If you think you may have sensitive records regarding any animal or plant sightings please email us (address in the "Welcome" page) before posting on the Blog. We will pass all details in confidence to the relevant Recorder.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Mistletoe

 I've managed to get a solitary mistletoe plant growing on my apple tree & wondered what other local records there are?


From Mick Harrop

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Well worth a look

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f2ZPd5ALJY

Important Meeting re North Loop, Cromwell Bottom

On the 8th May there will be a meeting to discuss the proposals relating to the restoration of North Loop Closed Landfill Site, Cromwell Bottom. This meeting will provide a forum to input and discuss matters relating to the creation of biodiversity and access features on this unique development opportunity. The meeting will also provide further information and update on proposals surrounding the installation of a fish ladder and hydro-electricity option at the weir.

As usual, the meeting will be held at the Mulberry Suite, Brighouse 6th Form College, at 7:00pm on Thursday the 8th May.

FULL DETAILS HERE


Monday, 28 April 2014

Bumblebee ID training session in Centre Vale Park Todmorden

Records of bumblebees are desperately needed for Calderdale and the surrounding areas in order to determine the impacts of climate change and disease on these attractive and highly beneficial insects. Bumblebees provide vital pollination services to growers, gardeners and wildplants as well as being a sure sign that spring is on its way. Please come along and learn how to identify the species that are known to live in Calderdale, who knows, once you are trained up, you may discover a species new to the area! The training will be provided by an expert from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Places are limited, so booking is essential.
The session will be held on the 7th May at 9.45 for 10am start, lunch will be at 12.30 where you will need to provide your own lunch. After Lunch there’ll be a walk around the park to put your new skills to the test.
This will be the end of the training session but if any ones interested they can join the 2pm Bee walk to Stanally stones, part of the Action for Bees in Calderdale project.

Please contact countryside@calderdale.gov.uk to book the bee ID training session

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Co-incidence

I was reading a book a couple of days ago about Robert Marsham of Stratton Strawless in Norfolk. He was a landowner/naturalist of the 18th century and a correspondent with Gilbert White.
Robert Marsham is the only person to have ever recorded the Wallcreeper bird in Norfolk.
I had never even heard of a Wallcreeper and so I was amazed at the co-incidence of seeing the bird on the BBC2 "France, The Wild Side" last night.
I don't suppose our local birders have ever seen this bird?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Brilliant Newt Night at Cromwell Bottom

The Newt Count Night last night run by Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group was well attended by about 20 people. It began with a treat organised by Robin Dalton of the Countryside Service. He invited Chris Tindal to attend who introduced Great Crested Newts into his parents pond many years ago. He now has a licence to handle them and use them for educational purposes, (he is a lecturer in Natural Sciences,) so he brought some males and a females in an aquarium for us to see.
Apologies for the poor pictures. The light levels were low, and the tank reflected the flash when I tried to use that.

Creat Crested Newts are not known to occur naturally in Calderdale. They are fully protected and you now need a licence to catch them and also to move them.

The search of the ponds on Tag Loop and the old wheel-wash for trucks on North Loop was also very successful, with hundreds of Palmate and Smooth Newts, males and females, found by the light of our torches.

We also saw at least two toads.



The two above are the male Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus. His flamboyant spring crest is less noticeable out of water.
The three below are a female Great Crested Newt. Clicking on the pictures enlarges them, when the warty skin should be visible. An alternative name for this species  is Warty Newt..







In the aquarium, pictured from underneath, the size of the  Great Crested Newt, with boldly marked belly, contrasts with the size of  and the faintly marked bellies of the Palmate Newts Triturus helveticus.



In this picture (above) you can see the boldly marked bellies of the Great Crested Newt; the smaller one with a boldly marked belly is a male Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris, which is about the same size as the Palmate Newts, with less well marked bellies. 
Many thanks to Chris Tindal for taking the trouble to catch and bring males and females of all three species of  British newts, and apologies again for not being able to get better pictures. The FSC (Field Studies Council) sheet on Reptile and Amphibian identification is very good. (£2.75)





Walk This Saturday 26th April

 
Bluebells seen today (24/4/2014) Park Wood

Apr 26th   There will be a short walk in Park Wood, one of the finest bluebell woods in the north of England.

The meeting place is the bottom of Plains Lane, Elland, which is between Elland Bridge and the Crematorium.

The time is 10.30 for a 10.45 start. No need to bring a packed lunch.

The route will be circular and parts of it are wet and muddy. Thanks for the update Steve.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Bilberry Bumblebee Bombus monticola

Saw my first one today feeding on bilberry  on the path out of Midgley village that heads onto the moor.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Tubercles on front "hands" of male Common Toad


While helping toads across roads on toad patrols I have often looked for the tubercles the literature describes on the male toads' "hands". I've never been able to spot them in the outdoors, by torchlight, and a live toad is so squirmy and uncooperative.
So I looked among the unfortunate road casualties for an obvious male by size and shape, and found this one that had been hit and killed quickly without being too squashed.
The whitish underside with dark freckles is diagnostic of a Common Toad. Frogs have unspotted bellies.


In good light the day after, and with an 8x hand lens I saw them easily.
My compact Panasonic camera picked them out quite well. They are tiny black shiny raised spots. The skin remains pale between them.


During the breeding season the males develope these tubercles to enable them to get a strong grip under the female and just behind her front limbs and enables him to resist being pushed off her by another male.
Much squeaking (it can't be described as a croak) of different pitches goes on as  rival males attempt to usurp the first, who in turn kicks out with his back legs to push them away.


The tubercles are on the top side of the male's hands, on the first three digits from the inside out.
They are on the top side because he grips round from the back of the female but doesn't twist his "hands" at the wrist as, for instance, humans usually do when gripping another human from behind whilst dancing the Conga.


Top of left front "hand". Click on picture to enlarge.


Common Toads Bufo bufo in amplexus, (above) the male travelling to the breeding pond on the back of the female.

Other toads such as the native Natterjack and frogs also grip from behind in amplexus, but I am not aware of the males developing these tubercles.
Obviously I scrubbed my hands thoroughly after handling a dead animal like this. I always stress that toad patrollers should wear gloves whilst picking toads, etc, off the roads. The season has finished for 2014.
Pictures Copywright Steve Blacksmith 2014 but may be used quoting
 Halifax Scientific Society in not-for-profit media.  

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Toad Patrol Results from Lower Calder Valley


It was a good season weather wise after the temperature got up to about 10C.

Common Toad - safely in my bucket (SB)

The first warmth was on 13th March when it was 11.5c at 8.15pm when
we saw 1 toad at Washer Lane, Sowerby Bridge   SE 075239
            1   "         Thornhills Beck Lane, Brighouse SE 147236
            6  "          Styes Lane, Boulderclough         SE 038241
(These are the three sites I have been watching with help of other kind people.) (Copley has very few toads at the moment - we saw 2 squashed.)

Then it went cold again until Sunday 30th March when we saw the first big movement :
                                                                    12 moved 14 squashed Washer Lane
                                                                    71 moved 27     "            Boulderclough
                                                                                                                                   
 31stMarch                                                   24 moved   0 squashed Washer Lane
                                                                   164 moved 24 dead       Boulderclough

 1st april                                                        263 moved 11 dead      Boulderclough
                                                                       22   moved 15 dead      Thornhills
                                                                       17  moved   2 dead       Washer Lane

 2nd April                                                       49 moved    5 dead       Boulderclough
                                                                        7  moved     3 dead       Thornhills

 3rd April (Cooler to about 8c)                         65 moved     3 dead       Boulderclough
                                                                                                                                        
 4th April (warmer again)                                   99 moved    11 dead      Boulderclough

 10th April  (still warm)                                       3 moved        0 dead       Boulderclough

I saw somethings I had never seen before: some females moving overland with multiple males in amplexus on them ( up to 4 !). Also a nuptial chase when a single female tried to avoid a male attempting to jump on her - she went round in circles to try and avoid him!

Other wildlife included a roe deer at close quarters and tawny owls, sadly very few (2). A bat, probably a Daubentons, flew over the surface of the dam almost touching my white bucket as I emptied it into the water at one site. We counted 8 newts migrating to the dam at Boulderclough; all thought to be Palmate Newt, by far our commonest species.

Sadly also the Washer Lane main dam is now empty. It is no longer a toad breeding dam. The owners are bulding a house there, but have promised to create 2 amphibian ponds. Some large fish (carp?) were wallowing in half their depth of water. A member of Boulderclough Angling Club said he would try and tranfer them to his club dam and they disappeared but I'm not sure he moved them.

One volunteer, Steve Cummings the film maker, took a pair of toads home for the night to try and film spawning and they spawned in the aquarium, but not while he was watching!

Well done to all the Upper Valley Volunteers for moving all those many 100s of toads Portia emailed about.
                                                                 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Scout Road Park 11.04.2014

Tadpoles seen today at the park with Oliver.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Quick update on Toad rescues this year

It has been our best year yet for toads and also volunteers!
All progress in the Todmorden area can be found on the Facebook toad blog 'Todmorden Toad Rescue Group '
Cheryl & team at Woodhouse had most ever in one night -71 and quite a few casualties. Gordon & Eileen at Lumbutts also had most ever in a night too with 113 males & 16 females!
Lumbutts possibly slowing down but had over 300 so far, Portsmouth the same even despite very cold wind - 160 of them and lots of newts too.
Newly discovered sites include Ogden and Boulderclough where Steve and team rescued 273 toads and also 5 newts!
Hebden bridge sites Hebden hey - 76 toads and 28 newts and very few casualties, Stubbing 19 and finally 17 live at Horsehold

If anyone is interested in getting involved please contact countryside@calderdale.gov.uk

Bumblebee ID training session in Centre Vale Park Todmorden

Records of bumblebees are desperately needed for Calderdale and the surrounding areas in order to determine the impacts of climate change and disease on these attractive and highly beneficial insects. Bumblebees provide vital pollination services to growers, gardeners and wildplants as well as being a sure sign that spring is on its way. Please come along and learn how to identify the species that are known to live in Calderdale, who knows, once you are trained up, you may discover a species new to the area! The training will be provided by an expert from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Places are limited, so booking is essential.

The session will be held on the 7th May at 9.45 for 10am start, lunch will be at 12.30 where you will need to provide your own lunch. After Lunch there’ll be a walk around the park to put your new skills to the test.

This will be the end of the training session but if any ones interested they can join the 2pm Bee walk to Stanally stones, part of the Action for Bees in Calderdale project. 

Please contact countryside@calderdale.gov.uk to book the bee ID training session

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group - TONIGHT

TONIGHT  the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group Will be holding its 3rd Annual General Meeting On Wednesday the 9th April.  Click here for full details all welcome. Refreshments.

Monday, 7 April 2014

NEWT ID PLEASE

Newt on the path at Ogden tonight Palmate or Smooth ?