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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Sunday, 27 December 2015

First Halifax Scientific Society Walk for 2016

As the blog isn't working at the moment, I am adding this to the post below

The first event of the year for the last several years has been a 
New Year's Bird Count on 1st January
this year, as it has been so mild, we will also be listing which plants we can find flowering

Meet 10.30 for 10.40 at Clay House, West Vale. You can park in the drive.
We walk through North Dean Woods, in sight of the 180 year-old bridge destroyed by
 the Boxing Day flood 

Then, if the weather is not too wet or windy, across Norland Moor to the Ladstone for
the amazing vistas; returning by a slightly different route
A couple of us have an extra interest now in the moor, as we represent Naturalists' points of view 
on the new Norland Moor Consultative group

Bring a packed lunch. The walk is about 7 miles, and we aim to get back by about 3.30

Steve Blacksmith
Report on the walk.

Six people came along this year. The tally was up, with 26 species of bird seen. (Only two plants in flower - Annual Meadow grass and Herb Bennet. - but lots of interesting fungi inc. the dwarf form of Sulphur Tuft, not listed in many books.)

Previous years bird totals were 21 last year and 18 the year before.

Notable bird sightings were Green Woodpecker, and interesting to see a male Reed Bunting at dusk go to ground and disappear among thick tufts of Purple Moor Grass - couldn't be flushed - so this must be where it was roosting for the night.

Hoards of people on the moor - I counted 37 in sight at one point - no doubt displaced from canal and river bank walks by the flood devastation.


Mussels in the Drained Canal at Todmorden

the"foot" of this one is visible on the right

some seem to know the way to deeper water. Others crawl about aimlessly, leaving a furrow in the mud.

This mussel is in the Calder and Hebble Canal (e.g. at Cromwell Bottom) and the Rochdale Canal.
They're possibly Swan Mussels though I'm no conchologist.
I don't know if they're edible. I've seen the empty shells where animals/birds have eaten them. They grow to about 6 inches ( 15cm. ) long sometimes.

The canal section that is draining into the river after the embankment was washed away by  the floods is the one below Oldroyd Lock, Todmorden. 
The authorities have blocked off access to the canal towpath from Woodhouse Rd. bridge downstream, but you can see these Mussels just above bridge, where the towpath is currently  open up to Todmorden, though looking at the damage to the towpath, that may be closed as well.

Floods 26.12.15 at Woodhouse Lane Todmorden inc. broken canal bank later. Canal now drained away.

 View out of the flats

River Calder and Canal. Allotments between

Todmorden town centre - as close as we got.
Allotments later. Polytunnel and greenhouse flattenend. Home-made greenhouse survived!

The Rochdale canal draining into the Calder through the breached embankment.
Halifax Rd. Tod. Hippodrome Theatre on the left. Sign says "Canal Street".

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Walk to Midgley Moor to see the sunrise on the generally-accepted solstice.

At 08.23 approx. on Monday 21st Dec the sun rises.

Archaeologist Dave tells us the ancient locals dragged huge boulders into place on Midgley Moor to line up with the place the sun rises over the horizon after the longest nights.

I'm going up to try and see this.

Anyone who has the morning free, and would like to accompany me, meet at Luddenden Foot, just round the corner on the way up to Luddenden, at 7.30am. I'll look out for you. I'm in a red Berlingo.

Bring hot flasks if you can to keep warm. It's for the fairly fit only. The walk up is steep, wet and uneven. You may need a torch.


Just two of us went up to see the sunrise. It was a fine, mild morning, but the wind got stronger as we climbed higher. Despite using the OS map (which fought back in the wind) and the compass, it took me quite a while to get us to the Miller's Grave pair of stones.

The sun was obviously going to clear the horizon before we got there.

Robin Hood's Penny Stone is within sight of Miller's Grave, and going over to it, we could see from the angle of climb, that the sun must have risen at the point on the horizon to which the arrangement of stones points.

So the expedition was a bit of a failure, except it confirms what we were told. Must try again next year.

On the way down we had time to enjoy the surroundings in the sunshine (before the rain rolled in again.)  I spotted the cowberry I had noticed on a list of sites Charles Flynn had once given me, and we heard pink-footed geese somewhere. I nearly always hear them first. There were 150 approximately going west in two loose chevrons and they came straight over us quite low as we were on the edge of the moor. The sun was catching their light bellies.

We speculated whether the geese might already have established their migrations in prehistoric times when the Solstice stones were being painstakingly dragged into place.

Aurora Alert 20 12 2015

Hi all ,I've just received Aurora Amber Alert now at 1700 hours,the sky looks a bit cloudy ,but Moon won't help matters to see it ! Good Luck if anyone ventures on tops ! and all the best for Christmas and New Year ,regards had a walk up to Langfield Common it looked promising i could see a light patch in the sky forming but i could not see any colour due to all the light pollution,i took a few pics anyway and the camera picked up the Greenish colour,then the clouds rolled in and the rain came down !!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Waystone Edge, Mountain Hare

Saw a fantastic winter pelaged mountain hare near the Waystone this morning.  This is the northernmost Pennine one I've seen, being several miles north of the Saddleworth Moor population.  I have a booklet published by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust called, 'The Mountain Hare in the Peak District', which states that during a survey of this species in 2000, one was recorded by National Trust wardens on Close Moss (south of Buckstones Moss and south of the A640).

Merry Christmas, Chris

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Jellydisc fungus

This purple fungus is on a Beech tree in Centre Vale Park woodland Todmorden. I think it is Purple Jellydisk--Ascocoryne sarcoides  which is a fungi often seen on dead Beech wood. Perhaps someone could confirm this?

The middle photo is taken with flash, the others without.  You can just make out the fungi on the lower trunk in the bottom photo.

Also significant are the black inky spots on the lower right root flare and a larger inky streak on the centre of the trunk. These are the signs of Phytopthora disease and this Beech is quickly dying from this fungal-like pathogen.