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, 28 November 2013

Dr. Paul Ruffle 1951 - 2013

Paul, our President, died in hospital last Thursday. It is a great sadness to the Society that we have lost him as a friend and active member. He was kindly creating our new website  and the home page can be viewed at Only the tab that brings you to this blog had been finished before Paul was taken ill.

You can read about Paul's career as a graphic designer, web designer and astronomer at

I pass on the Society's condolences to his family, Rose, Lara and Andrew.

Rose's news of Paul's death is below :

I think most of you know by now that Paul died peacefully yesterday (Thursday) morning at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. He was cared for wonderfully at the hospital - both ICU and Ward 15 nurses became very fond of him. 
Paul left a clear note of his wishes:
"I wish to be cremated, and as a committed atheist I do not want ANY sort of religious service! If you can avoid the typical crematorium chapel, all the better!"
He went on to say that he'd like us all (or whoever feels able) to take turns talking about his life and what he has achieved, including telling at least a few of his worst jokes. This should be followed by a "thumping good party with plenty of good food and wine".

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Paul Ruffle Astronomer

I emailed Rose today to enquire if there had been any improvement in our President Paul Ruffle's condition, and got this very sad news - 

Thanks Steve.
Paul won't recover - he has significant brain damage which, with absolutely no change in consciousness in 2 weeks, clinically confirms that even if he woke up which is extremely unlikely, he could never recover.
So there will be no medical intervention now, and we can only hope that he dies peacefully.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Our new website - courtesy of Paul Ruffle

You can see our new website at Just the home page is finished, and very smart it looks. There is one tab working, the one to bring you to this blog.

The terribly sad news is that Paul, our President, who has been kindly building us the website has had a cardiac arrest during an operation. You may remember that he had a perforated bowel in October, just the day before he was due to fly to Borneo with his partner, Rose.

He was recovering from that when he had another perforation of the bowel which needed emergency surgery.
It was during this operation that his heart stopped. Rose says they started it again pretty quickly, but he may have suffered significant brain damage. He is now in a coma.

I have emailed Rose back and said that all our thoughts are with them.

You can see Paul's own website by searching "Paul Ruffle - Astronomer - Starry starry night".

Paul had brought us one amazing talk and visual presentation entitled "The Birth, Life and Death of Stars", after which we asked him if he would like to be our president, which he immediately accepted. He had planned to bring us another one on the "Physics and Chemistry of the Matter between the Stars" this May, but obviously we don't expect him to be able to do this now.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hedgehogs in Calderdale

When have you last seen a hedgehog? Have you seen or heard a hedgehog rustling around in your back garden or woodland (or even a squished one on the road)? If so, Betony Atkinson, a student placement working with Countryside Services, would like to know. Please send details, including the location and date of the sighting, to to help her draw up a picture of their distribution in Calderdale.

photo – credit to Mrs. Pat  Morris, BHPS

Link to next BAP meeting at Mytholmroyd

Downloadable distribution map (click on link below)

HSS - Momentous Annual General Meeting last night.

At the AGM last night, apart from annual reports from Chair and Treasurer, Recorders of Mycology, Birds, Botany, Herpetology and Lepidoptera, the election of Officers for the coming year and the showing of some archive slides there was an appeal by our former Treasurer, Linda Kingsnorth, for donations to the Philippines appeal following the "Worst Storm ever recorded on earth" which has just hit that nation of so many already poverty-stricken people.

Members donated £40, which is increased to £50 by the Gift Aid scheme. Well done Linda.

This is a link to show our donation, and where you can make further donations if you wish¤cy=GBP&rc=0

I explained in my Chairman's report that Calderdale Council suggests we should be able to pay full charitable rate for hiring our rooms. This would be phased in in two increases, they suggest. We have made a long submission all about the society and how we have with a fairly low membership at the moment. ( We have often had dips and peaks in our enrollment) and that we fulfill an important role in the town, but wait to hear back. Our submission has to go before the elected members of the Council.

However, the executive of HSS suggest that a more realistic subscription might be £15 instead of £10 for the year, with concessions for those on low incomes for whatever reason, and free for under 18s.

Three new members were elected: Graham Haigh (also Chair of Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group), Johnny Turner (Bryologist) of Hebden Bridge and Peachy Steve (Botanist) of Sowerby.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

H.S.S. Annual General meeting - reminder

Tuesday November 12th. The A.G.M. with Archive slides to follow. In the Halifax Central Library at 7:15 pm

Friday, 8 November 2013

Lyme Disease warning in the Courier

I've had tics burrowing into me three times - each time after going out looking at wildlife.
(One each in Ireland, Cumbria and Scotland - my dog got one at Fly Flatts, Halifax.)
I'm glad I didn't get one carrying the disease, but just a warning for next Summer.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Pithya looking good

P. vulgaris is beginning to look good now and getting bigger although appears to be confined to a small area at the moment.

Emma, me and David saw the emerging P. vulgaris at Ogden yesterday - a first for David.
Thanks to Alison for alerting us to its fresh appearance. Last year was the first UK record since 1888.