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.
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If you would like to join the Halifax Scientific Society either email me or come along to the next meeting.
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Monday, 28 July 2014

Wild Parsnip and Parsnip moth

After a message from Peachysteve about some unidentified larvae munching Wild Parsnip I set off to investigate. Steve found the plants in a car park on Walton Street not far from the County bridge in Sowerby Bridge that crosses the Calder. This ties in well with an extract from the "Flora of the Parish of Halifax": 

"This plant is now well established in the Sowerby Bridge area and probably originated at the Walton Street flour mill (burnt down and demolished some years ago)."

Of the several plants present many had larvae on them and most of the flowerheads had been eaten off just leaving the larval web in situ. I'm happy to ID these as those of the Parsnip Moth (Depressaria radiella) but I have three at home to rear through just to be 100% sure. Two of which are already boring in to some Hogweed stems I took home for them to pupate in. The adults should be out in 2 or 3 weeks hopefully.

Above, one of the larva sealing up it's tunnel with chewed Hogweed stem and Below, the finished article made earlier by a different larva.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Scout Road Park 26.07.2014

This native rush is described as rare in the West Yorks Plant Atlas so this may be another first record for Calderdale. I found it in the pond at the park with Oliver yesterday evening.

Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Marsh Hawksbeard

Steve saw Marsh Hawksbeard at Hardcastle Crags. I saw a number of the same plants, by the side of Turvin Clough just upstream  from Cragg Vale village, in June. I had to look them up as I wasn't familiar with them.

Soil Hill 18.07.2014

Thanks to Steve for recommending that I should have a look at Soil Hill, otherwise I wouldn't have found the Bristly Ox-tongue.

Bristly Ox-tongue (Picris echioides).

All parts of the plant are covered in stiff bristles.

It is not listed in the Flora of Halifax and according to The West Yorks Plant Atlas it is rare in West Yorkshire, only recorded three or four times. I'm not sure if this is the first record for Calderdale or not?

Narrow-leaved Ragwort (Senecio inaequidens) above and two below.

They were dotted all around the site.

 Hoary Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana).

The key character of identifying this species the presence of a seed in the beak of the fruit.

There were masses of Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil.

Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum).

Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans).

Scented Mayweed (Matricaria recutita). Crushed flower heads are very aromatic.

2011 / 2012 Bird Report: Another chance to buy one

 Geoff Smith from the bird group will be down at Cromwell Bottom, bird feeding station or if raining in the car park, between 11 am and 12 noon this Saturday 26th July if anyone would like to purchase a combined 2011/2012 report from him.
£6.50 per copy (please have the correct change if possible) - a good interesting and informative reference. 
Cash preferred OR a cheque made payable to C B C G (Calderdale Bird Conservation Group)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Gorgeous Grasses and other attention-grabbing plants

We will probably see some of this on Saturday (see post below), though it is variable and this was a particularly beautiful stand of it at Copley. Creeping Bent, Red Top or Fiorin. Agrostis stolonifera. It is one of the constituents of grass seed mixes for fine lawns. The packs often refer to it as Brown Top.

At Hardcastle Crags in a rill by the river. I think it's Fen Bedstraw Galium uliginosum, though I haven't compared it with the commoner Marsh Bedstraw Galium palustre.
This has 7 -8 leaves per whorl with minute points on leaf-tips.
Lady Fern top right.

Fen Bedstraw ?

Marsh Hawksbeard Crepis paludosa ?
Grows on rocks by the river in Hardcastle Crags, sometimes mid-stream.

As above.

Musk Mallow Malva moschata . Peachysteve showed us it at Copley.
Flowers about 2 inches (50 mm) across.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Saturday 26th July

Annual Butterfly Count at Cromwell Bottom   

Meet Steve Blacksmith from Halifax Scientific Society and Graham Haigh from Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group in Cromwell Bottom car park    More...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Cancellation of Walk

As the Archaeology walk planned for this Saturday 19th was intended to be on high and exposed land, we have decided to cancel, or maybe postpone it to a date in August. Note: Dave is not available in August but he is happy to do it later in the year. Keep looking in.

This due to the apparently real chance of severe thunderstorms. Yorkshire Water have cancelled all leave we are informed.

Bird Report 2011/2012

Geoff Smith from the bird group will be down at Cromwell Bottom, bird feeding station or if rainy in the car  park, between 11am and 12 noon this Sunday 20th July if anyone would like to purchase a combined 2011/2012 report from him.

£6.50 per copy (please have the correct change if possible) - a good interesting and informative reference.
Cash preferred OR a cheque made payable to C B C G (Calderdale Bird Conservation Group)

Well done to Nick D for collating the records and putting it together so well. Thanks to Geoff for making these available on site (unless it's pouring down !.)

I can personally recommend this publication. A great deal of work has gone into this and is well worth purchasing for two years records. Bruce (CBWG)

David (CBCG)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Withens Clough and Staups Moor

Withens Clough:  Loads of ringlets and small skippers, also butterwort, heath spotted orchid and a nice cluster of bog asphodel in flower.
On Staups Moor I found this caterpillar.  Can anyone identify it please?  It was about 2'' long.

Regards, Chris

Friday, 11 July 2014

Copley Re-development site

I made a quick visit this morning, as I have never visited this site before and was surprised to see a self-seeded White Poplar, Populus alba, about 2' high. I have never seen a seedling of this species and thought they only spread by suckers. It is a tree that is not seen in the wild and is always planted. I wonder if there was a White Poplar there before they graded the land and this is a sucker from its roots? Formerly called in old English, the Abele tree.

As Steve observed there is a lot of Fern Grass, Catapodium rigidum, probably more than you will see again in future years. It is such a diminutive grass, about 2" high from ground to top, it can take a while to notice it and then you will see it everywhere. It is only when I looked at the photo I saw the tiny 'insect'!

On the right, before the unsympathetic new bridge, between the 2nd and 3rd lamp standards, there are a few clumps of Soft Brome, Bromus hordeaceus. But with them is another Brome which I think is Smooth Brome, Bromus racemosus. If so, it is rarely seen in West Yorkshire and there are only a handful of sightings. As you can see from the photos, the soft brome is very hairy and more compact and the smooth brome has no hairs but more scabrid. Also it has a looser panicle with longer branches and droops more.

                                           Smooth B. top  Soft B. bottom  

                                                    Soft Brome
                                                        Smooth Brome

Oh, and the small foxtail that you saw Steve, is a marsh foxtail, Alopecurus geniculatus

Monday, 7 July 2014

Emperor Moth Caterpillar and Shrew

We have been tramping the moors recently in the hope of finding an Emperor Moth, and came across this caterpillar of the species on Highbrown Knoll above Pecket Well. (below)

When I tried to photograph it on the ground when it was moving fast the auto-focus couldn't cope with its hairs. (below)

We found this Shrew freshly dead. Note the long pointed nose.
 They obviously live at all altitudes in our area.
 I forgot to put something down to show the size. It seemed too big for a Pygmy Shrew,  though its tail proportion seems to point to that. (two thirds of body length - Common Shrew's tail is said to be about half the length of the body.)  

Rushes at Copley Redevelopment Site

After our bioblitz of the SSI at Withins Clough last week
I did a crash course in Rushes and Sedges in order to identify a number of unknown plants.

I then went to Copley and took a look at the rushes there.

Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus)
Common  and predominant at the site.
Similar to the common Soft Rush (Juncus effusus)
Flowers toward the top.
In Hard Rush the stem is ridged, in Soft Rush it is smooth.

Jointed Rush (Juncus articulatus)
I saw a number of these.
Flowers at tip of stem. Branches are acute.

Sharp Flowered Rush (Juncus acutiformis)
Very similar to Jointed Rush but the branches are at a more obtuse angle.
I need to check on some leaf detail to confirm this ID.

I spotted a striking Rush which I struggled to identify.

This turned to out to be Round Fruited Rush (Juncus compressus)

The flowers emerge toward the tip of the stem but over-top it when fully grown.
The tepals are very interesting as they alternate
dark outer/light centre, light outer/dark centre.

The West Yorkshire Plant Atlas says of this Rush
"A very rare and local species - recorded only two or three times in the past twenty years"