.  Making the most of a bad thing: homosociality in male greylag geese; a paper within: Homosexual Behaviour in Animals - An
evolutionary perspective.   ISBN-13 978-0-521-86446-6

To the memory of John Bolton (3 August 2009)

White water-lily
"The tarn is almost completely encircled by a thick belt of reeds (Phragmites), flags (Iris), bullrushes (Cyperaceae), &c., except at the 'coot-stones,' where is an open space ten or fifteen yards in width, and the north-west portions of the tarn for about half an acre is flagged on the surface of the water with broad green circular leaves, and the beautiful pearl white cups of the water lily (Nymphea alba). ...."

So wrote John Bolton, geologist, of Little Urswick and later Swarthmoor, who became a national authority and whose circle of colleagues included the most eminent of geological professionals.  He died at Sedgwick Cottage, Swarthmoor in 1873, his home there having been named after his great friend Professor Adam Sedgwick of Cambridge.  Adam Sedgwick originated from Dent and his considerable contribution to the science of geology is marked by the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, part of the University of Cambridge.

The above photograph is a close-up of a very small area of White water-lily, one of only two now to be found around Urswick Tarn.  If permitted by good management and recognition of the significant opportunity for remediation that now exists around the tarn, the days may return when its character can again be described as was recorded above by this distinguished former village resident and pupil of Urswick Grammar School.

Ref: Bolton, J. 1869. Geological Fragments of Furness and Cartmel 1869.  Republished in 1978 by Michael Moon with a Gazetteer, Contents List and Dramatis Personae provided by the late Harry Kellett of Dalton.  ISBN. 09-04131-20-3.
Individual members of the butterfly family Pieridae can be difficult to identify (30 July 2009)
Male green veined white butterfly
Large white butterfly with damaged wings
Distinguishing between individual members of the Pieridae family of butterflies, more commonly known as 'the whites', is not always easy.   Above is seen the Green-veined white [Pieris napi] the identity of which is confirmed by the pattern of veins beneath its wings.
On the right is what is believed to be the Large White [Pieris brassicae].  This specimen appears to have had a close call with a predatory bird which has taken a clean bite from the right wing and badly torn the left wing.
In the British Isles there are six resident species in this family.  These are usually added to by a further four summer visitors.
Seven spotted ladybird
Seven spotted ladybird  (30 July 2009)
This Seven Spotted ladybird [Coccinella 7-punctat] was taking the sun on an old feather which was lodged in the grass above a water logged area of marsh ground at the south-east corner of the tarn.  There are forty two British species with from 2 to 24 spots in the family Coccinellidae, but only twenty four of these are true ladybirds.  Their bitter taste is advertised by their bright colours.
Cygnets preening
Cygnets preening (30 July 2009)
These cygnets first appeared on this webpage on 25 June and in the course of five weeks have grown significantly.  Whilst their bodies and feet are gaining adult proportions, their wings are still developing and lack the muscle, bone size and feathers that will be needed to carry them in flight.  On this occasion the whole family had swum into Gleaston Beck and whilst the parents remained in the shallow water to preen, the cygnets took to the meadow for this important routine of self care.
A great abundance of young fish (25 July 2009)

Juvenile fish close-up
Juvenile fish shoal

On this near windless day, when the water at the entrance to Gleaston Beck was free from ripples, it was possible to see a truly massive shoal of young fish (uncertain about the species at this time) in the water.  Above is a detail taken from the photograph on the right of a small part of the shoal, and made clearer by computer enhancement.  The shoal consisted of many thousands, possibly tens of thousands of individual fish, and their constant movement was occasionally so energetic that surface waves were generated.
July - Flora in bloom alongside the tarn and in Gleaston Beck (25 July 2009)

Great Willowherb
Great Willowherb [Epilobium hirsutum]
Great Willowherb flower detail
Great Willowherb flower detail
Hemp agrimony
Hemp agrimony [Eupatorium cannabinum]
Lady's Bedstraw
Lady's Bedstraw [Galium verum]
Least Water-lily
Least water lily [Nuphar pumila]
Least Water-lily flower
Least water lily flower detail
Water knotweed
Water knotweed [Polygonum amphibium]
Yarrow [Achiliea millefolium]
Common Green Grasshopper
Common Green Grasshopper (25 July 2009)
The Common Green Grasshopper [Omocestus viridulus] is a widely distributed species, found in this instance in long grass on The Hagg.  Grasshoppers are vegetarians and are typically found in grassy places.
Female Orange-tip butterfly
Orange-tip butterfly (25 July 2009)
Where is the orange-tip you may well ask?  Well, it is confined to the male of the species.  The Orange-tip butterfly [Anthocharis cardamines] differs in appearance between the sexes and it is hoped to include a photograph of a male if seen at a later date.  It is a member of the family Pieridae and whilst the male is distinct, the female is easily mistaken for one of the other white butterflies in this family.  The distinguishing feature for the Orange-tip is the mottled underside to the wings.
Moorhen numbers decline & Coot population at a very low level (25 July 2009)

Moorhen [Gallinula chloropus], one of which is seen above on the fringe of the reedbed, have successfully reared young this year, but overall numbers are low compared with the population of old.  Coot [Fulica atra] once occupied the tarn in very large numbers and part of Urswick folk lore is that if you are born in Urswick you are an 'Ossick Coot'.  Whilst the reason for the decline in Ossick Coot of the human kind over the last half century can be explained, those of the feathered variety have declined to a worryingly low level without a confirmed idea as to why.  Undoubtedly habitat loss is a significant contributory factor but is unlikely to be entirely responsible.  This year, whilst a small number of mature coot can be seen, to date not a single juvenile has been spotted, despite a small number of nests with eggs being observed earlier in the season. 
Postscript: Over a number of days following the taking of the above photograph the moorhen was found to be consistently around the same area of the tarn margin.  It was eventually observed that its left leg has sustained an injury which is presumably limiting its mobility.  Let's hope for a speedy recovery during which food is readily located and predators remain at bay.
Further advances in Urswick Tarn's contribution to climate change research
(23 July 2009)
Preparing to take sediment core sample

Left to right:  Dr. Richard Jones (Exeter University), Professor Jim Marshall (Liverpool University),
Dr. Alan Bedford (Edge Hill University) and David Coward, local archaeologist, prepare to take a core sample from the bottom of Urswick Tarn.  For this preliminary work a 1 metre corer is being used.
Dr Jones removes core

Dr. Jones removes a metre long sediment core from the corer.
Urswick Tarn is the focus of research interests associated with anthropogenic climate change.  As a further advancement of that work, six core samples have been taken from the sediments at the bottom of the tarn.  Each of the universities involved have their own specialist interests in the constituent parts within these cores and reports on the findings will be published at a later date.
In October of this year a Ph.D. research programme will commence which will extend over a three year period.  This will centre on the interpretation of sediment layers at various locations across Furness and what they indicate about man's settlement of the area and his intervention in its ecology.  For example, when forests were cleared and when particular crops started to be cultivated.  Urswick Tarn will be one of the primary locations for this work in combination with the quite numerous settlement sites on the Furness peninsula.
A further line of research, still at the preliminary assessment stage, relates to the haematite effluent sediments which were deposited in Urswick Tarn from the very extensive 19th century mining industry around Lindal in Furness.  These were transported to Urswick via the man made drain known as Clerk's Beck.  The mines are long gone and the constructed drain now serves only as a land drain.  By far the most significant inflow of water to the tarn comes from springs which emerge at its bottom.  Ongoing work profiling the contour of the bottom of the tarn is linked to a quest to locate the points where this ground water emerges into the tarn.
Care to share a nettle leaf? (19 July 2009)

Large White & Bluebottle
Seen here is a butterfly known as the Large White [Pieris brassicae] and a Greenbottle [Lucilia caesar].  They are sharing the leaf of a nettle on the Landing area adjacent to Urswick Tarn, apparently and uncharacteristically oblivious to the very close proximity of the camera lens.  The Large White together with the Small White [Pieris rapae] are abundant everywhere and are renowned for their appetite for cabbage and related plants.  The Greenbottle is also abundant everywhere and like the commonly seen Bluebottle, breeds in carrion; but the former is rarely seen in houses.
Branched Bur-reed - Less common amongst the reeds (9 July 2009)
Branched Bur-reed
Branched Bur-reed detail
Whilst not as numerous as Phragmites australis or Typha angustifolia, also known as the bull rush, the Branched Bur-reed is quite common around the tarn.  The plant is bisexual and grows male flower heads above the female heads on the same inflorescence.  In each head, flowers of the same sex mature together, with the female flowers maturing first.  Insects play little part in pollination, this being achieved either by wind or self-pollination.
Greater Spearwort - Rare nationally (9 July 2009)
Greater Spearwort
Greater Spearwort detail
This is the sole example of the Greater Spearwort found around the waterside of the tarn margin on the above date. The plant is now quite rare nationally as a result of habitat loss, a cause which is consistent with the location of this specimen on one of the few remaining stretches of tarn margin that has not been disturbed or destroyed over recent decades. The plant is a member of the buttercup family [Ranunculaceae] and typically grows to between 60 cm and 120 cm.
Male Meadow Brown butterfly (8 July 2009)

Meadow Brown male butterfly
This is a grassland species photographed at the side of the road on the Hagg on grass recently cut and left to dry. The Meadow Brown [Maniola jurtina] is an abundant species noted for its willingness to fly in dull weather. In some parts of the country numbers have declined as a result of the intensification of agricultural practices. Sexual dimorphism is evident in the species, the females being more colourful with orange areas on the upper forewings. They also differ in the range which they cover, the female being more 'home loving'.

Shaun's bream
Shaun's bream (6 July 2009)
After a quiet start to his afternoon's fishing, the Common Bream [Abramis brama] quite suddenly started taking bait and a very satisfying catch was obtained.  Using triple white maggots as bait on a size 16 hook, a 4½lb hook length, together with a ground bait feeder, Shaun was well pleased with his near 30lb total catch.
Mr. Goodger had obtained his day fishing permit in the village prior to fishing.  However, so pleasant was the afternoon that a season permit will be the order of the day for future visits.  Fishing permits for Urswick Tarn may be obtained at Great Urswick Post Office or at the two village pubs, The General Burgoyne and the Derby Arms.
June - Flora in bloom alongside the tarn (26 June 2009)

Marsh Bedstraw 1
Marsh Bedstraw [Galium palustre]
Marsh Bedstraw 2
Marsh Bedstraw flower detail
Meadow Vetchling 1
Meadow Vetchling [Lathyrus pratensis]
Meadow Vetchling detail
Meadow Vetchling flower detail
Meadowsweet 1
Meadowsweet [Filipendula ulmaria]
Meadowsweet 2
Meadowsweet flower detail

Purple Loosestrife 2
Purple Loosestrife [Lythrum salicaria]
Purple Loosestrife 1
Purple Loosestrife flower detail

Skullcap [Scutellaria gelericulata]
Skullcap 2
Skullcap flower detail

Tufted Vetch 1
Tufted Vetch [Vicia cracca]
Tufted Vetch 2
Tufted Vetch flower detail

Wood Forgetmenot
Wood Forgetmenot [Myosotis sylvatica]

Yellow Loosestrife 1
Yellow Loosestrife [Lysimachia vulgaris]
Yellow Loosestrife 2
Yellow Loosestrife flower detail with what is believed to be a female scorpion fly - family Panorpidae.

Swans & 6 cygnets
Swans rear six cygnets (25 June 2009)
It is pleasing to report that the pair of Mute Swans [Cygnus olor] which take Urswick Tarn as their own have successfully reared, as of 25 June 2009, six cygnets.  From an original batch of nine eggs, seven cygnets were hatched but one cygnet disappeared very soon after hatching.  Two of the eggs appear to have been sterile.
An orchid - but which one? (13 June 2009)
Northern Marsh Orchid 1
Northern Marsh Orchid 2
This solitary orchid was found in the vicinity of the tarn, but away from the wet and marshy areas.  It's appearance suggests that it is a Marsh Orchid and possibly a Northern Marsh Orchid [Dactylorhiza purpurella], but this is still to be confirmed following further consultation with an orchid expert.  It is known that orchids hybridise readily and it may be that the above specimen is one such outcome and thereby explain its residency in well drained, non-marsh ground.  Should further information emerge, this short note will be updated and re-posted.
Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly (30 May 2009)
This Painted Lady butterfly [Vanessa cardui] was photographed in a meadow adjacent to Urswick Tarn on 30 May.  This is a migrating butterfly which flies north from Southern Europe and North Africa eventually being present across all of Europe.  Their flying season commences in January/February and it is typically June by the time that they reach the UK, although there is seasonal variability and a trend towards ever earlier arrival dates.  It is a very active species fuelled by nectar taken from plants, amongst which Buddleia is a particular garden favourite.  Areas with a prolific growth of thistles are a good place to look for this far travelled beauty.

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