Monolith, amorous butterflies, grouse, wheatears, and goldfinches

A glorious, late-summer day, with a hint of chill in the air. Time to hit the moor.

I decided to make a diversion from my usual route to visit Churn Milk Joan, relocated prehistoric 'cup and ring' carved stone, latter-day boundary post, and subject of a poem by local lad and Poet Laureate, the late Ted Hughes. The location of the stone supposedly marks the place where a milk maid named Joan froze to death while crossing the moor. Or possibly, where she used to leave milk for the people of plague-ridden Luddenden. Or possibly something else. Possibly.

Churn Milk Joan
Churn Milk Joan.

On my way to the stone, I saw a very strange-looking butterfly fly past and land amongst the heather. It looked as if it had an extra pair of wings. On closer inspection, it turned about to be a pair of amorous small copper butterflies caught in flagrante delicto:

Small copper butterflies mating
Small copper butterflies 'crack at it'.

Having drunk my cup of tea, and left the obligatory coin in the hollow on top of the Churn Milk Joan, I cut across the moor along a track I had not used before, which my map told me would eventually join my usual route. And then I saw them: the red grouse ahead of me, feeding in the burnt heather stubble. They had seen me too. So I pulled out my camera and fired away as they flew away.

It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realised I still had my camera set to a slow shutter-speed, having used my wide-angle lens to photograph Churn Milk Joan. A schoolboy error. With my telephoto lens, camera-shake was pretty unavoidable. I have to say, though, one of my blurred photographs had a rather pleasing abstract quality:

Red grouse
Schoolboy error, or pleasing abstract? You decide.

Having re-joined my normal path, I decided to make my way home via Johnny House. Late-season wheatears led the way as I walked alongside the wall bordering the moor. There must have been a dozen of them, but I seldom got close enough to get many photographs.


Coming down from the moor, I headed down the Nook track. A pair of goldfinches were feeding on the thistle seed-heads in the field. I disturbed them as I took out my camera, and they set to flight approximately 100 other goldfinches which had been hidden in the thistles.

Flock of goldfinches
Flock of goldfinches

I have never seen so many goldfinches in one place before. A lovely end to a lovely walk.

One thought on “Monolith, amorous butterflies, grouse, wheatears, and goldfinches

  1. I startled large flocks of goldfinches on Warton Crag at around this time last year. Amazing isn't it?

Leave a Reply