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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy New Walking Year !


My page in the Wildside Booklet . . . .


A regular count over the same walk builds up into a snapshot of birdlife in our time. In future those who look back may notice differences, or similarities.

This year (2014) the New Year Bird Count over this walk gave us 18 species : -

1.1.14
Clay House - through North Dean Woods and across Norland Moor to the Ladstone, and back.
Caol Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Jackdaw
Blackbird
Carrion Crow
Magpie
Feral Pigeon
Black-headed Gull
Woodpigeon
Jay
Robin
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Treecreeper
Common Gull
Chaffinch 
Grey Wagtail
Dunnock

There were five walkers plus two dogs. (Room for plenty more this time.)
Bring a packed lunch. It can be muddy in the woods and windy on the moor.
Contact me if you're on your way and can't find Clay House at West Vale.
07715005379

Report on the Walk 1.1.15:

Eleven people turned up to my surprise, a good number. Some old friends and new.
The first part, through North Dean Woods, it was dry but overcast, and we were taking layers off - it was so warm.

We noticed the extensive thinning that has been going on near to Clay House. This might bring some summer migrants back, after the understorey has re-developed in the sunshine, like warblers and the two species of flycatchers which disappeared from there some time ago. 

The most prominent fungus was the Birch Polypore as usual, being big and noticeable to the non-mycologists on the walk. I also noticed a dog-chewed stick shot through with the turquoise of the Green Elf Cap fungus Chlorociboria aeruginascens; the one that stains the timber and makes it valuable to marquetry workers. (I searched for "fungus Tunbridge ware" and found illustrations of the work.)

At the disused church at Copley we noticed on the outer wall by the Lych-gate a luxuriant specimen of Hart's Tongue Fern, and beside it several plants of a corrugated form of it. One frond has a forked midrib.



We had all together 21 species of bird, three up on last year, despite missing out the Norland Moor section, due to a strong squall of wind and rain blowing up as we reached the top of Norland Clough.
Two grey squirrels were the only wild mammals seen.
Birds Seen:
(Some on way there.)
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove
Blackbird
House Sparrow
Magpie
Robin
Dunnock
Great Tit
Goldfinch c.8
Chaffinch
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
Fieldfare (2)
Large Gull - unidentified
Kestrel
Feral Pigeon
Mistle Thrush (2)
Redwing (1)
Black-headed Gull





Friday, 26 December 2014

Saturday Walk

We have in the programme an informal walk marked  for tomorrow 27th December.

How about going to Mixenden Reservoir and the mixed conifer/broadleaved plantation around it?

The walk can be lengthened if everyone is in agreement, up towards Ogden.

Meet 10.30 for 10.45 leaving from the fish shop area in the middle of Saville Park Moor, Halifax, or meet on the road below the Res, but let me know if meeting there as I may not come if no-one turns up.

This used to be a favourite walk of the HSS.

Saturday Evening 27.12.14:

Pictures from the walk:

Mixenden Reservoir
A Great Northern Diver was staying there. My pictures were poor, but some good ones are over on Calderdale Birds Blog. We bumped into Dave Sutcliffe, the original finder of the Diver. He had been caught with his family in the Sheffield Gridlock yesterday evening!

We set off to the next Reservoir, Ogden Water

We saw no other walkers until we got to Ogden Water

the smudges are dust in my camera

Crossing the polar ice-cap of Ogden Golf Course, we found the snow littered with conifer seeds drifting from the plantation. I think they were larch seeds.

We had company as we stopped for lunch. (A Carrion Crow and scores of people plus their dogs doing the circuit of the reservoir.)


The variety of ice formations is amazing. You could call this one  "Lace- ice"



We returned via the lanes of Ogden which were nice and almost traffic-free for a change

Returning through Mixenden Plantation
Frank Murgatroyd once saw a Woodcock on its nest here. He said the first thing he noticed was its eye looking at him. Our bird list today is below. (Three of us were on the walk.)

Great Northern Diver
Common Gulls
Black-headed Gulls
Woodpigeons (few)
Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies
Robin
Wren
Snipe (7 together)
Meadow Pipits (13 together)
Lapwings (20)
Pied Wagtail
Kestrel

And we watched a Roe Deer bounding through the snow in the fields. It stopped to look at us for a moment.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Decorative Lichens


Growing on a sandstone wall above Todmorden where the builder has cut nearly every stone using a portable stone saw - an unusual  technique.


So it's quite a young community of lichens . . .


They looked like the work of an inspired textile designer . . .
Click on the picture to enlarge.


Appreciating natural things for me starts with simple enjoyment. It's not necessary to know the names of the species straight away. 


Lichens, especially the foliose (leafy) types can be extra plump and bright in the wet of winter, and are worth stopping to look at when there are fewer birds, insects, fungi and flowers distract.
The ones above are growing out in the open in full sun and the wind. Foliose types tend to grow on wall-tops under trees; sometimes on the twigs themselves


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Last Saturday's Walk to Pudsey Clough and upcoming Christmas Social



For those who like to keep their feet on dry carpet - this is a scene from the walk. It wasn't all hunching round tiny fungi in the grass - it also included agility-testing bog hopping and slippery stile climbing. My favourite spare time activities ! There was low cloud blanketing the moor above Burnley Old Road, unfortunately, so we didn't get to Hoofstone Height.

Birds we saw included Kestrel, Mistle Thrush and Raven, and fungi included beautiful Heath Waxcap, Meadow Waxcap and Crimson Waxcap  Also Amber Jelly growing all over the twigs high in willow trees, which looked like some kind of secondary re-emergence of leaves or fruit, with the light shining through them. A new fungus to me, pointed out and identified by Peachysteve.

Some of the other images that stick in my mind are of the gushing streams and waterfalls, made visible below the paths since the oaks have shed their leaves.

Christmas Social.

The equally important dry carpet aspects of the HSS's activities continue with the Christmas Social, which is on December 9th. 7.15 - 9.15 at our usual rooms in the Halifax Central Library.  This year, apart from eating cake and drinking cuppas, I have suggested we assemble our favourite fossils from home collections to talk about, photograph, and make a document of.

                   It's the last meeting of our 140th Celebration Year.

          And the programme for 2015, already at the printers, should be ready.