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.
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Monday, 30 July 2018

Something that affects our moorland wildlife encounters . . . . or lack of them!

Raptor Persecution Awareness Open-Day
The Devonshire Institute –Town Hall, Grassington Village, Yorkshire Dales
11 August 2018

The Northern England Raptor Forum is hosting this event to help raise public awareness of the levels of illegal persecution faced by raptors in northern England and the threats posed to our wildlife heritage.

Admission is free and open to all.  Why not come along and show your support with the added bonus of being able to enjoy a day in the Yorkshire Dales?

Venue:- Grassington Devonshire Institute, Grassington Village, North Yorks, BD23 5 AZ
Date & time:- Saturday 11th August 2018,    1000 - 1400 hrs

Access:- The  Institute can be found at the top of Main Street in Grassington.  There is a medium sized carpark 50 metres distant with wheelchair access to the building from the Moor Lane entrance. However the recommended main carpark is at the Yorkshire Dales National Park site just off the B6265, Hebden Road in the lower part of the village (5-10 mins walk).

The indoor meeting room will hold display stands with representatives on hand to answer questions and there will be a rolling series of short presentations (10-15 minutes) from expert speakers.  The aim is to raise awareness of how the continued illegal persecution of raptors in the uplands of northern England is significantly suppressing the number of breeding birds and their productivity and impacts on the opportunities for us all to experience these wonderful birds in their natural habitat. Speakers will highlight the current evidence of persecution and draw attention to initiatives in place, or still needed, to combat the problem.
The event is open to all on a ‘drop-by-any-time-and-stay-as-long-as-you-wish’ basis.

*Steve Downing                 Northern England Raptor Forum, Chairman
*Ian Court                            Wildlife Conservation Officer, Yorkshire Dales NPA
*Sgt Stuart Grainger         North Yorkshire Police (“Operation Owl”)
*James Bray                                    RSPB, Bowland Project Officer
*Ch. Insp Louise Hubble   National Wildlife Crime Unit
*Guy Shorrock                   RSPB, Senior Investigations Officer


This is not a day of ‘protest’ needing placards or banners.  It is a day where the focus will be on the presentation of evidence-based data from long-term, detailed studies which will demonstrate the threats faced by birds of prey in the region’s uplands and the actions now required.
About The Northern England Raptor Forum

The Northern England Raptor Forum [NERF] represents volunteer Raptor Study Groups committed to the long-term monitoring of the populations of key raptor species across the region.  Our study areas cover the Pennine Chain from Northumberland to the South Peak district and extend to Cheshire, Manchester, the Forest of Bowland and the North York Moors. Species studied include Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Goshawk, Red Kite, Peregrine, Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Raven in addition to sample populations of commoner species.

Extensive annual monitoring of bird of prey species by NERF members has served to highlight the sad plight of some iconic raptors in the uplands of northern England.  Species such as Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Goshawk, Peregrine, Short-eared Owl and Raven are substantially under-represented in eminently suitable breeding habitat across the region, even within our designated Special Protection Areas [SPAs], National Parks and AONBs.  Whilst there are a number of causes for this it is widely accepted that illegal persecution, especially on land managed for driven grouse shooting, is a significant factor.  North Yorkshire has the unfortunate reputation of topping the RSPB’s Birdcrime tables, followed closely by the Peak District but the problem really extends throughout the region.  The number of confirmed persecution reports undoubtedly only represents the ‘tip of an iceberg’, with the majority of crimes going unreported

The information collected by members provides the most comprehensive data-set available based wholly on the evidence of extensive fieldwork and is published in the NERF Annual Review.  The data on breeding outcomes is used to inform species’ conservation and protection measures through its provision to the BTO, the national Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Natural England and the RSPB.

NERF is a member of the Police / Defra led Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime [PAW] under the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group [RPPDG] and is a past recipient of the prestigious PAW ‘Partner of the Year’ award.  NERF acts as a specialist consultant for the RSPB’s Hen Harrier, (EU) LIFE+ Project.

NERF has also co-authored several published scientific papers relating to birds of prey including the results of the BTO’s 2014 National Peregrine Survey and the RSPB’s 2016 National Hen Harrier Survey.
See our website for more information

                                                                                _    _   _   _   _   _

NERF believes that:-
# People must speak out clearly against raptor persecution
# RPPDG members must demonstrate how their organisation is delivering the aims of the Group or consider their position on the Group
# More police resources are needed to fulfil the investigative and prosecution expectations of the public and the RPPDG [an essential part of Defra’s Hen Harrier Emergency Recovery Plan]
# Defra and Natural England should abandon any plans for Hen Harrier brood management
# Defra and Natural England should instead focus on restoring species’ populations within formally designated Special Protection Areas to at least those originally cited
# Responsible shooting estates should have nothing to fear from the idea of introducing a licensing system for driven grouse shoots, a policy supported by NERF

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Ancient Oak Tree

On the path to the Water Meetings from Higherford (near Colne), there is this magnificent Oak. It is called "Grimshaws Oak", named after the family that owned a lot of the land and water mills over many centuries.

It is a relic of Pendle Forest and measures nearly 18 foot in girth. Estimates of age vary between 600 and 1,000 years old but I think the lower age is nearer the mark. My own feeling is more like 500 years but who knows.

It appears to be a lapsed pollard, as many boundary trees used to be. It is very healthy and a good open shape. There is nothing like an open grown Oak for character, which is lost when confined in a woodland.

                                                                  Grimshaw's Oak

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Painted Lady

Painted Lady at Green Withens today.


Small Copper seen mating on Yorkshire Fog in Todmorden

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hay Meadow Walk : Saturday 21st July

Visit the lovely National Trust hay meadows and find out just what is growing in them with the help of Ranger Natalie Pownall. The current glorious weather may have had an adverse effect on the species growing in the meadows, but let's see what we can find!
Meet at 10.30am Clough Hole Car Park, Widdop Road, Hebden Bridge HX7 7AZ, then a half mile walk along the road to the hay meadows.  Car park charge of £5 for non-members of the National Trust, but new members signed up on the day will have the charge reimbursed.  Very sorry, but no dogs please.  Nearest loo is at Gibson Mill.  Stay for as long as you like up to 3pm.  Bring a picnic.
PS.  And yes, you're quite right, the picture ISN'T of Hardcastle Crags, but was taken a few weeks ago when the meadows were looking good at Mytholmroyd!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Lime Trees

Here is an extract from an information board at Silverdale. I find it astonishing that Small Leaved Lime can be thousands of years old. At one time is was the dominant tree of the wildwood in many parts of England and not the Oak.

I have planted a few Small Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata) and they are fast growing on suitable sites. They are insect pollinated and bees love the summer blossom. Stand under a Lime tree and listen to the hum of the bees.

I wish it were included in tree planting schemes but it seems a forgotten tree. It coppices and pollards reliably. It grows the tallest of any native tree and tolerates shade nearly as much as Beech. Maybe the Common Lime used in many roadside plantings have given it a bad reputation, particularly with car owners.

Let's speak up for T. cordata and include it in the new plantations.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Local nature stories

                                           Which came first, the stone shed or the conifer?

                                                  Nature will always take over the show. This is the notice board for the Southern Marsh Orchid site in Todmorden, where there are now fantastic numbers. I met with IET and Calderdale's Property Manager nine years ago to ask them to avoid planting where the orchids were.  Rather a shame the notice doesn't highlight the nature value of the site, although the moss value of the board is interesting.

Southern Marsh Orchids in Todmorden