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

Friday, 29 June 2018

Saturday's Walk 30th June

Gorpley Clough and Reservoir. Set in the bare wild hills west of Todmorden, this is a beautiful area but is threatened by industrial-scale forestry.

Come and see it before it is scarred forever by the hand of man.

Not that the walk leader is against all trees, but NATURAL NATIVE trees, growing along the water-courses would be aesthetically and ecologically more desirable.

I expect the stumps of  a grove of trees will be visible which grew before the peat formed. The peat shrinks down in very dry years. These trees are recorded also in the name of some nearby rocks, "Shaw Stones", where prehistoric people made cup-marks which can be still seen.

The area is rich in visible archaeological evidence, and is also geologically interesting. One tufa spring is easily seen, and I have found another higher up above the reservoir.

The entrances of old coal mines are now grid-covered to stop children playing in there, where they were once forced to work.

The walk is about 4.5 miles, but with some steep paths and one long flight of steps. We will not be going fast! Picnics will be eaten at the reservoir. Bring insect repellent for inside the woodland! Shorts are not recommended due to ticks.

Meet at 10.30 at the car-park on the left in Bacup Rd. at the bottom of Gorpley Clough OL14 7HL Come along and share your opinions if different from mine. We can have a civilised debate. Everyone has a voice at Halifax Scientific Society events.

Map ref for meeting place SD919236

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Large Skipper

Photo at Ringby Lane, Ploughcroft, Halifax, today.

Foodplant for the larva is usually Cocksfoot grass. A common and easily-identified grass once you get your eye in for it. Apart from good for butterflies, summer is the best time to learn and appreciate the many kinds of grasses that flower in Calderdale. 

I should point out that despite being the "Large" Skipper it is only 12 -18 mm long on it's fore-wing. (M.Chinery)

The other two Skippers we get in Calderdale  - Small Skipper and Dingy Skipper (infequent) are very slightly smaller. The Large and the Small are quite common where sun-drenched long grass is allowed to exist.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Beech Leaf Miner

I am noticing many Beech trees that look to have brown leaves from a distance. On closer inspection parts of the leaves look to have been eaten out by a leaf miner and the remaining healthy tissue has many holes.

It isn't just confined to young saplings but old Beech are badly affected as well. It could be the result of the Beech Leaf Miner--Orchestes fagi. I can't say I have noticed this much damage to the leaves in previous years.

Less Chlorophyll will mean less photosynthesis and progressively weaken the tree. In combination with this lengthy dry spell and Beech having a shallow root system, it is not looking good.

Is this type of leaf damage noticeable throughout the valley or is it just Todmorden? Can anyone confirm this weevil is the culprit?

Balsam Bashing at Hardcastle Crags

Natalie Pownall, Academy Ranger at the National Trust, has asked us to advertise the forthcoming balsam bashing days which start on Monday 18th June.  Many HSS members volunteered last year to do this.  You can stay for as long or as short a time as you wish. 

This is what she says:

'We want as many people bashing at the Crags as possible to increase biodiversity and reduce flood risk. The aim is 1000 people!

The sessions are in the day this year instead of the midgey evenings!

Here’s the link to our balsam bashing drop in sessions which gives full details of timings, dates etc.
There are 6 sessions in the next two weeks 

Hope you can help us spread the word – share with your friends!'

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Tree planting--what's the plan

Shedden Clough near Hurstwood has had a lot of tree planting that also includes the open moorlands. Most of this was done as part of the now defunct "Forest of Burnley" scheme.  Some trees lower down the valley sides may create a good effect but I do wonder what they are trying to achieve when saplings are planted on the moorland, especially as there are many Small Heath butterfly and quite a few Skylarks. Many of these saplings  are looking distinctly unhappy and will not survive. I am sure that wasn't the intention although it could be seen as a good outcome.

Within Shedden Clough there is a lot of Rhododendron that is spreading quickly. Some of this Rhodo was cleared about 10 years ago. As the photo shows, the resultant bare soil has created a great opportunity for a forest of self-seeded Birch. Note how this Birch has established without the assistance of tree tubes and stakes; perhaps it prefers to do what it knows best, which is grow.

Of the planted saplings, Hawthorn and Willow seem to be doing well. If these were planted as a kind of first wash on the landscape canvas, niches would be created for trees to arrive naturally and create a more structured woodland over time.

Instant woodland is fostered by the grant schemes and impatience but the question has to be asked---what will be the result?

The prospect of the "Great Northern Forest" sounds appealing but if it is like many other planted schemes that are done and then forgotten, the results may be the opposite of what is wished for. 

Anyone who is interested in how successful landscapes can be created, that work for all species, should 'Google' Knepp Wildland and watch the 15 min video. It is a revelation how such a landscape can evolve from a previous intensively farmed one.
                                      Natural Birch regeneration after Rhododendron removal

                                    Rhododendron invasion which needs removing

                            Tree planting on moorland--but what about the habitat?

                                        Tree planting at Clough Foot, Todmorden
                                       Nearly 5,000 trees and tubes--some effort

Sunday, 3 June 2018

House Martin Nests 2nd June

A whole terraced street full of House Martin nests at Portsmouth, nr. Todmorden. Lennox Rd. near the level crossing and the former Roebuck Inn. About ten nests and about 30 birds flying around, many building, others clinging onto the walls under the eaves, chattering.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Withens Clough and Cragg Vale

I went to check to see if there were any surviving butterwort after the wall collapse and subsequent repairs.  Sadly I couldn't find a single star of leaves and it looks like it is lost.  Having known it at this site since a lad in the 1980s, I don't mind admitting I feel gutted about it.  Some consolation was the Jacob's Ladder nearby, which I first saw at this location in the 1980s too (the bumblebee is Bombus pascuorum).
Below Little Manshead Hill, the hay-meadows looked stunning with their displays of meadow buttercup.