Flies and flowers

A glorious, clear, blue-sky sunny day. Up to the moor.

There were thousands and thousands of black flies mating above the heather just beyond Mount Skip. Those big, ugly flies with the training undercarriages—whether legs or sexual organs, I have never been able to tell. Never have I seen so many flies in one place. They swarmed everywhere. The restricted depth-of-field in the photograph I took just doesn't do the spectacle justice:

Thousands and thousands of flies
Thousands and thousands of flies.

I couldn't believe that only a single swallow was taking advantage of this almost limitless feast. Perhaps all the others had already had their fill.

Fortunately, the flies thinned then petered out completely as I reached the golf course, where I was amused to see local sheep trimming the third tee:

Keeping the third tee well-trimmed.

I stood admiring the view from the trig point for several minutes before a covey of three grouse that I hadn't seem suddenly took flight from feet away. Apparently, they hadn't seen me either!

A couple of unidentified caterpillars on the footpath. I need to get a better guide book. A kestrel hanging motionless above the edge, facing into the wind, the updraft making hovering unnecessary.

At the corner before the big shed, I decided to turn left for a change, heading home via Johnny House. I don't know if that's it's real name, or just JP's nickname for the place. I must ask her.

Three rooks were having a whale of a time, cavorting in the wind, apparently just for the joy of it, breaking off only to mob the poor kestrel.

Rooks cavorting
Rooks cavorting.

I sat on the wall by the almost-dead tree at Johnny House for 10 minutes, taking in the view. Bilberries have taken root in some of the recesses of the tree. A typical Yorkshire ecological niche.

I finally managed to identify the pretty, little yellow flowers that grow in certain places amongst the heather:

Tormentil (I think)
Tormentil (I think).

Tormentil. I think.

More photos »

Postscript 13-Sep-2011: I have since identified the black flies spotted above the heather as rather aptly named heather flies. And the things dangling behind them are definitely legs!

6 thoughts on “Flies and flowers

  1. re: catapillar, I've had a look in a couple of books and am pretty sure that it is the catapillar of a moth and not a butterfly... definitely not a Cinnabar but beyond that I don't know - so that leaves you about 2,499 species of British moth to go...sorry!

  2. Thanks for your efforts. I had a good look through all my books as well, but my best book on butterflies and moths doesn't devote much space to caterpillars.

    I also decided against the cinnabar moth, although there is a passing resemblance. I managed to photograph a cinnabar moth in my garden a few years ago:


  3. Hi Richard,

    yes, I also noticed that identification books on Butterflies and Moths seem to devote very little space to caterpillars - is this a gap in the book market or do I simply need to find and buy another book I wonder?

  4. I've seen a book specific to caterpillars, in the gift shop at Leighton Moss, but I suspect that it cost a fortune - be good to have one though. Rooks enthusiasm for windy days is infectious isn't it - I wonder why they love it so much?

  5. I found a copy of Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles: Macrolepidoptera (Reprint Edition) by Jim Porter on-line and yes, you guessed it the cheapest copy was £55. It would indeed be a useful addition to anyone's natural history library but it is a lot of pennies to say the least!

  6. Hmm - that's a bit dispiriting - that's probably the one I saw, but I thought about £40. Actually - it makes little difference since I'm not likely to shell out £40 or £55. Natural history books can be very expensive!

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