We are pleased to announce a new viewing platform at Cromwell Reserve that has been commissioned by Calderdale Council
. This has been funded from The Brighouse Ladies Circle ,Tesco’s through there plastic bag fund and Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group this provides visitors of all ages and abilities with a safe platform from which to view the lagoon and enjoy watching the visiting birds and wildfowl . Visitors may see glimpses of the elusive Water Rail and Little Grebe whilst Reed Buntings and Reed Warblers flit across the reeds or just sit a while and watch the world go by. Yours Cromwell Trustees
I am taking the liberty of posting this on the Cromwell Bottom Blog because two members (or a member - MC - and her husband,) were keen enough to join us on 1st January, and Margaret found the final bird of the day, a male Bullfinch, making the count equal last year's record.
The regular route is from Clay House Park, through North Dean Woods, around Norland Moor and back throught North Dean by a different path. (About 7 miles.)
Mick Harrop photo
2nd January 2020
These New Year's Day Bird Counts have settled into a run of consistent results. This year and 2019 had equal numbers of species with 32; in 2017 the tally was 31. Fine weather is a factor. Given a foul day the count would be lower obviously; we have been lucky these last three times.
As above the two last counts were 32 and it is interesting to look at the similarities and differences in the two counts.
There were 23 species in common to both counts, 1st Jan 2019 and 1st Jan 2020:
Nine species in 2019 but not 2020: Dipper, Dunnock, Wren, Raven, Pheasant, Stonechat, Little Owl, Mallard, Song Thrush.
And there were nine species in 2020 but not in 2019: Heron, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Fieldfare, Redpoll, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Common Gull.
The Fieldfares were in a huge flock covering two fields, very impressive, and the Redpolls were flitting charmingly through the trees along the top of North Dean Woods feeding from the birch seed-heads.
With thanks to the participants in the walk yesterday, 10 in total (8 in 2019.) All played a part in the final count on the walk as well as bringing their sightings from home first thing and on the way to the meet (without detours to sites with localised species.)
Two of us thought we heard a single note from a Green Woodpecker at the lower edge of Norland Moor where they are often present, but it was very brief so I decided not to include it.
There was some discussion whether to include domestic fowl, etc. I maintained they are bird species, others thought we should stick purely to self-sufficient wild or feral birds.
The bad news about the Little Owls adjacent to Norland Moor is that Jackdaws usurped them from their tree hole last spring so that's probably why we didn't see them all summer or this winter. Jackdaws in tree holes have become the norm throughout Calderdale. At one time I used to see them using only holes in old buildings and crevices in quarry rock-faces, where they still nest.
These counts are samples of the current state of local birds. Who would have thought a few decades ago that Nuthatch and Buzzard would be seen regularly? Also to run into a Raven isn't that unusual now, and to find a Song Thrush or a Greenfinch is a fairly noteworthy event.
These records might be interesting to read in the future. Another way of "sampling" bird populations is to time a count on a walk, noting every species. I seem get about 14 species on a good day in half an hour, though I haven't sat down with my notebooks to work out the average. It's OK to count a bird if you identify it without doubt by its call or song. The habitat needs recording; upland, waterside or woodland, etc.
Perhaps we could initiate a regular Spring Bird Count every May-day on 1st May?
I had a fungi foray along Tag Cut on the 27th and really enjoyed the leisurely walk in solitude with just the occasional peep from a Kingfisher and the occasional, mournful song of a Robin.
NOTE TO TRUSTEES: Please don't lay a new path along there, the wildness and lack of fellow humans was quite refreshing :-)
Main fungi highlights were some very photogenic Common Eyelashes and a couple of new species for myself.
Common Eyelash (Scutellinia scutellata) growing on a fallen birch log. It's been a few years since I've seen these so photographing them with a modern(ish) camera was a real treat.
A close-up of the hairs that give the fungi it's name.
At around 5-7mm across they're easily overlooked.
Crimped Gill (Plicatura crispa), wonderfully soft and bendy, almost like marshmallows.
Scurfy Twiglets (Tubaria furfuraceae) by the towpath at Cromwell. Not so many mushrooms about at this time of year but these are well know for fruiting well in to winter.
There were a couple of Blackfoot Polypores (Polyporus leptocephalus) where Tag Cut meets the river but the rain prevented me getting my camera out so this one's from Pixie wood a few years ago. The name derives from the dark base to the stem.
Maybe the best sighting of the day was this cup fungi - possible Bay Cup (Peziza badia) but it I'll have to wait for microscopic examination by an expert for a positive ID.
The Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans, long known at King Cross, Halifax, opposite the Fire Station, in the graveyard. We went to find it today and if we bent down the fragrance was gorgeous. We agreed it was almonds we could smell.
A few years ago I came across this patch on the top of the wood above the Elland by-pass, and we found it again this Christmas day, with flowers not yet open. It must have been a garden escape from the adjacent Halifax Zoo, reputed to have had beautiful gardens in the early 20th century, now the pitches of Siddal Rugby Club.
The West Yorkshire Plant Atlas 1994 has only one site for the Calderdale area, and only six others in West Yorkshire, all around Leeds or east of there. It is an alien from the Mediterranean region.
The next flower to look out for is the White Butterbur, Petasites albus, a relative of the above. This we go to find in the Colden Valley from late February - March, a more showy flower, but not scented, and another garden escape, originally from central Europe and the Caucasus.
The first outdoor meeting of the Halifax Scientific Society (all welcome) is on 1st January, meeting 10.30 at Clay House, West Vale, Elland, HX4 8AN for the traditional New Year's Day Bird Count. Meet in front of Clay House. The walk is about 7 miles, through North Dean Woods (the woods are very muddy just now,) round Norland Moor, back by an alternative path through the woods to West Vale before dark. A stop for a sociable picnic will be taken somewhere in the woods - bring a waterproof layer to sit on. We count the number of species seen or heard.
just a few words to let you know what is happening at the moment on the reserve .
During the summer we applied for a few grants to which I'm glad to say we were successful, the down side to that is, its a lot of work ,we were hoping to spread the work load over a few months but our preferred contractor only had a window in November , so we are taking the opportunity to try and complete all the major work before Christmas and of course the breeding season, with the help of Cromwell volunteers ,Calderdale MBC and there volunteers The PATH TO THE BIRD VIEWING AREA , is almost complete and we were hoping to have that open now but last weeks deluge has put it back a week we had to install more drainage pipes ,we do not like closing paths but in this instance for every ones safety we have had to if coming on to the reserve please RESPECT THE SIGNS and BARRIERS THAT ARE IN PLACE they are there for your safety.
Further along the paths to Cromwell lock we are installing a viewing platform with a grant from TESCO PLASTIC BAG FUND AND BRIGHOUSE LADIES CIRCLE, because this area was a bit tight we have made a passing place to the side this will all be complete in 3 weeks time as the concrete has to have time to cure but will make a lovely area to sit a while and let the world go by. The PATH ACROSS THE BUND BETWEEN THE REED BED AND WET WOODLAND is being up graded although not an official path people were still using it and a couple of people have fallen over the exposed tree routes we are now making that safer with a grant from the Rastrick Big Local and this will be completed by the end of next week (weather permitting ).
After a survey by Access For All for less abled or should i say more abled people we found we needed to fix a few things and one is a disabled toilet we are working towards doing that and a couple of areas on the reserve to upgrade the paths, this wont be completed for a while but we are working to make it the best in Calderdale if not Yorkshire for disabled and wheelchair users. please bare with us we are trying to improve the reserve for eveyone, although not everyone agrees we are doing that .
Hope this clarifies what we are doing . yours Graham Haigh
The volunteers (ably led by David) have been working on various projects recently. Around 30 arrived on the 7th to upgrade existing paths and also develop a new path opposite the cabin. Please bear in mind the work on the paths may result in a muddy walk, there are alternative routes to the Bird Feeding Area close by. Please always respect any temporary posted restrictions.