This Blog covers nature sightings and related news in the Calderdale area.
It includes all groups - Plants, animals and fungi with links to specialist sites.
Anyone wishing to become a member of this Blog and post sightings please contact us.
If you would like to join the Halifax Scientific Society either email me or come along to the next meeting.
All welcome:
Please contact us about any sensitive records before posting on the blog

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Bats and Windfarms

I heard recently that bats can be killed by windturbines. The low pressure near the blades causes their lungs to fill with blood and explode. I have never come across this before and wonder if it is a problem in this country, or just America where this New Scientist video reports from

Sunday, 26 December 2010

WNS in Bats

Recent news regarding White Nose Syndrome in Bats in the USA at BBC news.
It occurs in Europe to a lesser degree. See also CDC.
Has anyone seen any evidence in Calderdale?

Thursday, 23 December 2010

British research offers hope in varroa battle

British scientists have developed a method that allows researchers to "switch off" genes in the bee-destroying varroa mite, which could eventually be used to drive the mites to "self-destruct".

The treatment is at an early, experimental stage but could be developed into an anti-varroa medicine, the BBC reported. Link for more info.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Goosanders in Mytholmroyd

Did anybody else see the three red-head goosanders in the Calder under Caldene Avenue bridge in Mytholmroyd? They were there at midday yesterday (Sunday 19th December). One seemed to be looking for fish - repeatedly put its head under water and then raised its body, flapped its wings and shook its head, as if the water was too cold for comfort - which I'm sure it was. There was a dipper in the water, too. There were also three goosanders at Fallingroyd about a week ago, but that party included a male. Is it usual for goosanders to be in the Calder in built-up areas, or is it because of the hard winter?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Mistletoe in Calderdale

Fairly sure I just saw a big plant on a small tree in People's Park as I passed in the car. King Cross Lane side.
This makes the third record in 2 years in Calderdale. Definitely no historical records.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Fame but not fortune - photos needed

Hello All,

My planning colleagues are putting together a consultation leaflet relating to Local Development Framework (the successor to the UDP) and the South Pennines SPA/SAC area.

They are looking for a few high quality pics of appropriate upland birds (eg twite, golden plover, seo, curlew) and heathland/blanket bog habitat.

No money in it but photographer will be credited.

Please let me have any photos by Monday 4pm.



Thursday, 9 December 2010

Calderdale Birds

Congratulations to Calderdale Birds.
It will reach its 100,000 hit today!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Med Gull

First Winter Med Gull at Mount tabor today..In with the Black headed Gull and Common Gull flock.Well worth a look.......................

Dead Frogs

In August last year a friend of mine found 12 frogs dead near his home in Sowerby Bridge. He sent two specimens off for analysis. Here is the reply:-
Dear Geoff
Thanks for your email and apologies for my delay in getting back to you.
Here are the post mortem findings:
Adult female common frog, ZSL reference no. XT923-09
This was a gravid adult female in normal body condition. There were multiple skin ulcers, some of which may have occurred post mortem, and the oviduct was inflamed. There was a tarsal (ankle) fracture, which may have occurred after death as there was no associated bruising.
These findings (the ulceration and inflammation) were consistent with ranavirus infection.
Subadult common frog, ZSL reference no. XT924-09
This subadult was thin. Like the other frog, there were multiple skin ulcers, and the gut was inflamed.
These findings were also consistent with ranavirus infection. We will perform further tests on tissues from both carcasses to confirm whether ranavirus infection was indeed present in due course, but on the basis of the post mortem findings I would be highly suspicious that this was the culprit.
I’m sorry to hear that you’re continuing to find dead frogs. I’m afraid there’s very little you can do to prevent the spread or persistence of the infection – you should just remove any dead or sick ones you find asap. But thank you very much for sending the carcasses in; it is very useful for our ongoing research into this disease.
Did you complete the Froglife (now ‘Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’ or ‘ARC’) mortality questionnaire? If not, we’d be very grateful if you could take a few minutes to do so. Here’s the link: And please could you also let ARC know that you’ve sent the bodies to us (this could be included on the form)?
If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch again,
Many thanks
Katie Colvile MA VetMB MSc MRCVS
Wildlife Veterinarian
Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London
Regent's Park
Tel: (0044) 0207 449 6685
I understand this is a notifiable disease, so any cases must be reported.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Great to go out and read tracks in the snow.

On Friday last I made use of the bright weather and took some time out in the afternoon for a local walk from home.

I slipped down the wood with the help of many a sapling to grab on to. I could see we have a few squirrels at the top of the wood by prints in the snow. There are no rabbits (though last winter there were a few prints in All Saints graveyard.) It was not till I got to the valley bottom that I could see plenty of rabbit prints by the Calder. I'd had a tip off from an angler about kingfishers and sure enough, there was one fishing, oblivious to me, flying from branch to branch, though I didn't see it catch anything. Many years ago I found a wintering water rail here, but never since, and not this time, though there was a wren flitting about the spring-fed ditch which never seems to freeze. Tree sparrows hung on into the 90s here. I saw a nest hole in the railway viaduct, after they had quit their colony higher up in rocks in North Dean Wood. (Frank Murgatroyd recorded the ones in North Dean Wood.)

Next point to check was the spring-fed ditch at Heath Rugby Club just after the garden centre on Stainland Road. The water-cress which is established here was still green, but no sign of the water shrew I saw a previously, where it fed manically on the surface of the shallow water, reminiscent of a whirligig beetle.

I tried to follow the banks of the bottom part of the Black Brook to where it joins the Calder, but access is difficult, and no doubt private. There was a dipper here, and a mouse or vole had ventured onto the top of the snow briefly before re-entering the tussocky world below, avoiding the fox which had gone on further down the bank where I would have liked to get.

Coming back to Bankhouse Wood, I saw something move against the snow at the top when I was halfway up. It was a young roe deer, and there was a second. They were gambolling back and forth, unaware of me. I was looking forward to some new prints to see as I neared the top when they nipped across in front of me! I have never before seen any signs of deer on my home patch. Some people tut as if deer are bringers of ecological disaster, but I suggest dogs will discourage them from over-breeding, and their damage to trees is sometimes useful in keeping places open and sunny. The wood here used to be good for warblers in spring, but they are much reduced since the trees closed in. I found four species over the years, but now we are lucky to get a short-staying blackcap or chiff-chaff.

That was Friday's walk, but today I was coming in at the front of the house when I heard what sounded like a dog running down the road, its claws scratching on the tarmac. It was a fox, which curved round and galloped up my neighbour's drive opposite.

Bullfinch at Elland gravel pits

Bullfinch seen at Elland gravel pits today, there were four altogether, 2 male, 2 female. Lapwings in the field and a heron overhead.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Tree Bumble Bee update

This just arrived in the BBCT newsletter. They needn't have gone all the way to Iceland if they wanted snow!
What have our furry friends been up to?

First England – then the world; the unstoppable tree bumblebee!
Regular readers will be familiar with the tree bumblebee, a species from mainland Europe which colonized the south of Britain in 2001. BBCT and the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society have been trying to track the northwards progress of this new bumblebee, which in 2010 was approaching the Scottish border. Now it seems the story has taken a new twist; this intrepid bee has turned up in Iceland.
The arrival and establishment of the tree bumblebees in Iceland is remarkable. How on earth did they manage to cross over 400 miles of the chilly north Atlantic to get there? This is far further than a bumblebee can fly without refuelling so it seems they must have either hitched a ride on a ferry or perhaps been deliberately imported on a plane. The question now is where next for the tree bumblebee? (Photo: Erling ├ôlafsson).
Link to BBCT:-

The intention of the Government to slaughter badgers

This was originally sent via email by Linda Kingsnorth on 2/12/2010 . I have taken the liberty of posting again it here.

Please send this to everybody you know who will help us it is really easy to do and will only take a few minutes, but could make a difference.

"The Government's badger cull consultation ends on December 8. If the cull is approved thousands of healthy badgers will be killed
in a futile, unscientific bid to reduce bTB in cattle. As a matter or urgency could you please email everyone you know urging them to oppose the cull and ask them to contact all their friends with a similar request. All they need to do is to email with a message along these lines:

"Government's bovine TB consultation on a badger control policy: these are my responses: Question 1: I am opposed to to what I see as an unscientific and futile cull which could make matters worse. Questions 2,3,4,5 and 6: my answer to each is NO.

Q 7: YES. Vaccination of badgers and cattle offers the best long-term answer. Q 8: NO
My name and address is as follows..................." The link to the Questions is:

And (thanks to Steve Cummings and Nick Carter) the link to the Consultation Document:-          Thank You.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New fungi killing American bats

I spotted this on a blog, let's hope our bats are immune.

"A new fungus has been discovered in the States that is killing hundreds of thousands of bats, particulary the little browns ( myotis lucifugus) whos hibernation preferences are also ideal for the fungi known as Geomyces destructans.It has also been found in europe but does not seem to result in the symptoms that are killing the bats populations of america.They are calling it WNS (white nose syndrone) as it results in a white patchy growth on the noses of the bats. This is a massive issue for the bats who appear to be woken by the the irritating infection where they lose fat reserves from a break in thier hibernation cycle, valuable fat needed to survive the winter, that they cant replace."