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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Impromtu Walk

Bank Holiday Monday 1st May:
I will be leading a "Spring-Time Saunter" walk. About 7 miles, (3.5 each way) partly on roads, also footpaths. Meet Mount Tabor cross-roads by the New Inn at 10.30. (Top of Pellon Lane.)

Bring picnics, drinks, emergency warm gear. We will go up to and past Fly Flats Reservoir, to the point we can see down to Oxenhope.
It can be perishing up there even though it's nice lower down. (Or refreshing !)

This is to start planning the full trek to and from Haworth later in the summer, as written about in the famous book by Whiteley Turner, "A Spring-Time Saunter"  who did it with a mate on 4th May 1905. (Actually they made it into a 4 day hike round Bronte country, with two stops at Haworth.)

My interest in the Spring-Time Saunter awakened by the talk we are looking forward to on September 12th organised by Charlotte " Uncovering Bronte Country", when Diane Fare of the Bronte Parsonage Museum is coming to talk for us at the Central Library.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Today's Ramble

Today's ramble at Park Wood Elland was advertised as a birdwatching event. Five of us turned up, four members and a friend of members who often comes. Of course we couldn't ignore the display of bluebells. As usual, our walks are a mix of all our interests, so apart from looking and listening for birds we were treated to a running commentary on the botany (which is very rich in this wood), on butterflies and micromoths, local history, and what we had in our sandwiches.

The bird list was quite varied.  I like to time those I see in the first half hour - this is a recognised way of doing a simple survey, as the commonest birds are usually encountered first, so these half-hour counts will be interesting and comparable in the future.

10.45 to 11.15 Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blackcap, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Chiff-chaff, Bullfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie.

Then for the rest of the walk which went on till 3.30pm - Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Wren, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Crow, Blue Tit, Jay, Green Woodpecker.

Charlie got a great picture of the first Buzzard we saw - it had inner primaries re-growing, and a middle tail feather also.

A new plant to me in that wood was a small Field Maple we saw just before getting back to the car park. We failed  (I failed) to find either of the two Soft Shield Fern sites. My excuse is that new paths are appearing everywhere, created by the mountain-bikers. There was at least one motorbiker in there as well. Some of us agreed it must be an exciting and usually harmless sport, but NOT in a wood which is a SSSI. (Site of Special Scientific Interest.)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

At Portsmouth Dam. On the hunt for Toad spawn and got lucky!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Trees on the move

Look at this link. Do you think they will survive the move?


Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Talk at our next full indoor meeting


After the talk, there will be time to socialise and hear about recent Wildlife sightings in Calderdale, and find out how individual members have been involved in the Natural History world.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Comma at Cromwell Bottom 26.03.17

This beauty was fluttering around the reeds on a gorgeous sunny day at Cromwell Bottom. A week later we were lucky enough to spot a Brimstone as we walked by the river, but weren't lucky enough to snap it with our cameras! A Peacock is usually the first butterfly of the year that I see, but I haven't seen one yet.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

New Countryside e-news

The first Countryside e-newsletter is available at http://eepurl.com/cH29sD

If you wish to receive future editions please subscribe by clicking on the button at the bottom of the newsletter. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Scarlet Elf Cup

We have a large number of these fungi in our woodland at Todmorden and they are spreading to different areas and increasing in number each year. Centre Vale park had its first record this year.

I have never seen one as large as this but if I had been born further into Yorkshire I would have used smaller coinage.

                                        Scarlet Elf Cup fungi

Message from Hugh Firman, Conservation Officer

The Countryside and Woodlands team will be launching their e-newsletter later this month. If you would like to be on the circulation list, please e-mail countryside@calderdale.gov.uk


Toad Patrol Round-up

We have had 3 nights of definite toad movement on the roads, 10th,11th & 12th March.

On the 9th I had 4 new volunteers, but only 2 could turn up on 10th, and I was on my own on 11th.

We could do with some people who could patrol several nights, maybe alternating at sites to give people a night off.

WASHER LANE This once massive colony has now disappeared due to firstly to the Copley Data Centre being built, then dams being drained and built over. No toads sighted this year so far.

BOULDERCLOUGH DAM  10th - 64 toads (a few couples in amplex) 6 dead toads and one Palmate newt, several frogs.  11th - 30 toads including 7 pairs in amplexus. Several frogs and a fabulous frog chorus in the rain from the bottom little pond.

COPLEY NEW ROAD   10th - first sighting of toads on this new road, though I had predicted to Hugh Firman the Conservation Officer that there would be a crossing. There was always a lot on the track that used to be there.

10th - 9 toads moved from the Copley new road, 23 squashed. Four males in the nearby pond. Snag with this crossing is that toads are going both ways. On 11th I moved 6 couples in amplexus, 8 singles and 4 dead.  There was one big fat Palmate newt. This new road is very dangerous with a risk of speeders; one guy has already written his car off, and the lamp post he hit. Hi-viz gear is most advisable, and preferably at least two patrollers so as a team they can alert each other and oncoming cars to people in the road.

On 12th there were 2 patrollers at each of the two sites mentioned above. Not got the count for Boulderclough Dam yet but at COPLEY NEW ROAD we had 24 toads including 2 pairs in amplexus, and 12 dead, Six Palmate Newts were picked up from the road. THE TRAGEDIES of this road are that when amphibians go onto it, they can never get off; the kerbs are too high and smooth for them to climb. So they go wandering along looking for a way up till the fall down the gullies. Each of about five of these I looked at had several toads and newts in the filthy water. I don't know if they are trapped, or can find their way out through the drainage system. If they did so, they would be well off course for their breeding pond.


Timings - movement starts at dusk, currently about 6.30. You can stay as long or as little as you like. I did 1 hour 15 mins in the rain on Saturday at Boulderclough, and after an hour off to do my weekly shop, just 15 mins at Copley New Rd.


An observation on scavengers of the dead toads: I have wondered who or what clears up the dead toads we see during an evening. (They have mostly gone when we return on the next day.) I was passing the Copley New Road toad crossing this morning (12th) and saw a crow picking one up. There may be others that take advantage.


A heart-warming story from Gordon at Lumbutts via Annie:                                                                          
"Something to cheer you all up; I had an email from Gordon (who doesn't' do Facebook) about his experience on Saturday night and I asked his permission to put this paragraph on our page. So beautiful. " But the best act of kindness, which I felt quite moved by was when a convoy of cars were driving down into the village from the direction of the'Brink, when the leading car suddenly pulled up in the centre of the road completely blocking it in both directions. The driver, who was all dressed in his Saturday best, walked to the front and with the help from his headlights carefully picked up 'A Mating Pair' has he called it. He then walked back up the road, past all the waiting cars and met me before carefully placing his charges into my bucket. By this time traffic was coming down from the opposite direction and quite a holdup was being created but not a single car used their horn, instead they all sat patiently as the rescue unfolded. It took a good few minutes to untangle the resulting snarl up during which time I thanked everyone for their patience. Quite wonderful". 😊😊😊