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

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Crossbills,28 11 16 Sunderland Plantation

As well as lots of Waxwings in the Country ,there are plenty of Bramblings and also Crossbills and these were seen feeding on Spruce Cones in Sunderland Pasture Plantation,watch out when out and about,it promises to be a bumper Winter,regards me and Ros saw a flock of 50 plus Brambling today 29 11 16 above Cornholme.

Beech disease

There are worries for the many old Beech trees in Epping forest, as their Rhododendrons have been found with Phytophthora Ramorum. This is the same disease that was confirmed in Centre Vale park in Todmorden and Shibden Park Halifax.

There is to be a great effort at Epping forest to prevent the disease spreading to the old Beech and they are going to cut and burn all Rhododendron, which is a prime host and spreader of P. ramorum.

There are old Beech trees in many areas of our valley dying from Phytophthora, yet I see little interest being shown to acknowledge there is a problem.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Waxwings in West Central Halifax

At work today I happened to look up and saw a tight flock of what I at first assumed were Starlings fly between trees at the St Augustines Centre.       I looked to see which berries they were coming for ( there are Hawthorn, Whitebeam, Cotoneaster and Berberis available.)

Then I noticed the unmistakable wispy crests on their heads ! There were about 15 of them and they soon departed over the terraced houses. One of them has been ringed.

On leaving at lunch-time I met Dave W. in Lightowler Road round the corner. He had gone to the wrong place from my directions on the grapevine but struck lucky and we were able to watch at our leisure 20 odd Waxwings in the sunshine. (Lightowler Rd./ Hanson Lane junction.)

Andy H. has since found them or others in the same general area.

It is surprising what a rich bird life exploits these little patches of greenery in town. Today up there I also saw Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and two Goldcrests. I have had a Grey Wagtail in the gardens.

No birds in the picture !

Breeders are Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins, Collared Doves, Magpies, Crows, Blue and Great Tits, and a Sparrowhawk has finished off a Feral Pigeon between the cars in the carpark.

I once found a large raptor's tail feather (possible Buzzard) in the car park, but on reflection, it probably fell out of someones door-pocket . . .

RSPB Twite Project Officer

Very grateful if you could circulate round your networks/share with anyone who might be interested. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Every walk becomes a fungus foray in November

We were on a Mammal Tracks and Signs walk but were distracted on seeing these Royal ferns along the Ryburn. Frank Murgatroyd wrote about them in this area but never confided exactly where they were. I think these are probably those (about 12 plants, just above the bowling green, on the left bank.)

A view near Rishworth. Unidentified brackets on a Sycamore stump

Impressively muscular roots on a beech. These trees are invading the oakwood in Turner Clough which is unwelcome, but interesting that they are really only the first generation of self-sown beeches, spreading from the 19thC plantations of which we have many in Calderdale. They were planted for timber for furniture and mill equipment, we are told, but apparently never much exploited for this, if at all. 

Another self-sown beech. On this walk we saw several growing out of walls like this. Some animal or bird could be involved in their germination, by storing them away then not eating them. Coal Tits and Nuthatches do this a lot. There is a group of fine Puffballs along the wall top. More fascinating fungi just added to the Mycology blog (tab above.)

The only sign of a mammal we found ! This dropping on a rock in the path was not foul-smelling, but even so, could not definitely to be confirmed as an Otter spraint as it wasn't very fresh. Our friends from the Yorkshire Mammal Group have promised to get back to us after closer examination. They took only a small part of it, as whatever animal made it left it there for a purpose - to mark its territory or pass messages to others of its species

I took a visit to Ogden reservoir as I was passing last Wednesday. No Pintails; they had left, but found the interesting purple jelly organism (see the Mycology Blog.) This is the inlet from Skirden Clough

View of Ryburn Res from Baiting Res embankment.
We really appreciate these views of sombre autumn colours in dim light; they smoulder rather than flare out in fiery colours. (I know I have bits in my camera - got to decide between trying to get it cleaned or buy a new one.)
From this vantage point we noticed parties of starlings coming in and joining into one great feeding flock in the fields. We estimated about 1000 birds. We hung around till nearly dark down at Ryburn Res but didn't see a murmuration, though did see large flocks of finches, Fieldfares, and corvids coming in.
Earlier we found the feathers of a Starling in the snow up at Whiteholme Res. The raptor that had plucked and eaten it had left the upper and lower mandibles of its prey's beak behind, as well as its feathers. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

We often get snow with this wind direction.

Often they say "Snow over the North of England", and it doesn't come.
A reliable indicator that we will get it is when the wind (a wet cold wind) comes in from the north- west.
It powers in across the sea to the north of Northern Ireland, but to the south of the Cumbrian mountains.
Then it has free reign across the Lancashire plain, and our hills are the first ones in its path where it gets forced up into the zone that cools it that bit more and the snow drops out.

Then again, I've seen some almighty drifts created around here by strong easterlies . . . .

(Snow enthusiast Steve, with apologies to those who detest it !)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Wrecked seabird. No corpse available

A seabird thought to be Manx Shearwater was picked up alive outside Walsden on 2nd November, along Rochdale Road towards Summit.

The finder took it to Hirds Vets near there, where they tried to feed it on fish.

Halifax branch of Hirds vet passed it on to the Creature Comforts Animal-aid man, Mike, but despite his best efforts at rehabiltation, it died. I persuaded him to dig it up from where he had buried it but he couldn't find it.

Last record I can find is one in 1962 found exhausted at Causeway Foot and later released at Ogden Reservoir.

There are several old records before this.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Secrets of Mammals

There will be a walk with members of the Mammal Society and Halifax Scientific Society this Sunday 13th November. Meet 10.30am in the road next to Heathfield Preparatory School, Rishworth. Just off Oldham Rd, opposite the bus turning circle and the war memorial. We may not see any animals, but hope to learn about their tracks and signs they leave as evidence they are there.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The value of standing dead wood

Here is a photo of a dead Oak trunk in Cragg Vale woodland. It is riddled with holes that may have been caused by Wood Peckers looking for grubs. It is very important to leave standing dead wood as it supports the high rise community.

They have discovered that Woodpeckers in America carry fungal spores on their beaks, which helps create future holes for them to enjoy!

Friday, 4 November 2016


A Red Admiral landed on our window this morning, then took flight into the shrubbery just as the hail showers started.