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I am offering a prize of a new natural history field guide to any member of Halifax Scientific Society, Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group, Upper Calderdale Wildlife Group or Calderale Bird Conservation Group:
to the person writing the most interesting piece on their views of how Wildlife and the Natural Environment is being (and could be) conserved and enhanced by the authorities and by landowners, agencies and volunteer groups in Calderdale.
Please stick to Calderdale mainly, though it can link in with adjacent areas.
In the event a tie is judged to have occurred after the entries are read by Halifax Scientific Recorders and Council, there will be a draw of names from the hat to decide the winner. Value of prize up to £16.99.
Deadline for the piece to be in is midsummer day (longest day), mid-day on Sunday 21st June.
Entries can be posted to 40, Dudwell Lane, Skircoat Green, Halifax HX3 0SD, Or emailed to email@example.com or posted on this blog.
There is a choice of writing about a) Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve (especially North Loop) b) wider Calderdale, or c) a particular type of habitat, e.g. waterways, woodlands, grasslands or uplands.
If you are not a regular writer, don't worry. The style, spelling or grammar will not be judged or commented on; only positive ideas and constructive criticism will be valued in your piece. All entrants must refrain from personal or general accusations which might be offensive or verge on the libelous.
You can be as brave and imaginative, even impractical, as you like. You can be technical, romantic or nostalgic. There will be no editing by the judges. You must put your name to the piece and allow it to be published if thought suitable.
This Competition is prompted by the document sent to me for the comments of Hx. Scientific Society members by:
Environmental Projects Officer
Business and Economy Section
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council --- on 21st April this year.
It is a document about the above department's far-reaching proposals for North Loop at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve, which is being re-opened after re-capping which was needed to seal in the household waste buried there. The document is 10 pages long plus two maps which I am willing to try to email to anyone in the above groups; or get it to you some other way.
Let's refer to that Department as "the B and E Section" if abbreviating it.
The proposals in it go far beyond the plans the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group had been implementing with the advice of Calderdale Conservation Officers and the co-operation of the Engineers working on the re-capping.
Steve Blacksmith, Chair, Halifax Scientific Society, 18th May 2015.
This picture is of a Beech tree branch in a wood at Todmorden, which has recently split along the centre. This is caused by the loading on the upward growing branch trying to reduce the curvature. In tree terms it is known as a 'Hazard Beam'.
These splits can be good habitats for wildlife but this branch will fail at some stage. On the main trunk there are some curious buckling ridges which show the tree has been under stress for some time.
I don't know whether it is general in the valley but in Todmorden many mature Beech are rapidly loosing vigour and collapsing. It doesn't seem to be necessarily old age that is the problem; I have seen Copper Beech loose all vigour and within a couple of years are dead.
We had a great afternoon walking this scenic section along the moor edge today.
Some fields near Far Shawcroft Farm, Oldtown had a good selection of meadow flowers among the grass.
Large bittercress was waving its pure white flowers with purple anthers, next to Cuckoo Flower with lilac flowers above Midgley.
Birds included many Meadow Pipits, Great Black-backed Gull, Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Wheatear; we listened to a Snipe chipping as we ate our picnic, and counted 5 Lapwings at the Oldtown end, as well as three noisy Curlews together. We heard one Red Grouse.
A male Grey Wagtail preening beside the stream at Luddenden was probably near its mate sitting on eggs nearby.
And the only nest we recorded - as we approached the car we left at Luddenden, a Blue Tit flying into a hole in a wall gave away its nest with at least three stretching and gaping blind, naked young.
We were looking for nests and reptiles at Wainstalls but flushed a Meadow Pipit by chance, though we had been looking at its mate, watching us from a rock in the middle-distance.
The camera focused on the front of the nest, rather than the eggs, which I didn't notice at the time, as I only spend a few seconds at a nest where I have flushed the bird. Then it's best to walk away in full view, so the bird sees you going away. It doesn't differentiate between a human and a grazing animal.
Never risk flushing birds in cold, showery weather.
We also recorded a Woodpigeon's nest nearby with two eggs visible from ground level, and watched a Willow Warbler carrying nest material around in an aimless way.
The data will go in with my other BTO Nest Record Cards. (British Trust for Ornithology.)
The pipit's nest is just above the centre in this picture, in a spot where it would be unlikely to be stepped on. (Tucked into a little bank, well hidden by long grass.)
Golden-scaled Male Fern, ( Dryopteris affinis group)
There is a magnificent colony of these on some wet rocks beside the road just before the Cat in'th' Well Pub at Wainstalls. Many of the ferns are at their most spectacular as they are unfurling like this in Spring.