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Posted by on in Wildlife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today while trying to get some fencing upgraded, I was walking in front of the Lecture Hall when a rabbit tore past me, closely followed by a small brown blur. Both disappeared down the track to the houses at the bottom, then up into the field at the back, then back around again several times.

Five or six of these circuits must have been completed before I saw the small brown blur heading back towards me, still at full speed, the rabbit now nowhere to be seen. At the last minute I was spotted, and evasive action was taken, making use of an adjacent clump of reeds. But by now I had realised it was one of the ‘squeaky sausages’ that we had spotted last year.

I managed to grab a couple of photos of the little critter while it was investigating me, but it was soon gone again, back into the reeds and rocks.

Tagged in: Mammal Weasel Wildlife
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Posted by on in Wildlife

We had our first snowfall of winter last weekend. Doesn’t it look lovely? The site was covered in footprints left by the local wildlife; robins, crows, rabbits and a fox. We managed to catch a glimpse of the fox on camera in the early hours of the morning as she passed by the front of the lecture hall. The other set of paw prints above hers belong to a very brave rabbit!

We would have made a post a bit sooner, but have had some technical difficulties.

Tagged in: Fox Snow Weather Wildlife
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Posted by on in The Sky

Continuing our theme of interesting things in the sky it would seem that these crisp autumn days are just perfect for observing shimmers of colour on the clouds in the sky. It is also nice to be able to share these with friends and family who have never seen them before.

While taking a well-earned tea break this weekend my parents and I spotted a rather nice pair of sundogs. We admired them for a few moments when I suggested that the cloud conditions looked to be just right for a circumzenithal arc. We all turned our gaze upwards and right on cue… a faint curve like an upside- down rainbow grinned down at us. As CZAs are formed from the same ice crystals that sundogs are made from it is always worth taking a glance upwards to see if there is one smiling down.

The following day we saw a rather nice iridescent cloud, which we managed to photograph for the first time. In addition to the cloud being fairly thin, the water droplets in the cloud have to be the same size in order for the diffraction effect to be seen. We have observed iridescence several times from WV, although it is apparently uncommon.   It is amazing what you see if you just take the time to look up once in a while.

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Posted by on in The Sky

 

 

 

 

 

It seems to be our week for spotting interesting things in the sky.  First the aurora, then the solar halo and now this weird structure.  It looks like something you would expect to see in  ‘Close Encounters’ or the ‘X files’.

This cloud formation is a rather impressive fallstreak hole (also known as hole punch cloud or cloud hole).  These are apparently fairly rare and can often be mistaken for UFOs.  The exact process of their formation is not fully understood but is believed to be caused when water droplets in the cloud start to freeze into ice crystals, sticking together and becoming heavier before finally dropping below the cloud as ‘fallstreak’.  This process is started when aircraft pass through the cloud, which causes the water to cool down enough to freeze.  The result is quite impressive.

Tagged in: Clouds The Sky Weather
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Posted by on in The Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better this week, Nettie managed to spot, what at first sight looked like a fairly regular solar halo. Although such things are surprisingly common (if you spend any amount of time sky watching), it soon turned out to be what is possibly a once in a lifetime experience.

What we ended up observing was a combination of optical phenomena, which for our location have a probability of being seen individually, ranging from about once a year to one hundred times a year.

Put them all together however and well, probability was never my strongpoint, but I think maybe tonight is a good night to get that lottery ticket.

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Posted by on in Astronomy


As a follow up to the photographs we published in the previous post, here is a timelapse video showing how the aurora developed and then faded away.

Altogether it was visible to us for approximately 1.5 hours.

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As usual, following periods of increased solar activity, we are always on the lookout for potential sightings of aurora. We use two websites to help us with this:-

AuroraWatch UK

&

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre

The predictions for a visible aurora were quite good for this evening and the weather was  favourable, so we thought we'd take a wander up to Woodlands View to see what we could see. We've done this many times before with no success, but tonight was to be the night.

We thought we could see a faint green glow to the North, behind the wind turbines and electricity pylons, very low down on the horizon. After setting up our cameras, some initial test shots looked promising.

Between 8.30 and 10.00 p.m. we stood and watched as the the display slowly built in intensity; seeing the gradual appearance of blue and red into the range of colours and also spotting what at first looked like faint searchlight beams either side of the main glow.

We were lucky enough to be joined by Garry Mayes from Planet Earth Education and his son, who had also thought it might be worth making the trip up onto the moor and it also happens to be the 20th anniversary of Nettie's first visit up here for work experience.

We managed to obtain a good selection of photographs but Nettie managed to top the lot by capturing an 'Flaring' satellite against the background of the aurora.

Hopefully this is the first of many sightings that we will have at Woodlands View.

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Posted by on in Environment

The results page has been updated to include results up to the end of August 2015 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 think that we are starting to see patterns in variations of invertebrate populations and should be getting more detailed information from the Environment Agency as to the life cycles of the different species that can be found. We are also hoping for information which will enable us to expand the range of factors which we monitor and feed our results back to the Environment Agency to help them improve their records.

Last Saturday we had our annual invertebrate monitoring refresher day, organised by Judith and Melvyn from the Calder and Colne Rivers Trust Invertebrate Monitoring Subgroup. As usual it was good to catch up with fellow monitors and find out more about what is going on in our area.

Talks were given by the Environment Agency, Pennine Prospects, The Coal Authority and we were given an overview of a new project concerning Hebden Water which is currently in the planning stages.

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Posted by on in Astronomy

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Just a quick post to show two images from the total lunar eclipse in the early hours of Monday morning, as photographed from Woodlands View.

The first shows the 'blood red' moon and was taken at approximately 03.27 when the moon was completely in Earth's shadow (the Umbra - the darker central part). The second photo was take a little earlier on and shows stars that were not visible due to the glare from the full moon before the eclipse began.

Regarding the first photo, we were interested to know why there still appears to be a small lighter coloured 'crescent' to the bottom left. At this point of the eclipse, the moon was meant to be completely in Earth's shadow, so according to all the diagrams showing the stages of the eclipse should be all the same colour. The same crescent is visible in all photos that I have seen that were taken during the 'maximum' stage of the eclipse.

The closest explanation that we can find is that the moon was in fact right on the boundary between the inner (umbra) and outer (penumbra) shadows of the Earth. Close enough so that refraction of sunlight through different parts of the Earth's atmosphere caused the slight change in colour.

Whatever the reason, we had a thouroughly enjoyable evening watching the eclipse, despite the advancing mist and are looking forward to the next one in 2019 on the 20/21st January.

For more Moon information, don't forget to check out our Moon page which can be found here:-

http://www.woodlandsvieweducation.co.uk/index.php/the-moon

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Posted by on in Astronomy

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Wal and I photographed this lovely Lunar halo the other night. The Moon was one day from being full and lit the sky and the clouds beautifully. This 220 halo is formed by moonlight being refracted by ice crystals in the clouds.  We often see full or partial halos around the Sun (or sundogs, arcs and other optical phenomena) but this is the first Lunar halo that we have managed to photograph.  It persisted for a few short minutes before gradually fading away.

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Posted by on in Wildlife

 

 

 

Wal and I have seen lots of these lovely red- orange Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) around. There are several species of Soldier Beetle and these are apparently the most common and easy to identify with their dark coloured tails and feet. They are usually found in pairs – mating pairs- which has led to their rather amusing nickname the ‘bonking beetle’.  

Wal has been making excellent progress at fencing off other parts of the site for our neighbours. Our own fencing has given the flora and fauna a chance to flourish undisturbed by the sheep; I wonder what else will appear in the future?

Finally, I also found a new (to WV) species of plant behind the pond which has taken a while to identify, mainly due to the fact that I was looking up wildflowers. We are not quite sure how Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) made it to the top o’ the hill but it is doing well. (Wal argues that it is called Love-in-the-mist, can someone settle this for us?)

Hours of Fun!

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

This is an update to the previous post as for some reason, the photographs I wanted to share would not upload. The problem is fixed now...

Here is a link to the orginal article

http://www.woodlandsvieweducation.co.uk/index.php/blog/entry/coal-balls

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

I had a nice little stroll up the moor to the Sandy Road Colliery spoil heap on Saturday. I was meeting Alison Tymon from the West Yorkshire Geology Trust as she was leading a geology walk around the moor.* It was also a good excuse for a poke around the spoil to see what I could find (do I really need an excuse? wink).

It was pleasing that a nice sized group of interested people attended the walk, including many youngsters armed with magnifying glasses and plenty of enthusiasm.

Alison stressed the importance of the site for its geology, especially the coal balls. While there are many places in the Lancashire and West Yorkshire coalfields that these fossils can be found, they have all now been covered up by housing and other developments. Tod moor is now the only place in the UK, and one of only two places in Europe where they can be found (the other site is in the Ukraine).

Alison also asked to check any coal balls that people found for fish fossils, as these are especially important and rare. Unfortunately no one found any of these but there were plenty of small coal ball fragments as well as rocks containing goniatites and other shells. One gentleman dug up a rather nice lump of ironstone that looked rather like Mickey Mouse.

After a good hour of searching and digging everyone had found something of interest to them and the children all left clutching a rock sample to remind themselves of the day.

Hours of Fun.

The fossils on the Sandy Road spoil heap are a finite resource and of international importance. If you find something of interest please contact WYGT www.wyorksgeologytrust.org or get in touch with Nettie via our Contact Us page.

*Organised by Calderdale County Council.

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We have been lucky to have had two relatively clear nights for this year’s Perseid meteor shower. The absence of the moon has also made a good deal of difference to the 'seeing' conditions.

The night of August 11 provided us with several very bright meteor trails; however, they mostly appeared from the Southern part of the sky, away from Perseus. It is most likely that these were ‘sporadic’ meteors, meaning that they are not associated with any particular meteor shower and do not have a well-defined ‘radiant’ – point of origin in the sky. The sky was relatively clear but recent rain made for a lot of moisture in the air and camera lenses rapidly fogged over.

The night of the 12th appeared to be less clear, with some very high wispy cloud, but there was a definite increase in the hourly meteor rate as we moved into Thursday morning. Higher daytime temperatures meant that camera lenses stayed fog free at night, and we were much more successful with our photography.

We have include a small gallery of images with this post, in which there are two images that show what at first may appear to be meteors but are actually satellites that appear to ‘flare’ when they catch the sun’s rays at the right angle.

Some satellite flares can be predicted, such as the ‘Iridium’ flares that are caused by the shape of the body panels of a particular type of communications satellite, and can be very bright. Other, dimmer flares can be caused the solar panels of the same type of satellite and generally last longer than the brighter ones. The predictions can only be made because the satellites are controlled and their orientation in space is known.

It is also possible to see flares from satellites that cannot be predicted because they are out of control (tumblers), or from debris left after rocket launches.

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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

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Last weekend, Wal and I played host to some old friends who we have not seen for some time. While we have kept in touch on and off for the last 20 years or so, they have not been up to Woodlands View since Wal and I took on the project.

Our guests, Florence and Kenneth Wood, were amongst the first people to attend the astronomy courses that were run by Linda Simonian in the 1990s. As it turns out they were putting their astronomical learning to amazing use and even invited Linda to work closely with them on a very exciting venture.

Florence and Kenneth are the authors of Homer’s Secret Iliad and Homer’s Secret Odyssey. These books are based on years of research undertaken by Edna Leigh, Florence’s mother, and by Florence and Kenneth themselves in order to unlock the astronomical knowledge that has been hidden within the epics for millennia.

"Homer’s epics ‘represent an ancient people’s thoughts related to the science of astronomy and expressed in the form of elaborate narrative poetry'."

For more information please follow the link www.epicstars.org.uk

It was wonderful to be able to show them around Woodlands View and we can modestly report that they had a splendid visit and were very impressed with everything that we have achieved.

We would just like to express our gratitude to a couple of generous and well respected friends for sharing their stories with us.

Hours of Fun.

 

 

 

 

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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'.

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Tagged in: Birds Environment
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I was passing by Woodlands View on my way back from visiting a relative today. I had no intention of doing any work as I’d spent a good 6 hours driving, but was curious as to why just outside the entrance, two cars were doing a very slow, and strange dance across the middle of the road. I thought that maybe the driver of the first car decided to pull in to the entrance and then thought better of it.

The second car then ‘undertook’ the first, at which point I spotted what they had actually being trying to avoid. There were five or six small, very agitated, brown and white ‘sausages’ in the middle of the road, surrounding another one which unfortunately looked as though it had been run over; and indeed, as I passed, I could see that it had been well and truly squashed.

I pulled into the drive and went to grab my camera, but by the time I got back to the scene, the road was clear; even the casualty had disappeared. There was nothing to be seen, but lots of high pitched squeaking could be heard, so I stayed as still as I could and kept my eyes open.

A minute or two passed and then, the small, squeaky sausages re-appeared on both sides of the road, calling to each other frantically. I managed to get a couple of photos, but they soon spotted me and ducked back into cover.

Thinking that I might be able to do a fair impersonation of the noises I had heard; my reward was a Weasel (Mustela nivalis) kit, popping its head out from under a rock to check me out.

We have seen what we thought were weasels, a few time on sites, but were never able to make a definite identification. This time, thanks to a few photos, I could see the slight change in colour on the end of the tail (not a definite black tip), and the wavy border between the brown of the back and the white of the underbelly, which meant these were weasels and not stoats.

There is a well-known saying, that ‘weasels are weasily wecognisable, whereas stoats are stotally different.’ However, up at Woodlands View, we seem to have an especially speedy variety, which until now has made proper identification impossible.

I have no idea of whether it was one of the kits, or their mother that had been killed. At best, I can guess that the young can’t be more than three to four months old as after this time, they have usually gone their separate ways.

It was time to let them go about their business. Walking back to the car, I noticed a line of baby bunnies sat on the wall along the side of the track. I wonder what they had made of the whole spectacle and whether they had any idea that they might well be the next meal for the young family trying to cross the road.

 

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Finally we have been lucky and managed to catch one of the local foxes on video. We have knew they were about, having caught brief glimpses of them. We even thought we could tell what regular path they would take across Woodlands View, but have not managed to get more than a very poor photograph, until now.

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Posted by on in Wildlife

Throughout April and May we have been monitoring something truly wonderful. A pair of Mistle Thrushes building a nest, laying eggs, and raising a new family.

At first we were unsure whether they had chosen a good spot to do this. The nest was built on one of the gateposts at the entrance to Woodlands View, about 4 feet off the ground, in plain sight of anyone (and anything) that cared to look their way. Very cleverly the parents had tied the nest to the gatepost to stop it being blown away and the egg-laying began. Five eggs in total, all of which hatched.

We are pleased to announce that all five of the chicks survived and grew to become fully fledged birds.

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