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.
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Fungus Blog

There are now some photos on the Fungus Blog of the fungi, etc. found last Saturday on the foray to Stoodley Glen.

From Fungus the Bloggyman.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ash Die-Back disease

Ash die-back, Chalara fraxinea, is a serious disease of Ash trees. It has spread all over Europe and one scientist has suggested that our country could be the only one in the whole of Europe with any Ash trees remaining. This is providing we keep the disease out, yet it has just been found in a wildlife trust wood in Norfolk where the disease has killed many coppice stools.

It is essential to stop imports of ash saplings from Europe but our government is still 'consulting'. In the meantime the fears are it is only a matter of time before we have a devastation worse than Dutch Elm disease.


Can anybody recommend to me a book on identifying fungi with a view to maybe collecting some edible ones and possibly even developing a deeper interest them.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Yellow Greenfly

This eight of an inch long yellow (greenfly?) crawled across my book pages as I was reading. A lovely colour but not one I've seen before. Does anyone know what it is?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Autumn Leaves

The Environment Agency is advising local authorities they should no longer compost street and highway leaves but instead send them all to landfill. The story is the leaves may be contiminated by oil residues.
I wonder what has changed? Leaves have always fallen from trees and the motor car is above a hundred years old.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Fungus Foray Report and details for a follow-up.

Wade Wood, the Luddenden Brook

Unidentified, marble-sized

Laccaria amethystina, Amethyst Deceiver.
"Deceiver" because it's in a tricky group. Said to be edible but I've not eaten it.
A very scalloped form of Birch Polypore, maybe a different species. Inedible but found in the pack carried by 5,300 year-old ice mummy  named "Otzi" found in 1991 in the European Alps. May have been valued as an anti-biotic, or can be used to sharpen blades. Also known as Razorstrop Fungus.

Upper and lower surfaces of Artist's Bracket. Ganoderma applanatum. The white undersurface scratches to create a dark brown line - said to have been used for sketching purposes.

Tree Ear or Jelly Ear, Auricularia auricula-judae. Used to be said to be confined to Elder, but on finding it on several different species of tree and talking with Professor Roy Watling, he informed me it is under review and may be split into different species. Edible  -  I was first served it in a Thai restuarant in France. I once ate too much of it at home and got a very uncomfortable bloated feeling in my stomach.

 A small species of Ink Cap, Coprinus.
Common Ink Cap has been used to treat alcoholism.
With many thanks to Linda for all these photos and several others.
European Brown-bear - Ewan Chesser photo
There will be a follow-up to the Wildside Fungus Foray (above).

It will be on Saturday 27th October. Meet 10.30 for a 10.45 start. Bring packed lunch.

Meet at Eastwood Cricket Club on the main A646 road between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
Parking is OK on the main road overlooking the cricket ground, but take care - it's a 40 limit and some drivers speed a lot faster than that. SD965252

It is served by buses, such as the Todmorden and Burnley services.

Meet at the junction - marked "Stoodley Glen". We will be taking the track up Stoodley Glen.
If  the weather is good we might go over the top and down into the valley bottom at Mytholmroyd, where a bus can take us back along the main road to the cars. People can retrace their steps if they want to leave early.

At the top of the wooded glen, the path goes through classic unimproved grassland with a good selection of grassland fungi including,  last year,  pink waxcap and hare's ear. I have occasionally seen actual hares up there, and there are some of the few local wild crabapple trees. It will be interesting to see if  they have suffered from the cold spring like the garden apples and crabapples.

There are, interestingly enough, crabapples just over the watershed in Broadhead Clough, though these are not possible to get to, as Yorkshire Wildlife Trust requests we stay on the footpaths in the reserve.

It's a puzzle why these relict trees don't regenerate any longer. I have my theory it's because there are no longer any wild mammals that would eat the fruit and deposit their seeds with their dung on soil where the turf was broken through by their piggy hoofs/ bears paws.  Of course sheep nibble off seedlings as well.

Get a glimpse back into the MIddle Ages as well as a fungus foray!

Phone or text ahead mobile 0771 500 5379 (Steve) or simply turn up. Small donations to Halifax Scientific Society gratefully received.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Autumn leaves or twigs?

One of our mature Oak trees never sheds any leaves in Autumn but instead sheds them complete with whole twigs, some up to 2 foot long. I notice this year another Oak which normally only sheds leaves, has this Autumn decided to get rid of the whole twiglets as well. No leaves fall on their own without the accompanying twig,

This seems to be a genetic response, perhaps to growing conditions/weather and is a kind of self-pruning to keep the nutrient uptake in balance with the growth.

The twigs are not snapped but are shed by the tree in the same way as leaves are; that is by the abscision layer of cells that 'cut' the twig from the tree. I am not aware of species other than Oak which do this but would be interested to know if others have seen this. On the photos you will see the rim and the neat abscision at the end of the twig. The convex end fits neatly into the cup left on the tree branch.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Aurora Possibilities Tonight 14 10 12

There might be a chance to see Aurora borealis, Northern Lights tonight,we need Amber or Red Aurora Alerts from Aurora Watch Uk to be with any chance of seeing them locally,there is already Yellow Alert so hopefully it might build up later tonight Midnight to early hours ! i will update this blog later on if we get Amber/Red Alerts,and of course clear skies.we need to be up on the tops away from the Orange glow of towns and Citys,easier said then done locally,and should be looking North if unsure of the direction if the Plough Constellation is roughly where you are looking that is the right spot,it can start off as a very faint Green glow,but, it can suddenly change,anyone wanting to have a go at photographing them ,basically a DSLR is the best bet with a fast Wide Angle Lens set to its lowest f number f1.8 or so set to infinity on manual, and 25 or 30second shutter speeds at iso 400  or higher,and a Tripod .regards Brian.

Friday, 12 October 2012

RSPB Golden opportunity to crack bird of prey persecution, before it's too late

As the Hen Harrier teeters on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, Coalition and Welsh Government Ministers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England and Wales, and must not waste it. That's the message from the RSPB as it publishes its annual wildlife crime figures showing yet another shameful year of poisoning, shooting and trapping for Red KitesGolden EaglesPeregrine FalconsGoshawks and other persecuted species. Just one pair of Hen Harriers bred in England in 2012, with Government's own studies suggesting that illegal killing is the major factor in their decline.  See more of this report.

Please sign this petition here now before it's too late. We need 100,000 signatures before the government has to take notice, we have to date under 11,000 and it has taken almost a year to get that far!

The RSPB aren't pushing this, or have I missed something? I won't say what I think! 

It is therefore up to us to act now. sign this petition here we have only a few weeks left to sign.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tomorrow - 2nd Crocus Sweep

The next scheduled walk is Saturday ( see Bruce's Post, below - meet Jerusalem Farm.)
But before that, tomorrow, Friday 12th, there is another  crocus sweep, to drive round a set of sites to check how the autumn crocus are doing this year. Some walking will be required. One slope is steep.
The intention is to go to two sites in the Luddenden Dean area, maybe more. Bring a packed lunch.
 We’re meeting at County Bridge, in the town of Sowerby Bridge, just outside Halifax.  It’s the main A58 bridge across the River Calder. There’s free street parking to be had around there, and several buses.

If using sat. nav. a postcode nearby is HX6 2QD.

Map ref. SE 059 235 (approx.)

You will see a betting shop – we ( or I ) will be on the opposite side of the road, on the bridge on foot. ( I have white hair and a blue backpack.)

See you about 10.30 to 10.45, hopefully. My mobile if you get held up is 0771 500 5379.

Walk Reminder - Saturday 13th October

The next walk is Saturday October the 13th. A fungus Foray to Wade Wood (Jerusalem Farm). Part of the Calderdale Wildside Walks. Meet at Car Park, Jerry Farm SE036278 at 10:15 am Map

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Northern Lights Aurora borealis nr Bridestones Todmorden,09 10 12

Been trying to see the Northern Lights in Calderdale for a few years now and it finally happened late last night,i get Aurora Alerts from Aurora Watch Lancs,but its always been cloudy or tipping down,but last night although foggy down in the valley bottom i could see stars through the wispy fog,amber alert was forecast at 2330 so i thought if i didnt see the Aurora i might see the Meteor Shower happening,all a bit rushed i headed for the road near Bridestones,i could see a faint arc of Green,which intensified at about 0115 with  moving curtains left and right of the main arc it was FANTASTIC,pot luck with camera as was trying to set it up in darkness in a rush !hence the bright annoying house light to the right,thought id taken 14 pics but hadnt taken any and just managed to salvage these few shots ! hopefully be more prepared next time they appear !! regards Brian.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Seen This am in Triangle

Autumn Crocus,  Ryburn Valley

Autumn Crocus,  Triangle
These were seen in Triangle by Michael Sykes.
Thanks for the pictures Michael.
Leotica lubrica.  Triangle
Laccaria amythistina.   Ryburn Valley

Autumn crocus

There is just one Autumn crocus in flower in Tod park near the bandstand, although others may yet appear from those that were transplanted from the mown grass area a couple of years ago.

Are these spangle galls on this oak leaf? I hadn't realised how hairy they are.

Rosa rugosa hips are wonderful for butterflies and in this case green bottle flies. I think it is the fermenting juice they are after

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Jays, Acorns and tree news

There are reports in the national papers of a lack of acorns, forcing jays to forage in gardens. There are lots of acorns in our wood in Tod but I have never seen them eaten as voraciously by grey squirrels as this year. Every tree has mounds of left-over bits of acorns and a squirrel in each tree. I don't think the jays (and we have a few) are getting much of a look-in. I have also noticed all the squirrels look very scraggy and undernourished and seem desperate for the acorn bounty.

For the first time, squrrels have stripped all the bark on the upper branches of the mature sycamores at the rear of Todmorden Hall and all the tops are now an unsightly brown of dead foliage.

Hawthorns everywhere I go are looking very sick this year, with die-back and many without any leaves since spring. Rowan are the same, birches with frizzled leaves, elder bushes losing leaves and many dying.

There is a Chalara fungal disease on imported ash trees and the government is so worried it may be about to ban imported ash saplings. The Netherlands have lost 90% of their mature Ash trees to this disease and same could happen in this country. I can't imagine why we import Ash as they grow like weeds here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

OK to eat?

These fungi keep popping up each year at the base of a wood pile on my allotment. The bluish green colour is quite noticeable. The top ones are each a couple of inches across - anybody know what they are?