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.
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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Duck eggs in Todmorden

These eggs were laid under nettles on the tow path at Todmorden. The nettles have died down now. They're near the town centre, where all the feral Mallards are fed by people. 

Birds, especially waterfowl, are known for "dumping" eggs in other birds' nests. There might be the produce of more than one duck here.  

At the Raptor Forum we heard in a fringe conversation about a Peregrine pair on a sea cliff  seen tenderly feeding their prey to some Herring Gull chicks! That was in the SW of England. 

This could be how nest parasitism evolved. It seemed a real conundrum to me till I heard about egg dumping. I've also read that there are various forms of it. Our northern Cuckoo's habit is the most extreme example.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Now they want to legally shoot the Buzzards ! From Nick Carter. Click on the line below his name.

Please consider signing this important petition raised in response to recent developments and their potentially serious impact on bird of prey protection in this country.

Thanks in advance :)


After you have signed you will receive an email. You MUST click on the link on that email to make your vote count.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Abnormal Timothy

This Timothy grass--Phleum praetense, is late flowering on a pile of bare soil in the park at Todmorden. But what makes it different are the small 'leaves' growing from the base of the flowering spike.

The usual small scales on the spike are in evolutionary terms modified leaves and some grass species occasionally 'remember' their past and elongate these scales (glumes and lemmas) into leaves.

This is known as Proliferation and occurs in grasses more frequently than in other plants. Sometimes the process is called Vivipary but this term should only apply to seeds that germinate in situ on the plant.

There are many theories why Proliferation occurs but it does seem to happen more towards the end of the flowering season. It seems the Florigen hormone has been used up producing normal flowers, so the plant goes into vegetative growth within the spikelets.
I have seen this often in Cocksfoot but never before in Timothy.
                                      Proliferating Timothy Grass

Special Conference for those interested in Birds of Prey and the North of England Raptor Forum

Once again the Calderdale Bird Conservation Group are proud to be hosting the annual NERF conference to be held at Rishworth School on Saturday 21st November, details below

The annual NERF Raptor Conference is being hosted by Calderdale in 2015 at the prestigious venue, Rishworth School.

The conference committee has drawn together an exciting and varied program that will address a wide range of issues that are of interest to Raptor Workers.

There is ample on-site parking. Registration, coffee and exhibitions will be available for delegates from 0930 and the conference will open at 10.00. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. In response to feedback from previous conferences years there will be increased opportunities to catch up with friends and benefit from those irresistible bargains available from the specialist retailers who cater for the birding community.

The NERF Conference is the primary training aid for birders interested in Birds of Prey in the North of England. This year’s conference will be opened by Superintendent Chris Hankinson, Chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime [PAW], Raptor Persecution Working Group.

Dave Leech, BTO, - an unmissable presentation will bring us up to date with the new mandatory procedures for using IPMR and making licence applications / compulsory returns.

Hen Harriers continue to dominate the concerns of Raptor Workers. Stephen Murphy, NE, and David Hunt, RSPB will give us full accounts of the highs and lows of the 2015 season.

After lunch Paul Irving, NERF Chair, will bring us up to speed with NERF’s activities over the last 12 months.

Raptor Workers are well aware that the severe reduction in Police resources is having a negative impact on their ability to respond to raptor persecution and the situation is likely to get worse in the foreseeable future. Raptor Workers invariably discover these offences and provide expert witness statements. With that in mind a member of the PAW Forensic Working Group will guide us through the techniques that we can use to strengthen Police investigations.

The Cumbrian Osprey Project is probably the most important Bird of Prey assisted breeding program ever undertaken in the North of England. Nathan Fox, Forestry Commission, will talk us through the trials and tribulations of the scheme over the last 5 years.

Delegate Fees
£10.00 for delegates aged 14 – 18 years and £22.00 for adults. Once again demand for places at this year’s conference is expected to be high. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Booking forms are available from

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Just trying to find out why my Firefox email stopped working and found this on BBC News

MP Oliver Colvile calls for hedgehog as UK symbol

  • 8 hours ago
  • From the sectionEngland
European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)Image copyrightScience Photo Library
Image captionHedgehog numbers in the UK have fallen from about 36 million in the 1950s to less than a million, campaigners say
The "great British hedgehog" should become a national symbol of the UK, an MP has suggested.
Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said numbers of the prickly creatures had fallen by a third in the last decade.
He said that declaring the hedgehog to be Britain's national symbol might enthuse people to protect it.
But environment minister Rory Stewart questioned hedgehogs' suitability, and said the lion should remain the symbol.
Mr Colvile said his love of hedgehogs stemmed from his mother reading Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle to him as a child.
Lion and hedgehogImage copyrightThinkstock
Image captionMinister Rory Stewart asked if the UK wanted to have as its national symbol "an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball"
Read more on this story as it develops throughout the day on our Local Livepages.
He said: "The principal reason for this prickly animal's decline is due to the loss of habitats.
"Likely factors for the hedgehog demise are the loss of permanent grassland, larger field sizes, use of pesticides and herbicides and a reduction of hedgerow quality."
Mr Stewart responded in the House of Commons: "Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up?
"Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that sleeps for six months of the year, or would we rather return to the animal that is already our national symbol, the lion?"

European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

What can you do to help hedgehogs?

  • Solid fences and walls restrict a hedgehog's movement through gardens. Make sure you leave small gaps at their bases
  • Hedgehogs can swim but often drown in garden ponds because of their steep and slippery sides. Provide them with an escape route: a piece of wood, chicken wire or pile of stones
  • Bonfires make good places for hedgehogs to nest. Check them to make sure a hedgehog has not made its nest before lighting
  • Be prepared to leave a small part of your garden to go wild. Long grass, log/leaf piles and undergrowth provide foraging and nest places for the perfect hedgehog habitat
  • Feed your local hedgehog, but please provide dog/cat food and not bread and milk
  • Sign up as a volunteer on the website.
Source: Devon Wildlife Trust

In response to a crashing hedgehog population, a 90-hectare refuge was created this year by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the conservation area stretches across a nature reserve, a public park and the surrounding streets.
The trust said that during the 1950s, some 36 million hedgehogs used to snuffle in UK gardens, although there may now be less than a million.
Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, said he was doing his bit to help.
He said: "It's very important to use our gardens which are a specific habitat for hedgehogs.
"Just recently in my own garden I built a hedgehog house. Sadly I have no residents in it but hopefully it will encourage them and the growth of hedgehogs in South Staffordshire."

Peregrine found shot dead in Halifax

Don't know if this as new as the date on it. News to me !
Thanks to Nigel Griffiths for sending me the link.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Winter Wildfowl 2015

Nows the time to watch out for Wildfowl coming into our area,mainly they will be Common species,check out any Water Bodies,this Male Teal ,top was feeding in earnest on Warland Marsh,whilst the Male Tufted was on Longfield Dam,but  you never know what might turn up.Also check out any Canada Geese as one or two Pink Footed Geese can turn up with them,as as been the case on Lumbutts Road in recent Years.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Lichen or Fungi?

I was taken by this Horse Chestnut tree in York and the striking sulphur yellow markings. Is this a lichen, or a fungi that has not yet developed?

The numerous bonnet mushrooms at the base may be Lilac Bonnet Mycena pura?