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February 2009

1st - A spell of heavy snow overnight. The snow was three inches deep by morning and it would persist through till the 7th of the month.

Nunburnholmewold - A morning walk on the edge of the Wolds on a cold and wintry day with occasional snow pellet showers and a biting wind on the wold tops. Very quiet as a result but thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless, and it’s nice to have a decent bit of winter for a change. The Red Kite was seen a few times, and it was a particularly fine specimen with a rich red colour. At the top of the wood a very bright Brambling was seen amongst a flock of Chaffinches, many of these too were strikingly vivid. In the woods the Snowdrops are just coming out, but otherwise the woodland floor remains dormant with little or no sign of new life yet. A fine and wintry mornings walk in a beautiful part of the Wolds.

2nd - Some Fieldfare’s heard flying over when I was out measuring the snow from last night (3 inches), and a wader was also heard which I think was probably an Oystercatcher. Later up to a dozen Long tailed tits came to feed on the feeders. The temperature rose no higher than 1.7 C today.

Central Wolds - Went for a drive into the central Wolds, which were covered in a layer of about three inches of snow. The Jeep coped very well with the conditions and we had no problems at all. We stopped at Millington pond briefly, and it proved to be a very good decision, as not only did we see the long reported Hawfinch, but we also observed a Water Rail along the waters edge. We then went up to Huggate dykes where the snow was nice, crunchy, and drier than down in the lower areas. A Roe deer was seen down in the dale, hunkered down and sheltering from the wintry weather. On our way back to the car the weather began to close in again with heavy snow and strong winds. Great stuff. A most enjoyable trip out.

4th - The over-wintering male Blackcap returned to the garden today, after an absence of about a week. A female Brambling was also seen amongst a flock of Greenfinches. Indeed it was a cold start to the day with a low of -4.2 C.

6th, North Cave Wetlands - An afternoon’s birding on a cold but bright winters day. Still snow patches around the reserve with some ice on most lagoons, but nevertheless plenty to see with the main highlight five Goosanders, two males, and three females, on the Island Lake. They were sleeping most of the time but they did eventually stir and showed themselves off as the handsome sawbills that they are. Lots of Teal, Tufted ducks, & Pochards also about, though we didn’t see the Green winged Teal today. Snipe also seen in good numbers all around the reserve, though less Redshanks were about compared to recently. Another highlight was the presence of about a dozen Siskin’s at the feeding station, a bird which I haven’t seen much of this winter. The Green Woodpecker was also heard around the reserve. A good afternoon.

8th - A spell of snow in the evening, with an inch being deposited. Snow from the 1st had only just thawed during the afternoon.

9th - The Blackcap is continuing to visit most days, and the feeding station has attracted some more unusual visitors recently, including Song Thrushes and Goldcrests, species which I have never seen on the feeders before. The Long tailed tits are also continuing to visit frequently. The cold weather is no doubt the reason for this, and last night we had a bit more snow again, giving a fresh covering.

10th - A skein of 20 to 30 Pink footed Geese flew over the house at 3 pm, heading eastwards towards Hornsea.

11th - A female Brambling seen in the garden around 4 pm.

12th - A spell of heavy snow in the afternoon and evening, very sticky and wet, with everything covered in no time. Coming as it did at rush hour meant it caused widespread problems on our local roads. An inch and a half recorded, and the snow would persist in the garden till the 14th.

13th - Heard a Chaffinch singing today. The Blackcap was also seen again today, and the ringed Black headed Gull was observed on the bird table.

15th, Mid-Millingtondale - A grey and dull day on the Wolds, with a layer of snow above 100 metres. Indeed above 150 metres there was still a fair amount of snow on the roads, with at least a few inches in places on the High Wolds. Despite the wintry conditions we did see a couple of Red Kites, and a Barn Owl during our walk.

17th - A very mild day with a maximum of 13.2 C, ending a fairly prolonged cold spell.

19th, Holme on Spalding Moor, Harswell, & Givendale Churches - Visited a trio of churches this morning, stopping first at Holme on Spalding Moor where the view is very impressive from the top of this landlocked island in the Vale of York. The church of All Saints is very interesting, and surrounded by a pleasant churchyard, which Pevsner himself had described as one of the best in the East Riding. However with the site being so exposed it does means it’s a touch drafty to say the least, but the sound of Skylarks all around and the aforementioned views more than make up for it. The church exterior and interior host a number of interesting features, some dating back to Early English, and windows from both the Decorated and Perpendicular periods. Further interest comes from a handsome 18th century porch, and inside is a 17th century pulpit, and there are early 19th century box pews. The church went under restoration around 1910 and all in all this an interesting and well maintained church, which despite becoming somewhat isolated from the community it serves, is still a focus for many within this large village.

From here we headed north to nearby Harswell, the church actually located about a half a mile away from the village, and sighted on the edge of a large and productive farm. The location is most peaceful, with snowdrops in the churchyard, and the inside of the church has an interesting roof, though the floor is becoming increasingly uneven. Other than the roof the church is fairly devoid of any other features, but nevertheless I liked it very much and it obviously remains an important part of local community.

After our brief visit here we headed up to Givendale, passing through Everingham, where turf cutting was taking place at the turf farm, and then up through Nunburnholme and Millington. The flowers in the churchyard of Givendale are now at their best, with Aconites & Snowdrops carpeting the woodland around the little church of St. Ethelburga‘s. This has always been one of my favourite little churches, primarily for its location, but also for the fact it is a church at its most simple. It was rebuilt in 1849 using recycled materials from the previous church, and contains a Norman chancel arch, and despite its exterior simplicity it hosts good quality fittings, these largely from the 1880’s by Temple Moore. A lovely little church in a delightful location, and in the sunshine today it was a most serene and contented place to be. A lovely end to an enjoyable morning.

21st - The spring bed was looking wonderful today with the Aconites, Snowdrops, Primroses, Cyclamens, & Crocus’ now fully out. Indeed today was a gorgeous day with warm sunshine, which in turn drew out a Honey Bee, the first I’ve seen this year.

22nd, Huggatewold Wood & Millingtondale - A pleasant walk on a bright though breezy day. Warm in the sun though. The Snowdrops in the wood are now at their best, a fantastic sight and I‘m always surprised that this wonderful annual spectacle doesn‘t attract more visitors. Not many birds were about today though, with just a couple of Buzzards the only observation worthy of note, and the sound of Skylarks singing above the fields was a welcome one.

23rd - At least four Yellowhammer’s were heard singing out in the fields this morning. Indeed most birds are now in song, and back at home the Magpie’s have started building their nest in the Sycamore’s.

26th - The male Blackcap continues to visit the feeding station.

28th - The garden Yew trees are now in flower, with smoke being produced in the slightest breeze.

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