Jurassic fossil hunt

Jurassic fossil

Steve took a day off from running a sea kayak trip on the Dorset coast to go on a fossil hunting walk among the Jurassic rocks of this world heritage site.  Starting at Lyme Regis we soon found ourselves with plenty to look at including giant ammonites, corals and crinoids.  The Jurassic period lasted from approximately 200 to 145 million years ago and followed the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period.  The sedimentary rocks along England’s south coast have captured and  fossilised the remains of the abundance of creatures as they fell to the sea bed and were covered in silt.  The rock this later formed and which was raised by tectonic movement, has provided a palaeontologist’s delight charting the recovery of marine life following this 4th extinction event.  This was most likely caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2 over an 18 million year period as a result of much increased volcanic activity; it contrasts markedly with the current, incredibly rapid rise in CO2 which is driving the present human-induced climate emergency and 6th mass extinction.

By |June 28th, 2022|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Jurassic fossil hunt

Here be Dragons!

Southern Hawker

Not quite Game of Thrones, but you don’t need to go far from your doorstep to find some amazing creatures.  This exquisite female Southern Hawker dragonfly was well-camouflaged and perching inconspicuously alongside the River Glenderamackin.  We spotted her during a wild flower walk and, whilst dragonflies are voracious predators, they pose no threat to humans.

Conversely, we did also see Giant Hogweed which certainly does pose a significant threat to humans in that touching any part of the plant can cause very serious burns and long term damage.  Giant Hogweed, Hemlock and other toxic and poisonous plants are frequently encountered in Cumbria and the UK; being able to identify them correctly and understand their dangers is important if we are to avoid being badly affected by them.  Children are often most at risk of harm as they are more likely to encounter such plants whilst roaming and exploring and may not perceive them as a threat.  If you’d like to improve your ability to identify such plants, as well as the many which are not dangerous, then Steve will be pleased to help.  He can also aid your quest for dragons!

By |August 3rd, 2021|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Here be Dragons!

Ronas Hill, a mountain with latitude!

Ronas Hill

At 450m Ronas Hill is the highest point in Shetland.  Whilst running his recent sea kayak weeks in the UK’s most northerly islands Steve took the opportunity to spend a non-paddling day exploring this little visited granite plateau.  Despite its relatively lowly height, Ronas Hill and the surrounding peaks are the only sub-arctic terrain in the UK outside the Cairngorms.  What they lack in height compared to their southerly cousins they make up in latitude as, at over 60 degrees north, they experience similar temperatures, extreme winds and significant swings in light levels across the year.  This has led to a rounded, wind scoured and ice shattered environment with rare and unusual physical features such as solifluction terraces and fell field.  Ronas Hill also sports about 15 species of rare arctic alpine plants such as Alpine Lady’s Mantle, Alpine Azalea and Moss Campion.

Whilst there are no defined paths, Ronas Hill is a relatively straightforward walk in fine weather, though strong wind and/or cloud would make it an entirely different proposition.  The views from the summit, which, like Steve, you may well have entirely to yourself, are spectacular, taking in Northmavine and Yell to the north and Eshaness, Papa Stour and Foula to the the south west.  There’s also a neolithic burial chamber on the summit plateau.

If you’d like to share Steve’s broad environmental knowledge in any of the UK’s mountains and hills, or just be able to relax and enjoy your mountain walk with expert support, Steve will be pleased to hear from you and happy to help.  Get in touch at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk or call on 07796 213817.

By |July 12th, 2021|Environment & nature, Mountain walking|Comments Off on Ronas Hill, a mountain with latitude!

Thirlmere nature walk

Guided nature walks

We had an interesting nature walk along the west shore of Thirlmere spotting a good range of birds, some interesting bugs, butterflies and flowers and these Shaggy Ink Caps (Coprinus comatus).  Also known as Lawyer’s Wig, these large fungi are usually found in late summer and Autumn, they can be up to 40cm high – these ones were certainly big!  They are edible when young i.e. before the gills blacken, though, as with all fungi, very great care should be taken when picking mushrooms for food as misidentification can lead to severe poisoning and even death.

If you’re interested in a guided nature walk either as a standalone experience or as part of a mountain day then please get in touch with Steve who’ll be very pleased to help you.

By |September 28th, 2020|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Thirlmere nature walk

The year of the butterfly

Nature walks

It’s been an excellent year for butterflies (and other invertebrates) due to the early and prolonged warm weather the UK experienced from March.  This has not been harmed by the reduction in traffic and pollution due to coronavirus restrictions.  Covid-19 lockdowns have also encouraged increasing numbers of us into the outdoors where many people have been reacquainting themselves with nature and developing a connection with the UK environments.  We’ve had many good days out engaging with wildlife, including 15 species of butterflies so far.  The Peacock in the image is widely seen, we’ve also encountered Common Blues, Ringlets, Tortoiseshells, Graylings, Skippers and, perhaps most notably, have twice seen the rare Mountain Ringlet whilst out in the Lakeland Fells.  These are only found in England in the Lakeland hills between 500m and 800m living on matt grass.

If you’d enjoy a day out spotting butterflies or engaging with any other part of our natural history please get in touch with Steve.  He’ll be pleased to hear from you and happy to help.

By |August 28th, 2020|Environment & nature|Comments Off on The year of the butterfly
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