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" Wildlife, Garden, Stars and Eels "

Date & start time:    Various days around the 21st July, 2018. 

Location of Start :   By the red phone box, Loweswater, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 143 211 )

Places visited :         The garden, greenhouse and a purposeful walk down to the lake.

Walk details :             2 miles, negligible feet of ascent,  an hour or so.

Highest point :          I know what was the lowest point . . . read on.

Walked with :             Myself and our dog Dylan.

Weather :                    Sunny but clouding over as our long spell of fine weather finally ends.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


A slight miscellany from our garden, greenhouse and the like,

ending up with a short walk down to the lake to see how others are helping wildlife (or not) as the case may be. 

First a few photos from the last few days and nights as the long spell of fine weather rather draws to a close.

The sunny days with clear skies has given us beautiful skies.

Tonight I looked out late in the evening and noticed a big red star shining in the east . . . or rather south east.

This was no second coming or star shining through a summer dust haze, it was the planet Mars rising over Great Gable.

A quick look around and we could see the planet Jupiter low down in the west

just above the slopes of Gavel's Black Crag, the yellow lights are the pub by the way !

Consulting the Google star map there should be two more, Pluto and Saturn,

but they were hidden by the cloud and the bright moon.

A bright, fast moving star directly above us caught my eye . . . here photographed with a five second exposure.

It must have been the Space Station, as it was low enough to be different from any of the stars and too high and bright to be an aircraft.

- - - o o o - - -

Half an hour later, as we were heading to bed we could see all those four planets in the sky I mentioned earlier,

but sorry the camera was packed away and sleep was calling before I realised the opportunity !

No matter, tomorrow I would be out to see the Lunar Eclipse . .  so we could see them then.


As luck has it of course, there was a blanket cloud cover the following evening

and we saw absolutely nothing of the planets or of the blood red moon !


- - - o o o - - -



As I looked out of the window another night

I noticed what looked like Dylan's toy still out in the garden.


I was just about to fetch it in

and realised he doesn't currently play with

a brown spiky toy.


For the first time in the sixteen years we have lived here

we were actually seeing hedgehogs in the garden !


He/she was intent on eating the bird food

that had dropped from the bird table to the floor.


- - - o o o - - -



The camera was picking up an image just from the from the brightness of the outside light.

No flash was needed so no distractions to scare away the visitor.

I knew it wasn't a toy when it started moving  !

Not only one but two . . . the second one emerges from close to the hedge.

I was just able to catch a clear photo as he / she moved across to the table.

After a while they both moved off down the garden towards the paddock.

Who knows, by opening up a ramp and gate into the bottom of our main garden, we may have encouraged them in.

Next day we bought some hedgehog specific food, which looked like bird food but with dried mealworms and more nut kernels.

They were spotted again two nights later enjoying the food we put out.

We have continued to put out food each night, but I don't know whether they've been again

as what food is not eaten is usually devoured by the birds at first light . . . mealworms included.

- - - o o o - - -

One morning I was in the greenhouse and noticed a visitor, a Common Frog

" Very variable in colour, typically yellowish brown, brown but may be olive green coloured,

and some individuals have a reddish or yellow appearance" . . . Reptile and Amphibians website

I've seen him in the greenhouse before, and he was sighted last year too.

he must like the damp environment of the tomato season and this year the new watering system !

Last year I checked that he didn't eat these . . . he didn't as he prefers snails and slugs . . . so he's a welcome visitor !

[ The picture is of four different varieties of tomatoes that I'm growing . . . Black Cherry, yellow Sun Baby, Gardener's Delight and Alicante.]

- - - o o o - - -

I heard mention of another wildlife project recently.

United Utilities are installing eel-friendly access at the weir at the northern end of Crummock Water.

We often walk there but not always to the weir . . . so I take a walk down to see what they are doing.

The Park Beck river is very low in this dry weather . . .
. . . the grass is parched too, more yellow than for a long time.

The lake level has been dropping in recent weeks.

Stumps of old trees and posts are showing for the first time in a long while.

These trees are normally being lapped by the water.

The levels are about fifteen to eighteen inches down . . . that's a lot of water when multiplied across the whole expanse of the lake.

Looking down to the weir at the foot of Crummock Water.

There has been talk of eel passes being built and dredging being done while the levels are low.

The mechanical diggers have gone . . . leaving a disturbed area of lake gravel across the lakeside path and into the trees on the left.

The water is still muddied from the excavations . . . and there is some weird plastic tacked onto the stonework.

In the river there are anti-pollution measures in place.

An explanatory sign about the work tells us what is being done.
Those ugly plastic panels hide brushes on the inside.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger more readable version of the sign.

The brushes and matting are there to provide traction for the eels and elvers to climb over the weir and into the lake.

The central section has had plastic matting fitted onto the stonework.

[ The white sandbag is there temporarily while they do the work.]

The same matting has been applied to the other central section but strangely not to the fish-pass itself.

Beyond it the low levels of water mean the normal beach now extends well out into the lake bed.

Those ugly white plastic panels are repeated on the final section of the weir and the brackets holding them are a real bodged job.

They will always be visible above the water even in flood times.

In the year we have received World Heritage Status it seems environmental vandalism to fit such ugly structures.

No-one I talked too today like the look of them.

More rather dubiously anti-pollution measures under the bridge.

On a second visit they had cleared away the sandbags and the water level had dropped

and now the eel brushes no longer even touch the water.

It seems that they are not only ugly but totally impractical and why is the design different from the black matting ?

Comparative pictures from previous years . . .

. . . when the water level was not so low.

Downstream the muddied waters of the lake have left a residual haze in the water,

which took several days to clear despite the measures they had put in place.

- - - o o o - - -

A final few pictures down at the eel ladder at the Scale Hill car park.

There's a discrete black box section, neatly fitted onto the wall.

It was fitted last year by the Environment Agency and has water flowing over the hidden brushes inside

These provide a constantly damp environment at the side bank of the river to allow eels to cross the weir when the river is low.

The top and bottom both touch the water even at times of drought.

It is reasonably discrete and visually not a problem.

It is also the same river . . . so why are the top eel brushes on the weir different from this system just half a mile downstream,

and why is is it necessary to have fifty foot wide matting and ugly brush panels up there when a foot wide provision is deemed suitable here ?

United Utilities have a lot of questions to answer.

- - - o o o - - -



Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a practical conservation measure that also looks nice.

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Previous walk - 11th July - The Loweswater Ladies Summer Trip

A previous time down by the weir - 11th October 2010 Crummock and Cake

Next walk - 28th July - Cathy, Gareth and Rhian