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

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A rare grass

Just counted hundreds of last year's now dead plants of Fern Grass Catapodium rigidum at the Copley Valley Development site. It's an annual. Not in Murgatroyd(1994) and considered very rare by Wilmore in the WY Plant Atlas.

It grows in disturbed, calcareous soil and is a very distinctive little grass. I'm happy to show it anyone down there.

There are good pics of it on the New England Wildflower Society website.

Monday, 17 February 2014

A couple of interesting plant sightings

Had a walk around Cromwell Wood and Marshall's yards yesterday.
Finally found the Witches Butter Fungus with its parasitic fungus attached that Alison G and Peachysteve discovered in Calderdale. (See Mycology Blog .)

We also found a self generated Japanese Holly Fern Cyrtomium falcatum at the base of a drystone wall at Southowrham; a good-sized plant a few years old. I've seen this happen once before at Todmorden, when a small plant appeared in wall mortar but didn't survive when transplanted. It is known for "going wild"
in Europe and America.

Something I've never seen is Juniper berries ripen in Calderdale (These are at Barkisland.). There's no wild Juniper here, but many in gardens. The pictures show ripe and unripe berries which I assume will ripen next year if we get another hot period as last year. I've often seen the green berries before, but never the shiny black ones. The nearest wild junipers I've seen are on the Old Man of Coniston Fell in the Lake District.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Is this a fungi?

This lovely raspberry looking fungi is not one I have seen before. It was on a dead branch of a Wych Elm. Can anyone identify it?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Is this statement true?

I have read a book published in 1930, advocating roadside planting of trees and suggesting suitable species, published by Country Life for the "Roads Beautifying Association".

It contains the following statement:- "It must be confessed that the English population is lacking in the primary instincts necessary for the creation and maintenance of agreeable surroundings to a greater extent than any other nation in Western civilisation".

Has anything changed in 84 years?

Foot Note: (posted by Bruce)

Andy C has added this in comments. Thanks Andy - very encouraging!

Look at Andy's LINK

Sunday, 9 February 2014


The March edition of Wildlife magazine has an article with the above heading. is the website of a national project run by the Zoological Society of London, BTO, RSPB and Froglife, that monitors wildlife disease outbreaks to help fight future declines.
It has launched the website along with a hotline ( 020 7449 6685)
for us to report dead or ill animals, especially, birds, amphibians, reptiles and hedgehogs. You can fill in a simple form, and in the case of carcasses the project's vet may be in touch to arrange a postmortem examination.

Some of the diseases the GWH researchers are worried about are avian pox in great tits, Trichomonosis in finches and sparrows, lungworm and ringworm in hedgehogs and Chrytridiomycosis in amphibians.

The symptoms can be found on the website where there is also advice about what to do and a map of the disease outbreaks around the country. One thing it asks us to look for is skin blisters on newts in garden ponds, so those of us with ponds and are lucky enough to have newts may want to do this.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Snowdrops 08.02.14

A great photograph taken by Michael.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Petasites fragrans - 07.02.14

Found by Michael.

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans).

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Great News for Swifts in Halifax Town Centre

I suggested to Alex Liddell of LDN Architects that while they were building a new library, they might as well incorporate some Swift nest boxes in the walls. This was last year, and yesterday I heard they are going in !
He is sourcing some from

I know the new library project is very unpopular with many library users, but it has been voted on by elected members of the Council and passed, so we have to work from the position we are at.

I had support over the Swift nest boxes from Carole Knowles and Andrew Pitts, senior managers with the Council at the meetings I attend along with other library users. We are called the Library Reference Group.
I also got them to consult Hugh Firman, Conservation Officer.

We are having some native plants among the landscaping and log piles to support invertebrates to encourage a variety of birds.

The library is planned to be ready in 2016.

View from Winding Road.
Projection of the new library built or "wrapped" round the old spire of the Square Chapel that burnt down. Square Chapel Centre for the Arts is on the left and Industrial Museum on the right.
You can view all the projections of the new building in the current library on asking.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Badger lovers see post below (This one is the Society's upcoming events for February.)

Thanks Bruce for flagging up our brilliant speaker Alison Tymon (at the top) who is travelling down from Berwick-upon -Tweed where she now lives to bring us one of her favourite talks with slides. Alison is still very much involved with the Yorkshire Geology Trust.

It will be of interest to gardeners, farmers and developers as well as geologists and naturalists.

Please note, the usual meeting room is needed for Calderdale Election meetings, so by kind arrangement with the library staff we will be in the Children's Library; first right after entering the front door of the Central Library, Northgate, Halifax.

All welcome; our meetings are open to the public, with a voluntary donation to Society funds. (Suggested £2, or £1 members.)

February Walk: 22nd Feb at 1.30pm near Hebden Bridge.
Most of our walks and outdoor events are open to the public, but for reasons of conservation this one is for members only. Also to say thank you for being loyal members. Please email or call me on usual number(s) to arrange meeting-up.

Coffee and cake in Hebden Bridge after?

It is an easy walk of about 1 mile round trip along a green lane and through a wood to look at the White Butterbur, Petasites albus; only known from two other sites in Calderdale, and rare in Yorkshire.

It was  not originally a native, but is not invasive, and attractive, if fleeting in its flowering. It looks beautiful in this situation by a rill of water. I photographed it flowering on 3rd March, so given this mild winter, it should be out on this date. (See picture below.)

There is another Butterbur relative, Petasites fragrans, or Winter Heliotrope, even rarer in Yorkshire.
This is possibly still at the point of its introduction by some Victorian gardener at a church opposite the Fire Station at King Cross, Halifax. There has been some car park development, so it may no longer exist here.

It flowers with a gorgeous fragrance, but low to the ground, so is easily missed.

White Butterbur; rare in Yorkshire, three sites only in Calderdale.