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.
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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

December's Scientific Society walk.

The walk in the programme was to start at Ogden Water and thread through the old lanes and secluded footpaths to Mixenden Reservoir, then back through the abandoned farmland and across Ogden Golf Course public footpath to Ogden Water. However the weather was a little moist, though very mild for December, and only two joined me. One of those was Meg the black Lab. So Peachy Steve and I made up our own walk and went to see if we could re-find the clubmosses on Ogden Moor we saw a few years ago on a tip-off from a Yorkshire Fern group member.

We weren't lucky with the clubmossses (we were looking for two species growing closely together), but we did see this Orange Peel Fungus. Aleuria aurantica
Birds: Long-tailed Tits, Three Red grouse, Snipe, and a couple of  LBJs (little brown jobs) in the mist on the moors, probably Meadow Pipits.

The woods at Ogden Water and Mixenden Reservoir are plantations made on abandoned farmland. Their establishment was as a result of suggestions by a group of people in the early 20thC including our President, William B Crump. I have a booklet produced to promote the idea, giving statistics, advantages, suggestions for species, quite a long and detailed document. One of the main worries about making the investment was that trees would not survive the air pollution as by all accounts  palls of smoke hung over Halifax, Bradford and Keighley in those days. The opinion was that Ogden and Mixenden were far enough away that the trees would not be affected, and it seems they proved to be so. It was claimed that the main advantage of having trees growing there was so that Halifax Corporation could profit from the timber when they grew to harvestable size; no mention of visual amenity or biodiversity increase! Seems it was a different world then, unless the promoters knew how to make the eyes of the people on the Corporation light up with £££ signs!

Back in Halifax, I have been finding very large and broad Candlesnuff Fungus Xylaria hypoxylon, bigger than I remember it usually being. I've seen it on dead twigs at the base of a privet hedge, and on dead raspberry canes. There is another small, slender species worth looking for  that can be found sometimes on old beechmast on the ground. 

A "giant" form of Candlesnuff  (Xylaria)
Growing at the base of a privet hedge (Ligustrum) at St Augustines Community Centre, Halifax, yesterday.

I collected a little,leaving plenty. Also these Blewits (Wood Blewits?) smelling nicely of aniseed, but a bit too mature and maggoty to cook. These grew in the middle of West Central Halifax.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Wickerwork Archer in Skipton Woods

Visitors to Skipton may not be aware of the short canal spur that leads to a dead end below Skipton Castle. This spur was built specifically for the loading of limestone from a nearby quarry. The stone was delivered by a tramway and dumped via shutes 100 foot over the precipitous wall by the castle, into barges below.   80,000 tons a year--it's a wonder the barges didn't sink with that onslaught! The old quarry is now a housing site.

The first photo shows the footpath which gives entry to Skipton Woodland (managed by the Woodland Trust). The canal spur is on the left in a deep gorge below and the river is to the right of the path.

The woodland has historic features, including old mill dams. The more interesting older trees are on the boundary and the Limes on the upper path show this. The sprutting growth at the base is one of the best habitats for birds and home to all kinds of creatures. Public parks always cut away this epicormic growth (behaviour known as tidiness I believe), forgetting the importance it has for biodiversity.

                                        Canal spur in gorge on the left below Skipton Castle

                                               Boundary Lime with tremendous habitat

Wickerwork lady. A work of art.

                                                                 Wickerwork horse

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Some good pictures of a bat flying in daylight over on the Cromwell Bottom Site. (Tab at top.)

Pictures by Dave Brotherton posted on 4th Nov.

Reminded me of a small bat I saw flying over the canal last week that had much of one of its wings missing.

A lot of the web was missing, though the bones seemed intact. I guess a hawk had had a go at it.

Unlike Dave's pictures, mine were very small and blurred.  I only had my phone with me.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Butterflies - including a NEW SPECIES - Recorder's Report to the AGM on 13th November.

Halifax Scientific Society Big Butterfly Count at Cromwell Bottom, 14.07.18

Walk led by Steve Blacksmith. These records submitted by Brian Cain. Typed from Brian's notes by Annie Honjo. Andrew Cockroft is  now our Lepidoptera Recorder, but was unable to attend (Andrew joined us after the programme was set.) Brian is also a recorder, and our former lead recorder for many years.


Tag Loop 

From riverside footpath and through entry gate:

  • Small White, (f)
  • Gatekeeper (m)
  • Large Skipper (f)
  • Green-veined White (f) 


Reserve area:

  • Small Copper
  • Gatekeeper
  • Meadow Brown
  • Large White (f)
  • Small White (f) Meadow Brown
  • Possible Common Blue (f?) not close enough to ID

  • Ringlet
  • Small White
  • Gatekeeper x 3
  • Gatekeeper (f)
  • Small Copper (m)
  • Meadow Brown x 2
  • Small Whites x 3
  • Small Skipper, netted and examined in pill box; dark undersides to antennae = Essex Skipper

  • July Belle moth (Geometridae)

  • Small Skipper
  • Brown Hawker (Aeschna grandis)

  • Cinnabar larvae

Leaving the mound:
  • Ringlet
  • Meadow Brown

Woodland path:
  • Green-veined White

Back to gate:
  • Green-veined White (m)
  • Large Nymphalid flying past riverside trees, orangey-coloured 

North Loop 

Café: NB On former Common Blue site (built over!). Also Common Blue meadow towards canal completely mowed off!


  • Holly Blue

Lunch & drinks, approx ½ hour. Several ‘Whites’ passing, also Brown Hawker

  • Purple Hairstreak flying low overhead

Very good area of flowering brambles opposite café area. Numbers of Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Small Whites feeding on them. Also Green-veined White (m), Brown Hawker

  • Comma (Hutchinsoni)
  • Large White

  • Meadow Brown
  • Brown Hawker
  • Small Skippers x 3

  • Meadow Brown x 2
  • Small White (m)

  • Ringlet
  • Meadow Brown
  • Large White
  • Small White

  • Whites x 6+ (probably Small Whites)
  • Stand of Trefoil – Meadow Brown, Small White

  • 3 Cormorants in river
  • 2 x Meadow Browns
  • 2x Small Skippers


Cormorants have moved downstream, flock of Canada geese now on river

  • 2 x Six-spot Burnet moths (one f)

  • Six-spot Burnet (f)

  • Six-spot Burnet (f), also one caught in spider’s web. Also bird kill, probably by a Sparrowhawk.

  • Small Copper
  • Meadow Brown

  • Brown Hawker
  • Meadow Brown (m)

  • Small Copper on trefoil
  • 6 x Small Whites
  • 2 x Meadow Browns

  • Green-veined White

2.31 – back at the café, completed walk.

NB: the highest numbers of butterflies in one area, feeding on the bramble flowers, probably about 30+: Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small White, Green-veined White.

Total number of butterfly species recorded: 13

NB Essex Skipper is my first record for our area.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

National Trust meadow seed for sale

This is a message from Natalie of the National Trust:

We were able to brush harvest meadow seed this year!
We a few bags left for sale from this year’s mini hoard – £35 per Kg.
It might be a bit late now to sow this autumn due to the heavy frosts we have been having – but I may be a little pessimistic.
The seed will be great for spring sowing, however the yellow rattle seed would have just expired.
If you know of anyone who would like to turn their garden into a meadow please send them my way!

All the best,

Natalie Pownall
Academy Ranger
West Yorkshire Group
Hardcastle Crags & Marsden Moor
National Trust

Monday, 5 November 2018

Interesting fact

Trees are big and tough because more than 95% of their cells are dead. That's remarkable!