It is still very dry with the marsh and the fell sides turning an unaccustomed pale gold where the dry grasses are bleached to savannah shades. In places, patches of glowing orange are the dead leaves of desiccated bilberry plants, their fruits falling black and shrunken before they can be picked. The stringy stalks of Bell-heather are conserving the meagre water better and producing the first swath of purple flowers prior to the August burst of common ling. In the forest silver birch trees, quick to grow, with shallower roots have been turning prematurely autumnal from yellow to brown with the whisper of their falling leaves twisting in the hot winds. Even the conifers, with their drought resistant needles are shedding pale storms of pins and their lower branches are drooping to the ground, blocking the deer and badger runs. The trackway verges through the forest are powdered white where the infrequent forestry vehicles have been writing ‘Eat my dust’ – instead of the usual, ‘Mind my mud’.
However, all may change in the next week as the forecast tells of thunderstorms and rain to come, cooling the earth and washing the warmer waters out of the Lakes. If you want to go bathing in Bassenthwaite blue water without shivers this may be the last weekend to do it!
No real surprises here as no 14 leads a busy social and dining life on the S Lakes Estuaries.
Lake levels too are falling and we are starting to see large spits and shoals of gravel exposed. Bassenthwaite is shallow at normal times for much of its depth – so does the falling water make it easier for ospreys to fish as new places are opened up and fish are corralled into a smaller area? Certainly we are seeing fishing below the viewpoints every day and although the ‘Yshaped tree’, a little further into the marsh, is a favourite perch, Unring and Longstreak seem to enjoy lounging on the gravel beaches between hunting forays. Our second male 2H spends a lot of time dipping into all the bays in turn all around the lake – a joy to watch from higher up on Dodd and the surrounding fells.
Hot weather continues and water is a major cause for thought on the Viewpoints. Staff and Volunteers need to keep hydrated and if we don’t want a mass migration of all the creatures in the wood down to the Lake shore then regular topping up of the water bowls is imperative. Some of our Volunteers get a bit carried away with the detail of providing a tea party for the birds, rabbits, squirrels and stoats but it seems to be working and there are good sightings every day.
Every drop of water at the Viewpoints has to be carried up so visitors are advised to carry plenty on their visits. – especially if walking to the top!