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

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Phoenix Tree

There is this fallen Beech at Blake Dean and it has managed to survive because its root plate was still partially in the ground. It has produced 2 new upright trunks partway down the stem. The whole tree is on the ground with another new stem growing from the end of its trunk, many yards away. Always give a fallen tree chance to grow again and do not be in a hurry to saw it up.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Is this a Bloody-Nosed Beetle?

I saw this beetle this morning near Blake Dean. It was on this loose bare area of grit, with heathy vegetation round it. Sunny but windy.
I'm not certain it is a bloody-nosed beetle, as all the references say it is found in Southern England. Can anyone identify it?

Also this Green Tiger Beetle seen a few yards away.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Shield Bugs

If anyone has any old records or photographs of any Shield bugs taken in Calderdale or see any this year and get a good photo, I would be very grateful if they pass the information on to me, Regards Andy
Billberry Shield Bug ,there are only 3 British records of this species one was taken from the Bradford/Halifax  Moors in the late 1800's. It may well be still present.??

Friday, 24 May 2013

Hidden Secrets in the Heather !!

Walking on the many paths criss crossing our uplands ,and coming across one of the many Emperor Moth Cocoons spun to the Heather.On first inspection everything seems ok,but when looking more closely at the Cocoon, a small barely noticeable Hole on the side reveals that all is not quite as it seems ! An Emperor Moth Cocoon is an amazing construction,making it very difficult for predators to reach the Pupa inside.At the entrance at the top of the cocoon there is very stiff bristle like fibres that kind of spring back after the transformed moth pushes through,these fibres can only be forced open from the inside,and as the Moth emerges the fibres spring back and close.also the outer case of the Cocoon is very tough, made from lots of Silk spun by the Caterpillar in readiness for Pupation.But even with all the above protection, this Small Parasitic Wasp manages to breach those defences.From this Emperor Cocoon 25 of these Wasps Emerged from this tiny hole !

Walk advertised above.

Just to point out that this is a Free Event,
as are all Halifax Scientific Society walks and talks. You may if you wish donate a little something to HSS funds. It's also in the Wildside Booklet of the Countryside Service.

The toad spawn may now be tadpoles, though at this height and in this season it could be late developing.  It appears in a drainage channel, so is easy to see.

The weather is set fair, so there's a good chance to see the rare Bilberry Bumble Bees busying themselves making up for lost time. We sometimes see Common Lizards, and also Green Hairstreaks; very specialised moorland butterflies.

There will probably be Common Sandpipers, Willow Warblers, Red Grouse and Curlews to see and hear, and who knows what else? Maybe a Wheatear or a Ring Ouzel if we're lucky.

Is this an Emporer Moth Cocoon ?

Found on the moorland between Widdop and Upper Gorple Reservoirs earlier this spring (14th April).
It was lying on the surface. 
I have seen similar things before, including some weathering out of a high peat bank, their position low down in the peat suggesting they were from a very long time ago. Couldn't find these the next time as I was at the same place (other side of Widdop Res. on top of the ridge.) Maybe evidence of prehistoric moths?

Dawn Chorus Walk - Hardcastle Crags - Sunday

Dawn Chorus Walk

Get up early on Sunday 26th May for an unmissable natural spectacle at Hardcastle Crags. Let our local bird expert lead you on a guided tour through the beautiful dawn chorus, as our feathered friends wake from their slumber and join together for an outstanding orchestral performance. After a four mile walk, enjoy a hot drink and light breakfast in the cafe at Gibson Mill.

Booking essential on 01422 844518. £5 fee includes breakfast. Meet at Midgehole Car Park at 4.30am. For more info go to:

Monday, 20 May 2013

Trees---What's happening?

Trees are very late in coming into leaf this Spring. I have never seen such a reluctance in bud opening and there are many Oaks that still have their's tightly shut.
Birch which is normally green by this time, is looking scrappy and tired and I have seen one which has only a few leaves as all the remaining buds and twigs are dead. Birch has looked desperate for a few years with their leaves heavily brown with rust.
Lime trees are struggling to open their full compliment of leaves. I have seen Hawthorns that have died suddenly over a couple of years. Elder bushes have died in a similar timescale. Sycamores, which normally are one of the earliest trees to leaf, have many that are still in bud.
I think last year's never ending rain may have affected root systems, coupled with the lack of sunshine last year and this, plus the persistent below average temps.
Maybe trees will recover and catch up but I wonder if many are under severe stress.
Has anyone else any observations?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Emperor Moths 17 05 13

Portia and Brian had a Very Nice find today in their Garden ! These Beautiful Mating Emperor Moths, Britain's only Silkmoth.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Roe Deer Fawns

A first for me, seen today, 2 Roe deer fawns in a wood near Todmorden. They are only a day or two old as they can hardly stand up and were completely unconcerned by my presence. The doe kept visiting when I kept my distance. The fawns were well camouflaged and could not be seen when they laid amongst the leaves.

Local Events

Saturday 18 May: Tony Street will lead a Dawn Chorus Walk through St. Matthew’s Churchyard, Lightcliffe, on starting at 4.30am– this will be followed by a full English breakfast at the church hall at about 6.30am (optional). There is no charge for the walk (donation requested) – breakfast is £5.00.  All welcome but under 16s must be accompanied. To book, call 07941 286821 or

Wednesday 22 May: Bat Walk - Calderdale Countryside Officer, Chris Sutcliffe, will lead a chat about bats and then a walk through St. Matthew's Churchyard, at dusk, using bat detectors. Cost: £1 or donation. All welcome but under 16s must be accompanied. To book, call 07941 286821 or email

Saturday 12 October: Mammal Trapping - Join Calderdale Countryside Officer, Chris Sutcliffe, for a mammal trapping event in St. Matthew's Churchyard, Lightcliffe. This is live trapping and any animals caught will be released unharmed. Cost: £1 or donation. All welcome but under 16s must be accompanied. To book, call 07941 286821 or email

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Dr. John Mather

Bird Pathology - "The Bird on the Bench"

There will be a talk at Halifax Scientific Society tomorrow at 7.15. All are welcome.

Dr John Mather of the YNU (Yorkshire Naturalists Union) is visiting from Knaresborough to give a talk with slides he calls "The Bird on the Bench". He's an enertaining speaker; I heard him at the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) conference last autumn in Leeds.

John has been a long term ringer, specialising in Starlings, and studying their ectoparasites.

He also wrote "The Birds of Yorkshire", and preserves birds as drawer specimens for plumage studies.
I passed on to him the male Common Scoter that Andy Cockroft found which he has offered to bring back in its preserved form, as well as a Waxwing.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Frog tadpoles

A seething mass of frog tadpoles were in one of the ponds at Oats Royd nature reserve a few days ago, in about 12 clumps.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Caloptilia alchimiella emerges.

I found the larva of this species on Aug.18th last year on a HSS walk to Hardcastle Crags with Steve, Bruce et al. It was found feeding within an oak leaf in a folded lobe after initially mining the leaf. After taking it home to rear through, it rapidly spun a lobe over whenever it was introduced to fresh leaves (top left).
3 weeks later after carefully tending to my charge and  providing new leaves whenever necessary, it eventually spun a neat cocoon to pupate in protected by a flimsier outer cocoon (top right).
After allowing a couple of weeks for the pupal case to harden it was carefully removed from the cocoons and transferred to a Tupperware box ready to spend the winter in the cooler environs of the garage.
It was brought indoors on Apr.4th this year and a few days ago the pupa began to colour up nicely suggesting that emergence was imminent (bottom right) and sure enough a couple of days later the adult emerged yesterday. It's a scarcely recorded species in Yorkshire due to it's size and also it's confusion with a closely related species with which it can be very difficult to be separated from.