Less than a fortnight since our last visit and the alchemy of season and weather brings change. Cloud is low with fleeting illumination of distant fells, the Howgills, High Dolphinsty and Wild Boar Fell. Starlings gather along wires. Hirundines feed low, skimming about us, the light too poor their flight too fast to be sure whether they’re swallows or house martins. The first flowers of Grass of Parnassus appear low on the skirts of Smardale Fell.
A few Scotch Argus in flight but wind and light drizzle don’t suit them.. The kestrel nest hole appears empty, the young take flying lessons and the adults teach them how to hunt, calling to each other flying above us. Suddenly, an adult male appears in the nest cavity. Bright yellow feet, tawny mantle and grey head and flies off. We witness, and try to interpret behaviour, their secret lives. Another shot at a video but the adult kestrel’s appearance is unexpected and fleeting and I’m all fingers and thumbs. I freeze-frame a few seconds, and work it out.
Along the dismantled railway. A fortnight since, field scabious was abundant. Now it's hard to find, taken over by Devli’s Bit Scabious, a later flower. Guelder Rose berries grow glossy red and leaves begin to assume autumn colour.
Driving home via Ash Fell Road, there are swathes of heather on either side and vistas unfold before us, the fells we have glimpsed from up on Smardale Fell.