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March 2010

1st (Monday) 0.0 C to 7.2 C / nil / 7.8 hours
A pleasant first day of spring, with some long spells of sunshine, especially in the morning. Cloud did increase in the afternoon, but remained largely broken with sunny spells continuing. Quite warm in any sun traps too, with not much in the way of breeze. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with some clear spells, this allowing a touch of frost.

2nd (Tuesday) -1.4 C to 7.1 C / nil / 8.9 hours
A bright morning with plenty of sunny spells, though there was the odd light snow flurry right at the start of the day but these soon died out. Remaining clear and bright for the remainder of the day, and another fine and beautiful late winter’s (or indeed early spring) day. Clear overnight with a decent frost, the thermometer falling to about -3 C.

3rd (Wednesday) -2.9 C to 5.9 C / nil / 0.6 hours
A bright and crisp morning, with a fairly heavy hoar frost at first, but invading Cirrus followed by Altostratus translucidus made the sunshine quite hazy and weak. Indeed the remainder of the day of the day would be largely cloudy, though it wasn’t particularly thick and it remained fairly bright nevertheless. Cloud clearing in the evening and overnight, this allowing another air frost as the thermometer fell below freezing.

4th (Thursday) -1.4 C to 6.9 C / nil / 7.1 hours
A sunny and crisp morning, with a decent hoar frost to start the day. Remaining largely bright and sunny for the remainder of the day, with just the odd cloudier period around the middle of the day, and all in all another pleasant early spring day. Of note was the development of some Cumulus around noon from the action of convection, another sign of the growing strength of the sun, and a promise of the spring showers ahead. Most cloud clearing away in the evening and becoming largely clear with a decent frost developing, indeed the thermometer falling to -3 C.

5th (Friday) -3.1 C to 8.4 C / 1.3 mm / 8.3 hours
A sunny and crisp morning yet again, with the ground hard and frosty at first. No change in the afternoon, and all in all another gorgeous March day with largely clear blue skies. However high cloud did increase towards the end of the afternoon, and through the evening would thicken with some periods of rain and drizzle overnight. Largely dry by the end of the night, though still the odd bit of drizzle in the air. Milder than recent nights as a result of all the cloud.

6th (Saturday) 2.9 C to 5.6 C / nil / 1.8 hours
A cloudy morning, with some spots of rain and drizzle at first. Soon becoming dry and the cloud slowly lifting through the morning, with some brightness developing after mid-day. Indeed the cloud breaking by mid afternoon, with some decent spells of sunshine, and by dusk it had become largely clear. Remaining clear through the evening and night, with the temperatures rapidly falling away with a sharp frost. Indeed the low of -5.5 C was a new record low for March since I began my records in 2003.

The early spring flowers are now at their best, with the Aconites glowing in the spring sunshine, along with the Snowdrops, Cyclamen, and early Crocuses. As can be seen in the photo to the right it is currently a wonderful sight to behold and a promise of the plenty to come in the months ahead, with ever lengthening days, warm sunshine, and natures abundant bounty.

7th (Sunday) -5.5 C to 4.6 C / nil / 10.0 hours
A gorgeous start to the day, with clear blue skies and a delicious crispness to the frosty morning air. Remaining clear and sunny all day, with not even a hint of any cloud at any point. A little colder as well, though still fairly pleasant in the ever strengthening sun, especially as again there was little in the way of breeze today. Remaining clear overnight and becoming very cold, especially for the time of year, as the thermometer fell to -6.5 C, beating yesterdays record low. The ground very hard and frosty by dawn.

Saw my first Honey Bee of the year during the afternoon, as it took advantage of the ever strengthening sun, and the increasing diversity of spring flowers which are now coming out around the borough.

8th (Monday) -6.5 C to 8.3 C / nil / 6.2 hours
A very frosty start to the day, and feeling very sharp with the thermometer close to -7 C. Nice and sunny though, with not a cloud in the sky, and remaining sunny for the remainder of the morning. However cloud increased from about 1 pm onwards, and it soon became largely cloudy and would remain so through the afternoon and evening. However it did eventually begin to break up overnight with clear spells developing after midnight. Not as cold as recent nights though, but nevertheless it was cold enough for a hoar frost.

A Grey Partridge was heard calling in the Parklands this morning, this being the second time I have heard them here lately (see 15th February). Later in the morning a skein of about 50 to 60 Pink-footed Geese passed over the house at around 9 am. They were flying in two ‘V’s at quite low altitude, and were heading northwards, perhaps indicating the beginnings of there migration back to their breeding grounds in Iceland. In the afternoon an orange coloured Butterfly was seen briefly in the garden, probably a Small Tortoiseshell though I was far from certain.

9th (Tuesday) 0.0 C to 8.1 C / nil / 1.9 hours
A clear and chilly start with another hoar frost, but cloud increased by mid morning, though there was still the odd brighter period from time to time. Remaining largely cloudy all day, though in mid afternoon there some longer breaks which allowed some decent sunny spells. Cloud increasing again by evening though and remaining cloudy throughout the night. As a result it was much milder than recently without a frost.

10th (Wednesday) 3.2 C to 8.5 C / nil / 4.3 hours
A grey morning, and much milder than recently. However becoming brighter by mid-day with some long spells of sunshine developing, and feeling very spring like indeed. Remaining clear during the first half of the night, this allowing a frost, but cloud increased later, and it was overcast by dawn.

Saw my first Bumble Bee of the year today, tempted out no doubt by the pleasant spring like weather this afternoon.

11th (Thursday) -1.3 C to 8.5 C / 0.8 mm / 4.0 hours
An overcast morning, but like yesterday becoming brighter by midday, with some decent sunny spells developing in the afternoon. Indeed it became largely clear by mid afternoon, and it felt very pleasant with warmish sunshine and little in the way of a significant breeze. However cloud increasing again by the evening and it remained largely cloudy throughout the night. As a result it was much milder than recent nights, and indeed the cloud continued to thicken through the night with some bits and pieces of rain moving in later.

12th (Friday) 2.5 C to 8.3 C / 1.2 mm / 1.0 hours
A damp start to the day with outbreaks of moderate rain. Mild though, compared to recently anyway. Becoming slowly drier and brighter for a time in the late morning, but cloud increased again after midday with outbreaks of rain and drizzle in the first half of the afternoon. Drier again later, though remaining cloudy till after sunset. However cloud did slowly break up during the evening, with some clear spells developing during the night.

13th (Saturday) 1.1 C to 10.7 C / nil / 6.7 hours
A bright and sunny morning, with largely clear skies, and remaining bright for most of the day with plenty of good sunny spells, though there was more in the way of broken cloud in the afternoon. Very warm, indeed the warmest day since the beginning of December, and the first time in 14 weeks that the temperature has risen above 10 C, and all in all a lovely spring day. This will get the gardens, hedgerows, and woods moving on. Broken cloud overnight, but milder than recent nights with no frost.

The dawn chorus is now full of strength and variety, with the wonderful sounds of thrushes, Robins, tits, finches, Dunnocks, and Wrens filling the area, with Yellowhammers and Skylarks joining them in the more rural areas.

14th (Sunday) 4.0 C to 12.2 C / 2.6 mm / 5.0 hours
A bright morning with good spells of sunshine, but cloud increased by the middle of the day with showers developing by lunch. These coming and going during the afternoon, with sunny spells in between, and all in all it was a day of spring showers. Quite warm as well today, the temperature reaching 12 C. Showers clearing by dusk with variable amounts of cloud during the evening and night. The breeze picking up overnight though.

15th (Monday) 4.0 C to 10.2 C / nil / 0.7 hours
A bright and breezy start, but invading Altostratus and Cirrostratus moved in through the morning. This meant that though the day was bright, the sunshine was weak at best. Quite mild again today, despite the veil of cloud, though it was quite breezy, especially for a time around noon when there some quite gusty periods. The cloud beginning to clear later, this allowing some late sunny spells, and the cloud continued to clear in the evening and overnight with some decent clear spells. The breeze also easing , this allowing a very slight grass frost.

A small flock of Redwings were seen in the fields near Black House Stables, and also noticed this morning were a number of squashed frogs on local roads, a sign that they must be coming out of hibernation.

16th (Tuesday) 2.4 C to 10.7 C / nil / 0.7 hours
A bright start, with a very slight touch of grass frost, but like yesterday the sun soon became veiled by invasive Cirrostratus (a halo and a couple of sun dogs were seen around the rising sun), which by mid morning had begun to replaced by somewhat thicker Altostratus. The cloud continuing to thicken by midday with the remainder of the afternoon becoming largely cloudy, though there was some brightness towards dusk as the cloud began to break. Continuing to clear in the evening and overnight, but cloud again increasing towards dawn with Cirrostratus beginning to invade from the south west. There seems to be a succession of dead fronts passing through at the moment, as indicated by the presence of high frontal clouds, but it has thus far remained largely dry and settled this month, with the weather in the past week becoming very spring like indeed with plenty of dry, bright, and relatively mild weather.

A cock Pheasant was in the garden this morning, but it didn‘t remain beyond breakfast. It was around this time last year that a handsome cock Pheasant regularly came into the garden in search of food, and I suppose it’s possible that this is the same individual. It will be interesting to see if it returns in the next few days. Out in the Parklands a Mute Swan was seen passing over the area this morning, and at Black House stables I saw a small flock of Redwings again. However the most welcome sight of the morning were some displaying Lapwings, the first I have seen this year, with three birds seen swooping and calling in fields alongside Shepherds Lane. A wonderfully evocative sound, made all the more pleasant to ear with the backing vocals of the ever singing Skylarks. Back at home the local Bullfinch pair were seen in the garden during the afternoon, and it is true to say that there presence is recorded almost daily now with there distinctive ‘pew’ calls often being heard throughout the day. I also gave the lawn its first mow of the year this afternoon, with the lawnmower running fine after its four month or so rest.

17th (Wednesday) 3.0 C to 13.8 C / nil / 1.2 hours
Another bright start, but increasing amounts of cloud (Cirrostratus & Cirrocumulus) soon began to replaced by Altostratus which made the sun increasingly diffuse. Becoming cloudy by 10 am and remaining largely cloudy for the rest of the day, though the cloud was never particularly thick and as a result it remained quite bright despite it. The cloud did begin to break by the end of the afternoon however, with some pleasant sunny spells to end the day. It was also very mild today despite the cloud, the thermometer reaching about 14 C, the highest reading since mid November. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight, and remaining mild with the temperature remaining above 7 C, the mildest night for about four months.

The first Daffodils in flower this year were spotted this morning outside Dale Nurseries. These daffodils are usually the first to flower in the borough (as far as I am aware), and as long as the current weather continues I am sure that within the next fortnight they will appear all over the area, adding a splash of colour to the town and local countryside. I also heard the Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming for the first time this year as well this morning, a most welcome and pleasing sound to come home too.

18th (Thursday) 7.3 C to 15.4 C / trace / 0.3 hours
A hazy morning and feeling very mild, more like May than March. Despite becoming cloudy by the end of the morning it would remain fairly bright and very mild, the temperature rising to over 15 C, and it felt very pleasant indeed. The warmth was brought by a moderate south-south-westerly breeze, and it was nice to feel some real warmth on the air after a long and often cold winter. The cloud would grow thicker for a time after 3 pm, with even some spots of rain around 5 pm, but it didn’t come to much and was barely enough to even dampen the ground. Clearing by the evening with clear spells overnight, but it remained very mild nevertheless with the temperature falling no lower than 8 C.

The male Yew trees are now in flower, with clouds of ‘smoke’ seen whenever the breeze picks up a bit, but thankfully the breeze at the moment is largely from the south or south-west, meaning that the greenhouse has escaped the usual build up of dust on its roof.

19th (Friday) 8.3 C to 14.5 C / 11.0 mm / 4.0 hours
A lovely bright and warm start to the day, with largely clear skies. However increasing amounts of invasive Cirrostratus and latterly Altostratus through the morning meant that by the afternoon it had become cloudy, though it did remain fairly bright with the disk of the sun still visible through the cloud for much of the afternoon. However the cloud continued to thicken by the end of the afternoon and through the evening, with moderate rain eventually arriving around 9 pm. Outbreaks of rain would continue for most of the night, with some fairly heavy spells from time to time.

20th (Saturday) 7.0 C to 9.8 C / 6.6 mm / sunless
A largely wet and grey day with outbreaks of moderate rain, though there were some drier periods too, especially in mid morning. Overcast all day, with no sun being recorded, and somewhat cooler than it has been in the last few days. The rain eventually clearing away by mid evening, and the cloud soon breaking up with some decent clear spells developing overnight. This allowing just a touch of grass frost by dawn.

21st (Sunday) 2.1 C to 11.9 C / nil / 5.5 hours
A clear and sunny start to the day, but it became cloudier for a time in mid morning, with lots of mid and high level cloud making it bright rather than sunny. However this cleared after lunch, with some long and decent sunny spells developing in the remainder of the afternoon. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

A Bumble Bee was seen in the garden this morning, the second observation of the year, and it was just nice to stop for a moment and hear it buzz around the garden, an evocative sound of the warmer days ahead. I also noticed today that some of the local hedgerow shrubs are just starting to ‘green’ here and there, and that the local Forsythia’s are just starting to show a hint of colour as their yellow flowers begin to unfurl.

Huggatewold, & Horsedale
Our first Wolds walk this March was on a fine spring day, with some pleasant sunny spells at times, though there was quite a cool breeze up on the Wold tops mind. This being our first walk for nearly three weeks it was just a delight to be out and about in this wonderfully peaceful and quiet corner of England, with spring now certainly starting to get going now. Included amongst the spring observations were a number of displaying Lapwings in a number of areas, with their distinctive calls so evocative of this time of year, and also heard along our walk was a calling Curlew, our first of the year. I love the sound of Curlews, their sound being that of the high Pennines or Orkney in late spring, and I wish there were more common on the Wolds. However there is no doubt that they are becoming more common again year by year, and hopefully this trend will continue.

There were also lots of Hares about again this morning, indeed I nearly trod on one in the Huggate Dykes area, and I thick we were both equally surprised to find ourselves in such immediate proximity. However it did allow me to see one of these handsome creatures at close quarters, and it was a particularly large individual, certainly bigger than a small terrier for example. Another welcome spring observation this morning was my first singing Meadow Pipit, and throughout our entire walk we were accompanied by wonderfully singing Skylarks in the skies above us. Other interesting observations this morning included a couple of Buzzards, a large flock of Linnets, and of course the Snowdrops in Huggatewold Wood.

The wonderful display of flowers is now certainly beyond its best, but considering were now barely a week away from April it does perhaps demonstrate jut how late things are this year, certainly compared to springs in the last decade at least anyway. Nevertheless spring is certainly here now and the weeks ahead will hopefully bring ever improving weather and the natural delights which only this most pleasant of all the seasons can bring, with gentle days, the buzz of insects on the wing, flowers in the woods and hedgerows, and the sound of warblers amongst the already singing residents. I can hardly wait.

22nd (Monday) 5.9 C to 12.0 C / 2.0 mm / 2.9 hours
A bright and breezy morning, but cloud soon began to increase and it was overcast by 11 am. The cloud continuing to thicken with a spell of rain arriving around 1 pm, but this didn’t last long and it was dry again by mid afternoon, with the cloud even managing to break up before the sun set with some late sunny spells and an interesting sunset (see picture on right). Blustery showers in the evening, with some decent gusts for a time (presumably the cold front passing through), but this cleared by midnight with some decent clear spells developing. This allowed a touch of frost by the end of the night.

Daffodils continuing to come out around the borough, with splashes of yellow now seen in many gardens and alongside many of the boroughs roads. In contrast to this springtime observation was a reminder that winter has not yet passed with a small flock of Fieldfares spotted this morning, with about a dozen or so seen in fields near Old Hall Farm. It is also near Old Hall Farm where the weekend rain has vastly increased the size of the seasonal pond, with the causeway now barely more than a few centimetres above the water at its centre, while the ends have already become inundated and can only be reached if one is wearing full sized wellies (see picture to the right). I think that the outflow must have become either clogged or at least congested, and if it remains un-cleared I can see the road becoming flooded too if we have anymore significant rain in the next week.

23rd (Tuesday) 1.0 C to 12.3 C / 2.7 mm / 3.9 hours
A bright and chilly start to the day, with a lot of high Cirrus and Cirrostratus making the sun quite diffuse. Remaining bright through the morning, but the cloud would slowly increase and thicken into Altostratus by the afternoon, with it eventually becoming overcast by 3 pm. Outbreaks of rain arriving shortly after dusk, and continuing for the remainder of the evening and night, though largely light with amounts relatively small (2.7 mm). A mild night with temperatures around 8 C.

Observed winter thrushes in the Black House Stables area again this morning, with the sharp calls of the Redwings and the chattering of Fieldfares alerting me to their presence  . They are seen in this area almost every year around this time of year and it is a sure sign that they are thinking of moving back to their Scandinavian breeding grounds. March is a month which often sees the seasons overlapping, a characteristic that was emphasised this morning with the presence of fresh hawthorn budburst in the Parkland hedgerows, along with the very first blossom making a welcome appearance, unfurling Elder leaves, and an abundance of hazel catkins in the Parkland plantation. I had hoped to hear the first warblers of the year but as of yet they have not arrived, but without doubt they will soon be here heralding the beginnings of spring proper. Nevertheless there was still plenty of interest this morning, with two new species of bird added to my parkland list in the form of Coot and Canada Goose. The Coot’s were observed in the pool near Old Hall Farm, with three of them spotted taking advantage of the 76 cm’s of floodwater, while the Canada Geese passed overhead, heading northwards. A Roe deer was also seen this morning, and it was a particularly large and healthy looking individual.

North Cliffe Wood & the Wolds
On what was, initially at least, a pleasantly bright and mild afternoon, Dad and I went to North Cliffe wood, one of my favourite places in the whole county. We hadn’t visited this little and quiet wood since the snows at the end of December, and of course it was very different today, what with the sights and sounds of early spring seen throughout the wood. The most important observation (or more accurately sound) of the day was that of a single Chiffchaff, the first I’ve heard this year, and for me the sound which signals the start of spring proper. We only heard it very distantly and only on about three or four occasions, but nevertheless it was the highlight of our walk.

However there was plenty of other interest in the wood besides the lone Chiffchaff, what with increasing foliage on the woodland floor, including Dogs Mercury, Primroses, and the emerging leaves of the Bluebells, a promise of the glories ahead by May when this wood will become a sea of blue. Some Snowdrops were also seen in flower on the north side of the wood, though many have now concluded for yet another year, and amongst the Hazel coppice lamb-tails hung in abundance from the dark wooded stems, gently swaying in the south westerly breeze. It was near this coppice where we stumbled upon a trio of Roe deer, all quite large individuals, and we also heard a ‘yaffle’, ie. a Green Woodpecker calling its distinctive laughing call. Indeed most of the woodland birds were in good song, with thrushes, tits, wrens, dunnocks, and Robins heard in abundance, and all in all it was just a delight to be out and about in this always peaceful and tranquil small area of woodland. As a side note we also discovered two freshly dug pools on the reserve, with one in the heart of the woodland, and another on the edge of the heath. It will be interesting to see what these pools attract, and it may mean that things like Dragonflies may be seen in greater abundance during the summer months.

After finishing our visit to North Cliffe we decided to head north to see the flowers at Givendale, which we suspected would be very nearly concluded what with the fact it is now late March and the weather has been very mild and bright in the last week or so. However today’s weather was already in decline, as the early afternoon sunshine had by now been replaced by rapidly thickening Altostratus and a freshening southerly breeze. Indeed by the time we reached Givendale there were some spots of rain in the air, and the wind was becoming quite gusty in trees around the church, but nevertheless this didn’t detract from the beauty of the scene, with a sea of Aconites and some Snowdrops in the more shady parts of the woodland. Those flowers in the sunnier spots had predictably already finished, though they had now become replaced by the more subtle but equally welcome Violets. We also noticed that some work has been carried out on the church since we last visited, with restored bells, new operational bell chains, and some stonework and re-pointing on the tower. This has to be one of the prettiest churches in the Wolds, not only for its location but also for its simple modesty and the fact it is still very much valued and cared for by this small community, and hopefully this recent work will mean it will still be here to be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come.

After enjoying our brief visit here we headed back home, passing through Huggate where we saw some Lambs out in the nearby fields, the first we’ve seen this spring. They were still very small but certainly at least a week or two old and I am sure they are the first of many more to come over the next few weeks across the Wolds and the local countryside. This is always an exciting and eventful time of year, and I don’t think I will ever tire of the beauties and sights of this green and pleasant isle which we call home.

24th (Wednesday) 7.8 C to 14.7 C / 3.1 mm / 0.8 hours
A grey morning with some outbreaks of largely light rain, but it became drier by mid-day, with even some sunny spells managing to develop for a time in the first half of the afternoon. It was also very mild, as the moist southerly breeze pushed the temperature up to nearly 15 C. However the bright spell was fairly short-lived and cloud again increased after 3 pm, and it would remain cloudy for the rest of the day and indeed night. The cloud becoming thicker through the evening and night with outbreaks of rain moving in later, and by dawn it was thoroughly damp and murky. It also remained very mild through night with the temperature barely falling below 10 C.

A Redwing was seen in the Beech tree this morning, an unusual observation in the garden at this time of year (probably my first March record in-fact).

25th (Thursday) 8.9 C to 14.8 C / 0.5 mm / 1.0 hours
A dull, wet, and murky start to the day, with outbreaks of rain, but it became drier by mid-morning. Eventually becoming brighter after mid-day, with some sunny spells, and feeling quite mild too with the temperature around 15 C. Cloud increasing again by the end of the afternoon, with the breeze also freshening from the south, with outbreaks of rain moving in by dusk. The rain not coming to much though (0.5 mm) and the cloud breaking up by 9 pm, with variable amounts of cloud for the remainder of the night. Remaining quite breezy from the south though.

Budburst on many shrubs and even some trees is now quite widely seen around the borough, and indeed some leaves are now just starting to begin to unfurl here and there. It’s always amazing every year just how quickly spring builds up momentum, even after a delayed spring such as this years. In the garden the Great Spotted Woodpecker was again heard drumming today.

26th (Friday) 7.1 C to 13.8 C / nil / 6.0 hours
A sunny and breezy morning (South 4 to 5), with just scattered fractocumulus or cumulus humilus at first. The cloud increasing for a time, with large patches of stratocumulus during the second half of the morning, but this clearing away after mid-day with long spells of sunshine developing in the afternoon. Warm in the sun, despite a moderate south-south-westerly breeze, with the sun strong enough to encourage some decent convection, but it didn’t come to anything and all in all it was a jolly pleasant afternoon. Clear spells in the evening and overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall away, though there was enough cloud and breeze to prevent a frost.

Heard a Chiffchaff in the heart of Newbiggin Pits this morning, my second of the year, and the first I’ve heard in Beverley borough. A delightful and evocative sound and hopefully the first of many more seasonal visitors which should arrive in the next few weeks. In the garden the Snowdrops and Aconites have now concluded flowering, but the Daffodils are now beginning to take their place. In a weeks time, depending on the weather, I think they should all be fully out. In the afternoon, while giving the lawn its second mow of the year, a Comma butterfly flittered by me, and settled down upon the leaf of an emerging tulip and proceeded to soak in the pleasant spring sunshine. It was in very good condition, with its coppery wings looking almost brand new, even more remarkable considering its survival through one of the coldest winters for at least a decade. I also saw a few bee’s this afternoon, both Honey’s and Bumble’s, and in the spring bed I noticed the blue daisy like flowers of the Anemone blanda’s coming into full bloom.

27th (Saturday) 4.5 C to 12.2 C / nil / 6.5 hours
A settled day with plenty of sunny spells, though there were some cloudier periods too, with patches of Stratocumulus passing over every now and then, especially in the afternoon. It was also quite breezy, with a moderate to fresh westerly breeze, and it felt much cooler than it has recently as a result. Clear spells overnight.

Took advantage of the sunny conditions this morning and had a look at the sun through the telescope, using my special sun box which works by projecting the image from the scope on to a screen within the box. The advantage of this system is that the image is projected into a relatively dark area, and this allows even the smaller visible sun spots to be seen quite clearly without them being washed out by the ambient light. It has been nearly a year since I last observed the sun and whereas on that day the sun showed no features what so ever, today there some fairly obvious dark areas on the suns disk, as can be seen in the drawing on the right. The sunspots towards the top half of the disk were clearly obvious, but far less noticeable was another area on the far right of the disc. It will be interesting to view the sun again in perhaps another week or fortnight to see how much the view has changed, for I believe the sun takes about 24 days, or thereabouts, to complete one whole spin.

28th (Sunday) 4.5 C to 12.3 C / nil / 7.0 hours (BST begins)
A bright day with plenty of decent sunny spells, though it was very breezy, particularly in the afternoon with some quite strong gusts from the west-north-west. The breeze easing by the evening though, with clear spells for much of the night, this allowing a touch of frost, but cloud increased later and it was largely overcast by dawn.

Brattwood (Nunburnholme)
On what was a bright and breezy morning we went for a walk at Brattwood, hoping to see the first of the spring primroses. However we were immediately presented with sounds of the new season, as upon arrival at the wood we were greeted with the sound of singing Chiffchaff’s, a sound which now seems widespread throughout the counties mature woodlands. At least three were heard in the low wood, and there may well have been more, and we did actually manage to see a couple of them as well as generally this early arriving warbler is not particularly shy. It was while climbing up through the low wood that we had a good sighting of a Red Kite also, it passing right over our heads, and later during our walk we came upon another near the farm, which again presented us with a fine view as it glided on the fresh to strong westerly wind. They are very beautiful birds of prey, perhaps the most beautiful, with today’s warm sunshine emphasising the rich red upper body feathers, the striking black and white under-wings, and the diagnostic forked tail.

However it was for Primroses that we came to Nunburnholme today, but sadly this proved fruitless as, as of yet, their were no flowers to be found. We did find a few Primrose plants, and indeed I did manage to find a lone Violet in flower, but the sight of those buttery yellow harbingers of spring proved elusive. When compared to recent years this is late, and when considering that the plants we did find showed not even a hint of flowering yet is a testament to the delayed character of this spring, thus far at least. However there are now plenty of woodland floor plants to be seen, with Dog’s Mercury in flower, Lords & Ladies coming up, and Ramsons growing lushly in those areas of the wood in which they thrive. Indeed their distinctive odour is now present, though still only very subtly or when they are disturbed. I actually quite like the smell and love to walk through or beside a wood with evocative aroma filling the air.

Out over the fields the Skylarks were in good song again this morning, there cheery cascade of notes adding to the serenity of the morning, and busy Bee’s were seen searching for the increasingly varied blooms to be found in the areas fields, woods, hedgerows, and indeed gardens. Indeed I noticed the first Larch flowers today, with there small and delicate cone shaped flowers just starting to come out, and along the roadside I noticed quite a number of Dandelions, a sadly much over-looked and maligned flower.

After what was a lovely though somewhat bracing walk, we headed for home, but first we made a detour to Kiplingcotes, as Dad wanted to find the Derby start post which is located near South Dalton. As can be seen in the photo to the right the post itself is a fairly simple boundary marker, with nothing to distinguish it as the starting point for England’s oldest horse race other than a chalked on message of ‘Start’. The race was ran a couple of weeks ago, with John Thirsk of Holme-on-Spalding-Moor being victorious. This incidentally was his third success and in total there were thirteen riders in the race, one of the biggest fields for a few years. I hope this historic horse race continues for many more years to come, with its five hundred anniversary coming up in 2019, and with the more than healthy crowd which attended this year and local enthusiasm I think the future is pretty rosy for now at least. It was in the area around Kiplingcotes that we also saw some Lambs in one field, still very small, and in general it was just a delight to out in the beautiful Wolds, especially as now we are now getting towards that part of the year when the local countryside is very much at its best.

29th (Monday) 2.7 C to 9.5 C / 12.0 mm / sunless
A grey and overcast morning, with the cloud growing thick enough by mid morning for some light outbreaks of rain. The outbreaks of rain becoming heavier in the afternoon, with the rain rate peaking at 16 mm/h around 5 pm, but there were some drier periods too from time to time, though it did remain dull and overcast throughout the day. The rain continuing intermittently into the evening and becoming quite murky, but after midnight it became increasingly dry, though there were still some bits and pieces of rain at times, and it remained overcast throughout. Quite a mild night as well, what with all the cloud, and a gentle to moderate south-south-east breeze.

Now that the clocks have gone forward to BST this means that the dawn is again very late, something I find an annoyance every year. I personally would prefer if we stayed on GMT year round, as not only is it more convenient in a practical sense, it also far more healthy and in tune with the rhythm’s of the natural world. For politicians and general interfering busy bodies living in there wisteria clad homes in the leafy home counties it may seem nice to have an extra hour of evening light when they host their annual garden parties, but for those whom rise early and retire from their labour's at a right and proper time it is a unnecessary inconvenience.

Still despite the return to dawn gloom I did see plenty of interest this morning, with the Daffodils now at their best across the borough, including a fine display outside the west front of the Minster, and along Long Lane. I also noticed that the Horse Chestnut trees are all now bud-bursting, with a few leaves just starting to unfurl here and there, and in the areas of local scrub the Brambles are also beginning to leaf and grow. In the Parklands I heard a ‘Yaffle’ calling a few times, a birds I have always considered quite scarce locally, and in the fields along Shepherd’s Lane the Lapwings were seen and heard displaying. They had been seen here already (see the 16th) but the field was plowed last week and they had deserted the area for a time, but thankfully they now seem to have returned. I also spotted a Roe deer again in this area, and at one point six Greylag Geese flew over, heading south-west. I was nearly home when I heard a beautiful singing Blackcap in the scrub beside Minster school, the first I’ve heard this year. They are one of the finest songbirds and they are rightly known as the ‘Nightingale’s of the North’. In the garden the Hyacinth’s are now flowering, joining the Daffodils and Dwarf Tulips, and I’ve also noticed that the Crab Apple buds are now opening, and the Copper Beech next door is likewise beginning to unfurl its leaves.

30th (Tuesday) 5.4 C to 10.5 C / 8.2 mm / 0.7 hours
A grey and overcast day for the most part with outbreaks of largely moderate rain, though there were some heavier periods around mid-day (peaking at 4.2 mm/h). However it did become drier and indeed brighter for a time in mid-afternoon, but heavy showers moved in after 5 pm, with some very heavy bursts at times, peaking at a high of 18 mm/h. Showers and variable amounts of cloud continuing overnight, and becoming colder than recently as the wind swung around to the north-west.

31st (Wednesday) 3.4 C to 8.1 C / trace / 0.2 hours
A cooler day than recently, especially in a moderate to fresh north-north-westerly breeze which picked up as the day wore on. Largely cloudy as well, with some light showers from time to time, including some hail around 11 am, but there were some brighter periods too with the odd fleeting sunny spell. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening, but some decent clear spells developing during the night, allowing a slight grass frost. Quite breezy as well.

Heavy rain yesterday has created a lot of standing water around the district, with the winter pool at Old Hall farm now in excess of last weeks high at about 78 to 80 cm. Even the middle of the causeway is now almost inundated, and with the ground now soft under its foundations it is becoming increasingly unstable. However the Coots, which seem to have now taken up residence in the area, are enjoying the extra water, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to breed at the pond this year for they seem very much at home. In the same area a beautiful singing Mistle Thrush filled the area with their repetitive but beautifully simple song, with Yellowhammers, Skylarks and common hedgerow songbirds joining them in celebration of the new dawn. The Daffodils along Long Lane are now at their best, while near the Minster the first of the Copper Beech blossom is coming out. However winter’s grasp has not yet been fully released, with blizzards reported in the north overnight and this morning, and a few Fieldfares were heard in the Parklands as I made my way along Long Lane, particularly in the vicinity of Black House Stables. Though it has been quite mild and pleasant in the last fortnight it has to be remembered it is still only March and so the temporary return of winter is hardly that unexpected.

Yesterday the first ‘smashing’ of particles took place at the Large Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland. Though still not at absolute full power yet it nevertheless begins a new chapter in scientific discovery, and the results of these experiments will hopefully produce some extraordinary results which will help us understand the wonderful and beautiful universe which we find ourselves in.