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

Monday, 31 January 2011

Spider for id

Hi all/Bruce...found this little beauty yesterday in a dead log in the local wood .No idea what it is any help appreciated


Easy to fill in form to send to your MP - ASAP please.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Spiders web

Probably one for Bruce.

I have been observing a spiders web the last few weeks.
its in the corner of my shed door and looks like a garden spiders (orb). The
spider itself hides in the corner and is much smaller than a garden spider and marked differently.
it has been present in very cold weather and appeared to be new each morning. It has not been seen for the past week.

Friday, 28 January 2011

An asset to our wildlife?

These roe deer (4 does and a buck) were grazing near a busy road at 3pm! Some naturalists are dubious about them being around. The only problems I can forsee are damage to gardens/allotments, encouraging hunting with dogs/snares and traffic accidents. Otherwise I would say they are a definite plus. What does anybody else think?


Please help the people of the Philippines fight the mining corporations and preserve their rainforest.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

More info on proposed forest sell off.

Announcement on plans for England forests sell-off:

and the public consultation:

Thanks Emma for the links.


Don't forget to sign the petition.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Hazel catkins

Today, two of our Hazel shrubs were showing the male catkins (lambs tails). Good to know the year is moving on.


Monday, 24 January 2011


Please sign this petition to save our forests.

New draft Local Sites (Wildlife and Geological)

Original post @ Calderdale-WN.

New draft Local Sites (Wildlife and Geological)
Selection Criteria for West Yorkshire are now available for consultation at:

Comments are invited on the attached consultation documents to be submitted to Robert Masheder at West Yorkshire Ecology by 21 February 2011

If you have only limited time to look through the documents, I would suggest that you check whether sites that you consider to be important for wildlife would qualify.

If you have any queries please let me know.



Hugh Firman
Conservation Officer
Countryside Service
Safer Cleaner Greener
Safer and Stronger Communities
Calderdale Council
tel 01422 393214
fax 01422 393276

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Plea to stop development in the Copley/Sowerby Bridge Valley

A member of the Calderdale Bird Conservation Group is right when he implies that not all development is bad. The duty of developers is to make places more beautiful, more useful to Society.

This area between Copley and Sowerby Bridge has been left too long to nature. It has now returned to a rural, sylvan state, a green lung for the people and a paradise for nature. The willows are the habitat of sweetly singing warblers when they return from Africa in spring, which nest on the ground among the orchids flowering in the sunny glades.

It should be maintained as a green space between Copley and Sowerby Bridge, not filled up with cheap buildings and tarmac, which would sprawl along the valley bottom, ruining the townscape of Sowerby Bridge, (when seen from Albert Promenade, for instance.)

The town currently nestles in its hollow at the confluence of the Ryburn with the Calder in an organic way. It should not be allowed to break out.
Too many small English towns with no perceived beauty or heritage have been blighted by ribbon developments like the one proposed by GenR8, who, unlike good developers, seem merely profit motivated.

This valley and the summarily closed bridleway, Sterne Bridge, have an internationally important literary connection with William Wordsworth, who, whilst visiting his friends, the Sterne family, wrote his poem the Ballad of Lucy Grey around an earlier bridge at this crossing point. The Sterne family also produced their own famous writer, Laurence Sterne.

It is for these reasons, as well as the preservation of a pleasant, sunny, flowery place filled with birdsong, that I support a refusal of the development. It will only harm trade in Sowerby Bridge’s developing tourist trade, and duplicate the surplus of industrial sheds which have long remained empty in several parts of Halifax. (Said to be 1 and a quarter million sq ft!) As for housing, I am reliably informed that Calderdale has already far exceeded its quota of new house building set by central government.

As to a point of freedom of access to public rights of way, there appears to be no engineer’s report on the carrying capacity of Sterne Bridge. Stephanie Hiscott, council officer (development) said she would let me see one by last Monday, and took my details, but has failed to get back. I believe it could be reopened to pedestrians, to use at their own risk. She also said the bridge closure was purely and simply about public safety, and nothing to do with the proposed developments; very hard to believe.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Belo Monte would be a project bigger than the Panama Canal, flooding at least 400,000 acres of rainforest, displacing 40,000 indigenous and local people, and destroying the priceless habitats of countless unique species -- all to create power that could easily be generated through investments in energy efficiency. Please sign the petition.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Recent Mistletoe report

The mistletoe I found in Peoples Park and publicised in the Halifax Courier has prompted three other reports in Calderdale:

In a private garden at Southowrham, started "by rubbing some berries into the apple tree bark" by a lady gardener about 15 years ago. Never has berries.

Again in a garden at Brighouse on apple . Just got a message from a man I couldn't contact back. "There about 20 years and reported in the Courier".

Some memories from about 50 years back of gathering it for Christmas in more than one place in Ovenden, including from a holly tree.

The one Colin D found, plus the two I found (Hebden Bridge and Peoples Park) brings the total to 6 sites. Still a rare plant, though. The icing on the cake would be to find it with berries.

Walk Report. HSS visit to Shibden Park

WALK Report Halifax Scientific Society
LOCATION: Shibden Park, leader Steve Blacksmith
DATE 15.1.11
WEATHER: windy and light rain in the morning. Heavy rain came after group disbanded at 13.00.
Number attending 4 inc. leader
Target species: Ferns, also listening to resident bird song to learn to survey by ear, whilst no migrant songbirds are complicating the soundscape.
(We were also interested to see the area where many Rhododendron ponticum had been cut and burnt on site to try and stop the spread of a Phytophthera sp. tree and shrub disease which has recently been identified in the park. I had checked with the Estate Manager,Deborah Comyn-Platt,that it was safe to visit.)

Dryopteris dilatata- broad buckler Dryopteris filix-mas, male fern
Polystichum setiferum- soft shield fern (2 "wild"plants) Blechnum spicant- hard fern
Asplenium sclopendrium, hart's-tongue (planted) P.setiferum (planted)
P.aculeatum - hard shield fern (planted)
Some planted ferns in winter brown foliage were assumed to be Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern.

The typical ferns of the woodland are D.dilatata and D. Filix-mas, with Blechnum sparsley on exposed mudstones banks. Polystichum spp.remain rare though a spreading population in Elland Park Wood is on the coal measures as here. The 2 found along the woodland path below the A58 were well seperated.
Common ferns in other local areas which were absent were Pteridium (bracken), Polypodium spp, and various wall-dwelling small Aspleniums.
The ecology of ferns was discussed briefly: They grow in shade where many flowering plants don't; they grow on nutrient-poor mudstone outcrops; also in moss on fallen logs. They are opportunists (empty niche fillers) in the first two cases; early colonists in the second. They are browsed by deer. That is what we saw on the day.

They must be an important carbon sink. The old root-stocks of clump formers, and the underground rhizome-systems of creeping species must lock up carbon for huge lengths of time. Anyone who has tried to compost a rootstock will attest to their resistance to rot.
They are important hydrologically, storing rain in their tissues and on their filligree structures. They make woodlands humid, affecting other plant and insect, and therefore bird life. They retain deciduous tree debris around them again effecting slow water run-off and carbon-rich humus soil building .
I have heard of one insect only that specialises on them, a beetle on Pteridium. Perhaps there are more.
An endangered bird in England, the twite, important locally, sometimes nests among bracken foliage on the high Pennines.
I have been told about a fungus that colonises dead fern stems.

About 40 black-headed gulls Moorhens 5
Mallards - far fewer than gulls Mistle Thrushes 4 inc one singing on and off all day
Robins 4-5 Long Tailed Tits 10
Male Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting a feeder
1 Wren
Rookery - SE107257 - not reported in 2009 rookery survey - about 14-15 nests. Just above the playground.

MAMMALS: only two grey squirrels seen, but several dreys. A little browsing of ferns probably by a small deer.

PLANTS OTHER THAN FERNS: A bird-sown yew among many young hollies colonising recently regrown woodland (20 -30 years); next to A58 Whitehall Road. Both species are increasing as an understorey shrub in other parts of Calderdale. Only one plant was seen in flower - a planted Wych Hazel, Hamamelis mollis from N. America.

FUNGI: All logs were of deciduous trees. An old puffball group on a log, possibly common puffball, Lycoperdon. Another log below the Caldervale railway was spectacularly covered in a pale crust which showed only a little of its reverse side of mahogany brown. Above the playground on a collection of massive logs was a display of about 8 fungi, and at least one slime mould. Among them were a jelly ear, Auricularia; a bright orange toughshank with black stems, Collybia sp.; King Alfred's Cakes, Daldinia; candlesnuff, Xylaria and what looked like a wood blewit, Lepista. Further up the track on a stump was a white fungus like a ball of hard chewed gum growing out of the wood, but as we had no mycologist with us, its identity is a mystery.

COMMENT ON PARK MANAGEMENT: There are not many areas of unshaded long grass. These would increase biodiversity spectacularly by attracting butterflies.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Travellers Joy(Clematis vitalba)

Hi all ,are there any areas in Calderdale where the plant  Travellers Joy is common.???

Friday, 14 January 2011

First Walk of HSS programme

There will be a walk around and in Shibden Park tomorrow 15th. Meet 10.30 for a 10.45start at the bottom car park. Steve Blacksmith leading and to look particularly at ferns and discuss their place in ecosystems. Also to listen out for bird sounds; a useful month to start for beginners to bird id. by ear, while there are just a few tuning up. We will see where Rhododendrons have been removed to try and stop the spread of the sudden oak death disease.

This is designed as an easy walk for those not great at stiles. We usually picnic at about 12.00 weather permitting. If weather atrocious leader will still be there, and meet might turn into a museum visit. Lifts available from Halifax/ Skircoat area.
Tel or text 0771 500 5379

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Calderdale Wildlife: PETITION FOR BEES

Calderdale Wildlife: PETITION FOR BEES


We all know that bees are dying off worldwide affecting the whole food chain. Scientists blame toxic pesticides. Sign this petition urging the EU and US to ban these deadly chemicals. Check out the link and sign up:

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Forestry Commission sell off

It is looking as though committments to replace conifers with native broadleaves will be abandoned when the FC sells its woodlands. The government doesn't want the obligation passed to the private owner as this will reduce the value of the woodland.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Calderdale Council is co=hosting a seminar on how to burn wood legally using a woodburning stove. See their press release

Friday, 7 January 2011

Steve Downing on Protecting songbirds from poaching in Sardinia

First meeting of a nature-packed programme for 2011.

At the Halifax Scientific Society meeting on Tues 11th January 7.15 - 9.00 PM
at Halifax Central Library. All Welcome.

Bird Conservation in Sardinia, and his work there with LIPU, the Italian
Bird Conservation League, combating the poaching of northern European
songbirds on migration through Sardinia.  [original post: Calderdale-WN, Thanks Steve ]

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Towpath surfacing

Sustrans in conjuction with Calderdale Council are to make an all weather surface (probably tarmac) on the canal towpath. This will run from Warland on the Lancs boundary to the tarmac down the valley where it reached a couple of years ago (Salterhebble?).

I know there was controversy with the tarmacing when it was done on the lower stretches and the effect on vegetation etc. Does anyone know how things have resolved? We are worried in the Upper Valley because the towpath is so narrow and any worthwhile vegetation will disappear under a hard surface.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mistletoe at Peoples Park and HNY

 Anyone any idea what these are I found them in a big pile of leaves in the back garden.??I thought it was frog spawn but its way too early and no black spots could be seen.??