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April 2009

1st - As April begins spring is now well under way around the parish, with fresh green growth and the early flowers in abundance in the areas gardens and fields. The Forsythia and Daffodils are still in full flower, and many trees are clearly beginning to leaf, including Horse Chestnut, Field Maple, Copper Beech, Swedish Whitebeam, Hawthorn, Elder, and some Silver Birch’s & Larch’s. In the garden the Hyacinth’s are now out, as are the Muscari, & Cowslips. This is a beautiful time of year, helped by the fine and indeed warm weather at the moment. Also seen in the garden today were two Bullfinches, and the Pheasant is still around the local area and is heard calling most days. In the garden fir trees I thought I heard some young birds being feed a few times.

5th - The garden Hyacinths are now in full flower and giving off strong perfume. In the afternoon I saw my first Blue butterfly of the year flittering around the Yew trees, and I also heard the young Magpies being fed in their nest.

6th - Heard my first singing Chiffchaff of the year at Keldmarsh. In the area I also heard a couple of drumming Woodpeckers.

7th - Heard a couple of Chiffchaffs this morning, with one in the vicinity of the house and another down on the edge of the Parks. In the afternoon a couple of Peacock butterflies were seen in the garden.

8th - The fresh green of spring is now everywhere in the countryside, with green hedgerows of hawthorn and blossoming Blackthorn beside the roads, and most trees, bar the usual late comers (such as Beech, Oak, & Ash), now showing at the very least a green hue.

9th - The Chiffchaff was heard again this morning. In the afternoon I saw a Martin briefly above the house, but I wasn’t able to confirm which species it was.

10th - The local Chiffchaff was in the garden at one point today, as was a lovely singing Blackcap. Indeed the Blackcap sang for much of the afternoon from within the Hawthorn. Also today I heard at least three separate Chiffchaffs in the Parks area this morning.

11th - Chiffchaffs again heard widely around the parish, and also seen this morning were a couple of quite fierce fights, with a couple of Song thrushes in town and a pair of Pheasants near Woodmansey.

12th - The garden Tulips are now in flower, and look especially good on brighter days. Hopefully we won’t get any damaging sharp downpours in the next week or two.

Deepdale (Calliswold) - A lovely walk on a cloudy but fairly bright day in this area of the high Wolds. Quite mild too, and with the recent mild weather things have really moved on in the countryside now, with rapidly greening hedgerows, and an increasing diversity of native rural plants to be seen, including Nettles and alike. However the big highlight of the morning was the half dozen or so Willow warblers heard in the dale, the first I’ve heard this year, and always a most welcome sound of springtime. Indeed in the hedges Blackthorn is now well in evidence, or at least it is in areas below 100 metres, and more particularly around Beverley. Actually it’s interesting to note the absence of Blackthorn in the hedgerows of the high Wolds, where the vast majority of the roadside hedges are largely composed of Hawthorn and Elder, whereas on the lowlands the diversity is far greater. Another interesting plant of the high Wolds are the Larches, which though not natural to the area seem to thrive on the local soils and the climate. They are now all coming into leaf throughout the region, and I also noticed that some are now in flower at the top of the dale. A fine mornings outing in one of my favourite areas.

13th - The Pear blossom is now coming out in the yard, and in the garden the Crab Apple too is coming into flower and should be magnificent in about a weeks time. Also looking good in the garden at the moment is the Kerria in front of the tool shed, and the Berberis is likewise in bloom.

14th - Thick fog to start the day today. In the garden I noticed that the House Sparrows have started collecting the Pampas grass seeds. During the night I saw lightning to the south west for a time, but I heard no thunder.

15th - Oilseed Rape starting to come out now with the odd flower here and there in the fields.

17th - The Spanish Bluebells are now starting to come out.

18th - The Bullfinch pair were seen in the garden this morning.

20th - Saw my first Swallow of the year near Black House Stables, a most welcome sight on what was a particularly beautiful mid spring day. The Oilseed Rape is now starting to look really good, but is still a week or two from its best. Other observations this morning included the first Willow warbler of the year here in the parish, a Buzzard over the Parks plantation, and Wild Rose is now appearing in the hedgerows. In the afternoon I saw my first Comma butterfly of the year, and indeed there were a few species of butterfly about today, encouraged out no doubt by the unbroken sunshine and temperatures of up to 18 C. A Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were also heard in the garden today, which incidentally is now full of colour, with the Tulips now all out and the Crab Apple in full blossom.

21st - Quite a few young birds can now be heard being regularly fed in the garden. Also today I saw about five Fieldfares in fields south of Beverley, a surprisingly late observation, and a Barn Owl was also seen in the Parks, the first I’ve seen in that area for some time.

22nd - On a lovely sunny and warm morning in the Parks area I heard my first Whitethroat of the year, and other birds heard or seen included Willow warblers, Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Swallow, Yellowhammers, & Linnets. The hedgerows in the area are also looking wonderful at the moment with green hawthorn and blossoming Blackthorn.

23rd - Another very pleasant and warm day. At home the Beech tree is now coming into leaf, and a number of Swallows were seen overhead, chattering and squabbling at times.

Two Holderness Churches & the Coast - Went to see two churches this morning in northern Holderness, first visiting Brandesburton, and then going across to Atwick on the coast. St. Mary’s at Brandesburton was a very pretty church located beside the village school, with a peaceful and nicely maintained church yard. Of course everywhere looks beautiful at this time of year, and it was a lovely place to enjoy another fine and unseasonably mild morning. The church is constructed of cobble and medieval brick, and is of Norman origin, indeed the church contains the traces of a late Norman priest’s doorway. The chancel, with a lancet window, and the wide nave are both 13th century, whereas a brick clerestory is of 14th century origin. The church, like so many in the East Riding, was subject to restoration in the late 19th century, with further works carried out in more recent times. A fine example of a rural parish church in this thriving commuter village.

Atwick, our next port of call, is likewise located in very pleasant surroundings, and indeed is more truly rural than Brandesburton. The church is of some note, being as it is built entirely of brick and to an unconventional and surprisingly large design. I personally am a fan of brick churches, as it reminds me of the churches of the Low Countries and Baltic areas, and I also find it makes a pleasant change from the more conventionally constructed churches. St. Lawrence’s was built in 1876, replacing an older medieval structure, and was designed by H. Roumieu Gough. The brick is left exposed in the interior, and there is a wagon roof to the nave and a tunnel roof to the chancel. Some older features have survived from the original church, including part of a 12th century font. An interesting little place.

After finishing at Atwick we headed towards the coast, making the most of the fine weather at the moment, and touring through the wonderful spring countryside which is nearing its zenith of beauty now. At the seaside there were about fifty or so Sand Martins flying above the fields and cliffs, and indeed throughout our journey we observed many Swallows hunting over the villages, farms, and fields, and there is no doubt they are well and truly settled in now for the summer ahead.

24th - Yet another beautiful morning and in the Parks I came across my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year, which I managed to get some pretty good views of despite the fact it was lurking within Old Hall Hedge. The area was full of bird song this morning as well, with Skylarks, Yellowhammers, & Linnets heard widely, and a Willow warbler was again heard down towards the Plantation.

25th - Saw my first Speckled Wood of the year. I also saw a few Whitethroats, and heard a few Willow warblers & Chiffchaffs on my morning cycle through the parish. Of additional interest is that the Horse Chestnuts are now coming into blossom on the Westwood, and the Cattle are also out.

26th, Wayhramwold & Pluckham wood - A lovely walk on a gorgeous warm and sunny late April day, with the countryside looking fantastically beautiful and idyllic at the moment. The hedgerows remain a fresh green, with patches of blossoming Blackthorn here and there, and from atop or within them birds such as Yellowhammers, Willow warblers, Pipits, & Whitethroats sing out loud and fill the Wold valleys with the familiar sounds of mid spring. In the valley grasslands the Cowslips are now in flower, and along the roads the Dandelions & Daisies make for a spectacle to equal any of the great man-made gardens. In the high fields the Oilseed Rape is just coming into flower (in the lowlands it is already approaching its best), and most trees are now in leaf or leafing, though the Ashes and indeed Oaks remain an exception to this. Other welcome observations this morning including a good number of Hares, a couple of calling Curlews, one of my favourite natural sounds, Swallows, and we also stumbled upon some broken eggs, mostly Pheasant, but also a few Blackbirds.

28th - Came across a juvenile Rook near Woodmansey this morning, and along Long Lane I heard a Sedge Warbler singing in one of the ditches, my first of the year in the Parish.

29th - Saw the first bit of Mayflower coming out in the parish this morning, and on the roadside verges the first of the Cow Parsley is likewise just beginning to appear.

30th - At least three bats were flying around the garden this evening.

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