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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jan 1st - New Year's Day Walk, bird count and flowering plants count.


Meet us here in front of Clay House, West Vale, Greetland near Elland 10.30 for 10.40.
There is free public parking  in the drive, or just across the footbridge at the junction near the traffic lights.

The route is rough and wet in places so good waterproof boots with ankle support are needed. It is approximately 7 miles, so is a bit of a hike.

A picnic stop will be taken around mid-day, so something damp-proof  to sit on is useful.

Weather permitting, and taking all walkers' abilities into account, we will go through North Dean Woods, up Maple Dean (aka Norland ) Clough, across Norland Moor, and back via a slightly different route through the woods (on the Calderdale Way.) The speed will vary from moderate to stopped, to take in views or interesting wildlife. Back to Clay House about 15.30.

A dramatic sight we pass is the collapsed Copley Bridge, casualty of the Boxing Day 2015 floods. An interesting one is a recently-identified prehistoric standing stone.

This is a regular event, and includes some of the traditional HSS features such as the picnic, stopping to stare and to note things, and the option of a call at a hostelry on finishing if required.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Report on the Walk:


We got 31 bird species this year ! Notable was a fly-over Peregrine in the woods, it had missing feathers from right inner primaries.

We also found Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. We often get an odd Reed Bunting on the moor, but this time there were several groups around 4 to 8 and up to 15; both sexes.

Previous years totals were  2014 - 18 species, 2015 - 21, 2016 - 26. Interesting how it's going up each year.

Unfortunately we didn't see any flowering plants, but there was one very fine Soft Shield Fern I'd not noticed before.

We also saw a very relaxed herd of six Roe Deer, all does except one buck with his antlers still in velvet.

Number of walkers - very variable, infections and early rain bringing us down to three today !



Saturday, 17 December 2016

Amazing bird behaviour

Not a native Heron, but if you look on You-tube under "Heron using bread as bait".
This must put Herons up with parrots and crows in the intelligence league.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Importing Plant Diseases

Apologies for another rather gloomy posting but Nature takes control, despite a general wish for it to go away and stop bothering us.
 
I wrote on this blog some while ago about Xylella fastidiosa, which is regarded as the most harmful plant pathogenic bacteria in the world. The number of species identified as being susceptible has now reached 359.
 
Worryingly for this country the list includes Oak and Sycamore trees. The disease was first discovered in Italy 3 years ago and has since spread to Spain, France and Germany.

Our own Plant Health Inspectors are on the lookout for entry of the disease to this country but since many plant hosts do not show any symptoms, it seems only a matter of time before this country is affected.

This account from Malta, a small island like our own, is very descriptive of what we are up against:--http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20161216/opinion/Olive-quick-decline-syndrome.633992

The final paragraph is prophetic and I quote:--

"Prevention is better than cure, especially when there is no cure all. That would be the day when one can honestly boast of a sound environmental policy. From experience, political action in this regard will only be considered when the social, economic and environmental fabric have bit the dust".

I find this quote from the novel 'Tono Bungay' by H.G. Wells to be apposite:--

"It is like an early day in a fine October. The hand of change rests on it all, unfelt, unseen; resting for awhile, as it were half reluctantly, before it grips and ends the thing for ever. One frost and the whole face of things will be bare, links snap, patience end, our fine foliage of pretences lie glowing in the mire".

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Celebrating our Woodland Heritage Surveys - volunteers needed!

Over the course of the next three years Pennine Prospects will be leading a programme of freely accessible archaeological surveys across the South Pennines in order gain a greater understanding of woodland development and management across the region.  Please follow the link below for full details - the surveys will start in January!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Xmas at HSS. All members and friends with their partners invited.


All members and our friends from other societies and CMBC are welcome to attend.
We are downstairs in the Central Library. Our library will be available to refer to as well as the items you may bring for HSS fundraising.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Trees reduce Global Warming -- but only in the tropics

The link listed at bottom of the page, is to a new climate change study that has some very interesting results. I will let you read it for yourself but there are a couple of quotes that are challenging to current thought.

"Apparently, these natural carbon sinks [forests] only do their job effectively in tropical regions; in other areas, they have either no impact or actually contribute to warming the planet".

"You can't just blindly go ahead and reforest and that will tackle climate change," he says, pointing out a key finding in the study. "If you think about conservation groups, they're all talking about planting trees. We should be protecting trees for other reasons."

Does this report undermine some of our assumptions on tree planting?

Find out here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tropical-forests-cool-earth/

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A Beetle but not as I thought it

In May 2013 I posted to this blog my photo of what I assumed was a Bloody-Nosed beetle (BNB) Timarcha tenebricosa, which I saw at Blake Dean, Hardcastle Crags.

Following an article about this beetle in the YNU August edition of 'The Naturalist', there was also mention of the Small Bloody-Nosed beetle, T. goettingensis.

So I took another look at my photo and realised I had mis-identified and it is actually the Small BNB T. goettingensis.

I have had this confirmed by the Beetle recorder who said; "There is a record from Hebden Bridge, presumably the Craggs, dated 1879".

I had no idea there were 2 such beetles to choose from but fascinated to learn this Small BNB has remained at Blake Dean for the last 137 years without showing itself to passers by!

BNB's wing cases are fused, so they have to walk everywhere and are consequently sedentary. They produce noxious blood droplets when threatened. Food plant is bedstraw and cleavers.






Monday, 5 December 2016

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Crossbills,28 11 16 Sunderland Plantation




As well as lots of Waxwings in the Country ,there are plenty of Bramblings and also Crossbills and these were seen feeding on Spruce Cones in Sunderland Pasture Plantation,watch out when out and about,it promises to be a bumper Winter,regards Bri.ps me and Ros saw a flock of 50 plus Brambling today 29 11 16 above Cornholme.

Beech disease

There are worries for the many old Beech trees in Epping forest, as their Rhododendrons have been found with Phytophthora Ramorum. This is the same disease that was confirmed in Centre Vale park in Todmorden and Shibden Park Halifax.

There is to be a great effort at Epping forest to prevent the disease spreading to the old Beech and they are going to cut and burn all Rhododendron, which is a prime host and spreader of P. ramorum.

There are old Beech trees in many areas of our valley dying from Phytophthora, yet I see little interest being shown to acknowledge there is a problem.




Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Waxwings in West Central Halifax

At work today I happened to look up and saw a tight flock of what I at first assumed were Starlings fly between trees at the St Augustines Centre.       I looked to see which berries they were coming for ( there are Hawthorn, Whitebeam, Cotoneaster and Berberis available.)

Then I noticed the unmistakable wispy crests on their heads ! There were about 15 of them and they soon departed over the terraced houses. One of them has been ringed.





On leaving at lunch-time I met Dave W. in Lightowler Road round the corner. He had gone to the wrong place from my directions on the grapevine but struck lucky and we were able to watch at our leisure 20 odd Waxwings in the sunshine. (Lightowler Rd./ Hanson Lane junction.)

Andy H. has since found them or others in the same general area.

It is surprising what a rich bird life exploits these little patches of greenery in town. Today up there I also saw Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and two Goldcrests. I have had a Grey Wagtail in the gardens.

No birds in the picture !

Breeders are Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins, Collared Doves, Magpies, Crows, Blue and Great Tits, and a Sparrowhawk has finished off a Feral Pigeon between the cars in the carpark.

I once found a large raptor's tail feather (possible Buzzard) in the car park, but on reflection, it probably fell out of someones door-pocket . . .


RSPB Twite Project Officer


Very grateful if you could circulate round your networks/share with anyone who might be interested. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Every walk becomes a fungus foray in November

We were on a Mammal Tracks and Signs walk but were distracted on seeing these Royal ferns along the Ryburn. Frank Murgatroyd wrote about them in this area but never confided exactly where they were. I think these are probably those (about 12 plants, just above the bowling green, on the left bank.)

A view near Rishworth. Unidentified brackets on a Sycamore stump

Impressively muscular roots on a beech. These trees are invading the oakwood in Turner Clough which is unwelcome, but interesting that they are really only the first generation of self-sown beeches, spreading from the 19thC plantations of which we have many in Calderdale. They were planted for timber for furniture and mill equipment, we are told, but apparently never much exploited for this, if at all. 

Another self-sown beech. On this walk we saw several growing out of walls like this. Some animal or bird could be involved in their germination, by storing them away then not eating them. Coal Tits and Nuthatches do this a lot. There is a group of fine Puffballs along the wall top. More fascinating fungi just added to the Mycology blog (tab above.)

The only sign of a mammal we found ! This dropping on a rock in the path was not foul-smelling, but even so, could not definitely to be confirmed as an Otter spraint as it wasn't very fresh. Our friends from the Yorkshire Mammal Group have promised to get back to us after closer examination. They took only a small part of it, as whatever animal made it left it there for a purpose - to mark its territory or pass messages to others of its species

I took a visit to Ogden reservoir as I was passing last Wednesday. No Pintails; they had left, but found the interesting purple jelly organism (see the Mycology Blog.) This is the inlet from Skirden Clough


View of Ryburn Res from Baiting Res embankment.
We really appreciate these views of sombre autumn colours in dim light; they smoulder rather than flare out in fiery colours. (I know I have bits in my camera - got to decide between trying to get it cleaned or buy a new one.)
From this vantage point we noticed parties of starlings coming in and joining into one great feeding flock in the fields. We estimated about 1000 birds. We hung around till nearly dark down at Ryburn Res but didn't see a murmuration, though did see large flocks of finches, Fieldfares, and corvids coming in.
Earlier we found the feathers of a Starling in the snow up at Whiteholme Res. The raptor that had plucked and eaten it had left the upper and lower mandibles of its prey's beak behind, as well as its feathers. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

We often get snow with this wind direction.

Often they say "Snow over the North of England", and it doesn't come.
A reliable indicator that we will get it is when the wind (a wet cold wind) comes in from the north- west.
It powers in across the sea to the north of Northern Ireland, but to the south of the Cumbrian mountains.
Then it has free reign across the Lancashire plain, and our hills are the first ones in its path where it gets forced up into the zone that cools it that bit more and the snow drops out.

Then again, I've seen some almighty drifts created around here by strong easterlies . . . .

(Snow enthusiast Steve, with apologies to those who detest it !)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Wrecked seabird. No corpse available

A seabird thought to be Manx Shearwater was picked up alive outside Walsden on 2nd November, along Rochdale Road towards Summit.

The finder took it to Hirds Vets near there, where they tried to feed it on fish.

Halifax branch of Hirds vet passed it on to the Creature Comforts Animal-aid man, Mike, but despite his best efforts at rehabiltation, it died. I persuaded him to dig it up from where he had buried it but he couldn't find it.

Last record I can find is one in 1962 found exhausted at Causeway Foot and later released at Ogden Reservoir.

There are several old records before this.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Secrets of Mammals

There will be a walk with members of the Mammal Society and Halifax Scientific Society this Sunday 13th November. Meet 10.30am in the road next to Heathfield Preparatory School, Rishworth. Just off Oldham Rd, opposite the bus turning circle and the war memorial. We may not see any animals, but hope to learn about their tracks and signs they leave as evidence they are there.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The value of standing dead wood

Here is a photo of a dead Oak trunk in Cragg Vale woodland. It is riddled with holes that may have been caused by Wood Peckers looking for grubs. It is very important to leave standing dead wood as it supports the high rise community.




They have discovered that Woodpeckers in America carry fungal spores on their beaks, which helps create future holes for them to enjoy!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Butterfly

A Red Admiral landed on our window this morning, then took flight into the shrubbery just as the hail showers started.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Ash Die-Back update

According to new research by University of Essex, the Ash disease may spread more quickly and affect more trees than expected. Even worse, it is possible the fungus may evolve to attack other species such as Privet, Lilac and other members of the Oleaceae family.

Read why here https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/uoe-nwo102716.php

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Colden Valley

In the Colden Valley today I walked through the short section that is mainly mature Beech trees. As a contrast to the surrounding mixed woodland it is very attractive. I noticed that a couple of the old trees were suffering badly from bleeding canker, Phytophthora, but not determinable to species without laboratory testing. Many Beech throughout the Calder Valley are dying from the effects of bleeding canker.

                                   Colden Valley Beech trees

                               Bleeding Canker killing the tree
 
                                Another nearby with same disease
 
 
 Porcelain fungus - Oudemansiella mucida, specific to Beech woods
 
 
 
Sycamore cut down but still on its two feet
 
 
 And sending out new growth. Supported sapwood is all it needs to keep character in the woodland.
 
 
 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Ancient Oak Tree

This post, although not about a Calder Valley tree, has relevance to our attitudes to ancient trees.

Whilst travelling on holiday, I prefer to meander down the by-ways and try and see what remains of the countryside. On this occasion there was a rare WOW! moment. At a junction of two quiet lanes there it was, a massive ancient Oak tree that is "well over 400 years old", according to the linked website here http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4154805

My photos show a recent large stone inscribed 'Vernons Oak', which must have cost a fortune to quarry and inscribe with gold lettering. I prefer the Gothic Scripted notice board which you can see on Google Street View here:- https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.9233718,-1.7732217,3a,90y,310.1h,77.81t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s7SJ3qUyLuudohp-wUG6pqw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1.

It is very rare for any ancient tree to be marked on a map or have any sign on the ground. Most are 'just there', unrecognised for what they are. Sometimes better for it as 'attention' can often be fatal.

Highways, in their usual casual indifference, have recognised the significance of this rare tree by putting a drunken road sign in front of it.

Someone nearby seems to have a penchant for mowing all the adjacent verge like a lawn. Ancient Trees don't need mowing. As most tree roots are near the surface a dry hot summer can create desert conditions where there is no long grass to keep the soil cool and moist.

According to the link, it is "One of the Counties most celebrated trees". Yet, as you can see from my photos, the tree is struggling to survive. It is surely not a co-incidence the decaying rear of the tree is shaded by the overtopping young Beech trees. If nothing is done, Vernons Oak may well be relegated to the archive as "One of the Counties lost celebrated trees".
















Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Wildlife welcome in Halifax Town Centre

We were informed at a meeting today that the swift boxes we were promised to accommodate them in Halifax's New Central Library have been built into the top roof-edge. 

Also bat boxes in the refurbished Piece Hall. 

Thanks to CMBC managers Carole Knowles, Andrew Pitts and David Garner for taking up my suggestion for the swifts, an idea that came from Leeds Council via Dave Sutcliffe.

Another tree disease to worry about

Following the Ash Die-Back disease, there is another that affects Oak trees that is just as worrying. It has nothing to do with 'Sudden Oak Death' (Ramorum), which as far as we are concerned should be known as 'Sudden Beech Death'.

Confusingly, this new disease is called Sudden Oak Decline and is affecting many trees in the South and East of England. The Forestry Commission say this new condition has the ability to affect the landscape in the UK as much as Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970's.

There is a lot of money and research being put into finding the cause of this Oak decline (affected trees can die within 5 years). This photo of a notice board at Burghley Park explains it well. Also this link has good info and a video http://www.forestry.gov.uk/acuteoakdecline

The board was impossible to read as it was covered in dirt but a wipe with tissues soaked in pop did wonders.





Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A rare and spectacular bird ! Hoopoe at Cottonstones.

A resident photographed a Hoopoe in her garden and kindly contacted Dave Sutcliffe to let the birders know on the text grapevine. She also posted some pics on the Calderbirds.blogspot site. (Toggle above.)

Strangely enough, a rare Woodchat Shrike also turned up near there last year.

The Annual Report for 2015 from the Halifax Birdwatchers Club, edited by Nick Dawtrey, is available now at Woodlesford Newsagent, Pellon Lane, (high up the lane on the right.) Price £5.00.

Other rarities could have arrived in Calderdale, as we have had a long period of easterlies right at the height of migration.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Fungus Foray this Sunday 9th October

Meet us at Shaw Park car park, Holywell Green. Go down Station Rd. and turn right into the car park.
Peachysteve is the expert and he will be leading. Meet 10.30 for 10.40 and bring something to eat when we all sit down together for our picnic lunch.


Last year we discovered, as well as many other notable finds, two clumps of the very rare and beautiful Violet Coral. (Inedible.) Previously recorded at only one other site near Hebden Bridge.


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Toads and other Amphibians


Lots on BBC R4 this morning about the plight of toads inc the concept of toad tunnels under roads and how they DO work. Also the fact that roads can actually become dangerously slippy for traffic when large numbers get squashed.

We should push for amphibian tunnels e.g. under the new road at Copley while the builders are still in.


It will be next March when toad patrols start again. Ask for a good torch for your Christmas present if you want to get involved. Volunteers are needed at Sowerby, Brighouse, Todmorden, Hardcastle Crags, etc.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ash Die-Back (Chalara fraxinea) but name now changed to Hymenoscyphus fraxineus

Ash Die-Back disease seems now to have established over a wide area of Park woodland and other areas in Todmorden.

It is mainly visible on saplings a few years old, where the upper leaves have died and gone black and drooping like an umbrella; the upper stems looking blotchy and either dead or discoloured. On some, just the side branches have died and the fungi then spreads both up and down the stem, creating characteristic diamond shaped lesions on the bark.

The asexual stage attacks the bark and encircles twigs and branches, cutting off sap flow. The sexual stage grows during Summer on the previous years fallen leaves and spreads the spores.

The disease is easy to spot at the moment as it stands out amongst otherwise green and healthy ash saplings. It would be interesting to know if anyone has seen signs of the disease from elsewhere in the valley, although there is little that can be done to prevent the spread.

I have seen mature trees affected the otherside of Whalley so expect more signs next year.

Forestry Commission don't visit to confirm as the disease is now so widespread.



                                  Diamond shaped stem lesions

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

This month's talk and indoor meeting

All welcome to this excellent talk. It will be one of the last before we move when the Central Library closes and we move (hopefully) to the New Central Library next to Square Chapel, near the railway station.

So come along and if you have never been yet, see what impressive rooms we've been operating from since we moved down from the previous Central Library at Lister Lane in 1984. 

It could also be a last chance to see our library, started in 1874, all in one place.
(That is the Scientific Society's own library.)

Fungi

Saw this fungi at base of a Turkey Oak tree today. I am guessing it is Pholiota squarrosa -- Shaggy Scaly Cap -- but can anyone confirm this?

Free survey training : Buds, Berries and Leaves

Friday 14th Oct at

Jerusalem Farm, Booth 10.30 am - 3.00 pm
Learn the skills to undertake upland plant surveys

Help track effects of climate change

Indoor presentation

Outdoor session to practice survey method


Book your free place / find out more: www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/community-science/events





















































Saturday, 1 October 2016

Ancient Trees and fungi

Just been on the Ancient Tree Forum meet at Lowther Park, looking at the landscape which still retains the banking on which would have stood the Park Pale of 1283. Lovely trees, centuries old, and much wood-pasture being re-created.

Wood Pasture is thought now to have made up much of the English landscape in the time before man had a great influence on it. The traditional idea of squirrels being able to jump from Lands End to John O' Groats without touching the ground is a myth, although modern tree planting seems to be trying its best to rewrite history.

Fungi are the driving force behind trees, some even say that trees are merely a support system for fungi! It seems that many fungi are latent within trees for decades and co-exist happily. Slight changes to the tree's environment, or such a thing as branch loss, can stimulate them to 'wake up'. Often when we see fungi erupting on trees, they haven't 'entered the tree' through branch wounds but are actually finding their way out in order to spore. Co-existence with fungi is the norm for a tree.

If you can get this link it suggests that fungi micorrhizae are capitalists and compete with each other to corner the market in storing nitrogen, keeping trees short of the stuff and only releasing it in exchange for Carbon. It's a jungle down there, if you will forgive the pun!

http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/20140521-fungi.html


                                           The Lowther Oak




Thursday, 29 September 2016

Autumn Crocus

In the Eden Valley at the village of Morland were these Autumn Crocus growing by the river. Not sure of their origin but it is a very old village as you can read on the Church history plaque.



Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Crocus Sweep this Sunday 2nd October.


All members and friends are invited on a tour of  some of the Autumn Crocus sites probably in the Ryburn Valley. Provisional time 1.30pm ; meet at County Bridge over the Calder in Sowerby Bridge.
We could get into as few cars as possible. Some of the footpaths are rocky but no strenuous climbs involved. Childeren and dogs very welcome. Tour about three hours. Check again here in case I have to alter arrangements.
(These are Crocus nudiflorus I photographed in the Pyrenees, and this is the one we have in the fields and woods in Calderdale in about 40 places that we know of.)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Burning at Walshaw

New Durham University study finds ANY burning on Walshaw Moor Estate increases flood risk in Hebden Bridge | Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker.

http://www.energyroyd.org.uk/archives/15838

Friday, 23 September 2016

Saturday September 24th

The Annual Autumn Crocus walk will take place tomorrow the 24th.

Meet at 10:30 at School Lane top, easy parking. Or meet at Bradshaw Church at 10:45, also easy parking, for a gentle 3 mile walk. Bring some lunch and drink.  See previous post below. All welcome. Dogs on lead please.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saturday 24th of September. Autumn Crocus Walk

Autumn Crocus Walk. Saturday 24th of September 2016
We made a quick visit to one of the sites in Bradshaw prior to next Saturday's walk. Bradshaw Church grounds have approx 200 blooms.
Lets hope that they are still fresh next Saturday.
Meet Bruce at School Lane top at 10:30 or Bradshaw Church car park at 10:45 for a 3 mile stroll up to Ogden and down to Holmfield for more Autumn Crocus.

A  few of the blooms at Bradshaw Church 18/9/2016

Report: We had a brilliant walk, with 8 of us involved. There were about 200 blooms in Bradshaw Church yard, under the east boundary wall. There were about 150 blooms in the bottom of the valley beside the hollow Sycamore with the hole right through its trunk, and there was a good count of 58 ( gaining year on year,) beside the beck at Oats Royd, where the ponds are.  We ate our lunch beneath the trees at Ogden Water, explored the top of Soil Hill, viewing from there north to the hills in the Dales, and east to the white horse at Kilburn, over the other side of the Vale of York. Our mid-afternoon break and snacks were taken looking out over one of the Oats Royd ponds. 

A new observation of the plant is that, though I said in my booklet "The Mystery of the Autumn Crocus" (still available) that I had never seen the plant set seed in Calderdale, I can now prove that they do occasionally do this, as a capsule with seeds appeared in a pot in my garden this spring 2016. (I have some under observation in a pot after digging them with permission from a site on private land, out of sight of the public.) Steve.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Rishworth Moor

Today I refound cranberry growing on White Isles, just north of the trig' point on Dog Hill.  I first found this about 15 years ago, but it was in flower then.
Also a red admiral was enjoying the sun near Parrock Nook Independent Union Chapel (sadly closed for good as a church on the 2nd September 2016, a pinned up note outside said).


Regards, Chris

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Wasps and Bees

I have never seen as many wasps in mid-September as this year. All our cars on the avenue have been covered in them for the last week or so, attracted no doubt by the honeydew from the adjacent Lime Trees. They are quite tame and unaggressive and seem a little undernourished. It won't be long now before they are all gone for this year. I feel quite sorry for them.

Grasses are wind pollinated and don't produce nectar, so you don't associate bees with them. Yet today I saw dozens of small bees busily collecting pollen from the many flowering stems of Purple Moor Grass in our garden. They were excitedly landing on the delicate flowering heads, causing them to bounce up and down with the bees' slender weight. I have never seen this behaviour before and wonder if vast acreage of the uplands with Purple Moor grass are feeding the bees?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Our monthly talk open to all this Tuesday, but before that a hike this Saturday 10th September. (See below.)


The walk on 10th September is programmed as a hike; it's about 7 miles round. We follow paths up one side of the three Walshaw Dean Reservoirs, and back down the other side. We found we had to push through tall bracken last year for about 100 yards at the top end of the top dam, but we were on a permissive footpath. We will sit for a while to eat packed lunches on a convenient low wall, and should be back to the cars by mid afternoon.

There are, apart from the wide views and possible wildlife encounters ( including Marsh Harrier and hundreds of froglets and toadlets last year,) visible signs of the miniature railway that was used during the reservoir construction. Eyewitness accounts can be read in the famous local book "A Springtime Saunter" by Whiteley Turner, including these vivid descriptions of sounds he leaves us from 1905. . . ."awakened by the roaring of some terrible monsters fighting" .  . . looking out of the bedroom window they see. . ."the engines puff and snort in their efforts to proceed". (The writer and his companion lodged at a farm near Blake Dean, which is still there.)

THE WALK - the event went well, with seven people taking part. The only drawback to the proceedings was the hordes of midges that came when we sat down for our picnic. As we ate our sandwiches, they tried to eat us! Annie's insect repellent was effective, except she had to supply all of the rest of us (all blokes ! typical ) and she ran out ! Even though the spray stopped them biting, they still crawled on any bare skin they could find. We could see a gamekeeper grass trimming round shooting butts. He had come prepared with a net over his head; his peaked cap keeping it away from his face.

The find of the month was a clubmoss! This was identified later by Peachysteve as Fir Clubmoss, Huperzia selago.  This is known from only one other small patch in Calderdale, at Ovenden Moor Windfarm, where, amazingly, it grows along with a second species of clubmoss. 

THE TALK - Malcolm brought us a very interesting and entertaining talk with good clear images on the screen, expertly arranged and labelled. A slight correction re the poster is that he is mainly with the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group, though also active in the YNU.