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

Monday, 31 July 2017

Grass developed to deter birds

At airports throughout the world and within this country, a new grass is being trialled to stop bird activity.

This involves planting a specially developed grass which grows dense and spiky, making it unattractive to birds both large and small.

A trial has shown more than a 50% reduction in bird activity in one year at Jersey Airport and has been given the name of Clear Sky; not prophetic I hope.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Southowram Honeybee Apiary Visit

We had a fabulous afternoon with the Halifax and District Beekeepers Association on Sunday 23rd July - they made us so welcome!  Phil Gee gave an excellent and thoroughly interesting talk on the history of beekeeping before we were given refreshments and then asked to dress in beekeeeping suits and gloves before Phil, Roger, Jackie and Jeff opened up the hives, each containing about 50,000 bees.  We saw queen bees, industrious workers, drones, larva......and the bees behaved so well!  A big thank you to the beekeepers - and to the bees!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Visit the Honey Bees!

  Sunday July 23rd : 1.30pm – 4.00pm
Please book on a place on this visit via –places are limited, it is first come, first served, and a number of people have already booked a place.  You will be lent protective clothing. Also, if the weather is too wet or windy, the visit will have to be cancelled and you will be given notice on the morning.  So…get buzzing!

The Halifax and District Beekeepers Association Apiary is located on Church Lane, Southowram.  Please click on the link below to see a map of where it is located.
There will be a sign on the main road adjacent to the apiary and there is plenty of parking in the apiary grounds.

Meet from 1.30pm for a 2.00pm start
Introductory talk about honey bees, visit the bee hives, refreshments
End : 4.00pm

Please wear wellington boots if possible.  Protective veils and gloves etc will be provided.

With thanks to the Halifax and District Beekeepers Association for inviting us to visit their Apiary!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Brambling in July in Hebden Bridge !

A friend sent me this photo today. He hasn't seen a male with it.

 Bramblings are usually strictly winter visitors.

Anyone sceptical of the date of the photo can check by the potato foliage behind.

2017 Big Butterfly Count

On Saturday July 15th, 9 of us (and one dog) embarked upon this year's Butterfly Count at Cromwell Bottom. The weather was a little unpromising but nevertheless our totals were not far below those of 2016. We also used the opportunity to look at some of the flora of the area - sadly the Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) has now gone over and so we couldn't witness this beautiful, delicate flower, but the Yellow Birdsnest (Hypopitys monotropa) was seen to be emerging which was some consolation!

There were a lot of day-flying moths which Charlie (Streets) helped us to identify; notable were the large number of Shaded Broad-bars, one Clouded Border, and one Five-spot Burnet.

As for the butterfly count, the following totals were recorded; figures in brackets refer to those taken last year:

Meadow Brown 5 (9)

Gatekeeper 8 (14)

Small Skipper 3 (0)

Large Skipper 1 (4)

Ringlet 14 (9)

Large White 5 (2)

Peacock 0 (1)

Speckled Wood 0 (2)

Green-veined White 0 (2)

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Not a butterfly, but often included in butterfly counts - the Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii), resting on Knapweed

Another rather beautiful moth, the Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)

And yet another moth - the Clouded Border moth (Lomaspilis marginata)

Fun with the butterfly net! (Some interesting bird poo was on this rock, chock-full of worms, which is why I decided to take a photo rather than sit in the vacant space!)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A surprise in the flower border.

I could hardly believe this was a Bilberry Bumble Bee Bombus monticola, but Charlotte Weightman confirmed it. Catmint flowers were all it wanted in the borders at St Augustines Community Centre, Hanson Lane, Halifax; a mostly built-up area. The nearest Bilberry is just the other side of Pellon Lane, along the cutting where the old High Level Railway used to run, or maybe the Council's new policy of sowing nectar-rich flower mixtures along some of the main roads has tempted it down from the moors. They feed from flowers other than those of Bilberry I've noticed, but I've only seen them high up, above Widdop, above Scammonden etc.. This one was at 200 metres.

I saw one on Tuesday 18th and today 19th July, possibly the same individual, as I only saw one at once.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hay Meadows walk

The number 13 may be unlucky for some, but last Saturday (8th July) 13 of us went on a glorious meander round the hay meadows which are being developed as foraging grounds for Twite above Baitings Dam, Ripponden.  Once again, knowledge was shared, friends were made and picnics were eaten to the sound of buzzing bumblebees in the superb setting of Yorkshire in the sunshine.  Sadly, no Twite joined us, but the flowers and insects made up for that!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Clouded Yellow

Saw my first Clouded Yellow of the summer at Mayroyd yesterday

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Bog Asphodel

One of the indicator plants of healthy wet heath/ bog is Bog Asphodel Narthecium ossifragum . This was photographed recently on Norland Moor by Laurence Sutton, who says it is precariously close to other vegetation which is being flattened by cyclists.

Cycling is the fastest growing sport in Britain at the moment; another strain on our beleaguered plantlife. If it's any consolation, golf courses are closing in large numbers, and though some of them go to housebuilding, quite a lot are just being abandoned, which has got to be good for nature.

Monday, 3 July 2017


Walking between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge this weekend, we were delighted to come upon a host of Ringlets - at least 20 - which suddenly burst forth along a grassy bank just as the sun appeared. A wonderful spectacle!

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) 

A pair of Ringlets - making new Ringlets!