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, 31 March 2011

Toad Press - Not flat just famous!

Hi all,

A quick update on the Toad Crossings in Calderdale.
Firstly, last night at Washer Lane, Steve, Hugh and Lisa were joined by Calendar News, and a report should be broadcast on Calendar tonight after the news at 6pm - tune in!

At Lumbutts, Tuesday saw 105 toads helped across the roads and 14 casualties, with more toads on the move expected last night. Pub traffic keeps the road busy, so if you happen to be there at any time feel free to engage in some toad chat with folks at the bar! They've had around 200 toads over the last week, and on Tuesday were joined by Matt Wilson, a keen herpetologist who has immortalised Gordon and Margaret's endeavours on his own blog, the European Amphibian & Reptile Blog.

Hebble End crossing has had plenty of activity, and last night well over 40 toads were helped, thanks to the volunteers there!

Woodhouse Road in Todmorden has also had toads on the move, but remains hazardous, with a lot of traffic leading to some casualties.

Hebden Hey has had about 70 toads over the past couple of nights, and 4 newts as a bonus. Thanks to the volunteers getting involved there, we should be able to help the toads on nights when the Scout Hut is in use.

I hope everyone has been able to get in touch with a Toad Crossing co-ordinator if they want to get involved, if you have any questions or issues please get in touch with Hugh Firman at the Countryside Services on email;, or phone; 01422 393214. He can pass on your query to the right co-ordinator.

Keep a weather eye out for those toads!
Thanks, Christine.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Oats Royd

It is slightly out of Calderdale (by a few yards) but close enough.
There are about 210 clumps of frog spawn in 5 of the 7 ponds.
Green Wood, GSW, chiffchaff (1) plus the usual.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Are there any Aspen trees in Calderdale.?????

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Toads on the move, mid-March as usual

The earliest I heard of were about a dozen at Lumbutts, around 14th. Last night, on 22nd about 50 were helped by toad patrollers at the same site. (I believe they may have enough helpers there.)
Tonight, 23rd, I got to Washer Lane (Sowerby Bridge) too late for one pair of toads at 7.30. Another single female was run over while I was down the hill, but I picked up 12 including a couple of females. These are bigger then the males, as you can see from the picture. When the male climbs on and grips her under the front legs this position is termed amplexus. It is common if not universal in anurans (frogs and toads) but newts mate in a completely different way.
The couple in the picture actually met in my bucket! I stayed till only 9.30 because they seemed to have stopped moving, but I have known us to be out till midnight on warm, damp evenings.
Volunteers need a torch and bucket. We can supply high visibility vests. We think these are essential.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Shelf Road Toad Crossing?

Hello all,

We've had a mysterious report from Froglife that Toadlets were seen at a potential crossing on Shelf Road last year. Someone filled in their online form to report them, but nothing was ever followed up.

Does anyone know anything about this site? Or would anybody who lives locally be interested in checking this out as the weather gets warmer?

We'd be grateful for any information about this, please get in touch with Hugh Firman if you have further details. Email:, or phone; 01422 393214.

Thanks, Christine.

Toad Crossings

Hello all,

Now the first Toads have been on the move in the area, we're extending a plea for volunteer Toad patrollers at some of Calderdale's Toad Crossing sites. We need some extra hands (and buckets!) to help our Toads cross the roads.

Five sites around Calderdale have been identified where Toads are at a high risk from traffic:
- Hebble End in Hebden Bridge
- Lumbutts/Mankinholes
- Hebden Hey in Hebden Wood
- Woodhouse Road in Todmorden
- Washer Lane in Sowerby Bridge

New 'Toad Crossing' road signs will be going up at Lumbutts and Hebble End as soon as possible, encouraging road users to drive carefully, but we still need volunteers! Particularly at the Woodhouse Road and Hebble End sites.

If you're interested and could spare the odd evening to help with some Toad transportation please get in touch with Hugh Firman at the Countryside Services. By email;, or phone; 01422 393214.

Thanks, Christine.

Monday, 21 March 2011


Hi all
I will be needing a decent camera shortly for wildlife photography and would appreciate advice from you clever people.
Mike has suggested interchangeable lenses. What do you use/recommend?

Friday, 18 March 2011


My first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year, seen in grassland at Todmorden today.

Cromwell Bottom LNR

A reminder that the next walk is at Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve (Elland Gravel Pits) to see amphibians and their spawn. Meet Colin Duke at the Anglers' car park at Saturday 19th March. (see HSS walks)

Also, at 10:00 am meet Robin Dalton, Area Countryside Officer,Safer, Cleaner, Greener, to help with the practical management of Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve (01422) 393244 or 07795965128. You will need to bring sturdy footwear and gloves (of the rigger/gardening type), lunch and plenty of energy! Tools provided. (see Blog post 9th March)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Tree Sparrow Main Colony also Toads on the move.

At Jay House Lane today, two of us were replacing repaired nestboxes and painting numbers on them. Lots of sparrows in the area. Thanks to Paul for the repairs.

One that had had a dead fledgling in (No. 01 on the big oak at the top) last autumn today had a fresh nest built in it. (Materials - hay and straw.) But no eggs yet.

A big weasel, no black tail tip - so not a stoat, crossed the road.

The first part of the hedge-laying, and the replanting in hedge gaps, has been completed. Second part of the laying will be done by the contractors in 2012.

I have had word that toads have started moving at Lumbutts in numbers (they have enough volunteers there) but I haven't seen any at Washer lane.

Re..bare Head Tunnel

hi Steve et al,
                   recived this from darrel p todat re bare head Tunnel .....Bare head which is the area bordered by Bare Head Lane,Green Lane and Fall Lane is named as is because of the weather which has stripped it of vegitation apart from the heather and few trees 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Helping out at Cromwell Bottom March 19th

Message from my colleague, Robin Dalton:

Would you like to help with the practical management of Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve? If so, why not meet up with like-minded people for an enjoyable day of scrub and tree clearance, helping to preserve a locally rare sphagnum habitat.

Saturday March 19th at10:00am Meet at the Fishermans car park. Please bring sturdy footwear and gloves (of the rigger/gardening type), lunch and plenty of energy! Tools provided. Your support is very welcomed, hopefully allowing for the establishment of an enthusiastic monthly work party! For further information, please contact:Robin Dalton, Area Countryside Officer,Safer, Cleaner, Greener.(01422) 393244/07795965128

The Changing Countryside - talk in Wakefield on 17 March

Outside of Calderdale but may be of interest...................

An illustrated talk by Chris Thomson about the countryside we see today has developed under the hand of man from the ice age to the present day.

Chris is best known to most of you for his expertise on farmland birds. However, he is also extremely knowledgeable about the countryside in general. ‘The Changing Countryside’ will look at the impact of a host of factors, including geology, landscape history, farming, woodland management, conservation and recreation, on the countryside we know and love over the past 20,000 years. All accompanied by some fantastic photographs - not to be missed!!

Thursday 17th March, 7.00pm for 7.30pm

The Archway Suite
Holmfield Arms, Thornes Park
Denby Dale Road, Wakefield, WF2 8DY

Tea and coffee will be provided on the night, and a small charge of £4 will be made to FWAG members, and £6 to non-members.

Booking is not required for this event – just come along!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bare Head Tunnel..Shibden

Had a look in Bare head Tunnel Shibden valley over the weekend. for Heralds(pic above).I found 12 hibernating in the darkest part of the tunnel.It was full of spiders and 2 old birds nests as well. Does any one know any other tunnels or caves in Calderdale..???

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Robin with eggs, and an ermine.

My first nest of 2011 - a robin on 4 or 5 eggs in my garden. See the bird blog (link on the right).

Also Dave and Jen Sutcliffe found an ermine near Cold Edge. See bird blog for story and picture.

There is also a fantastic picture of a large bat flying in the daytime on the bird blog.
Photos by Linda and Steve. Four of us went along to see them. Their whiteness and the bright sun made many of mine over exposed.

White Butterbur Petasites albus Colden Dale 6.3.11

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The new knotweed: Warning over more alien plants set to wreak havoc

A report today names 92 non-native plants sold by garden centres and pond specialists that are in danger of spreading into the wild. The charity Plantlife says many of the species could become the next Japanese knotweeds – alien plants choking the countryside after being set loose by careless gardeners.
Plantlife is calling for urgent action to curb the spread of the invaders – and for two plants to be banned from sale.

Read more:.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Blackbird behaviour

We observed a few days ago a strange display by a blackbird. We have an arbour a few yards from the kitchen window and a male blackbird came and stood on one corner. A few seconds later another male stood on another corner. Nothing odd there, but instead of the usual noisy fracas, the first bird lowered its head opened its beak slightly and proceeded to sway its head from side to side five or six times, much like an avocet does when feeding. Another male arrived on another corner and the first bird did this action again, all three stood in silence until a female arrived and spoiled things. bird one followed by bird two, then three, and finally the female flew off in silence. It looked like a submission display to us. Anyone seen this behaviour before?