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

Sunday, 27 February 2011

White Butterbur

This plant, native of Europe, naturalised in UK, but rare, is in Colden Dale. I stumbled upon it today. It is a bit smaller than the common butterbur, but quite spectacular. There are many flowers up now, in a spot well off the usual footpaths.

Frank Murgatroyd in his Flora of the Halifax Parish (1995) has it only in a wood near the Ainleys, Elland, and Bullace Trees Wood, Sowerby. The West Yorkshire Plant Atlas only mentions a site near Storthes Hall, Huddersfield.

If any plant enthusiasts want to see it, I can probably arrange time next weekend to lead an
impromtu HSS walk up to see it, (about 1 hour easy walking,) while it is in flower.

Eight very fresh clumps of frogspawn in one of the silted-up dams there today.

Waxwings still around

There were 31 Waxwings roosting in a tree in Ogden car park yesterday.
Plenty of birdsong just below the car park now. A female Goldeneye around, plus the usual birds.

Saturday, 26 February 2011


Report of frogspawn at Heptonstall (before 25th Feb.)
Also a few toads have been tempted out by the milder weather at Greetland and Lumbutts.

It's time to watch out for the yellow-jacketed people who stand about picking toads up just before they get flattened by traffic ( They often appear mostly after dark.) Somebody suggested they should put little yellow jackets on the toads :-)

Friday, 25 February 2011


What a beautiful Spring day yesterday, sunshine, bird song and a 7 spot ladybird in the garden, first one of the year.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

First bees

Spring is on its way; I've seen my first bumble bee and a solitary bee (on crocus) today.


If anyone would like to learn to scythe for when the fuel runs out for your mower, here is the place.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mosses essential to health of forests

According to this link, the cyanobacteria that only grow on mosses associated with old trees are essential for providing the nutrients for long term health of forests.

Another reason for looking after our old trees, which at present have no legal protection and are often the most vulnerable to felling.

Botanical literature wanted.

Hi all,

I'm searching for either books or reports which cover the distribution of plants (as many groups as possible) within Calderdale. Any contacts or info will be much appreciated and hopefully aid my search for local lepidoptera no end.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Waxwings and Curlew

About 20 Waxwing were in the car park area at Ogden this lunch time. (P.R.)
Also a curlew flew low overhead calling. (B.H.)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Tree Sparrows

Good news for tree sparrows at Jay House Lane, Brighouse, according to Calderdale Council's press release today;

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Snow Tracks

These tracks appeared overnight in our front garden. They look like deer, I cannot think of anything else.

We left a tray of raisins and old Christmas cake out the previous evening and its all gone this morning


A visitor to my garden in Holywell Green this morning. Managed to get my camera and change the lens - all a bit hurried - but he stayed long enough to snap this through the window. Hoping to find my house sparrows resident maybe!

Walk Yesterday

Not surprisingly, no-one turned up. The snow was coming pretty fast, though turning to slush.
Thanks to those who let me know they wouldn't be coming. I still went along in case anyone turned up.

65 Mallard on Shibden Park Lake
48 Black-headed Gulls ( a couple with their full chocolate heads already)
6 Moorhens (a good count)
A few c.crows, jackdaws, one magpie, one jay.
No small songbirds evident.

Halifax Scientific Society is without a Minutes Secretary at the moment, after the retirement of Barbara Kirk who has served excellently for many years, but was having difficulty hearing announcements at the meetings. Thank you very much for your faithful service, Barbara. It is a rather specialist post to fill, as the secretary needs a fair knowledge of natural history and place-names in Calderdale, as well as being able to turn the transactions into a piece of readable prose. These pieces are then read out at the next meeting, for confirmation that the record is correct.

Our old annual general meeting records include one comment that "All the organised walks took place this year, if only the leader turned up on occasions." !

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Are our Woodlands saved?

Whatever anyone's views are on the Forestry sell-off debacle; it shouldn't ignore the fact that Ancient Woods are not getting the protection they deserve and the FC has not exactly been speedy at removing their conifers from these sites. The Woodland Trust's Sue Holden had this to say following the government u-turn:

" Ancient woodland is our richest wildlife habitat – our rainforest – yet it is still being destroyed. The Woodland Trust has fought cases involving 850 ancient woods in the last decade. Ancient woodland, no matter who owns it, needs better protection. There is very little ancient woodland left and the only way to recreate it is to restore ancient woods which were planted with conifers, called Planted Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS). Restoring these is one of the most significant contributions we could make to the natural environment. The Forestry Commission has around 30000ha of PAWS which it has not restored despite a 2005 government commitment to do so".

It is a pity that most of the national press seem only concerned with access issues, important as they are.

Friday, 18 February 2011


A noisy Siskin flock again at Skircoat, this time at Ravenscliffe School.
Could not count exactly as very flighty but probably around 20.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


It appears that we have been listened to for once! Well done everyone.

BTO news articles

It's National Nest Box week. Learn more here, along with a few other interesting articles.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

"Big Cat" sighting in Copley

The Courier today has this as the front page.

A passenger in a car stuck in traffic at Copley reported a large cat which was: "definitely not a domestic cat and about the size of a large dog. It was 10ft from the road and moving toward the traffic , which surprised me because you'd think it would be scared."
"It looked like a lynx with black and brown patterned markings. It was like a Bengal cat but much bigger." She saw it coming down a side lane towards Wakefield Rd.

My comments are that scale of objects can be very deceptive, especially when looking through or along things like lanes, because distances can be hard to judge. Why do people who are trained observers and outdoors a lot more than most people, such as birdwatchers and countryside volunteers not report seeing these big cats? Ten feet from traffic? Also why are tracks never found on muddy river banks?

A new designation of "Local Wildlife Sites"

Visit Calderdale Birds for a revised system for designating “Local Wildlife Sites.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Bird Sight

Here is an interesting article about bird navigation.

This article explains the science more:
Thanks to Emma for these links.  

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Warland Reservoir

Walked up to Warland reservoir yesterday and as I got to the end of Warland res, where it almost joins Lighthazzles res, there were dozens of white bags there -
I'm guessing that this must be the repository for the loads of heather shoots that are planned to be dropped on the surrounding moors from helicopters in the hope that they will take root and protect the eroding peat.
 The planned 'seeding' is due to take place January, February and March but I haven't heard any helicopters over there yet.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A change in the garden.

On Thursday I cut down a big, ugly Lawson's Cypress which I had been struggling to trim for years and thought it might reduce the number of birds calling in for the seeds, suet, Vitalin dog food I put out for them.

The opposite! New species consist of woodpigeon, jackdaw and bullfinch (a single female in with the chaffinches on the lawn pecking at the budgie seed I spread thinly there.) I have had a rainy day to watch, though - maybe they have visited before when I haven't been watching.

Some might not welcome the bigger species, but I find them fascinating to draw. I like my sketching far more than the rubbish photos I get.

Still no house sparrows, despite a thriving colony a few blocks away in the Green Park Estate.

Friday, 4 February 2011


It appears that our MP for Calder Valley, Craig Whittaker, isn't listening to us, as he voted against the rethink. We need to email again folks.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Transforming Sowerby Bridge and Copley Valley

Please note that there will be a meeting regarding the proposed development on Wednesday 9th February from 7.30 – 9.30pm. at St Paul's Methodist Church, Tower Hill, Sowerby Bridge.