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Sunday, 27 December 2015

First Halifax Scientific Society Walk for 2016

As the blog isn't working at the moment, I am adding this to the post below

The first event of the year for the last several years has been a 
New Year's Bird Count on 1st January
this year, as it has been so mild, we will also be listing which plants we can find flowering

Meet 10.30 for 10.40 at Clay House, West Vale. You can park in the drive.
We walk through North Dean Woods, in sight of the 180 year-old bridge destroyed by
 the Boxing Day flood 

Then, if the weather is not too wet or windy, across Norland Moor to the Ladstone for
the amazing vistas; returning by a slightly different route
A couple of us have an extra interest now in the moor, as we represent Naturalists' points of view 
on the new Norland Moor Consultative group

Bring a packed lunch. The walk is about 7 miles, and we aim to get back by about 3.30

Steve Blacksmith
Report on the walk.

Six people came along this year. The tally was up, with 26 species of bird seen. (Only two plants in flower - Annual Meadow grass and Herb Bennet. - but lots of interesting fungi inc. the dwarf form of Sulphur Tuft, not listed in many books.)

Previous years bird totals were 21 last year and 18 the year before.

Notable bird sightings were Green Woodpecker, and interesting to see a male Reed Bunting at dusk go to ground and disappear among thick tufts of Purple Moor Grass - couldn't be flushed - so this must be where it was roosting for the night.

Hoards of people on the moor - I counted 37 in sight at one point - no doubt displaced from canal and river bank walks by the flood devastation.



____________________________________________________________________________


Mussels in the Drained Canal at Todmorden


the"foot" of this one is visible on the right



some seem to know the way to deeper water. Others crawl about aimlessly, leaving a furrow in the mud.

This mussel is in the Calder and Hebble Canal (e.g. at Cromwell Bottom) and the Rochdale Canal.
They're possibly Swan Mussels though I'm no conchologist.
I don't know if they're edible. I've seen the empty shells where animals/birds have eaten them. They grow to about 6 inches ( 15cm. ) long sometimes.

The canal section that is draining into the river after the embankment was washed away by  the floods is the one below Oldroyd Lock, Todmorden. 
The authorities have blocked off access to the canal towpath from Woodhouse Rd. bridge downstream, but you can see these Mussels just above bridge, where the towpath is currently  open up to Todmorden, though looking at the damage to the towpath, that may be closed as well.

Floods 26.12.15 at Woodhouse Lane Todmorden inc. broken canal bank later. Canal now drained away.

 View out of the flats

River Calder and Canal. Allotments between

Todmorden town centre - as close as we got.
Allotments later. Polytunnel and greenhouse flattenend. Home-made greenhouse survived!


The Rochdale canal draining into the Calder through the breached embankment.
Halifax Rd. Tod. Hippodrome Theatre on the left. Sign says "Canal Street".

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Walk to Midgley Moor to see the sunrise on the generally-accepted solstice.

At 08.23 approx. on Monday 21st Dec the sun rises.

Archaeologist Dave tells us the ancient locals dragged huge boulders into place on Midgley Moor to line up with the place the sun rises over the horizon after the longest nights.

I'm going up to try and see this.

Anyone who has the morning free, and would like to accompany me, meet at Luddenden Foot, just round the corner on the way up to Luddenden, at 7.30am. I'll look out for you. I'm in a red Berlingo.

Bring hot flasks if you can to keep warm. It's for the fairly fit only. The walk up is steep, wet and uneven. You may need a torch.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just two of us went up to see the sunrise. It was a fine, mild morning, but the wind got stronger as we climbed higher. Despite using the OS map (which fought back in the wind) and the compass, it took me quite a while to get us to the Miller's Grave pair of stones.

The sun was obviously going to clear the horizon before we got there.

Robin Hood's Penny Stone is within sight of Miller's Grave, and going over to it, we could see from the angle of climb, that the sun must have risen at the point on the horizon to which the arrangement of stones points.

So the expedition was a bit of a failure, except it confirms what we were told. Must try again next year.

On the way down we had time to enjoy the surroundings in the sunshine (before the rain rolled in again.)  I spotted the cowberry I had noticed on a list of sites Charles Flynn had once given me, and we heard pink-footed geese somewhere. I nearly always hear them first. There were 150 approximately going west in two loose chevrons and they came straight over us quite low as we were on the edge of the moor. The sun was catching their light bellies.

We speculated whether the geese might already have established their migrations in prehistoric times when the Solstice stones were being painstakingly dragged into place.


Aurora Alert 20 12 2015

Hi all ,I've just received Aurora Amber Alert now at 1700 hours,the sky looks a bit cloudy ,but Moon won't help matters to see it ! Good Luck if anyone ventures on tops ! and all the best for Christmas and New Year ,regards Bri.ps had a walk up to Langfield Common it looked promising i could see a light patch in the sky forming but i could not see any colour due to all the light pollution,i took a few pics anyway and the camera picked up the Greenish colour,then the clouds rolled in and the rain came down !!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Waystone Edge, Mountain Hare

Saw a fantastic winter pelaged mountain hare near the Waystone this morning.  This is the northernmost Pennine one I've seen, being several miles north of the Saddleworth Moor population.  I have a booklet published by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust called, 'The Mountain Hare in the Peak District', which states that during a survey of this species in 2000, one was recorded by National Trust wardens on Close Moss (south of Buckstones Moss and south of the A640).

Merry Christmas, Chris

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Jellydisc fungus

This purple fungus is on a Beech tree in Centre Vale Park woodland Todmorden. I think it is Purple Jellydisk--Ascocoryne sarcoides  which is a fungi often seen on dead Beech wood. Perhaps someone could confirm this?

The middle photo is taken with flash, the others without.  You can just make out the fungi on the lower trunk in the bottom photo.

Also significant are the black inky spots on the lower right root flare and a larger inky streak on the centre of the trunk. These are the signs of Phytopthora disease and this Beech is quickly dying from this fungal-like pathogen.






Saturday, 28 November 2015

Duck eggs in Todmorden


These eggs were laid under nettles on the tow path at Todmorden. The nettles have died down now. They're near the town centre, where all the feral Mallards are fed by people. 

Birds, especially waterfowl, are known for "dumping" eggs in other birds' nests. There might be the produce of more than one duck here.  

At the Raptor Forum we heard in a fringe conversation about a Peregrine pair on a sea cliff  seen tenderly feeding their prey to some Herring Gull chicks! That was in the SW of England. 

This could be how nest parasitism evolved. It seemed a real conundrum to me till I heard about egg dumping. I've also read that there are various forms of it. Our northern Cuckoo's habit is the most extreme example.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Now they want to legally shoot the Buzzards ! From Nick Carter. Click on the line below his name.

Please consider signing this important petition raised in response to recent developments and their potentially serious impact on bird of prey protection in this country.


Thanks in advance :)

Nick



After you have signed you will receive an email. You MUST click on the link on that email to make your vote count.

Bruce


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Abnormal Timothy

This Timothy grass--Phleum praetense, is late flowering on a pile of bare soil in the park at Todmorden. But what makes it different are the small 'leaves' growing from the base of the flowering spike.

The usual small scales on the spike are in evolutionary terms modified leaves and some grass species occasionally 'remember' their past and elongate these scales (glumes and lemmas) into leaves.

This is known as Proliferation and occurs in grasses more frequently than in other plants. Sometimes the process is called Vivipary but this term should only apply to seeds that germinate in situ on the plant.

There are many theories why Proliferation occurs but it does seem to happen more towards the end of the flowering season. It seems the Florigen hormone has been used up producing normal flowers, so the plant goes into vegetative growth within the spikelets.
 
I have seen this often in Cocksfoot but never before in Timothy.
 
                            
                                      Proliferating Timothy Grass
 

Special Conference for those interested in Birds of Prey and the North of England Raptor Forum


Once again the Calderdale Bird Conservation Group are proud to be hosting the annual NERF conference to be held at Rishworth School on Saturday 21st November, details below




The annual NERF Raptor Conference is being hosted by Calderdale in 2015 at the prestigious venue, Rishworth School.

The conference committee has drawn together an exciting and varied program that will address a wide range of issues that are of interest to Raptor Workers.

There is ample on-site parking. Registration, coffee and exhibitions will be available for delegates from 0930 and the conference will open at 10.00. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. In response to feedback from previous conferences years there will be increased opportunities to catch up with friends and benefit from those irresistible bargains available from the specialist retailers who cater for the birding community.

The NERF Conference is the primary training aid for birders interested in Birds of Prey in the North of England. This year’s conference will be opened by Superintendent Chris Hankinson, Chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime [PAW], Raptor Persecution Working Group.

Dave Leech, BTO, - an unmissable presentation will bring us up to date with the new mandatory procedures for using IPMR and making licence applications / compulsory returns.

Hen Harriers continue to dominate the concerns of Raptor Workers. Stephen Murphy, NE, and David Hunt, RSPB will give us full accounts of the highs and lows of the 2015 season.

After lunch Paul Irving, NERF Chair, will bring us up to speed with NERF’s activities over the last 12 months.

Raptor Workers are well aware that the severe reduction in Police resources is having a negative impact on their ability to respond to raptor persecution and the situation is likely to get worse in the foreseeable future. Raptor Workers invariably discover these offences and provide expert witness statements. With that in mind a member of the PAW Forensic Working Group will guide us through the techniques that we can use to strengthen Police investigations.

The Cumbrian Osprey Project is probably the most important Bird of Prey assisted breeding program ever undertaken in the North of England. Nathan Fox, Forestry Commission, will talk us through the trials and tribulations of the scheme over the last 5 years.

Delegate Fees
£10.00 for delegates aged 14 – 18 years and £22.00 for adults. Once again demand for places at this year’s conference is expected to be high. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Booking forms are available from midgleybirder@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Just trying to find out why my Firefox email stopped working and found this on BBC News

MP Oliver Colvile calls for hedgehog as UK symbol

  • 8 hours ago
  •  
  • From the sectionEngland
European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)Image copyrightScience Photo Library
Image captionHedgehog numbers in the UK have fallen from about 36 million in the 1950s to less than a million, campaigners say
The "great British hedgehog" should become a national symbol of the UK, an MP has suggested.
Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said numbers of the prickly creatures had fallen by a third in the last decade.
He said that declaring the hedgehog to be Britain's national symbol might enthuse people to protect it.
But environment minister Rory Stewart questioned hedgehogs' suitability, and said the lion should remain the symbol.
Mr Colvile said his love of hedgehogs stemmed from his mother reading Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle to him as a child.
Lion and hedgehogImage copyrightThinkstock
Image captionMinister Rory Stewart asked if the UK wanted to have as its national symbol "an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball"
Read more on this story as it develops throughout the day on our Local Livepages.
He said: "The principal reason for this prickly animal's decline is due to the loss of habitats.
"Likely factors for the hedgehog demise are the loss of permanent grassland, larger field sizes, use of pesticides and herbicides and a reduction of hedgerow quality."
Mr Stewart responded in the House of Commons: "Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up?
"Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that sleeps for six months of the year, or would we rather return to the animal that is already our national symbol, the lion?"

European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

What can you do to help hedgehogs?

  • Solid fences and walls restrict a hedgehog's movement through gardens. Make sure you leave small gaps at their bases
  • Hedgehogs can swim but often drown in garden ponds because of their steep and slippery sides. Provide them with an escape route: a piece of wood, chicken wire or pile of stones
  • Bonfires make good places for hedgehogs to nest. Check them to make sure a hedgehog has not made its nest before lighting
  • Be prepared to leave a small part of your garden to go wild. Long grass, log/leaf piles and undergrowth provide foraging and nest places for the perfect hedgehog habitat
  • Feed your local hedgehog, but please provide dog/cat food and not bread and milk
  • Sign up as a volunteer on the hedgehogstreet.org website.
Source: Devon Wildlife Trust

In response to a crashing hedgehog population, a 90-hectare refuge was created this year by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the conservation area stretches across a nature reserve, a public park and the surrounding streets.
The trust said that during the 1950s, some 36 million hedgehogs used to snuffle in UK gardens, although there may now be less than a million.
Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, said he was doing his bit to help.
He said: "It's very important to use our gardens which are a specific habitat for hedgehogs.
"Just recently in my own garden I built a hedgehog house. Sadly I have no residents in it but hopefully it will encourage them and the growth of hedgehogs in South Staffordshire."

Peregrine found shot dead in Halifax


Don't know if this as new as the date on it. News to me !
Thanks to Nigel Griffiths for sending me the link.


https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/peregrine-found-shot-dead-in-halifax-west-yorkshire/

Friday, 6 November 2015

Winter Wildfowl 2015


Nows the time to watch out for Wildfowl coming into our area,mainly they will be Common species,check out any Water Bodies,this Male Teal ,top was feeding in earnest on Warland Marsh,whilst the Male Tufted was on Longfield Dam,but  you never know what might turn up.Also check out any Canada Geese as one or two Pink Footed Geese can turn up with them,as as been the case on Lumbutts Road in recent Years.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Lichen or Fungi?

I was taken by this Horse Chestnut tree in York and the striking sulphur yellow markings. Is this a lichen, or a fungi that has not yet developed?

The numerous bonnet mushrooms at the base may be Lilac Bonnet Mycena pura?




Thursday, 29 October 2015

I inadvertently grew some garden bird food.

Quinoa, (pronounced Keenwa or Kwinowa)


I've occasionally been given this seed by friends with adventurous cooking habits. It's used like rice or couscous, but is much more nutritious, providing vitamins and protein as well as carbohydrates. It has a bland, slightly nutty flavour.

I thought it might grow in the Pennines, being a native crop of cool highlands in South America, so I bought a packet of cooking Quinoa and sowed a few of the seeds.

They shot up! I guess you can use the leaves as greens, as the plant is in Amaranthaceae, same as beetroot, spinach, and the wild plants Good King Henry, Fat Hen and Goosefoot, all of which have edible leaves.

A tragic consequence of it becoming a "wonder food" in the west is that some poor farmers in South America can no longer afford to eat their crop, or they think they can't, as it raises more cash for them than the cost of imported rice, which is far less nutritious.

If anybody wants some seeds, I've got loads left.

I only got round to cooking one head while it was fat and fresh and moist. I steamed it as a whole sprig over some potatoes I was boiling. It was good, eaten straight off the stem, which stayed behind like the core of a corn-on-the-cob, only branched. I got my little crop after a mid-summer sowing.

I thought I'd leave the others to fully ripen, then dry the seeds off to keep through the winter, but the birds soon realised there was something full of goodness there. First I noticed a Dunnock perched  on the plants, pecking in to it, then the Robin, true to character, sent it off and started pecking itself.

Since then I've been informed it has been grown on a large scale in this country, but only as a fallow-land crop. If anyone knew of any little corners with fairly rich, disturbed soil, it might be worth sowing it in summer as a winter bird food. In gardens it would save buying a lot of expensive wild bird food.

To aid birds on a wider scale, it could be planted in odd corners of fields or muck-heaps where it might benefit House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows,Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and lots of other seed eaters. Some would say the native seeding plants are best, which I would agree with in an area of arable farming, but here most fields are kept as lush, wildlife-unfriendly grassland.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Further Fungus/ Botanical Foraying

Next weekend, on Sunday 25th October, we are meeting for another fungus/botany foray to the Holywell Green area. We will pass near the Deer Farm which has a big herd of Sika Deer. In Autumn it is the rut, and there is a chance of seeing some antler-locking stags, and hearing their roaring. Buzzards are regularly heard and seen in fine weather. Feel free to come along. No charge but small donations help with HSS funds.

The Foray starts at 10.30 for 10.45. Meet in West Vale.
Directions:
Take the Stainland Rd from the Calder and Hebble road junction. 
Go straight on through both sets of lights in West Vale. 
Pass one pub on the left, then a second (the Queen), and pass under a high railway viaduct.
Park or meet on the left just opposite the entrance to the industrial estate.

I will have two spare seats from Halifax town centre, leaving at 10.15.

The walk will be through woodland, along stony tracks and fields, some of them steep. Bring a packed lunch and something waterproof to sit on. Children and dogs welcome. Some lanes with traffic may be unavoidable.



Blackening Waxcap last year at Saville Park.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Monthly Outdoor Meeting of Halifax Scientific Society

The meeting this month was a fungus foray in Stoodley Glen, which took place today. Sundays are sometimes chosen to give people who can't attend on a Saturday a chance to join in. There was also a waxcap identification session in the fields at Broadhead Clough last Friday 16th Oct, when Kara Jackson of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust brought along laminated keys to hand out, but I wasn't able to attend that one.

Sunday was a calm but dull day letting the changing colours of the trees smoulder through.

It really starts as you pull out of Luddenden Foot on the way to Mytholmroyd - a truly breathtakingly beautiful valley, wide spreading, with seemingly 50% each of mature deciduous trees and open fields.

The Stoodley Glen itself is wooded at the bottom end after you cross the river and then the canal, the latter dark and glassy, with dry leaves floating that parachute gently from the trees.

The woodland is "greenwood" as I wrote about in last Thursday's Hebden Bridge Times. Occasional grazing prevents understorey shrubs and saplings springing up. So it is open and grassy.

Higher up as you walk past all the little waterfalls you come out onto wide sheep-grazed fields; this is where the blue Harebells, still flowering today, and the waxcap fungi start.

The view looking back with distant Todmorden in the centre was stunning, with fields and moorland hills and valleys decorated with trees, near and far, in every shade of green, yellow, brown, orange and bronze. There was a strange light, as Annie pointed out, with brooding shade over the higher land, and Todmorden bathed in a gentle, not quite bright glow.
      Stoodley Pike above us seemed strangely animated; slipping in and out of the mist.

      It was a good day for a fungus foray.

We don't collect baskets full, not even the ones we know are good to eat. Our aim is to enjoy seeing and if possible identifying them. The complete list, not ignoring the common ones, is part of an ongoing survey, which when added to the records over many decades, should give an objective measure of fungus diversity and its changes in our area.

The best finds of the day for me were Elfin Saddle Helvella lacunosa and a Coral, possibly Crested Coral, Clavulina coralloides, attacked by another fungus, turning it grey. Also the bright Yellow Brain fungus, Tremella mesenterica. The most numerous was Amethyst Deceiver, as usual, closely followed by it buffish relative, The Deceiver.


Elfin Saddle beside the track in Stoodley Glen.

The little group of native Crab-apples was fruiting well at the top of the glen, with larger fruits than some years. I pocketed a few  as they grow easily from the pips, but I never see them self-seeding. Their partner animal that evolved to spread the seed in its dung, as well as maybe breaking the turf to give them somewhere to germinate, must be one of the extinct fauna. A male Reed Bunting was nearby.

Our complete Stoodley Glen fungus list for today can be read by clicking on "Calderdale Fungi" at the top.

As we finished in good time, we all drove to Hippins Clough on the other side of the Calder Valley, to search for the Violet Coral, Clavaria zollingeri, but didn't find it. However we did explore further along the valley-side than I had been before, to an area with an ancient wall built of huge wallstones, and an area of boulders including one as big as a small bungalow with a flat top you can easily climb up on to.

Near here was a colony of suckering Blackthorn, some of them so old they made small trees.

We put up two Common Snipe and saw a group of 11 Mistle Thrushes on some wires, oddly accompanied by one Redwing and one Goldfinch. We saw a dead Common Shrew lying on the turf.

Next weekend, on Sunday 25th October, we are meeting for another fungus/botany foray to the Holywell Green area. Feel free to come along.

The Foray starts at 10.30 for 10.45. Meet in West Vale.
Directions:
Take the Stainland Rd from the Calder and Hebble road junction. 
Go straight on through both sets of lights in West Vale. 
Pass one pub on the left, then a second (the Queen), and pass under a high railway viaduct.
Park or meet on the left just opposite the entrance to the industrial estate.

I will have two spare seats from Halifax town centre, leaving at 10.15.



Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Talk by Dr Mark Avery,Impact of Driven Grouse Shooting

There is a talk by Dr Mark Avery ,on the impact of Driven Grouse Shooting on our Uplands and Wildlife ,tomorrow Wed 14 Oct.It is free admission at 7 30 at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge.He was the former Conservation Director for the RSPB for 13 Years,He is the Author of Inglorious ,Conflict in the Uplands .and started the Petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting,which is a really important issue for us in Calderdale.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Glow-worm

I have never seen a glow-worm larvae before, but here is a photo taken in Borrowdale in the Lake district a few days ago in the company of Ancient Tree Forum members. We were visiting the Borrowdale Yew trees, the 'Fraternal Four' made famous by Wordsworth, although the fourth blew down many years ago and is now rotting on the ground.

The remaining Yews have been dated to at least 1,500 years old and Keith Alexander the National Coleoptera recorder found this Glow-Worm larvae on a section of rotting bark.

We also looked at many of the ancient Ash pollards dotted about the landscape, most of which are many hundreds of years old and were the working trees for generations of people. The National Trust continues the essential pollarding of these on a regular cycle and hope that Ash disease will not destroy them all. Pollarding, done correctly, does not kill trees but prolongs their life span way beyond the natural life cycle. A truly sustainable practice that benefits people and wildlife and creates a historic landscape.

                                            Glow-Worm larvae

 

                                        Borrowdale Yew tree

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Aurora borealis update 07 10 2015

At the moment 17.00,there is some Minor Aurora Activity,yellow alert,it is still rising,we need kp 7 red alert really to see it locally,with clear skies ,I will try and update this info as the night progresses,fingers crossed,regards Brian.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Autumn Crocus (Crocus nudiflorus) now flowering in Calderdale till mid-October.


These are widespread but elusive in Calderdale. My good friend Howard Owen has just spotted a new colony in a field off Green Lane in Soyland, though this might be the one mentioned in the old records as being "Behind Making Place, Soyland".

The previous survey in 1950 had 23 sites in Calderdale, but we now have a list of 42. Sadly this is partly because some of the biggest colonies are much reduced and fragmented.

It was brought from the Pyrenees in the middle ages it seems, possibly as a source of saffron, but this isn't directly documented. There is a possible reference to them in a medieval will to "my heads of crocuses" which indicates a high value. Crocus vernus, another European crocus which flowers in spring has been mentioned as a source of saffron, though the true Saffron Crocus is Crocus sativa. This is still cultivated in Norfolk. See "Norfolk Saffron" on line. Saffron Crocus is probably not viable as a crop in the Pennines, though Crocus nudiflorus, coming from the plateux of the Pyrenees, does well. It has much smaller "threads" though, (the stigma that are the saffron.)

Many of the spots we see it are close to places with St. John in the name, and some are near Holdsworth House, Bradshaw, where there is a Maltese Cross on the gable, showing a connection with the Knights of St. John, the Knights Hospitallers. 

They grow in many different places, often in fields, and often on river banks well away from gardens. They thrive at 300 metres at Cold Edge near the Ovenden Wind Farm, and right down near Cromwell Bottom Nature reserve, near Park Nook Lock, on the bank of the Calder. Strangely, all the river bank sites are on the left banks - on the Calder, the Ryburn and the Hebble. It is even found among mature deciduous trees. It is fascinating to think that they were probably there before the trees.

There is a longer version of this and a list of sites in my booklet "The Mystery of the Autumn Crocus" (2010) available now. (See panel on the left.) Also from me personally £5.00 
or £6.00 including postage. Steve.blacksmith@gmail.com. The £5.00 goes to Halifax Scientific Society. A copy comes free with membership which is £15.00 a year.

N.B. there is a cofusion-species in the Meadow Saffron, Colchicum autumnale, which has nothing to do with saffron, and is poisonous. It's a lily-relative and therefore has a flower full of stamens, six in number, whereas the crocuses have just three club-shaped stamens around the feathery stigma. Catch them on a sunny day to see this easily. Beware that garden centres sell Colchicum bulbs as "Autumn Crocus". They do have a superficial resemblance.


Autumn Crocuses on the plateau above Foix in the Ariege district of the French Pyrenees. Free-range cattle with cow-bells and horses keep the grass short but leave the crocuses.



Friday, 2 October 2015

Todmorden Crocus nudiflorus


It is a good year for them in the Halifax area.

There is just one showing in this picture in Centre Vale Park. (Recognise the Bandstand?) Click the picture to enlarge.

There were more on this bank, but they were getting crushed by football spectators, so myself, Phillip Marshall, Linda Kingsnorth and others moved most of them to the wild flower area to the left of the bandstand (looking in).

There was also a small colony in a field above Bacup Rd. which Portia reported to me, and I found in about 2008.

I am going to check these 2 colonies this evening Friday if anyone wants to join me. (Sorry for the short notice.) Meet at the park gates nearest the cricket ground at 6.00pm.

No one recently has seen them at Great House near Cross Stones. The fields are much altered with artificial fertilisers, but they could still be there. These location details are all I have.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Offering - any one interested in Natural History archives?


In the library we have a quantity (perhaps a brief case full) of duplicates of these from the early 20thC. It appears we inherited them from the Ovenden Naturalists when they folded.

We need funds, and would welcome purchase offers, or offers of help selling them.

Does anyone perhaps enjoy selling things on line?

Just like the HSS, the Yorkshire Naturalists Union was at this time interested in archaeology, and the only photographs in this edition are of bronze axes unearthed in Yorkshire. It was after all well before the era of wildlife photography.

They are a fascinating read, with birds, taxidermy, egg collecting, mammals and the problem of shooting much discussed.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Aurora Borealis 17 03 2015.

Hi,sorry this is late,Managed to see Aurora Borealis this March gone.Seen from Flowerscar Road near Todmorden .Could see light green cast about 22 30 which intensified towards Midnight,i couldnt see any purplish colour with naked eye,which camera picked up,but certainly could see the Green ,amazing to see Locally ,all the conditions have to be perfect to have a chance,but it does happen occasionally.Regards Brian.

Our monthly Society walk took place on Sat 26th September.

Eleven of us did the popular Bradshaw-Ogden-Soil Hill- Strines Beck- Holdsworth-Bradshaw walk.
We had never seen so many Autumn Crocuses in Bradshaw Churchyard.
We all sat down on rocks for our picnic lunches on Soil Hill.

There was also a good showing of crocuses at the hollow sycamore down at Strines Beck.

A fast-moving Silver-y moth (a day-flying moth) was hovering around, obviously attracted to the crocuses. 
It landed near the base of the purple part of the flowers each time. Peachysteve saw its long tongue probing, so maybe it was getting nectar. Very few insects have been noted visiting the local Autumn Crocus, and there's no record of anyone finding a seed capsule. These develope underground with crocuses, then push up and split at the soil surface. 


A single Small Copper Butterfly on Creeping Thistle; the only thistle flower noticed to have a scent out of the species we find in Calderdale. The aroma is of honey.
Emma Hoyle, Bruce's daughter, discovered this.

An unidentified caterpillar, possibly feeding on nettle.

Non-members are welcome on walks, as they are at our monthly talks (click on tab at the top.) With thanks to Bruce for leading this one, and thanks to everyone for waiting (slowing down) for me as I went back about half a mile to get my binoculars I left on a wall! What a twit!