Monthly Archives: March 2015

Where to watch for Toads on Roads – this weekend looks like being warm enough on 4th-5th April at dusk. They don’t seem to move much when temperature is below 8C.

These are three sites I know of and keep an eye on in Lower Calderdale;
(If you are in Upper Calderdale, then Calderdale Countryside Dept is co-ordinating the patrol volunteers.)

1. Washer Lane, Pye Nest (Sowerby Bridge)
This used to be a huge colony and needed lots of volunteers. Lots of cars use it as a short-cut or access to houses. Far fewer toads these days since the Copley Data Centre was built and some if not most of their breeding ponds were destroyed by residents near Washer Lane. Scope for a new breeding pond on the fields but who knows who owns the land ?
      Most toads cross Washer Lane near the junction with Fixby Avenue, going over to Clearwater Lake. They cross from right to left as you look up Washer Lane.

2. Boulderclough Dam, between Sowerby (Finkle Street area) and the back road to Luddendenfoot. Most toads cross at the bottom of the lane where the culvert from the dam goes under the lane. They cross from right to left as you look downhill from Sowerby.
Danger of pedestrians being injured in narrow lane, but fewer cars than at Washer Lane.  We walk up the side lane and deposit the toads over the wall onto the grass beside the water, as it is a private fishing dam.

3. Thornhills Beck Lane, Brighouse.
In Bradford Rd, after leaving Brighouse, shortly after the Police Station, the Lane is marked on the side of a mill. Turn right down there and drive through the ford at the bottom. Thornhills Beck Lane then leads you up to Clifton/Hartshead area, but the toads cross at the bottom, near the ford, and some above the old viaduct/disused railway.  They cross from right to left as you look uphill.
     We’ve not yet seen many toads here but others insist there are sometimes large numbers.

Common Frog (SB)

Common Toad (SB)
2015-03-31T22:06:00+01:00March 31st, 2015|0 Comments

Calderdale Wild daffodils

I finally got round to going and having a look at the Calderdale wild daffodils on Saturday (28th) and quite a lot were in bloom.  I also called at Derby Delph on the way back, hoping for twite, but in pretty poor weather none were seen.

Regards, Chris Jepson-Brown

2015-03-30T19:25:00+01:00March 30th, 2015|0 Comments

Songbird nesting started

My first was a Blackbird with 2 eggs (I had seen the female sitting earlier) on 19th March at Saville Park.

Today a newly built but as yet unused Balckbird’s nest at Barkisland.

In the same garden I watched a Dunnock back to it’s nest with material in its beak. It soon came out and when I looked the nest was complete and may have the first egg tomorrow. I won’t go to it tomorrow, but in two days it is likely to have forgotten my visit today, if it saw me. Then when the clutch is started it is unlikely to desert as long as I don’t visit every day. I will only visit once to check first egg date, secondly for total clutch size, a third time to check on whether nestlings have hatched, and then well after fledging time to check on success and for any addled eggs/ repeat clutch.

The turquoise colour of Dunnocks’ eggs is marvelous, and recording details of common birds nests is valuable in Integrated Population Monitoring.

Nest records with only two visits are also valuable, as long as some change takes place between the visits, and the adults’ behaviour noted.

Details at surveys

2015-03-30T19:23:00+01:00March 30th, 2015|0 Comments

Amphibian monitoring walk yesterday and new plant record for Cromwell Bottom

We did the annual walk around Cromwell Bottom with the amphibians in mind.
Six people turned up, four members of HSS, plus two friends, one from Robertown, the other from Leeds but a regular visitor to Sowerby Bridge. They found out about the walk through HSS publicity, one by word-of-mouth, and one on a Facebook page.

We saw a good amount of frogspawn this year, with about 40 clumps on Tag Loop, and a large raft on Brookfoot Loop, at the traditional site opposite the way in to Pixie Wood – about 100 clumps here.
We failed to find any toads – I have only seen 2 out so far this year at another busy site at Boulderclough.

A member of the public had alerted me to “about 20” newts in the path-side pond which is part of Tag Cut, just downstream of the iron-coloured spring. We saw a few, and one I netted was a Palmate.
I had taken it home the night before, so I had one ready to show people at the beginning of the walk. At home it ate 2 out of the three small frog tadpoles that were in with it. I had heard they did this; now I’m satisfied it is a fact.

These newts appeared in this pond in mid-March, which seemed early to me, but Matt Wilson of Littleborough blogged that they are one of the first amphibians to return to the ponds. Perhaps their strategy is to feed up on early frog tadpoles before breeding themselves.

I had a report of frogs having spawned in the wheel-wash where we look for newts at night in April, but we weren’t able to get into the compound on this survey – I should have organised that.


New Plant Record – Bilberry.
In Pixie Wood* there are some young Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillis plants which is surprising as the fly-ash is said to be slightly alkaline. They must be growing in a thin acidic layer of humous.
*A recent name given to part of Brookfoot Loop at Cromwell Bottom LNR, where mature birches grow with a large colony of Fly Agaric mushrooms which show well most Autumns.

2015-03-29T11:48:00+01:00March 29th, 2015|0 Comments


Seen today in Centre Vale Park at Todmorden is this photo of a Liverwort in flower. I don’t know liverworts but it looks very attractive with its spike ‘flowers’.

On a steep shady bank in the woodland.

2015-03-21T23:48:00+00:00March 21st, 2015|0 Comments

Native Daffodils etc.

There are various parts of Calderdale where wild daffodils used to grow, even a Daffodil Wood in Shibden Valley, but now we only know one area, near Rishworth. I saw a little group of about 7 blooms in the next valley over, above Mill Bank with Frank Murgatroyd, but haven’t been able to relocate these in recent years.

Many garden varieties are being planted out into the wild, or escaping down rivers in times of flood, which is ironic, because the loss of wild ones was probably due to collection for sale to gardeners.

Native Daffodil. The flower is quite small and the leaves are glaucous and have a twist.

A single King Alfred type, an old variety, susceptible to wind damage due to its tall stem and heavy flower. All the following are wash-downs on the left bank of the Calder, in the strip of woodland above North Loop at Cromwell Bottom. An interesting area until the Balsam buries it – the seedlings have already germinated in this picture

Tete-a-tete, a modern multi-headed short variety, very commonly planted in public parks now
A tall, pale yellow variety on the edge of the Calder.
A large Mink swam past, giving me a start – I thought it was an Otter for a moment.

And a surprise find of more Autumn Crocus Crocus nudiflorus
There is some a couple of hundred yards upstream, near Park Nook Lock on the canal, but this single compact patch is nearer the old record which says near Rawson’s Pool, which is presumabely the wide part of the canal below the Rawson’s Arms (now offices for the clay works factory.)

Evidence of the area once being farmed, and now the marker for this new-to-me patch of Autumn Crocus.
Calder and Hebble Canal in the background.
Photos taken Wednesday 18th March.

2015-03-21T10:48:00+00:00March 21st, 2015|0 Comments

Cobalt Crust (Terana caerulea)

I called it Violet Crust as I didn’t have of the correct name, and I was going to look it up.
It looks inky-blue here, but definitely has or had a beautiful violet colour. Photoed 19.3.15.
Thanks to Peachysteve for the identification.

It’s growing on the underside of a broken hoe handle in my garden, where it was in contact with a plank of wood below it. 

2015-03-21T09:52:00+00:00March 21st, 2015|0 Comments

Partial Eclipse of the Sun today

Just starting – the sun’s image is partly overlapping the shadow of the telescope.
You can see the bite out of it on the right of the bright disc.
Dark mark below it is dirt inside my camera.

I used an old 30x straight Optolyth telescope. I got a good image of the transect of venus across the sun a few years back, which I marked on the paper with pencil rather than photographing.

Minutes later the clouds cleared again and the bite is bigger. 

It was even possible to view it directly through a veil of clouds.
It’s possible to see sunspots with binoculars in these weather conditions.
(I’ve had a quote for cleaning my camera – £40! Don’t think it’s worth it.)

Camera on full digital zoom (Lumix TZ18 compact.)

Some of the best images were reflected in the tinted (and dirty) back window of my car,
but the camera didn’t pick them up.  

The moon soon passes across.
Compared with the total eclipse, which I experienced under thick cloud in Cornwall in 1999, it didn’t really go dark. Then the blackbirds all went to roost, making their “jink-jink” call, and some sheep stampeded in panic, but today just two blackbirds started their evening song. It wasn’t too dark to carry on weeding the garden in between taking the pictures, though there was an eerie gloom like a storm coming, and it went cooler.
Anybody else enjoy trying to record it ?

2015-03-20T20:32:00+00:00March 20th, 2015|0 Comments

Eclipse of the sun this Friday about 8.00 am, then on Saturday, you may still get a place on this :

caring for bats

Bat care

Every year volunteers across West Yorkshire rescue hundreds of injured bats, care for them and return most to the wild. The West Yorkshire Bat Group is looking for volunteer bat careers, especially in the Calderdale area. Do you, or somebody you know, have time to care for bats? A free training course will be held on Saturday March 21st from 10am until mid afternoon in the Countryside Education Centre at Ogden Water Country Park and Nature Reserve. For more information or to book please or Maggie
Posted by Hugh Firman at 14:03 0 comments Links to this post
2015-03-16T23:58:00+00:00March 16th, 2015|0 Comments
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