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

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Siskins at Todmorden

There were about 40 females/males about equally mixed of these dainty finches, below Cross Stone Church this morning. There are lots of mature conifers around which they prefer to nest in so it's possible they breed here.
They love these Alder seeds but can be found feeding on Birch seeds as well.



I once picked up a male at Greetland, probably exhausted, with its crop so stuffed with Birch seeds they were spilling out. I kept it in a cage for a while where it would eat all sorts of small seeds and peanuts. I didn't know it was illegal at the time. I soon let it fly free but I missed its cheery singing for a while. They are known for being attracted to peanuts in gardens, and there was a belief that if the nuts were hung out in a red mesh bag, this would attract them quicker. Nobody seems to bother with this now, but bird habits, and people habits, change.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Dramatic finale to the evening's murmuration.

I captured this video clip of Starlings at Brighouse this evening, many others had just gone down:

Other observations of the day included: 7 - 8 Meadow Pipits beside Ringby Lane, Ploughcroft.
13 Common Gulls included 3 juveniles at Ploughcroft
Herring gulls among the crows on Swalesmoor, Ploughcroft
Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in Shibden Valley despite light snow falling.
Mistle Thrush and 2 Goldfinches in Bradford Old Rd. Claremount.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Starling Murmuration at Brighouse

This large flock of Starlings has been gathering together in small parties to make one huge group to roost together in central Brighouse for at least a few weeks.

Thank you to Annie Honjo for posting her video on You-tube.

We were there this evening 4.15 to 5.00pm, along with eleven other people amazed by the spectacle.
A Sparrowhawk appeared twice but didn't seem to catch a Starling, though it was definitely trying!
A spontaneous round of applause went up when the birds finally settled into the trees.

The finale is when the trees appear to suck the flock out of the sky.
If you want to see it, go to the car parks at the bottom of town near the double-towered old flour mill.  

Monday, 16 January 2017

Invitation to help a group interested in Nature on Roils Head Moor

Hi Steve

We have completed a baseline survey of the moor with Chris Sutcliffe
(Calderdale MBC Countryside Officer).

Chris Sutcliffe has recommended the Halifax Scientific Society may be
able to help us complete a more detailed survey.

In the long term we would like to have all the species of wildlife and
plants on the moors listed, in which areas and which seasons, food
webs and food chains etc however, we lack the knowledge to do this.

We have contacted Calderdale MBC to see if the area could be made into
a Local Nature Reserve.

Would the Society be interested in helping us with the survey?

I have attached the survey and a general map of the area.


Kelly Reid

From Steve: this is a large open area above Halifax Golf Club, north of Halifax. 
Do we have a member living near there, who would like to take a lead on this? You
don't have to be an expert on species, just organise an initial visit, show us round, 
keep notes, and correspond  for us with Kelly; that sort of thing.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Celebrating our Woodland Heritage - volunteers needed!

Want to get out into our local woods and help survey them?
During the excellent talk last night given by Craig Best, Countryside Manager of the National Trust, Craig mentioned the project which one of our previous speakers, Chris Atkinson of Pennine Prospects had also discussed with us - 'Celebrating our Woodland Heritage - an Archaeological Survey'.  The surveys are taking place at a number of woods in the area - full details plus dates are given in the link below.  Training will be given.  The surveys have started - so please do have a look now to see if there is a wood near you which you could help survey!

The list of woodlands to be investigated during the projects first year are listed below.  In order to fully record the woodland heritage of the South Pennines we need you! Whether as an individual, family, group or organisation we welcome you to get involved, to learn new skills and to enjoy our woodland heritage.
Name Location Easting Northing Dates of Survey
Hirst Wood Bradford 412719 438232 6th – 7th January 2017
Hardcastle Crags Hebden Bridge 397310 430152 11th – 14th January 2017
Knotts Wood Todmorden 391757 426025 18th- 19th January 2017
Park Wood Keighley 407143 440977 22nd & 24th January 2017
Castle Clough Wood Hapton 378756 431342 3rd – 4th February 2017
Callis Wood Hebden Bridge 397908 426556 6th & 8th February 2017
Middleton Woods Ilkley 412074 448764 15th – 18th February 2017
Ogden Plantation Ogden 405798 431077 2nd – 3rd & 5th March 2017
Roddlesworth Tockholes 366076 421538 8th – 10th March 2017
New Field Clough (Smithills Estate) Bolton 367469 412492 15th – 17th March 2017
Jagger Park Wood Low Bentley 413587 428061 20th – 22nd March 2017
Redisher Woods Ramsbottom 377396 415657 23rd – 25th March 2017
North Dean Wood Copley 408485 422212 26th – 29th March 2017

If you are interested in attending any of these archaeological events, either for a day or multiple days please contact  Chris Atkinson, Woodland Heritage Officer at for further details.
All equipment such as a hand held GPS for recording the location, recording sheets, pens/pencils, clip boards, tape measures and camera will be provide.
As we will be outdoors and the weather is likely to be cold and probably a bit damp at times, please wear sturdy foot wear and warm/wet weather gear.  A packed lunch and drink is also advisable.  As for the timings, each day of survey will last between 10am and 3pm

Lost and found

At our HSS meeting last night at the Library, the follwing were left behind:
  • One small thermos flask
  • One DVD 'A Bird for All Seasons'

If they are yours, please let me know and I'll arrange to get them to you - or bring them to our next meeting on 14th Feb!

Thank you, Charlotte

Monday, 9 January 2017

To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,

This is not local but I'm sure we have all seen photos of this amazing Giant Sequoia with its incongruous and sad road tunnel drilled through it. Well it is now no more, having been blown down by recent storm. Read about it here:-

"Tunnel trees were created in the 19th century to promote parks and inspire tourism". As if ancient trees were not inspiring enough.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Our first inside meeting of the year !

All welcome to this talk. After it there is a short refreshments break, then the very informal meeting of the society, when we talk about upcoming events, and collect any
 Natural History sightings, etc.  to go in the records. 

We just ask for a small donation to offset the cost of hiring the room.

Don't forget your chequebooks or cash if you are wishing to join or renew your membership.
(See Welcome to Walks, Talks and Joining tab above.)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Brain Fungi

I saw this Yellow Brain fungus Tremella mesenterica, near Foulridge in November. It was growing on a dead Ash twig.

It is very common and only seen on dead wood. I thought it actually fed on dead wood but apparently it feeds on crust fungi, which are themselves feeding on the wood. It is therefore classed as parasitic and not saprobic.

Note the very small fly which is feeding on the 'brain'!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Todmorden Waxwing Update 02 01 2017

Just an update on the Waxwings in Todmorden,numbers built up to 71 ,although the berries have all been eaten on Myrtle Street and most at Lidl car park today 02 01 16 there are still berries in the bus station on a single tree,and near the houses adjacent the  open ground where the old health centre used to be,only saw 2 today,feeding with a few Redwing and Blackbirds,and no doubt they will soon move on as the berries run out, Regards and Happy New Year.