Monthly Archives: May 2013

Cragg Vale 26-05-13

Whilst Oliver and I were at Cragg Vale park, we popped into the wood, adjacent to the park and found there were lots of Ilex aquifolium trees, some with dead branches. I took one of the dead branches home to examine further, as it had a white crust and it was covered in a black sooty substance, which I now believe to be honeydew. I rehydrated the branch in water and discovered, by coincidence it was also covered in Crystal Brain (Myxarium nucleatum).

Honeydew on the bark above, viewed microscopically below.

The white crust fungi, I haven’t been able to identify, as yet.

Rehydrated Crystal Brain (Myxarium nucleatum), above and below. If you look closely you can see the Calcium oxalate inside.

I cut into a section, to show the granules inside.

Dessicated Myxarium nucleatum, above and below. The granules are now clearly visible on the bark.

Under the microscope you can see the basidia look like jellyfish.

I squashed one of the granules as best I could, and viewed it under the microscope.

2013-05-30T08:11:00+01:00May 30th, 2013|0 Comments

Phoenix Tree

There is this fallen Beech at Blake Dean and it has managed to survive because its root plate was still partially in the ground. It has produced 2 new upright trunks partway down the stem. The whole tree is on the ground with another new stem growing from the end of its trunk, many yards away. Always give a fallen tree chance to grow again and do not be in a hurry to saw it up.

2013-05-29T21:53:00+01:00May 29th, 2013|0 Comments

Is this a Bloody-Nosed Beetle?

I saw this beetle this morning near Blake Dean. It was on this loose bare area of grit, with heathy vegetation round it. Sunny but windy.
I’m not certain it is a bloody-nosed beetle, as all the references say it is found in Southern England. Can anyone identify it?

Also this Green Tiger Beetle seen a few yards away.
2013-05-27T21:01:00+01:00May 27th, 2013|0 Comments

Cragg Vale 26-05-13 Synchytrium taraxaci

The fungus is a pathogen of dandelions and causes the leaves and flowers to distort and can cause rapid die-back of the plant concerned. It is common and widespread across the UK.
The fungus had dramatically distorted the leaf, causing it to curl over. 

Here you can see the orange, blister like sori, on the underside of the leaf, that contains the sporangia.

View of the upperside of the leaf.

The round angular sporangia release zoospores at maturity, viewed microscopically at home.

2013-05-26T17:02:00+01:00May 26th, 2013|0 Comments

Shield Bugs

If anyone has any old records or photographs of any Shield bugs taken in Calderdale or see any this year and get a good photo, I would be very grateful if they pass the information on to me, Regards Andy

Billberry Shield Bug ,there are only 3 British records of this species one was taken from the Bradford/Halifax  Moors in the late 1800’s. It may well be still present.??

2013-05-26T09:02:00+01:00May 26th, 2013|0 Comments

Hidden Secrets in the Heather !!

Walking on the many paths criss crossing our uplands ,and coming across one of the many Emperor Moth Cocoons spun to the Heather.On first inspection everything seems ok,but when looking more closely at the Cocoon, a small barely noticeable Hole on the side reveals that all is not quite as it seems ! An Emperor Moth Cocoon is an amazing construction,making it very difficult for predators to reach the Pupa inside.At the entrance at the top of the cocoon there is very stiff bristle like fibres that kind of spring back after the transformed moth pushes through,these fibres can only be forced open from the inside,and as the Moth emerges the fibres spring back and close.also the outer case of the Cocoon is very tough, made from lots of Silk spun by the Caterpillar in readiness for Pupation.But even with all the above protection, this Small Parasitic Wasp manages to breach those defences.From this Emperor Cocoon 25 of these Wasps Emerged from this tiny hole !

2013-05-24T20:01:00+01:00May 24th, 2013|0 Comments

Walk advertised above.

Just to point out that this is a Free Event,
as are all Halifax Scientific Society walks and talks. You may if you wish donate a little something to HSS funds. It’s also in the Wildside Booklet of the Countryside Service.

The toad spawn may now be tadpoles, though at this height and in this season it could be late developing.  It appears in a drainage channel, so is easy to see.

The weather is set fair, so there’s a good chance to see the rare Bilberry Bumble Bees busying themselves making up for lost time. We sometimes see Common Lizards, and also Green Hairstreaks; very specialised moorland butterflies.

There will probably be Common Sandpipers, Willow Warblers, Red Grouse and Curlews to see and hear, and who knows what else? Maybe a Wheatear or a Ring Ouzel if we’re lucky.

2013-05-24T15:32:00+01:00May 24th, 2013|0 Comments

Is this an Emporer Moth Cocoon ?

Found on the moorland between Widdop and Upper Gorple Reservoirs earlier this spring (14th April).
It was lying on the surface. 
I have seen similar things before, including some weathering out of a high peat bank, their position low down in the peat suggesting they were from a very long time ago. Couldn’t find these the next time as I was at the same place (other side of Widdop Res. on top of the ridge.) Maybe evidence of prehistoric moths?

2013-05-24T15:15:00+01:00May 24th, 2013|0 Comments

Dawn Chorus Walk – Hardcastle Crags – Sunday

Dawn Chorus Walk
Get up early on Sunday 26th May for an unmissable natural spectacle at Hardcastle Crags. Let our local bird expert lead you on a guided tour through the beautiful dawn chorus, as our feathered friends wake from their slumber and join together for an outstanding orchestral performance. After a four mile walk, enjoy a hot drink and light breakfast in the cafe at Gibson Mill.
Booking essential on 01422 844518. £5 fee includes breakfast. Meet at Midgehole Car Park at 4.30am. For more info go to:

2013-05-24T11:03:00+01:00May 24th, 2013|0 Comments
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