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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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Autumn Crocus

In the Eden Valley at the village of Morland were these Autumn Crocus growing by the river. Not sure of their origin but it is a very old village as you can read on the Church history plaque.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Crocus Sweep this Sunday 2nd October.

All members and friends are invited on a tour of  some of the Autumn Crocus sites probably in the Ryburn Valley. Provisional time 1.30pm ; meet at County Bridge over the Calder in Sowerby Bridge.
We could get into as few cars as possible. Some of the footpaths are rocky but no strenuous climbs involved. Childeren and dogs very welcome. Tour about three hours. Check again here in case I have to alter arrangements.
(These are Crocus nudiflorus I photographed in the Pyrenees, and this is the one we have in the fields and woods in Calderdale in about 40 places that we know of.)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Burning at Walshaw

New Durham University study finds ANY burning on Walshaw Moor Estate increases flood risk in Hebden Bridge | Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Saturday September 24th

The Annual Autumn Crocus walk will take place tomorrow the 24th.

Meet at 10:30 at School Lane top, easy parking. Or meet at Bradshaw Church at 10:45, also easy parking, for a gentle 3 mile walk. Bring some lunch and drink.  See previous post below. All welcome. Dogs on lead please.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saturday 24th of September. Autumn Crocus Walk

Autumn Crocus Walk. Saturday 24th of September 2016
We made a quick visit to one of the sites in Bradshaw prior to next Saturday's walk. Bradshaw Church grounds have approx 200 blooms.
Lets hope that they are still fresh next Saturday.
Meet Bruce at School Lane top at 10:30 or Bradshaw Church car park at 10:45 for a 3 mile stroll up to Ogden and down to Holmfield for more Autumn Crocus.

A  few of the blooms at Bradshaw Church 18/9/2016

Report: We had a brilliant walk, with 8 of us involved. There were about 200 blooms in Bradshaw Church yard, under the east boundary wall. There were about 150 blooms in the bottom of the valley beside the hollow Sycamore with the hole right through its trunk, and there was a good count of 58 ( gaining year on year,) beside the beck at Oats Royd, where the ponds are.  We ate our lunch beneath the trees at Ogden Water, explored the top of Soil Hill, viewing from there north to the hills in the Dales, and east to the white horse at Kilburn, over the other side of the Vale of York. Our mid-afternoon break and snacks were taken looking out over one of the Oats Royd ponds. 

A new observation of the plant is that, though I said in my booklet "The Mystery of the Autumn Crocus" (still available) that I had never seen the plant set seed in Calderdale, I can now prove that they do occasionally do this, as a capsule with seeds appeared in a pot in my garden this spring 2016. (I have some under observation in a pot after digging them with permission from a site on private land, out of sight of the public.) Steve.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Rishworth Moor

Today I refound cranberry growing on White Isles, just north of the trig' point on Dog Hill.  I first found this about 15 years ago, but it was in flower then.
Also a red admiral was enjoying the sun near Parrock Nook Independent Union Chapel (sadly closed for good as a church on the 2nd September 2016, a pinned up note outside said).

Regards, Chris

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Wasps and Bees

I have never seen as many wasps in mid-September as this year. All our cars on the avenue have been covered in them for the last week or so, attracted no doubt by the honeydew from the adjacent Lime Trees. They are quite tame and unaggressive and seem a little undernourished. It won't be long now before they are all gone for this year. I feel quite sorry for them.

Grasses are wind pollinated and don't produce nectar, so you don't associate bees with them. Yet today I saw dozens of small bees busily collecting pollen from the many flowering stems of Purple Moor Grass in our garden. They were excitedly landing on the delicate flowering heads, causing them to bounce up and down with the bees' slender weight. I have never seen this behaviour before and wonder if vast acreage of the uplands with Purple Moor grass are feeding the bees?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Our monthly talk open to all this Tuesday, but before that a hike this Saturday 10th September. (See below.)

The walk on 10th September is programmed as a hike; it's about 7 miles round. We follow paths up one side of the three Walshaw Dean Reservoirs, and back down the other side. We found we had to push through tall bracken last year for about 100 yards at the top end of the top dam, but we were on a permissive footpath. We will sit for a while to eat packed lunches on a convenient low wall, and should be back to the cars by mid afternoon.

There are, apart from the wide views and possible wildlife encounters ( including Marsh Harrier and hundreds of froglets and toadlets last year,) visible signs of the miniature railway that was used during the reservoir construction. Eyewitness accounts can be read in the famous local book "A Springtime Saunter" by Whiteley Turner, including these vivid descriptions of sounds he leaves us from 1905. . . ."awakened by the roaring of some terrible monsters fighting" .  . . looking out of the bedroom window they see. . ."the engines puff and snort in their efforts to proceed". (The writer and his companion lodged at a farm near Blake Dean, which is still there.)

THE WALK - the event went well, with seven people taking part. The only drawback to the proceedings was the hordes of midges that came when we sat down for our picnic. As we ate our sandwiches, they tried to eat us! Annie's insect repellent was effective, except she had to supply all of the rest of us (all blokes ! typical ) and she ran out ! Even though the spray stopped them biting, they still crawled on any bare skin they could find. We could see a gamekeeper grass trimming round shooting butts. He had come prepared with a net over his head; his peaked cap keeping it away from his face.

The find of the month was a clubmoss! This was identified later by Peachysteve as Fir Clubmoss, Huperzia selago.  This is known from only one other small patch in Calderdale, at Ovenden Moor Windfarm, where, amazingly, it grows along with a second species of clubmoss. 

THE TALK - Malcolm brought us a very interesting and entertaining talk with good clear images on the screen, expertly arranged and labelled. A slight correction re the poster is that he is mainly with the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group, though also active in the YNU. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Take note of the Old Beech

Our valley was planted in the early 19th century with Beech trees, a species which would have been a novel species for our area at that time. They have been a remarkably resilient tree, surviving through a century and a half of terrific pollution.

But; All the original Beech are now approaching 180-200 year old and entering their final years. In 20 years time most of the big trees will have gone. They do not grow downwards in old age as Oak does; for when they decide time is up, they don't linger.

We should not help these old Beech on their way by removing them for woodland management purposes, where the emphasis now is to encourage other species such as Oak.

I think we should enjoy them while we can and leave the best specimens well alone in any management scheme. We will never see again as many massive Beech as we have at present.

Better by far to concentrate on the prolific number of Beech saplings which are insidiously springing up as under storey in many woodlands. This is a problem that is easily solved at present but if neglected will kill the ground flora and most of the other tree species in the wooded area.

Get out and enjoy, photograph and record these huge Beech; they won't be around for much longer.

The photo shows a multi-stemmed huge Beech on the HSS walk to Sun Wood in June this year. But also note the bleeding canker which is affecting Beech throughout the valley. This is quickly hastening the end for many of them as the fungus like organism cuts off the flow of sapwood.

Also note the arborglyphs written in the central trunk. Was this a boundary tree, coppiced or was it bundle planted?