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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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Medlar/Midland Hawthorn

The natural hybrid between Medlar and Midland Hawthorn is now in full flower in Centre Vale Park Todmorden. It was previously 'lost' within Rhododendron which has since been cleared.

It has variable shaped leaves, some lobed some entire but the flowers are large and very attractive; not in clusters but single. Originally called Smiths Medlar when the hybrid was discovered in 1800 but now known as xCrataemespilus grandiflora.

Tod's flower has 3 styles, the same as Midland Hawthorn. I have never seen another of this hybrid. Edward Kemp planted some at Dobroyd Castle in 1869 under the name Crataegus grandiflora, which is considered to be the same hybrid under an earlier name. Kemp also did some landscaping at Centre Vale, so could it be one of his plantings?

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Our Monthly Scientific Society Walk, May 2016.

 Emma Baker, our Geology Recorder, is leading a walk this Saturday, 28th May, 2016.                     The plan is to walk on the Todmorden Geology Trail.
 The meeting place is OL14 7JA (SD 918 247). At the crossroads of Sourhall Rd, Parking Lane, Flower Scar Road/Tower Causeway. There is some but limited parking.
Meeting at 10.30 am for 10.40 am.
Bring a picnic and a layer to sit on. Dogs are welcome if controlled as it is lambing and ground-nesting bird time. We will probably see and hear the haunting calls of curlews.
 Families welcome.

Any lifts needed from Halifax? I will leave town centre at 9.30am.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Coppiced Oak

This picture of a lapsed coppiced Oak was taken in Knotts Wood Todmorden. It is likely to be a very old tree looking at the size of the boulder shaped base. It needs more light to stimulate epicormic shoots from the base but unfortunately it is getting shaded out by other saplings.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Cult of the named tree

Not our area but still interesting for what it reveals about our blinkered sense of trees.

This is the New Forest and on the O/S map there is indicated the "Knightwood Oak", the biggest Oak in the New Forest at 25ft in girth and estimated at 600 years old. It has its own car park nearby and is specially ring fenced (a bit garden fence-ish) with historical notices. It is impressive and is obviously a lapsed pollard.

Knightwood Oak
Yet not 100 yards away there is this ancient centuries old tree, not named so not regarded, but just as interesting as the Knightwood Oak. It is hidden away and can only be sensed and not seen.
But if you look beyond the smokescreen of garden fences and nameboards, there are plenty of these other wonders in the woodland. This particular Oak was an open grown pollard in wood pasture until its space has been allowed to be invaded by young conifers.

Find the Ancient Oak
Here it is
Haloing round the Oak by removing conifer and Beech saplings will help it survive. Without any intervention its death will be premature. I always find it useful to look in the opposite direction to signboards and notices, where there is often far more interesting things to discover. Such as this Beech and Oak, again only yards away from Knightwood Oak but with no information board informing anyone what is going on. Yet the page from a 30 year old booklet describes it well.
Inosculation--a new word for me

Old booklet describes it.
It's an interesting world out there

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Today I visited a meadow in the Holywell Green area,
it's a short grazed unimproved meadow with a great variety of species.

As I scanned around I totalled 26 points on the LWS Meadow Criteria List.
12 is considered good.

The highlights for me were Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica)
This is the third site I've been to in Calderdale with Lousewort.

Very clear in the short grass


Changing Forget-me-not (Myosotis discolor)

Now a common component of Wild Meadow Mixes
I rarely see it growing naturally but here it appeared en masse.

Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)
Our least common Buttercup which is usually scattered but here was abundant

Note the reflexed sepals below

There was also Heath Milkwort, Barren Strawberry, Bitter Vetch, Carnation Sedge and many more.
If you know of any hidden gems like this then please let me know.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

White Holme and Turley Holes and Higher House Moor

On a walk along White Holme Drain, mainly looking for the beetle Carabus nitens (which at the second attempt this spring, I didn't see again), I did see several green tiger beetles and I'm fairly certain my first ever emperor moth.  It flew by at great speed as I walked along the track between Turvin Road and White Holme Res'.  I half - heartedly chased after it but it was soon lost over the moor.

Regards, Chris

Sunday, 8 May 2016

This Month's Talk and walks - May 2016

AM poster

Weds 11th May. There is a Woodland Visit to survey for species with a view to creating a new Local Wildlife Site. The planned Grassland survey is cancelled, possibly to be  re-scheduled, as the meadow flowers are late.
This is to Parrock Wood, and Height Wood, west of  Hebden Bridge. Meet just off the A646 main road just after the Eastwood Sewage works on the bridge that  crosses the Rochdale Canal a few miles west of Hebden Bridge. Grid ref. SD968261. Park on the main road. 
Time 10.30 am for 10.40. Bring a packed lunch.
 Hugh Firman, Calderdale Conservation Officer, leading. Tel.07712867610


Saturday 14th May. The annual HSS ramble to Rishworth to see the very reliable Little Owl (sometimes the pair) and the Native Daffodils. Unfortunately the daffodils were in full flower a few weeks ago and are probably mostly over. This was due to a very mild early winter.
Many other interesting species to see and beautiful scenery.
Bring a packed lunch. We eat outside so a damp-proof sitting layer is useful.
 Meet at Mill Fold (Bowling Green) Car Park off the B6113 at Ripponden. 
10.30 for 10.40. Steve Blacksmith leading. Tel 07715005379