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, 28 August 2013

Ring-necked Parakeet

This was sent to Lesley, one of our members, by a friend who saw it in her garden at Trimmingham, near Burnley Road, Halifax, in the early part of this year. Thanks for getting it to us.

I have also had reports of a small flock of them feeding in gardens in the Greetland Valley.

They breed in nest boxes in the south, especially round London, where they're often not welcomed. They eat a lot, being as big as pigeons, and are dominant at feeders.

They're feral in Amsterdam as well.

They attract attention by their raucous calls.

Silver-Y Moth

This flew just after I took the picture with the camera in my other hand. They often turn up at the same times as Painted Lady butterflies, their first generations in summer having migrated together from southern Europe and North Africa.

These are day-flying and hover around flowers as they feed on nectar.

It gets its name from the small y shape on each wing. The specialists recognise different species of Silver-Y.

Haven't seen or heard of any Painted Ladies this year, but there were seven Peacocks together on the Buddleia where I found this moth at Barkisland.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Water Beetle

This water beetle (c 8mm long) is in my bird bath. I have had a go at identifying it but they look pretty difficult by picture alone. Can anyone I.D. this?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Knotgrass - June 2013.

I took home a Knotgrass caterpillar (see posts below) from Ogden last autumn and kept it until emerged in June this year. I found it on Common Sorrel, so it was simple to feed at home until it pupated. I then kept it outside all winter in an unused rabbit hutch in a gauze-covered food pot. I used the original lid to keep the gauze on, after cutting a big disc out of the centre of the lid. You can buy gauze very cheaply at the Halifax Scientific Society meetings, but check it's in stock before coming specially.

I've only just learned to do this as I'm in no way a lepidoptera specialist.

The Knotgrass plant is in the same family as the sorrels - the dock family - and like Common Dock Knotgrass plant has a strong root. It grows as a weed among stones often in gardens and seems as if it has a root as strong as string tied fast to something underground. I suppose that's where its name comes from. I'll try to get a pic of a plant and post it. Its wonderful scientific name is Polygonum aviculare.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Knot Grass acronicta rumicis

Found this yesterday at Northowram on creeping Thistle...must be around in numbers at the moment..: ))

Caterpillar to I.D. Please

Hi all

A blog reader has sent me this picture of a caterpillar. No location yet. It was
found on a lavender bush at 850'

Looks like my question is answered. See above post.

Thanks Andy

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Lesser Bulrush

Found this in a tiny pond near "The Barn" beside Thornhill Beck Lane, Clifton. It was probably brought in from a garden centre, but still interesting. There is only one record for Calderdale in West Yorkshire Plant Atlas - at Clifton ! This was reported by Jill Lucas of the YNU before 1994. Must find out if it was in the same pond. It's possible it could be a hybrid between Bulrush and Lesser Bulrush.

Bur-reed is here in the tiny pond also; another rarity but with more records. It has spiky green balls for flowers.

Also on the walk :
Road-killed toad at "The Barn". The lane might be a candidate for a toad patrol to be set up as many were said to have been killed last spring.
12 Stock Doves together at "The Barn"
10 Mistle Thrushes together in a field at the top of Jay House Lane
Curlew calling near Whitaker Pits Farm - (present since late winter and thought to have bred.)
30 Goldfinches together feeding on Thistle seeds.
No Tree Sparrows seen but core area not visited - only a few House Sparrows around.
About 4 chiff-chaffs in various places.
A Moorhen with a fairly young juvenile at the big dam above the railway.

Lesser Bulrush 
                                                                                              Typha angustifolia


At the dam lower down, just above the old railway, this horse had waded right in to graze on the submerged water plants. It was pulling big bunches out, shaking a lot of the water off, then munching them down. It's not surprising that many parasites of large mammals have an aquatic stage.  

Not for wildlife
                                                                                                        interest, just for the "aah".

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Snake Slough from Ogden

Snakes are very much a declining group of animals in the UK, and it would be very exciting if we could prove we have a small relict population in Calderdale.

This piece of a slough is going off to Matt Wilson at Manchester University to hopefully be identified.
Unfortunately it hasn't got the head part.

There have been a few reports of adder bites on dogs above the Lodge at Ogden, where this was found by J. Ball on 20.7.13

Also there was a Courier report a few years back of a gardener being bitten on his leg somewhere in the Ogden area. He was wearing shorts while strimming long grass! He needed slight hospital treatment.

Regrettably, there has also been a series of sightings of exotic snakes near here; obviously unwanted pets set free. Poisonous snakes are not often kept as pets.

If anyone is not familiar with the way snakes grow and shed their skin - they often manage it one go, starting with fraying around their mouth, then peeling the outer, semi-transparent layer off, which ends up inside out ; often tangled among twiggy plants.

I have a near perfect four-foot long one from the South of France ( pulled in two by the kids!)

Please all look out for sloughs and show them to us and Matt.

A complete adder slough apparently still shows some of the colour and you can make out the zig-zag markings they usually have.

Also please spread the word that snakes need friends, and are worth conserving. This slough and my bigger one will be available to handle at the indoor meeting on Tuesday 13th at 7.00pm at the Central Library. (See above the blog.)

Saturday, 10 August 2013


I cut a honeysuckle last winter and the regrowth is vigorous as expected but I'm surprised at the leaf shapes. The books describe Lonicera periclymenum leaves as oval to elongated but look at the photos to see how some are more like oak leaves. Is this usual on young vigorous growth?

                                           Honeysuckle leaves, showing variation in shape

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Small tortoiseshell....................en mass.........

With a count of over  1,200 around the  Cold Edge Dams complex (thanks Pete Smith and Dave Sutcliffe )  today and at least 200 +  around Northowram last week it looks like its fortunes have changed this year at least., if any one else has any counts of over 50 +  I would like to hear from them,, a number (50+) and where they were seen will be fine. Areas of creeping thistle or buddleia are good areas to check..................Also today at least,55 Small whites, 20+ Peacocks and 10 Comma around Northowram.........

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Moth Night this Friday August 9th

All being well with the weather,,,,etc I will be running a trap or two at Cromwell Bottom on the 9th August to celebrate National Moth Night.......usual spot by the lagoon.........all welcome...would be nice to see you all.

Full details


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Calderdale Butterflies.....a fantastic year so far.............

A spectacular year in Calderdale so far for butterflies............Orange tip, Green veined, Small and Large Whites, Meadow Brown, Ringlet , Small Heath ,Small Copper , Gatekeeper , Speckled Wood ,
Small Tortoiseshell ,Peacock , Comma ,Red Admiral , Purple , Green and White Letter Hairstreaks , Small and Large Skippers , Wall Brown  , Holly Blue and Common Blue , have been recorded on the Moth blog can any one add to this list.....Must be the best year for a long long time..

Friday, 2 August 2013

Lepidoptera eggs

These are on a clematis leaf in Holmfield yesterday. Are they butterfly eggs?

Butterfly and Plant Hunt 28/7/2013

Hi All

I came along for an hour with Steve and around 10 visitors to the meeting at Cromwell Bottom LNR.
The "Courier" came along as well so we may be in the paper. The pictures below were taken during the morning. Steve may have more taken during the afternoon.

The "Courier" took a few pictures

Barren Brome (Bromus sterilis)

Flowering Rush

Cromwell Lock

Black Spleenwort. On the lock wall

Broad Leaved Helleborine

Broad Leaved Helleborine - Flower

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Post Script from Steve:

No, the grass is the graceful Barren Brome (Bromus sterilis), quite scarce, just in isolated patches, often along canals. Giant Fescue hasn't been found at Cromwell Bottom as far as I know.
Many other grasses were seen at their best, the predominant one being False Oat Grass, as everywhere on unmanaged grassland. The Flote-grass in the Top Pond on Tag Loop is Glaucous Sweet-grass(Glyceria declinata), the rarer of the two we see in Calderdale. The Reed canary Grass (Glyceria maxima),so common everywhere in water, was in its brief moment of glory with its new shiny flower-heads waving in the breeze.
The fern Bruce photoed is Black Spleenwort, Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, known in the early 1990s only at Ganny Lock, Brighouse, but now spreading all over on walls, along with other rarer Asplenium species.
The Flowering Rush, Butomus umbellatus, the 4th picture down, was a surprise to me, as I've only seen it in ornamental ponds before, but R.Goulder does list it in Calderdale canals in his article "Aquatic Plants in Yorkshire Canals" in the April edition of The Naturalist. (Available in Halifax Scientific Society Library.)

The pink flowered water plant

Many Thanks Steve