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

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Some recent sightings

A Tawny Owl stands guard over its chick in a local oakwood. Charlie Streets found the chick on 18th May. I had seen two adult owls at the spot at 6.30am and got pics but the light was not good. I found a juvenile like this here two years ago. They used to nest in the top of a hollow oak trunk, but this fell down. I suspect the nest is now in a cleft in rocks of an old quarry.

Rusty-back Fern Asplenium ceterach . A scarce fern on walls in our area. The back of the leaf looks rusty being completely covered with spore-producing sporangia. This one is growing in our Treasurer's garden at Holywell Green. 

Above and below - Black Bryony Tamus communis. It used to be more frequently recorded but I've only seen this single plant in Jay House Lane, Clifton, Brighouse, in the hedgerow. It is the only British member of the Yam family Dioscoreaceae.

The other Bryony in Britain, White Bryony Bryonia cretica,(not pictured) isn't in the same family, being in Cucurbitaceae (cucumbers, melons etc.) A case of very confusing common names. It is also a scrambler through scrub and can be encountered in the east of West Yorkshire on the Magnesian Limestone.

Friday, 30 May 2014

A Few days in the Lakes

Michael had a few days in the Lakes. These are some of the plants he saw
Fly Orchid

Greater Butterfly Orchid

A group of Ladys Slipper Orchids

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Weirdest Thing

I was walking along the bank of the Calder below North Dean Woods, Copley, on 18th May, when an object floating along with the brisk current caught my eye.

It was a male Mallard, belly up, feet in the air. It wasn't dead, but travelling tail first with it's feet relaxed

It was moving its head, looking round as it got level with me as if to say "Look what I can do" !

As I fumbled to get my camera out it nearly went out of sight. The last thing I saw of it was when it flipped over into the normal position and started paddling against the current.

I wouldn't believe this if I hadn't got a picture of it. It's poor quality but it confirms what I saw. (I know it looks dead in the picture, but I had no time to switch the camera to video.)

What could have been happening?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Water Avens - Scout Road Park 24.05.2014

I haven't got a clue how I over looked this plant after taking Oliver to the park most afternoons after school......but I did!

Water Avens (Geum rivale).

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Medlar/Hawthorn cross?

There is a shrub in woodland at Centre Vale Park, Todmorden which is rather puzzling. It has differing shaped leaves that vary between an elongated entire shape, to leaves with lobes of varying size that appear similar to a Midland Hawthorn but much larger.

The flowers are larger than a Hawthorn and not clustered. Some have 3 styles and some 2 (similar to a midland Hawthorn).

My own guess is the shrub is a natural cross between a Medlar and a Midland Hawthorn. In the books it is described as rare and is given the name xCrataemespilus grandiflora and was first found about 1800 growing wild in France.

If anyone can give any other thoughts on what it may be, I would love to hear.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Wood Meadow Grass

In the woodland edge behind Clay House at Westvale, there is just one clump of what I believe to be Wood meadow grass Poa nemoralis. I have only ever seen this grass once before in Calderdale and it seems particularly scarce in our area. It is not mentioned in the Flora of Halifax and the West Yorkshire Plant Atlas shows only an occasional distribution.

Has anyone else seen this grass in Calderdale (or indeed at North Dean woods where I saw it today)?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Salad Burnet

Great Burnet is not uncommon in local meadows.
The smaller Salad Burnet is not a local plant but there are a few growing
on a overgrown carpark in Dixie Woods, Sowerby Bridge,
which was once covered in limestone gravel.
 As with many plants, the true beauty is only seen on close up images.

 A male flower with stamens dangling on the stem above

Female flowers on the stem

Flower heads at the top of the stem have both male and female flowers

Friday, 16 May 2014

Bugs and Beetles

Today at Sunnybank, Todmorden I saw these click beetles mating on an Aspen stem; there were a few others but they all jumped off.

Then 2 shield bugs, which I think are Parent Bugs, Elasmucha grisea, which feed on Birch leaves. Can anyone confirm this?

                                                         Click Beetle
                                                          Parent Bug


Thursday, 15 May 2014

White Bush Vetch

White Bush Vetch

Bush vetch has come into flower over the past few weeks

Usually with 4-6 pale lilac flowers

Below is an uncommon variant
Vicia sepium var. ochroleuca

Sepium means "of hedges and fences"
Ochroleuca refers to the colour "Yellowish White"

This is growing by the roadside on Goose Nest Lane, Norland

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dusky Cranesbill

Dusky Cranesbill

Growing on the bank of the Calder between Luddenden Foot and Sowerby Bridge.

The seven lobed leaves often have dark marks at the base of lobes

Halifax Flora says this has been recorded in the past but is not known at present.
This is the only one I have seen.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Water Avens (Geum rivale)

I found this plant whilst battling my way through the brambles and nettles along the River Calder between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge.

Well worth a look 2

Water Crowfoot

Hi all Information is required regarding any records of Water Crowfoot (possibly Ranunculus aquatilis) in the Calderdale area, both old and recent records will be most welcome. Please email me directly for now at (brucehoyle(at) Many thanks

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Some Garden Escapes Beside The Calder

I noticed that there are Fringecups (Tellima grandiflora) growing all along the river bank of the Calder from Tenterfields to Copley.

They seem to always grow with the similar Pick-a-back-plant  (Tolmiea menziesii)

I also spotted a rare plant, probably also a garden escape, Perfoliate Alexanders (Smyrnium perfoliatum) which I have now seen at three spots along this stretch of the Calder.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fledglings out

2nd May Blackbird at Saville Park
3rd May two young Dippers flying with an adult in the Hebble where it comes out of the culvert under Dean Clough, Halifax.
7th May a young Robin with its chestnut dark-spotted colouring and no red breast at Skircoat.