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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If you would like to join the Halifax Scientific Society either email me or come along to the next meeting.
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Friday, 29 November 2019


Heard an unusual bird-call this afternoon in Queens Park at Burnley and saw this couple of Paraqueets. Are they ring-necked? I presume they are male and female; is the male the scruffier one?

Monday, 18 November 2019

Commenting on posts

Does anyone else have any problem with replying to comments? I have no luck when I press "publish" and they just disappear. Apologies if any commenters seem ignored.

Thanks for commenting. I have tried again many times but my comment just disappears when I press 'publish'. Very odd.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Pampas Grass

I'm sure most people are familiar with Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) with its tall fluffy plumes. It originates in South America but there is also one that comes from New Zealand and has the common name ToeToe.

They look similar and both generally get called Pampas Grass without realising they come from different parts of the world.

My photo shows the New Zealand species, which you can see has a graceful curved stem with a more delicate flower head than the large plumed Pampas grass. These tussocks are at the entrance to Todmorden park. There is also a good one in a garden by the roadside at Springs, Mytholm.

Both species came under the genus Cortaderia but the New Zealand grass has now been put into genus Austroderia, (specific name richardii,  named after Achille Richard a French botanist).

What is remarkable is the hardiness of the New Zealand grass. Whenever I go over Holme Moss (elevation 1719 feet) from Holmfirth towards Woodhead, I always remark on the incongruity of just one large tussock at the roadside just over the summit. It is wild and windswept with severe winters, yet this hardy grass grows and flowers well amongst the moorland vegetation.
Someone must have been determined to plant it there!

By the way, be careful handling them as the leaves will cut you to the bone.

                                            New Zealand 'Pampas' ToeToe grass

                                                       At entrance to Todmorden Park

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Silent Fireworks

A town in Italy has banned the use of all but silent fireworks. Great!

I know a lot of people and children love the spectacle of rockets lighting up the early winter darkness, but I have long detested the war-like explosions.

There is a movement to spare our domestic animals this annual torture and since our woods have become repopulated with badgers, deer and foxes I imagine their panic when the deafening salvos start.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Grassland Fungi Survey - Broadhead Clough, Nov. 1st

Eleven of us turned out on a damp, mizzly kind of day including Peachysteve who organised the event and Andy Mclay from Natural England. To be honest, one look at the mainly long, sodden grass made me think that this was an impossible task to find anything of note but with so many keen eyes on the ground we had a pretty decent haul by the end of the trip.

This Glutinous Earthtongue was the first decent species and was extremely well picked out by one young lady. The head was so smooth and slimy you can even see my reflection in it.

Thirteen species of Waxcaps were found including this Goblet Waxcap.

.......and this rather pretty Spangle Waxcap.

A nice clump of Yellow Clubs

It's the first time I've had any pinkgills named for me so it was good to finally see this Mealy Pinkgill

......and this Priest's Hat Pinkgill (Entoloma infula). It had no English name until it was fancifully imagined by Peachysteve.

This unearthed Scarlet Caterpillarclub had an unusual amount of fruit bodies so I wondered if it was from a particularly large moth larva such as an Emperor Moth, but I was soon reminded that these pupate above ground. Turns out it was just a regular sized (noctuid?) larvae.

As expected the large amount of cow pats contained fungi including these "eyelash" fungi. Such was their abundance I'm fairly confident they're Cheilymenia fimicola - a very common species.

A lateral view shows smaller hairs on the underside of the cup.

Another highlight for myself were these much sought after Horsehair Parachutes. The caps measure around 3mm across and their stems are like, you guessed it, horsehair. I was already at the back of the party when I found these, so that when I'd finished photographing them I was all on my own, in an drizzly, exposed field in the middle of nowhere and the light was fading fast - quite surreal really.


Lunch was taken overlooking the Cragg valley - we all enjoyed the chocolate brownies one kind lady had baked for us.
Fungi expert Andy Mclay is on the left.


Clavulinopsis fusiformis Golden Spindles
Clavulinopsis helvola Yellow Club
Clavulinopsis luteoalba Apricot Club
Clitocybe nebularis Clouded Funnel
Cordyceps militaris Scarlet Caterpillar Club
Cystoderma amianthinum Earthy Powdercap
Entoloma infula Priest's Hat Pinkgill
Entoloma prunuloides Mealy Pinkgill
Galerina sp Bell
Geoglossum glutinosum Glutinous Earthtongue
Hygrocybe cantharellus Goblet Waxcap
Hygrocybe chlorophana Golden Waxcap
Hygrocybe coccinea Scarlet Waxcap
Hygrocybe conica Blackening Waxcap
Hygrocybe insipida Spangle Waxcap
Hygrocybe irrigata Slimy Waxcap
Hygrocybe laeta Heath Waxcap
Hygrocybe pratensis Meadow Waxcap
Hygrocybe psittacina Parrot Waxcap 
Hygrocybe quieta Oily Waxcap
Hygrocybe reidii Honey Waxcap 
Hygrocybe russocoriacea Cedarwood Waxcap 
Hygrocybe virginea Snowy Waxcap 
Laccaria laccata Deceiver 
Lactarius quietus Oakbug Milkcap
Lycoperdon nigrescens Dusky Puffball 
Mucilago crustacea Dog's Vomit Slime Mould 
Mycena epipterygia Yellowleg Bonnet
Mycena pura Lilac Bonnet 
Paneolus sp Mottlegill 
Psilocybe semilanceata Liberty Cap
Rhodocollybia butyracea Buttercap
Scleroderma citrinum Common Earth Ball
Stropharia semiglobata Dung Roundhead
Agaricus sp Mushroom
Tubaria dispersa Hawthorn Twiglet
Rickenella fibula Orange Mosscap
Cheilymenia sp Dung Eyelash Fungus 
Clitocybe fragrans Frangrant Funnel 
Boletus luridiformis Scarletina Bolete 

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Gorpley Clough musings

A few photos of Gorpley Clough taken in April this year to show aspects of woodland management.

Some of the mature Sycamores were "killed" a few years ago as part of the management of the upper clough and following this tubes were planted, which have been more successful than their contents, although some have saplings emerging shyly.

One small area has been successful with 14 oak trees appearing. One has to wonder why 14 were planted when there is only room on this ledge for perhaps 2 or 3 mature oaks. If left as is, they will all grow like spindles and none will make an attractive tree. Maybe there are plans to thin them at some later date--we will see.

Interesting way to kill the Sycamores. Not content with topping the trunk and removing all the crown, they have had 2 chainsaw rings around the trunk in an attempt at ring barking. Not satisfied with this, there was a more serious attempt at killing the tree by wholesale bark removal. But just to make sure, there have been ecoplugs drilled around the circumference. These plugs contain Glyphosate and kill the tree stone dead, preventing any regrowth. Of course, being drilled above the ringbarking they are useless as there is no sap flow connection to take Glyphosate to the roots. It all seems an expensive and bizarre way to create standing dead wood.

It would not have mattered if there had been some coppice type regrowth from the roots; it's all leaves, shelter and greenery and could be coppiced again after a few years.

I have included photos of Alder not far away from the planted tubes. Look how these have grown into really interesting trees, fascinating to look at and full of wildlife niches. But this is because they have space to grow.

In the lower clough, an earlier planting scheme of possibly 20 or 30 years ago is doing well. But the redundant tubes are scattered about and some are still around the trunks.

Come on--this is an attractive and designated wood why does it need plastic and Glyphosate?

Glyphosate plugs, ring barking and bark stripping. You will die or else!!

Many Oak saplings but will any grow into a tree?

Alder tree. Characterful after enjoying a good life in the open

Space to stretch ones limbs

A tree as tenement and testament

Growing well but what about those tubes?

Steep to plant but too steep to collect tubes

Friday, 1 November 2019

Sweet Chestnut -- Castanea sativa

Showing the nutlets inside the split outer casing. You are more likely to get mature edible nuts in southern counties but maybe with climate change we will soon be eating them.

It was always thought the Romans introduced this tree to England but recent research suggests it was much later, in about the 13th century.

                            Can you see the face on the left casing, gazing intently at the nuts?