Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Sunday, 25th July 2010
A DISTANT 'V' against the morning cloud usually turns out to be a gull but there was something about the way this one was circling that caught my attention. As it came nearer we got a clearer view of its silhouette – wide, blunt-ended wings – and colour – brown and tan, making it unmistakable as a buzzard. They're becoming a regulars in the area, although we spot them over the valley only one or twice each year.
An equally rare sight was the hedgehog that Barbara spotted on the back lawn when she was on the phone. We find hedgehog droppings, so we know that they are around, but it's rare for us to spot them as we're rarely in the garden after sunset. In the half-light this one seemed to keep changing colour. At first I thought that it was just catching the light differently every now and then but as it moved up the lawn we could see that it kept rolling onto its side to snuffle at its lighter underside.
It disappeared into tall plants of the border. As we watched it a bat flew over.
While we're on the subject of rare sightings in our garden, about two weeks ago we had a new butterfly species visiting the border. It was brown with a narrow border and small eye-spots on its forewings. We didn't get a chance to see its underside. We identified it as a ringlet. My friend Roger Gaynor, a butterfly recorder for our local naturalists' group, tells me that this was a rare species 20 years ago with just one colony known but that it has now moved into new areas. It favours wet grasslands so there should be habitat to suit it in Coxley Valley, especially as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has done so much work to make clearings in their Stoneycliffe Wood and Stocksmoor Common reserves.
Talking about local wildlife, I jumped at the chance to buy this guide to The Wildlife of Netherton & District, 1971 to 1982. It includes annotated lists of wild flowers, ferns, mosses, lichens, fungi, mammals, birds, fish, butterflies and moths. For example:
Hummingbird Hawk Moth. (Macroglossum stellatarum.)
Recorded during the hot summer of 1976 only, when it was fairly common.
This is the Second Edition, and consists of 88 pagesof duplicated A4 held together with a plastic binder, but unfortunately the 89th page, 'The Last Word', is missing from this copy.
I soon realised that it didn't refer to 'our' local Netherton and the adjacent Coxley Valley; this is Netherton and the nearby Hall Dike Valley, to the south-west of Huddersfield.