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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.