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April 2010

1st (Thursday) 1.2 C to 9.5 C / trace / 8.3 hours
A cold and blustery morning, with a moderate to fresh north-north-west breeze, but it was largely clear and sunny with just small areas of Cirrus. Increasing amounts of Cumulus development through the morning, and indeed during the afternoon, but remaining largely dry, bar the odd few spots of rain, with plenty of sunny spells. Indeed it would have been a pleasant afternoon but for the strong and gusty wind, which added a real edge to the temperature today. The breeze dying down in the evening though, and with some decent clear spells this allowed a grass frost overnight, but cloud increased later with it becoming largely overcast by dawn.

2nd (Good Friday) 0.4 C to 9.5 C / 2.3 mm / 1.3 hours
A grey start to Good Friday and remaining largely cloudy for most of the morning. More in the way of sunny spells during the afternoon, but still a lot of cloud around, with some of them thick enough for some brief showers. Quite breezy as well. Thicker cloud increasing by the end of the afternoon, with a spell of moderate rain during the evening, but this cleared by midnight, with clear spells and occasional light showers during the remainder of the night.

The Bullfinch pair were seen in the Hawthorn and Crab Apple this morning, they taking advantage of the fattening buds which can be seen on most trees now.

3rd (Saturday) 4.2 C to 12.0 C / trace / 4.2 hours
A fairly cloudy morning, with some light showers at times, but there were some decent sunny spells too. However cloud increased by 11 am, becoming quite dark and threatening for a time, but it didn’t come to anything, and indeed after 2 pm it began to clear with sunny spells developing thereafter, making for a pleasant and fairly mild afternoon. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight, with a touch of grass frost.

4th (Easter Day) 2.5 C to 10.5 C / 1.8 mm / 4.6 hours
A very spring like Easter day, with sunny spells and afternoon showers, though it was quite cool in the moderate north-west breeze. Showers clearing by the evening, with clear spells for most of the night, this allowing a grass frost, but cloud increased later, accompanied by a freshening southerly breeze.

On this Easter day it is interesting to see how spring has really got going in the last few weeks, with the garden beds now full of colour, with the Daffodils at their best, with them also being joined by Hyacinths, Anemone Blanda, and Dwarf Tulips. Extra colour is coming from the now fully out Forsythia’s and in the local area the Copper Beech is just starting to blossom, joining the already flowering Blackthorn’s, as well as a few shrubs that I haven’t yet identified (possibly Wild Cherries). Bud-burst and indeed unfurling leaves can now be seen widely in the Hawthorn and Elder hedgerows, and is likewise seen amongst some trees such as the local Horse Chestnuts and the garden Crab Apple.

5th (Monday) 1.8 C to 13.3 C / 1.8 mm / 1.0 hours
A wet start to the day with persistent moderate rain, but becoming drier after 10 am, with some sunny spells eventually managing to break through after mid-day. Remaining largely cloudy though in the afternoon, with just the occasional sunnier period, but it did become milder as warm air moved in from the south west behind this mornings front. Variable amounts of cloud overnight and quite mild, the temperature remaining above 40 degrees.

Millingtondale & Nettledale
A walk on a chilly and grey morning in the heart of the central Wolds, with the early morning rain making the ground wet and muddy in places. It was quite windy too in exposed areas, with a fresh south-south-west breeze, which latterly veered nearer towards true west, this change in the wind associated with a gradual improvement in the day. I had hoped to hear my first Willow warblers of the year this morning, but sadly none were heard, but a couple of Chiffchaffs were, and there was also the pleasing sound of a nearby displaying Curlew in one of the adjoining dales. Over the fields the Skylarks were in good song despite the weather, and in the grassy dales a few Meadow Pipits were heard and seen displaying. However all in all it was a fairly quiet morning, but nevertheless interesting and pleasant, what with spring continuing its progress as demonstrated by the Gorse now coming into flower in Nettledale (with just a hint of scent), the widespread presence of Lambs in many fields (especially around Nunburnholme), and the continuing awakening from slumber amongst the regions trees and plants.

6th (Tuesday) 5.5 C to 15.2 C / nil / 0.4 hours
A largely cloudy morning, though it was fairly bright with much of the cloud quite thin and translucidus (ie. Altostratus and Cirrostratus).  Remaining cloudy through the afternoon, though again the cloud was thin enough to reveal the presence of the sun. Quite warm today as well, the temperature rising to nearly 60 degrees, with the warm air being pumped up by a moderate south-south-westerly breeze. Remaining largely cloudy overnight, and remaining mild.

7th (Wednesday) 7.3 C to 11.0 C / 0.4 mm / 1.2 hours
A cloudy morning, with the cloud thick enough for some light rain from 10 am onwards. Not really coming to much and clearing during the afternoon, this allowing it to become increasingly bright with some sunny spells by late afternoon. Cooler than yesterday, with a gentle to moderate north-westerly breeze keeping the thermometer hanging around the 50 degrees mark. Clear spells overnight, this allowing a touch of grass frost.

Many of the towns grassy areas have had their first mow, the wonderful scent of freshly cut grass hanging in the warm morning air this morning. The Bullfinch pair continue to be seen regularly in the garden, indeed in the last two days they seem to be almost continually present as they take advantage of the Crab Apple and Copper Beech. Despite the damage they are undoubtedly inflicting on the upcoming blossom I nevertheless welcome their presence and I have had some wonderful views of these handsome birds literally right outside my window during this past week, as can be seen in the photo to the right.

8th (Thursday) 3.6 C to 15.6 C / nil / 11.0 hours
A lovely sunny morning, with barely any cloud and remaining sunny and pleasant for the remainder of the day, with just scattered fair weather cumulus in the afternoon. Quite warm with a high of 60 degrees, though there was a moderate west-north-west breeze which just added a slight chill to the air. Clear spells for most of the evening and overnight, though cloud increased later. Remaining mild overnight with the thermometer dropping no lower than 46 F.

This morning I noticed there were actually three Bullfinches in the Crab Apple this morning, with two rosy coloured males and a single female. I have never seen more than two at once in this garden and it is pleasing to know that the local population now seems to be growing in strength. Also noticed out in the garden that the Beech tree is now beginning to swell its buds, and in general most trees are now active, the Crab Apple and Copper Beech in particular now already beginning to properly leaf. On what was such a wonderful start to the day the garden was a haven of peace and beauty, with a profusion of yellow blooms (Forsythia & Daffodils) and the wonderful sound of spring bird-song. In the afternoon a Small Tortoiseshell was seen flying through the garden, the first I’ve seen for definite this year, and a few other butterflies were also seen today, with the warm sunshine today encouraging them out.

9th (Friday) 7.7 C to 16.4 C / nil / 6.9 hours
A warm but largely cloudy morning, but the cloud cleared by mid-day, leaving a largely sunny and pleasant afternoon, and feeling very warm with a high of 62 degrees, and just a light westerly breeze. Clear overnight, this allowing the temperature to fall low enough for a grass frost.

Another warm and sunny afternoon meant that butterflies were again seen on the wing today, with both Red Admirals and Peacocks seen for the first time this year. Indeed it was quite summery today, with the temperature over sixty degrees, and largely clear blue skies above, bar the odd bit of broken Altocumulus and Cirrus above. In the garden the Grape Hyacinths are now out, and the pale coloured Tulips are now opening, at least in the sunnier parts of the garden.

10th (Saturday) 2.7 C to 17.0 C / nil / 11.4 hours
A sunny and warm day again, with the temperature reaching a high of 63 degrees, certainly the warmest day of the year thus far. High cloud increasing towards the end of the day, making the evening sunshine quite hazy, and providing a thin blanket overnight, this preventing temperatures dropping particularly low with no grass frost.

11th (Sunday) 5.2 C to 12.6 C / nil / 8.3 hours
A bright day with variable amounts of mid-level cloud (mainly Altocumulus), and sunny spells in between. Cooler than yesterday with a gentle to moderate north east breeze, but still pleasant enough with a high of 55 degrees. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, though becoming overcast later as Stratus cloud came in off the sea.

Saw my first Wasp of the year today, which is surprising considering the number of bees and recently butterflies I’ve already seen so far. I gave the lawn another mow today, the third of the year.

12th (Monday) 5.8 C to 13.1 C / nil / 6.1 hours
An overcast morning, with a layer of Stratus coming in off the sea, and feeling quite cold. However the cloud clearing after 1 pm, and soon becoming completely clear and sunny and remaining so through the remainder of the day. Warming up with the arrival of the sunshine as well, though a cool north-east breeze adding a slight chill to the air. Remaining clear overnight and becoming quite chilly with a touch of grass frost.

The whole district is now looking very pleasant indeed, with blossom and flowers seen in the towns gardens and in the countryside hedgerows in increasing diversity. The weather in the last few days has really seen spring move along nicely, and up on the Westwood the very first Buttercups are just starting to come out, joining the already blooming Wood Anemones on the high Westwood. No doubt in a few weeks the low Westwood will be a sea of gold, heralding the arrival of summer. Indeed the crops in the fields have also really begun to get going, with the cereals having really thickened up and darkened in the past fortnight, and in the Oilseed Rape fields the odd yellow flower can now be seen here and there. This is a wonderful time of year, with the sound of singing Blackcaps, Thrushes, and Skylarks adding to the beauty of the whole spectacle. However a few winter visitors are still about, with a Fieldfare seen this morning near Black House Stables.

13th (Tuesday) 2.6 C to 11.5 C / trace / 5.2 hours
A lovely sunny, if somewhat chilly, start to the day, but high cloud slowly thickened up as the morning progressed with it becoming cloudy and eventually overcast by noon. Indeed the cloud was thick enough for some light rain and drizzle, and was accompanied by a cold and blustery north east wind. However the rain not coming to much, and after mid-afternoon some breaks managed to develop in the cloud with some sunny spells for the remainder of the day. Variable cloud overnight, with some clearer spells but becoming largely cloudy again by dawn.

The Field Maples are coming into leaf along Newbiggin now, and along Long Lane the Butterbur’s are now flowering beside the road, their strange Orchid like flowers standing above the growing grass and emerging nettles. At the Park plantation, which is now full of blackthorn blossom, I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year, and in the same area I also heard Chiffchaff’s and Blackcap’s in song. Of the common warblers that just leaves the Sedge, Reed, and Whitethroat’s still to be seen, and I expect they will be spotted at some point in the next fortnight or so. In the Shepherd Lane fields about 10 Lapwings were seen displaying, and overhead a flock of Golden Plovers was spotted, probably heading back to their highland or Scandinavian breeding grounds.

14th (Wednesday) 5.0 C to 9.9 C / nil / 2.1 hours
A cloudy and breezy morning, though there were some brighter periods from time to time. Remaining cloudy into the afternoon, but after 3 pm the cloud began to break up with some late sunshine to end the day. Feeling quite chilly today, the temperature failing to rise above 50 degrees for the first time since the 2nd, and a moderate north east breeze added a further edge. Cloud returning in the evening and remaining largely cloudy through the night.

Saw a fox this morning near the Parks Plantation, with a few Roe deer also spotted in the same area. In the plantation itself the sounds of warblers (Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, & Willows) again filled the air with song, and a Green Woodpecker was heard repeatedly ‘yaffle-ing’. A Barn Owl was also spotted hunting this morning, the second I have seen in the last month. They have undoubtedly suffered in the last few summers, for they are not seen as frequently as they were about five years ago, but nevertheless a local population is well established and healthy enough. Back in the town I noticed that though the daffodils are now at their best, some of the early ones are now already starting to die back, and it’s amazing how quickly the countryside is now marching towards summer.

15th (Thursday) 5.6 C to 9.4 C / nil / 0.3 hours
A cloudy and chilly day by and large, with a gentle to moderate north-north-east breeze. Some breaks managing to develop in the second half of the afternoon, allowing some brief sunny spells, but by and large it remained largely cloudy till well into the evening. Broken cloud overnight.

A cloud of volcanic dust, which has come from an erupting volcano in Iceland, moved over the country today. Though it isn’t really visible to the naked eye, being diffuse at an altitude above 20 000 feet, it nevertheless grounded all jet aircraft in the country, making the UK (as well as much of Scandinavia & Northern Europe) virtual no fly zones. All of the UK airports are now closed and look like they will remain so until at least Saturday.

16th (Friday) 3.5 C to 13.7 C / nil / 12.0 hours
A largely clear and sunny day, with just some broken fair weather Cumulus from time to time, largely in late morning. Very pleasant in the increasingly strong sun, though a gentle northerly breeze kept temperatures pegged back somewhat. Remaining clear overnight, with a slight grass frost by morning.

The volcanic dust cloud remains in situ over the country, continuing to cause widespread disruption to international air travel. However from down here on the ground the dust in imperceptible and it did nothing to ruin what was a beautiful mid spring day. Indeed the warmth of the sun brought out some 2010 firsts, including the first Blue butterfly of the year, the first Brimstone butterfly of the year, but most importantly the first Swallow of the year. This harbinger of summer was seen hunting over the area around 5 pm, and though it was just a lone individual it nevertheless was a most welcome observation. I also saw a Mining Bee in the garden today, looking for somewhere to lay its eggs, and in general most common species of Bees were out in force today, taking advantage of the now diverse number of flowers in bloom around the area. Peacock butterflies were also seen well today, with other species seen today including Small Tortoiseshell, and the two mentioned before (Brimstone & Blues).

17th (Saturday) 2.9 C to 17.3 C / nil / 13.1 hours
A beautiful sunny and clear day, feeling pleasantly warm with the temperature climbing to 63 degrees. Remaining clear overnight with a slight grass frost.

The volcanic dust cloud is continuing to cause disruption to air travel over the country, with this being the third day that all air traffic has been suspended across the UK. However despite the ash cloud overhead it was another beautiful mid spring day, with clear blue skies throughout (bar some Cirrus). The garden is full of fresh green growth, as can be seen in the picture on the right, with the Hawthorn tree coming into leaf, and the lawn now a lovely fresh green carpet.

18th (Sunday) 2.1 C to 15.2 C / 3.7 mm / 6.0 hours
Another sunny and pleasant morning, but cloud increased after mid-day, with it becoming generally cloudy by mid afternoon. Quite warm again today though, with a high of nearly 60 degrees. Remaining largely cloudy overnight, indeed the cloud growing thick enough by the end of the night for some outbreaks of moderate rain, the first significant rain since the 5th of the month.

The volcanic dust has again prevented any air traffic across most of Europe, and looks like it will continue to cause problems till at least mid week. Out in the garden the Mining Bee’s are still busy, with a number of holes now to be seen around the Crab Apple tree, and I actually saw one busy digging away, seemingly completely unaware of my presence just inches away from its industrious activities (see picture on the right). I always look forward to seeing these relatively shy bee’s every spring, for they are relatively uncommon these days, and I always make sure they are protected from careless and un-observant feet. Also seen today was my first Red tailed Bumble Bee of the year.

19th (Monday) 4.0 C to 7.5 C / 1.5 mm / 0.3 hours
A wet start to the day, with persistent moderate rain, but it became lighter by mid-day, eventually becoming largely dry by mid afternoon. Quite cold today, the temperature struggling to just 46 degrees, with an onshore breeze adding a notable chill to the air. The overcast skies lifting by evening, with even some late sunny spells to end the day. Largely clear overnight and becoming quite chilly, with a slight hoar frost by dawn.

The crops in the fields have really moved on during the weekend, with the cereals really coming on strong, and the Oilseed Rape now beginning to widely bloom. In the fields near Black House Stables an Oystercatcher was spotted, and in the woods and scrublands of the area warblers were widely heard, the morning rain seemingly encouraging them into song. Indeed a Willow warbler was seen and heard in the garden for a time in the morning, a most welcome sound to start the week.

20th (Tuesday) 1.9 C to 12.8 C / nil / 7.9 hours
A clear start to the day, with a slight hoar frost on the grass at dawn. Remaining largely clear for most of the morning but cloud increased by mid-day, as Cumulus began to develop. Convection was soon capped though, with most of the Cumulus spreading out to form Stratocumulus, which meant that most of the afternoon was largely cloudy, though there were some sunny spells at times too. The cloud beginning to break up in the evening, and becoming largely clear overnight, with the temperature falling to 1 C, allowing a touch of grass frost. However with the low humidity at the moment there was no hoar frost noted.

The Blackthorn blossom is now at its best in the local hedgerows (as can be seen in the picture on the right), and the Hawthorn is now well in leaf. In the area around the Millennium Orchard there were at least three Willow warblers in song, and in Old Hall Hedge I heard my first Whitethroat of the year, though I didn’t actually manage to spot it. A couple of Swallows were also seen this morning, with one hunting around the farmyard at Old Hall, and another over the fields at Black House Stables. A couple of Greylag Geese were seen over the region as well this morning, passing low overhead and making their usual din. Finally the Green Woodpecker was heard again this morning. The Icelandic Volcano it still causing widespread problems, with all jet aircraft again suspended today, the sixth day in a row when the skies over the country have been empty. However it looks like conditions are now improving, and the airports may reopen tomorrow.

21st (Wednesday) 1.5 C to 11.9 C / nil / 10.8 hours
A clear and cold start to the day, but soon warming up under the morning April sun. Like yesterday cloud bubbled up by mid-day, but there wasn’t quite as much as yesterday with still plenty of decent sunny spells throughout the afternoon. A cool north-west breeze kept temperatures somewhat pegged back, but out of the wind and in the sun it was nevertheless another pleasant mid to late spring day. Cloud clearing by evening to leave a lovely end to the day, and it remained clear overnight, and combined with light winds and low humidity this allowed temperatures to drop below freezing, the first air frost in nearly six weeks.

On what was a lovely, if quite cold morning, I managed to actually see the Whitethroat at Old Hall Hedge, confirming yesterdays observation. It was singing from a top the Hawthorn hedge at one point, and was singly loudly and clearly its scratchy and distinctive song. At the pond I flushed out a lone Redshank, which came as a surprise, while in the fields of Black House Stables two Oystercatchers were spotted, along with a few Lapwings. Along Long Lane the sound of Linnet’s is now heard throughout the journey, with them particularly favouring the now flowering Ash trees. There are quite a lot of Mallard’s in the area as well at the moment, with one even seen on top of a house this morning, something I have never seen before. The Coot’s are also still present at Old Hall pond, though there seems to be just a couple there now, and a couple of Greylag Geese were again spotted flying over the Parks area this morning. The volcanic eruption in Iceland seems to now have eased, and as a result flights have now begun again, though no doubt the chaos caused by the recent problems will last for many days to come.

22nd (Thursday) -1.0 C to 13.5 C / nil / 11.2 hours
A frosty start to the day, with the temperature around -1 C, but otherwise it was another lovely sunny and clear morning, though there was cool north westerly breeze which made it feel quite chilly. Again like recent days there was more cloud in the afternoon, with Cumulus humilus and mediocris spreading out to form areas of Stratocumulus, but at no time did it become overcast and there were still plenty of long sunny spells. After 4 pm the cloud largely cleared leaving a sunny end to the day, with it remaining clear for much of the evening and night. Not as cold as last night, though nevertheless there   was a slight grass frost.

Went down to the river this morning, hoping to pick up my first Sedge or Reed Warbler of the year, though unfortunately the reeds are still quiet, though I am pretty sure there most be some about already. Perhaps the low temperatures this morning kept them quiet and I’ll have to back again soon. Along the river a few Redshanks were seen, along with many Mallards, and Feral Geese, and at the bridge a Cormorant was seen fishing in the river. Out on Swinemoor the Lapwings were displaying, and the odd Golden Plover was still to be observed, while in the hedgerows and woods of the area Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs were heard. At Hull Bridge a few Swallows were hunting, and along the whole trip along the river there was an almost constant sound of Reed Buntings singing from atop areas of Elder scrub or alike. Back at home a couple of Swallows were seen hunting over the garden in mid afternoon, and throughout the day two Blackcaps were heard in almost constant song from within the shrubs and trees, a most pleasant and pleasing sound to ones ears. It’s no wonder that these seasonal visitors are called the ‘Northern Nightingale’.

23rd (Friday) 1.9 C to 15.5 C / nil / 1.4 hours
A lovely start to the day, with a red sun rising through a layer of Cirrostratus, this producing a sun dog, and a sun pillar for about half an hour after dawn. However cloud increased by mid morning, with it becoming cloudy for the remainder of the morning and indeed most of the afternoon. Quite bright though despite the cloud and quite warm too, the temperature rising to 60 degrees. The cloud beginning to clear by evening, with even some late sunny spells, though it remained quite hazy as there was still lots of high Cirrus and Cirrostratus. A veil of high cloud persisting throughout the night, but otherwise it was largely clear, this allowing the temperature to fall away with a slight mist covering the district by dawn.

Cycled up to Walkington and then down to Bentley, taking advantage of the beautiful weather at the moment, and enjoying the countryside while it is very much at its best with all the fresh new growth. Most hedges are now green and trees such as Horse Chestnuts are now pretty much in full leaf. In the fields the Oilseed Rape is continuing to come out, and in the quiet country nooks the sound of Sparrows, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers, and Whitethroats fill the still morning air with their sweet serenades. In the sky above and along the telegraph wires of delightful communities such as Bentley the newly returned Swallows hang around the farm yards, taking advantage of the flies which are attracted to the domesticated beasts of the fields, while all the while the more overlooked species add further to both the sound and sight tapestry, with Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets, Dunnocks, Robins, and Blackbirds to name but a few.

In the still bare Beech’s, Oaks, and Ashes the parliaments of Rooks call noisily from atop their colonies of varying sizes, while in the cereal fields the local Hares can still be seen, even though the crop is now very much on the march and will no doubt conceal the activities of these handsome wild creatures within the next month. Indeed truly on a morning such as this there is no doubt in my mind that this county is heaven on earth, and I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful and fertile land. Back at home the Blackcap was again heard for much of the day, and a number of Swallows were observed with up to four seen together at one point. Some courting behaviour was also observed which confirms that these birds are local breeders and not just passing migrants on there way to points north.

24th (Saturday) 3.8 C to 18.0 C / 0.4 mm / 13.6 hours
A gorgeous morning, with a lovely red sun rising over the mist covered fields. Remaining clear and sunny for the remainder of the day, and becoming really quite warm with the temperature climbing to a 2010 high of 18 C (65 F), and all in all feeling distinctly summery. However high cirrus cloud did make the sun somewhat hazy from mid afternoon onwards and this would continue to increase during the evening and night. Indeed becoming overcast by the end of the night with some outbreaks of largely light rain moving in around dawn.

Went on a fifteen mile cycle this morning around the local district, on what was a lovely late spring day. First off I headed down to Figham, where the sight of the rising red sun over the mist covered pastures was a delight to the eyes. The cattle grazed in the distance while in the near fields ewes and their lambs fed in the peace and quiet of this serene Saturday morning. From here I continued onwards to Thearne, a village which I have to say I have thus far overlooked, and I found it to be a pleasant and rural community, despite being just a mile or so from the outskirts of Hull. Again the low mist hung over the villages fields and pastures, and in the woods the sound of leaf warblers filled the chilled morning air. In this area there are also a lot of glasshouses, with gardening obviously big business around here, but I also found the area to be surprisingly well wooded with some good healthy hedgerows along the roadside.

From Thearne I headed along the familiar road that is Long Lane, but instead of continuing on to Beverley I turned left and made my way up the track along Model Farm. With Bentley my ultimate goal I headed over the fields, and when passing a small area of woodland I found a small area of Bluebells coming into flower. Within a week I expect they will all be in full flower, though I don’t expect those growing in denser woodlands will be fully ready for another fortnight at least. Cycling through Bentley again, as I did yesterday morning, I was again struck by the peace and quiet of this tiny village of probably no more than thirty souls, and from here I headed towards Little Weighton passing on my way the old site of Risby Hall. This delightful stretch of rolling and undulating road was a joy on this fine morning, with Skylarks over the nearby fields, while in the hedgerows Dunnocks, Tits, Finches, and Whitethroats were my only companions for at least fifteen minutes of sheer bliss. I do not believe there can be anywhere else on this earth I would rather be on a morning such as this, though I have to say some of the litter I encountered strewn along the roadside brings a real fury and sadness at how so many people take this gentle land of ours for granted.

Eventually I arrived in Little Weighton, a village hidden and sunken in one of the Wolds many dry dales, and though the core of the village is most pleasant, with a handsome little pond, much of the village has unfortunately fallen foul to new commuting developments, with ugly and stark modern housing on the villages peripheries. Turning northwards in the village I headed up the woldside, and soon I was atop this area of the low southern Wolds, where I had a wonderful vista to the south and east over the fields of Holderness and towards the sprawling mass of Hull with its many tall housing flats and industrial structures. However visibility was not that great this morning, probably no more than 10 miles, and this actually softened the scene and made it all the more appealing. Up here on these open Wold roads one has a tremendous feeling of space and freedom and on a day like today with a warm sun above and very little wind I could quite happily roam these lonely rural tracks from dawn to dusk.

However I had to return home and so I continued onwards to Walkington. Instead of passing through the heart of this popular commuting village I skirted along its western and northern edge and headed ever northwards, eventually arriving in what is considered to be one of the jewels of the local area, the village of Bishop Burton. This pretty little village, with its quaint pond, village green, and famous agricultural college, is indeed a handsome community, with a particularly fine old fashioned village shop (a real rarity these days) and many well cared for and appointed dwellings. Again like Walkington and Little Weighton you do get the feeling that this village is very much a commuting village with very few of its residents being either employed on the land or being true countrymen but it nevertheless is a fine community with a fine church and by and large friendly residents whom will actually take time to acknowledge you and say ‘good morning’, something I find increasingly rare in the increasingly urban Beverley.

Heading south east from Bishop Burton I headed towards the Westwood, taking the largely quiet Newbald Road. Already by 8 am the golfers were already out in force, and I was surprised by the sheer number of dog walkers already out and about. Making my way over this historic common-land I revelled in the sight, but especially the wonderful scent of the flowering Gorse, a smell I wish I could bottle and enjoy at my leisure. Passing Black Mill Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were displaying from the long grass, while above Swallows were hunting. Indeed throughout much of my journey I had seen Swallows quite widely, and there is no doubt that they are here now for the next five to six months before the first cold and tossing breezes of autumn return. As my morning cycle concluded my tired legs were at least happy to be home, but part of me does always feel sad to return to the town after enjoying the many delights that our delightful countryside has to offer.

Back at home in the garden I saw my first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year, and throughout the day Swallows again hunted and courted in good numbers, there chattering calls frequently heard overhead. A Blue butterfly was seen (the second of the year), and in general most common species of butterfly, bees, and wasp are seen in the garden now. Summer really does seem to have come early this year, though it remains to be seen whether this is a good omen for the coming of summer proper.

25th (Sunday) 6.2 C to 17.8 C / 0.2 mm / 4.1 hours
A damp and grey start to the day, though despite the rain it was surprisingly warm and indeed muggy. Drier by mid morning but remaining grey and muggy, with quite poor visibility with the high humidity. Somewhat brighter after midday but showers developing in the afternoon, some of these becoming thundery by mid afternoon, with a couple of thunderstorms rolling by the area between 4 and 6 pm, though it remained largely dry here in Beverley. Showers clearing by the evening with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the day and overnight. Remaining mild overnight with a low of just 8 C.

Cowlam Wold
An interesting walk in this corner of the high Wolds near Sledmere, on what was a humid and grey morning after early rain. The visibility was very poor, barely more than three or five miles for most of the walk, but it nevertheless failed to detract from what was a fine mornings walk. The biggest highlight of the morning was the spotting of two female Wheatears, a new species for my Wold list, and they were given away as the flew out of the long daleside grasslands or hawthorn scrub and revealed their distinctive white rumps. One posed particularly well on a bit of Hawthorn and which allowed me to study these attractive upland birds in reasonable detail. There were also quite a few Curlews displaying up in these dry grassy dales, with at least five seen, and their distinctive and evocative calls heard frequently during the first half of our walk.

In the dale scrublands Willow warblers were heard widely, with Yellowhammers and Linnets also spotted frequently, while in the grass Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were repeatedly observed. In some areas of grassland some Cowslips were seen coming into flower, and in general the countryside is looking very good indeed, though undoubtedly these high Wolds areas are at least a fortnight behind here in Beverley borough, with much of the Hawthorn scrub just starting to leaf up here. Heading back down to the car from the airfield the crops in the fields are looking healthy and strong, and this area was filled with Skylark song, and for anybody whom thinks that this bird is becoming rare on farmland I would challenge him to say so if he was confronted with the abundance that we encountered this morning. Indeed further along our walk we encountered another apparently rare farmland bird in the form of a Corn Bunting, which was singing its distinctive jangling call from a top an area of Hawthorn scrub. In this same area of scrub there were finches, leaf warblers, yellowhammers, and Whitethroats and all in all this morning was very productive in terms of ornithological interest.

26th (Monday) 7.9 C to 17.1 C / nil / 8.9 hours
A bright and warm morning, though there was a fair amount of broken altocumulus, and latterly cumulus which produced some cloudier periods. Sunny spells continuing in the afternoon, and fairly warm again with the thermometer rising to 17 C (63 F). Broken and scattered cloud overnight and remaining quite mild with a low of just 7 C.

The Wood Anemones on the Westwood are now beginning to pass their best, and indeed around the borough the abundant Daffodils are increasingly now in obvious decline. However in the town Tulips are now replacing them in increasing numbers, with the display around the Minster particularly attractive, while out in the countryside the rapidly blooming fluorescent yellow flowers of the Oilseed Rape is adding to the pleasant patchwork of colours which is so characteristic of our pastoral English landscape.

27th (Tuesday) 7.1 C to 19.1 C / nil / 7.9 hours
Another lovely morning in this corner of our isle, with largely clear skies, and feeling pleasantly warm. However increasing amounts of Cirrus and latterly Cirrostratus began to veil the sun by mid-day, this becoming thicker Altostratus going into the afternoon. Remaining fairly bright though, and warm again with the temperature rising to over 19 C (66 F), easily the warmest day of the year thus far and the highest temperature recorded in over six and a half months. Cloud thinning again by evening, allowing some hazy sunshine to end the day, but still a lot of high Cirrus cloud and areas of broken Altocumulus remained, and did so for the remainder of the night. A very mild night under this veil of cloud with a low above 10 C (50 F).

Heard a Cuckoo this morning in the Parklands, and I did manage to spot it singing from a top the trees around Old Hall Farm and the Millennium Orchard. It called pretty much continuously while I was in the area, and under the lovely warm dawn sun and surrounded by the sound and sights of the more common farmland birds it was as near to heaven as I could possibly imagine. In the same area the Green Woodpecker was heard ‘yaffling’, and so far this spring I have heard this species of bird quite a few times in at least three different locations in the borough, so there is little doubt that this bird is beginning to extend its range into the borough. As can be seen in the picture on the right the Oilseed Rape crop near Model Farm is now pretty much fully out, and has come out rapidly with the recent warm and sunny weather (compare with just a few days ago on the 24th). On the Westwood the Cattle are now back out, and as is usually the case during the first few weeks they are quite nervous around strangers.

28th (Wednesday) 10.1 C to 20.8 C / trace / 5.7 hours
A bright start, but there was a lot of high Cirrus and invading thicker mid-level already by dawn, and this thickened up by mid morning with it becoming largely cloudy after 9 am. Remaining largely cloudy through the morning, though by mid-day it did become brighter again, though the sunshine remained veiled by fairly dense Cirrus and Cirrostratus. Very warm in the afternoon, the temperature just shy of 70 degrees, and all in all another very pleasant late spring day. Cirrostratus becoming replaced by Altostratus in the evening, this thickening during the night and giving some light rain for a time around 3 am. Dry by the end of the night, but remaining cloudy, and another very mild night with a low of just 11 C.

Heard the Cuckoo again this morning in the same area as yesterday (Model Farm & Old Hall Farm). It wasn’t calling as frequently today, though the very fact that it has of yet not moved on is encouraging and I can but hope that maybe we’ll have a breeding pair in the district this year. Most mature trees are now leafing at least, with the Beech’s and Sycamore’s now obviously ‘greening’, while the already fully leafed Horse Chestnuts are now beginning to show signs of coming into blossom. In the garden the Crab Apple is staring to flower, though there is no doubt that the Bullfinches have done quite a bit of damage this year as there appears to be far fewer blooms than recent years. The Bluebells between Bentley and Model Farm have come out further since the 24th, and are now about fully out, while all the hawthorn hedgerows are now a lovely fresh green, with white splashes provided by the blossoms of the blackthorns growing in amongst the former. In the hedges Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Sparrows (both types), Yellowhammers, and Whitethroats are seen and heard frequently, while above, especially around the farms, the Swallows hunt acrobatically. Back home in the garden the big highlight of the day was the spotting of my first Swifts of the year, with two or three birds seen, and I even heard one ‘screech’ briefly, a real sound of summer. This observation is slightly earlier than normal, the average first date usually being in the first week of May, though the earliest date came during 2008 when one was spotted on the 26th April. Also of interest today was a very bright and vivid Brimstone butterfly, which was almost fluorescent in its brightness. Quite a number of Blue butterflies were also spotted today, with other species including Comma and Peacock. A Squirrel was seen moving ‘dreys’ during the afternoon, with it seen a few times carefully carrying some youngsters in its mouth to their new home in the small wood to the south of the house. Amongst the garden plants the Broom is now coming into flower, which should timely replace the now fading Forsythia’s, and the Kerria by the tool-shed is now at its best, with a mass of vibrant yellow flowers.

29th (Thursday) 11.1 C to 17.0 C / 7.0 mm / 0.6 hours
A warm and cloudy start, the ground slightly damp after the little bit of rain last night. Becoming brighter by mid morning, though the sunshine very hazy with a veil of Cirrus and Cirrostratus diffusing the sun, and by the end of the morning it had become cloudy again. This cloud continuing to thicken through the afternoon, with warm gentle rain moving in by 4 pm, which at first was light but became increasingly moderate by the end of the afternoon. Continuing through the evening but eventually clearing by mid-night with the cloud slowly breaking up by the end of the night.

Went down to Swinemoor, paying my weekly visit to this area of seasonal flood meadows, and it proved very productive with plenty to see. Firstly I did hear my first Reed & Sedge Warblers this week after their absence last week, and I even managed to spot the odd Reed Warbler skulking about in the reed-beds. Indeed their seems to be more Reed Warblers than Sedge Warblers so far this year, which surprises me somewhat because usually it’s the other way round along the river. Over the flood meadows the Lapwings displayed again in good numbers, with a few Redshanks also seen displaying over the small areas of water still remaining from the past winter. In between the lagoons grazing Greylags and Mallards were seen, and amongst the Greylags was a lone Pink footed Goose, possibly the same one I saw last winter in this area. A single male Wigeon was also spotted, with what looked like two females, and a lone Oystercatcher passed over the Moor briefly. However the main highlight of the morning was a male Ruff in much of its finery, and though the view was somewhat distant I could see its colourful mottled feathers, with just a hint of a ruff just below its neck and above its breast, though there was no sign of a head crest. What appeared to be three female Ruffs were also in the area. Back home at least three individual Swifts were again seen hunting over the garden, indeed they flew quite low for a time as the afternoon rain closed in.

30th (Friday) 6.8 C to 15.5 C / 1.5 mm / 2.0 hours
A bright start, and feeling cooler and fresher compared to recent mornings. Cloud increasing by mid morning though not coming to anything with some brighter periods again managing to develop after mid-day. Still a lot of cloud around though, with some decent convection observed, but with a lack of instability it didn’t come to much with just some light showers. A more prolonged spell of rain moving in around 5 pm, but this cleared by mid evening and it became largely dry overnight with the cloud breaking up later.

Cycled around the Walkington area this morning, which looked the very embodiment of quintessential England in spring time, with last nights rain and the fresher feeling this morning seemingly giving the land a renewed vigour. Indeed this month has been largely dry and I am sure many plants were grateful for last nights drink. The area around the church was particularly beautiful this morning, with a handsome blossoming cherry by the church and low mist hanging in the neighbouring paddocks, with threads of gossamer glistening in the light of the golden rising sun. Back at home more Swifts were observed, with their screeching calls heard overhead a few times, and in a corner of the garden I could hear a fledged Blackbird calling.