If you think you may have sensitive records regarding any animal or plant sightings please email us (address in the "Welcome" page) before posting on the Blog. We will pass all details in confidence to the relevant Recorder.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Help plant 3000 Autumn Hawkbit plug plants to provide food for Twite!

Volunteers needed!  Please see below the note from Katie Aspin of the RSPB:

As you may be aware, the Twite Recovery Project has been working with farmers to increase food availability for Twite during the breeding season, mainly through restoring hay meadows with key Twite food plants including Dandelion, Common Sorrel and Autumn Hawkbit.  Autumn Hawkbit is an important food source for Twite late in the breeding season, however, botanical surveys last year showed that this species hasn’t taken particularly well in some of the reseeded meadows.  Natural England have therefore approved a grant to buy some Autumn Hawkbit plug plants, which we hope will do better than the seed.  We are looking for volunteers to help us to plant these plug plants in September at farms near to Ripponden, Rishworth and Marsden.  If anyone would like to help out, please let me know which dates you could make from the list below:

Monday 18th September
Tuesday 19th September
Monday 25th September
Tuesday 26th September

Any time you could give would be very much appreciated, we have over 3000 plug plants to plant!

Many thanks,
Katie Aspin
Twite Project Officer (working days Monday - Wednesday) 
Email : Katrina.Aspin @rspb.org.uk
The RSPB, Northern England Region, Westleigh Mews, Wakefield Road, Denby Dale, Huddersfield, HD8 8QD
Tel 01484 868431
Mobile 07736722177

Friday, 11 August 2017

Bog Asphodel

This group of 6 spikes has survived since July 5th (see earlier blog) right next to the cycle track beside the standing stone on Norland Moor: now producing seeds.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Change of Plan

At the monthly meeting last night when we were treated to Philip Marshall's excellent talk on historic trees I announced in the second part of the meeting that there was to be a walk to Howarth from Mount Tabor on Friday 11th August, (returning by bus we had planned.)

Unfortunately I had forgotten it is the Cromwell Bottom Open Day on Sat.12th, where we are due to have a stall. Due to this I will have to postpone this walk. (See the link to the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group on this blog.)

It is an impromptu walk ( not in the programme.) Some of us want to to commemorate the book "A Spring-time Saunter" by Whiteley Turner about a four-day walk he did in 1904. We were prompted by the upcoming talk "Uncovering Bronte Country" which we are hosting on September 12th.

I will obviously go to the meeting-point to check if anyone turns up.
Yesterday morning (Tuesday August 8th) I found this beautiful creature almost drowning on the metal walkway outside our building. Unable to identify it, I sent the photo to our very own Moth expert, Charlie Streets. For those people at last night's meeting who also didn't recognise it, Charlie has identified it as a Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma), showing the chocolate brown head and thorax typical of the Northern form (apparently!). Charlie also supplied this useful link:


Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)

Weeping Beech

For those who were enquiring at yesterday evening's talk where this magnificent weeping beech is growing; it is in the local park at Evesham in Worcestershire. I have never seen a better specimen.

                                                     Beech in Evesham Local Park

If anyone wishes to visit this 1,000 year old Oak, which has a girth of 9.08 metres, it is at Ripley Park in Yorkshire. Originally it would have stood within the Forest of Knaresborough. But this was not a Forest of trees as we understand the term.

                                                       Ancient Oak at Ripley Park

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A talk invitation to Derbyshire - about Mammals we have in Calderdale.

From: Margetts Joseph [mailto:Joseph.Margetts@peakdistrict.gov.uk]
Sent: 28 July 2017 12:45
Subject: Otters, water vole and mink evening talk invitation

Join us for an evening talk with experts to find out more about the fascinating lives of these enigmatic mammals, their current status, prospects for the future, and how climate change may be affecting them.
Wildlife photographer and cameraman Jack Perks (BBC Springwatch and Countryfile) - who specialises in capturing underwater footage - will be sharing with us some of his experiences filming otters and water voles on UK waterways.
All are welcome to attend this FREE event, and light refreshments will be provided.
Moors for the Future Partnership are launching a survey of ‘Tails of the Uplands’ through our Community Science project - focusing on otter, water vole and mink.
This event will not only be a chance to learn more about these amazing animals, but an opportunity to find out about the ways you could get involved in keeping track of these species.

Event Details:

Date: Thursday 24th August 2016

Time7pm - 9pm

Location: Hathersage Memorial Hall (Main Hall), Oddfellows Rd, Hathersage, Hope Valley,
Derbyshire S32 1DU (link to map).

Transport & Parking

Nearest train station: Hathersage (5 minute walk) which is on the Sheffield - Manchester line.

Nearest bus stops: Hathersage Main Road (5 minute walk)

Parking: There is a large pay and display car park directly opposite the Hathersage Memorial Hall, which costs 50p for the whole evening after 6pm. There is also some free on-road parking on nearby side roads.

Joseph Margetts
Community Science Project Communications Officer
Moors for the Future Partnership
The Moorland Centre, Fieldhead, Edale, Derbyshire, S33 7ZA.
01629 816 585
07972 734 157
Website: moorsforthefuture.org.uk
Facebook: Moors for the Future
Twitter: @moorsforfuture

Monday, 31 July 2017

Grass developed to deter birds

At airports throughout the world and within this country, a new grass is being trialled to stop bird activity.

This involves planting a specially developed grass which grows dense and spiky, making it unattractive to birds both large and small.

A trial has shown more than a 50% reduction in bird activity in one year at Jersey Airport and has been given the name of Clear Sky; not prophetic I hope.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Southowram Honeybee Apiary Visit

We had a fabulous afternoon with the Halifax and District Beekeepers Association on Sunday 23rd July - they made us so welcome!  Phil Gee gave an excellent and thoroughly interesting talk on the history of beekeeping before we were given refreshments and then asked to dress in beekeeeping suits and gloves before Phil, Roger, Jackie and Jeff opened up the hives, each containing about 50,000 bees.  We saw queen bees, industrious workers, drones, larva......and the bees behaved so well!  A big thank you to the beekeepers - and to the bees!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Visit the Honey Bees!

  Sunday July 23rd : 1.30pm – 4.00pm
Please book on a place on this visit via Charlotte@charlottew.co.uk –places are limited, it is first come, first served, and a number of people have already booked a place.  You will be lent protective clothing. Also, if the weather is too wet or windy, the visit will have to be cancelled and you will be given notice on the morning.  So…get buzzing!

The Halifax and District Beekeepers Association Apiary is located on Church Lane, Southowram.  Please click on the link below to see a map of where it is located.
There will be a sign on the main road adjacent to the apiary and there is plenty of parking in the apiary grounds.

Meet from 1.30pm for a 2.00pm start
Introductory talk about honey bees, visit the bee hives, refreshments
End : 4.00pm

Please wear wellington boots if possible.  Protective veils and gloves etc will be provided.

With thanks to the Halifax and District Beekeepers Association for inviting us to visit their Apiary!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Brambling in July in Hebden Bridge !

A friend sent me this photo today. He hasn't seen a male with it.

 Bramblings are usually strictly winter visitors.

Anyone sceptical of the date of the photo can check by the potato foliage behind.

2017 Big Butterfly Count

On Saturday July 15th, 9 of us (and one dog) embarked upon this year's Butterfly Count at Cromwell Bottom. The weather was a little unpromising but nevertheless our totals were not far below those of 2016. We also used the opportunity to look at some of the flora of the area - sadly the Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) has now gone over and so we couldn't witness this beautiful, delicate flower, but the Yellow Birdsnest (Hypopitys monotropa) was seen to be emerging which was some consolation!

There were a lot of day-flying moths which Charlie (Streets) helped us to identify; notable were the large number of Shaded Broad-bars, one Clouded Border, and one Five-spot Burnet.

As for the butterfly count, the following totals were recorded; figures in brackets refer to those taken last year:

Meadow Brown 5 (9)

Gatekeeper 8 (14)

Small Skipper 3 (0)

Large Skipper 1 (4)

Ringlet 14 (9)

Large White 5 (2)

Peacock 0 (1)

Speckled Wood 0 (2)

Green-veined White 0 (2)

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Not a butterfly, but often included in butterfly counts - the Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii), resting on Knapweed

Another rather beautiful moth, the Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)

And yet another moth - the Clouded Border moth (Lomaspilis marginata)

Fun with the butterfly net! (Some interesting bird poo was on this rock, chock-full of worms, which is why I decided to take a photo rather than sit in the vacant space!)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A surprise in the flower border.

I could hardly believe this was a Bilberry Bumble Bee Bombus monticola, but Charlotte Weightman confirmed it. Catmint flowers were all it wanted in the borders at St Augustines Community Centre, Hanson Lane, Halifax; a mostly built-up area. The nearest Bilberry is just the other side of Pellon Lane, along the cutting where the old High Level Railway used to run, or maybe the Council's new policy of sowing nectar-rich flower mixtures along some of the main roads has tempted it down from the moors. They feed from flowers other than those of Bilberry I've noticed, but I've only seen them high up, above Widdop, above Scammonden etc.. This one was at 200 metres.

I saw one on Tuesday 18th and today 19th July, possibly the same individual, as I only saw one at once.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hay Meadows walk

The number 13 may be unlucky for some, but last Saturday (8th July) 13 of us went on a glorious meander round the hay meadows which are being developed as foraging grounds for Twite above Baitings Dam, Ripponden.  Once again, knowledge was shared, friends were made and picnics were eaten to the sound of buzzing bumblebees in the superb setting of Yorkshire in the sunshine.  Sadly, no Twite joined us, but the flowers and insects made up for that!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Clouded Yellow

Saw my first Clouded Yellow of the summer at Mayroyd yesterday

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Bog Asphodel

One of the indicator plants of healthy wet heath/ bog is Bog Asphodel Narthecium ossifragum . This was photographed recently on Norland Moor by Laurence Sutton, who says it is precariously close to other vegetation which is being flattened by cyclists.

Cycling is the fastest growing sport in Britain at the moment; another strain on our beleaguered plantlife. If it's any consolation, golf courses are closing in large numbers, and though some of them go to housebuilding, quite a lot are just being abandoned, which has got to be good for nature.

Monday, 3 July 2017


Walking between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge this weekend, we were delighted to come upon a host of Ringlets - at least 20 - which suddenly burst forth along a grassy bank just as the sun appeared. A wonderful spectacle!

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) 

A pair of Ringlets - making new Ringlets!

Friday, 30 June 2017


Nice to see a hare cross in front of me this afternoon at Cold Edge

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sycamore tree

In a recent survey of Callis Wood at Charlestown, we saw some leaves of a mature Sycamore that looked different. They were on the end of a low, large branch and if shown in isolation it would be easy to assume they are from an ornamental maple.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Birdwatching Ramble at Rishworth

On Saturday 17th June, nine of us met at Heathfield Prep for a birdwatching ramble in the Rishworth area, taking in Booth Dean and Turner Clough with its breathtaking views of the River Ryburn. Some of the terrain was a tad challenging but the rewards were worth it - wild and untamed areas of woodland where we spotted some fascinating moths as well as birds. Steve did his usual half-hour count of bird species which totalled 17. Later, we saw two Buzzards, the first of which was of such a size that Charlie said he would possibly have identified it as a Golden Eagle had we been in Scotland! Out of the woods, we were treated to more butterflies and moths, with a possible first for Calderdale identified by Charlie as Grapholita compositella, or the Clover Seed moth. There were a good number of Speckled Wood butterflies and I was very excited to see a Yellow Shell moth for the first time in two years! Julian took an excellent shot of it, shown here, which was no easy task on such an extremely bright and sunny day. As for mammals, one young Roe deer was spotted, one rabbit and one squirrel. There was also evidence of moles in the form of molehills.
Plant species were also noted; Julian photographed a Southern Marsh orchid - identity now verified by Peachysteve.
On our way back down the road, Steve and Charlie spotted a Ruby-tailed wasp, which Steve managed to photograph very well in spite of the insect buzzing around at high speed.
It was a great ramble despite the heat, and - as always - it was a wonderful privilege to be walking with experts!

(Possibly) Southern Marsh orchid Julian Birkhead

One of the many exquisite scenes we saw along the Ryburn Julian Birkhead

Yellow Shell moth Julian Birkhead

Ruby-tailed Wasp Chrysis ignita SB
Charlie Streets explains it would have been searching the cracks in the wall for other wasp nests or those of  mining bees to parasitise. Only about the size of a bluebottle fly, it must qualify as one of the most superbly-coloured insects in Britain. 


Had a pleasant surprise this week. When inspecting my apple tree I discovered two new mistletoe plants in addition to the one that germinated four years ago.

I've not added any berries in that time so assume the seeds have lain dormant since then.

Fingers crossed I now have both sexes!

Wanted! Butterfly survey volunteers

Natalie at the National Trust has asked me to share this request for butterfly volunteers with you:

We are currently recruiting for survey volunteers at Hardcastle Crags!

Mainly we survey butterflies in the peak season and record our results onto the UK BMS database in partnership with Butterfly Conservation.

We want to expand our group so that we can collect more records, survey other critters as well as carrying out survey work which will influence our practical countryside work plans, habitat management and natural flood management work.

See the link below for the survey role profile and Hardcastle crags information packs.

The survey team meet up once a month for a catch up meet with a guest speaker accompanied with a survey on site. In the last meeting we had a student studying bumblebees on our hay meadows and for the next meeting we have a local mosses and liverworts chap talking about his crags discoveries and helping us to I.D.

Interested? Contact me directly on the email below with any other questions and information regarding a taster day.

Best wishes,

Natalie Pownall
Academy Ranger
West Yorkshire Group
National Trust