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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Robin's Pin Cushion Gall

Robin's Pin Cushion is a gall found on Common Dog Rose (Rosa canina)
It is caused by the Bedeguar Wasp (Diplolepis rosae)
Several larvae overwinter in the gall, each in their own chamber.


This one I spotted in Elland


Earlier in the day
Steve and I went to look for the Sea Campion (Silene uniflora) in Godley Cutting.


A native of cliffs, it is quite at home on the steep sides of the cutting.


Then in the afternoon I came across this Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) on the tow-path.


I've recently found other interesting Silene species while surveying North Loop.


Small-flowered Catch-fly (Silene gallica var anglica)


Night-flowering Catchfly (Silene noctiflora)


The petals curl in during the day.

And just for good measure here is the Hybrid of Red and White Campion
Occasionally found where the two species grow together.


(Silene latifolia x dioica = S. x hampeana)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Monthly Walk Saturday 22nd August 10.30 am

This month's Scientific Society Walk is to Walshaw Dean.

Scene of a peaceful protest in 1907, when the shooting rights owner tried to close off all footpaths in the area.  As we can still legally walk there, it was obviously successful.

Well done to our grandparents and great grandparents generation, men and women who joined together for these mass trespasses around the turn of the 19th century, despite the danger of being locked up.

The area is quite good for birds, and we pass near a good lizard area; also near some prehistoric remains.

The walk is from Blake Dean to Middle Walshaw Dean Reservoir, then re-tracing the route. It is on a track the whole way. The distance is approx. 5 miles total. Bring a picnic lunch; we will stop to eat around 12.30, weather permitting.

Meet at 10.30 for 10.45 at the broad part of the road at Blake Dean above Hardcastle Crags. SD957314.

Share cars or reply to this to join the convoy. It is also on a bus route which starts from Hebden Bridge.

Friday, 7 August 2015

What's in a name

Who first gave the English common names to the different grasses and when was this? Perhaps you thought they had always had a name but in fact the word 'grass' was often also used to include other plant species growing in a meadow.
 
Before the time of scientific classification of plants and modern farming there was little knowledge of the identity or differentiation between the different grasses. There really was no reason to know them individually as grass seed for creating new pasture was collected from the hayloft or sweepings-up "The farmer takes his seed indiscriminately from his own foul hayrick".

The few grasses that farmers did recognise were visually distinctive, for example the Quaking Grass having many regional names such as 'Doddering Dickies', 'Cow Quakes' etc.

But all this changed following the publication of Linnaeus' "Species Plantarum" in 1753, which is counted as year zero for the naming of plants. It is often thought Linnaeus was the first botanist to use Latin binomials but this is not so; however he was the first to use them consistently and within a system.

6 years after this 'year zero' it was the Norfolk naturalist and dilettante Benjamin Stillingfleet (the original 'Blue Stocking') who in his 'Observations on Grasses' first published in 1759, gave English names to the grasses. He wrote "Our common people know scarce any of the grasses by names, as far as I could ever find by conversing with farmers, husbandmen etc, so that something may be done to remove this confusion".
 
He then went on to make English names for each species by translating the literal Latin meaning from Linnaeus' Species Plantarum.

Stillingfleet also encouraged the botanist and apothecary William Hudson to publish the first botany book to be published in England using the new Linnaean system. This was Flora Anglica in 1762, which also used Stillingfleet's new names for the grasses. 

Most of these common names we still use today but what Stillingfleet then called Cat's Tail we now know it as Timothy. But the reason why lies via an interesting story from another continent.