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February 2008

1st - Plovers heard calling in the parkland fields this morning.

3rd, North Cliffe Wood & North Cave Wetlands - Visited North Cliffe Wood for the first time this morning, located a few miles up the road from North Cave. Though there was not much about today, this area of Carr woodland, which also has a small area of heathland on its south western edge, shows great promise and a visit later in the spring will no doubt prove more productive. We also stopped off at North Cave briefly on the way back, where we were rewarded with a good sighting of the resident Green Woodpecker along the lane. A number of Siskin’s were also observed amongst the western Alder’s.

4th, Potteric Carr - Travelled to a new reserve today located to the south of Doncaster. An unusual reserve, created by industry and surrounded by a number of active railway lines which criss-cross the reserve, including the main east coast line. The reserve is a mixture of shallow lagoons, Carr, and woodland and boasts an impressive species list. However to be honest the reserve was very quiet on our visit, though this is granted a quiet time of the year, but despite this the trip was to prove memorable, as I and my father were treated to one of the best views of a Bittern you could ever
wish for. This usually shy bird was seen right in front of the hide, fishing amongst the reeds and oblivious of those of us watching not more than 10 yards away. A truly unforgettable experience.

5th - More birds beginning to sing with Chaffinches, Greenfinches, & Wrens all heard in the last week.

6th, Wheldrake Ings - Visited one of my favourite reserves though due to high water levels our trip was limited to the first two hides, as the remaining two were cut off by deep flood water of up to waist deep. Getting to the first two hadn’t been easy either and the path was flooded for large sections and without wellies progress would have been impossible. The extensive floods also meant the wildfowl were well dispersed and often quite distant , but nevertheless all the common species were seen. A most enjoyable outing on this most quiet and peaceful of reserves.

7th - Saw my first Wasp and first Honey Bee of the year during a mild and sunny afternoon with a maximum temperature of 12.6 C.

8th - A couple of Greylag geese flew over the house at 7 am. In the afternoon a Brambling was seen in the garden.

10th, Dalby Forest - Went for a cycle again with Jenny and Andy, on a lovely and sunny morning with frost in the dales, and warm sun up on the tops. At the visitor area a Grey Wagtail was seen searching for crumbs, as was a friendly Chaffinch, which I noticed had a ring. A hoverfly was also buzzing about, the first I’ve seen this year, and testament to the warmth of the sun today.

11th, Bempton Cliffs - Our first visit of the year to this wonderful seabird colony. The cliffs were already surprisingly busy with the Guillemot’s and Gannet’s already in their usual spots, and on the wing quite a few Fulmars were seen cruising on the sea breeze. Courting behaviour seen amongst the Guillemot’s and a few Gannet’s were seen carrying nesting material as they get ready for the coming spring.

12th - The daffodils at Minster Nurseries are staring to come out. At Black House Farm just down the road a Snipe was seen over the flooded fields. During the afternoon I saw my first White tailed Bumble Bee of the year, encouraged out no doubt by the warm sun today.

15th - A fox was in the wood by the house this morning. The Yew is now in blossom, with the breeze creating clouds of ‘smoke’ from the trees in the garden.

16th - A minimum of -4 C this morning, and pressure reached 1045 mbar at one point today as high pressure builds across the country.

17th - Another very frosty start with a low of -5.8 C this morning.

18th - Very frosty this morning, the temperature falling to -6.7 C last night. The ice at Owl dip along Shepherds Lane was thick enough to bare my weight. The sunrise was fantastic as well, the sky glowing orange in the east. The day was followed by a spectacular sunset too.

Watton Reserve - Visited this under watched reserve on a cold and murky morning. Much of the reserve was frozen after the recent cold weather, though there was a small area of open water in the northern most lagoon. As a result most of the wildfowl were concentrated in that area, and that included four Smews, three males, and a lone female. The smew were in fact courting, with the males displaying and pestering the poor female. An interesting and not often observed sight in this country away from south east England. Also around the reserve were a few Curlews, and three Hares were seen chasing each other about the area almost constantly.

19th - A very cold and grey day, starting with a low of -4 C and not rising any higher than -1.4 C, the lowest maximum on my records. Despite this a drumming Great spotted Woodpecker was heard at the north end of Long Lane this morning. More expected was the return of the Brambling to the garden today.

20th - Twig collecting observed by both Magpie’s & Collared dove’s today, this despite the still below average temperatures. Overnight there was a LUNAR ECLIPSE.

22nd - In stark contrast to the low temperatures of just three days ago, the temperature rose to an un-seasonal 14.2 C today. In the local area, despite the recent frosts, many of the Hawthorn hedges are now starting to leaf, with a hint of green, and Blackthorn is also beginning to blossom here and there. In the garden daffodils are now coming into bloom, and the Flowering currant is also leafing.

23rd - Saw another White tailed Bumble Bee today (see 12th February).

24th - A Little Egret was seen flying over Swinemoor. Later reported at High Eske.

Huggatewold Wood - Went to see the Snowdrops in this wooded dale, one of the Wolds best kept secrets. The flowers were at their best, though a few were just going over.

25th - The Copper Beech is beginning to blossom next door.

26th - A pair of Siskin’s seen in the garden.

Overnight there was an EARTHQUAKE, which was measured at 5.2 on the Richter scale and was centred near Market Rasen. It was infact the biggest earthquake in the United Kingdom for 25 years and was felt in many parts of the country. Some minor damage reported here and there, mostly in North Lincolnshire & South Yorkshire.

27th, Potteric Carr - A very quiet morning at this South Yorkshire reserve, though a few Siskin’s about, a few Bullfinches, a pair of Willow Tit’s, and Redwing’s in the woods. All the common wildfowl on the lagoons and large numbers of noisy Black headed Gulls, many now coming into breeding plumage.

28th - Went to the wood in the Parks this morning where the hazel is now in flower, and Hawthorn is now widely leafing. Bullfinches heard throughout the wood, and out in the fields the pleasant sound of singing Skylarks was filling the air. A few Yellowhammer’s also heard singing, the first I’ve heard this year. Lots of winter thrushes on the Black House Farm fields, with Redwing’s the dominant group. 300 to 500 Wood Pigeon’s were on the Oilseed Rape field, and a Roe deer was also seen. Outside the Minster the daffodils are now in flower, and the Copper Beech are also coming into blossom. At the top of St. Giles Croft a drumming Great spotted Woodpecker was heard. In the afternoon I gave the lawn its first mow of the year.

29th - The rookery at the north end of Long Lane is now full of noise and activity.

Monthly Review
A transitional month with winter finches remaining, but plenty of spring sightings, including early insects and some plants beginning to leaf and flower. The dawn chorus continuing to increase too.
The weather was very mixed with a mild start, a cold and very frosty middle of the month, and then a spring like conclusion. Drier than average. Westerly winds dominating, though a period of easterlies in mid month.