2601, 2021

Hardcastle Crags Woodland Management controversy.

By |January 26th, 2021|Uncategorized|2 Comments

There is a thread running on the Hebweb site. (Discussion.) I have contributed as has Phillip Marshall, along with several other contributors.

Some people just don’t get it that it is necessary and will be for the benefit of birds, plants, insects and flowering plants, not to mention fungi, ferns and small mammals including bats.

They see a few felled trees and make an emotional judgement that it is thoughtless vandalism. It isn’t. It has been carefully thought through, and will improve the Crags (one ‘g’) for all wildlife, including native tree species.

2411, 2020

Hunter Hill – Fungi

By |November 24th, 2020|Fungi|3 Comments

We found quite a lot of fungi on the unimproved grassland this afternoon. Most of it was in tatters, looking past it’s best but we did find two interesting specimens. We didn’t have a lot of time to search for more and we’re not really into fungi identification…are these some sort of Waxcap ?

2210, 2020

Rye Grass

By |October 22nd, 2020|Plants|1 Comment

Rye Grass–Lolium perenne, is a very variable grass and can take many forms. Many people will recognise it as the ubiquitous grass seen in improved pastures and the first record of its use in agriculture was by Plot (1677) in his Natural History of Oxfordshire.

I have seen many strange forms of Rye grass but the one in the photo I have not come across before. It is described in the books as  forma ramosum and named by the Danish botanist, Schumacher (1757–1830).

The flowering time of Rye grass depends on light intensity and temperature between 10am to noon and if the weather is not suitable, the plant will delay until after the first subsequent morning with favourable conditions.

Earthworms can bury the seed up to 6″ deep and viability isn’t affected, whereas the viability of Common Bent seed is dramatically reduced after going through the gut. Earthworms seem to be able to discriminate between seeds of different plant species and may play a major role in plant dispersal. Research suggests that worm casts are a stable environment for seeds to delay germination until conditions are suitable.

Photos were taken below the railway arches in the centre of Todmorden. You can see the normal arrangement of unbranched spikelets at the top of the stem but until I bent all the lower branches apart, I was really puzzled what was going on. Each individual spikelet of Perennial Rye grass only has one protective scale (grasses normally have two). The wavy ‘pocket’ of the stem shown on the last photo, substitutes for the inner scale. Yet the uppermost spikelet has 2 protective scales as lies free of the stem.

Normal spikelets at the top of the stem and the flurry of ‘bits’ lower down which shouldn’t be there.

All the congested bits pulled apart, showing a very unusual branching pattern

Normal Rye grass arrangement. In flower and showing anthers protruding

1710, 2020

BSBI Online maps

By |October 17th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

For those that ae interested in plants, On the BSBI website there is a plant distribution map section. If you search into there a plant species, e.g Red Campion Silene Dioica you will get a distribution map that you can zoom in on and have a look

Just a Tip

Any comments welcome

2809, 2020

Medlar Hybrid

By |September 28th, 2020|Trees|3 Comments

I have mentioned previously an unusual Midland Hawthorn and Medlar hybrid in Centre Vale at Todmorden. It has flowered profusely for a few years after releasing from the heavy shade of Rhododendron but has never produced any fruit.

However this Autumn there is a branch that is full of berries, perhaps for the first time in decades. Each contains 2 seeds.

If you want to grow from seed, they have double dormancy and below are instructions from a website I consulted. I think patience is needed as the process takes 2 years!

To begin with the seeds require a cold period to break the final part of the dormancy, this is achieved by placing the bag [with seeds in a soil medium] in the fridge (4 Celsius or 39F) for around 52 weeks.

Next the seeds require a period of warm pre-treatment and need to be kept in temperatures of around 20 Celsius (68F) for a period of at least 36 weeks. During this time make sure that the pre-treatment medium does not dry out at any stage or it will be ineffective!

Following this, the seeds require a second cold period for around 17 weeks. Towards the end of this period it is quite possible for the seeds to germinate in the bag at these temperatures when they are ready to do so, (it is worth checking the bag every few weeks for germinating seedlings) if they do, just remove them from the bag and carefully plant them up.

Trees. Smith's Medlar


2709, 2020


By |September 27th, 2020|Invertebrates|2 Comments

I came across this very distinctive worm in my garden this afternoon. I didn’t know what it was, but had a horrible feeling that it wasn’t good. I was right! It’s one of the ten or so foreign predatory flatworms that are spreading across the country, brought in accidentally in plant compost. They feed on earthworms and other soil invertebrates, some species becoming invasive and having a hugely detrimental effect on soil health. Parts of Scotland and Ireland have been particularly badly affected.

I think this one is Caenoplana variegata, first recorded in the UK in 2008 but native to Australia. There were two of them under a plastic sheet among lots of earthworms and other invertebrates. The earthworms wriggled in the sun and headed off along the path within seconds. In contrast,  the flatworms took longer to extend and make a move but when they got going they put on quite a turn of speed. The leaf is about 3 cm long.


This species has a distinctive yellow stripe but they come in various forms. We have four native species of flatworm but they are much smaller and are found in freshwater environments, so any found in the soil are usually non-native.

We are very aware of Himalayan balsam and Japanese knot-weed, but less so of the potentially catastrophic damage these accidentally introduced animals are doing at the bottom of the food chain. Shouldn’t we be more careful about introduced garden plants? It certainly make me feel uneasy about all the exotic plants I’ve bought from garden centres over the years.

It is recommended that you don’t share plants in soil from an affected garden. There is unfortunately very little to be done to control them otherwise.

If you find a flatworm in your garden, you can help chart their spread by completing the Buglife Flatworm Survey.

Julian Birkhead

1509, 2020

New Regulations and Walks

By |September 15th, 2020|Info and Updates|0 Comments

Following new regulations about group sizes we have decided that we will continue to run organised walks but with new conditions.
Walks will have one leader and a maximum of 5 attendees.
As such, any person wishing to attend must contact the walk leader in advance to book a place.

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If there is a lot of interest then we may be able to arrange two leaders with staggered start times or run the walk on more than one occasion.
So, have a look at the calender and book your places now to give leaders the maximum time to make arrangements.

1209, 2020

Large Caterpillar

By |September 12th, 2020|Insects|3 Comments

I believe this to be an Elephant Hawk Moth. It was on the kerb by the roadside in Todmorden, so I brought it home and put it in the garden area. I know the adult Moth is common but I have not seen the caterpillar before. It has a long snout but when disturbed it retracts it and makes a big head with those 2 “eyes” to intimidate other creatures.

Elephant Hawk moth

Elephant Hawk moth

609, 2020

Hard Shield Fern

By |September 6th, 2020|Ferns|2 Comments

Today Peachysteve and I walked up the stream in one of the steep-sided cloughs in Henacre Wood at the Queensbury end of Shibden Valley.
We were looking to record the location of the Soft Shield Fern Laurence and I saw earlier in the year.

We missed the Soft Shield Fern but found a Hard Shield Fern on the other side

Collecting a specimen involved a bit of ‘extreme botanising’ from Peachysteve

Polystichum aculeatum, a specialist of damp wooded gorges.
The first I’ve seen and a nice one to add to the list

Julian Birkhead

509, 2020

Castle Carr Road

By |September 5th, 2020|Mammals|2 Comments

Just a test ….. !

Castle Carr Road yesterday afternoon.
Found two dead Brown Hares, around 250m apart, obviously looking like road-kills.
One looked like a juvenile two/thirds grown and the other a full grown adult, the latter had started to be eaten by Carrion Crows.
Unfortunate to lose such lovely animals.
I guess if the traffic didn’t move so fast then the creatures may have stood a chance!

Brown Hare roadkill - Castle Carr Road

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