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December 2010

1st (Wed) -1.0 C to 1.5 C / 6.9 mm / 1.0 hours / E 4.9 knots
A very snowy morning with a spell of persistent and often heavy snow between 7 and 9 am, adding about 7 cm to the 12 cm of snow which was already lying from the past November. By 9 am snow lay between 17 cm’s and 20 cm’s deep in the garden, with an average depth of about 18 cm. Further snow showers would come and go through the day, though as they were generally less prolonged and heavy than this morning they only added a cm or two, so that by 3 pm the lying snow was measured at a mean depth of 20 cm. Little change going into the evening and overnight, with further snow showers coming and going, so that by dawn the level snow depth in the garden had increased to between 20 & 22 cm.

Thick snow blankets the whole of Yorkshire at the start of this new month, with even coastal locations like Hornsea with a layer of the white stuff. Most areas have now had snow lying for about a week, but it has been in the last few days that depths have begun to increase and the snow has spread far inland. Depths of around six to eight inches are widespread in the lowland regions (Beverley & York both measuring seven inches), though localised spots in excess of these depths are widespread (nearby Lincoln was reporting 11 inches this morning), while in higher regions such as the Wolds and Moors level snow depths are widely in excess of a foot and in places in excess of half a metre. Drifting is also becoming an increasing problem in these areas as the lying snow blows on to the roads, making travelling very difficult to say the least. Further snow is forecast tonight and tomorrow and though it looks set to become somewhat milder by the end of the weekend there are no signs of a major thaw and I think this snow will be around for some time to come.

2nd (Thu) -0.8 C to 2.7 C / 14.0 mm / 5.2 hours / E 1.7 knots
Another snowy morning, with showers blowing in from the ENE. The snow depth at 9 am has now reached a mean depth of 21 cm (8 ¼ inches), while an icicle hanging above the garage door is now in excess of 18 inches long. This is now officially the snowiest spell we have ever had since moving here to Beverley in 1993, now eclipsing December 1995, with possibly more yet to come. Most snow showers dying out by 11am and becoming largely sunny for most of the day, bar the odd flurry from time to time in the afternoon. Slightly warmer than recent days with the sunshine, though the high was still a modest 2.7 C. After dusk cloud would increase and by mid evening we were in the midst of the heaviest snow so far during this cold spell with several hours of continuous and heavy snow. The lack of any wind meant the snow just sat above us for hours, and by the time it cleared snow lay about a foot deep. As the sky cleared later temperatures would plummet, falling to a record minimum of -8 C (17.6 F).

The moderate to fresh easterly breeze had blown the soft fresh snow around during the night, with Shepherd’s Lane now impassable to all but the toughest 4WD’s, ATV’s, & Tractors. In places snow lay in excess of a foot on the road, and if it’s like this here I can only imagine what conditions must be like on the Wolds now. As a result of the drifting I had to walk most of the way down to Long Lane, which in comparison was relatively fine, but despite the cold and periods of snow showers I greatly enjoyed this walk and breaking through the still soft and in places sculptured drifts. Cars were struggling in the conditions this morning though, and I helped three cars get going, including a van which had got stuck while delivering newspapers opposite Dale’s Nurseries. In town itself the road conditions are actually at their worse, at least away from the main roads anyway, with slippery and rutted snow making cycling impossible at worse, and dangerous at best. Another problem in town are snow slips from many of the steeper roofs, which is becoming a very real and potentially deadly danger, and many houses have an impressive string of icicles hanging from their gutters, including our own with one icicle above the garage door now about 18 inches long and still growing. Christmas card scenes are everywhere one looks at the moment (as the snow coated holly berries in the picture testify) and who knows maybe the snow will still be with us in three weeks time.

While out in the garden what sounded like three WAXWING’S were heard passing overhead, heading eastwards towards the town. The unfamiliar trilling call caught my attention and upon checking with a bird song recording I am fairly confident that they were indeed a trio of these handsome winter visitors.

3rd (Fri) -8.0 C to -0.5 C / 1.2 mm / 5.9 hours / SW 2.6 knots
A very cold start with temperatures around -8 C, and deep snow of nearly a foot lying across the local area. It would remain cold throughout the day, the temperature rising to little more than -4 C, but with the clear blue skies, wall to wall sunshine, and light winds it nevertheless felt very pleasant. Cloud however did increase after 3 pm, with the sky becoming largely grey by evening, though there was still the odd gap from time to time. The cloud continuing to thicken during the night, becoming thick enough for a spell of light to moderate snow which added another centimetre or so to the snow cover. The temperature also rising with the cloud, though it would remain below freezing.

The heavy snow last night gave another four inches or so, with the snow lying on the lawn now measuring between 11 and 12 inches, the heaviest snowfall for a generation at least. Everything is completely blanketed with a deep layer of the white stuff now, and when one awoke the scene outside was reminiscent of an Alpine village, with the trees absolutely laden to near breaking point. The frost this morning was also severe for this part of the world, with the thermometer falling to -8 C (18 F), and the temperature would struggle all day, reaching a high of just -4 C (25 F). The icicles outside the garage had grown further overnight, and looked very dramatic this morning in the cold winter blue dawn light, but since they had grown to the extent that the garage couldn’t be opened we had to knock them off as the snow & ice was beginning to overhang dangerously.

As the sun rose the scene in the garden just became more and more beautiful, with the white snow glistening in the December sun, and as the temperature remained below freezing there was virtually no thaw, with the trees covered in their thick mantle throughout the day. The local roads are also still covered in snow, though the major arteries are just covered in slush rather than snow thanks to the tonnes of salt put down, and transportation remains difficult at best down here on the lowlands, while higher up it is nearly impossible in places with thick drifts blocking the minor roads. With the worst of the snow now gone hopefully the snowplough’s can spring into action and clear many of these small yet vital lanes.

The waning crescent moon looked particularly dramatic at dawn this morning, with it hovering low above the snow fields of the East Riding. Above it Venus was shining brightly too, it having being easily the brightest object in the night sky for the last few weeks (excepting the moon of course), while in the evening Jupiter continues to be an easily distinguished object, though it has undoubtedly faded since September.

The garden birds are still finding the feeding station a vital lifeline in this frigid weather, with constant activity seen throughout the day as tits, finches, robins, dunnocks, sparrows, doves, pigeons, starlings, thrushes, and woodpeckers visit for the mixture of seed, nuts, and suet cakes. Hopefully these supplies will help many survive what is a very hard time for most wild creatures.

4th (Sat) -4.5 C to 2.0 C / trace / nil / SW 2.9 knots
A cloudy morning, with temperatures somewhat higher than yesterday morning, and by mid morning rising above freezing for the first time in over 40 hours. It would remain grey and cloudy throughout the day, the cloud thick enough form some light drizzle in the afternoon, and compared to the recent lovely sunny and crisp days it was not particularly pleasant. Most the snow in the trees would thaw today, though the Yews held on to some, though the actual snow lying on the ground thawed very little. Remaining cloudy overnight, though some breaks later did allow temperatures to fall below freezing again.

5th (Sun) -2.4 C to 1.1 C / trace / 3.9 hours / NW 3.4 knots
A largely cloudy morning, with the cloud thick enough to produce some light snow for a time. However this would clear after 10 am and the rest of the day would become largely bright with plenty of crisp winter sunshine. Indeed despite a high of just 1 C it actually felt quite warm out of the wind (this also being true up on Garrowby Hill where temperatures struggled to just -1 C). Under clear skies and with deep snow on the ground temperatures would plummet overnight, eventually reaching a new station record low of -9.2 C (15 F), while the grass minimum also fell to a new record low of -15.0 C (5 F). The previous record low itself was actually just three days old, having previously been set on the 2nd/3rd.

Deepdale & Garrowby Hill
Finally got out into the real Wolds for the first time since the snow arrived at the end of November, and the countryside was looking spectacular under its snowy winter blanket. The major roads and those below 150 metres are actually largely fine, but the smaller minor high roads are still covered in a deep layer of snow, and indeed we were forced into a diversion from our normal route because the Huggate road was proving to much of our challenge for our Jeep and I didn’t want to get stuck again like last year. Instead we took the road up through Fridaythorpe, via Wetwang, and through the morning we would see two accidents along the route, for though the road was free from snow there were still lots of patches of black ice which occasionally caught one unaware. Thankfully we had no problems, though when we arrived at Cot Nab we did need to do some shovelling in order to clear a parking space for ourselves.

From here we set of for Deepdale, heading along the Calliswold road, which to our surprise was actually clear having been dug out probably on Friday or yesterday. The banks of snow alongside the road were at least three inches high, while the piles of dug out snow in places were easily in excess of two metres, which made for an impressive sight as we headed down what seemed like a tunnel through the snow. Eventually we arrived in Deepdale itself, where the snow was deep, fresh and virgin, and up here the snow has barely thawed at all with the trees still covered in the white stuff. The scene was like something out of Siberia rather than Yorkshire, and unsurprisingly very little wildlife was around, bar the odd tits, thrush, pigeons, and some Fieldfare’s. However tracks in the snow did reveal plenty of activity nevertheless, with pheasant, roe deer, hare, rabbit, squirrel, stoat, fox, and even Badger prints found at various points.

Passing along the edge of the forest we encountered some unusual ‘snow coils’, a phenomena I have never seen before, and it would seem they were formed by snow slipping of the low tree branches and then rolling down the hill picking up more snow before eventually reaching a halt at the bottom of the hill. After a long trudge up the hill through the snow we eventually rose up above the dale and came to the high Wold between Givendale and Garrowby. The road here was completely impassable, with snow drifts of five to six feet deep covering its entire length, and it would seem that someone had made the mistake of ploughing the road before the last of the snow had fallen. As a result the road had just ‘filled in’ and now only a digger could possibly clear what was a good mile of solid drifts. It is amazing to think that scenes such as these had become consigned to history just a few years ago, and yet here we are with most of the country and all of Yorkshire now in the hard grip of winter. No thaw seems likely in the next week, indeed some severe frosts are expected again, and it would seem that December 2010 will be long remembered after it has passed.

6th (Mon) -9.2 C to -2.5 C / nil / 7.1 hours / W 0.3 knots
A bitterly cold start with a severe frost, after a new record overnight low of -9.2 C (15 F). Ice was on the inside of my windows this morning, while the snow on the ground is now firm and crisp, though where it still lies fresh and undisturbed it is actually still quite soft and remains snow rather than ice after just limited thaws. Remaining very cold throughout the day, the temperature climbing to only -2.5 C (27.5 F), but despite the cold it was a gorgeous crisp winters day with wall to wall sunshine pretty much throughout. Under clear skies the temperature would again plunge overnight, and last nights record minimum would be smashed as the thermometer fell to -10.6 C (12.9 F), the first time the temperature had dipped below the -10 C mark in fifteen years.

7th (Tue) -10.6 C to 0.2 C / 1.1 mm / 6.4 hours / NW 2.1 knots
Another bitter start with a very severe frost after a record overnight low of -10.6 C, this smashing yesterdays short lived record. The compressed snow is now solid as a rock, and the lying snow in the garden still measures in excess of eight inches. Snow has now been lying since the 25th of November, and the snow index for the winter is already an exceptional 200 cm/days (the index for the whole of last winter was 138 cm/days). Remaining cold all day, the temperature remaining below freezing in daylight hours, but it was another sunny and pleasant day nevertheless. Cloud increasing in the evening, with a little bit of snow overnight adding another centimetre or so to the snow cover. The cloud and snow also raised temperatures for a time, reaching a high of 0.2 C, but as the cloud cleared towards the end of the night the temperature would again dip below freezing. In the last 72 hours over 64 hours of frost has been recorded, while in the first week of December alone 119 hours has been noted.

The icicles outside the house are still growing and look wonderful as they glisten in the weak December light. I can’t remember seeing scenes like this for such an extended period and the whole of the local district is still covered in a relatively fresh and soft layer of snow. Where it has been compressed on the roads and pavements it is now solid as rock and a couple of inches thick at least, and even now it is only the major thoroughfares which are clear of snow, with rural and residential roads covered in thick white ice. This morning when the temperature was hovering around -10 C this ice is actually not very slippy, for the ice crystals on top provide some grip, but as traffic increases and the temperature rises it becomes much more tricky and treacherous for motorist and pedestrian alike (cycling being near suicidal).

8th (Wed) -3.0 C to 1.1 C / 0.5 mm / 4.4 hours / NW 3.6 knots
After an initially cloudy start it would become clear with plenty of pleasant crisp winter sunshine for a time, but in late morning cloud would increase with a spell of heavy snow around 11 am, which added another centimetre to the snow cover, which by noon was measured at 22 cm. Clearing after midday and becoming largely clear again, and remaining clear for most of the evening and overnight. However the breeze would freshen from the north west during the evening, and this would prevent temperatures falling as low as they have on recent nights. However the moderate to fresh breeze did see wind chill fall to a numbing -9 C.

9th (Thu) -3.3 C to 3.9 C / nil / 3.3 hours / NW 6.1 knots
A bright and cold start, with more of a breeze today which made it feel that bit more chilly. It would remain bright through the morning, with plenty of sunshine, but after midday cloud would increase and by mid afternoon it had become overcast. The temperature rising with the cloud, this starting the delayed but inevitable thaw, and even by the end of the evening the impressive string of icicles along the side of the house had melted away. By the end of the night snow still covered over 95% of the ground, but the depth had decreased from 22 cm to about 15 cm in 24 hours.

10th (Fri) 2.5 C to 6.2 C / nil / 3.8 hours / W 8.0 knots
A cloudy but nevertheless bright start, and much milder than recently. Remaining bright through the day with plenty of good sunny spells, and in the sun it felt very warm with temperatures reaching a relatively high 6.2 C. However there was a moderate breeze, and this would freshen by the evening with some quite strong gusts by the end of the evening and during night (peaking at 33 knots). This meant it was a mild night with temperatures barely falling below 4 C, and by the end of the night many areas of the garden had lost there snow cover for the first time since the 24th of November.

11th (Sat) 3.8 C to 6.5 C / 0.2 mm / 6.0 hours / NW 4.3 knots
A sunny and pleasant day by and large, and feeling very mild after what has been quite a prolonged cold spell. The lying snow has thawed rapidly in the last 24 hours, going from 15 cm yesterday to just 4 cm this morning, with about 30% of the ground free from the white blanket at 9 am, though the progress of the thaw would slow today with just another 10% of the snow cover being lost by the end of the day. Clear spells in the evening, but cloud would increase overnight, this helping to keep temperatures above freezing again. Indeed the cloud was thick enough for some light rain by the end of the night.

12th (Sun) 2.2 C to 5.0 C / 0.3 mm / 0.8 hours / NW 2.3 knots
A largely cloudy start, with some light rain, but by mid morning some breaks would develop allowing some brighter spells for a time. However showery outbreaks of rain would return by 10 am, these continuing on and off into the first half of the afternoon. Becoming drier thereafter, with some sunny spells at times, but by and large it remained largely cloudy, and would remain so through the evening and night. Somewhat colder again today, with much colder conditions again forecast for the end of the week, with the threat of more ssnow as well as the possibility of severe frosts.

Huggate Dykes & Huggatewold Wood
Another wintry walk with snow still covering most of the Wolds above 150 metres (whereas below 100 metres there are just snow patches now). The temperature was hovering around freezing, and up on some of the exposed wold tops there was a cold and raw NNE breeze, but nevertheless it was very pleasant with bright, if not particularly sunny skies. The roads are now largely clear, though many are very much single file still, with large drifts on either side of the high rural roads. Most of the snow is now hard and compact, obviously having thawed at times in the past week and then refrozen, though in the some of the more sheltered dales which see little in the way of sun at this time of year, the snow was still relatively fresh and soft.

Indeed the daleside leading up towards Hugatewold Wood was still covered in about a foot of soft snow, which made progress slow and tiring. It was here we saw quite a lot of gamebirds about, as well as a few birds of prey, including Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and Buzzard. The tracks in the snow also revealed the presence of foxes, while on the snow covered dalesides Hare’s were seen in good numbers running about. In the wood itself we came upon two Roe deer, which had no idea we were present as they busily searched for food, and eventually we were able to stalk them to within about 30 yards before they took flight. It must be very hard for the poor wild creatures at the moment, and looking at the forecast for the week ahead it looks like conditions are just going to turn colder again with no signs of a significant respite up here on the high Wolds.

13th (Mon) 1.6 C to 4.5 C / 0.9 mm / 2.3 hours / NW 4.0 knots
A grey and raw morning, with occasional outbreaks of light rain coming from the north, but by the end of the morning conditions did begin to improve, and indeed by the afternoon it had become largely clear with plenty of cold winter sunshine. However as the wind moved into the ENE during the evening cloud would increase, bringing the odd shower with it, and after midnight it would generally overcast and grey with murk forming by the end of the night. Not very pleasant at all, and a far cry from the lovely sharp and crisp weather of a week ago.

14th (Tue) 2.4 C to 3.9 C / 1.0 mm / nil / NW 1.9 knots
A thoroughly grey and damp morning, with heavy overcast and murky skies which produced some bits of drizzle from time to time. Drier by midday but it would remain overcast for the remainder of the day with grey and uninspiring dull skies. After dusk some clear spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to fall lower than recent nights, but this would be short lived and heavy overcast skies would return, bringing with them periods of drizzle by dawn.

A Treecreeper was seen in the garden Hawthorn looking for food today.

15th (Wed) 0.5 C to 6.6 C / 2.8 mm / 0.7 hours / NW 6.5 knots
Another dull and damp start to the day, with periods of drizzle. A moderate NW breeze made it feel raw as well, which all in all made for a thoroughly unpleasant morning. However by midday conditions did begin to improve, and though it would remain largely cloudy in the afternoon there were nevertheless some brighter periods which allowed even a bit of sunshine at times. Broken cloud and clear spells in the evening but from midnight onwards cloud would increase with the breeze freshening again from the west. The temperature also climbing with the cloud and by the end of the night there were outbreaks of rain, this washing away most of the remaining snow patches from last week.

16th (Thu) 2.5 C to 3.7 C / 2.4 mm / nil / NW 7.5 knots
A grey, breezy, and wet start to the day as a cold front moved down from the north. The cold front itself passed through the area around 9 am, accompanied by a wind shift from the west-north-west to the north by east, and for a time during the heaviest of the rain there were ice pellets mixed in with the general precipitation. The temperature would also fall from 6.4 C at 08 am to 3.0 C by 10 am, and it would continue to fall as the day wore on. Indeed by midday the outbreaks of rain began to readily turn into snow, and it was heavy enough to produce a dusting on the very wet lawn. Further snow flurries in the afternoon, but by dusk they began to die out leaving a largely clear evening and night. A moderate breeze prevented temperatures from falling particularly low (-3.8 C), but this did mean there was a very noticeable wind chill (-9 C), and the ground was like rock by dawn. The dusting of snow still lying at dawn as well.

17th (Fri) -3.8 C to -1.5 C / nil / 4.4 hours / NW 2.6 knots
A very cold start to the day, as a bitter north westerly breeze made wind chill fall as low as -9 C (16 F), but despite the cold it was a pleasant morning with plenty of crisp winter sunshine, and a slight dusting of snow on the rock hard ground. Cloud increasing for a time around midday, but this didn’t come to anything and it began to clear again by mid afternoon. Remaining cold all day, the temperature rising no higher than -1.5 C, making this the third day so far this month which has seen 24 hours of frost. After the cloud cleared in the afternoon the breeze became much lighter, and indeed overnight it would become almost dead calm. This combined with clear skies allowed temperatures to plummet after dusk, eventually falling to -7 C, this being the sixth minimum so far this month to have fallen below -5 C. There is now a strong possibility that December 2010 could see a mean temperature of below freezing (currently it stands at exactly 0 C) and for this fact alone it will take a rightful place amongst the most notable winter months of modern times.

18th (Sat) -7.0 C to -2.4 C / nil / 6.1 hours / NW 1.1 knots
A bright but very cold start to the day, with the temperature hovering around -7 C (19 F). Remaining largely clear and cold throughout the day, with plenty of crisp winter sunshine and the temperature struggling to just -2.4 C (27.7 F). Mostly clear in the evening and overnight, allowing another sharp frost, though later there was one very slight snow flurry which added to the very slight dusting which has been lying since the afternoon of the 16th.

19th (Sun) -5.9 C to -0.6 C / 1.1 mm / 2.7 hours / NW 0.8 knots
A clear and frosty start again, but cloud would move in from the east shortly before midday bringing a short spell of moderate snow and snow pellets. This gave the ground a very slight covering of less than a centimetre. Remaining generally cloudy thereafter, with the occasional slight snow flurry, though some sunny spells did break through from time to time. Remaining cold again all day, with this becoming the third day in a row to remain below freezing. Cloud clearing in the evening, and under clear skies the temperature would plummet again, falling to nearly -9 C by the end of the night.

My mercury maximum thermometer was broken today, and with recent changes to the law I cannot easily find a replacement as the sale of mercury is strictly regulated. Therefore from this date all temperature records will be recorded by my Davis Vantage Pro2 AWS, which had been calibrated at the end of November and has performed accurately within one or two tenths ever since.

20th (Mon) -8.9 C to -3.3 C / nil / 6.0 hours / W 0.3 knots
A clear and very cold start again after another severe frost (minimum of -8.9 C / 16.0 F). Remaining clear and cold throughout the day, and all in all it was a perfect winter’s day with crisp sunshine and the temperature rising to just -3.3 C (26.1 F), which is a new record lowest maxima for my weather station (beating the -2.5 C recorded on the 6th). Under clear skies in the evening and overnight the temperature would plummet again and by the end of the night had fallen to a new record low of -10.8 C (12.6 F).

Startled three Roe deer this morning in the Parklands, as they grazed beside the road looking desperately no doubt for what little food lies beneath the slight snow covering from yesterday. Patches of snow at the very least have now lain around the Beverley area for nearly a month, while on the Wolds (above 150 metres) a covering has blanketed the rolling fields and deep dales for the same period.

The moon was very bright this morning (illuminating the aforementioned Roe deer), lying low in the NNW sky and having a golden hue caused by the earth’s atmosphere and pollution. Lying so low in the sky it seemed larger than usual and it was a wonderful sight as it cast its strong shadows over the glistening snow and frost prior to dawn. Venus too is still very bright in the pre dawn sky, shining like a beacon in the SSE sky. Meanwhile in the evening I took a quick look at Jupiter, which is now noticeably smaller and fainter than it was a few months ago. Looking through my 60mm spotting scope I found it hard to pick out any features on the planets disc, but the four Galilean moons were clearly obvious, with Io very close to the planet on the western side, Europa & Ganymede more distant to the west (and very close to each other), while Callisto lay quite distantly to the east. Interestingly a faint star within the field of view made it look like there were five moons. The full moon was also very bright again during the evening, casting strong shadows and making the snow and frost on the ground glisten, absolutely enchanting and magical.

21st (Tue) -10.8 C to -2.8 C / trace / 6.0 hours / NW 1.1 knots
Another sharp and clear morning with a severe frost (-10.8 C) to start the day. Remaining clear and cold throughout the day, with the temperature remaining well below freezing with a high of just -3.3 C (26.1 F), equalling yesterdays record low maximum. Under clear skies in the evening the temperature would again plummet, falling below 20 F by 5 pm, and reaching a low of around -9 C (16 F) by 9 pm. However thereafter high cloud would begin to invade from the west, this slowly raising the temperature through the night so that by dawn it had risen to about -3 C. The cloud also became thick enough to produce some snow grains by dawn, adding a very trace amount to the centimetre of snow which has been lying completely unthawed since Sunday.

There was an eclipse of the moon just prior to dawn this morning, staring at around 6.30 am. The moon lay low in the NNW sky, and by the time it reached totality the moon was nearly below the horizon, an interesting sight, though somewhat spoiled by the ever brightening twilight which washed out a lot of detail. This apparently is the first time since 1638 that there has been a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice, so a truly rare event indeed.

Later in the morning Dad and I went to the Tip, though on the way we quickly stopped off at Weel as the frost was so beautiful coating the grass and hedgerows. The river is still flowing fine, though ice coats the edges and the odd bit of ice was seen floating down its course from time to time. With most ponds and other waterways now frozen solid, the river Hull is a crucial lifeline for the local waterfowl, and this was highlighted by the relatively large number of wildfowl seen hanging around near the Beverley beck outflow. Obviously Mallards and Gulls dominated, though also seen were a pair of Wigeon and most notably of all a single female Goosander, a new species for my Beverley borough list. A good number of Cormorant’s were seen flying over the area as well. while in the hedgerows a flock of Redwings were busily feeding on the now nearly dwindled Hawberry crop.

In the evening I again took advantage of the beautifully clear and dark winter skies at the moment, and though the temperature hung around -8 C I spent a happy two hours looking at the heavens shining above. First off I started with my old favourite Jupiter, which through the eyepiece of my larger refractor clearly showed a dark north equatorial belt, and though a SEB was hinted at I think for the time being it remains at the very most a faint feature on the planets disc. Just three of the Galilean moons were seen, as Europa was passing in front of the planet, though Io was seen close to the eastern limb, Callisto much more distant to the east, and Ganymede quite a distance to the west. After looking at the Jovian system I turned my small scope towards one of the most beautiful sights in the winter sky, the Pleiades cluster. This collection of bright blue coloured stars is a fantastic sight through any telescope or indeed binoculars, with my spotting scope having a perfect field of view to enjoy the spectacle. From here I moved on to the greatest of all the winter constellations, Orion, with its easy to recognise three star belt as well as the red giant star of Betelgeuse shining with an obvious orange tint even to the naked eye. However the jewel of this constellation has to be the Orion Nebulae which through the telescope looks like a fuzzy patch with some beautiful stars shining forth from within its gas clouds. Though the bright full moon washed out much of the detail tonight, it nevertheless was a fine view, and I look forward to catching up with it when the new moon comes around in a fortnight.

22nd (Wed) -9.0 C to 1.1 C / trace / 1.4 hours / NW 2.6 knots
A largely cloudy morning, with some snow grains at first, and with the cloud and north east breeze the temperature would rise higher than it has done recently, reaching a high of 1.1 C (34.0 F). This ended a period which had seen 139 hours of continuous frost, beginning on the afternoon of the 16th. Becoming brighter in the afternoon with some sunny spells, though by dusk some light snow showers began to come in off the sea, adding a slight accumulation to the light covering which is still very much intact despite the higher temperatures today. So far snow has lain on 18 days this month, while the snow index for this winter (including November) has reached 270 cm/days. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight, with the odd slight flurry from time to time, and much milder than recent nights with a low of just -3.3 C.

I have managed to acquire a new mercury maximum thermometer, though for the time being the Davis Vantage Pro2 will continue to provide my climatological data.

23rd (Thu) -3.3 C to 2.8 C / 0.6 mm / 0.3 hours / N 3.5 knots
A mostly cloudy start, and though it was relatively mild by recent standards (above freezing even at 6 am), there was more of a breeze today which if anything made it feel colder than it has. Remaining largely cloudy throughout the day, though there were some brighter spells too from time to time, particularly in the latter half of the morning and around midday. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight, with some clear spells at first, but cloud would again increase later with some occasional, largely light, snow showers by dawn.

24th (Fri) -2.2 C to 1.1 C / 1.2 mm / 2.7 hours / NW 3.4 knots
A day of sunny spells and occasional light snow showers, these not really prolonged or heavy enough to add any new noticeable accumulation. However after dusk there were some heavier spells of snow, and these would provide a lovely fresh and clean covering for the following Christmas morning. The showers would clear later in the night, and under clear skies it became nice and frosty with an overnight low of below -4 C.

A Fieldfare was seen in the garden today, the first time one of these large winter thrushes has actually been in the garden itself (rather than just flying over).

25th (Sat) -4.4 C to 1.1 C / trace / 2.8 hours / W 3.7 knots
A cold and crisp start to Christmas Day, with largely clear skies and a soft, fresh covering of snow on the ground. However cloud would increase by the end of the morning, and by noon this would be thick enough for a bit of light snow, but this didn’t last long, with the skies clearing again by 2 pm. Temperatures falling away after dusk under the clear skies and continuing to fall overnight to a low of -3.9 C (25.0 F). So far 341 hours of frost have been recorded this month, more than was recorded during the whole of last winter.

Enjoyed another evening of astronomy on this Christmas Day, taking advantage of another largely clear sky. However observing wasn’t as good as the other evening as there was a thin layer of high cloud which just veiled the stars ever so lightly. I looked at all of the stars, planets, and nebulae that I did the previous evening, though when looking at the Jovian system I took in URANUS tonight, which is currently located just above Jupiter. I took a quick sketch of the view through my 60mm spotting scope (see bottom right), and the field of view of this scope was perfect to take in all of the Jovian system along with Uranus in the very top of the image. Two stars can also be seen in this image, which I later identified as HIP117375 and HIP117112, the first of which is also designated as 20Psc. Through my larger telescope I could yet again decern the NEB on Jupiter, though I was unable to see any detail beyond this as to be honest this is all this cheap telescope can resolve and I think I may have to upgrade my optical equipment to get a better view. The four Galilean moons were all visible, with G, E, & I all to the east of the planet (from most distant to nearest), and Callisto to the west. While out under the stars I also took the opportunity to learn more of the constellations, mainly because I wanted to find Andromeda so that I could see the famous galaxy located within it. Unfortunately the seeing wasn’t great, thanks to a combination of the aforementioned high veil of cloud and light pollution from Beverley & Hull, though I did learn the distinctive ‘W’ shape constellation of Cassiopeia, as well as the huge sprawling constellation that is Taurus with its massive horns, the top one of which ends at the beautiful Pleiades cluster.

26th (Sun) -3.9 C to 0.6 C / nil / 1.0 hours / SW 1.2 knots
A cold and bright start to Boxing day, though a thin high veil of Cirrus and Cirrostratus made the sunshine quite weak and hazy, and this would continue to thicken as the morning wore on. By midday it had become overcast, and it would remain so for the rest of the day, and indeed through the evening and night. Remaining dry however.

Got up well before dawn this morning in the hope of finally seeing one of the jewels of the night sky and our solar system, the ringed planet SATURN. Through my 60mm spotting scope the rings were just visible, but it was through my larger refracting scope that the rings became clearly obvious, with just a hint of division between the planet and the rings at higher power. The rather cheap and poor scope actually gave far better views than I was expecting, and actually the view became better as the sky began to lighten as the contrast between the dark void of space and the bright light of Saturn became less pronounced. While out I also had a look at Venus, which dominates the dawn sky in the SSE, and through the scope it revealed it to be about 40% lit. I also looked at the waning gibbous Moon, and took some good pictures through my small 60mm scope (see right). As a side note I have now decided to upgrade my optical equipment, giving myself a budget of around £500, and I already have a number of candidate scopes. However it looks like the next week and indeed fortnight don’t look promising for astronomy so there is no rush and I can thoroughly research before making any decisions on what is after all a significant acquisition.

27th (Mon) -3.3 C to 1.7 C / 6.2 mm / nil / S 1.8 knots
A grey and overcast morning, the cloud thick enough for some light snow around 9 am. As the morning wore on these outbreaks of snow would turn into sleet, and by the time it began to clear it had largely turned to rain. Drier by the afternoon but remaining dull and overcast and it would remain little changed going into the evening. However overnight further outbreaks of rain and, or sleet would come and go, some of which were quite heavy (3.2 mm/h), and it looks like the long awaited end to the current cold spell has come. Indeed by the end of the night the lawn was covered with just a messy mixture of slush and ice which should thaw totally over the next day or two.

28th (Tue) 0.6 C to 1.7 C / 2.2 mm / nil / S 0.7 knots
A thoroughly grey, damp, and murky day, with outbreaks of rain and drizzle and visibility between 1 to 2 km. The thaw is now well under way though, with the snow cover diminished to just a messy mix of slush and ice at 9 am and almost completely gone by the end of the evening, though a few patches would survive to the next morning. By evening the cloud would lower and it would become foggy for the rest of the night, with visibility falling as low as 200 metres.

After the severe frosts of the past month the ground is now frozen to at least a depth of half a foot (the 30cm soil temperature was 1.5 C at its lowest), and with the overnight rain and snow melt there was a fair amount of standing water on the lawn today as it is unable to drain through the ground. Some of the drains are also blocked by ice, meaning that they are backing up (the one outside the toolshed in particular) and all in all it is a thoroughly grey and miserable end to the cold spell which began over a month ago.

29th (Wed) 1.1 C to 3.9 C / trace / nil / NW 0.0 knots
A foggy and damp start to the day, with visibility widely down to around 200 metres for a time (down to nearly 100 metres in rural areas). Remaining grey and foggy throughout the day, though visibility did improve for a time around midday. However by mid afternoon the cloud again began to lower, and by dusk the visibility had fallen to less than 100 metres even here in Beverley. Remaining foggy for most of the evening, though overnight it began to become merely murky rather than foggy as the cloud base began to rise a little. Barely any wind was recorded today with a mean wind speed of just 0.04 knots, and a maximum speed of 5 knots, both new station records.

The odd snow patch is still persisting here and there around the garden and the borough in general, though the countryside is now once again largely green and brown as one would expect at this time of year. The local birdlife seems to be already responding to the milder weather and perhaps even the lengthening days, with quite a bit of Robin song heard this morning. The roving bands of tits were also noticeably noisier than they have been lately, with a little group of Coal tits catching my attention in particular.

30th (Thu) 1.7 C to 5.0 C / trace / nil / NW 0.7 knots
Another grey and murky day with totally overcast skies and no signs of any brightness whatsoever. However the temperature did manage to climb above 40 degrees for just the sixth time this month (the usual average for December is 45.5 F compared to this months average of just 35.2 F). Little change overnight with persistent low cloud & occasional light outbreaks of drizzle.

Six Fieldfare’s were in the Sycamore this morning, with their loud chattering calls being heard in the garden almost daily at the moment.

Add died this afternoon in hospital after suffering a heart attack. He had been ill for some time but nevertheless his demise came as a shock to us all. He will be sadly missed and life will never be the same without him.

31st (Fri) 2.8 C to 5.6 C / nil / 0.1 hours / W 3.1 knots
Another grey and murky morning, but by the afternoon the cloud base did begin to rise, and by mid afternoon there was even the odd very short break in the cloud allowing just very brief glimpses of sunshine. Mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight.

November 2010

1st (Mon) 7.3 C to 12.4 C / 1.0 mm / 1.8 hours / NW 2.6 knots
A cloudy start to the day, but by mid morning some sunny spells began to develop as holes opened up in the stratocumulus layer. However after mid-day it would become cloudy again and would remain so through the afternoon, the cloud slowly thickening as the afternoon progressed. A short spell of rain would pass through during the evening, quite heavy for a time, but it would clear by 9 pm. The rest of the night would be dry but it would remain cloudy and breezy still, and as a result it was very mild with a low of just 10 C.

A late flying bat was seen along Shepherd’s Lane this morning, as thanks to the clocks returning to good old GMT I can actually see things again during the morning. I also noticed that the sprout harvest in now under way in the Parklands, a real sign that Christmas is getting ever closer.

2nd (Tue) 10.0 C to 13.6 C / 5.5 mm / 3.2 hours / SW 5.6 knots
A mild and breezy morning and early afternoon with variable amounts of mid level clouds and sunny spells in between. However cloud would increase and thicken after 2 pm, with invading altostratus moving in from the west. Also becoming increasingly breezy. Outbreaks of rain in the evening, very heavy at times (peaking at 20.0 mm/h), and with the gusty wind it was quite stormy. Becoming drier after midnight but it would remain cloudy and therefore it was another mild night with a low above 8 C.

After a largely green autumn thus far, the local trees in the Beverley area have really turned in the last fortnight, with golden and yellow colours to be seen throughout the area. The Field Maple’s and Lime’s along the Leases and Champney Road are now particularly attractive, while the Horse Chestnut’s and Beech’s around Minster school are also looking resplendent in there autumn finery. However the leaves are also falling fast now too, with a carpet of yellow leaves covering many pavements and minor roads, while exposed trees are already almost bare, including the tall Ashes and the other trees atop the hill above the house.

3rd (Wed) 8.8 C to 11.7 C / 1.6 mm / 0.4 hours / W 3.2 knots
A grey and damp morning, with the ground wet after overnight rain, though very mild again. Somewhat brighter for a time in the second half of the morning, but cloud would soon thicken and increase again after midday, with some light drizzly rain moving in around 2 pm and continuing intermittently throughout the remainder of the day and indeed evening. Becoming drier later, though it would remain cloudy, but it would also becoming increasingly blustery after midnight with gusts of up to 28 knots. The temperature would also rise steeply overnight, rising from 10 C at 11 pm to 16 C by dawn.

The rain and wind brought further leaves down last night, with the now golden Hawthorn in the garden now half bare, and the Beech too is now loosing leaves rapidly.

4th (Thu) 10.5 C to 17.4 C / 2.9 mm / 0.2 hours / SW 5.7 knots
An incredibly mild and warm start to the day, and also quite blustery with a moderate to fresh westerly breeze. The rest of the day would remain generally grey and breezy, the wind gusting to 29 knots, and the temperature would reach a high of 17.4 C, making this the warmest November day in five years and just 0.3 C below the station record of 17.7 C set in 2005. The cloud becoming thicker towards the end of the afternoon with some rain around dusk and in the evening, but this would clear overnight, with even some clear spells developing later. The breeze would also becoming lighter overnight.

The strong blustery wind this morning had brought a large branch of ivy down across the top of Shepherd’s Lane this morning. Though I was able to squeeze by on my bike it nevertheless proved to be an obstacle to motor vehicles which caused a few problems before it was finally removed. The sprout harvest continues apace in the Parklands with two thirds of the field now in.

5th (Fri) 9.3 C to 12.7 C / 0.7 mm / nil / SW 2.8 knots
A largely cloudy morning, though there were some breaks at first, and still fairly mild for the time of year, though it was nowhere near as warm as it was yesterday morning. Remaining generally grey and cloudy for the remainder of the day, and all in all it was a fairly dull and non-descript sort of day. Continuing cloudy in the evening and overnight.

The Black headed Gulls seemed to have now returned to the local district for the winter, with there loud and harsh calls being heard frequently throughout the day, especially in the morning. A few Common Gulls are also seen too, though for now the BHG’s are certainly more conspicuous and in ascendance. In the garden the small birds were very active today, with a particularly busy flock of at least two dozen Goldfinches, amongst which a few Siskin’s were spotted. Greenfinches were also seen well today, and in the Yews a couple of little Goldcrest’s were spotted, our local population still going strong despite a national decline after last winter. Also seen in the garden today were half a dozen Redwing’s and a Tree Sparrow was also briefly spotted.

6th (Sat) 7.0 C to 8.7 C / 2.9 mm / 6.0 hours / NW 2.0 knots
A cloudy start with extensive stratocumulus, but as the morning progressed this would clear away southwards leaving largely clear skies by mid-day. Remaining largely clear and sunny through the afternoon, and in general it was very pleasant with the golden November light really bringing out the colour in the trees. Cooler though, with the temperature reaching a high of just 8.7 C. Clear at first overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall to just 1 C (with a touch of grass frost), but later showers would drift down from the north, some of which were quite heavy.

Central Wolds
Went out for a drive into the Wolds today, taking advantage of the fine weather. In the golden sun the trees looked spectacular, with the coppery Beech’s looking particularly fine, and there is no doubt that though this autumn was fairly slow in getting going it is now turning out to be a most memorable one with some of the best colour that I can remember. The woods in Warterdale are particularly beautiful now, with the pictures here just a taste of what can be enjoyed at the moment. No matter what people say I personally think November is fine month, and I would challenge anyone to claim it as dull and grey when confronted with the beauty seen today.

7th (Sun) 1.0 C to 7.6 C / nil / 6.8 hours / NW 2.5 knots
A cool start to the day, but largely sunny with just the occasional sharp shower before 9 am drifting in off the sea from time to time. These showers would die out thereafter though, leaving a largely sunny, if perhaps quite cool day with temperatures rising to just 7.6 C. Remaining clear at first in the evening, this allowing another slight grass frost, but cloud would increase later with the wind also freshening from the south east. Pressure would also drop sharply overnight, falling from 1001.9 mbar at 6 pm to 977.1 mbar by 6 am, a fall of 24.8 mbar in just twelve hours.

Huggatewold Wood
A gorgeous autumn walk in the heart of the high Wolds this morning, with the lovely golden colours being really emphasised by the increasingly weak November sunshine. Mum again joined us today on our walk, and it was lovely to walk down the wooded valley, with the woodland floor carpeted with leaves, while above us the mixed shades of the canopy glowed against the clear blue sky. The Beeches again stole the show, with their fiery coppery leaves, though they were ably complemented and supported by the golden needles of larch, and the yellow leaves of the Sycamore’s and some of the Ashes. The scene was further enhanced by the contrasting dark green needles of the spruces, as well as the firs further down the valley. Meanwhile the local hedgerows are also still quite colourful, with the many red fruits of haws, hips, and bryony seen along their lengths, this of course attracting good numbers of birds, including a large number of Fieldfare’s up on Huggatewold. Indeed at least a hundred must have been seen feeding along the field edges and in the shrubs, and trees, with their characteristic loud ‘cha-cha-cha’ calls filling the air as they took flight in alarm at our presence.

Other birds of note today included a small flock of Bullfinches at the top of the wood, and a Red Kite above Warterdale. Despite the fact the leaves are now coming down fast, and with grass frosts becoming regular on any clear nights, a few wildflowers can still be found here and there, with herb robert in particular still flowering well in many sheltered spots, though of more interest was the discovery of some very late flowering scabious in the grassland near the top of Millingtondale. This is a plant I associate with high summer and to see it still flowering in November is a surprise to say the least. However there is no doubt that the countryside has now reached and past the zenith of autumn, with the arrival of winter being surely no more than a few weeks away. I for one look forward to what lies ahead for in this land no two seasons are ever alike and it will be fascinating to see and record whatever lies in store in the dark and cold days stretching before us.

8th (Mon) 0.8 C to 8.0 C / 2.8 mm / nil / SE 8.2 knots
A windy and grey morning, with a blustery south-south-east breeze. The pressure had dropped sharply yesterday as today’s cyclone swept in from the Atlantic, with this mornings pressure reading some 37.2 mbar below what it was twenty four hours ago, undoubtedly one of the sharpest pressure falls on my records. Indeed the minimum pressure reading of  969.9 mbar at 3.20 pm was a new November record for the weather station too. The cloud becoming thicker as the morning progressed, with some light rain moving in around mid-day, though it would remain light and patchy till at least dusk. Thereafter it became more heavy and persistent in the evening, and combined with the blustery south easterly breeze it was very inclement for a time. Becoming drier overnight, with variable amounts of cloud, but showers would develop by dawn, brought in off the sea on a still blustery easterly breeze.

The strong wind brought lots of leaves down today, with many trees almost bare by dusk, and as a consequence leaves covered the garden and front yard, with an even layer of beech leaves of at least an inch in depth covering the area in front of the front door and garage.

9th (Tue) 6.0 C to 7.8 C / 3.0 mm / 2.0 hours / E 5.8 knots
A breezy and largely cloudy morning, with some showers blowing in off the sea from time to time, some of which were quite heavy and even a little wintry with ice pellets mixed in. Somewhat drier during the middle of the day, with good spells of sunshine, though with the moderate ENE breeze it nevertheless felt quite cold and wintry, with a high of just 46 degrees. Showers returning around dusk, and becoming quite frequent in the evening, and again as during the morning some were heavy (peak rate of 14 mm/h), and wintry with ice pellets heard rattling against the window. Clearing overnight however with variable amounts of cloud for the duration of the night, and remaining quite breezy.

10th (Wed) 3.1 C to 6.7 C / 4.3 mm / 5.3 hours / NW 3.5 knots
A breezy morning with a mixture of sunny spells and occasional brief showers drifting down from the north. However these would die out by the end of the morning, and it would become increasingly clear and sunny in the afternoon. Feeling quite wintry though as temperatures struggled to little more than 44 degrees, and at dusk there was a lovely wintry sunset with that particular mixture of shades one only gets when its chilly. Under clear skies the temperature would fall quite quickly in the evening, falling in the end to -0.6 C, the first air frost of this winter, but cloud would increase from midnight, with the breeze also freshening from the south. Outbreaks of rain would arrive after 5 am, these becoming persistent by dawn. Pressure also falling sharply again overnight.

11th (Thu) -0.6 C to 11.5 C / 4.5 mm / 1.3 hours / SW 9.5 knots
A wild and inclement start to the day, with persistent moderate rain accompanied by a fresh to strong southerly wind. The barometric pressure had fallen from 1000.6 mbar at 9pm last night to 979.2 mbar at 9am this morning (a fall of 21.4 mbar in twelve hours), and would eventually fall to 972.5 mbar. Becoming somewhat drier for a time in mid morning, but towards midday a band of showers passed through, accompanied by a gusty wind and some ice pellets mixed in with the rain. The wind also shifted from the south to the west as the showers passed through. The showers clearing after 2 pm with sunny spells developing for the remainder of the afternoon, though it would remain blustery. Variable amounts of cloud at first in the evening, but further showers would pass through the area after 9pm, continuing on and off till around midnight. The wind also becoming stronger in the second half of the evening and overnight, with gusts regularly in excess of gale force and peaking at 37 knots. Still windy at dawn with variable amounts of broken cloud.

Another day of wind and rain would bring down most of the leaves which survived Monday’s autumn storm, with only some of the more sheltered Beech’s and Sycamore’s still holding on to their remaining leaves. This means the local woods are now largely already in their winter cloaks with the dark bare branches and twigs the dominant fashion for the next four to five months.

12th (Fri) 6.8 C to 10.9 C / nil / 4.0 hours / W 5.7 knots
A bright but windy morning, the wind regularly gusting in excess of 30 knots, and peaking at 35 knots. More cloud around in the afternoon, though nevertheless there were still some sunnier periods, and the wind would begin to ease from 2 pm onwards, becoming a moderate WNW by dusk. Variable amounts of cloud at first overnight but it would became largely clear later, though the moderate breeze prevented temperatures from falling significantly.

13th (Sat) 5.1 C to 9.5 C / 0.2 mm / 7.3 hours / SW 1.5 knots
A clear and sunny start to the day, and remaining largely sunny and bright throughout the remainder of the day, with just a bit of broken cloud in the afternoon. Under clear skies the temperature would fall away in the evening, allowing a touch of grass frost, but cloud would increase after 9 pm, becoming thick enough for some light rain around midnight. Clearing away later with the cloud breaking up and clearing again by dawn.

14th (Sun) 1.4 C to 6.5 C / nil / 3.7 hours / W 2.5 knots
A clear and sunny start to the day again, and remaining largely clear and sunny through the morning, though increasing amounts of cirrus and cirrostratus began to veil the sun from 10am onwards. This would quickly thicken so that by midday it had become cloudy, and it would remain overcast through the afternoon. However despite threatening the cloud produced nothing, and indeed after dusk began to break and clear, allowing temperatures to fall overnight with a hoar frost later.

Millingtondale Head, & Huggatewold
A fine morning’s stroll on what was a chilly and initially sunny morning, with a light mist hanging in the dales. Indeed towards the vale it looked like it was foggy but the Wolds themselves were bathed in pleasant and golden November sunshine. The countryside is now very much wintry in appearance, with most leaves now having fallen, though in the sheltered areas some beech leaves are still holding on, and the local Sycamore’s are likewise doing so. The glowing fruits of the hawthorns are still providing some attractive colour to the now bare hedgerows, and they truly are like fairy lights this year, with perhaps the best crop that I can remember. Out in the fields small flocks of Fieldfare’s were seen (and heard), and above Nettledale both Kestrel’s and Buzzard’s were seen hunting above the rolling fields and dales of the Wolds, a wonderful sight.

15th (Mon) 1.3 C to 6.6 C / nil / 7.8 hours / W 0.8 knots
A cold and clear start with a touch of hoar frost across the district, and it would remain largely clear and sunny throughout the day, with temperatures reaching just 43 degrees. Under clear skies after dusk the temperature would quickly fall away, with a ground frost soon developing, and the air temperature would reach a low of exactly 32 F.

The garden birds were very active again today, with Goldfinches in particular seen busy in the tree tops and feeding on the Ash keys. A couple of Tree Sparrow’s also continue to be seen every day at the moment, and they seem to have now become resident in the area.

16th (Tue) 0.0 C to 7.4 C / trace / 7.7 hours / SW 2.1 knots
A clear and cold start to the day with a frost covering the local area, and some patches of shallow mist here and there. Remaining clear throughout the day, and all in all it was another pleasant and sunny late autumn/early winters day. The temperature falling after dusk, with a ground frost soon developing, but increasing cloud after 9 pm brought a change in the weather with cloudy skies by midnight, accompanied by a freshening south east breeze. The cloud was thick enough for some light outbreaks of rain before dawn, and the breeze became increasingly gusty.

Venus is very bright in the south eastern sky during the early hours at the moment, and remains visible well after all the other stars have faded. In the evening sky the three quarters Moon and Jupiter are very close together, and though Jupiter is not quite as bright as it was a month or so ago, it nevertheless is very obvious at it crosses the southern sky during the first half of the night.

17th (Wed) 0.1 C to 7.6 C / trace / nil / SE 3.8 knots
A grey and blustery morning, with some outbreaks of light rain on the south easterly breeze from time to time. Remaining dull and overcast throughout the day, though the breeze would become lighter by mid afternoon, and indeed become quite light by the evening. The cloud coming in off the sea would continue to feed in throughout the evening and night, and therefore it was milder than recent nights with a low of just 6 C.

18th (Thu) 5.5 C to 7.9 C / 2.1 mm / nil / SE 1.9 knots
A grey and dull day by and large as the gentle south east breeze continued to feed in cloud off the North Sea. The cloud becoming somewhat thicker in the evening with some occasional outbreaks of rain during the night, though this would clear away later, leaving behind overcast skies and general damp murk.

19th (Fri) 6.2 C to 8.7 C / nil / nil / S 0.3 knots
A murky and grey start to the morning, and though by late morning the earlier murkness had cleared, it would remain overcast for the remainder of the day, making this the third sunless day in a row. Very little wind today, with just a slight southerly breeze, and it was also somewhat milder with temperatures climbing to nearly 9 C. Cloud persisting overnight, though towards dawn some breaks did begin to develop.

At least four Tree Sparrows were seen at the feeding station today, the first time I’ve seen more than just a mere couple in the garden. I still find it surprising to have these birds visiting us here in what is a sub-urban garden, as I have always considered Tree Sparrows to be an exclusively rural bird which are seldom seen in towns. Around midday a Treecreeper was spotted making its way up the garden Hawthorn, an always welcome observation as these small, shy, and quiet birds are undoubtedly under recorded due to their skulking habits. Goldfinches   were around in good numbers again this afternoon, with a small flock seen busily feeding amongst the Ash keys, while the odd Redwing continues to be seen in the garden on most days still, though not in the numbers that they were in mid October. Even still a flock of five were seen at one point this morning, with their attractive red flanks brightening up what was another grey and dull day.

20th (Sat) 5.9 C to 9.3 C / 5.1 mm / 0.3 hours / N 2.8 knots
An initially grey and cloudy start, but by mid morning some breaks did begin to develop allowing some much welcome brightness after three successive sunless days. However these bright spells were quite limited, and all in all it was another largely cloudy and grey day. Indeed by mid afternoon it became very dull and overcast, with outbreaks of rain coming in off the sea on a north east breeze, and these would continue on and off after dusk and through the evening and night, with some of them being quite heavy (peak rate of 7.6 mm/h). It also became colder overnight despite the cloud and rain, as the wind backed into the North.

21st (Sun) 3.6 C to 6.1 C / 9.1 mm / 0.2 hours / N 2.6 knots
A wet, grey and cold morning with frequent outbreaks of rain coming in on off the sea on a NNE breeze, but by the end of the morning it did become drier and by the afternoon there were even some short brighter spells, though again like yesterday these were very limited and it remained generally grey and cloudy throughout the day. Colder as well with the northerly breeze, the temperature rising to just 6 C. Outbreaks of rain returning after dusk, with pellets mixed in at times, a reflection of the colder temperatures, and some of the bursts were really quite heavy, peaking at a maximum rate of 21.2 mm/h. However after midnight most showers died out, and the rest of the night would see variable amounts of cloud continuing to come in off the sea on a light northerly breeze.

At least ten Tree Sparrows were seen at the feeding station this afternoon, with four occupying all the available feeding ports on the seed dispenser, while the other six fed on the spoil which fell upon the ground beneath. With cold weather forecast for the end of the coming week (with the threat of snow), I wonder if we will see even more before the week is out. Goldfinches were also seen in good numbers again today, with at least a dozen and perhaps two dozen seen amongst the Ash keys, while both the male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker’s were seen visiting the feeding station.

Nettledale, Sylvandale, & mid-Millingtondale
A wintry walk on what was a largely grey, and initially wet morning, with not only Mum joining Dad and I this morning, but also Sophie, on her first ever jaunt out into the real countryside, something which she seemed to enjoy despite the weather as temperatures struggled to reach even 40 degrees up here in the Wolds. The bright red berries which have bedecked the hedgerows and scrublands since September attracted her attention, for as I’ve already said this autumn they are perhaps the best crop I can ever remember, with hips, haws, and bryony all glowing light fairy lights. These berries were attracting good numbers of Redwings to the scrublands this morning, while up in the fields flocks of Fieldfare’s were seen and heard. Out in the fields quite a few Hare’s were spotted as well, with three seen running together across Huggatewold as we headed towards Millingtondale in the Jeep.

Down at the pond at the bottom Sylvandale, the dam of which has recently undergone some maintenance, a WATER RAIL was spotted feeding along the waters edge, a sight which has now become an almost regular occurrence during winter at this location, this being the third winter in a row that we have spotted one of these shy and skulking water birds here. A few Moorhen’s were also spotted here, while above the pond and along the shallow stream a lone Grey Wagtail was seen feeding. Overhead both Buzzard’s and Red Kite’s were spotted this morning, and all in all it was an enjoyable and interesting mornings stroll on what was an otherwise unpromising looking kind of day.

22nd (Mon) 4.0 C to 7.4 C / 2.9 mm / 0.5 hours / NE 3.7 knots
A bright start to the day, but by the end of the morning cloud began to thicken with showers moving down from the NNE, these becoming more persistent and heavy going into the afternoon so that by mid afternoon it had turned into a thoroughly grey and damp day. Cold again, with more of a breeze today. Showers continuing after dusk, though as the evening wore on they became less frequent and much briefer affairs. Remaining largely cloudy overnight, with the odd break from time to time, as well as the odd brief shower as well.

The full moon provided a beautiful sight before dawn this morning, with it illuminating the broken cloud drifting across the sky, as well as the countryside below, with the damp roads reflecting the silver light, as did the puddles out in the fields. The scene would have made for a wonderfully atmospheric painting, as I doubt a camera could have done justice to the spectacle, what with the contrast between the silvery light on any reflective surface and the contrasting dark trees and clouds which were silhouetted by the moonlight.

23rd (Tue) 4.0 C to 6.5 C / 0.3 mm / 5.3 hours / NW 6.1 knots
A largely grey start to the day with the odd shower drifting down from the north, but by late morning it began to brighten up and indeed by midday it had become largely clear with plenty of cold but nevertheless welcome November sunshine in the afternoon. Indeed the day was made to feel that bit colder due to a moderate NNW breeze. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with the odd showers later, but with some decent clear spells it did allow temperatures to fall lower than recently with a touch of ground frost by dawn, as well as some patches of ice here and there on untreated roads.

24th (Wed) 0.8 C to 4.1 C / 4.6 mm / 0.6 hours / NW 5.0 knots
A cold start to the day with some icy patches here and there. Cloud drifting down from the NW brought showers or longer outbreaks of light icy rain and sleet from mid morning onwards, though by the end of the afternoon some breaks began to develop again, with an attractive wintry dusk around 4 pm. Quite raw today, with the temperature struggling to less than 40 degrees, making this the coldest day since the 23rd of February. In the evening as the wind veered into the NNE showers would return, and as temperatures fell they began to turn increasing into snow, with a thin slushy layer covering the lawn, trees, and garden beds by 8 pm. These snow showers would largely die out overnight, bar the odd light flurry from time to time, though it would remain largely cloudy for most of the night, though towards the end of the night the cloud did begin to break up and clear allowing temperatures to dip below freezing for the second time this month.

A Grey Partridge was heard calling in the Parklands this morning, and in the last few days the local Song Thrushes have been singing loudly around dawn, quite surprising considering the current wintry weather. In the evening the first snow of the winter gave a slushy covering of about 1 to 2 cm’s.

25th (Thu) -0.5 C to 2.3 C / 0.3 mm / 5.0 hours / NW 5.5 knots
An initially clear start, but from 7am to about 9am moderate snow showers would become frequent, adding another couple of centimetre’s to the slight covering from last evenings snow. However thereafter the rest of the morning was largely clear with plenty of cold winter sunshine, and it would remain bright and fairly sunny throughout the afternoon, though there was the very occasional snow shower after 1pm. A cold day, the temperature reaching just 2.3 C, and the snow persisting all day on most of the lawn and the garden beds. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with the odd snow flurry from time to time, and becoming quite cold and frosty with a low of -1.5 C.

The birds were active at the feeding station this morning, what with the cold weather and the first snow of the winter covering much of the district. Birds seen included Robin’s, Dunnock’s, Tree Sparrow’s, Blue tit’s, Great tit’s, Coal tit’s, Long tailed tits, Chaffinches, Blackbird’s, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Also in the garden today was a lone male Blackcap which was seen feeding on the Cottoneaster berries, as well as a few Redwing’s, a species of bird which always looks at their best when there is snow on the ground as their red flanks almost glow in the pale winter light. In late afternoon two skeins of what sounded like Pink footed Geese were seen passing overhead, heading south eastwards in the direction of Hull.

26th (Fri) -1.5 C to 1.7 C / 5.0 mm / 6.7 hours / NW 3.7 knots
A cold and largely clear start with a decent frost freezing the 2cm of lying snow which covers most of the lawn and the garden beds, and also producing lots of ice on paved areas where the snow had thawed yesterday. Remaining largely clear through the day, allowing plenty of wintry sunshine, and remaining cold as the temperature climbed to just 1.7 C. As a result the lying snow barely thawed at all today, and it would seem that winter has come early this year with further cold weather expected through the weekend and into the middle of next week. Cloud increasing in the evening with a spell of moderate to heavy snow around 10 pm, this adding about two to three centimetre’s of fresh snow, and covering over those areas where the snow had thawed. Variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night, with occasional brief and largely light snow and snow pellet showers.

27th (Sat) -1.4 C to 1.4 C / nil / 5.3 hours / NW 3.3 knots
After a largely fine start, with just the odd light snow & snow pellet shower, more substantial snow showers would become frequent between 7 and 9 am, adding another few centimetre’s to the already lying snow which has been lying since Wednesday evening. By mid morning seven centimetre’s were measured on the lawn, a new November record. Showers clearing away by 10 am and becoming largely sunny, though remaining very cold with the temperature rising to just 1.4 C and falling below freezing again as early as 1 pm. Overnight the combination of snow on the ground, light winds, and clear skies would allow temperatures to further plummet, and by the end of the night the thermometer reached a low of -7.2 C (19.0 F), not only a new Met. station low for November, but in fact the lowest minimum ever recorded here since records began in 2003.

Heavy snow showers this morning would produce a decent covering, with almost three inches recorded in the garden. Of course this produced some beautiful scenes in the garden, and the fact that many shrubs and trees still have some golden leaves (for this is still November remember), there was an extra tint to the typical wintry scene. However for the birds this weather is not such a wonderful spectacle, with many being attracted to the feeding station today as much of their food is now inaccessible under a layer of snow. The fact that there is still plenty of berries on many of the shrubs and tree’s is a plus point for now, though if the birds use up these supplies now and the winter proves long and hard they will face real food shortages by the time we reach mid January. Many people were saying this winter coming had all the signs of being a particularly hard one, and when one has a decent layer of snow on the ground, and temperatures struggle to rise above freezing, and you remember again that this is only November, then one has to think that they could well be right. Indeed looking at the forecast for the week ahead it looks set to remain cold, with the threat of more wintry weather to come.

28th (Sun) -7.2 C to 1.0 C / 11.4 mm / 2.6 hours / NW 2.0 knots
A very cold and frosty start to the day, after an overnight low of
-7.2 C. Despite the cold it was a beautiful morning however, with largely clear skies, though by midday cloud did begin to move in from the east, bringing with it a period of snow, which at times was quite heavy and added another two inches or so to that already lying, so that by 3 pm about 10 to 11 cm’s was recorded in the garden. However after 3 pm the wind began to freshen from the east, this raising temperature with it and meaning that the snow began to increasingly turn to sleet for a time, though after 5 pm as the wind eased and the temperature fell, it did again turn back to snow. Further outbreaks of snow and/or snow pellets would continue through the evening and night, though they were mostly light and only added another centimetre or two to the snow cover. With all the cloud and showers around it was not as cold as last night, with a more seasonal minimum of just below -2 C.

Went for a very cold and frosty morning cycle around the high Westwood this morning, which is still covered in a lovely and relatively fresh layer of soft snow. The temperature was around -6 C but as there was very little in the way of wind this morning it didn’t actually feel that bitter at all, and besides when one is able to witness such a beautiful scene as there was this morning one doesn’t mind getting that cold anyway.

North Cliffe Wood
A wintry and snowy walk in this wonderfully quiet and peaceful wood, which under a blanket of snow looked especially beautiful today. When we arrived the temperature was hovering around -8 C, which added a delicious sharpness to the clean arctic air, and indeed by the time we departed shortly before noon the temperature was still only -4 C. Obviously with the cold and snowy weather there wasn’t much about in the way of wildlife this morning, though roving bands of tits were seen, amongst them the odd Willow tit, as well as a single Green Woodpecker and a lone Buzzard. The snow revealed that both deer and foxes had been active during the night, but neither were seen today, both no doubt trying to avoid unnecessary activity in the current frigid weather.

However it was the weather which was the main attraction today, with Christmas card scenes wherever you looked this morning. The fact that many of the Oaks still have there golden leaves added an extra bit of colour to the otherwise black and white scene, and the frosted berries on the hawthorns and particularly the rosehips also added extra colour. The scene was further enhanced by the presence of a slight rime, from what must have been some overnight freezing mist, and the tree tops in particular were covered in a magical silvery coat of delicate ice crystals. All the pools and ponds in the wood were frozen solid (an extra concern for the poor wild animals of the wood in this hard weather), and on top of many of these frozen ponds was a covering of ice crystals which looked like fibre-glass needles, which in the pale wintry light looked particularly beautiful & delicate. It is hard to remember now just how one thought that scenes like this might never come again, after a succession of mild winters had made us forget how winter should be, but what with last winter with its frequent and often prolonged and snowy cold spells, and now this years early start, one feels that those days may be behind us and we may well be facing a very long and hard winter indeed.

29th (Mon) -2.3 C to 1.5 C / 14.0 mm / 3.0 hours / NE 3.8 knots
The day began with showers of snow &/or snow pellets, which by 9 am had increased the snow cover in the garden to about 12 cm (nearly five inches), and there would be further snow showers through much of the morning, though after 10 am sunny spells began to break through between the showers. Snow showers continuing on and off through the first half afternoon, with sunny spells in between, and bar some minor thawing in the sun the lying snow again survived the day largely intact. Becoming more settled for a time to end the afternoon, this allowing temperatures to fall below freezing again, but by evening cloud moved in from the east, bringing some snow showers. However like last night the temperature rose with these showers, and by 8 pm these showers became increasingly sleety, and it was even warm enough for some rain by 9 pm, a somewhat disappointing occurrence for truly there is nothing more depressing than the sound of rain upon snow. Further outbreaks of what was a mixture sleet, snow, and pellets would continue through the night, with the temperature remaining above freezing. However despite the warmer and wetter conditions the snow cover wasn’t actually damaged that much, with still an even covering of 12 cm by the end of the night, though I can’t help wonder just how much we would now have had last nights sleet fallen as snow. I expect it would have probably been at least 10 inches by now (which would have easily been a new station record), and it makes we wonder how much is now lying up on the Wolds in places like Huggate or perhaps those snow prone villages to the east of Sledmere like Thwing and Langtoft. Half a metre has been reported in the North Yorkshire Moors, as well as in the eastern Grampians & Northumberland and there is no doubt that this must be amongst the snowiest November’s in living memory.

Another active day at the bird feeding station as the current wintry weather shows no sign of loosening its grip. The Tree Sparrow’s are still visiting in good numbers, and the number of Chaffinches seen at the feeding station has increased to near peak levels. The local Starling’s are also starting to take advantage of the food provided, while other birds seen today at the bird table or feeders include Greenfinches, Blue tits, Great tits, Coal tits, Dunnock’s, Blackbird’s, Collared dove’s, Woodpigeon’s, Magpie’s, Crow’s, and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Elsewhere in the garden the local roving charms of Goldfinches are still regularly seen feeding on the Ash keys, and a few Redwing’s were also seen in the garden for a short time today, mixing amongst the resident Song thrushes.

30th (Tue) -1.8 C to 2.0 C / 8.6 mm / 1.2 hours / E 4.8 knots
A milder morning than recently, but nevertheless an even layer of 12 cm of snow still covers the garden, despite the periods of sleet last night. However the snow on the ground has now been transformed from a lovely layer of soft powdery flakes as it was on Sunday morning, to a hard and compact layer of icy snow which is far less appealing, though with a modest high of just 2 C today it barely thawed at all. Weatherwise the day was a mixture of sunny spells and blustery light snow & snow pellet showers, with the ENE breeze making it feel if anything colder than it has been in the past few days. However around dusk a spell of more prolonged moderate snow showers moved in, which to my surprise also included a couple of flashes of lightning, making this the first case of thunder snow recorded here at Beverley since January 2004. Further occasional snow showers overnight, but nothing particularly substantial with probably another couple of centimetre’s added to the already lying snow.

October 2010

1st (Fri) 9.5 C to 14.0 C / 19.5 mm / nil / SE 2.0 knots
An overcast morning with occasional outbreaks of rain, with a freshening south east wind too. The rain becoming increasingly heavy and persistent going into the afternoon, the rain rate peaking at 13.8 mm/h, and over 12 mm’s being recorded between 2 pm and 6 pm. Becoming lighter by evening and eventually clearing by 8 pm, though it would remain cloudy for much of the night. However breaks did develop later, this allowing temperatures to fall to 7.0 C.

A late singing Chiffchaff was heard in the garden this morning, while overhead a few House Martins were seen, probably fleeing southwards from the inclement conditions which swept across the country today.

2nd (Sat) 7.0 C to 14.5 C / 4.1 mm / 4.5 hours / SE 0.8 knots
A bright start with a chaotic mix of mid and high level clouds in the sky, and the ground very wet and damp after yesterdays rain. The rest of the day would see variable amounts of cloud, though in late morning and early afternoon there were decent spells of pleasant October sunshine, which with the light winds today felt very pleasant after a few grey and wet days recently. Cloud increasing by evening however, with this continuing to thicken through the night with outbreaks of rain moving in after midnight.

3rd (Sun) 9.5 C to 15.9 C / 21.0 mm / nil / SE 1.3 knots
A wet morning with spells of heavy rain, peaking at 8.2 mm/h around 10 am. Easing for a time in the middle of the day, but further outbreaks of rain would return in the afternoon, becoming very heavy and persistent for a time around 5 pm with the rain rate peaking at 48.2 mm. In total 21.0 mm’s of rain was recorded today, and this October has begun on  a very wet note indeed. Eventually becoming drier by mid evening though, and remaining dry overnight with variable amounts of cloud. Becoming misty by dawn.

Today’s rain brought quite a few leaves down today, and there is no doubt that autumn is now in full swing with summer now passed for yet another year. On the front of the house the Virginia Creeper is now beginning to turn a lovely shade of red, while in the garden the Crab Apple is particularly colourful at the moment with a golden crown of leaves. The Cottoneaster berries are now ripe, and as usual are heavily cropping with an attractive spectacle provided by the rich red berries which seem to hang from every bow and branch.

4th (Mon) 8.2 C to 16.4 C / trace / 6.8 hours / SE 1.3 knots
A misty start to the morning, with the local area still very wet after yesterdays rain. However the early cloud and mist would soon clear and the rest of the day would be larger bright with plenty of long spells of pleasantly warm, golden autumnal sunshine. Clear spells at first overnight but cloud would increase later, thick enough for some very light rain for a time.

5th (Tue) 9.8 C to 17.6 C / 3.1 mm / 2.8 hours / SW 1.0 knots
A cloudy and mild morning but by 11 am it became brighter with some decent sunny spells developing by midday. However cloud would increase again by 1 pm and it would remain largely cloudy till late afternoon, when the cloud broke again and allowed some good sunny spells to end the day. Largely cloudy overnight, and mild as a result, with the cloud thickening up later brining outbreaks of rain by dawn.

Thought I heard more Redwings passing over the area this morning, though again I was unable to actually spot any birds to confirm my suspicions. In the warm sun around midday a few butterflies can still be seen on the wing in the garden, with the most common types now being those typical late season specialists the Comma’s and Red Admiral’s.

6th (Wed) 11.1 C to 15.7 C / 0.7 mm / 4.0 hours / SW 1.6 knots
A wet start to the day with outbreaks of light to moderate rain but by 11 am it had become dry and it would quickly brighten up with the cloud clearing eastwards allowing the sun to break through. The remainder of the day would see some good autumn sunshine, this really bringing out the golden hues of those trees currently in colour, and it was pleasantly warm with the temperature a perfect sixty degrees. Partly cloudy overnight though towards dawn most cloud cleared allowing temperatures to fall a bit and producing a very heavy dew.

7th (Thu) 7.0 C to 16.4 C / trace / 9.8 hours / SE 2.9 knots
A clear and sunny start, with a very heavy dew on the lawn after a fairly cool night which saw ground temperatures fall to 4 C. Remaining largely sunny for the remainder of the day, and all in all it was a very pleasant mid autumns day with temperatures a mild 16 C. Remaining largely clear through the evening and the first half of the night but cloud would move in from the south east later, bringing some drizzle and murk in off the sea.

Migrating Skylarks were heard and indeed seen passing overhead this morning, with at least three birds spotted and certainly far more heard. It may be worth doing a visible migration watch in the next few days as we are now reaching the peak of the seasonal avian movement.

8th (Fri) 9.0 C to 15.4 C / 0.3 mm / nil / SE 4.5 knots
A dull and grey day throughout with low cloud and murk in the morning and again in the evening. Indeed on the Wolds above Beverley visibility was below a mile for most of the day. Mild though with the south easterly breeze surprisingly warm. Remaining overcast and murky overnight with some drizzle.

A flock of Siskin’s were seen in the garden Ash trees this morning, with the current weather conditions (low cloud) and gentle east-south-easterly winds providing good conditions for bird migration. They were mixing with a flock of Goldfinches and feeding on the Ash keys. Further migrants were seen later in the morning with the first REDWING seen in the garden this autumn, it seen amongst the garden Yews where it was enjoying the abundant berries with the resident Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. This is the earliest date on my records that I have recorded a Redwing in the garden, beating last years date by six days.

North Cliffe Wood
A long anticipated walk in this wonderful little wood, one of my favourite parts of this whole county, and it was great to finally get out into the countryside after a few weeks confined to home. The weather was grey and murky with visibility in the Vale barely more than five miles though it was very mild feeling with a noticeable warmth on the moderate south easterly breeze. The wood is still largely green, with just some colour being provided by yellow leaves of the Silver Birches and the coppery dying back leaves of the abundant Ferns which cover much of the forest floor. However things are undoubtedly now dying back as the days get ever shorter and this helped to reveal the abundant mushrooms and toadstools which can be found throughout the wood and out on the heath.

The main highlight of the afternoon was the discovery of quite a few Fly Agaric’s which were at their best, as this, the toadstool of the fairy tales and famous for being deadly poisonous, is a toadstool I have long wanted to see growing wild but until today had eluded me. They are such beautiful objects, with the bright red flesh and contrasting white spots, and once my Dad and I got our eye in we must have found at least a dozen or so growing beside the footpaths. Throughout our walk we must have seen another dozen varieties of mushroom and toadstool at least, and though most are beyond my identification skills, there were a few I could name including Birch bracket, possibly Hygrophorus conicus, some lycoperdon perlatum, earth balls, a few types of puffball and perhaps most interestingly of all a lone Stinkhorn, another common and famous type of mushroom which had eluded me until today.

Away from the mushrooms the wood was largely quiet today, with just a few roving flocks of Long tailed tits and finches here and there, though out on the heath a juvenile Stonechat was spotted amongst the gorse scrub, and a Buzzard was seen hovering overhead. A few late butterflies and dragonflies were seen out on the heath as well. A wonderful autumn walk in this peaceful corner of the county.

9th (Sat) 13.1 C to 14.2 C / nil / nil / E 3.0 knots
A dull and grey day again with cloud being brought in off the North Sea, though it wasn’t as murky as yesterday. Still mild feeling despite the onshore breeze and indeed it felt much warmer than the 14.2 C maximum would suggest. Remaining cloudy for most of the night but the cloud would break up later and it would become largely clear by dawn.

A few Redwings were seen in the garden again today, and there calls were heard frequently both in the local woods and in the sky above.

10th (Sun) 11.7 C to 17.1 C / nil / 8.3 hours / NE 3.5 knots
A largely sunny and warm day, a pleasant change from the grey and murky conditions of the past couple of days, though in late afternoon there was more in the way of cloud, as patches of stratocumulus were brought in on off the sea on the gentle to moderate east north east breeze. Remaining largely cloudy in the evening and overnight, though there were some breaks and clearer spells from time to time.

Today we walked in the heart of the high Wolds on what was a warm and sunny day, indeed in the full sun it was very warm indeed and was more like summer than autumn. Upon arriving in the village we soon became aware of the presence of Redwings in the daleside hawthorn scrub above the village, and indeed for most of the walk these newly arrived winter visitors were heard fairly frequently in many areas, and were particularly prevalent in the thick scrub between Thixendale and Wharram Percy, where there seemed to be at least 50 or so taking advantage of the abundant berries which can be found there at the moment.

It was also in this area where a flock of about 80 to 100 Golden Plovers were seen and heard flying over the mix of stubble, ploughed, and already drilled fields which characterise the Wolds at the moment, and a late Comma butterfly was also seen, taking advantage of this late ‘little summer’, though there are now very few flowers for it to feed from, except perhaps ivy. However the woods and hedgerows are not entirely flowerless yet, with some late blooms of herb robert, campion, buttercup, hawksbit, and yarrow seen during the walk, and in general the trees are still largely green with just a hint of tint here and there, though in general the Wolds are never particularly good for autumn colour, except in some of the mixed beech and larch woods in areas such as Huggatewold Wood, Deepdale, and Warterdale.

Other interesting observations this morning included very good numbers of singing Skylarks, especially on the high cereal fields above Thixendale where they were seen squabbling, a large number of Red legged Partridges, many of which were calling loudly this morning, some good flocks of mixed finches in the covert crops, and the presence of Tree Sparrows in the scrub above Thixendale, a species of bird which is all too easily overlooked. A fine morning and just what one needed after weeks of being cooped up at home and in the relatively and increasingly busy, hectic, and urban world that is Beverley and its surrounds.

11th (Mon) 9.1 C to 13.0 C / nil / 1.4 hours / NE 3.7 knots
A largely cloudy morning, though it was fairly bright as there were quite a few wholes in the stratocumulus cloud layer which was being brought in off the sea on a gentle to moderate north east breeze. Indeed in late morning there were some decent spells of autumn sunshine, and despite a modest maximum of 13 C it nevertheless felt very pleasant in the sun and out of the wind. However cloud would again increase in the afternoon and it would remain generally overcast for the remainder of the day. The cloud was thick enough to produce some mizzle in the evening, but this was barely enough to dampen the ground, and it would be largely dry but overcast through the night.

Lots of Redwings were heard passing overhead at dawn this morning, with quite a few seen in small flocks. A few were seen in the garden as well, taking advantage of the Yew berries again. Meanwhile the local Woodpigeons have turned there attentions to the garden Elderberries, with several of these heavy lumbering birds seen trying to reach the berries on the relatively slender and weak twigs on which they are borne.

12th (Tue) 9.4 C to 12.3 C / nil / 1.0 hour / N 2.0 knots
A cloudy morning with a thick layer of stratocumulus being brought in off the sea on a light to gentle north-north-east breeze. However in the afternoon some breaks did manage to develop, this allowing some pleasant spells of warmish sunshine, though by and large it remained largely cloudy, with the temperature struggling to a high of just 12.3 C (54 F). Remaining mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight, though there was a clearer period for a time around 9 pm.

A good number of Redwings were seen in the garden today, with at least a dozen or so seen together at one point. The majority were again feeding on the Yew berries with the local Blackbirds and up to five Song Thrushes, but at least one was also seen taking advantage of the Haw berries. It is also interesting to note the variation in plumage of many of these winter visitors, with many having attractive and vivid red patches beneath their wings, while on others it is almost absent with only the diagnostic white eye stripes confirming that they are indeed Redwings. Most of these plainer individuals are also more sleek and less plump, and I suspect they are probably juveniles, perhaps visiting these shores for the first time in their short lives. Also seen in the garden today were two wonderfully vivid male Bullfinches, with one of them seen feeding on the Honeysuckle berries, and a small flock of Siskin’s were also seen in the Ash tree again. With the Siskin’s were good numbers of Greenfinches & Goldfinches and the garden seemed alive with birds for a good part of the morning. What does all this activity suggest about the coming winter I wonder ? In the afternoon a Treecreeper was seen on the Hawthorn too, a species which has been seen more frequently in the last few months.

13th (Wed) 6.4 C to 11.9 C / trace / 0.6 hours / N 2.3 knots
A grey and cloudy morning again though like most recent days it did become somewhat brighter by mid day with some spells of sunshine. However any sunshine was fairly short lived today, and most of the afternoon was cloudy, with temperatures struggling to just 11.9 C as a result. Remaining overcast through the evening and night, with spells of drizzle and mizzle later.

Good numbers of Redwings were again in the garden today, with their high pitch calls being heard frequently throughout the local woods and gardens. A flock of Siskin’s was also seen again, moving with a small charm of Goldfinches. Later in the morning a lone Tree Sparrow was seen at the feeding station, probably one of the ones which visited back in September.

14th (Thu) 8.6 C to 12.8 C / 0.7 mm / nil / NW 3.2 knots
A grey and chilly feeling morning, with outbreaks of occasional drizzle and mizzle. Becoming somewhat drier after mid-day, though it would remain grey and overcast throughout the rest of the day, this becoming the fifth sunless day so far this month. Continuing damp and overcast overnight, with some spells of drizzle around midnight.

A Fox was seen on the Archery field this morning, which was surprisingly tame for a wild one and allowed a fairly close approach. It looked like a young individual though I couldn’t tell if it was a dog fox or a vixen.

15th (Fri) 9.5 C to 12.2 C / 0.6 mm / nil / NW 4.3 knots
An overcast and dull morning again, and with more of a breeze (from the west-north-west) it felt that bit cooler and very mid autumnal. Like yesterday it would remain cloudy throughout the day with no sunshine at all being recorded, and under overcast skies temperatures would reach no higher than 12.2 C. However after dusk the cloud would begin to break up, and by 9 pm it was largely clear with the moon and stars revealed for the first time in some time. However it wouldn’t remain clear throughout the night and showers would develop later, being brought in off the sea on a north-north-west breeze.

16th (Sat) 7.5 C to 11.5 C / 0.8 mm / 6.1 hours / NW 1.3 knots
A showery morning as moderate showers drifted in off the sea on a largely gentle northerly breeze, though there were some short spells of sunshine between the showers. Indeed at dawn the heap clouds to the east caught the rising sun and looked both attractive and wintry. The morning showers would die out and clear by midday however, and the rest of the afternoon would see plenty of good autumn sunshine, though it was quite cool with a high of just 11.5 C. Remaining largely clear overnight with the temperature falling away to 2.5 C, though it wasn’t quite cold enough for a grass frost.

More Skylarks were heard and seen passing overhead this morning, while in the garden good numbers of Redwings continue to be seen. Indeed I have never known an autumn when these winter visitors have been so apparent.

17th (Sun) 2.5 C to 11.9 C / nil / 8.3 hours / NW 2.2 knots
A clear and chilly start to the day, with temperatures around 3 C and a very heavy dew on the lawn. Remaining largely clear and sunny for most of the day, and indeed though temperatures were again below the monthly average it nevertheless felt very pleasant in the sun. Ho  wever cloud would increase from the north west after 4 pm and by dusk it had become largely cloudy and would remain so through the evening and night. As a result it was much milder than last night, with temperatures falling no lower than 7.9 C.

Brattwood (Nunburnholme)
A gorgeous walk this morning in this always interesting and beautiful area on the western edge of the Wolds, as autumn now reaches its peak. The clear skies overnight has allowed a touch of frost here and there in some of the sheltered dales, with a nice deposit of fine white crystals on the grass and hedges up to a height of about three feet along the beck which runs out of Warter and towards Nunburnholme, while out to the west the Vale of York was enveloped in a layer of thick fog, hiding most of the Vale & the Humber valley from our view for most of our walk. However the Wolds themselves were bathed in surprisingly warm sunshine, and this brought out some of the colour in the local woods, with yellow and golden leaves increasingly carpeting the local woodland floors as autumn marches ever onwards towards the winter to come.

However there are still plenty of reminders of the summer just past to be found in the local countryside, with wildflowers still seen in bloom today including a fair bit of herb robert, mayweed, yarrow and hedge bindweed, while less conspicuous flowers included red campion and a little patch of toadflax in full flower beside the B1246. A little bit of late Knapweed was also seen in this area. The warm sunshine also encouraged a Speckled Wood butterfly to take to the wing in the dappled sunlight of Brattwood, while overhead a Buzzard soared over the wood, a near permanent sight in this part of the Wolds. In upper Brattwood we stumbled upon two good sized flocks of Brambling’s, with each flock certainly containing at least twenty individual birds, and it was nice to see these handsome little birds again after their absence through the long days of summer. This wood is always a good place to find these birds locally, and I can only guess they are attracted to the mixture of abundant beech mast in the wood itself, and the stubble fields which lie beside it. It was also in Brattwood we briefly spied a lone March Tit, another reliable species in this shelter belt woodland, while flocks of noisy Long tailed tits flittered through the elder, hawthorn and blackthorn scrub. Towards the end of the walk we stumbled upon a Stoat on the footpath, with other highlights of the morning including the hearing of Redwings overhead and a lone Green Woodpecker in Brattwood.

18th (Mon) 7.9 C to 13.2 C / 0.5 mm / 0.5 hours / W 5.2 knots
A mild and cloudy morning by and large, though at dawn there were some breaks in the stratocumulus cloud layer which revealed stars and alike, including the constellation of Orion high to the south. However the rest of the day would be cloudy, and apart from a short brighter spell around mid-day, the cloud would increase and thicken as the day wore on with overcast skies by dusk. Slightly milder today than of later, as the breeze was from the west-south-west, and the breeze itself was stronger than it has been lately with some decent gusts in late afternoon and early evening. A short spell of rain passed through in mid evening, but this soon cleared and the rest of the night would become increasingly clear, this allowing temperatures to fall below 5 C.

A small flock of Siskin’s were seen with the local Goldfinches again today, and it does seem like there are more winter visitors in the garden this year than there have been in any other autumn or winter. Indeed at the WWT reserve of Slimbridge the Bewick’s Swan’s have already arrived, some three weeks earlier than normal and two weeks earlier than last year. Also seen in the garden today was the capture of a Song Thrush by a Sparrowhawk.

19th (Tue) 4.9 C to 11.4 C / 0.9 mm / 5.9 hours / NW 6.9 knots
A clear and chilly start to the day, with the constellation of Orion again dominating the southern sky at dawn. Remaining clear through the morning with plenty of golden October sunshine, though it felt quite chilly with temperatures again struggling to exceed 50 degrees, with an extra chill being provided by a moderate north west breeze. Cloud increasing in the afternoon with some sharp showers around 3 pm, but these would clear by dusk with it becoming largely clear by mid evening. Remaining largely clear overnight, and though it became quite cold a frost was prevented by a moderate to fresh northerly breeze. Nevertheless the low of 1.7 C was the lowest recorded for over five months.

In the clear evening sky the nearly full moon and Jupiter were very close together at 8.30 pm, with the moon high in the south-south-eastern sky. The spectacle of the two brightest objects in the night sky at the moment was most impressive and it’s a delight to have lovely dark skies again after the long days of summer.

20th (Wed) 1.7 C to 7.3 C / trace / 9.5 hours / NW 4.9 knots
A clear start to the day, with temperatures just below 2 C and combined with a moderate north-north-west breeze it felt really quite cold with wind chill around -2 C. Remaining largely clear and sunny through the remainder of the day, and all in all it was a very pleasant, if chilly October day as the temperature struggled to a high of just 7.3 C, the first day to remain below 50 degrees Fahrenheit since the 10th of May, and the fourth coldest October day on my records dating back to 2003. Remaining clear at first overnight but cloud would increase after midnight with some light showers later.

Several flocks of FIELDFARE’s were seen passing overhead this morning, there chattering calls alerting me to their presence as they streamed westwards. This now means that most, indeed if not all, the usual winter visitors to the region have been seen, and there is no doubt that autumn has come early this year with many species being seen far earlier than average, and in good numbers too. It makes me wonder what all this means for the coming winter.

21st (Thu) 2.6 C to 11.6 C / nil / 7.0 hours / W 4.9 knots
A chilly and largely cloudy start, with some occasional very light showers, but by mid-morning some breaks began to develop allowing some sunny spells, and indeed by the end of the morning it had become largely clear and sunny. Remaining largely sunny through the afternoon, bar some cloudier periods from time to time. Not as cold as yesterday, but there was a moderate westerly breeze which made it feel nevertheless distinctly chilly. Variable amounts of cloud overnight.

Despite the recent chilly conditions there is still plenty of flowers and colour in the garden, with the varying shades of orange provided by the always good value Nasturtium’s looking particularly good in the characteristically golden sunlight of October, while other flowers in the garden at the moment include Cyclamen’s, Cranesbill’s, a bit of Japanese Anemone, and the last of the Geranium’s and Fuchsia’s. Meanwhile in the next door garden there is a wonderful display of multi-coloured Dahlia’s, which is now at its best. The abundant red berries on many of the tree’s and shrubs are also providing a fine spectacle, with the Cottoneaster & Pyracantha berries positively glowing like fairy lights bedecking a Christmas tree. Meanwhile the Virginia Creeper is now a lovely mixture of shades, ranging from deep red, through yellow, to still green, though the recent breezes has meant that many are now beginning to fall. However elsewhere in the local area many trees are still largely green and in full leaf, with the Sycamores and Beech’s in particular showing little signs of the season yet, while in contrast the garden Crab Apple and Swedish Whitebeam are now nearly bare, with just a few golden leaves holding out against the inevitable coming of winter. However despite the coming of winter, the sunshine today nevertheless encouraged a number of butterflies on to the wing, with species seen in the including Red Admiral and Comma.

22nd (Fri) 6.8 C to 13.3 C / 1.1 mm / 5.0 hours / SW 4.1 knots
A bright morning and early afternoon with variable amounts of mid and high level clouds, and feeling quite a bit milder today with temperatures in the mid fifties and less of a chilly breeze. Cloud increasing in the second half of the afternoon however and becoming quite grey for a time, though it came to nothing and indeed after dusk the cloud would break up with some clear spells developing. However cloud would again increase later in the night, and this would bring some outbreaks of rain after midnight. The breeze also freshened from the south west for a time.

23rd (Sat) 8.5 C to 10.5 C / 0.2 mm / 0.7 hours / NW 6.5 knots
A grey morning, with the ground damp after overnight rain. Remaining grey through most of the day, with some spells of drizzle in early afternoon, but by the end of the afternoon the cloud did begin to break and clear with some late sunshine to end the day. Cooler again with a high of just 10.5 C, and a moderate north westerly breeze. Becoming largely clear overnight, though the moderate breeze prevented temperatures from falling very low, with a minimum of 4 C.

Fieldfare’s were seen and heard heading overhead again this morning, while in the garden further Redwing’s and Siskin’s continue to be seen amongst the resident birds.

24th (Sun) 4.0 C to 8.9 C / 0.2 mm / 5.8 hours / NW 5.8 knots
A bright and chilly start, with some occasional light showers drifting down from the north. These showers would die out as the day progressed and all in all it was a pleasant, if perhaps a chilly and breezy day, with some decent sunny spells between the cloud periods. Becoming largely clear overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall with a low of 0.5 C, and a slight grass frost (-0.9 C), the first of this autumn.

Great Dugdale & Warter
A pleasant walk on a chilly and breezy autumnal day. The tree’s have turned quite a bit since last weekend, with the colder nights recently giving them a bit of encouragement, and many of the Beech’s have begun to be a pleasing golden colour, made all the more vivid by the golden October sunshine today. The scene around Warter village pond was particularly attractive and there is no doubt that we are now entering the last phase of autumn as winter grows ever nearer. Bird wise the morning was fairly quiet, though there were some good flocks of finches in the stubble and covert fields, as well as abundant gamebirds, particularly red-legged Partridges. Above the valley a couple of Buzzards were seen, and towards the end of our walk we had a particularly good view of a Red Kite, the sun really bringing out the rich colours of its plumage, with its rusty red back contrasting sharply with the black and white bars on its wings. A few Redwings were heard too along our walk, though I was surprised we didn’t come across any Fieldfare’s at any point considering there recent arrival in the last week.

25th (Mon) 0.5 C to 9.0 C / trace / 9.0 hours / W 2.1 knots
A clear and cold start to the day, with a very slight grass frost on the lawn, the first of the autumn, and ice on cars. Remaining largely clear and chilly through the remainder of the day, and all in all it was another pleasant and sunny mid to late autumn day. Clear at first overnight, this allowing temperatures to drop again with another slight grass frost, but cloud would increase later, raising temperatures with it.

26th (Tue) 2.0 C to 13.4 C / 4.5 mm / nil / SW 3.5 knots
An overcast and raw feeling morning, with some outbreaks of rain and drizzle at times. A period of more persistent and heavier rain would move in around 11 am, but this would clear after midday, though the rest of the day would remain overcast, damp, and grey. However temperatures would rise after the rain cleared, and would continue to rise through the evening, reaching a high of 13.4 C around midnight. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, and becoming quite blustery from the south west for a time.

27th (Wed) 11.0 C to 15.0 C / nil / 7.3 hours / SW 3.1 knots
A very mild and showery start to the day with a blustery south west wind, but by mid morning the showers had cleared with the breeze also easing. The rest of the day would see plenty of sunshine, with just a veil of high cloud coming and going through the day, and it was mild too, the temperature climbing to 15 C, making this the warmest day for well over a fortnight. Largely clear at first overnight, but cloud would increase later with cloudy and grey skies by dawn.

A flock of Golden Plovers were seen passing over the house around 7.30 am, heading south eastwards, while later a few Fieldfare’s were also seen heading westwards.

28th (Thu) 7.4 C to 13.6 C / trace / 2.1 hours / SW 2.7 knots
A grey morning but it would become brighter after 10 am with some weak spells of sunshine around the middle of the day. Not quite as mild as yesterday, though still very comfortable with a high of 56 degrees. Cloud increasing after 2 pm and soon becoming overcast and grey, the cloud thick enough for a few drops of rain, though it didn’t come to anything in the end. Remaining cloudy overnight, and with a warm southerly breeze it was very mild, the alcohol thermometer falling no lower than 11.4 C, very unseasonable indeed.

Colour amongst the local tree’s is becoming more noticeable now, as indeed is leaf fall with attractive golden and yellow leaves covering many of the more wooded areas. A beautiful annual spectacle.

29th (Fri) 11.4 C to 12.9 C / nil / nil / SW 3.0 knots
A grey and mild morning with a warm south-south-westerly breeze. Remaining generally cloudy for the remainder of the day and all in all a very uneventful and non-descript sort of day. Cloudy at first overnight, but this would begin to clear later with largely clear skies by dawn.

30th (Sat) 7.3 C to 12.5 C / nil / 4.2 hours / SW 1.0 knots
A clear start to the day, and remaining largely clear and sunny through the morning, though broken cloud would increase by mid-day. The afternoon would see variable amounts of cloud with some spells of golden autumn sunshine at times. Clear spells overnight, this allowing temperatures to drop to below 5 C, but fog would begin to form later, becoming thick by dawn.

31st (Sun) 4.4 C to 12.0 C / nil / nil / NW 2.5 knots
A foggy start to the day, with visibility below 200 metres around 7 am. Lifting as the morning progressed but nevertheless remaining grey and quite murky throughout the remainder of the day with little in the way of brightness. Remaining cloudy overnight and very mild as a result with a low of just 7.3 C.

A fine walk on what was a grey and foggy autumn morning, with visibility barely more than a couple of miles. Indeed the visibility in this lovely corner of the Wolds was far better than the majority of the area, with some quite dense patches around Lund and Middleton. Mum joined us on our walk today and she picked a wonderful time to do so as the autumn colours are now at there best. It has been amazing how quickly the leaves have turned in the last fortnight, with the Beech’s looking fantastic even in the dull light today, while other trees are yellow adding to a wonderful diversity of shades, from the dark greens of the spruces and pines, the pale yellows of the turning larches, the yellow leaves of limes, sycamores and ashes, and the coppery reds of the majestic Beech’s. Further colour is added by the abundant fruits this year, especially the bright red rosehips which were seen in great number along the hedgerow which runs down from Nunburnholmewold Wood to the road.

Flowers have now nearly all disappeared in the countryside however, with the recent rural ground frosts no doubt having encouraged them to go in to dormancy for the winter ahead, though in the odd sheltered spot one can still find the odd bit of bindweed and herb robert. Bird wise the walk was very busy, with lots of little roving bands of finches and tits come across, including some Brambling’s up in the roadside Beech’s, and it was also from here where a Buzzard was also heard in the nearby woods. Gamebirds were also around in huge numbers this morning, with the covert crops literally heaving with Pheasants and Partridge’s.

However the possible highlight of the morning was the spotting of what I strongly suspect were WAXWING’s. I was attracted to there presence by an unfamiliar high pitch call, and then when the flew over our heads I noticed a hint of pinkish colour to there plumage and they were about the size of a Starling (perhaps a little larger). Unfortunately they continued to fly until they were out of sight, but nevertheless I am quite confident in my identification, which means that I finally seen a species of bird which has eluded me for far to long. Of other interest today was the brief spotting of a Stoat, an animal which we’ve seen quite a bit of in the last few weeks, and the fact that despite this is October, a month generally not associated with dry weather, the local streams and becks are running very low, much lower than they were in summer in fact.