• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Environment
Photo shared by on in Wildlife

Wal, JK and I went for a wander around our ‘estate’ today to see what we could see. First off a streak of brown and some frantic squeaking heralded the appearance of one of the ‘squeaky sausages’ in a rock pile on North Woodlands! It seems that the weasel family has made their home in here as their squeaking has been heard on and off for several weeks. However this is the first time that JK and I have caught a close up look at them.

Next we spotted several owl pellets dotted around. These have become much more common over the last year or so. We think that they are from the Little Owl (Athene noctua) that Wal sighted recently. Clearly the local mice and voles have more than just the weasels to worry about.

South Woodlands is looking amazing and the trees are really coming into their own. The Rowans are covered in orange berries and the Oaks have tiny acorns appearing.  The wood was alive with wiggling caterpillars on nettles, rabbits dashing through the undergrowth and bees visiting the Willow-herb flowers.   Not looking so bad for a four-year-old plantation.  

Finally, hiding in one of the gates was this beautifully camouflaged moth.  We have tentatively identified it as a Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina). It is nice to see so much wildlife around the site.

HoF

Last modified on
Hits: 1598
0

Posted by on in Wildlife

OK, so it's not really a pterodactyl, but it's probably the next best thing: Our 'resident' Heron.

We've had lots of sightings over the years of visiting Herons, but (as usual) we've never had a camera to hand when we needed it most. But today was the day when we finally captured an image of this magnificent bird and we can add it to our official 'resident wildlife list'.

b2ap3_thumbnail_009.JPG

Tagged in: Birds Environment
Last modified on
Hits: 1590
0

Posted by on in Microscapes

In an earlier post I asked why certain diatoms moved when they had no need to search for food and no need to find a partner to reproduce. A recent enquiry to the 'Amateur Diatomist' website has resulted in this very informative reply:

"Lots has been written about the mechanism of diatom motility but little about why they might need to move. Whilst I am not qualified to explain all the reasons for their behaviour a couple of observable examples might suffice to set you on the right track....

Consider the episammic (living on sand) or the epipelon (living on mud) species where their habitat is governed by the tides. When the tide is in the diatoms can be found on the surface of their chosen substrate, when the tide goes out they are found within their substrate. They have moved to ensure they do not dessicate. Another example are those species found living on rocks in streams. They coat the upper surface of, say, a pebble. Should a storm suddenly cause the flow to increase to such a degree that it turns that pebble the diatoms will move to upper surface when things quieten down. This latter example can be observed by turning a colonised pebble by hand and returning the next day.
 
I hope these simple examples provide you with an answer (at least in part). Steve."
 
For anyone interested in diatom studies you'll find lots of useful information on the Amateur Diatomist website. www.diatoms.co.uk
Tagged in: Diatom Environment
Last modified on
Hits: 1542
0
Photo shared by on in Environment

Attempting to get a bit of work done in the good weather this morning, I was alerted to this potential bargain.

2.5MW Wind Turbine for sale (Link to pdf file)

We've been on the lookout for something similar to this as we would like to go as off-grid as much as possible. We'd better act quick though as apparently it has made the local news.

http://www.todmordennews.co.uk/news/local/crews-called-to-wind-turbine-fire-on-todmorden-moor-1-7290886

So, apparently, this may have been caused by it being too windy. Interestingly, this particular model of turbine (Nordex N90/2500), is marketed as being most suitable for regions with strong winds.

The funny thing is that the winds last night were nowhere near as bad as they can be up on the moor. So it's probably just an unfortunate case of mechanical failure.

We were under the impression that these turbines are braked using the generator, but it looks like we were wrong. Apparently they turn the blades at a full 90 degrees pitch to the wind and there is also a hydraulic disc brake for emergencies.

Whatever the cause, it doesn't look good seeing as the wind farm is only just about 1 Year old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Obviously, the PDF file linked to above is for a fictional E-bay listing. Someone suggested to me this morning that the remains of the turbine could go up on everyone's favourite auction site. In the interest of safety. there is a 300m cordon around the damaged turbine, as it should be considered unsafe.

Interestingly, reading an updated article in the Todmorden News, the owner of the site is now given as 'Renewable Energy Systems'. This is yet another name given as the operators of the windfarm. It would be nice to know who actually owns and operates it as the information publicly available seems to be very contradictory. The operators were previously given as Todmorden Moor Windfarm Ltd, at least that is who is registered at Companies House.

 

 

Last modified on
Hits: 1818
0

Posted by on in Environment

We have completed our first year of invertebrate monitoring on Midgelden Brook and have now started on the second.

The results page has been updated and a link which will open in a new window can be found here:-

http://www.woodlandsvieweducation.co.uk/index.php/environmental-issues/invertebrate-monitoring/invertebrate-survey-results

We are now getting to a position where we can determine if any clear patterns in the invertebrate populations can be found.

Monitoring has also started on Carr and Craggs Moor, right at the top of the hill. Here can be found another badly polluted stretch of water, again from historical mining activities, and another potential location for the Coal Authority to construct a treatment plant.

We will probably create another page for Carr and Craggs Moor as there is a lot of information to digest.

Last modified on
Hits: 1364
0

Posted by on in Environment

It may seem like we haven't done much in a while as there have not been any updates. We have in fact been extremely busy and it is difficult to think of when we last had a day off.

One of Wal's projects was a new animation that helps illustrate the main processes involved in the pollution of watercourses by 'Ochre Water' from abandoned mineworkings. Click on the link below to take you direct to the page.

http://www.woodlandsvieweducation.co.uk/index.php/environmental-issues/minewater-treatment

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Minewater_Video_Screenshot.jpg

 More updates on minewater and invertebrate monitoring are to follow.

Last modified on
Hits: 1439
0

Posted by on in Environment

The most recent round of surveying for Midgelden Brook was completed this morning and  it can be seen that all 3 sites are in decline. Recent spells of cold weather and heavy rainfall may have had an effect here but we are also keeping a close eye on the adjacent windfarm access track works. You can view the updated results in chart form here:-

Invertebrate Survey Results

Site 1:-

Water Temperature 9.40C

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Site 2:-

 

Water Temperature 9.00C

 

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Site 3:-

 

Water Temperature 9.30C

 

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Last modified on

Last modified on
Hits: 1253
0

Posted by on in Environment

The most recent round of surveying for Midgelden Brook was completed yesterday and yet again there are signs of life at Site 1 (opposite Woodlands View).  You can view the updated results in chart form here:-

Invertebrate Survey Results

We are also now recording water temperature and pH level as part of our effort to get a greater understanding in what is happening in Midgelden Brook.

 

Site 1:-

Water Temperature 7.50C

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Site 2:-

 

Water Temperature 6.00C

 

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Site 3:-

 

Water Temperature 6.50C

 

pH 7 (Neutral)

 

Last modified on
Hits: 1168
0

Posted by on in Environment

We have just completed the most recent round of surveying for Midgelden Brook and are pleased to report that yet again there are signs of life at Site 1 (opposite Woodlands View). You can view the updated results in chart form here:-

Invertebrate Survey Results

We are also now recording water temperature and pH level as part of our effort to get a greater understanding in what is happening in Midgelden Brook.

Last modified on
Hits: 1203
0

Posted by on in Environment

After a not so brief hiccup with our web hosting, we thought we'd bring you a quick post to let you all know that we have added a new section to our Environment menu.

Lichen Studies, is as you've guessed, all about lichens. These fascinating amalgamations of algae and fungi are easy to find almost everywhere. Why do we like them so much? Well you'll have to read on to find out.

Tagged in: Algae Environment Fungi JK
Last modified on
Hits: 1497
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Note:- I've changed the title of this blog post so that there is less chance of it causing offence. Many thanks to our watchdog for informing us of a possible faux-pas.

We have recently learnt of a proposal to widen/construct new track for access to Cocks Hill Wood, Cornholme - referred to as Bearnshaw Tower Forest in some of the planning documents.

I must stress that we are not opposed to the Forestry work that they wish to carry out, as it is essential work and ultimately will be of benefit to the environment.

What concerns us the way in which the application has been made.

As is right and proper, consideration has been given to the residents of properties near to the site and it has been decided that access to the site in that area is not practical. However, the wording of the supporting documents for the application state that because work has already been carried out on the adjacent Windfarm, the impact of these new works will be negligible. Part of the proposal involves the use of the windfarm access road for forestry vehicles for the majority of the route and the construction of a small section of new road to the site itself. No reference has been made to local residents adjacent to the entrance to the windfarm access road

We were led to believe (foolishly) that the access road for the windfarm would be used for that purpose only. Also, conditions of it's use have so far not fully been met and it has made it easier for people to access the moor with off road vehicles and fly-tip rubbish.

More importantly, the junction of the new road with the existing track will most likely destroy a geologically important section of the moor, where many types of carboniferous fossils can be found, some of which can only be found at this location within the British Isles.

No consultation has been made with relevant groups including the Todmorden Moor Restoration Society and the West Yorkshire Gelogy Trust, both of which have invested heavily in the preservation of the area. A Geology trail has been created and the site was established as a Geologically important site back in 2008. Funding was even provided by the Heritage Lottery Commision.

Please take a moment to look at the relevant pages on the Calderdale Planning Portal and if you are able to, sign up and register an objection. The deadline for objections is Wednesday.

We need to at least get the application reviewed so that a more thorough consultation can take place and preserve what little is left of the heritage of Todmorden Moor.

http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/environment/

Relevant Planning Reference numbers are:

14/01413/Ful

14/40022/For

 

Last modified on
Hits: 1692
0

Posted by on in Environment

We have just completed the most recent round of surveying for Midgelden Brook and are pleased to report that some signs of life have returned to Site 1 (opposite Woodlands View). You can view the updated results in chart form here:-

Invertebrate Survey Results

Samples have also been taken for investigation of the Diatom population as part of our proposed quarterly study. We must thank the Environment Agency for their help with resources relating to Diatoms, and also to JK for preparing the samples and attempting to perform basic identification.

Last modified on
Hits: 1299
0

Posted by on in Environment

Myself and Nettie recently attended an Invertebrate Monitoring refresher day held at the Crow Nest Park Golf Club in Brighouse. It was a fantastic day, with lots of interesting speakers and an opportunity to chat about results and get any questions answered.

Many thanks once again to Judith and Melvyn, their organisation skills making it yet another really enjoyable experience. It was also great to see how far things have progressed in terms of establishing a regular montoring programme and how enthusiastic all of the monitors and coordinators are.

We now have 8 months of survey results for Midgelden Brook which we have have summarised here:-

Invertebrate survey results

Hopefully before long, results from all the survey sites will be available in one location and we will provide a link to that data when it becomes available.

Last modified on
Hits: 1453
0
Photo shared by on in Microscapes

b2ap3_thumbnail_Trough-Crud.JPG

We are teaming up with our good friend John G Keegan (JK) in an attempt to expand our water quality survey by looking for diatoms in Midgleden Brook. We've no idea whether this will work out because we've never tried to collect these micron-sized critters before and JK has never tried to study them using his compound microscope. We'll let you know how we get on.

In the meantime, we thought you might enjoy looking at a couple of things that JK sent us recently which he captured with his light microscope. He was using a magnification of x40 on a piece of 'crud' (for want of a better word) from the bottom of a stone water trough. We've set him up with his own page as hopefully he will be able to make regular contributions to the site.



The sample was about 4cm x 2cm and as you can see it doesn't look very interesting at all. Under the microscope however, it transforms into a weird and wonderful jungle landscape.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Algae-04-x40.jpg

But jungles can be dangerous, or even deadly to the unsuspecting traveller, as this poor micro-insect found out.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Algae-02-x40.jpg

During his microscopic tour of this mini-world, JK happened upon a real-life adventure that he managed to capture on video. A micro-bug (invisible to the naked eye) trapped by an 'algal filament' and in danger of becoming another victim of the jungle. Fortunately, as you will see, it did manage to break free. But it was not alone - Would this be a friend or a foe?


None of us have any idea what species of bug we are looking at here, so if any of you out there recognise it we'd be interested to know. JK has a theory that there may be some home-building going on here with a circular area being prepared for the family. Alternatively, it might just be a method of foraging for food. Even micro-bugs have to eat on occasion and JK assures us that there are no McDonalds or KFC's in the area.

Last modified on
Hits: 2213
0
Photo shared by on in Uncategorized

b2ap3_thumbnail_Tomato_Soup_20140812-190313_1.JPG

b2ap3_thumbnail_Site_2.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_Site_1.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_Sludge.JPG

Invertebrate monitoring is great fun. It is good to get out and about in the nice weather and do something that has a purpose. I enjoy kick sampling in the brook and catching the small swimming creatures with my super large pipette for identification. Wal is better at identification than I am, although it does get harder when the water is more like tomato soup (see first photo).

Compare the two river photographs. The first is of Midgleden brook at site 2 (see river monitoring page) before the reed beds at the Coal Authority mine water treatment plant. The water is fairly clear although there is still a lot of staining due to the iron. The second photo is upstream at site 1 - Woodlands View. The water is incredibly orange and the rocks are covered with a reddish brown sludge as you can see from the final photo. Surprisingly there is still life to be found in this part of the brook but the contamination makes it hard to locate and it tends to be limited to stoneflies, worms and the occasional leech.

Wildlife elsewhere on site is varied. There are many tortoiseshell and small white butterflies, and I am sure that I have seen some small skipper butterflies too. The bright green leafhoppers have done really well; I have never seen so many at WV before. We had loads of cuckoo spit (foam encasement of the leafhopper nymph) earlier in the year so I was expecting rather a lot, but the numbers exceed what I imagined. I will have to try and photograph them for the blog, along with some of the other creatures that inhabit the site.

The baby rabbits have grown well and are semi tame. Wal likes chatting to them as he works and they often snooze nearby in the sunshine. They have even recently taken to helping out with the digging. They quite like sheltering under the car, which leads to a mass panic when it is time to go home as the car engine quite obviously startles them.

The pond was almost completely empty of water so hopefully all this rain will fill it up again. Small frogs are everywhere on site, leaping out of the long grass ahead of us when we go for a walk. I’ve not seen any newts for a bit but they tend to hide amongst the rocks to keep moist.

There are still plenty of jobs to keep us busy this summer but we will take some time out to do some photography and exploring.

 

Hours of Fun.

Last modified on
Hits: 1887
0
Photo shared by on in Environment

b2ap3_thumbnail_Strimming.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_Cleared_Stone.jpg

Wal and I made the most of the nice weather at the start of last week by completing a number of outside jobs. Wal managed to get our elderly petrol strimmer working and was able to strim most of the edges up and down the sides of the track. We look rather tidier now. Due to a vast amount of semi buried rocks on site, he managed to break all of the strimmer blades which means that it will be a while before that job can be done again – unless anyone has a really, really long cable for my electric strimmer.

A couple of friends joined us for the day on Tuesday, and volunteered to help us out with some jobs. Well, you don’t have to offer twice!  We kitted them out in suitable gloves and gear and set them to work on the ‘mud and rock’ pile. This is the last big pile of rock and rubble outside the lecture hall that needed sorting and the soil spreading to fill in the last few hollows. Between us we shifted almost the entire pile by teatime. This will now allow Wal and I to finish the last bit of fencing on our top plateau. A good job well done!

The rest of the week was rather damp. This is good for the frogs and newts in the pond but less good for us. However it did allow us to recover from the aches and pains of moving a couple of tons of muddy rocks. We have not been unproductive though. Wal has been learning how to use his new Raspberry Pi and I have been sifting through the history archives. It is amazing what you find out. Many individuals did an incredible amount of work on site in the early days. Some of their contributions have been recognised in the names of certain features. I know for a fact that one young lady’s efforts at nettle eradication on a small slope outside the lecture hall led to it being known as ‘Nettie’s niche’. What took me days with gloves and a wheelbarrow is now done in minutes with a strimmer. Sigh.

This week has been too wet for working outside so Wal set to work painting the ceiling in the main room. This required taking down all the lights, filling and sanding where areas of ceiling had been patched due to rodent damage from when the building was empty. Four coats of paint later and it once again looks good. We know need to refurbish 18 original light fittings as replacing them would cost money that we can ill afford at the moment, due to our recent nocturnal visitor. Many thanks to all that have offered assistance, financial and otherwise.

Last modified on
Hits: 1775
0
Photo shared by on in Environment

We carried out our first river-monitoring mission this weekend.

On Saturday, the ever supportive and enthusiastic Judith from the Calder and Colne Rivers Trust came up to Woodlands View to check on our technique as we took our first sample from Midgelden Brook above the mine-water treatment works, where the brook bounds South Woodlands.  This area has been tested in the past and nothing was found apart from a leech. 

The brook was running well and the water was fairly clear, although at first glance there was no sign of life.  We took three samples, doing a 30 second kick in each location.  Unfortunately, and to Wal’s great amusement, I had a hole in my wellie and it rapidly filled with exceedingly chilly water.  Still, it helped to weigh me down which was advantageous as the current was fairly strong in places and the bacterial mats made the rocks quite slippery. 

I also performed a rock check, turning over stones and shale in the middle of the brook to look for any creatures that may be clinging to them.  While this method was successful last week in the beautiful waters at Gibson Mill, I found nothing in Midgelden except scum and orange staining.

Wal carried the bucket of water back up to the lecture hall and we started to investigate the contents.  To our surprise we spotted a small stonefly and then my Dad pointed out a large Cased Caddis.  Wal found Caseless Caddis, and Olives.  There were a couple of other invertebrates as well but these do not form part of the monitoring.  Overall, we achieved an Angler's Score Index (ASI) of 4. This was totally unexpected and really pleasing as the water is slightly better than we thought, although it is still not as good as it should be.  However made a good comparison for the water lower down around the treatment works, which we investigated on Sunday.

Sunday's results were slightly more promising. Although in the first site at the treatment works we only achieved an ASI of 4 - the same as on Saturday at Woodlands View, we found another species on the list (Flat-Bodied Heptageniidae) and found an increased number of Stoneflies. Site 3 was lacking the Heptageniidae, but overall we had 4 species and with the numbers found, we achieved an ASI of 5.

 

Last modified on
Hits: 1970
0
Photo shared by on in Environment

b2ap3_thumbnail_Stonefly_1.jpg

 

Wal and I spent an enjoyable Saturday splashing about in a local river and hunting for water-based mini beasts. 

We are taking part in the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative and have been learning how to identify several types of aquatic invertebrates that will act as an indicator of the heath of our local stream.

The Riverfly Partnership leads an initiative to allow various groups such as anglers and conservationists to monitor the invertebrate life in their local watercourses and to take action that will help conserve the river environment.  The monitoring scheme is used alongside the work carried out by the Environment Agency and ensures that the water is checked regularly so that any issues are detected and dealt with quickly, and hopefully before any major damage is caused.

The monitoring technique is really simple – even a physicist like myself could understand it! 

Take a 3-minute kick sample from the riverbed

Wash finds

Identify and record creepy crawlies (or should that be swimmy crawlies?)

There are 8 types of invertebrates that are used in monitoring the health of the rivers. These invertebrates are mostly the larval stages of riverflies with the exception of the freshwater shrimp  In our kick sample we found a monster stonefly, many flat-bodied Heptageniidae which look like Darth Vader , and several caddis fly larvae, both cased and uncased. There are other invertebrate species that may be found, but the 8 that we looked for are the best indicators of water quality.

As Wal and I are going to be keeping an eye on Midgelden Brook it is unlikely that we are going to find more than one or two of these species, at least to start with.  We will be setting up a monitoring page with more information about the Riverfly Partnership and our work on Midgelden, but more information on the initiative can be found here: http://www.riverflies.org/ 

Thank you to Judith, Stuart and Melvyn for a very informative and fun day learning how to do something that is going to benefit our local environment. Also thanks to Gary for the lift from Hebden Bridge Station.

Last modified on
Hits: 1837
0
Photo shared by on in Environment

b2ap3_thumbnail_Adit.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_Adit_Entrance.jpg

Woodlands View is situated on a plot of land that has undergone many changes over the years.  It has been the site of factories, mining operations and farming.  Signs of this past history are all over the place if you know where to look.  One artifact we are lucky enough to have is an entrance tunnel of an old mine.  I have been told that this tunnel leads under the site and out onto the moor somewhere.  For safety reasons it has obviously been blocked up for a long time.  Not only is there a wall sealing the entrance but also a large pile of rock and rubble to stop careless explorers.  A couple of weeks ago Wal and I noticed some damage to the entrance which we obviously needed to repair a.s.a.p.  Whether the damage was caused by a combination of the weather and sheep, or by unwelcome visitors is unknown.  One of our future projects is to build a rover to investigate the tunnel as far as we can (no way are we letting people inside it!) so we took the opportunity to photograph the tunnel as far as our cameras could see.  The entrance is now safely sealed again but we know that tiny stalactites are growing slowly in the gloom.

Last modified on
Hits: 1810
0