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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". ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Toad migration full on 6.30pm - till as long as you want.

While temperature holds up to about 10C after dark.

Those who would like to help at toad patrols can contact me by mobile/text.

Roads are much busier than they used to be and hi-viz or light coloured clothing is essential. Also a torch, bucket and gloves.

Due to increased risk from speeding traffic, I would not recommend it for families with young children, sadly.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Local Geology Sites tour postponed

Unfortunately this outing will not take place tomorrow as the leader needs an emergency knee operation.
We will try to re-arrange it soon, and the details will be posted here.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tree diseases compounded

Tree Health event today 9th March, hosted by the Forestry Commission, to provide information on the risks that trees in London may soon be, or already are, subjected to.

Asian Longhorn Beetle (outbreak has already occurred in Kent in 2012)
3,800,000 trees could get affected with replacement cost of a staggering £23,000,000,000

Ash Dieback (already everywhere throughout the country) In London alone could kill a possible 374,195 ash trees.  It is projected that it would cost £447,345,251 to replace the dead ash in London.

Plane Wilt, which currently plagues parts of continental Europe, its emergence and impact would lead to 121,000 plane trees being felled / dying and an attributed replacement cost of £351,623,660.

Don't forget, these are estimates for London alone. It doesn't take much imagination to see the effect it would have throughout the country.

With Ash Dieback I think we will see much more evidence of this in Calderdale this year, following many early signs in the valley last couple of years.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Do Ladybirds damage trees

Pehr Kalm (the Genus Kalmia is named after him) was the favourite disciple of Carl Linnaeus of Sweden and he was sent on a botanical mission to North America in 1748, subsequently writing a book of his travels there.

Kalm was delayed for 5 months in England whilst waiting for a ship to America and during this time recorded many observations, one of which referred to a Coccionella which damaged trees in Ireland.

The Coccionella are the Ladybird family. I always thought they just ate aphids but it seems some species do eat vegetation and the larvae graze the undersides of leaves whilst the adult beetle grazes the upper side.

The 24 spot Ladybird is listed as eating leaves but seems mainly recorded in East Yorks and the South. Has anyone ever noticed damage to trees locally by any leaf grazing Ladybird species?

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Feral Cat ?

We went up to Swalesmoor early this morning to try and see the Snow Bunting that has been found there (we failed to find it early on - though it was showing later,) and among the skips and containers at the waste meat factory we saw a dark, mottled cat. (Annie points out it was tortoiseshell.)  It rapidly slunk off under the metalwork, reminding me very much of feral cats I've seen in Scotland, in colouration and behaviour.

I've never heard of true feral cats getting established in this area.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

140,000 trees to be felled on the moors

The above title to this post is premature and may be an underestimate of numbers. But they do say you should plan ahead.

To explain and offer musings consequent on this:-

I suppose you have all seen the headlines about planting 200,000 trees on species poor grassland on Yorkshire Water land at Gorpley Reservoir Todmorden. As usual, these reports are copied from one news media to another without giving a clear idea of what is to happen.

The Lancashire Telegraph may have a better handle on it when it says that an initial 3,000 trees will be planted at Gorpley to begin the exercise. Then it goes on to say the magic figure of 200,000 may eventually be planted across the wider South Pennines area.

But I am not sure that is true either. All media reports say there will be 3,000 trees planted per hectare, so has the Lancs Telegraph got confused and used that number as a total? Who knows.

What may be a better number to look at is the spacing of 2 metres between saplings which the 3,000 per hectare represents.

For sound woodland management, prevention of soil erosion and excess water run-off due to shading, 140,000 of these trees will have to be felled/coppiced in the early decades if the new woodlands are to function as intended.

I would suggest a plan to pollard some of the suitable species. They would resist the wind on these high grounds, would not get eaten by deer and more importantly--survive.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Anyone got an interest in world habitat conservation ?

Shocking rainforest destruction linked to Pepsi

A new report is shining a spotlight on some of the most ruthless destruction of elephant habitat we’ve ever seen. And the massive forest clearance is linked to the suppliers of snack foods sold by companies like PepsiCo across the world.

A field investigation by our partners at Rainforest Action Network uncovered the devastating clearance of already endangered forests in the Leuser Ecosystem. The only place on earth where elephants, tigers, orangutans and rhinos live in the same forest, Leuser is considered one of the world’s top priority conservation areas. It’s also the source of drinking water and livelihoods for millions of people in the Indonesian province of Aceh.

But Leuser’s critical importance is apparently of no concern to rogue palm oil producer PT. ABN. The company has been illegally -- and rapidly -- turning lowland forests into palm oil plantations despite being ordered out by the Indonesian government. So who has been buying PT. ABN’s conflict palm oil? Wilmar palm oil refineries, supplier of brands like PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and Nestlรฉ.

We can’t let mega-corporations like PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and McDonald’s sweep the destruction of this priceless ecosystem under the rug -- Watch and Share.