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JUNE IN CUMBRIA

June is the month par excellence for flowers and associated insect activity. The roadsides, and any remaining hay meadows, should be at their most resplendent and colourful, as this is the month when white and yellow flowers give way to reds, blues and purples. In the countryside, as in the garden, the rose typifies June. Along the coastal strip the low-growing creamy-yellow Burnet Rose is usually the first to appear, followed closely by that symbol of Tudor England the Dog Rose. Unfortunately the more southern Sweet Briar is very rare in the region, a few specimens being found only at Hodbarrow, Askham and Arnside. The Guelder Rose (a Viburnum not a rose) is in flower this month, frequently planted at roadsides (see right).

The first week or two of the month is the perfect time to visit North Walney or Hodbarrow, when splendid displays of orchids - Common Spotted, Northern Marsh and Early Marsh - are to be found. Greater Buttefly Orchid occurs widely in the county and usually comes into flower at the start of the month (Lesser Butterfly Orchid being a couple of weeks later and found in more boggy habitats). From mid-month look out for Fragrant and Pyramidal Orchids, with Bee Orchid towards the end of the month, especially at Hodbarrow where hundreds of flower spikes are possible. At this same site, also look carefully in the grass for the short fronds of the unusual fern Moonwort - not easy to spot but there are many plants here. Mid-June should see the appearance of the cranesbill family. The widespread Meadow Cranesbill fills many hedgerows and tends to be the first to flower. The more upland and northern Wood Cranesbill can be be abundant where it occurs - for a spectacular display try the roadside between Windermere and Troutbeck. On North Walney and Biggar Bank it is still possible to find the endemic form of the Bloody Cranesbill, which has pale pink veined flowers (left), occurring alongside the normal deep red form. The annual Long-stalked Cranesbill, despite its name, is often inconspicuous and difficult to find on limestone grassland. Another annual is Shining Cranesbill whose shiny leaves turn red in Autumn and is frequent on limestone walls but can occur throughout the region on the mortar of old walls.

For butterflies, early June should find Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary at their peak (but only in the south of the county) and Small Pearl-bordered starting to appear county-wide. Dingy Skipper and Common Blue should soon start to emerge, together with first broods of Wall and Small Copper. The first two or three weeks of the month are the best time for Marsh Fritillary, whereas Mountain Ringlet, at its traditional Langdale and Honister sites, is likely to be most easily spotted during the last week of the month. In some years small numbers of Dark-green Fritillary (the only other fritillary found county-wide) may be on the wing in June, although early July would be the peak time.

Two rare day-flying moths are worth looking out for - please let me know if you find them. On wild Privet on limestone the Least Minor is possible, while on Marsh Cinquefoil [wine-red, not yellow flowers!J the little Purple-bordered Gold can be found. On grassland in the first weeks of the month the black and red Six-spot Burnet moth is common - look out for the straw coloured cocoon containing the pupa and also for the black, yellow and green larva, which may be around at the same time (as some take two years to reach maturity). The Burnet Companion moth is easily mistaken at first sight for the Dingy Skipper butterfly - orange on the hindwings removes any doubt.

Early June is the best time to visit colonies of breeding gulls, terns and seabirds, as there will be plenty of activity with many new mouths to feed. June is a good month to spot the breeding activity of moorland birds.

Towards the month end look out for the emergence of hawker dragonflies - especially Emperor Dragonflies, which is the first of the hawkers to be on the wing and is now commonly encountered especially in the south and centre of the county.

Late June is the perfect time for seeing glowing female Glow-worms (see the "Insects" menu). The best time is as the light is fading on warm still nights, probably between 10 and 11 p.m.