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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.