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

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jan 1st - New Year's Day Walk, bird count and flowering plants count.

Meet us here in front of Clay House, West Vale, Greetland near Elland 10.30 for 10.40.
There is free public parking  in the drive, or just across the footbridge at the junction near the traffic lights.

The route is rough and wet in places so good waterproof boots with ankle support are needed. It is approximately 7 miles, so is a bit of a hike.

A picnic stop will be taken around mid-day, so something damp-proof  to sit on is useful.

Weather permitting, and taking all walkers' abilities into account, we will go through North Dean Woods, up Maple Dean (aka Norland ) Clough, across Norland Moor, and back via a slightly different route through the woods (on the Calderdale Way.) The speed will vary from moderate to stopped, to take in views or interesting wildlife. Back to Clay House about 15.30.

A dramatic sight we pass is the collapsed Copley Bridge, casualty of the Boxing Day 2015 floods. An interesting one is a recently-identified prehistoric standing stone.

This is a regular event, and includes some of the traditional HSS features such as the picnic, stopping to stare and to note things, and the option of a call at a hostelry on finishing if required.

Report on the Walk:

We got 31 bird species this year ! Notable was a fly-over Peregrine in the woods, it had missing feathers from right inner primaries.

We also found Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. We often get an odd Reed Bunting on the moor, but this time there were several groups around 4 to 8 and up to 15; both sexes.

Previous years totals were  2014 - 18 species, 2015 - 21, 2016 - 26. Interesting how it's going up each year.

Unfortunately we didn't see any flowering plants, but there was one very fine Soft Shield Fern I'd not noticed before.

We also saw a very relaxed herd of six Roe Deer, all does except one buck with his antlers still in velvet.

Number of walkers - very variable, infections and early rain bringing us down to three today !

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Amazing bird behaviour

Not a native Heron, but if you look on You-tube under "Heron using bread as bait".
This must put Herons up with parrots and crows in the intelligence league.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Importing Plant Diseases

Apologies for another rather gloomy posting but Nature takes control, despite a general wish for it to go away and stop bothering us.
I wrote on this blog some while ago about Xylella fastidiosa, which is regarded as the most harmful plant pathogenic bacteria in the world. The number of species identified as being susceptible has now reached 359.
Worryingly for this country the list includes Oak and Sycamore trees. The disease was first discovered in Italy 3 years ago and has since spread to Spain, France and Germany.

Our own Plant Health Inspectors are on the lookout for entry of the disease to this country but since many plant hosts do not show any symptoms, it seems only a matter of time before this country is affected.

This account from Malta, a small island like our own, is very descriptive of what we are up against:--

The final paragraph is prophetic and I quote:--

"Prevention is better than cure, especially when there is no cure all. That would be the day when one can honestly boast of a sound environmental policy. From experience, political action in this regard will only be considered when the social, economic and environmental fabric have bit the dust".

I find this quote from the novel 'Tono Bungay' by H.G. Wells to be apposite:--

"It is like an early day in a fine October. The hand of change rests on it all, unfelt, unseen; resting for awhile, as it were half reluctantly, before it grips and ends the thing for ever. One frost and the whole face of things will be bare, links snap, patience end, our fine foliage of pretences lie glowing in the mire".

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Celebrating our Woodland Heritage Surveys - volunteers needed!

Over the course of the next three years Pennine Prospects will be leading a programme of freely accessible archaeological surveys across the South Pennines in order gain a greater understanding of woodland development and management across the region.  Please follow the link below for full details - the surveys will start in January!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Xmas at HSS. All members and friends with their partners invited.

All members and our friends from other societies and CMBC are welcome to attend.
We are downstairs in the Central Library. Our library will be available to refer to as well as the items you may bring for HSS fundraising.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Trees reduce Global Warming -- but only in the tropics

The link listed at bottom of the page, is to a new climate change study that has some very interesting results. I will let you read it for yourself but there are a couple of quotes that are challenging to current thought.

"Apparently, these natural carbon sinks [forests] only do their job effectively in tropical regions; in other areas, they have either no impact or actually contribute to warming the planet".

"You can't just blindly go ahead and reforest and that will tackle climate change," he says, pointing out a key finding in the study. "If you think about conservation groups, they're all talking about planting trees. We should be protecting trees for other reasons."

Does this report undermine some of our assumptions on tree planting?

Find out here:

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A Beetle but not as I thought it

In May 2013 I posted to this blog my photo of what I assumed was a Bloody-Nosed beetle (BNB) Timarcha tenebricosa, which I saw at Blake Dean, Hardcastle Crags.

Following an article about this beetle in the YNU August edition of 'The Naturalist', there was also mention of the Small Bloody-Nosed beetle, T. goettingensis.

So I took another look at my photo and realised I had mis-identified and it is actually the Small BNB T. goettingensis.

I have had this confirmed by the Beetle recorder who said; "There is a record from Hebden Bridge, presumably the Craggs, dated 1879".

I had no idea there were 2 such beetles to choose from but fascinated to learn this Small BNB has remained at Blake Dean for the last 137 years without showing itself to passers by!

BNB's wing cases are fused, so they have to walk everywhere and are consequently sedentary. They produce noxious blood droplets when threatened. Food plant is bedstraw and cleavers.