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

Thursday, 30 January 2020

The Butterflies and Moths of Calderdale is now ready to order

Copies are £7.50 + £2.00 for post and packing
They can be obtained from -
1 ) e-mail
2) Collect from 9 Hedge top lane Northowram HX3 7ER (correct money please)
3) Hebden Bridge birders meeting at Fox and Goose 7 o'clock Tuesday 4th Feb
4) DJS has 10 copies and will be at the next HSS meeting on 11th Feb (Askam Bog talk)
or speak with Dave and collect...

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Ten Woodland Mosses

Plenty of interest shown in this subject with fifteen people attending this walk led by Peachy Steve.
Although Steve admitted to not being an expert on the subject he was able to show us more than ten different woodland mosses and describe the unique identifying features of each in the wonderful environs of Triangle Woods following the old railway line.
Besides the mosses it was good to see Lesser Celandine beginning to carpet the woodland floor as well as shoots of Bluebell piercing the soil.
A lone Grey Heron stood guard on the bank of the lake at Thorpe House.

Photo Mick Harrop

Photo Steve Blacksmith
Mosses are a devil to sort out when you're new to it, but Peachysteve is a good teacher, starting us off on 10 common ones, (except he provided us with a sheet with 15 on!)
We looked at all fifteen and with practice, it should be possible to get to know them.
The internet is a great help if you don't have the latest book on the subject. 
Mosses are intricate and beautiful close-up, but can also be stunning on a landscape scale.
I wandered off at one point and found this big stand of (Common Smoothcap?) under the trees.

Hardcastle Crags

Yesterday near the top pond just upstream from Gibson Mill we found these interesting looking fungi.
The nearest I can find on 'the internet' is maybe Trametes versicolor (commonly called Turkey tail) ???

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Bridge Repair

We took a walk around Rishworth in early December.
Just before Booth Wood there is a wooden bridge across a stream.
The last time I went that way the bridge was fine but this time it was in a real state and very slippery.
I enjoy a little risk but not everybody feels the same way.
Once Highways were alerted and saw the state of the bridge they quickly replaced it.
Now I won't have to worry about leading people that way again.

Cross at your peril!

No trolls below

Monday, 6 January 2020

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Nice assemblage of wildfowl to be disturbed from their preferred dam tomorrow.

Smart male Goldeneye on Lee Dam, Lumbutts, quite a small dam with a mirror-like surface very often.
Along with three Teal, (one female,) four Goosanders (one male), Mallards, two Moorhens.
All due to be scared off from their important winter feeding water when the New Year Community Swim takes place tomorrow, 5th January 2020.

Of four dams in the Lumbutts/Woodhouse area this is the only one that regularly atttracts wildfowl, and yet this is the one they choose for the New Year Swim.
Sorry for the short notice; I only saw the banner advertising the Swim this morning.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Years Day Bird Count

Ten people turned up today for this annual start to the Walks calendar. Beginning at Clay House we walked up through North Dean Woods before following the stream to Pickwood Scar and continuing around Norland Moor. A very enjoyable day with a good bird count      (more details to follow from walk leader Steve B)

Thanks, Mick, I just turned on to do a brief report; a fuller one tomorrow. But today's count was 32 species, which equalled the record count of last year, though a partly different range of species was seen. Steve B.

2nd January 2020

These New Years Day Bird Counts have settled into a run of consistent results. This year and 2019 had equal numbers of species with 32 each, in 2017 the tally was 31. Fine weather is a factor. Given a foul day the count would be lower obviously; we have been lucky these last three times.

As above the two last counts were 32 and it is interesting to look at the similarities and differences in the two counts.

There were 23 species in common to both counts, 1st Jan 2019 and 1st Jan 2020:
Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, House Sparrow, Starling, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Jay, Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Black-headed Gull, Buzzard.

Nine species in 2019 but not 2020: Dipper, Dunnock, Wren, Raven, Pheasant, Stonechat, Little Owl, Mallard, Song Thrush.

And there were nine species in 2020 but not in 2019: Heron, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Fieldfare, Redpoll, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Common Gull.

The Fieldfares were in a huge flock covering two fields, very impressive, and the Redpolls were flitting charmingly through the trees along the top of North Dean Woods feeding from the birch seed-heads.

With thanks to the participants in the walk yesterday, 10 in total as Mick stated (8 in 2019.) All played a part in the final total on the walk as well as bringing their sightings from home first thing and on the way to the meet (without detours to sites with localised species.)

Two of us thought we heard a single note from a Green Woodpecker at the lower edge of Norland Moor where they are often present, but it was very brief so I decided not to include it.

There was some discussion whether to include domestic fowl, etc. I maintained they are bird species, others thought we should stick purely to self-sufficient wild or feral birds.

The bad news about the Little Owls adjacent to Norland Moor is that Jackdaws usurped them from their tree hole last spring so that's probably why we didn't see them all summer or this winter. Jackdaws in tree holes have become the norm throughout Calderdale. At one time I used to see them using only holes in old buildings and crevices in quarry rock-faces, where they still nest.

These counts are samples of the current state of local birds. Who would have thought a few decades ago that Nuthatch and Buzzard would be seen regularly? Also to run into a Raven isn't that unusual now, and to find a Song Thrush or a Greenfinch is a fairly noteworthy event.

These records might be interesting to read in the future. Another way of "sampling" bird populations is to time a count on a walk, noting every species. I seem to get about 14 species on a good day in half an hour, though I haven't sat down with my notebooks to work out the average. It's OK to count a bird if you identify it without doubt by its call or song. The habitat needs recording; upland, waterside or woodland, etc.

Perhaps we could initiate a regular Spring Bird Count every May-day on 1st May?