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

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Conifers in the Crags, our monthly walk - 27th February

Eight people turned out for the walk to Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
Peachysteve and myself as joint leaders, plus, Emma, Annie, Stella, Alison, Oliver and Am.
Plus four dogs, Basil, Lacey, Meg and Tig.

Our best achievement (for me) was to locate and get to know the Weymouth Pines near Walshaw Bridge.
Pictured above, it is the one with banana-shaped cones,beautifully spotted with white resin. It has soft, blue-green needles in bunches of five. Compare with the Scots pine at the bottom.
Pinus strobus, named after the British collector, Weymouth, but from Eastern USA, where it is known as Eastern White Pine among other things.
Scots Pine is P.sylvestris. It is easily rcognised from a distance by its reddish bark on the branches and sometimes trunk. Its needles are in twos, and vary from bluish-green to deep green on different trees.
Of course we looked at the three Douglas Firs at the Weymouth Pine site, but I forgot to photograph them.
We couldn't locate the Lodgepole Pines, P. contorta, which are supposed to be there.
So I'm still not familiar with those.

Part of the party coming along Hebden Water.

A poor picture of a Dipper, our Society's emblem.
We saw few other birds.

Weymouth Pine and its distinctive style of "handwriting" against the sky.

Looking up the trunk of one of the most massive Scots Pines on the river bank between Midgehole and Gibson Mill. Probably the largest living thing in Calderdale.
Other conifers we saw in the Crags were Yew (Taxus baccata) Norway spruce (Picea abies), Sitka Spruce  (Picea sitchensis) and the two larches, European and Japanese, with their distinctive cones (the Japanese with outcurving scales - the European with straight scales,) plus several that were hybrids, with the cones showing various degrees of out-curving. Austrian Black Pine, P. nigra, is quite frequent through the woods. There is a beautiful Hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla, at Hebden Hey, the Scout Headquarters, but we didn't have time to cross the valley to see it. A couple of Lawson's Cypresses Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, had been sawn off near a landslide on the private side of the valley near Hebden Hey.
The Deodor, or Indian Cedar Cedrus deodora, which was in the Lodge garden until fairly recently, has been felled. And the couple Cedars of Lebanon ( I found mentioned as being in the Crags in an old press cutting in our archives,)  I have never known to be there.

Thanks to Peachysteve for his encyclopaedic memory, his energy ferreting around for the larch cones, and his constant stream of moss names, three species of which he has decided to learn per day, with the help of the BBS Key and the confirmation of other Bryologists he contacts on I-spot.
He is concentrating on the common names.

We also looked for the Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage in the one site it is known, where  we relocated it after many decades last February, and it is still doing well.

A plant of Water Figwort was seen. There were signs of deer and rabbits. Meg walked around with a dead rabbit in her mouth for a while. (Meg is a black labrador :-)

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Barn Owls

Barn Owl seen today 1 mile over Lancashire border. Then, amazingly, a few hours later saw another one flying and then resting on a wall only yards away from the car but this was near Gargrave. Two unexpected sightings in one day!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Early Small Tortoiseshell 15 02 16

Saw a Small Tortoiseshell,flitting over the ice and frost at  Langfield Common in the afternoon Sun,just seemed so out of place on a Winters day.regards Bri.

Walshaw Moor Estate,Business As Usual !! 16 02 2016

Had a couple of hours up on Walshaw Moor yesterday,and

yet again  More Burning Off  was being carried out, on the Walshaw Moor Shooting Estate !

(For issues surrounding this controversial burning please click on link in Bruce's post, a few posts down on 5th Feb. SB )

Monday, 15 February 2016

Do something practical for Nature Conservation

National Nest Box Week
NNBW takes place each year from 14-21 February, and after more than 15 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar.
NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.
Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.
 Go to:
Who can take part?
Anyone can take part whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club. 
We’re asking you to put your nest box up from 14 to 21 February to celebrate National Nest Box Week (NNBW). But, you can put up a nest box at any time of the year.
Why take part?
Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.

Taking part in NNBW gives you the chance to contribute to bird conservation whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your nest box.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Early Frogspawn 09 02 16

Some early Frogspawn in a Todmorden Garden Pond on 09 02 16,it's a bit earlier than last Year's in same pond which was seen on 16 02 2015,not really suprising the way the Temperatures have been recently !

Friday, 5 February 2016

Moorland Burning

Worth a read!

Geology Lecture at The Halifax Scientific Society

Tuesday 9 February  
Will Varley of the Huddersfield Geology Group will give a talk ...

"In the beginning…… a brief History of Geology"

Please meet at the Halifax Central Library at 19:15 on Tuesday the 9th of February 2016