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, 31 March 2012

Evening Walk - Lower Calder/ Bradley Wood

This Wednesday, at 7pm, there will be a short walk along the waterways of the lowest parts of Calderdale, below Bradley Wood.

Meet Steve Blacksmith and Bruce Hoyle at Brighouse Sainsbury's Car Park, at the recycling point, for a short drive then a walk along the towpath for approximately 2 miles walk in total. Lifts available.

This is the only part of Calderdale where Yellowhammers are still regularly found, and we may be lucky enough to find one.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cragg Vale/Broadhead Clough

Peacock  Aglais io   

Mike sent these pictures of a Peacock butterfly and Bog beacon - a small, no more than 5cm tall - fungi found in shady, damp places from March onwards.
Bog Beacon  Mitrula paludosa

Mitrula paludosa - close up

Local Update

On 27th March at Swalesmoor I saw a Peacock Butterfly and a few Tortoiseshells; another Peacock was in nearby upper Shibden Valley. Yesterday 28th on Soil Hill were several Tortoiseshells with at least 2 pairs seen close together.
The frogspawn I posted and pictured on 11th March at Soil Hill hatched a couple of days back, sadly I don't hold out much hope for it. Yesterday 28th, I saw a much reduced number of tiny tadpoles struggling in an algae covered 2 inches of water.

Here is the link for the mammal database showing reported records from recent weeks; the previous years records (upto 23/04/2011) have now been archived.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Holmfield - Tuesday

We had a walk down to "the lakes" yesterday. There were at least 3 Chiffchaff singing, I expected Blackcap but heard none. We did have 5 heron in a field - normally see only singles. Just one lake with spawn (26 clumps) one very close to hatching.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

First sighting of a Small Tortoiseshell this year on 1st March at Sunnybank, Todmorden. Several sightings since then and now daily.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tree disease gets nearer

There are 12,000 trees going to be felled at Sabden, near Burnley because they are infected with Phytopthera ramorum.

Chiff-Chaff in Todmorden

Heard the Chiff-Chaff in Sunnybank wood, Todmorden for first time today. Good to know it has returned.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Vole and Weasels

Sounds like an eco Pub don't it? The Field Vole was on a grassy bank by the track leading from Ogden Res to the Withens. About 100 metres away a pr Kestrel were hunting. The two Weasels were on the track at Soil Hill, they scarpered under a big rock on seeing me. No amount of cajoling could get them to emerge for a photo shoot.
A tragic sight indeed was in the ditch running along Cold Edge Rd to Fly Flatts. Gallons of Frog spawn has gone to waste owing to lack of rain; some areas are not even wet while others have just a trickle of water.

Here is the link for Birds seen.

Hebden Hey Toad Update

Toad sightings at Hebden Hey were recorded far earlier than last year! After Portia's February report from Todmorden, I headed up and saw my first toads at Hebden Hey on 2nd March. I recorded 4 live and 1 dead toad, and 6 live and 1 dead Palmate Newt. A visit on Sunday 4th March recorded more casualties.

As Hebden Hey experiences most of its traffic at weekends when the Scout Huts are in use, an enthusiastic group of old and new volunteers started patrolling the next Friday. Since then we have recorded:

- Friday 9th: Helped - 83 toads, 26 newts and 3 frogs.  Casualties - 20 toads, 6 newts and 2 frogs.
- Saturday 10th: Helped - 43 toads, 16 newts and 1 frog. Casualties - 7 toads and 2 frogs.
- Sunday 11th (afternoon): Helped - 11 toads and 4 newts. Casualties - 7 toads and 2 newts.
- Friday 16th: Helped - 22 toads and four newts. No casualties.
- Saturday 17th: Helped - 3 toads and 7 newts. Casualties - 2 toads.

Here's hoping there will be more out on some warmer evenings this week!

Upper Valley Toad Update

Todmorden toad season is off to the usual 'stop-start' mode due to variable night-time temperatures, even after warm days. Anything above 10C seems more promising for activity, as a guide for Toaders, if your hands feel cold it's probably too cold for toads too, bearing in mind wind and rain chill factors.

First sightings were Dobroyd and Woodhouse on 27th and 28th Feb, in quite sheltered areas. Other sites started from 8th March. Portsmouth Dam seems latest due to a big head-wind down the valley. Two dead males were found there on Sat 17th March.

We've got some brilliant teams out on the look-out at Woodhouse, Lumbutts and Portsmouth. Others like Tennis Pond, Walsden and Horsehold in Hebden Bridge could probably do with extra helpers. The highest number of toads on one night so far has been Woodhouse with 19 found (sadly many dead/run over) due to high traffic volume. Thanks to Cheryl for this record.

First toad shelters are now in place on the track-sides undergrowth at Portsmouth to prevent last year's tragedy when many dried up in the sun - they come out in the day there! Thanks to Dave Wilson for the black plastic piping.

Hoping for warmer nights soon and then they'll be on 'the march'. Happy Toading!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hardcastle Crags

Three of us (Mike, Christine and myself) had a walk up the Crags today to look for Jubula hutchinsiae.  One patch was found in an undisclosed location in the Crags, being one of only three locations in Yorkshire along with other more common species.

Grape hyacinth

Hairy wood rush.  Luzula pilosa

Mike and Christine

 The rare Liverwort Jubula hutchinsiae

The patch of Jubula hutchinsiae 

Another Liverwort

   Great Woodrush   Luzula sylvatica

Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Harts-tongue fern Asplenium scolopendrium
Lichen (Usnia sp.) 


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Chiffchaff at Cromwell Bottom

Chiffchaff at Cromwell Bottom singing near Tag Lock yesterday March 16th
and one on the 18th at the Fisherman's car park.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Amphibian Walk: Saturday, March 17th

A reminder: There is a walk this Saturday at Cromwell Bottom, meet at 10:30 in the Fishermans car park to count the spawn and look at the site. Bird watching is also allowed! Bring some lunch.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Walk this Sunday in Todmorden

There is a walk this Sunday 18th of March at Todmorden Moor. Meet Alison Tymon at Sour Hall Road, Todmorden, To look at the local geology and possibly find the rare coal balls. Part of the West Yorkshire Geology Trust. Link

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Talk Tonight Tuesday 13th March

A reminder that Alison Tymon is giving a talk on the "Halifax and Todmorden Coal Balls and their importance to paleobotany" at the Central Library tonight at 7:15.  All Welcome

Soil Hill

A walk along the west track this morning produced 15 fieldfare and several singing skylarks in the fog. No mipits calling.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Plantation Hare

A much cropped shot of a Brown Hare I watched in a field for about 20 minutes off  Back Lane, Ogden. I average one of these about every two years if I'm lucky!

Whoopers and shelduck

There were 6 whooper swans and 1 shelduck on the ski lake at Cromwell Bottom today.
(received via Grapevine)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunny Soil Hill

One of two Roe Deer galloping up the N slope of Soil Hill
Today Frogs and their spawn were very much in evidence in a number of different locations on the hill.

I counted about 15 frogs but there were far more splashes from those I didn't see.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Little Owls


This blog, found by Street Burner has exceptional pictures of little owl. Well worth a visit. Thanks Chris for the link.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Toads of Todmorden - Steve Cummings

These Common Toads were filmed on April 24th, rather late considering that toads emerge from hibernation around February/March and head straight to ancestral ponds to breed, following the same migration route each year. Males are smaller than females and many stop on the migration route waiting for the females to arrive so they can hitch a ride. Spawn is laid in strings and wrapped around plants.


Frogspawn at Cromwell Bottom

Allan from the CBWG saw frogspawn on February 24th in the wet wooded area.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Spring Returns to Savile Park

Crocus at Savile Park © Michael Sykes

Michael took this picture at Savile Park earlier this week

Friday, 2 March 2012

Frog at Cold Edge

I'm hard pushed to recall seeing a frog anywhere on an early date like this.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Toads Moving to their breeding ponds

I checked the known road crossing points around the Copley Valley this evening and found:

Washer Lane 0 and 0 dead toads
Bottom track (along past the Milner Royd Allotments) 19 males and 1 possible female. 0 dead.
Copley Lane 0 and 0 dead.

Watch out for them on any small road near water, as I am sure you will want to steer round if you are driving, when it's safe to do so.

Anyone who wants to see the migrating toads, or help move them off the road, meet at the start of the allotments track (Sowerby Bridge Household Recycling Site.) at 8.30pm tomorrow, Friday. Bring a torch and wear old shoes, light clothing. (I have only one spare high-visibility vest.)

I wont give tallies here every night, but will keep notes. If others at other toad-watch points could do the same, we could collate them at the end of the season.

I can't do this Saturday, but can Sunday, probably.