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December 2009

1st (Tuesday) -0.9 C to 5.8 C / 8.2 mm / 2.5 hours
A bright morning with a hoar frost at first, this actually being the first air frost of this autumn/winter. Cloud increasing in the afternoon, and continuing to thicken in the evening with rain, heavy at times, moving in after midnight. Becoming milder with the rain.

2nd (Wednesday) 4.0 C to 6.7 C / 0.2 mm / nil
Some rain at first but becoming drier by mid morning. Remaining overcast though for the remainder of the day and indeed through the night.

3rd (Thursday) 5.5 C to 6.5 C / 4.0 mm / nil
A misty start, indeed foggy for a short time, but this soon clearing. Remaining largely cloudy though, and thick enough going into the afternoon for some outbreaks of rain. Cloud breaking overnight, but there were also a few showers from time to time.

4th (Friday) 3.8 C to 6.6 C / 6.6 mm / 6.0 hours
A much brighter day with long sunny spells. However cloud increasing after dark with outbreaks of rain during the night, heavy at times, though this cleared by dawn.

5th (Saturday) 1.3 C to 11.4 C / 14.3 mm / 2.4 hours
A bright day with some sunny spells, though more cloud around than yesterday. This cloud increasing in the evening with some rain during the night, heavy later. Mild for the time of year.

Nearly all the berries have been eaten in the garden now, with Wood Pigeons and Thrushes finishing off the Haws and Cotoneaster-berries in the last few weeks.

6th (Sunday) 6.3 C to 9.1 C / 2.5 mm / 2.1 hours
Heavy rain at first, particularly between 8 and 10 am, with some localised flooding as a result. However clearing by mid morning with sunny spells developing after midday and remaining bright for most of the afternoon. Clear spells at first in the evening but cloud increased again during the night.

A nice walk around this beautiful corner of the Wolds, though before we began our walk there had been some very heavy rain, this causing lots of standing water around the area. Indeed I have never seen so much standing water in the Wolds before, and flooding was seen at Middleton-on-the-Wolds, and at Nunburnholme. Water was pouring from springs on Nunburnholmewold, filling the streams and ditches of the area to levels I have never seen before. Though the flooding was very minor, nevertheless the Wolds is an area which doesn’t flood by and large and the amount was surprising, though it has been quite wet recently with no dry spells since October.

Wildlife was around despite the weather, with highlights including a trio of Red Kites above the Wold itself, abundant game Pheasants throughout the area, but particularly beneath the wood, and a lone Roe deer beside the road. There were also some good flocks of mixed tits observed, a few Redwings were seen and heard in the vicinity of the former Nunnery, and at least a couple of small groups of Bullfinches were noted during the duration of the walk. In the wood itself it was very quiet, excepting the Pheasants of course, and the wood is now very much in its winter coat with all the trees bare and most woodland floor plants decaying and rotting away. This leaf mould and the abundant morning rain made things quite slippery underfoot, and the sheer number of pheasants did little for the ground conditions either, especially around the feeding tubs. Nevertheless the walk was very enjoyable, as it’s always interesting to enjoy and experience the countryside in all weathers.

7th (Monday) 5.5 C to 9.8 C / 2.9 mm / nil
An overcast day, with some rain during the afternoon. Quite breezy in the morning too. Cloud breaking up in the evening, but there were some showers around midnight also.

A male Bullfinch was in the Copper Beech this morning, and at the moment the female Great Spotted Woodpecker visits every day to take advantage of the fat cake at the feeding station.

8th (Tuesday) 3.3 C to 8.6 C / 2.0 mm / 1.6 hours
A bright start but cloud increasing through the day. Rain moving in during the evening, though this clearing after midnight with the cloud breaking up later.

9th (Wednesday) 3.5 C to 8.9 C / 1.8 mm / 3.0 hours
Sunny spells during the day, with clear spells overnight, though one or two showers also coming and going during the night.

10th (Thursday) 6.0 C to 7.8 C / nil / 6.0 hours
A clear and sunny day. Remaining clear overnight with a hoar frost developing.

11th (Friday) 1.6 C to 7.0 C / 0.4 mm / 4.9 hours
A sunny and frosty start with a hoar frost on the lawn and roofs but this soon thawing. Remaining largely sunny for the remainder of the day, though becoming misty and indeed foggy by dusk. However the easterly breeze increased during the evening, this clearing the fog, and also bringing some showers during the night.

12th (Saturday) 2.9 C to 6.7 C / 0.2 mm / 3.1 hours
Sunny spells for the majority of the day, with clear spells overnight. Some showers during the middle of the night though.

13th (Sunday) 2.6 C to 7.9 C / 5.4 mm / 1.6 hours
A bright morning but cloud increasing by midday with outbreaks of rain moving in by dusk, and continuing through the night.

14th (Monday) 4.2 C to 5.0 C / 9.1 mm / nil
An overcast day with outbreaks of rain, though it was drier for a time either side of noon. Becoming drier during the night but remaining cloudy and becoming misty later.

15th (Tuesday) 3.1 C to 4.8 C / 0.4 mm / 1.5 hours
A cloudy morning, with some mist at first. Becoming clearer for a time in mid and late afternoon, this allowing temperatures to briefly fall below freezing after dusk. However cloud increased during the evening, this becoming thick enough for some rain by the end of the night.

16th (Wednesday) -0.1 C to 5.2 C / 5.0 mm / nil
A cloudy day with outbreaks of largely light rain at times. Some clearer spells developing overnight but remaining largely cloudy, with wintry (mostly sleet and pellet) showers coming in off the sea on a north easterly breeze later.

17th (Thursday) 1.9 C to 3.8 C / 0.5 mm / 1.3 hours
Wintry showers of ice and snow pellets in the morning with sunny spells in between. The showers turning increasingly to snow in the afternoon, accompanied by a blustery and raw north easterly wind, with a dusting of snow and snow pellets by dusk. Showers largely dying out after dark, though there was the odd flurry of snow pellets from time to time.

18th (Friday) -0.6 C to 1.0 C / 3.4 mm / 1.0 hours
A cold start, with a biting east to north-east wind, and a dusting of snow and snow pellets on the ground. Some snow pellet showers during the morning, but otherwise largely dry with spells of sunshine. Cloud increasing in the afternoon though with a spell of heavy snow around 3 pm, this quickly giving a covering of about two inches. Clearing by dusk with the temperature falling with it, and becoming very cold overnight with a hard frost.

The Wolds
Went for a drive into the High Wolds to see if more snow was lying on the high fields compared to down here in Beverley. Indeed the amount of lying snow increased from North Dalton and upwards, with snow still on the roads and a slight covering on the fields. By Huggate we were truly in winter, with showers of snow coming and going and everything white. We eventually stopped at Millingtondale Head, where we looked down over the snow covered valley. Here we disturbed a Roe deer which took flight in response to our presence. From here we headed to Coldwold, where the shelter belt of trees looked particularly attractive with snow covered branches and trunks gleaming in the weak winter sun. In this area of the Wolds the snow was deep enough to cover most of the fields, though was probably still no more than a couple of inches deep.

After enjoying the view over the Vale, which unlike Holderness was a sea of white like the Wolds, we headed down and southwards to Brattwood at Nunburnholme. The wood was very attractive with its snow duvet on, and here we saw a number of birds searching for food, including tits, finches, and thrushes. I also heard a Jay at one point, a fairly rare bird in this part of the world. Eventually we retreated from this area as another shower of snow moved in, and we headed northwards again towards Givendale. As we drove the snow began to fall quite heavily and by the time we arrived at Givendale it was a winter wonderland, with everything covered in a fresh layer of pure white snow. The trees and fields surrounding St. Ethelburga’s were particularly attractive and the peace and serenity of the scene was a delight to behold. While here we also stopped briefly to look in the church, which was as tidy and well maintained as always.

After concluding our visit we continued up towards Garrowby Hill, where undoubtedly there was the most snow on the Wolds with probably three to four inches. Indeed drifting could be seen along some of the hedges, which though only small was nevertheless surprising considering that snow accumulations were not that great. From here we headed home, going back through Huggate via Wayhram, and on the road between these two areas we again saw some more drifting, possibly as deep as about a foot in places. As we descended from the High Wolds it became clear that more snow had fallen on the lower Wolds while we had been up in the hills, with the snowy area extending further down towards Lund. Unfortunately by the time we arrived back in Beverley it became clear that there was no more than a dusting still in this area, though a few hours after we got back from our drive that did change.

19th (Saturday) -4.9 C to 0.3 C / 5.7 mm / 6.1 hours
A very cold, but bright start, with a low of -5 C, and about two inches of lying snow over the area. Remaining sunny and cold for the remainder of the day, the temperature struggling to just above freezing, and the snow barely thawing at all, even in the trees or on roofs. Cloud increasing by dusk though, with a period of moderate snow around 6 pm, this adding about an inch to the lying snow. At one point the flakes were massive, possibly as big as four or five inches, and it was wonderful to watch them drift down like goose feathers. The snow and cloud clearing away during the night, and becoming very cold again with a hard frost. Indeed my bedroom windows were covered in ice by the morning, with beautiful fern shapes on many of the panes, as the temperature outside fell away to -7 C (20 F).

20th (Sunday) -6.7 C to 0.3 C / 0.6 mm / 3.5 hours
A very cold and sunny morning, with the two inches of lying snow helping keep temperatures depressed again with a minimum of -7 C at dawn, and a maximum of just over freezing. Cloud increased after 1pm with a spell of light to moderate snow during the afternoon, though this cleared away after dusk and it became largely clear again overnight, with a frost soon developing. Not becoming as cold as recent nights though.

Bishop Wilton
Another snowy day in the Wolds, though the entire county is now covered in a layer of snow as far as I know, at least away from the coastal extremities. It was very cold this morning, with temperatures on the Wolds about -7 C, while on the western feet of the Wolds the temperature was widely -10 C and near Pocklington fell to a notable -12 C, the coldest for many years. These low temperatures must have been caused by cold air over the Wolds flowing down and pooling in the Vale. It was outstandingly beautiful to see the trees and shrubs covered in glistening snow, with most branches carrying at least an inch of snow, and even the main roads were still covered in some snow, which the Jeep again coped with outstandingly well considering the slippery conditions.

Upon arrival in Bishop Wilton the thermometer still read -10 C, though with the full sun it didn’t actually feel that cold, especially since there was no breeze at all this morning. Making our way up the hill we discovered that they undoubtedly received more snow than we did back in Beverley, with about four to five inches of lovely, soft, powdery snow covering the fields and woods of the area. Indeed where it had blown into dips and depressions the snow was at least eight inches deep in places, and it was a joy to be out and about on such a fine and crisp morning, and to behold the beauty of the land under its even and stunningly white blanket.

Understandably given the conditions we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, though Buzzards were heard, as were winter thrushes and Bullfinches. By the time we finished our winter walk the village was beginning to stir, with children heading up the hill with their sledges, and many folks heading out to enjoy the fine spectacle. Even by midday the temperature was still no higher than -7 C, but I can honestly say that at no point during the walk did I feel cold, and I truly feel honoured to have witnessed and experienced wintry weather which I really had begun to fear had become consigned to history.

21st (Monday) -2.3 C to -0.2 C / trace / 5.9 hours
A sunny and cold day, with the temperature failing to rise above freezing all day. Cloud increasing by mid evening, and becoming misty, with a few snow grains or prisms of ice in the air. Despite the cloud the temperature remained well below freezing, and towards the end of the night the mist thickened enough to be classed as freezing fog. (The lying snow in the garden has not thawed at all yet, with snow still in the trees, and this is true of most of the local area, with most roads, other than the major ones, also still covered in ice or snow.)

22nd (Tuesday) -4.9 C to 0.5 C / trace, 1.0 hours
A misty start, with some freezing fog patches at first, thick enough to produce the odd snow grain from time to time. Very cold again, the temperature -5 C at dawn, though the temperature did rise above freezing today. More cloud around today than yesterday as well, especially in the afternoon and evening, this thick enough for a time for some light sleet and wet snow around 8 pm. However soon clearing and becoming largely clear overnight with a frost.

North Cliffe Wood & North Cave
Went to see the wintry spectacle at my favourite local wood at North Cliffe, and it did not disappoint. However before we arrived at North Cliffe we had to cross the Wolds, which at High Hunsley were enveloped in freezing fog, this depositing rime on the trees, and indeed on all surfaces. We also past three cars which had obviously fallen foul of the wintry conditions on this stretch of road earlier in the week. Arriving at North Cliffe the woods were truly a spectacular sight, with all the trees and shrubs absolutely covered in lovely soft, and delicate snow. Considering most of this snow fell over three days ago, it is a testament to how cold it has been lately, with the lying snow not thawing at all, even in the trees. It was also clear that there had been freezing fog here too last night, and this added further to the beauty, as well as adding a delicious sharpness to the cold and frigid air.

Upon entering the heart of the wood we could only look in wonder at the fantastic spectacle, and everywhere we looked there was a beautiful scene. Despite the weather there was plenty of bird activity, with tits and finches seen foraging amongst the trees, and we also saw the same lone Roe deer three times during our walk at various points in the wood. The Woodpecker was also heard, as was a Jay. Out on the heath there was more wind, which at this temperature had a bit of bite, but the scene was again starkly beautiful with an even, if not particularly deep covering of about three inches of lovely soft, powdery snow. I cannot convey just how wonderful the scene at North Cliffe was this morning, and this current snowy spell is turning into one of the best in the last decade.

After finishing up at North Cliffe we headed down to North Cave Wetlands, our first trip here for some months. The Wild Bird CafĂ© wasn’t there this morning, either because of the weather or the fact this is Christmas week, or perhaps both. There was not much bird life either, which considering that most of the lagoons were frozen hard, is not that much of a surprise. However where there was some areas of open water there were large congregations of Ducks, Coots, Grebes, Gulls, Swans and Lapwings, with species of duck including plenty of Mallard, and Teal, as well as some Tufted ducks, Gadwalls, Shovelers, and Shelducks. There was a notable absence of Pochards though, and I expect they, along with others, have either headed down to the ice free Humber, or indeed further afield to milder parts of the British Isles.

Other birds seen around the reserve included good numbers of thrushes, including Fieldfares, as well as mixed finch flocks, including a few Siskins amongst them. We also saw a couple of Snipe, a species which are always particularly susceptible to prolonged periods of cold weather. No doubt many birds will be falling victim to the current wintry weather, though it should turn milder by the end of the week and I think most will be able to endure the worst of the recent conditions. However if we get another prolonged cold spell during this winter it may prove quite a test for many of this islands wild creatures, as food becomes increasingly scarce.

Eventually we finished off here, and headed for home, passing over High Hunsley again. The fog had largely cleared since this morning, and now the scene on this cold and exposed hilltop was quite magical, with rime on the trees, shrubs, and indeed most surfaces, which in the weak winter sunshine glistened and sparkled. The temperature here at 1 pm was still -3 C, and even as we dropped down into the Beverley area the temperature remained below freezing. This was another fantastic morning spent out in the fields, and no doubt the experiences of this past week will long remain cherished in my memory.

23rd (Wednesday) -2.0 C to 1.2 C / 3.3 mm / 5.7 hours
A cold and clear start, with a low of -2 C, and becoming bright and sunny for the remainder of the day, with temperatures struggling to 1 C. Remaining clear at first during the evening, allowing temperatures to fall away quickly to about -4 C, but cloud increased by 7 pm, with icy rain moving in by 9 pm. Outbreaks of rain, sleet, and wet snow continuing during the night, but nothing particularly significant, and certainly not enough to lead to much of a thaw of the lying snow.

24th (Thursday) -3.5 C to 1.1 C / trace / nil
A grey, damp, and murky morning, and becoming foggy by the middle of the day. Still cold, with a high of just 1 C, with the lying snow thawing only slightly (last nights rain has transformed the snow into icy, crusty snow however, as until yesterday it was still fresh and powdery). Fog becoming thick by 3 pm, with visibility as low as 150 metres for a time. Remaining foggy for the first half of the night, but clearing later as cloud moved in, this thick enough for a few drops of icy rain. Dry by dawn and the cloud breaking up, allowing temperatures to fall below freezing by Christmas morning.

A few Gulls hanging about the area today, as thick fog during the afternoon grounded many birds with small flocks of Woodpigeons and Starlings seen at the top of many trees seemingly waiting for weather conditions to improve.

25th (Friday, Christmas Day) -1.1 C to 2.2 C / 3.6 mm / 5.1 hours
Early cloud clearing, and becoming bright and sunny for most of the day. Cold though, and still 5 cm of snow on the ground for Christmas day. First proper white Christmas since 1995, and even that year the snow didn’t arrive till the evening. Remaining clear at first in the evening, the temperature falling to -2 C, but cloud increased by 9 pm with a period of moderate rain soon following. Clearing later though with the cloud breaking up by dawn.

26th (Saturday) -2.0 C to 3.8 C / 0.4 mm / 3.5 hours
A bright start, with a light mist at first (still plenty of lying snow on the ground, though it is now very hard and icy after slight thaws and rain on top of it). Remaining bright for most of the day, and slightly milder today. Clear at first in the evening, the stars nice and bright, but cloud increased later with a little light rain around midnight. Nothing significant and cloud breaking up by dawn, but nevertheless the temperature remained above freezing, the first frostless night since the 17th.

27th (Sunday) 0.7 C to 3.3 C / 0.2 mm / 0.9 hours
After a bright start cloud increased by mid morning, and it remained largely cloudy for most of the day, though there were some odd brighter periods in the afternoon. Variable cloud overnight, with some clearer spells from time to time, but also some light, brief showers too.

Great Dugdale (Warter)
Another wintry walk in the Wolds, with snow still widely covering the countryside. Indeed many of the rural roads are still white and covered with very slippery ice, though again our Jeep coped excellently in these tricky conditions. Our walk at Great Dugdale proved to be an excellent choice, as the abundant food that is put out for the gamebirds also attracts the wild birds too, and this in turn interests the birds of prey, with at least two Buzzards seen, and up to five Red Kites. However the main highlight of the morning was the observation of two Grey Partridges, which were no more than 10 metres away from where we watched them. This lack of fear must have been a result of the recent conditions, and indeed many birds allowed quite close approaches, including Yellowhammers, Linnets, Goldfinches, and Redwings. In the fields large flocks of Wood Pigeons were seen, possibly a thousand strong, and there were a number of gulls about too, including some large Great Black-Backs. All in all it was a bleak winter day, with the week old snow seeming in no rush to thaw just yet. Indeed more is possibly forecast in the coming week !

28th (Monday) 0.0 C to 3.9 C / 0.7 mm / 2.1 hours
A cloudy morning, but becoming brighter by the afternoon with spells of sunshine developing. Remaining clear in the evening and for most of the night, with the temperature falling to -2 C, but showers of freezing rain moved in by the end of the night as the breeze became easterly.

29th (Tuesday) -2.2 C to 4.7 C / 1.4 mm / 0.3 hours
Showers of freezing rain and ice pellets during the morning, this causing a lot of ice on paved areas. Drier by midday, but remaining largely grey, cold, and damp for the rest of the afternoon. Outbreaks of rain returning overnight, and becoming quite breezy. A relatively mild night as well, with a minimum of 4 C, and most of the remainder of the lying snow gone by the end of the night as a result.

30th (Wednesday) 4.0 C to 4.8 C / 0.7 mm / nil
A damp and cold morning with a raw easterly breeze, which was quite gusty at times. Drier by the afternoon, but remaining grey and blustery. Mostly cloudy during the night with the breeze easing.

31st (Thursday) 1.5 C to 4.0 C / trace / 3.3 hours
A bright end to the year with sunny spells throughout the day, and less breezy than yesterday. Mostly clear overnight, though there were some light snow flurries at times, and the temperature fell away to -2 C.

November 2009

1st - Heavy persistent rain during the morning, peaking at 17.4 mm/h, and giving about 15 mm’s in total. Becoming blustery after the front cleared. (During the morning barometric pressure dropped from 1008.1 mbar at 6 am to 984.6 mbar by 1 pm, a drop of nearly 24 mbar in just seven hours).

2nd - The Wood Pigeons come to feast on the Haws most afternoons at the moment, with thrushes likewise joining them in natures harvest. I could have a harvest of my own if I had a shot gun what with all the relatively tame, big fat woodpigeons on my doorstep.

4th - First day this autumn/winter to see a high below 10 C.

6th - A slight touch of grass frost on the lawn at dawn, the first of the autumn/winter.

Brattwood - An enjoyable autumn walk in this peaceful and very rural area on the western edge of the Wolds. The weather was very showery today, with some good Cumulonimbus clouds seen in the big Wold skies, but by and large we avoided the showers, or at least we did why we were walking. The woodland is now increasingly bare, though there is still a good amount of coppery beech leaves holding on, and all in all this was a quiet and tranquil autumnal ramble. Birdwise the highlights came from a pair of Red Kites, and a Buzzard was also seen. These two species are usually very reliable in this area now, and the Londesborough to Millington stretch along the western edge of the Wolds is undoubtedly the place to go if wanting to see the local Red Kites.

10th - A slight, but nevertheless noticeable hoar frost this morning as the overnight low fell to 1 C.

11th - A female Blackcap was seen amongst the Yews today.

13th - A Tree Sparrow was spotted at the feeding station a number of times today, a new species for my garden list. It would be interesting to know whether it came down from the Westwood, or perhaps from further afield. In the evening there was a period of heavy rain which was followed by some strong gusty winds overnight.

17th - Most trees are now bare and the countryside now has its winter clothes on, even though the weather at the moment is still very much autumnal rather than wintry.

19th - A blustery and mild day with temperatures around 14 C.

20th - A male Blackbird with a large amount of white feathers around its face and neck has turned up in the garden recently, and would appear to have taken up winter residence here.

21st - Thick fog this morning with visibility falling below 200 metres.

22nd - A flock of Starlings of about fifty or so has been gathering in the area most afternoons recently.

Millingtondale - A late autumn walk in the heart of my favourite area of the Wolds, with the countryside now very much becoming wintry, with the abundant Hawthorn scrub in the dale now devoid of foliage. However the dark red berries are attracting many birds, including a few Fieldfares.

24th - A dozen or so Redwings were seen feeding in the White Lodge Yews, with Blackbirds, Song thrushes, and Mistle thrushes also seen in the same area. Overnight there was a heavy shower (peaking at 28.4 mm/h) which was accompanied by some strong gusts.

27th - A touch of hoar frost at first this morning.

28th - The lowest temperature of the autumn thus far, with an overnight low of 0.9 C. There was a touch of frost before dawn but increasing cloud by first light soon melted it. However the day remained on the chilly side with a high of just 5.7 C.

29th - Periods of heavy rain during the morning, and feeling cold and raw throughout the day.

Deepdale (Calliswold) - A very enjoyable walk in this high Wold dale, despite (or maybe because) of the heavy rain, which at first was particularly heavy and was made to feel the more unpleasant by the blustery wind which accompanied it on the Wold tops. However once in the shelter of the dale conditions greatly improved, and indeed towards the end of our walk the weather was beginning to clear. The trees in the wood are now largely bare, with just the dark green of Spruces standing in stark contrast to the brown and bare branches of the other trees. Some Larches are also holding on to some of their needles, which just adds an extra touch of colour and depth to the whole starkly beautiful scene. Towards the end of our walk we came upon a clump of some interesting fungi which I couldn’t identify with any confidence, though I did think that maybe they were emerging Hygrophorus Conicus. They were growing in an area of grassland which had been Hawthorn scrub a few years ago, and they seem to be very much associated with the decaying buried wood under the ground. Birdwise some Fieldfares were spotted in the high open fields, while in the covert crops flocks of finches were observed, with Goldfinches the most dominant species.

30th - A bright rainbow was seen at 2 pm to the north east of the house.

October 2009

1st - A small flock of Golden Plovers flew over this afternoon.

3rd - There were some strong and gusty winds today, peaking firstly around 2 pm as a cold front or trough passed through, and again between 5 pm and 8 pm as pressure began to rise. The earlier cold front also produced some recordable rain, the first since the 6th of September.

6th - Very warm and humid this afternoon, feeling almost tropical with a Dew Point of 17 C. A warm front in the morning brought the warm and moist air, but at 1645 BST a cold front or trough moved through, bringing with it very heavy and at first thundery rain. Indeed one bolt of CG lightning appeared to strike Black Mill and the rumble of thunder which accompanied it was almost instantaneous and very loud. The rain peaked at 108.6 mm/h, a new station record, and in total 26.7 mm was recorded through the day, making it the wettest October day on my records.

7th - At dawn a trio of planets can be seen to the south-east at the moment, with Venus, Mercury, and Saturn all within a short distance of each other.

8th - The Inkcaps have emerged in recent days, this after an absence of a few years.

12th - A fox was seen along St. Giles Croft at dawn this morning. It wasn’t very big so probably a vixen, or maybe a juvenile.

13th - Redwings were heard flying over in quite large numbers this morning, and amongst them I also heard some Skylarks. I had thought I had heard some Redwings yesterday when I was out in the garden during the afternoon.

14th - Visible migration was again heard and witnessed this morning, with lots of thrushes and skylarks again heard. During the afternoon a couple of Redwings were actually seen in the garden, the earliest observation on my records.

15th - A thoroughly dull and damp day with grey skies and general murk.

17th - The Sycamores are now dropping their seeds, and in the last week many trees have begun to noticeably loose leaves.

21st - Recent wind and rain are continuing to bring down the leaves, with Horse Chestnuts, Limes, and exposed Ash’s and Copper Beech’s seeing significant losses. In the garden itself the Swedish Whitebeam and Crab Apple are now largely bare. The weather was particularly dull and damp today, with periods of rain or drizzle throughout. 14.8 mm’s of rain were recorded in total.

22nd - The Virginia Creeper is looking very colourful at the moment, with shades varying from tired green to vivid red.

Huggatewold Wood - On a damp and grey morning we enjoyed a lovely autumn walk through Tundale Wood, which in terms of colour is now very much at its best, with the dominant Beech and Sycamore trees (the Beech in particular) a wonderful coppery to yellow tint. Indeed many of the leaves have already fallen, today’s rain helping in that regard, which means the woodland floor is likewise covered in leaves of many colours and tints, a scene which is undoubtedly pleasing and gentle on the eyes.

27th - Heard some Fieldfares passing overhead today, the first I’ve heard this autumn. The last eight days have been very grey, today being no exception, with just three hours of sunshine being recorded since the 20th. It has been quite mild with it, with night-time lows being well above average for the time of year under the overcast skies.

28th - The recent mild conditions are continuing, the thermometer rising to 16.5 C today with November just days away.

North Cliffe Wood - A lovely autumn walk on a gorgeous golden October day with combination of coppery bracken and the remaining golden birch leaves giving a lovely sepia tint to the afternoon. The Oaks have now begun to turn noticeably since our last visit and though bird and wildlife wise the trip today was largely uneventful, it was nevertheless just a delight to walk through the autumn wood. Out on the heath a fine display of Lepiota Procera (Parasol mushroom) was seen towards the edge of the woodland, and they were very much at there best, with some fully outstretched to well over 15 to 20 cm. Other fungi was also seen, though I couldn’t identify any others than those I recorded last month (see 16th of September).

31st - Lots of thrushes in the garden during the afternoon, including a few Redwings, as they come in to take advantage of the Yewberries, Haws, and Cottoneasterberries. The day had begun very wet, with heavy rain the night before and during the morning producing over 15 mm’s in the gauge.

September 2009

1st - Horse Chestnut’s are now widely ripening in the local area, with a few seen on the ground here and there. In the evening a rumble of thunder was heard from a passing shower.

2nd - Berries are now in abundance with Haws (4/5), Elder (3/5), Blackberries (3/5), and Sloes (4/5) providing plenty of wild food for man, beast, and fowl alike.

3rd - Persistent rain last night produced nearly 16 mm’s. In the afternoon there was a period of strong and gusty winds as the pressure fell to 986 mbar.

8th - Very warm today, the thermometer reaching 25.6 C. However in the evening there was a short spell of strong gusts around 8 pm, which most have been a cold front or trough passing through the area. Indeed it was some 6 C cooler the next day.

9th - A Swift was seen overhead amongst a flock of House Martins, certainly one of the latest observations on my records. Butterflies are also around in good numbers still, with Red Admirals now apparent in good numbers. Other species seen at the moment include Whites, Speckled Wood, Comma, and still a few Painted Ladies.

10th - Collected five good Conkers under the Westwood Horse Chestnuts.

11th - Increasing numbers of trees are now showing at least a hint of tint. Additionally the garden Yews are absolutely covered in berries at the moment, this attracting the local thrushes.

12th - Observed Jupiter, which is the brightest object in the evening sky at the moment, through a 60mm spotting scope. It was powerful enough to reveal the four Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, & Callisto), and a hint of two dark bands on the planet itself. When I observed Callisto and Ganymede were to the east of the planet, with Io and Europa on the western side. Io was closest to Jupiter with the other three much more distant, with Callisto probably the greatest distance away. A fantastic sight and far better than I had been expecting with my rather modest scope.

13th, Coldwold, Sylvandale, & Nettledale - A good walk on a grey, damp and cool morning, though conditions improved as the walk went on. All the crops are now in, including Oats, a crop which has proved to be more popular than usual on the Wolds this year. Potato’s are still coming in though, and will probably continue to be doing so for at least another fortnight. Wildlife wise there was not much about this morning, though we did see a couple of Red Kites, as well as a Stoat at one point. Nevertheless it was an interesting and pleasant walk.

15th - Collected another dozen Conkers this morning.

16th, North Cliffe Wood - A good early autumn walk around this lovely little wood. Not much colour in the trees yet, though the Silver Birches are showing some golden tints and on the forest floor the Bracken is starting to die back and turn coppery. However fruits and nuts are now in plenitude, with blackberries still going strong, even though that back in Beverley they have now concluded. Acorns are not ripe yet, though they are now full grown, and the same goes for the Hazelnuts.

On the woodland floor fungi is now appearing all over the place, virtually none of which that I could confidently identify as mushrooms and toadstools are largely a mystery to me. However I did manage to identify Scleroderma Citrinum (Earth Ball), which was growing largely out on the heath, lots of Piptoporus Betulinus (Birch Bracket), a few Amanita Fulva (Tawny Grisette), and what I thought could be Lepista Saeva (Blewit), which is a fairly uncommon grassland fungi, though I’m not certain about my identifying skills on this last one. Birdwise there were a few interesting observations, including a Jay, Marsh or Willow tits, leaf warblers, and a female Blackcap. This little wood never disappoints.

19th - There was thick fog at first this morning.

20th, Brattwood - Jenny joined us today on what was a beautiful autumn day, with long spells of sunshine and temperatures in the mid teens. The woods are still green but it’s the plants of the forest floor which are showing the season, with them all looking tired with some already dying back. The plentiful fruits also betray the season, with red haws and hips, black elderberries, and the bluey black Sloes all being seen in the areas hedgerows. Less seasonal however was a singing Chiffchaff in the low wood, no doubt enjoying its last week or so in the country before heading southwards for the coming winter. Visibility was very good today, with the Pennines clearly visible in the distance and York Minster and the Race course also readily identifiable without the aid of field glasses. Indeed from our unobstructed view we could probably see at least half of the broad acres of Yorkshire, surely one of the most wonderful sights one could behold in this nation or indeed any other.

21st, Nidderdale Show - Visited my favourite agricultural show at Pately Bridge today, held as it is in truly one of the most beautiful corners of Yorkshire. We set off at 6.30 am and arrived at the village about two hours later, beating the crowds which begin to appear from 11 am onwards. The weather was grey and chilly and the cloud was thick enough for the odd spot of rain or drizzle, though the fresh south-south-westerly breeze probably kept the rain from becoming anything more significant. The show was as well organised as usual and there was plenty of livestock on show, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, guinea pigs, rabbits, and dogs. Indeed there is always so much here that you can never see it all, for as Nidderdale is the last show of the year in Yorkshire it always attracts many entrants from around the county, and it is well known for its quality and the fact it has remained very much an agricultural show and resisted the many trivial aspects of so many modern country shows. The cattle and dairy entrants are always of very high standard here, and of course this being in the heart of upland Yorkshire, the sheep are likewise, with a good number of breeds represented. The heavy Horses are also a popular and favourite attraction, while I personally also enjoy looking at many of the current and vintage machinery on show. It was here that my Dad and I met a very interesting gentleman with his classic car and we enjoyed a long chat with him on the subject of cars and his career in the service of this nation. It’s enthusiasts and people like these whom to me epitomise everything that is great about England and its people, and I wish him all the best for the future and may he continue to bring his vintage car to the show for many more years to come. After spending a few enjoyable hours at the show we decided to head for home, taking a pleasant rural route through Nidderdale on the return journey.

23rd - Looked at Jupiter again this evening, and I was again treated to a beautiful view of this largest of all the planets in our solar system. This time three of the moons were to the east, with Europa and Ganymede close together and quite near Jupiter itself, whereas Callisto was quite distant from the rest. Io, like on the 12th, was to the west of the planet and relatively close.

24th - Two dozen Golden Plovers flew over at 7 am, heading south-eastwards. Later in the day at around 3 pm at least fifty were again seen, though this time they were heading back north-westwards.

26th - Swallow numbers have now significantly reduced in the skies above, though Martins are still regularly seen passing overhead. Took advantage of clear evening skies this evening to take another look at Jupiter and see what changes have occurred since my last observation on the 23rd. Only the one moon was to the east of the planet this time when I viewed, this being Ganymede, with the other three all to the west, with Io again closest, and Callisto the most distant.

28th - A small skein of Grey Geese flew over at 7 am.

29th - Butterfly numbers are now in decline I think, and amongst the trees there is some good colour coming through now, especially amongst the Horse Chestnuts, the Swedish Whitebeam, and the Field Maples.

30th - I felt a minor tremor around 1 pm, and this was confirmed by the British Geological Survey which reported that a tremor of 2.9 on the Richter Scale was measured in an area near Goole.

August 2009

1st - A plenitude of life can be witnessed in the garden at the moment, with young birds of many species being regularly seen, including a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker. The flowering Buddleias are attracting butterflies, amongst them vivid Painted Ladies which are enjoying a bumper year. In late afternoon a further highlight was the spotting of a Buzzard overhead, the first I’ve ever seen over Beverley (despite the fact their quite common in the Wolds), and another observation of interest was a juvenile female Blackcap, which was seen feeding on the now ripening Yew berries.

2nd, Millingtondale Head & Nettledale - A fine mornings walk in the heart of the Wolds on what was an improving morning. However as pleasant as the walk was it didn’t start with the most ideal of under-foot conditions as the sheep had obviously spent the night along the foot path and had left quite a mess. Thankfully the walk improved upon reaching the top of Nettledale and indeed this area appears to have been left ungrazed this summer. As a consequence a great deal of thistles have been allowed to grow unchecked and these were attracting butterflies, most notably fresh and vivid Painted Ladies. These were obviously newly born British individuals, as those seen earlier in the year were pale and scruffy in comparison to the beauties seen today.

Another welcome butterfly observation today were a few Marbled Whites in the dale grasslands, only my second sightings of the summer. Birdwise highlights included a couple of Red Kites, a Buzzard, at least three dozen Goldfinches, leaf warblers, and gulls, the latter of these attracted to the recently harvested pea fields. Indeed a number of pea viners were seen in action around the Wolds this morning.

3rd - Common and Black Headed Gulls were seen in good numbers in some the local fields today, perhaps indicating their autumn return after the usual summer desertion.

5th, Flamborough Head - Went to have fish and chips at Flamborough today as a birthday treat. The weather was grey with outbreaks of rain and drizzle, and indeed at one point it became so murky that the foghorn was activated. At North Landing we watched fishermen bringing in Crabs, while birdwise we noted Gannets, Fulmars, and Kittiwakes, including juveniles of the latter. A very enjoyable morning.

6th - Thick fog to start the day with visibility around 150 metres. The juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker continues to be seen in the garden, as does the Blackcap, and I also spotted the young Bullfinch at one point.

7th - A Goldcrest was seen flittering around the Yews today, and a Willow warbler was also seen in the garden.

9th, Huggatedales - A beautiful morning in this tranquil area of the Wolds on a fine and warm summers day. The country lanes are now largely tired looking, though Willowherb and Bindweed are still adding some splashes of colour. In the dale grasslands butterflies were apparent with species seen including Whites, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Skippers, Meadow Browns, Painted Ladies, and Marbled Whites. Indeed the number of Marbles was the best I’ve seen this year, though there is no doubt that numbers are reduced again this year after a wet July and two previously damp summers. Further along the walk we came upon mown grass in the more open dales, and the smell of this new mown hay was a delight to breathe in. Indeed harvest is now starting to get back on track with much of the Barley now in, along with peas, and rapeseed, and though the wheat is still not ready I expect that within a fortnight or so it will be ready for the first combines. The seasons are truly a wonderful phenomena and too often we  take them for granted, but I for one consider them a gift.

Upon arrival back in Huggate we called in at the church for a quick visit and this is certainly amongst my favourite Wold churches. The exterior of the church is everything I associate with an affluent country parish, with a fine spire soaring high above the rolling cereal fields, and in many regards the exterior is not dissimilar from that of Birstwith, North Yorkshire, the village of my early childhood. However it is actually the interior of this church which I particularly enjoy, with well kept furniture, fine stone work, lovely stained glass, a decent organ, and plenty of historical features and items. A perfect blend of simplicity and functionality with recognition of the basic human need to create and see beautiful and skilled works of art and craft that, to me, represent mankind at its very best.

15th - Swift numbers now seem somewhat reduced over the skies of Beverley.

16th, Pigbeanwold and Dale - A good walk on a sunny and breezy morning. The signs, and indeed the feel, of the coming season are becoming ever stronger, with ripening fruits in the hedgerows and a general tiredness amongst all living things. At the top of the dale hirundines and Swifts were gathering, and as we sat amongst the long grass they awarded us with a fantastic display of their wonderful flying skills, sometimes barely an arms reach away from our heads. In the same area we also saw and heard good numbers of finches and Yellowhammers, and above the wood we spotted a Buzzard hunting.

17th - The breeze was quite strong this afternoon.

18th - Golden Plovers and Lapwings were seen in some of the roughly ploughed Parkland fields this morning.

19th - Very hot today with the temperature climbing to 26 C.

20th - A strong and gusty windy today.

21st - I spotted only one Swift today.

23rd - Becoming hot again today with the mercury rising to over 25 C. In the afternoon a Willow warbler was heard singing in the area, a lovely sound which instantly evokes the gentle days of late spring and early summer.

Huggate Dykes and Millingtonwold - An enjoyable walk on a sunny and breezy day. The farmers and contractors were very busy on the Wolds as the wheat harvest is now well under way, with combines seen running in a number of fields, and grain containers and lorries on the rural lanes. Much of the harvest is now complete in the lower regions of the county (including around Beverley) with much progress having been made in the past week. There’ll certainly be some tired folks and machinery about at the moment. Away from agricultural activities it was butterflies which provided most of the interest today, especially in the un-grazed dale grasslands, with species seen including Whites, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, and Wall Browns, the latter of these having been absent during 2009 till today.

I think many butterflies are enjoying mixed fortunes at the moment, with grassland species seeing the worst of it. Blues, Ringlets, and Gatekeepers have been nearly absent and even Skippers, Meadow Browns, and Marbled Whites have seen below par numbers this year. In contrast the Painted Lady eruption has been unequalled since 2006 and Small Tortoiseshells and Speckled Woods are also doing well. It will be interesting to see how the remainder of the year affects butterfly numbers and indeed how this will impact on next summer. Birdwise there was little of note today, though a Buzzard was seen over Huggatewold, a number of young finches were seen (Goldfinches and Linnets mainly), and a few leaf warblers were heard. In the wood autumn tints are starting to appear amongst the Beech’s and Larch’s, and there is no doubt that summer is now enjoying its twilight days.

24th - The Willow warbler again heard in the area.

25th - Down in the Parklands late song was heard from both Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers today. In the local fields about a 100 plus Lapwings were also seen.

26th - An autumnal feeling day today with spells of rain and a blustery breeze.

28th - Another blustery day.

30th, Brattwood - A beautiful morning in this fine area on the edge of the Wolds. Most of the harvest is now in and indeed ploughing and drilling is already under way in preparation for next year. The natural harvest is also providing in abundance now, with Hawberries, Sloes, Elderberries, and Hips all in plenitude in the regions hedgerows, and there are still some blackberries too, though they are now beyond there best. The walk through the wood was most pleasant and indeed rather than being the jungle we had anticipated the path had been recently cleared, including the fallen tree which had provided an obstacle for the last few years. I imagine this will also help the spring primroses and violets as they were becoming increasingly overwhelmed by brambles and alike. Birdwise the main highlight this morning was the presence of two Red Kites and at least four Buzzards above our heads and it was interesting to see these two species of raptor soaring together.

31st - Spotted a late Swift today, and also observed quite a few House Martins too. These summer visitors usually pass over the area at this time of year as they leisurely begin there long journeys back to Africa.

July 2009

1st - After a foggy start the sun soon broke through and it became very hot, the mercury rising to 27.7 C. Indeed this was the first day to see a high in excess of 80 degrees since 5th August 2007.

2nd - A gorgeous warm and sunny morning in the Parks today, with the crops in the fields coming along after the recent sunny and very warm conditions. The winter Barley is now golden in the morning sun, and the wheat is looking healthy and strong. Amongst the wheat poppies are still in good flower. Birds were also much in evidence this morning with finches, buntings, warblers, and also a lone Oystercatcher which was flying around the local area.

3rd - A very heavy thundery shower during mid morning, with 8 mm’s recorded.

4th - The Apple trees are shedding fruits at the moment, what with the largely dry and warm conditions at the moment. However there will still be plenty of apples come harvest time.

5th - Young birds are seen most days on the bird feeders at the moment, with Blue tits, Great tits, Robin’s, & Blackbirds the most common visitors.

Bempton Cliffs - Went to Bempton early this morning, arriving shortly after 7 am. The weather was warm and sunny and being early meant we only had to share the cliffs with about a dozen or so other visitors, with most of them being the photography types who click away continuously at everything they see. All the birds now have chicks with the Kittiwakes looking particularly healthy and prosperous with the chicks now reaching a decent size and their ‘W’ wing feathers becoming apparent. The Gannet chicks are now huge, sitting in their large nests like a ball of fluff. It’s amazing how such a creature eventually turns into the beautiful seabirds that are adult Gannets. However the auks didn’t appear to be prospering in the same way, and I didn’t see any Razorbill chicks, and saw just two Guillemot chicks. This is very worrying, perhaps pointing to another poor year for these vulnerable species. Puffins & Fulmars were seen well, though I didn’t see any young ones, and on the cliff tops we saw a few young Herring gulls. The grass on the cliff tops hasn’t been cut this year, and amongst this were Skylarks & Pipits. I also thought I heard a Grasshopper Warbler amongst the scrub, though I was not a 100% sure about this observation. A fine mornings outing.

6th - About fourteen Starling’s were on the lawn at one point this evening. This following frequent thundery showers during the afternoon.

7th - Heavy showers again this afternoon, with some rumbles of thunder.

8th - Rosebay Willowherb now coming into flower in the hedgerows.

10th - Most of the local elderflower is now gone over, and I now look forward to them coming into fruit in a few months time. Likewise the Brambles are now concluding their flowering.

12th, Deepdale - Calliswold - A walk in the high Wolds this morning, this area always producing plenty of interest. The weather was largely cloudy, but dry, though after heavy rain overnight it was quite muggy and the grass was very wet. The hedgerows are roadside verges are now by and large gone to seed, though Wild Geraniums are now widely in flower. Amongst the hedges Yellowhammers, & Whitethroats were seen and heard, and in general all the usual farmland birds were well represented, including Linnets, Pipits, & Skylarks. The leaf warblers have now sadly finished singing, though they were heard simply calling throughout the valley. Raptors were not in evidence like they usual are here, though we did see both a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel.

However the main highlight of this morning was the first sightings of Marbled Whites this year, with a number of these beautiful butterflies seen amongst the grassy downland valley sides. Unfortunately they were very flighty so I wasn’t able to get any pictures, but nevertheless it was just nice to simply see them. Another highlight was the discovery of about ten or so Burnet moths on a thistle, which unlike the butterflies were very placid, and allowed me to get very close to them. This is the first time that I have seen them this year. Other butterflies seen this morning include Whites, Browns & Skippers. All in all a very pleasant mornings out in the field.

13th - The first field of Barley is now in in the Parklands area. This morning was a gorgeous one, with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, though with the harvest begun and most flowers now gone over it is beginning to increasingly feel and look autumnal. The harvest is a jolly fine time of year and hopefully conditions will be better this year compared to the last two years.

16th - The Barley field has now been bailed up. In the hedgerows some Blackberries are now starting to ripen, though these are isolated fruits and most blackberries are still green, and indeed some are still in flower.

17th - Heavy rain last night and this morning, with over 20 mm’s recorded.

19th - There was a very bright flash of lightning and a gun crack rumble of thunder almost right overhead, as heavy and frequent showers dominated the afternoon.

North Cliffe Wood - Dad and I paid a visit to this lovely area of woodland for the first time since early May. The weather was grey and damp with the rain becoming heavy towards the end of our visit. The wet conditions meant it was not very good for butterflies, with just the odd moth, white, and brown seen, though the rain did not deter the flies, and more importantly the Mosquitoes, with Dad and I suffering multiple bites. The growth in the wood is now very dense, with areas of Fern above head height. However autumn signs are now appearing, with some red, or at least orangey red berries on the Rowans, while on the Hazels the developing nuts can be seen. Bird life through the wood was dominated by the warblers, and tits, with two beautifully singing Blackcaps heard at the top end of the wood. The young of many passerine species were also seen, with Great Tits particularly well represented. Towards the end of our visit we stumbled upon a wonderfully fragrant Honeysuckle which was growing up a Birch in the heart of the wood, the wet and damp air perhaps making the perfume all the stronger.

21st - A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen at the feeding station today, confirming that they successfully bred again this year. This is the second year in a row that they have done so locally. The adult male was also seen today. Elsewhere I notice that the Rowans on Lincoln Way are beginning to ripen, and are currently a bright vivid orange.

24th - Heard a Willow warbler in Grayburn car park this morning.

25th - Saw a Painted Lady butterfly in the garden today, and other species seen include Whites, Blues, Red Admiral, & Comma.

26th - The juvenile GS Woodpecker continues to visit most days at the moment, and indeed so are many juveniles of other species, including Blue tits, Great tits, Magpies, Jackdaws, Robins, Blackbirds, & Song Thrush.

Bishop Wilton - Our Sunday morning walk took us to the Bishop Wilton area this morning, one of my favourite areas, what with the peaceful village itself and the wonderful views afforded from the Wolds above. The weather was grey today, with some light rain at first, and up on the Wolds it was quite breezy. In the fields behind the village we saw a good amount of developing Sloes on the Blackthorn, and other wild bounty seen in the area included Hazel nuts, Hawthorn berries, Blackberries, and Elderberries. In a month or so it will be a veritable larder. In the higher woods the Ramson’s are still giving off their distinctive perfume, and on the trees one could a spy the developing nuts on both Beeches and Horse Chestnuts. The valley is now part of one of these chalkland restoration schemes, and in some areas they have sown traditional wildflowers, most of which had now concluded, though one could still identify Oxeye daisy, Yarrow, Vetch, Clover, and a few others. Indeed in the local hedgerows most flowers have now gone over, though Wild Geraniums, thistles, harebells, and Bindweed are still giving splashes of colour, as well as Willowherb, and Ragwort on areas of neglected ground. Summer is certainly now moving towards its conclusion, with further proof of this coming from the lowlands as the Barley harvest gets underway. Other interesting notes today included a couple of Buzzards, a Little Owl, and good numbers of both Martins, and Swifts in and around the village.

27th - Further barley fields have now been harvested locally. In the garden a couple of Bullfinches were seen in the evening, one of them possibly a juvenile.

28th, Ryedale Show - Visited Ryedale show at Kirbymoorside for the first time, arriving at around 9am. The show takes place in a large ring, where one can view the cattle and horses. In other areas were sheep, goats, and pigs, and other events included vintage agricultural machinery, show jumping, and sheep dog trials. The event was a very enjoyable way to spend a morning and we had a particularly good time watching the cattle and latterly Clydesdale horses being judged in the main ring. Later we visited the other parts of the show where there were dog, fowl, produce, and craft competitions, and indeed this part of the show seemed to be the most popular with very large crowds gathering in the tents. Eventually it became just too busy and so we decided to head for home, and though this show was very good I would still put it behind Nidderdale Show in terms of the quality of the animals and particularly for the setting and organisation.

29th - A large number of Swifts gathered in the sky this morning as wet weather moved in from the south west. In the afternoon I saw a Goldcrest feeding amongst the Yews, the first I’ve seen in a while. The aforementioned rain became heavier by evening and by the end of the day 19 mm’s of rain had been recorded.

30th - A thunderstorm in late morning with some decent rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning, some within a kilometre. Heavy rain and a squally wind accompanied the storm.

31st - A lovely Painted Lady butterfly was seen again, and indeed by the afternoon a number were seen flittering about around the garden. Haven’t seen so many for a few years now. Other butterflies seen today included Whites, which are very plentiful this year, Peacock, Comma, & Small Tortoiseshell. I also notice that the Yew berries are beginning to ripen, with the odd beautiful berry here and there. In late afternoon I saw a young female Blackcap feeding on the aforementioned berries.

June 2009

1st - The local Elderflower is starting to appear in greater abundance along the local country lanes, and out in the fields the first Poppy’s are emerging amongst the now largely gone over Rapeseed. The fields of Barley are continuing to look increasingly rich and healthy, and the Wheat too is now moving on as the ears are now appearing and it takes on a deep green colour. Back at home the local Chiffchaff is still calling most mornings, usually up in the Larch.

2nd - Very warm today, up to 24 C.

Bempton Cliffs - On a gorgeously sunny and warm morning we went up the Flamborough area of our county, stopping first at the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs, this being our second visit this year. It was surprisingly busy, considering that half term finished last week, though most visitors were of the more senior type, encouraged out no doubt by the recent superb weather, and the current series of Springwatch on the BBC. The flowers on the cliff tops are now at there wonderful best, with seas of Red Campion looking fantastic in the early summer sunshine, as well as patches of buttercups along the edges of the well trodden paths, and patches of white provided by Cow Parsley and Hogweed adding extra variety to the scene.

Amongst the flowers was an abundance of Painted Lady butterflies, a species which has been seen in profusion around the country so far this summer, and a number of other species were also seen, including a Wall Brown, my first of the year. However of course the main purpose for visiting this reserve are the seabird colonies on the mighty chalk cliffs, and as usual the spectacle was as impressive and as striking as it never fails to be. All the usual species were in widespread evidence, namely Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, & Puffins, along with other less notable species (ie. Herring Gull, Black backed Gull, Jackdaws, & Rock doves). Most birds are still on eggs, though a few Gannets and at least one Guillemot were seen with chicks. Certainly we didn’t see any Kittiwake chicks yet, but I am happy to report that most nests seemed to contain a pair of eggs.

However I would cautiously suggest that the numbers of auks seemed somewhat reduced, though I hope I am wrong about this. In contrast through the Gannets appear to be continuing to thrive, something which reflects the national trend. No doubt the current settled weather conditions are benefiting the birds, though it was very warm today (up to 24 C in Beverley), and quite a few birds were seen with their beaks held open, obviously trying to keep cool as the morning sun beat down upon these north east facing cliffs. Other ornithological observations today included an abundance of Pipits & Skylarks amongst the cliff top meadows, and in the scrublands were typical warbler species, most notably Whitethroats & Willow warblers. A good mornings birding, and after finishing here at Bempton we made our way to Flamborough and enjoyed some fish and chips at the Headland. A jolly fine morning indeed.

Goxhill Church - On the way back from our trip to Flamborough we stopped off at the small hamlet of Goxhill, two miles south west of Hornsea, and visited its unusual church of St. Giles. This community is set in a wonderfully tranquil and deeply rural location, with the church itself located on the edge of a farmyard. The church is well maintained inside and out, though they are currently raising funds for the south roof which needs some necessary maintenance. The current church was erected in the late Georgian period, and is constructed mainly of cobble and brick. The tower is unusual amongst East Riding churches, and many have commented that this gives it an Italianate feel. This may well have been the intention of the Constables of Wassand, for whom this is the traditional burial place. The church is still lit by Oil lamps, which hang from the ceiling above, and other interesting interior features included modest stained glass windows, and a Norman font, which at some point was obviously damaged and subsequently repaired. All in all an interesting little church set in the depths of the Holderness countryside.

3rd - There are a few Foxgloves flowering in the garden this year, mainly in the NW corner.

4th - Much cooler than recently, the temperature struggling to just 12.6 C.

5th - The male Great Spotted Woodpecker is regularly visiting the bird feeders at the moment, with a preference for the suet cakes.

7th, High Mowthorpe - Went for a walk in this high area of the Wolds in the far north west of the county. The countryside is still looking really good at the moment, with the seas of Barley particularly attractive as they swayed in today’s cool and blustery east north east wind. Poppies are now appearing in greater profusion, and are looking good along the untreated field edges, particularly amongst the nearly concluded Oilseed Rape. In the hedgerows Elderflower is now appearing even up here on the high Wolds, and along all the roads there is Cow Parsley & Hogweed providing a sea of white blooms. The countryside is certainly now in summer mode, though the weather admittedly was today far from it, with grey skies and a chilly breeze. Nevertheless life is going strong, and on the small lake wildfowl were seen, including Mallard, Tufted duck, Greylag Geese, & Canada Geese, the latter two seen with a number of goslings. Other birds on the lake included Coots, & Little Grebes, and in the general area there were Hirundines, Swifts, Reed Buntings, & Willow warblers. Further up the hill in the areas of woodland a number of wonderfully vocal Blackcaps were heard, their singing perhaps the best I’ve heard this year, and some juvenile Pied Wagtails were also observed. In the fields were Skylarks, & Linnets, and in the high fields a Curlew & a Lapwing were seen displaying, two of my favourite sights and sounds of the hills. Away from birds a couple of Painted Lady butterflies were seen along our walk, looking somewhat blown about. A fine mornings walk in this far northern part of the Wolds.

8th - Heard the Peacock which lives in the Parks area for the first time this year. Back at home I saw the male Bullfinch in the garden, looking striking as it foraged amongst the Elder and Cotoneaster scrub.

9th - The Robin’s are nesting in the Yews behind the Hawthorn this year, with one bird seen regularly visiting the feeders, and occasionally seen taking faecal sacks away from its nest.

10th, Catwick Church - This morning we paid a visit to the church of the north Holderness village of Catwick, a community which is a few miles to the west of Hornsea. The church is located down a peaceful back lane, with fields on either side, and a large rectory/vicarage on its immediate southern perimeter. The present church was constructed in 1863, though it does incorporate much older medieval features, including a chancel arch, and a church was recorded here in the Domesday Book of 1086. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in, but the exterior of the church was nevertheless of interest, with the 1831 Stained Glass by Thomas Ward of London visible in the tower window. The churchyard itself is surprisingly cramped, but is well maintained and hosted a good variety of native plants and hedges, with one particular thicket containing a nest of chirping chicks. A very peaceful community.

11th - Started some proper work on my garden recently, after neglecting it somewhat through the spring, both through ill health and indeed laziness. Planted a new red broom and some grasses today, while last week I bought a couple of Lupins to go with my now flowering Red hot Pokers. In the afternoon some heavy showers bubbled up, some containing hail, with a rumble of thunder also heard at one point.

12th - Heard a Cuckoo this morning down in the Parks, the first I’ve heard in the Parish this year. I also had a close encounter with a male Bullfinch, and finches in general were well represented along Long Lane with little flocks of Goldfinches & Linnets. A Sedge Warbler was also heard this morning. Along the lane the Cow Parsley has now gone over, though it has been replaced by thick stemmed Hogweed, and in the hedgerows the Elderflower is now fully out.

13th - While in the tool shed I saw a newly fledged Robin outside the window amongst the Buddleia.

14th, Cowlam & Cottam Wolds - On a lovely sunny and warm summer’s day we went on the Cottam walk, one of our longer circular routes in the Wolds. Going up through the long valley to the old deserted village of Cottam was a delight, with warblers, Yellowhammer’s, Skylarks, Pipit’s, and even a few Curlews serenading us as we journeyed onwards. Butterflies too joined us on our walk, with Small Coppers, Blues, Whites, and of course Painted Lady’s. The crops in the fields are now moving swiftly onwards, with the Oilseed Rape now largely concluded in most fields, bar the corners, and along the tyre tracks, and the cereal crops are continuing to develop, with the Barley now particularly attractive as its whiskers swayed in the moderate westerly breeze.

From atop Cottamwold the view was very clear today, with views of Bridlington bay to the east, and to the south we could see as far as the Humber Bridge, and the Lincolnshire Wolds beyond, some thirty odd miles away. Up on the Wold tops we saw a few Hares out in the fields, and I thought perhaps I heard a Corn Bunting too, though I wasn’t able to confirm this for sure. As we made our way back down from the heights of the old wartime airfield we had a fine view of the Sykes Memorial to our west, and we passed by some beautiful fields, including a relatively late field of Oilseed Rape which had red poppies growing amongst it. In a week or two I imagine it will be at its best. From here we headed back to the car along the Driffield-Cowlam road, where at one point we saw what seemed to be a Lizard run across the road. If it was a lizard it would be the first Lizard, and indeed Reptile, that I have ever seen in the Wolds. An interesting morning’s walk.

15th - A heavy and thundery shower during mid afternoon, with some decent rumbles.

16th - Continued work on my garden today, and while out there I saw the newly fledged Robin’s again, as well as a few young Blackbirds. A less welcome observation was the discovery of a dead Wren fledgling, possibly a victim of Billy.

21st, Great Dugdale - Warter - A lovely walk in this central part of the Wolds, on what was a bright and muggy morning, with little or no wind. This meant it was a good morning for flies and bugs, and amongst the grasses and flowers, butterflies were seen, including Whites, & Meadow Browns. The crops are continuing to come along nicely, with both cereal crops looking good and strong. Up on the field tops there were a lot of Hares about this morning, and as we were coming up against the wind we had some quite close encounters with these usually shy Wold top residents. At least six must have been seen this morning.

In the local hedgerows the blooms are now coming from the Elderflower and Dog Roses, and on some of the Hawthorns many of the berries are already on the turn. Early signs of the autumn ahead ? More seasonable observations came from the within the dale itself, with wildflowers in the un-grazed fields, including Yarrow, yellow & blue Vetch’s, and most notably a good number of Common Spotted Orchids. Indeed in places you had to be careful not to stand on these beautiful little flowers. In the dale we also had a good sighting of a Red Kite soaring above us, and as we made our way to the dale head we came across a Stoat, which was trying to carry a bunny back to its lair amongst the nettles. It’s always amazing to marvel at the strength of these little and incredibly fierce creatures. All in all it was a very enjoyable and pleasant morning.

22nd - Young Whitethroats were seen in the Old Hall area this morning, and in general there were quite a few warblers about in this area, along with Yellowhammers & young Sparrows. The grass has been left to grow in Old Hall dip this year and is now a sea of long grass, nettles, and wild flowers, which is looking really nice and is a delight to enjoy every morning. Out in the nearby fields the Barley is already on the turn, and in the wheat fields alongside Long Lane there are poppies mixed in amongst the crop.

23rd - Very warm today with a high of just shy of 25 C.

25th - Found a newly fledged Chaffinch today, which I think had left the nest a tad to early as it seemed flightless. The parent was nearby though, so I left it to it.

30th - Very hot and sunny today with a high of over 26 C. However the day had begun quite foggy, as have the last four days as easterly breezes bring in moisture of the sea.