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

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Two to look out for..

Mountain Bumble Bee (Bombus (Pyrobombus) monticola) and Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha)are not often seen in Calderdale any sightings in the next couple of Months would be good to hear about.

Not in our area --but

If the area decribed in the website link cannot be saved, it makes you wonder what a site needs in order to be safe from development.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Fly Flatts

Plenty Wheatear still about, and unusually in that area  - 2 Goldfinch.
Full list on Calderdale Birds.

Primrose in full flower on the embankment.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sign of The (dry) Times

A farmer in Holdsworth waters his field.

Birds near there included:
Willow warbler
Green Woodpecker
Little Owl.
Also a Large Red Damselfly by the lakes at Oates Royd.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Perhaps one for Charlie.
This moth was inside our window, its about 30mm across. Have you any idea re I.D.?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Hornbeam Tree

I was on Station Road at Luddendenfoot today, which I haven't been to recently. I looked for the very large old Hornbeam which was at the entrance to the large house at the end of the road. It has been cut down, probably to widen the entrance to the new estate of houses which have just been built.

Too late to bother now but worth mentioning because it must have been the oldest Hornbeam in the valley and it is a species, even though planted, rarely seen as a tree in our locality.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Toadspawn and Bilberry Bumble Bee at Widdop Resr.

Found my first ever Bilberry Bumble Bees on the Burnley Way footpath south side of Widdop Resr. 17th April. A scarce species, sometimes referred to as Mountain Bumble Bee. Had an expert with me today (Edie) who confirmed my identification. I think they are consistently like this - ginger abdomen, with a black thorax crossed by two yellow bands. We also saw a couple of Green Hairstreak Butterflies, far too flighty to photo.

The toads we have known about for about 10 years but I've seen no evidence except a dried-up roadkill.

Last Sunday 17th, I found spawn in the catchwater drain on the north side of the resr., just before the first pine. Also near the shore of the resr. itself, in the peaty water. The strings of jelly have swelled up, and become covered with sediment or algae, so its not fresh that day. Looking like the intestines of something disembowelled in the water!

Today, 22nd, the tadpoles had all just about left the jelly, just one group still hanging on to it.
We thought it amazing that toads should breed at such an altitude, (about 350m) but I have since come across them at a similar altitude at Gorpley Resr., south of Todmorden.
Good views of Common Sandpipers and Willow Warblers, but no reptiles despite the sun.

Whitethroat, Soil Hill

Our first years Whitethroat singing at Soil hill this morning, 4 very flighty Twite, 1 pair linnet on the bush they bred in last year, 1 Wheatear, lots of mipits, only two Skylarks heard, western side only checked.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Holmfield & Oats Royd

Little owl seen once again after 2 years absence.

Birds included Willow warblers,
1 chiffchaff
LTTits and the rest.

A young frog and the web of Tetragnatha sp. over the stream.

Common Lizard

Spotted a common lizard basking near Blake Dean on Tuesday 19th. There were also a few tiger beetles about. No pics unfortunately.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


The government is talking about scrapping important laws which protect our planet. But together we can make them stop and think again by making sure they know that tens of thousands of us don't want these plans to go ahead.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011


 A superb show of Bluebells in Freeman's Wood, Brookfoot on Sunday. Also this insect kept pestering me on North Cut. Any ideas re I.D.?


I would post this in Calderdale Birds blog but I don't know how.

Heard a Cuckoo this afternoon calling for 5 minutes from trees in Hall Wood, Todmorden. This is the first cuckoo I have heard in quite a number of years in Todmorden and the first ever in Hall Wood.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Halifax Scientific Society walk to Rishworth 16.4.11

It seems to have become a fixture that we make this walk in April, partly because of the only known native, unplanted daffodils in Calderdale at one spot.

We were slightly dissapointed in them this year, finding them well gone over, with swelling seed pods. There was some discussion of the ethics of "gardening " them, by spreading the seed along the same wood (There are thankfully no garden daffodils released into the wild there.)

We weren't dissapointed by the very reliable little owl, though, that has been sat on the same wall for three years running!

To go back to the daffs, an article in the turn of the century "Halifax Naturalist" (century before last that is!) lists several places where wild daffodils existed, besides the Rishworth site, there was Severhills Clough -Soyland, Shibden - 2 sites, Coley Hall, Salterhebble, Sowerby Bridge to Ripponden, Jumble Hole Clough -top end - Hippins Clough.

We noticed one of the Rishworth herons had a very young chick in the nest. There are just 2 nests now. (I think the third was in a tree that blew down.)

Quite a few migrants were seen or heard singing. Some discussion was had about what was the name for baby bats. We couldn't think there was one, but some suggestions were batlette, batling, hangling. Then we got onto a collective noun for bats, something not as negative as a swarm or a coven. So we came up with a cave of bats or a flap of bats or, perhaps the best- a belfry of bats.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Find the poison maniac

See Halifax Evening Courier for details on POISON MANIAC, believed to be targeting Peregrines.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A Toady Update

Nicky chalks a toad warning at Hebden Hey

Hello all,

Just a quick update on how the Toad Patrols have been getting on across Calderdale over the last couple of weeks. All in all it seems to have been a 'funny season', what with days and days of dry weather and cold nights meaning uncertain toad movements. As ever, nature is doing its best to be unpredictable and volunteers are continuing to check their sites should there be more waves of migration.

- Lumbutts has seen the greatest numbers, with over 600 toads helped by Gordon and Margaret and occasional visitors! This is over 100 more than last year's total, with the most helped in a single night being 117, patrols will continue for a couple of weeks yet. Another observation from Lumbutts is that the frog count is down from last year - have other volunteers noticed this at their sites?

- Todmorden sites have had some excellent helpers this year, with approximately 100 being helped at Woodhouse Road by a dedicated toad team. With up to 37 cars passing in a hour at this site, and up to 3/4 of toads becoming casualties in previous years, this is a promising sign for helping this remnant colony to recover.

- A new site at Todmorden Tennis Pond where toads have not been patrolled before, saw one memorable night where over 160 were helped! Special thanks to Ben Crowther and family for their brilliant toad saving endeavours here.

- Hebble End/Horsehold Road is another colony that has been depleted over years of road casualties. This year volunteers have helped at least 40 toads, and fingers crossed for more in the future.

- Hebden Hey has seen approximately 170 toads helped around weekends when the the road is busy with visitors to the Scout huts. Toads at this site frequently move in the daytime, so with the help of some excellent volunteers, we've managed two visits a day at the busiest times. As an added bonus, we've seen large numbers of Palmate newts crossing the road, and helped 84 of them avoid traffic!

Night-time newt at Hebden Hey

- The population at Washer Lane has seen large declines in recent years, but over 40 toads have been helped by volunteers this year. A new site at Milner Royd had nearly 30 toads and 5 Palmate newts seen over one evening.

Thanks again to everyone who has got involved this year, it's been great to see so many volunteers out and about. Keep fingers crossed for some damp warm nights and it may not be over yet! Good luck on the roads everyone.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Evening Dinner

20 members enjoyed an evening dinner at the Stump Cross Inn, Halifax on Tuesday 12th April. We all had a good time and the food and service was excellent as always.

Cromwell Bottom - Saturday 9th April

Lots of migrant birds. Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers, Blackcaps. Peacock, white and orange tip butterflies.

A reminder - Next HSS walk

This Coming Saturday
APRIL 16th
Meet Miss B. Kirk at Ripponden Bowling Green car park for a riverside walk to see genuinely native daffodils and back from Rishworth via Quakers Lane. This walk also provides an opportunity to hear and seen migrant birds and see butterflies and bees. Take some lunch and a drink. Hostelry at the end of the walk!
Meet at SE040196 Map

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Lepidoptera eggs

One for Charlie or Andy.
These eggs are in my potting shed. Any ideas what species? We
had similar last year under a window sill. The caterpillars that emerged appeared to all die a few feet away.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Willow Warblers early

The first this year was at Cromwell Bottom LNR on 30th March (apologies to finder - I deleted the grapevine text.) Just had one in the garden, singing and feeding in the trees. A garden first (23 year list!) and my earliest in Calderdale by two days. My garden is at top of Bankhouse Wood, Skircoat, next to All Saints Church. Perhaps more exciting to most people - an osprey was seen over Brighouse at 13.15 (K.Lewis)

Friday, 1 April 2011

Toads moving during the day

This toad was taken out briefly from the dam at Hebden Hey. They seem to change colour when wet. Or perhaps hormonal changes cause a colour change.

The original finder of the site can only go in the daytime. Here are her recent daytime counts.


2 days ago - 11 freshly dead

today Friday 1st April - 27 dead, 4 coupled pairs (8) plus, by coincidence, 27 singles on the move.

Among the many willing volunteers, perhaps there are some who could go up in the day.

(The original finder, Kate, notices quite a lot of traffic going to Hebden Hey some days.)

Vote for UK migrants and Kenyan Grasslands

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The voting link: Voting panel down the page: (Stimmen Sie ab!)