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August 2011

1st (Mon) 16.2 C to 25.3 C / nil / 4.0 hours / SE 1.6 knots
A cloudy but very warm start, the temperature no lower than 16 C, and as the morning progressed some breaks would appear allowing some good spells of warm sunshine with temperatures soaring upwards as a result with a high of 25.3 C being reached. However in the afternoon cloud would increase again, and it would remain largely cloudy for the rest of the day, though there was the odd break from time to time too. Very muggy feeling too, with dew points in the high teens. Mostly cloudy overnight, and feeling very mild again with a low of 14.8 C.

2nd (Tue) 14.8 C to 26.7 C / nil / 7.0 hours / NW 1.5 knots
An initially bright morning with sunny spells and variable amounts of mid level cloud (including some altocumulus castellanus), but by 8 am altostratus moved in with it becoming cloudy for much of the morning. However by 11 am this would begin to clear, with most of the afternoon seeing variable amounts of cloud and sunny spells. Becoming very warm again under the August sun, with the thermometer climbing to 26.7 C, and feeling quite muggy with dew points in the high teens. Becoming largely cloudy again by the end of the afternoon, and remaining so through the evening and overnight, this making for another warm and muggy night.

A single strip of wheat was cut yesterday, and looking at the fields they are very nearly ready with the heads beginning to drop and blackness appearing between the grains. Meanwhile in the meadows and scrub a good amount of flowers can still be seen, including Mayweed, Knapweed, Bindweed, Poppies, Yarrow, Ragwort, Rosebay, & Great Willowherb, while in the brambles enough Blackberries are now ready for picking, something I think I’ll have to advantage of either later this week or perhaps next week.

3rd (Wed) 14.2 C to 26.0 C / 16.9 mm / 6.8 hours / SE 1.3 knots
A hot day again, with temperatures climbing up towards 80 degrees, and dew points in the high teens, and though there was some cloud at times it was mostly sunny in the morning and afternoon. However with all this recent hot and humid weather something had to give eventually, and after 4 pm cloud would build up rapidly with thunderstorms and heavy rain arriving by 5 pm. Indeed the rain was torrential at times, peaking at 134.0 mm/h, and there were some decent flashes of lightning and frequent booming rumbles of thunder. Eventually the rain and storms would clear away, with the cloud breaking after 8 pm, and as the air became still it would become somewhat misty. Indeed overnight this mist would thicken, and by the end of the night is was quite foggy with visibility around 500 metres or so.

The Oilseed Rape has now been collected in in the Parks area (well 90% of it has anyway). Some young Goldfinches were also see this morning.

4th (Thu) 11.9 C to 20.5 C / 3.3 mm / 0.2 hours / W 1.9 knots
A foggy start, with visibility reduced to around 300 metres in rural areas, and everything was still dripping wet after yesterday evenings storm. The fog clearing by 8 am, but remaining mostly grey as extensive mid-level clouds covered the sky, and this would quickly thicken with outbreaks of moderate and at times heavy rain between 10 am and noon (peak rate of 11.8 mm/h). Somewhat drier in the afternoon, but nevertheless it would remain cloudy with some further occasional outbreaks of mostly light rain at times. In the evening the cloud would begin to clear, with even some late sunny spells to end the day, and the cloud would continue to break overnight with some decent clear spells by dawn.

The Horse Chestnut to the south of the school is now showing some early colour, with yellow leaves on its eastward side, though this particular tree is usually the first to show colour and this is not particularly unusual.

5th (Fri) 13.9 C to 22.0 C / nil / 8.7 hours / NW 2.5 knots
A much fresher feeling morning, with a gentle westerly breeze, and plenty of sunshine to start the day. Scattered and broken cloud would increase by mid morning though, with sunny spells becoming the main theme of the day, as areas of cumulus and stratocumulus drifted across the summer sky. Pleasantly warm with temperatures around 22 C. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and at first overnight, but cloud would increase later with overcast skies by dawn.

A flock of about two to three dozen Lapwing’s has been seen most mornings recently in the roughly ploughed Barley field, with other birds being attracted to the area including Starling’s, pigeons, and wagtails. A flock of about half a dozen Greylag Geese were also seen flying over the Parks this morning.

6th (Sat) 11.5 C to 17.2 C / 10.9 mm / 0.4 hours / W 2.6 knots
An overcast start, with heavy and thick cloud coming in off the sea on a gentle south-east breeze. As the morning wore on this cloud would grow even thicker, with outbreaks of thundery rain moving in after 10 am, with the rain being very heavy at times (peak rate of 74.8 mm/h), and accompanied by some decent rumbles of thunder. Somewhat drier by mid afternoon, though it would remain cloudy till at least late evening. However the cloud would break up somewhat prior to dusk, with some late sunny spells, and overnight some decent clear spells would develop. The wind freshening from the SW overnight too.

7th (Sun) 11.1 C to 18.0 C / trace / 4.5 hours / W 3.8 knots
A sunny start, but cloud would increase by 10 am, and the rest of the morning and indeed much of the afternoon would see largely cloudy skies with only brief brighter periods. Indeed the cloud would be thick enough for a few spots of rain at times, and with a moderate and occasionally fresh westerly breeze it would feel quite cool today with a modest high of 18.0 C. The cloud however would break up after 5 pm, with some sunny spells to end the day. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with some decent clear spells at times.

A flock of about three dozen Golden Plovers were seen with the Lapwing’s in the rough ploughed Barley field near Old Hall Farm this morning. Meanwhile in the hedgerows autumn signs are increasing further, with now fairly abundant ripe Blackberries, while some of the Elderberries and Haws are likewise beginning to ripen. In the garden the Yew berries are also ripening.

8th (Mon) 10.3 C to 19.3 C / 49.4 mm / 6.1 hours / NW 4.9 knots
A bright and blustery day for the most part, with sunny spells and some cloudier periods, and also feeling quite cool in a moderate to fresh WNW breeze. However in late afternoon the sky to the north west would darken rapidly, with this bringing some very heavy outbreaks of rain after 5 pm (peak rate of 56.2 mm/h), and accompanied by some rumbles of thunder. Further outbreaks of heavy, or very heavy rain in the evening and by the time the rain cleared around 9 pm nearly 50 mm’s had been recorded, making this the wettest August day on my records, and the wettest single day since the floods of June 2007. Some further outbreaks of rain at first overnight, but this would clear after midnight with it becoming quite cool as the cloud broke up with a low of 8.9 C.

Picked my first Blackberries of the season down at Keldmarsh this morning.

9th (Tue) 8.9 C to 18.7 C / 0.9 mm / 5.1 hours / NW 2.9 knots
A bright and fresh start, and though stratocumulus would increase by mid morning it would remain bright through the morning. Feeling quite cool though, with a moderate to fresh NW breeze. Variable amounts of cloud in the afternoon, with some decent sunny spells at times, though it would remain fairly cool feeling, especially in the moderate NW breeze. More general cloud increasing during the evening, with mostly cloudy skies overnight.

10th (Wed) 10.7 C to 17.4 C / 6.4 mm / nil / SW 3.8 knots
A grey and unseasonably cool morning, with outbreaks of light rain. This rain would become somewhat heavier by mid morning and it would continue on and off for much of the morning and the first half of the afternoon, peaking at 7.8 mm/h during one of the heavier bursts. Becoming drier by 4 pm, but it would nevertheless remain cloudy for the remainder of the day, with dusk coming quite early under the overcast skies. Indeed today was the first sunless day since the 30th of March, well over four months ago. Remaining cloudy overnight with outbreaks of rain returning by dawn.

Everyday recently there have been about three of four Sparrowhawk’s on the wing around the house, with their sharp cries being heard almost constantly at the moment. I suspect it is a family group, and indeed I have seen the adults chasing away other birds whenever they approached, including harmless pigeons and doves.

11th (Thu) 12.0 C to 20.5 C / 0.5 mm / 1.2 hours / NE 3.1 knots
A wet start with moderate and at times heavy rain, but this would clear by 8 am with sunny spells breaking through for a time. Also becoming quite warm and muggy for a time after the rain cleared. Cloud however would increase again after 10 am, with the rest of the day seeing cloudy skies, with the cloud thick enough to produce some rain and drizzle at times in the afternoon. Overcast skies in the evening and overnight, but becoming mostly dry.

12th (Fri) 13.4 C to 19.4 C / 1.4 mm / 0.3 hours / SE 1.5 knots
A cloudy morning with extensive stratus clouds, this thick enough for the odd drop from time to time, but as the morning progressed this cloud would lift with it becoming somewhat brighter, though it would remain generally cloudy throughout the day with only a few sunny spells from time to time, mostly in the afternoon. Remaining cloudy in the evening and overnight, with the cloud thickening again after midnight, though it would remain dry till at least dawn. A mild night with the overcast skies, with a minimum of just 15.8 C.

13th (Sat) 15.8 C to 21.1 C / nil / 1.0 hours / W 1.7 knots
A wet start with outbreaks of moderate to heavy rain (peak rate of 5.6 mm/h), but by 8 am this had cleared and as the morning progressed some sunny spells would begin to break through, though by and large the theme of the morning was mostly cloudy skies. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon, though again some sunny spells did break through from time to time, especially in the second half of the afternoon and continuing into the evening. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with some decent clear spells developing later.

The Yew berries are now ripening widely, with red fruits hanging from the female trees in the garden like little fairy lights, while the Tutsan berries are likewise ripening, with a mixture of already black fully ripe ones, and still ripening red ones. Indeed the weather lately has been quite ‘back-endish’, and one can be forgiven for believing that autumn is already upon us when one sees the ripening fruits which can be found widely in both the garden and countryside at large. However there are still plenty of flowers about too, with Bergamot, Montbretia, Begonia‘s, Sweet-peas, Roses, Nasturtium’s, Cranesbill‘s, and a few others to be seen in the garden beds. All these flowers are attracting plenty of insects at the moment too, with particularly large numbers of Bumble Bee’s and Hoverflies, while butterflies are also being seen well, especially Red Admiral’s at the moment, along with Peacock’s, Small Tortoiseshell‘s, and White’s.

14th (Sun) 12.0 C to 20.6 C / nil / 6.7 hours / W 3.8 knots
A bright morning with plenty of sunny spells and variable amounts of broken stratocumulus and altocumulus drifting across the sky on a gentle WSW breeze. Somewhat cloudier for a time around midday, but as the afternoon wore on the cloud would break and clear, and indeed by evening it became mostly clear with just the odd patch of strato or altocumulus from time to time. Clear spells overnight, with a moderate to heavy dew by dawn.

North Cave Wetlands
This morning Dad and I decided to visit North Cave prior to our usual Sunday walk, arriving at the reserve just prior to 7 am and enjoying a couple of hours birding at this small but usually productive wetland site. This was our first visit since mid February, and obviously things have changed quite a bit since then, though not only bird and seasonal wise, but also landscape wise as the reserves development and expansion continues apace. Indeed a couple of new hides over-looking the new habitats have recently been built, with one of them a sort of shelter style hide (ie. open to the elements on one side), while the other is a significant affair and looks like it could become a visitor centre in the future (it being about the same sort of size as Blacktoft’s visitor centre).

Arriving early at the reserve paid off bird-wise, with plenty of interest this morning, including a few species of bird I haven’t seen for a few years since I stopped regularly birding at such places a couple of years ago. The major highlight of the morning were three Greenshank’s scattered in various different parts of the reserve (Main Lake, Carp Lake, & Island Lake), while a couple of Little Ringed Plovers were seen on the Reedbed Lake. This part of the reserve also hosted a couple of feral Black Swan’s, while the odd Snipe was also seen, a species of bird which is a particular favourite of mine.

Along the western footpath two Spotted Flycatcher’s were observed, with one hunting individual almost hovering like a hummingbird at one point, while other notable passerines seen in the reserves hedgerows or scrub included Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Willow warbler, Reed Warbler, and a juvenile of female Yellow Wagtail. Back on the lakes and lagoons there was a good variety of waterfowl, including six species of duck (Mallard, Tufted, Pochard, Teal, Gadwall, & Shoveler), though the ducks are very plain at the moment as they are still in eclipse.

On Main Lake there were also lots of Common Tern’s, with at least a dozen or so, and during our visit we would also see them in other parts of reserve, they obviously having had a good breeding year. However one of the main highlights of the morning came towards the end of our visit as several skeins of Greylag Geese passed low over our heads as they arrived back after having probably been grazing on some local stubble fields, and the whole scene was very evocative of being out on the north Norfolk marshes in autumn, when Pink-feet, Brent’s, and Greylag’s pass right over ones head. Geese are one of my favourite birds, as there are few things better than a chill and calm autumn morning with the sights and sounds of wild geese out on some marsh enveloped by a light mist. Heaven.

Nunburnholme Wold
After our visit to North Cave (and popping home for breakfast), we set off on our usual Sunday morning walk, today heading up to Nunburnholme Wold on what was a bright and clement morning with occasional sunny spells. As soon as we arrived we were awarded with the sight of four Buzzard’s soaring above Saxon plantation, while the view across the Vale was excellent, with a slight haze softening the landscape, though not so thick as to hide the distant Pennines on the other side of Yorkshire.

Going down Nunburnholme Hill, the roadside verges were covered in wildflowers, including Knapweed, thistles, Birds-foot Trefoil, Tufted Vetch, lots of Herb Robert in the shadier spots, some late Scabious, and a few others which have either slipped my mind or are beyond my identification skills. In the hedgerows the wild fruits and berries are also starting to ripen up here, including Haws, Elderberries (only a very few mind), blackberries, and Sloes. As our walk progressed up towards Merebalk Plantation on the edge of Deepdale, we heard a Green Woodpecker briefly, this area being one of the best areas in the East Riding to see this large bird which is relatively scarce in the county, while at the top of the wood we passed through a sea of pink flowering Rosebay Willowherb.

The dew pond at the top of the wood was full of water, which came as a surprise considering the time of year, but I suppose we have had a fair amount of rain lately (though the spring fed stream which flows down from Deepdale was nothing more than a trickle down at Nunburnholme). Meanwhile the harvest has not really moved on since last week due to the unsettled weather in the past week, and indeed there is still some unharvested Barley up here, as well as the odd uncut field of Oilseed Rape. I am sure the local farmers must be hoping for some more settled weather in the next fortnight or so, as things really do need to get moving soon if we are to avoid a poor & late harvest season.

The lengthening nights allowed me to get the telescope out tonight for the first time since spring, and though it is still not dark enough for DSO observing, I was nevertheless able to enjoy looking at the full moon in sharp detail, as well as hunting down some double-stars, a particular pursuit which I greatly enjoy. I was also able to take a few photographs of the moon, with the image here the best of my efforts. I am now very much looking forward to the new season of astronomy, with plenty of interesting events and sights ahead in the coming autumn, including one of the best showings by Jupiter for a number of years, something I am greatly anticipating. Hopefully I can get my observatory (or shed) finished before the colder and damper weather sets in, and perhaps even an electric supply which would be a terrific help on the long nights ahead.

15th (Mon) 10.5 C to 19.4 C / 1.6 mm / 7.3 hours / W 2.3 knots
A clement morning with plenty of sunshine despite broken patches of stratocumulus coming and going, though as the morning progressed cloud amounts would increase further, and indeed in the afternoon some decent convection was observed, though this came to nothing. After a pleasant afternoon cloud would increase in the evening, with it becoming mostly cloudy by dusk. Remaining generally cloudy overnight, with some outbreaks of rain after 2 am.

Outward migration seems to be very much under way now, with Old Hall Hedge hosting a large number and diversity of warblers this morning. Indeed I was able to watch in peace for about half an hour, with species seen including at least three or four Lesser Whitethroat’s, three Common Whitethroat’s, one Blackcap, the odd Chiffchaff, and a good number of Willow warblers. The Lesser Whitethroat’s were particularly conspicuous this morning (for what is usually a fairly skulking species), with one seen busy preening beside a Robin, and then latterly a Dunnock for about ten minutes, this allowing me to study in good detail this handsome summer visitor. Other passage migrants this morning included a small flock of Golden Plover’s overhead, and House Martin’s were also heard and seen passing over the garden today. The Swift’s are still here, but numbers are undoubtedly starting to diminish.

16th (Tue) 12.6 C to 22.0 C / nil / 4.2 hours / W 4.1 knots
A damp start with outbreaks of rain and drizzle, but this would clear by 9 am and as the morning progressed it would become increasingly brighter with some sunny spells. However cloud would increase again for a time around 2 pm, this even thick enough for the odd drop of rain, but this wouldn’t last long and by the end of the afternoon it became increasing sunny with just the odd patch of cloud in the sky.

17th (Wed) 9.4 C to 19.9 C / nil / 7.4 hours / SE 1.8 knots
A bright day for the most part, with spells of sunshine alternating with some cloudier periods, especially in the afternoon. Clear spells overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall and a heavy dew by dawn.

A few warblers were in Old Hall Hedge this morning, including Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap & Willow warbler. Meanwhile further wheat was harvested yesterday, and now about 40% to 50% of the crop is now in in the Beverley Parks area. The stubble fields are also attracting quite a few birds now, with about 10 Grey Partridge’s seen in the plantation field, with other birds including corvids, pigeons, and Lapwing. Of further interest this morning were about two dozen Greylag Geese passing overhead, flying in a ‘V’ formation north-eastwards.

18th (Thu) 7.5 C to 16.9 C / 0.8 mm / 2.9 hours / SE 1.9 knots
A cool start, with a heavy dew and a light shallow mist in rural areas, with the sky veiled by cirrus and cirrostratus. Indeed there was a slight halo visible around the rising sun for a time, with an iridescent sun-dog seen to the south of the sun. However by mid morning this was replaced by thin altostratus, with the remainder of the morning seeing increasingly weak and hazy sunshine with it becoming cloudy by the end of the morning. Remaining cloudy for most of the afternoon, though it did become sunnier for a time around 5 pm. However this didn’t last long and cloud would again increase and thicken through the evening. The cloud becoming thick enough for some moderate outbreaks of rain around midnight, but this would clear by the end of the night with mostly clear skies by dawn.

The Swift’s seemed to have mostly departed now, though the odd one is still seen from time to time. However these ones may well be migrants heading south from further north, and those birds which spent there summer in the skies above Beverley are probably on there way back to Africa.

19th (Fri) 9.7 C to 20.4 C / nil / 11.2 hours / SW 2.7 knots
A lovely late summer morning, with mostly clear skies and a pleasant freshness to the air (and a heavy dew at dawn). However cloud would increase somewhat in the afternoon, with some cloudier periods from time to time, but there were still some sunnier periods too. Warmer than yesterday, with a high over 20 C. Cloud mostly clearing for a time in the evening, barring lots of extensive & attractive cirrus which caught the setting sun, but after dusk cloud would increase again with variable amounts of cloud for the remainder of the night. A milder night as a result.

20th (Sat) 12.5 C to 23.0 C / 1.4 mm / 10.0 hours / SW 1.7 knots
A sunny morning, and soon warming up under the late summer sun with the thermometer climbing up above 20 C by the end of the morning. A bit more in the way of cloud in the afternoon, but nevertheless it would remain largely sunny and very warm, with the temperature climbing to a high of 23 C, making this the warmest day in over a fortnight. Cloud increasing more so by the end of the afternoon, with mostly cloudy skies through the evening. This cloud would thicken after dusk with some moderate to heavy outbreaks of rain for a time overnight (peak rate 5.4 mm/h), but this would clear well before dawn with the cloud breaking up and mist forming.

21st (Sun) 14.7 C to 23.3 C / nil / 7.7 hours / W 3.5 knots
A misty but bright start, though the mist would soon disperse, leaving a day of sunny periods as varying amounts of broken stratocumulus drifted across the sky from the WNW. Warm again, with a high of 23.3 C. Becoming more cloudy for a time in the afternoon, but this didn’t last long with the cloud breaking up and clearing by evening. Remaining mostly clear overnight, with a heavy dew by dawn.

The mist this morning (as well as last night’s rain), made the grass very wet this morning, with spider webs glistening in the dawn sun, while the red haws in the hedgerows each had very own drop of water hanging from there tips, these shining like fairy lights when viewed from the right angle. Very autumnal indeed.

North Cave Wetlands
Went early to North Cave again this morning (see last Sunday), on what was a warm and mostly sunny morning with a light mist over the fields. There were a few more people about today, as a Spotted Crake has been seen lately, though unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to find this rare skulking species which to me looks like a Water Rail with a short beak. However despite this minor disappointment, this visit to my favourite local wetland site was still productive, with migrant waders again well represented, including a lone Greenshank, which we had a great view of at Carp Lake, a lovely warm coloured Ruff on Island Lake (see picture), and a Common Sandpiper beside a lagoon on the newly created habitat of Dryham Ings.

Three Red Crested Pochard’s were another major highlight of the morning, these seen amongst a group of common Pochard’s on Carp Lake, with their distinctive red bills and round shaped heads making them easily stand out amongst the other ducks, despite the fact they are still in eclipse. As has been the case in the Parks area for the past week, warbler passage was also noticeable, with a good variety and numbers of these summer visitors seen around the reserve, including Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow warbler, and Chiffchaff.

Towards the end of our visit we also found a Green Woodpecker, a bird which is common here, while the two feral Black Swan’s were again seen on Island Lake. Other good birds this morning included still numerous Common Tern’s (including a lot of juveniles), eight species of wildfowl (including abundant Greylag’s again), about half a dozen Snipe, a lone Redshank, and one juvenile Yellow Wagtail. In total 44 species were recorded.

Bishop Wilton
After finishing at North Cave, and popping home for breakfast and to complete my daily weather observations, we headed out again, this time heading to the far NW of the central Wolds around Bishop Wilton and Garrowby Hill. The weather was clement, though perhaps on the warm and muggy side, with sunny spells and varying amounts of broken stratocumulus drifting in from the west. Making our way up Bishop Wilton Wold, we were afforded with some wonderful views of the village itself, its dark steeple pointing high above the now golden countryside, while York Minster was also obvious much further to the west. Indeed visibility was quite good this morning, with the Pennines clearly obvious, including Menwith Hill.

Some of the trees are now starting to show some tint, or at least tiredness, this being particularly the case with Horse Chestnut’s and Beeches, while the haws and sloes in the hedgerow are now obvious and would appear to be pretty much ripe, especially the haws. Wildflowers are now certainly fading, with most gone to seed, though harebells are still at their best, and plenty of other flowers can still nevertheless be found, including Knapweed, Trefoil, Clovers, Cranesbill, and the likes of hawksbit, sowthistle, and other common grassland flowers. The wonderful wildflower meadow at the top of the hill is likewise beyond its best now, though there were still enough flowers to make for a beautiful spectacle as one looked across the sea of grass, and flowers towards the wide expanse of the Vale of York stretching away to the west.

Birdwise the mornings major highlight was a Marsh Tit in the small larch wood half way up Bishop Wilton Wold, while a family of about five Kestrels was watched in Worsendale. About three Red Kite’s was another good observation. Butterflies are now less common than earlier in the month, though a few Red Admiral’s were spotted this morning, especially around the thistles, and grass moths were quite abundant along parts of the walk. Indeed insects are about in large numbers at the moment, these allowing the many autumn migrants such as Swifts, hirundines, warblers, and flycatchers which are passing through the county at the moment to feed up ahead of there long and perilous journeys.

22nd (Mon) 10.6 C to 21.5 C / nil / 10.3 hours / SE 2.1 knots
A gorgeous clement start to the day, with a light mist over the fields in rural areas, and a heavy dew. Remaining sunny through the morning, and indeed most of the afternoon, with just some scattered fair weather cumulus drifting across the sky on a backing breeze which would move from the NW in the morning to the SE by dusk. Pleasantly warm again with a high of 71 degrees. Variable amounts of cloud overnight, with some clear spells prior to midnight, but thereafter cloud amounts would increase, with it becoming largely cloudy by dawn.

The recent fairly settled weather has really allowed the harvest to progress, with now most of the winter wheat in (well certainly at least 75% of it anyway), with the countryside now richly golden thanks to the fresh stubble in the fields and attractive round bales which stand as monuments to the annual human achievement that is harvest. Meanwhile a Roe deer was seen with two youngsters in one of the last remaining wheat fields, while Old Hall Hedge is still hosting good numbers of warblers, including Lesser Whitethroat’s again, as well as more common leaf warblers.

North Cliffe Wood
This afternoon we paid a visit to North Cliffe wood, with our primary objective being the collecting of Blackberries (as well as some cobnuts). Last time we had visited the reserve the fruits were still far from ready (apart from the odd one or two), but today there were plenty, many of them of good size and quality. However even today they were not quite at their best yet, with the peak likely to come around the turn of the month. However the cobnuts would appear to be pretty much ready now, with many of them having already fallen, and this made collecting a sufficiency a relatively easy task. With Michael and Mum also joining us on this foraging trip, we made an afternoon of it and walked around most of the wood, as well as venturing out onto the heath, with Michael seemingly enjoying the whole experience of being out in the great outdoors.

The weather was sunny and warm, with just some scattered fair weather cumulus, and all in all it would be a very enjoyable family trip to this lovely little tranquil and under visited woodland. The wood is now starting to show obvious signs of the coming season, with the summer growth beginning to look increasingly tired and ready for a much needed period of rest. Of course this means mushroom’s and toadstool’s are beginning to appear on the woodland floor in greater amounts and diversity, and though I can’t really identify many of these beautiful and often brightly coloured fungi, I nevertheless like looking for them amongst the bracken and wood litter. Indeed they are one of my favourite things to photograph, something which I of course did so today (see pictures), and though those seen today are quite plain in comparison to some of those which will appear later in the autumn, they are nevertheless interesting and will at least help me to learn more about this vast subject.

Away from the fungi other autumn signs can be seen widely through the wood, from abundant ripe fruits (blackberries, haws, cobnuts, rowan etc), to the first yellowing birch leaves, some of these having already fallen in places, though whether these have turned and fallen as a response to the dry weather which dominated spring, and the subsequent water deficit which has followed during the summer, is unclear. Indeed the reserve is completely dry still, with no water at all in any of the ditches, and though this may be stressing some of the plant life of the wood, it does on the plus side mean there are relatively few mosquitoes this summer. Meanwhile dragonflies can now be seen well, with lots of hawkers buzzing around the heath, but to be honest I know next to nothing about these prehistoric looking insects, besides the fact they are split into three main groups (hawkers, darters, and damselflies). The heath also hosted a few butterflies, Small Copper’s being the dominant species, though Red Admiral’s were also numerous, especially towards the edge of the woodland or in sunny glades. Meanwhile birdlife was fairly quiet this afternoon, though a Treecreeper was briefly seen, and other notable observations included a Buzzard & a Green Woodpecker.

I had a short look at the sun around lunchtime today, this being my first solar observation since April. There were quite a few sunspots, with one large area of activity near the sun’s centre, though two, much smaller areas were also just visible, though one of these spots was really pushing the limits of my resolving power, and could have been easily overlooked or dismissed as a bit of dust on the lens. The sun appears to be awaking now after a fairly prolonged period of quietness, and indeed a recent solar flare was witnessed, which had it been directed at us could have caused widespread damage and disruption to electric and telecommunication devices around the world.

23rd (Tue) 10.3 C to 16.0 C / 1.3 mm / 0.9 hours / NW 1.9 knots
After an initially bright but mostly cloudy start, the cloud would thicken by mid morning with outbreaks of mostly light rain and drizzle arriving by 11 am. Continuing on and off into the afternoon, but not really amounting to anything, and by the end of the afternoon it began to clear. Indeed some sunny spells would break through in the evening to end the day on a bright note. Cloud increasing again overnight, with some further spells of rain for a time, these being somewhat more substantial than those earlier in the day (peak rate of 1.4 mm/h), but after 3 am the rain would clear with mist and then fog forming by dawn.

A fox was flushed from the long grass near the Parks plantation this morning, and I must have been no more than 100 yards away when it jumped out onto the footpath before taking flight in the opposite direction. A Roe deer was also disturbed in roughly the same location. Back at home in the garden Magpie’s are currently quite numerous, with at least eight seen today around the feeding station, while Jackdaw’s are also being seen from time to time on the bird table. More welcome is the return of regular Greenfinches, as these olive coloured finches have been less common in the last few years, probably due to a disease which was widespread throughout England.

24th (Wed) 9.0 C to 22.5 C / 8.4 mm / 7.9 hours / SW 1.4 knots
A foggy start, with visibility certainly less than 150 yards in rural areas, but by mid morning the fog would begin to lift and dissipate as the sun rose higher in the sky. Thereafter the majority of the morning and first half of the afternoon would see plenty of warm sunshine, with just a scattering of fair weather cumulus from 11 am onwards. However in the second half of the afternoon cloud amounts would increase, and by evening it had become mostly cloudy and grey. It would remain dry however, and overnight the cloud would actually break up a bit for a time with a few clearer spells. This wouldn’t last long though, with thicker cloud increasing again later, with outbreaks of rain arriving by dawn.

Thick fog in the Parks this morning, with everything dripping wet from a combination of yesterdays rain, and this mornings wet fog. These meant many of the berries were attractively bejeweled with droplets of water which shone in the weak sunlight of the dawn sun, with spider webs and gossamer likewise doing so. Meanwhile five Roe deer were seen, with three seen in a wheat field near White Hall Farm, and the other two near Model Farm.

25th (Thu) 10.3 C to 19.1 C / 1.3 mm / 6.1 hours / SW 1.0 knots
A very wet start to the day with outbreaks of heavy rain (peak rate of 13.2 mm/h), but this would clear by 9 am with it slowly brightening up as the morning progressed. Indeed by the afternoon spells of sunshine would develop, with the remainder of the day seeing plenty of sunshine and pleasant temperatures of about 19 C. After a mostly clear evening, cloud would increase after dusk, with a generally overcast night following.

Most of the winter wheat is now in, with the local farmers being very busy yesterday ahead of this mornings forecast wet weather, and indeed they had obviously worked late into the night as much of their equipment had been left out in the fields to face the elements.

26th (Fri) 11.3 C to 14.2 C / 23.3 mm / nil / NW 2.5 knots
An overcast and dull start, with outbreaks of rain moving in by 7 am. The rain would continue for much of the morning, with some moderate to heavy spells from time to time, but by 11 am it would become somewhat drier. Remaining dull and damp though, and with no sun it would be an unseasonably cool day, indeed the maximum of just 14.2 C would become a new station record for the lowest maximum recorded in August. Rain returning after 1 pm, and as the afternoon progressed it would become heavier and more persistent, with continuous heavy rain between 5 pm and 6 pm, with a peak rainfall rate of 18.6 mm/h during this period. Becoming somewhat less heavy in the evening, and clearing away after 10 pm, with the remainder of the night seeing mostly cloudy skies, though towards dawn some breaks did begin to develop. In total 23.3 mm of rain was recorded today, taking the monthly total to 127.8 mm, making this the wettest August on my records, and the wettest calendar month since January 2008.

27th (Sat) 9.3 C to 17.4 C / 1.8 mm / 4.8 hours / W 2.3 knots
A bright start, with the ground very wet after yesterdays rain, and it would remain bright throughout the morning with some decent spells of sunshine. However showers would develop after midday, one of which was heavy (25.4 mm/h), and was accompanied by some rumbles of thunder. Clearing away after 4 pm, but it would remain largely cloudy for the remainder of the afternoon and evening with just the odd brighter spell from time to time. Cloud breaking after dusk, with variable amounts of cloud overnight, this allowing a heavy dew by dawn.

28th (Sun) 9.5 C to 17.8 C / nil / 5.3 hours / NW 7.5 knots
A sunny but quite breezy morning, with a moderate WSW breeze which would freshen throughout the day, with gusts of up to nearly gale force in the first half of the afternoon. Cloud also increasing somewhat in the afternoon, and by 4 pm it had become mostly cloudy and would remain so for the majority of the day. Breeze easing somewhat in the evening, but it would remain at least moderate throughout the night. Remaining mostly cloudy overnight, with just the odd clearer spell from time to time.

North Cave Wetlands
Another early visit to our nearest wetland site, on what was a mostly sunny morning. The reserve was somewhat quieter than recently, at least in terms of migrants, for when the Greylag Geese arrive back from grazing nearby one can hardly describe the reserve as tranquil, especially when they first arrive back. Other wildfowl were about in good numbers and variety too (good signs what with the new wildfowling season being just three days away), with species of duck including Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted duck, Gadwall, and Teal, with many now finally coming out of eclipse as summer slowly turns into autumn.

Meanwhile the number of Common Tern’s on the site has now noticeably reduced, though at east half a dozen are still there, including a few juveniles, while passage warblers, wagtails, and hirundines (including Sand Martin’s) are still in evidence (along with the small summer resident populations of these particular species). Wader wise the morning was quieter than lately, though nevertheless a Greenshank was recorded along the western shore of Main Lake, while a Common Sandpiper was seen right outside the South Hide, this allowing some decent digi-scoped images to be taken of a species I have not previously photographed. Other highlights of the morning included a Buzzard soaring over the NE of the reserve, and I also had quite a close encounter with a Stoat, an animal which is very common on the reserve.

Millingtondale (Nettledale & Sylvandale)
Today we went for a fairly short stroll in the heart of Millingtondale, as we had to be back for the Belgian Grand Prix (which in the end had a disappointing outcome for a Lewis Hamilton fan such as myself). The weather remained mostly sunny, as it had been earlier in the day at North Cave, but the breeze was freshening from the WNW with some quite strong gusts from time to time, especially up on the exposed field tops, which incidentally are now mostly all harvested (well as least 75% anyway). The countryside is looking very good at the moment, with a patchwork of green and golden fields, and the recent rains have really freshened up the scene, all of which is further enhanced by the increasingly golden sun which is dropping ever lower in the sky as we approach the autumn equinox.

However though autumn has definitely a foot in the door, so to speak, summer is still not quite finished yet, with plenty of wildflowers either beside the roads, or in the grassy downland valleys. Harebell clumps in particular lend attractive pastel blue coloured shades to the scene, along with yellows provided by Ragwort (which is perhaps a bit to prevalent up here), hawk’s-beard, and other hawkweed’s. The tiny white flowers of Eyebright’s were also seen commonly this morning, along with the Stitchwort like flowers of Mouse-ear.

However for the most part the lovely flowers of summer are now passing away, with the gorgeous wildflower bank further up Pasturedale now a pale reflection of the scene earlier in the summer. Nevertheless there is still colour there, mostly provided by flowers mentioned previously, but also a fair bit of Knapweed and at least one remaining Clustered Bellflower (unfortunately we only drove past this scene and couldn’t stop to have a closer look). Most of the Rosebay Willowherb has now gone to seed, while fruits are continuing to ripen throughout the countryside, with a particularly good sloe season looking on the cards.

However I have not been very impressed by the Elderberries this year, they perhaps having suffered during the dry spring (though those around Beverley are somewhat better than those up here). Further interest this morning was provided by two sights on the journey back home, with the first being a Weasel near Kilnwick Percy, while perhaps the most notable observation of the morning came up on Nunburnholme Wold with the sighting of a female Wheatear, a species of bird which had until today eluded me this year.

29th (Mon) 10.0 C to 17.1 C / nil / 3.4 hours / NW 4.5 knots
A cloudy start, but by 8 am the altostratus cloud layer would clear away to the SE, leaving a mostly sunny morning (bar a fair amount of cirrus). Still breezy though, and in the breeze it would feel unseasonably cool with temperatures struggling despite the sunshine. However by midday lots of stratocumulus would drift in from the NW, and the rest of the afternoon would see largely skies as a result, with just the odd brighter spell from time to time. Remaining mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight, though some clearer spells did develop in the second half of the night.

30th (Tue) 10.0 C to 16.5 C / 0.8 mm / 0.8 hours / NW 2.9 knots
Broken cloud to start the day, with an attractive mixture of altostratus, altocumulus, and cirrus being illuminated by the rising sun, but by 8 am more extensive high based stratocumulus would move in from the NW with cloudy skies for the remainder of the morning. Remaining cloudy throughout the afternoon, with the cloud becoming thicker in the second half of the afternoon, this bringing with it a spell of moderate rain for a time. Rain clearing by evening, but it would remain overcast, with mostly cloudy skies throughout the night. Still unseasonably cool.

31st (Wed) 9.9 C to 17.1 C / nil / 0.3 hours / E 1.0 knots
A cloudy and grey day for the most part, with extensive and thick stratocumulus covering the sky, though there was a brief brighter period around midday with some short lived sunshine. Cool again, with a high of just 17.1 C. Remaining overcast overnight.

A Redshank was heard passing overhead this morning in the Parks area. Meanwhile in the afternoon we collected in the Crab Apples, with this years harvest being a bumper one (this in sharp contrast to last year). The apples are not only abundant this year, but also of good size and quality, with very few suffering from disease, or indeed insect damage. In many ways this past year has been perfect for most soft fruits, with the severe frosts of December killing of disease and pests, followed by an early, dry and sunny spring (with crucially no sharp late frosts), and this in turn followed by a decently warm summer with just enough rainfall. A lack of strong winds has also helped, and all in all 2011 will surely go down as a vintage year for apples at least.