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, 20 December 2017

Nesting instinct

I have a pair of Collared Doves at Barkisland with new nest, no eggs yet. This mild spell might induce them. It's in a big evergreen shrub, their usual site. (Update - 2 eggs at 11.30am on 23rd Dec. two is their usual clutch size, in common with most dove species; I  have seen three, but this could have been a case of  egg "dumping" by another female.)

Starlings aren't common in my garden, but a chattering coming from round the side of the house prompted me to look and there was one just coming out of the box, and his/her mate up on the troughing. This box was first used by them last summer. I'm not aware of them nesting unseasonably, but they're obviously booking their spot for later.

Not nesting but feeding, I had a Goldcrest in a large Norway Spruce in Hanson Lane yesterday, one that was probably a Christmas tree many years ago. The bird seemed out of context, among the terraced streets.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Derivation of the word "Spruce Tree"

As part of the word “spruce,” there is “Pruce”. This was an old form of the designation of the former (1525-1935) Germanic nation known as Prussia.

An expression like “das Pruce” evolved to refer to the region’s main evergreen tree (aka Prussian fir) with the preceding word “s” misinterpreted for being part of the word; thus making “spruce.”   


Well I've never heard that explanation before!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Have your say!

Just a reminder to have your say about the Brearley Fields and also Milner Royd/Copley Valley sites -  both online questionnaires need to be sent back by 31st December 2017

Brearley Fields

Calderdale Council are undertaking a consultation as to what to do with Brearley Fields site, plans which could include a wetland habitat with reeds.
Click the link below to have your say and contribute to its future.

Milner Royd/Copley Valley
A major funding bid is in progress which includes Copley Valley Green Corridor, which runs along the south bank of the River Calder, and Milner Royd Nature Reserve. If successful, there will be funds to develop the biodiversity and recreational potential of these sites.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Some more Practical Conservation Work members can get involved in:

The Friends of Roils Head
Tree Planting!
Roils Head Moor
next to Bridleway Hx 548
(at the top of Broadley Road and Rye Lane)
1.30pm – 3pm
Saturday 2 December 2017

The FoRH (with Calderdale MBC Countryside Team) will be planting a Woodland Trust Tree Pack along the moor side of the Bridleway. To create a natural hedgerow and to establish more food sources for wildlife in the area. Creating a living legacy for future generations.
All are welcome to come and help!
Please wear appropriate clothing.


The Friends of Roils Head (FoRH)

The aims of the group are to protect, conserve and enhance Roils Head Moor as a place of recreation, education and enjoyment for the long-term benefit of all sections of the local community and schools.

Facebook Page / Messenger users search for @roilshead

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Deer Farm at Todmorden, just east of the golf course.

We came across these young fawns with a female ( a Doe) sheltering from the cold wind near the road as we walked up from Cross Stone. 

A white male puzzled me for a while until it stood next to one which was obviously a Fallow Buck, from its palmate antlers and spotted coat. The white buck (white hart?) has broken antlers, but their head shape and sizes are identical, so I think they are both Fallow Deer. White Fallows are quite common; I once flushed a magnificently-antlered white buck which went leaping away in the New Forest, Hampshire. This seems an unsuitable field to keep a species that loves the deep sheltering wildwood. 

Anyone willing to identify this other group of deer in the same field as the Fallows? They were obviously bigger and heavier. I'm not sure till I get the books out.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Possible funding to "develop biodiversity and recreational potential of the area."

Karen Elliott

to meHoward.OwenLouise
I would be grateful if you could pass the following information on to your members.

A bid for European funding has been  organised by Calderdale Council, in partnership with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, local community groups and Genr8 Developments.  This bid is a large one, covering several sites along the River Calder, from Hebden Bridge down to Brighouse, one of which is the Milner Royd Local Nature Reserve and the Copley Valley Green Corridor.  The bid has passed the first stage of the applications, and we are now preparing the second stage.  If successful, there will be funds to develop the biodiversity and recreational potential of these sites.

For the second stage bid, the detailed proposals for Milner Royd and Copley Valley have to be submitted.  In order to determine the proposals, a community consultation exercise is taking place, with an open day on Sunday 19 November 2017 based at the PSL Group offices in Unit 2, and an online questionnaire available until 31 December 2017.  The questionnaire can be found at

I attach a copy of the flier for the open day (9am to 12 noon) which has been distributed to homes and businesses surrounding the site.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Many thanks.


I couldn't copy and paste the flyer Karen attached but basically it says this:  

Sunday 19th November 2017
9.00am to 12.00 noon
At PLS Group Unit 2 Copley Valley Business Park

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Disease Control

St. Ive's woodland at Bingley is undergoing a great change as all the Larch trees are being felled.

Many of these were planted en masse so it is leaving swathes of open areas. They are being felled because of Phytophthora ramorum disease, which was only found in the country in 2002 but since then millions of (mainly) Larch trees have had to be removed.

Beech are affected by this disease in Todmorden park and I suspect throughout the valley.

The contractor said there would be re-planting at St. Ives but didn't say with what. Let's hope there is some design to it, so that it may eventually resemble a woodland.

At the moment it is a vast improvement, as all the unthinned mature Larch were a gloomy sight. Does it need any re-planting?

Monday, 23 October 2017

Nothing changes

"It must be confessed that the English population is lacking in the primary instincts necessary for the creation  and maintenance of agreeable surroundings to a greater extent than any other nation in Western civilisation".

This was written by the "Roads Beautifying Association" in their Roadside Planting book of 1930, published by Country Life. It was said in reaction to wanton destruction of most of the trees and shrubs planted by the roadsides in the 1920's.

Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, said in 1927 "There ought to be an unwritten code that to defile any of these great roads, either by ugly surroundings, by hoggish behaviour along them, or by upsetting or spilling litter on them, should be a bar to a man from entering any decent club or any decent home circle".

There is a very interesting history surrounding the RBA and its precursor the Roads of Remembrance Association. They make for fascinating reading and it makes you wonder if the 1930 quote I began with, contains an element of truth.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Can you lend a hand? Moors and moths!

Calderdale Countryside Services run regular morning sessions doing practical conservation work on Norland Moor.  Next dates : 18th Oct, 15th Nov, 20th Dec, 17th Mar, 21 Mar.  Contact Robin Dalton on : 07712867619 for more details of where to meet etc.

Also, this Wednesday 11th Oct, Robin and Chris Sutcliffe are running a moth trapping night, meeting opposite the Moorcock, Norland at 7.00pm.  But please check with Robin first!


Monday, 25 September 2017

More pics from the Crocus walk

Even from the starting point at St. John's church in Bradshaw there were plenty of interesting fungi. A long overdue first for me were these three Blackening Waxcaps on the mown grass (above and below). Also three Scarlet Caterpillarclubs were found poking through the turf.

A couple of nice dung feeding fungi were found in the paddock with the masses of crocuses in - Egghead Mottlegill above and a lovely white Snowy Inkcap which was another new for me but I neglected to photograph :-(

Just before lunch Annie spotted this wagtail alighting on a fence - I'll leave it to Steve to fill us in on age/race/sex/species. (Grey Wagtail male; they lose the black bib completely after the breeding season - Steve.)

Shortly after the wagtail I found yet more bagworms on dry-stone walls and gate posts. Calderdale is the hot-spot for these at the moment and is currently the only place to see this rare moth species in Yorkshire. I suspect it's Dahlica lichenella - the Lichen Case-bearer, but would need to find some adults or empty pupal cases to be sure.
For those not familiar with bagworms I've added a photo of one of the adult females I reared last year. As there are no males known of this species in Britain and she is parthenogenetic, she wastes no time in laying a batch of ready fertilised eggs back in to the case she's just emerged from. After laying is complete she falls to the ground and dies. A quick demise for this 3mm long moth.
Another site was found later on in the walk with dozens of cases on the walls on both sides of the path.

Julian found this moth larva feeding on Himalayan Balsam of all things. Makes you wonder why they're not more commonly found bearing in mind the amount of balsam we have these days. I'll try and get an ID for it - if not I'll try and rear it through - although I strongly suspect it's an Angle Shades......

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Autumn Crocus

Some pictures of a very interesting Calderdale speciality - the delicate Crocus nudiflorus - native to the Pyrenees but naturalised in our area perhaps since the Middle Ages. Taken today on the annual Halifax Scientific Society Autumn Crocus walk, led by Steve Blacksmith. A good year, with a host of over a thousand flowers seen in one of the traditional places, and a good day out as always.

Julian Birkhead

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hedgehog records

I would welcome any records of Hedgehogs this year in Calderdale. They are really scarce in our area nowadays !
I already have  a few records in the database but unfortunately, all are road-kills other than one record so far of a living one - a juvenile near Roils Head.
I'm looking for location (street name), date and 'alive or dead'.
Please post any sightings on the blog, or in the comments box, or pass to Steve B who will forward the records on. Many thanks. Dave.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

No food or shelter. The future is bleak.

Having just travelled through the East Riding, I find it not surprising that many bird species are in decline. There isn't any secret to it that needs the pretence of intensively written reports.

Mile after mile of farmland hedgerows were being tractor strimmed to neat garden-type hedges. All the growth that young birds would have just discovered to be 'home' was being hacked away. But worst of all was the squandering of the hawthorn berries and many, many elder fruits--rich black luscious hanging bunches. Now all gathering mud and squashed on the road.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Tuesday 12th September meeting

Please note that Tuesday's meeting and the talk by Diane Fare of the Bronte Parsonage entitled 'Uncovering Bronte Country' is being held in NEW Halifax Central Library, Square Road (more or less opposite the station) at the usual time of 7.15pm.  The meeting room is on the 2nd Floor.  We have tried to inform everyone but this is just a reminder!  Hope to see you there...and there will be cake!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

White Beech

I noticed that a young Beech sapling in Centre Vale Park at Todmorden was looking white on its upper leaves. I thought it was mildew but took a closer look as I have never seen mildew on Beech.

What is actually happening is these upper leaves are totally devoid of chlorophyll, yet the lower leaves are as normal. No idea why this should be or whether it will persist on next year's growth.

         I have reduced the highlights in this image to try and get some detail in the leaf. you can just see there are some tiny eyelets of chlorophyll, yet the extension growth of the stem is vigorous.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Penistone and District Countryside Society

A friend of mine, Chris Tomson, has asked me to publise this new countryside group he has started at Penistone.  Some of you will have met him on the haymeadow walk in July.

Hi Folks,

A date for your diary - Tuesday 19th September 2017 at St Andrews Church, Penistone an illustrated talk by Chris Tomson - "Farming and Wildlife". 7:30pm. Admission £2.50.

The hall is also booked for another meeting on Tuesday 17th October for an illustrated talk hopefully about walking the Dales Way and West Highland Way TBC.

Please come along if you can and bring friends so that we can hopefully get the Penistone and District Countryside Society off the ground this winter.

Kind regards,

Chris Tomson
Tel. 0795 821 3643