Monthly Archives: August 2014

Luddendenfoot Park 20-08-2014

Oliver and I found the Scarlet Pimpernel just on the outskirts of the park. It isn’t common within Calderdale and I do not know where else it can be found in our area so it made our day to find it. Apparently the flowers contain no nectar or scent so very few insects visit it which is surprising considering it so magnificent and bright. The flowers only open between approximately 08.00 and  15.00 and no do open in dull and wet weather and it has been regarded in the past (before we got watches and a weather forecast) as a combined weather gauge and clock.

Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)

Opposite pairs of leaves.

 It has a five veined capsule that will open transversally by a lid when mature.

2014-08-31T20:53:00+01:00August 31st, 2014|0 Comments

Fungi at Ogden

One of my first this season and rather pretty fungi was seen at Ogden on Thursday on grass. My (wild) guess as to species is Coprinus plicatilis. I trust our local experts will correct me.

Alison suggests that this is one of the many Parasola and can only be identified microscopically. As the specimen has gone we can go no further. 

2014-08-30T09:37:00+01:00August 30th, 2014|0 Comments

Fungi at Ogden

One of my first this season and rather pretty fungi was seen at Ogden on Thursday on grass. My (wild) guess as to species is Coprinus plicatilis. I trust our local experts will correct me.

2014-08-29T12:01:00+01:00August 29th, 2014|0 Comments

Fiorin and the Famous Orcheston Long Grass

In an earlier post, Steve had a picture of Creeping Bent Agrostis stolonifera and then he used the name of Fiorin grass. This name Fiorin was often used in earlier grass books but seems not to be mentioned in the modern ones.
The word Fiorin has some history behind it and was first mentioned by Dr W Richardson in the early years of the 19thC.  Richardson had land in Ireland near the Giant’s Causeway and he learnt the name of this grass from local farmers. Dr Richardson noticed how highly regarded this grass was and he became quite obsessed with it.
He wrote a book in 1812 “New Essay on Fiorin Grass” which recommended planting this grass everywhere in Britain. (You can read this book on Google Books). He spent years proselytising about Fiorin and persuaded many landed gentry to grow it successfully.
Richardson noticed how the long stolons of this Bent grass were like long strings and he recommended propagation by laying these strings out and lightly covering with earth. He claimed that all these strings naturally grew Northwards as accurate as a compass. No one seems to know the origin of the word Fiorin but it was suggested to mean ‘butter grass’, on account of how the milk from cows that fed on this grass made tastier butter.
Fiorin is native to all of Britain and is mentioned in earlier grass books under its other name of “The famous Orcheston Long Grass”. It became famous in the little village of Orcheston St Mary in Wiltshire, way back in the 17thC, when John Aubrey wrote of it in his book  the “Natural History of Wiltshire” in 1656.
This famous Orcheston grass grew long tresses of leafy stolons up to 24 foot long in the floating water meadows. It became so famous for its continuous, lengthy and lush growth that a 17 foot length of these tresses was presented to King James 1st.
2014-08-25T20:52:00+01:00August 25th, 2014|0 Comments

Fly Id.

Hi all
This fly was seen recently in Todmorden. I have an inkling it may be one of the Ichneumonoidea. We would appreciate a closer Id if anyone can.

2014-08-23T14:14:00+01:00August 23rd, 2014|0 Comments

Beetle id please

 Can anyone help with an id for this beetle please, found on the Pennine Way footpath near where it intersects with the Calderdale Way above Makinholes.

It isn’t in my books and I can’t find it on the web either.

2014-08-22T18:10:00+01:00August 22nd, 2014|0 Comments

Parsnip Moth update.

Further to Peachy Steve’s find of a colony of Parsnip Moth larvae at Sowerby Bridge I took half a dozen home to rear through. Just one of them managed to reach the pupal stage, the other five were all parasitised by a species of Chalcid wasp. At first I thought they had all been “stung” multiple times but in fact that was far from the case. I sent a couple of photos off to wasp expert Dick Askew and here is his reply:
“Hi Charlie,
The parasitoid larvae in the Parsnip Moth caterpillar look to me like those of Copidosoma. This is in family Encyrtidae (Chalcidoidea) and they are polyembryonic, a brood of very many individuals all of the same sex developing by division of a single egg. I do not know whether or not yours will overwinter, but if they do it will probably be as fully grown larvae (ie. much as they are now). Best to keep them in a shed or outhouse.”
Above, you can clearly see the dozens of grubs through the larval skin – nice!
Below, one I inspected earlier to see why the larva wasn’t pupating as expected.
2014-08-15T07:53:00+01:00August 15th, 2014|0 Comments

Little Owl and Curlews

I found this Little Owl at Soyland after a morning on the moors with Matt the herpetologist from Littleborough.
I had a report of a snake on a path from a mountain biking friend. Needless to say we were unlucky and didn’t spot one. It was a bit too cool and breezy.
If anyone hears reports of or sees a snake, please send exact details to the email at the top. Please keep them off the public blog as some people still have an irrational fear of them and kill them on sight. Lizards also, but these are not so vulnerable to humans, so can be put on the blog.
You can also reach Matt on his well-illustrated blog – European Amphibian and Reptile Blog. He is a keen birder and general naturalist and recently saw a juvenile Little Owl with an adult at  the Quaker Lane owl site were we have seen them every April for 5 or 6 years in succession on the HSS April walk.
Later in the day there were six curlews probing the soft turf of a tee on the golf course at Ogden.

2014-08-13T23:07:00+01:00August 13th, 2014|0 Comments

Amazing mimicry

Tawny Owl at Salterhebble this spring. (Spotted along with a young chick by both me and Charlie Streets independently.)
Yesterday, mid morning, I heard one of these in the garden I was working in.  I have heard them calling in the daytime before. So I stopped what I was doing and stared at the tree the sound was coming from.
A Jay flew out of the tree and across the garden. It flew to a sparser tree where I could see it, and I heard the owl call again. It was the Jay doing a perfect imitation of the juvenile owl’s “Kyick!” call they make to alert their parents where to bring the food to.
Owl juveniles do this for almost the whole of their first year apparently. I wonder if other Tawnys I have reported as calling in the day time have been Jays. I suppose the best pointer is if other birds are mobbing or making alarm calls nearby. 

2014-08-08T22:02:00+01:00August 8th, 2014|0 Comments
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