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, 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

Hollas Lane Walk

Walk Sat 2nd.

Hollas Lane walk, Sept 2nd. Plant List

Led by Peachysteve we explored the old flood plain area around the new houses which had previous industrial activity on the land with much of the area being relatively alkaline to which some plants were more suited. Once upon a time before the development Bee Orchid could be found.

Below is a list of but not all the plants we discussed.


 Polypodium vulgare

Asplenium ceterach

Asplenium ruta-muraria

Asplenium trichomanes (quadrivalens)

Asplenium scolopendrium

Dryopteris borreri

Dryopteris filix-mas

Dryopteris dilatata

Flowering Plants (in order of finding them)

Autumn Hawkbit

Chinese Bramble

Branched Burr Reed

American Pond Weed ( Potamogeton epihydrus)

Perforate St Johnwort

Hoary Mustard

Alsike Clover


Wild Mignonette

Smooth Hawksbeard

Great Mullein

Creeping Cinquefoil

Canadian Fleabane

Wild Sweet Alison

Ribbed Melilot

Small Melilot

White Melilot

Purple Loosestrife

Hardrush (alkaline)

Dittander (Broad Leaved Pepperwort)

Fern Grass

Narrow Leaved Ragwort

Hedgerow Cranesbill

Spreading Upright Hedge Parsley

Himalayan Honeysuckle

Giant Hogweed

Hairy Tare

Smooth Tare

Red Goosefoot

Hedge Mustard

Redshank (Hairy fringed Ochrea)

Pale Persicaria (No Hair or very little on Ochrea)

Wild Clary

Lesser Swine Cress

Fodder Vetch (compare with tufted vetch)

Salad Burnet


Wood Stichwort

Corn Mint

Pink Purslane

False Brome


Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil

Red Bartsia

Hedge Bedstraw

Water Mint

Wild Parsnip

Common Wintercress.

Original post - Laurence Sutton

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

From Yorkshire Naturalists Union, to which we are affiliated.

If anyone would like this forwarding to them please send me an email.

The actual News & Events document will then be downloadable onto your computer. (I didn't paste and copy that part as I assume it wouldn't open from here.) 

YNU News & Events - September 2017


YNU Communications

Attachments6:41 PM (3 hours ago)
to comms
Hi Everyone,

Please find attached the September issue of the YNU News Brief.  This month includes a feature article on Thistle Broomrape in Yorkshire written by Phillip Whelpdale; a fully referenced version will be available on the website shortly.  
There are still a few places available on the upcoming botanical training days at Three Hagges Wood-Meadow near York. The one day courses are suitable for professionals or amateurs, are reasonably priced at £40 per day and no prior knowledge is necessary. For more details, please visit the Three Hagges website:
Finally, the Freshwater Habitats Trust want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the Clean Water for Wildlife Survey. Anyone and everyone can get involved, both groups and members of the public are welcome to participate. The two quick test kits, are easy to use and you can record the amount of nutrient pollution in your local ponds, streams, rivers, ditches and canals – and maybe discover new clean water sites. FHT will send you as many nitrate and phosphate kits as you need to take part. Each kit comes with a Clean Water leaflet and recording form, so that you know what to do and what to record. More information can be found on our website or contact Laura Quinlan
If you would like to contribute a feature article highlighting the work being done in our region or species of interest, or if you have any news or events you would like to include in the next News Brief, please e-mail

With best wishes,

Paula and Kate

Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union

Monday, 4 September 2017

Hollas Lane walk - Sept. 2nd

Blessed with fantastic weather the turn out was good - around a dozen people showed up. Peachysteve lead the walk and his local plant knowledge and ID skills are something to behold! There were a sprinkling of knowledgeable plant folk who I'm sure left the walk having seen new plant or fern species. From a lepidopterist's point of view it was a worthwhile trip becoming familiar with a range of plants that moth larvae use such as Grey Alder, Sneezewort and the goosefoot/orache family.

BIRDS: Kingfisher and Grey Heron on the river with Pied Wagtail, Nutchatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker all heard.

SPIDERS: I took a couple of shots of "interesting" looking arachnids - maybe Bruce or Julian can enlighten us? Their bodies were small pea sized.

Quite a few Red Admirals using the numerous Buddleia bushes on site.

A new one for me was this Coleophora argentula case on a Yarrow seedhead. After taking it home for further study I was surprised to find it was tenanted, the larva is now happily feeding away on the seeds. It will "hibernate" over winter to resume feeding in the spring. The adults emerge in early summer.
A leaf mine found on Downy Birch was Stigmella confusella. The frass (caterpillar poo) line is black and narrow throughout the mine which helps ID this species. The mine is complete and the larva will have exited it a month or two ago and have dropped to the ground to pupate.