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, 25 July 2013

Sunday July 28th

Flowers and Grasses of Cromwell Bottom

Meet Steve Blacksmith from Halifax Scientific Society for a walk around Cromwell Bottom looking at plants and help with the annual butterfly count.

Meet in the car park behind Cromwell House, Cromwell Bottom (grid reference SE125225) off the A6025 between Elland and Brighouse (look for the brown road sign) at 10.30am for a 10.45am start.

Insect repellent advisable. Donations welcome to Scientific Society. Event ends around 3pm

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Figs in Sowerby Bridge 17-07-13

Yesterday evening Michael found this fig tree bearing ripening fruit!

Ficus carica.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Visit from the Yorkshire Naturalists Union this Wednesday

A reminder that the Yorkshire Naturalists Union will be visiting Cromwell Bottom L.N.R. this Wednesday the 17th of July to further explore the site. There will be experts in many fields coming along. We will be meeting at 10:00 am in the car park. All welcome.

Remember to bring lunch if you wish to stay into the afternoon and enough water to drink.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Withens Clough 11-07-13

Here are some of the bog plants and a fungus we found today on the HSS walk led by Hugh Firman, that Michael Sykes and I managed to capture.

Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum). Michael's photo above and below.

Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata). Michael's photo.

One wall in particular was covered in Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

Michael's macro shot of a young Butterwort above and a mature flower head below.

Sundew (Drosera. sp), above and with a fly being digested in its mucilaginous glands below

Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus). Michael's photo.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Northern Eggar hand-caught on Flints Moor

Morgan Sutcliffe caught this male Northern Eggar in a rugby-tackle style (without harming it) on Flints Moor this afternoon.

He also reports from the moor Snipe, Linnet, Curlew, Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Two pairs of Lapwing were nearby earlier in the season.

Butterflies he has seen are Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell (we noticed plenty of of their larvae on nettles), a Ringlet, a Common Blue female (there is Bird's Foot Trefoil there) 20-30 Small Heath Butterfly, several Meadow Brown, a Large White, several Speckled Wood, and together we counted about 8 Northern Eggars flying past.

We found this two-coloured Click Beetle, (below) and the next is the best shot I could get of a Bilberry Bumble Bee the other side of a fence. (Its tail is at the top.) I wondered what they fed on after the Bilberries had finished flowering. They can obviously switch to other things like this White Clover. Final pic is of Cowberry I found on Flints Moor a few weeks ago. It's flowers are very different from Bilberry, though it is related to it. They remind me of tiny Rhododendrons. The Cowberry fruit is red (it is edible)

Purple and green Click Beetle

Bilberry Bumble Bee

and the plant is evergreen, so is easier to find in winter when the Bilberry has shed its leaves. It's found on many moors, but nowhere in any great quantity.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Northern Marsh Orchids?

There are about 100 Northern Marsh Orchids on the edge of the playing fields at Stoney Royd Lane, Todmorden. They seem to have greatly increased in numbers this year, possibly because the field edges are left uncut.
I am not certain I have identified them correctly, so if anyone knows better please say.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Today 5th July 2013 at Oats Royd. Bees from home at Holmfield

Dog Rose

Japanese Rose - Rosa rugosa

Dead Mole

Front foot close up

Bees in cop
These bees flew in whilst in cop. They stayed like this for 20 minutes then flew off separately. Any comments re the bees?
Thanks Steve for the Rosa I.D.

Oats Royd Nature Reserve - Some Recent Images

Fly to ID

Another on cow dung

Bogbean - Menyanthes trifoliata

Speckled Wood

Green Veined White


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Tree Sparrows

The Tree Sparrows  (TS) are doing better each year at the Clifton Tree Sparrow Recovery Project, our only known breeding site for the species in Calderdale. Several boxes (about 11) have TS nests. We've noticed this year that they are now using some of the boxes on the two large oaks, one of which is above the fishing-pond, and one on the near side of the pond when looking from the road; a new observation. The box on the big oak in the lane, furthest away from the cottages (box 1) has again been used by TS as usual.
One very low box only a few metres from the feeders in the hedgerow was used successfully by TS this year, though one juvenile died at the RF (Ready to Fledge) stage.

Other species using the boxes are Great Tits Parus major and Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus, (3 of each.) There are about 55 boxes, mostly numbered, though the numbers are not always visible. The highest boxes on one of the oaks are not numbered.

On 23rd June four boxes in a row on trees in the cottage garden had occupied TS nests. The young were at various stages from FS (feathers on wing short) to FL ( feathers long,) and brood sizes were two of 4, one of 3 and one of 5. They are very likely to have two or more broods in the season.

Tree Sparrows are in the eves at another group of cottages in the area, just over the fields, (Mike Stead), but the residents prefer not to have bird watchers peering up at their windows.

House Sparrows have been seen at the site, and it looks like they have bred there this year, as two fledglings were huddling together on the lawn on 23rd June. They are unlikely to use the boxes, as they prefer a bigger hole, but may be ousting TS from the holes under the eves.

We noticed that at least one Rook Corvus frugilegus  had learned to cling onto the feeders, so Jane Uttley deftly fixed plastic garden mesh round, which lets small birds in. Jane orders large sacks of golden or golden/white millet which, surprisingly to me, is grown in UK. Our initial grant for the project ran out some time ago, and Calderdale Bird Conservation Group are now paying for the seed. We have a rota to go and top-up.

This encouraging news about TS numbers has been heard from various parts of the country. Yorkshire Naturalists Union Bird Report for 2011 says there has been a 58% increase in England since 1995.

Other sites at which TS used to be seen were at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve, and at North Dean Woods (breeding in the old quarry - the late Frank Murgatroyd ) and in the railway viaduct over the River Calder at Salterhebble ( 1 nest in the early 90s - SB.) So they might reappear here soon.

With thanks to the landowners for allowing us into their gardens and land.                                               (Jane Uttley and Steve Blacksmith  - Calderdale Bird Conservation Group and Halifax Scientific Society.)

A female House Sparrow (right) at the fat feeder with Tree Sparrows
(Passer domesticus and Passer montanus.)
Male and female Tree Sparrows have no plumage difference.

Two recently fledged House Sparrows. (Juvenile Tree Sparrows have some of the head-markings of their parents.)

Tree Sparrows Passer montanus

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Harlequin Ladybird

Michael Sykes found this Harlequin Ladybird last month on a rose in his garden and has sent the record off to the Ladybird survey site- LINK HERE

Harmonia axyridis.