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 January 2015

Mistle Thrushes

In eight years never had one in the garden ...

Then two come along together.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Helleborus foetidus and early daffodils

I was surprised to find this in Mytholmroyd on 25.1.15. It is a group that doesn't have a common name, only "Hellebore". Chris JB reminds me this one is called "Stinking Hellebore."

H.foetidus is a very rare plant in Yorkshire, usually growing on lime. This is probably self-seeded from a garden plant, or a thrown-out plant, as it is growing on a demolition site.

It's not in Murgatroyd (1994).

These daffodils were blooming by a pond at Mytholmroyd on Sunday 25.1.15
Whilst there are some daffodils from abroad that flower in mid-winter, these look not that far removed from the native species, just a little larger.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sparrowhawk Selfie

This Sparrowhawk flew into our window today and become somewhat immobile. I soon brought it round. The First Aid course some of us did in December came in very useful although CPR was rather a delicate task!   I had forgotten how sharp their talons are and she held onto my finger until she had a selfie taken with me. She few off later non the worse.

That expression reminds me of some of my friends after a few glasses of wine.

She has my finger - ouch! The glove was on the wrong hand - silly me.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

In leaf already

There is a young Hawthorn in Todmorden that has had twigs in full green leaf since Jan 1st. But this early leafing may be caused by planting of European stock from different climate zones.

It is well recognised that most 'native' tree and hedge planting was done (and still is) using imported saplings. There was a good article in the Botanical Soc of Britain and Ireland magazine on 'Look-alikes', where many of the 'native' wildflower plantings were found to be imported. They were the same species but subtly different in size of plant, time of flowering etc. 

Records of 1st flowering may be influenced by these 'Look-alikes'.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Saturday's (short) Walk.

The plan is to go and see the site of the former Halifax Zoo at Exley, on Saturday 24th January.
The walk follows on from the fascinating talk and presentation by David Glover at the last indoor meeting. I certainly learned a lot more about the history of the Zoo and Amusement Park.

Meet at Stainland Rd. - Just after the mini-roundabout there is a lay-bye for users of the canal bank.
My car won't be there to allow more space. I'll be walking down Bankhouse Wood from Dudwell Lane.
Leaving All Saints Church at Dudwell Lane at 10.15. if anyone wants to meet me there.
Leaving the lay-bye in Stainland Rd at 10.45 to go on the canal bank towards Elland, crossing the canal on the footbridge, following the Calderdale Way across the bye-pass (there is a pedestrian refuge in the middle,) up the wood (where the escaped bear was recaptured) to the Zoo site, and back by a different route, either short or longer, depending on everyone's preferences.  Total 1.5 to 2.5 hours. As this walk is a bit shorter than the usual, we won't be stopping for a picnic.

There is a short but not dangerous scramble up the last few yards to the Zoo site.

We might have time to cross Stainland Road to see the colourful Scarlet Elf Cup fungus Sarcoscypha austriaca that Michael found near the confluence of the Calder and Hebble rivers. It's just starting to appear for the winter.

If you need more detail please feel free to contact me (before 8.00pm if possible please.)               Mobile 0771 500 5379

Scarlet Elf Cap
Sarcoscypha austriaca
Calder and Hebble 19.1.15

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Meeting with two speakers at Blackshaw Head BEAT Group

Olivia Walter, Wildlife Vets International, will be speaking on The Role of Zoos in conservation.
As wild lands are under ever increasing pressure, the boundary between wild and captivity diminishes and faces new threats. “Zoos” play an important role in saving endangered species in multiuse landscapes.

And the other speaker is yours truly on the plant I wrote the booklet about, after seven years research with other members of the HSS. - the Autumn Crocus.

This event is at Blackshaw Head Community Chapel on 27th January at 7.30pm.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

This Tuesday's Guest Speaker at the Library, a good fern find and second site for Winter Heliotrope.

I saw for myself the Hard Shield Fern Polystichum aculeatum at Cromwell Bottom LNR yesterday.
Yorkshire Naturalist Union had recorded here on their recent visit and I was unaware of it. It is a really rare fern in Calderdale, and it looks like this is a fairly new colony of about ten plants near the Hawthorn Alley growing in the fly-ash banking.

Patch of Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans c.5m across, flowering on 10.1.15.

Later I was doing the recce for the walk to the former Halifax Zoo site to follow on from David Glover's talk this Tuesday. There is a patch of the Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans just outside the boundary fence in the wood above the Elland Byepass. We used to call this Elland Wood Bottom when I lived in Siddal.

The only other record in Calderdale is at King Cross Cemetery, across the road from the Fire Station.
It is an invasive garden discard, and very extensive in some parts of the country.

David is a Courier columnist and his anecdotes will no doubt include the time one of the bears escaped into the woods.

European Brown Bear (Stock picture.)