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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Saturday, 23 May 2020

Self-seeded Limes (Tilia sp.) in answer to the previous post from Philip

Lime (Tilia sp.) self seeded at Lightcliffe in the 1990s.
Still healthy, though rarely repotted, just watered.

Close up showing the galls they get every year.
I think it is known as Military Gall, and caused by an insect.

Another remarkable thing about those Lime trees at Lightcliffe is that when the seeds were ripe in summer, a few Black-headed Gulls would sometimes tear them off (without perching on the trees) and fly off with them.
I never saw them eat the seeds, but presumabely this is why they wanted them.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Do Lime trees set seed?

Has anyone ever found a self-seeded Lime (Tilia) sapling?
I am wondering if our changing climate may be encouraging germination.

All Lime trees in the valley will have been planted but the other day I saw two saplings in separate places which appear to be self-seeded, one of  which I think is Common Lime (Tilia x europaea).
The other with the heart shaped base leaf and stem dieback could be a Small-Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata).

Lime trees need long hot summers to set viable seed and the genus is on the northern edge of its range in the UK.
I have never seen a self-seeded one anywhere.

The Flora of Cumbria says about Small-Leaved Lime in the Lake District
"The individual trees can fairly be described as potentially immortal.
The massive bases have been dated by C.D. Pigott as up to 2,300 years old.
Pigott has demonstrated that most of these old 'bases' are of root tissue rather than shoot.
When trees fall, they sprout freely from the base and if the original trunk remains partly rooted,
shoots grow up from the crown and may eventually root and form individual trees."

It was also shown that Cumbrian populations of Tilia cordata only produce viable seed in exceptionally warm years and the trees must be considered relicts from the post-glacial warm period, possibly even from 3,000 BC.

Tilia x europaea ?

Tilia cordata ?

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Hungarian Oak

For those interested in unusual planted trees, here is one at Centre Vale park Todmorden.

It is about 25 years old and was sent from the nursery as a Red Oak.
I had walked past it all that time until about 3 years ago I realised it was actually a Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto).

My photo is of a dead leaf but shows it to be much larger than a native Oak leaf and has deep square shaped lobes, which are divided into sub-lobes.
The tree has not yet produced any acorns.

The native range is the Balkans and the tree was introduced to Britain by Charles Lawson, an Edinburgh nurseryman, about 1835.

A very unusual characteristic is the lovely sweet balsam smell from the autumn leaves which lasts for months if they are put in a bowl as a pot-pourri (the living leaves on the tree don't smell).
This attribute is not mentioned in any account I have come across and may be a good way to confirm the identity of the tree.

The books say Hungarian Oak is planted in parks and large gardens but I have never seen another one, except in the arboretum at Thorpe Perrow in North York
---incidentally this also had the balsam smell on its dead leaves.

I would be interested to know if anyone knows of another growing in Calderdale.
If not, visit Tod Park and tick it off your list.

Hungarian Oak--next to the lamp post

Leaves can grow up to 25cm long

Tuesday, 12 May 2020


Last week during the warm weather we had numerous Brimstone butterflies in our woodland at Todmorden.
In the past there have been the occasional sightings and some years none at all.
Perhaps it is a combination of the warm spring and the maturing Alder Buckthorn we planted 30 years ago.
The woodland is of an open character with glades.
I would recommend anyone who does tree planting to include Alder Buckthorn and it thrives in damp ground.

Difficult to get closer for a good photo--looks to be feeding on the bluebells.

The Brimstone is one of the world's longest lived butterflies.
It also chooses to hibernate in Ivy.
A banking was covered in Ivy, then it was all eaten within a few winter months by Roe deer.
Apparently Ivy is the main food source for Roe in the winter months.
They left the banking with all the rope-like surface runners, like a net spread over the ground.
The Ivy isn't dead and is now growing new leaves.

See photo for the browse height on this gatepost; so measure the height and it will give you a guide when saplings can be released from having the leader nibbled off.


Sunday, 10 May 2020

Return of the Rabbits

Every few years the rabbits disappear from my area due to Myxomatosis. Usually at this time of year I can look out of my window and see them out on the hillside, but they have been gone since mid-summer last year. They are still not colonising the hillside opposite my window, but early one morning, coming back from my daily Dawn Chorus walk (that's another story!) I rounded the corner of Lumbutts and Causeway Wood Road to see these 2 beauties basking in the morning sun. And of course, rabbits being rabbits, where there are two, there will be more!

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Tadpoles at four weeks old

The fifth post showing the progress of the frog tadpoles in my garden pond.

Not many photos to show this week owing to the breakdown of my well-used macro camera lens! Could only manage this blurry effort, showing that the tadpoles have got a little bit rounder and even more speckled. They seem much more aware of me as a potential predator, swimming under a leaf as soon as my shadow falls on the pond.

Here are a few photos from my garden taken earlier this week.

Just looking closely at the pond, I suddenly became aware of the inscrutable gaze of this small frog. 

Something flew heavily around the garden, eventually careering into the ivy. It was this shield bug.

New oak leaves, Quercus robur. Note the tiny pink female flowers.

Until next week, when I hope my new camera lens will have arrived!

Friday, 1 May 2020

Lee Mount

A new sighting for here and I'm not well versed on newts !

I went out to check the moth trap this evening and nearly trod on this newt.
We have lived here since the 70's and we have never seen a newt here before !

I suspect it's a male Palmate Newt as the text seems to suggest the male has a short extension to the end of the tail and back feet are webbed - this one seems to fill both criteria?

Palmate Newt