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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bradley Wood

I was given a splendid tour of Bradley Wood by Mick Harrop. It is ancient woodland containing bell pits showing a former use by digging for coal.

The woodland is an interesting mix of tree species as a result of planting over recent decades by the Scout Camp and Activity Centre. But when you filter these out an older landscape emerges, which includes large Hazel coppice stools and many fine Oaks.

One of my photos is of a Beech which is large in both height and girth and looking remarkably healthy. It could easily be 200 year old, an age which is rare for this species in our area. Notice the graffiti carved in the bark high up the trunk.

A most intriguing tree is a large multi-stemmed Oak growing from an old coppice stool. Just how old is it? Looking at the width of the base and how it could have spread outwards with each coppice cycle is it fanciful to think in terms of 400 years old?

There are also some American Red Oaks (Quercus rubra), with leaves showing the natural variation in shape which caused me confusion when trying to identify them.

Before we went to Bradley Wood, Mick showed me an Oak in the middle of a field near Warley Town. It is the kind of tree that stands out in the landscape; with its spreading branches being evidence for it always having been an open grown tree.

To keep this Oak from losing its character and help it live longer, it is important not to let it become part of a woodland. If pollards were created from the young Oaks nearby---their present branch structure being ideal for doing this---both young and old would benefit. The many burrs contain dormant buds, which are just waiting for the right conditions to enable new shoots to grow. This is an Ancient Tree of the future.

                                                          Ancient Oak of the future

                                                        Beech tree at Bradley Wood

                                                      Beech tree at Bradley Wood

                                                       How old is this Oak coppice?

                                              Wide variations in leaf shape on Red Oak

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Larinioides cornutus, Bradshaw

Lovely to find this female Larioides cornutus near Bradshaw Lane this Sunday, shown roused from its weather-proof 'silken retreat' by a gentle poke from a pen nib.

The retreat is closely woven with an entrance near the bottom.

A smaller spider is using the same dried stem, probably a Dictyna which tend to haunt the dead heads of plants
Both common species but amazing beasts. The cornutus often live near water, sometimes climbing beneath the water surface to escape danger.

October's Talk on 9th. Please note this replaces the Geology talk from Will Varley in our printed programme and elsewhere on this site. (Due to an error on my part.) SB

If you are a gardener you will be perhaps taking stock on how well it did this year. This talk will help you to make decisions to improve your plantings if they could be better for the bees and other nectar-loving insects next spring and summer.

Monday, 1 October 2018

At Blake Dean

Very impressive Beech and measured round the girth gives a possible 200 year old tree. The whole group of trees here is very attractive and the sheltered position will have helped them grow. I wonder who planted them.

On the other side of the little footbridge there are a few isolated trees; the illustrated Oak is difficult to age but has character. The bulge at the base is probably decades of adventitious buds trying to grow but constantly eaten by sheep. It produces a complex pattern of cell growth distinct from the normal tissue.
                                                 Hmmm; I wouldn't stand there too long.

                                                             That branch is remarkable

                                                               Characterful Oak

                                                       Blake Dean pocket of trees

Hardcastle Crags fungi

Seen near Gibson mill on discarded remains of a pine footbridge. Peachy Steve has helped by suggesting it could be Antrodia xantha. There is a record of this a couple of years ago in the same area, possibly the same piece of wood!

Very attractive fungi and with imagination has a Mount Rushmore head on the left, possibly Theodore Roosevelt.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Hardcastle Crags and Beech

The National Trust has a woodland management plan for the Crags which is available to view by searching --   forestplans.co.uk and entering Hardcastle Crags in search box.

I was surprised to see that extensive work on the Beech trees has already begun within the last week or two. Quite a number of selected mature trees have had all the crown removed and a chainsaw version of ring barking to the lower trunk. The reason for leaving them like this is to provide standing dead wood. They will not recover; unlike Oak or Ash treated in this way would probably survive and some would thrive.

So far the older ones have been left alone and I do hope they are allowed to remain.

The tree works are taking place above Gibson Mill, near the 2 footbridges upstream; on left banking looking upstream.

There will be replanting but I do hope the numbers aren't excessive; it is the spaces between trees that make for a functioning woodland. A good experiment would be to leave an area to seed itself and compare it with an adjacent one that is planted.

Beech is a bit of a nuisance in the wrong place or in excessive numbers but there is no doubt it makes an impressive tree. We are seeing the last of the big Beech trees in the Calder Valley; photograph them whilst you can. The massive one at the junction of Mytholm steeps and the main road, just opposite the turning circle at Hebden Bridge, has been condemned and will soon be gone.


                                     Many in this area have had all the upper crown remove

                                               Ring barking as well as crown removal

                                                 More sunlight as crowns are removed

                                                                Tops taken out

Friday, 28 September 2018

Field Bird's Nest fungi

These have been present on my allotment for the past month or so, I thought they were just stunted, de-hydrated mushrooms up until today when I had a closer look a look at them. They range from around 6-11mm in diameter and are easily overlooked so I was pleased to have given them a second glance.

I think they are Field Bird's Nest fungi (Cyathus olla), judging by their size and trumpet shaped cups when mature. They have 3-5 eggs inside.

If anyone wants a look at them drop me a line - they're at Skircoat Green allotments.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Plant battle

Pendulous sedge (left) 'muscling in' on Woodrush

Portia is wondering if anyone else has noticed the effect of increased amounts of Pendulous sedge locally, muscling in on Woodrush in damp woodland. An area near her in Todmorden has no Woodrush left as a result.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Fig plant

Growing from the river wall in Todmorden is this Fig plant. It will be a Ficus but what species I don't know. Is wild Fig unusual in Calderdale---there is a colony of it in Sheffield.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

October's Talk and Indoor Meeting

If you are a gardener you will be perhaps taking stock on how well it did this year. This talk will help you to make decisions to improve your plantings if they could be better for the bees and other nectar-loving insects next spring and summer.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Hares, Short-eared owls, Twite and more...

The rather dismal, rainy start to Sunday September 16th culminated in a glorious evening while we were walking the area round Gorple reservoir. We were treated to the sight of  Short-eared owls (we counted four in total), which circled above fields of hares (at least 6!), rabbits, pheasant and grouse. Driving back along Edge Lane, we were lucky enough to see a flock of perhaps 20 Twite which landed briefly on a disused Delph. More about that later from Steve Blacksmith. For me, the joint highlights were the hares - I have never seen so many all in one go! - and the sight of those magnificent owls, their wings flashing a pure, bright white in the afternoon sun.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Autumn Crocus, a quick visit.

The number of the Autumn crocus, Crocus nudiflorus, blossoms in St John's graveyard at Bradshaw is 129. This one of my best totals for this site. The hot dry summer has not had any visible effect on these plants.


That's excellent Bruce, thanks for checking.

If anyone wants to see them, they are on the downhill side of Bradshaw Churchyard, along the perimeter wall under a row of trees.

TOUR OF SITES Sat 22nd September

There's an Autumn Crocus trip, consisting of short walks to see them along the riverbanks with short drives between, in the Copley and Ryburn Valleys on 22nd September. Meet PS and SB at Hollas Lane, Copley at 10.30am HX3 0UW.  If you are with us all day, bring a packed lunch.                                            (Report of the walk below)

This was taken last year of the colony at Strines Beck, Bradshaw/Holdsworth,  by Annie Honjo.  Julian Birkhead another of our members is in the picture.

Report of the Walk on 22nd September: Ten members attended plus two dogs.
We first went to the colony on the left bank of the Calder, near the junior rugby pitches at Copley. I was surprised to be shown by Peachysteve several odd crocuses and one clump actually on the playing fields! Those on the riverbank under the young oaks were blooming, but somewhat flattened by last week's wind and rain.

Secondly we went to the right bank of the Calder opposite the above spot, where Peachysteve recently found several patches of the leaves in spring. These also were flowering, but sparsely, showing it's much better to survey the extent of the colonies in spring, when the foliage comes up.

Next we drove along to Kebroyd and looked at the colony at Grassy bottom, by the weir, on the left bank of the Ryburn, among the beeches. Again there wasn't a great show, but the site is intact. There were some convenient fallen trunks here so we sat and had our packed lunches.

We made our way back up to the Oldham Rd through Ripponden via the football pitch and explored up Ryburn Lane, where all but Peachysteve had never been before. At the top, just after it ceases being a tarmac lane and changes to a bridleway, Peachysteve wanted to show us an immense oak, approximately 5ft diameter in its short trunk, with several large ascending smaller trunks. Philip Marshall thinks it is possibly the oldest oak in Calderdale. The "Ryburn Lane Oak" we decided it should be known as, and that it is imperative that it should be recorded and carefully protected.

After that we walked back to Grassy Bottom, via a single crocus at a small colony on the grass verge outside 112 Oldham Rd.,  to the Old Parade Ground, now overgrown with youngish trees, where there is another Crocus colony on the left river bank approximately 60 paces down stream from the footbridge. We confirmed that it is still there and saw a few bedraggled blooms.

Finally we all shared cars up to Dean Lane at Sowerby to see the colony in the field there, not far from Ryburn High School playing fields. These were the only undamaged blooms, and showed a large swathe of purple among the grass.

Other notable wildlife were a Little Egret at Hollas Bridge on the Calder, a beautiful white tufted caterpillar at Grassy Bottom, black in between a few segments, and with a pastel pink appendage sticking up near the rear, now identified on www.wildlifeinsight.com as  

Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda)

 and a Hedgehog, sadly a fatality on the main road at Kebroyd.   Also a single plant of Rustyback Fern on a garden wall along the main road, the only one known of for miles, and fungi were coming up in quantity and variety. The Ryburn Lane Oak had a huge, dripping beefsteak fungus on it, as well as an Artists Bracket.                                                                                                                              

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Unusual Grass species

I looked at the Incredible Edible raised beds in Todmorden railway station car park. There was some Sweetcorn but then a tall annual grass at the front looked of more interest. It was Cockspur grass, Echinochloa crus-galli, which flowers very late in the season and often in October.

The last time I saw it was Todmorden park in October 2010, a large stand of it occupying the lake of flood water. Cockspur originates from tropical Asia and Africa; in the paddy fields of the far east it is a real pest.

Cockspur grass is considered one of the world's worst weeds and can remove as much as 80% of the available soil nitrogen. Accidently introduced to many countries where it has become invasive but in the Calder Valley is rarely seen

Some varieties of Cockspur are grown for their edible seeds and young shoots, so it would be interesting to know whether Incredible Edible knowingly planted this grass or if it just 'popped up'.

UPDATE: Incredible Edible have said they didn't plant it. Good record then for this casual. It probably won't appear next year, so see it while you can if passing that way.

                                                                 Cockspur Grass

Close up of a raceme branch showing rigid hairs on the spikelets

In the 'paddy fields' of Todmorden Park 2010

Thursday, 6 September 2018

This Month's Talk

After the event: Andy brought us a fascinating talk, with plenty of hard science for the initiated, and interesting anecdotes to whet the appetites of beginners to fungus identification and surveying. We were interested to learn that the fields at High Greenwood, part of the National Trust Estate, are ranked very highly, in fact fourth in England for their score in fungus biodiversity

Our National Trust contact Natalie Pownall  invited us to a couple of events coming up:

  Woodland by night, wildlife watch at Hardcastle Crags. Here’s the link to the website. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/98b62237-587d-4377-b581-361f4e35f5fc/pages/details or https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags FREE
Booking available for the night walk on Friday 14th September

-        Wax Cap Workshop study days 4th – 5th October. Meet at Gibson Mill 10am Thursday 4th October for morning training followed by an afternoon identifying wax caps in the field! Friday 5th October meet at Hollin Hall for full day in the field studying wax caps using keys. The aim is to provide training in ID skills and habitat condition assessment in order to enable future “in-house” monitoring of the Hardcastle Crags grasslands. Training and workshop are for interested parties able to commit to surveying wax caps at Hardcastle Crags annually thereafter. Maximum 25 people. Booking required via Natalie.Pownall@nationaltrust.org.uk

Sunday, 26 August 2018

A Walk in the Crags

"The Crags" is our local shorthand for Hardcastle Crags, a National Trust nature reserve, not to be confused with Cragg Vale, which is a valley near Mytholmroyd. (note the spelling of "the Crags" and Cragg Vale.)

Tawny Grisette
Apparently edible and good, but best not eaten, as confusion with other deadly Amanitas is possible

 As above

The Crags are the only place we see these mounded nests of Northern Hairy Wood Ant. They use only dead conifer needles to build the nests on the ground, and a close look reveals a seething mass of busy ants keeping it in good order, with ventilation holes here and there. Green Woodpeckers often dig in to the mounds to get their favourite food of ants; this perfect one perhaps indicates a low population of woodpeckers at the moment. 

There were a couple of trees, both larches, with a crowd of these - up to 50-odd round each tree. I wasn't sure of the identity, but a Rumanian gentleman we met whose wife was photographing flowers thought it was False Chanterelle, which I could confirm with the book at home. I should really take the book to the fungus, not the fungus to the book!

As above, it has the typical mushroom gills, where a true Chanterelle has simple ridges nearly to the bottom of the stem.

Chanterelle also has a fruity smell, and this one doesn't.

Edible but not worthwhile the book says. 

Boletus luridus, I believe, from the netted pattern on the stem, and the blue staining. Sorry - I can't find a common name for this. We found it already knocked over or I wouldn't have picked it. Pores instead of gills.

the cap of the above

Alder Tongue, found at Sowerby beside the Calder. Also seen at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. It's a fungus that inhabits the tree's tissues, and fruits out of the tree's own fruits. So it's a gall- forming fungus.  Also below.

Robin's Pincushion, a gall found only on wild rose. This was at the other end of Calderdale, in the Anchor Pit Lock area beside the canal

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Luddenden Dean and Midgley Moor, 20th August 2018

Not many birds about on a walk taking in the Dean and the Moor, but quite good for insects.  Best butterfly was a wall below Crow Hill, also small copper, speckled wood and a fox moth caterpillar. Plenty of hover-flies too when the sun came out, including, Cheilosia illustrata, Leucozona glaucia and Scaeva selenitica.
                                            Speckled wood
                                            Cheilosia illustrata
                                            Scaeva selenitica
                                            Fox moth caterpillar
                                            Leucozona glaucia and small copper below

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Norland Moor Draft Management Plan - have your say!

The Draft 2018 –2028 Management Plan for Norland Moor is now available for public consultation.
Download from the Council website, search ‘Norland moor’, or find it at:- www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/parks-and-open-spaces/nature-reserves/norland-moor  For more information, please contact countryside@calderdale.gov.uk or phone 01422 284415.  The consultation ends on the 5th October.  We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Calderdale Countryside and Woodlands Team,
Public Services Directorate,
Calderdale MBC,
Spring Hall Mansions,
Huddersfield Road,
West Yorkshire,
Telephone 01422 284415

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tuesday 14th August - Calderdale's lost Cornfields and the changes in wildlife 7.15 Imperial Crown Hotel, Horton St.

Yellowhammer by Dave Sutcliffe

Tonight's wildlife talk proposes more changes to Calderdale's agriculture to hopefully help birds like this, and the Twite, so recently seen in good numbers locally.

Non-members welcome. Donations accepted at the membership desk.