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, 26 December 2013

A Good walk for the New Year !

Annual New Year Bird Count                             HALIFAX SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY   Est. 1874
Wednesday 1st January 2014  10.30am at  Clay House, West Vale,  Elland.

Approx. 7 miles walk. Muddy and uneven paths in places, through North Dean Woods and, weather permitting, to the Ladstone on Norland Moor. (Recently shown in “Last Tango in Halifax”.)

In 2013 we saw only 14 species of birds due to inclement weather, but we may be luckier this year. Some brief stopping is inevitable to enjoy birds / views, etc. Bring warm gear and provisions.

Contact leader, Steve, on 0771 500 5379 to confirm or email

First event of many in our special 140th year.  Please ask for a complimentary copy of the programme of walks and talks, or see tab at the top of this blog.

Stonechat I found on Norland Moor today.   

Walks and talks  -  suggested donations to HSS funds £2 non-members or £1 members.

We didn't see the Stonechat, Reed Bunting or winter thrushes, but we did get 18 species, four more than last year on 1st Jan 2013.
Some were in the home garden before setting off, and on the way to the meet, but all countable for a day list. These lists just give an idea of bird diversity on a rainy day in winter 2013-2014, and may be interesting in the future.
Five people who attended saw:
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
Feral Pigeon
Black-headed Gull
Grey Wagtail
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Gull
Mammals: Grey Squirrel(1) Roe Deer(3 together) Rabbit signs.

We completed the planned route, then three of us enjoyed drinks including pints of Wainwright Ale in the Star at Lindwell (Greetland).

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Roe Deer barking

Sat here at my laptop at home in Skircoat I heard a repeated, monotonous bark in the dark garden or the wood. At first I thought it was a fox, but it got louder and it didn't sound quite like a fox.

I did a search for "Roe Deer barking" and there is a u-tube clip of one making exactly same noise in the daytime in someone's garden.

There is some danger of male deer being aggressive to people when they are rutting.

It's the male fox that barks. The vixen lets out a blood-curdling scream worse than anything in a horror film!

A female Roe deer from Shibden Valley

Sunday, 15 December 2013

First record of a snake skin being picked up in Calderdale - but probably not a native snake.

Readers may remember a while back I posted a picture (below) of a skin a snake had sloughed at Ogden, which was passed on to Hugh Firman who kindly passed it on to me. I sent it to Matt Wilson, a Herpetologist with Manchester Museum, but his disappointing verdict is below.
At least one exotic snake has been photographed by a golfer on the course there. (an American Pine Snake I believe.)


Hi Steve,

"I received the snake skin in the post today and I've had a chance to have a close look at it. It is very difficult to tell because there is only a small part intact and this is around the ventral scales which doesn't give too much to go on. 

However, it is certainly not an adder, nor do I think it is a grass snake. Adders have very obvious keels on their scales when examined closely and so usually do grass snakes. There is a small chance it could be grass snake because looking at some skins I have from Yorkshire show that not all of the scales are keeled, particular those surrounding the larger belly scales. But I can say with about 90% certainty that it is likely to be some kind of common North American species, likely a large example of a Corn snake. Pity as I was really hoping it would turn out to be an adder.

Still don't rule out adders being up at Ogden. "

Friday, 13 December 2013

Update on new library/ new higher rent for existing library

(Peter below is representative of the Halifax Antiquarians)

Dear Peter and Steve

Just a quick note to update you on the position regarding the meeting room at the new facility and storage of your Societies’ collections.

We have received both of your submissions – for which many thanks. We’ll be taking them forward to the next Project Board which is on Friday 17th January 2014.

If you have any queries meanwhile please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to seeing you both next Thursday for the Reference Group Christmas meet.

Kind regards


Carole Knowles
Library Services Manager
Communities Directorate
Calderdale MBC

Monday, 9 December 2013

Harlequin ladybirds

I'm not sure whether Harlequin ladybirds are becoming more common in our area but here is a link to an article about a parasitizing wasp. Pity it doesn't explain why the wasp mostly avoids the Harlequin.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

****** Xmas Social Time ******

I hope as many members as possible will join in with the Xmas Social on Tues 10th December at 7.15pm at the Central Library, Halifax. Any former members or friends looking in are invited too. Please pass this invitation on to friends and family, even if they may not want to join the HSS.

The refreshments are tea and coffee plus delicious cakes, etc bought or home made and kindly brought to share.
At the AGM in November I appealed to have AS MUCH HOME BAKED AS POSSIBLE, rather than bought, to avoid buying palm oil, which can come from palm plantations on newly-felled rainforest land. If you can't bake anything, please feel free to bring your favourite shop-bought goodies.

We need to have a group look at our library, and start some serious thinking about what we need in it. The Council has said that we are likely to have only half the space we have now when the new library is built. This job obviously can't be completed on the night of the Social.

There are displays of items from our collections, table sales for funds, etc.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Chair      :-)