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December 2012

1st (Sat) -1.2 C to 4.4 C / nil / 4.3 hours / W 5.8 22 Kt.
A bright and cold morning with patches of black ice after some freezing rain prior to dawn, and it would remain bright and cold throughout the day with some of the ice surviving all day in the shade. Remaining clear in the evening and overnight with another decent frost developing, the temperature falling to -1.7 C. The air also noticeably dried overnight with dew points falling to about -3 C.

There were two beautiful Redwings in the garden today, the weak winter sunshine really emphasizing their subtle plumage colours.

2nd (Sun) -1.7 C to 3.3 C / 4.2 mm / 5.8 hours / W 1.3 15 Kt.
A clear and frosty morning again, with temperatures remaining below freezing till around 10am. Thereafter it would remain sunny and cold with temperatures rising no higher than 2.5 C, the frost again persisting all day in the shade. Temperatures quickly falling again by dusk, and under clear skies the temperature would fall to -3.3 C in the evening. However cloud would begin to increase from the SW after 9pm and overnight a period of heavy rain, sleet, wet snow and freezing rain would push in, becoming heavy for a time (peak rate of 64.8 mm/h). Still drizzling by dawn with some areas of ice and slush here and there on the ground.

Bishop Wilton
On Sunday morning we made our way to the attractive community of Bishop Wilton, a small village nestled right on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds (about 10 miles east of York). The previous night has been cold and frosty, and when we arrived the ground was covered in hoar frost with patches of ice making underfoot conditions quite slippery at first. However successive frosts on recent nights had at least made the ground nice and firm, a major plus as part of this walk passes through an area of springs which can get very squelchy at certain times of year.


After parking up beside the village school we headed up Worsen Dale, a long climb which takes you near to the top of the high Wold which stands above Bishop Wilton (a 200 metre or so climb), but the effort is always worth it as from the top one has a fine view over the surrounding countryside with the flat Vale of York stretching away to the west. Visibility was very good on Sunday with the North Yorkshire Moors clearly visible to the north-west (including the White Horse at Kilburn) and the Pennines also obvious more distantly to the west. A small flock of finches was noted here too, amongst them a few handsomeBramblings which chattered away at the top of a Larch. These are the first Bramblings we've managed to see this winter and it was good to see them again after a long absence.


From the top of Worsen Dale we made our southwards along the lower edge of Bishop Wilton Wold and eventually arrived at Old Wood. Here a few Long tailed Tits were seen acrobatically feeding in the wood while a Marsh Tit was also spotted amongst the more common Blue & Great Tits. It is in this area of the walk that one can enjoy a profusion of wildflowers in summer, especially Oxeye daisies which carpet the hillside, but now the countryside is stark and bare with just the seed heads of Knapweed reminding one of the past glories of summer. The trees too are now largely bare, the rains and winds of recent weeks stripping the trees of all but the most stubborn of leaves, and one can once more appreciate the exposed skeletal structure of these mighty organisms.


From above Old Wood the rest of the walk is largely downhill, passing through sheep grazed pastures and areas of Hawthorn and Blackthorn scrub which thrive on the multitude of springs which rise out of the chalky hillside here. Indeed as I have previously mentioned we were very glad that the frost had firmed up the ground here as otherwise it would have been very heavy going indeed walking through this boggy and water logged rough pasture, especially after all the recent rains, but eventually we cleared the worst of the mud and found ourselves nearly at journeys end. This last stretch of the walk gives some fine views of the village and the spired church of St. Edith's and it was a lovely way to end what was a much needed walk after a couple of weeks of being cooped up at home :)


3rd (Mon) -3.3 C to 6.7 C / nil / 2.9 hours / W 4.4 23 Kt.
A cold and damp morning with drizzle at first, the ground icy in places after sleet and freezing rain overnight. However as the morning wore on it would steadily brighten, and indeed by the afternoon some spells of sunshine would develop as the skies gradually cleared. Somewhat milder than recently, but not really feeling like it with a raw gentle to moderate WNW breeze. Mostly clear skies in the evening and overnight, and though the breeze would prevent temperatures from falling below freezing there was nevertheless a patchy hoar frost by dawn.

A fair amount of ice covered the area paved areas of the garden this morning, with an invisible glaze and patches of slush from freezing rain and wet snow last night.

4th (Tue) 1.8 C to 5.2 C / 0.8 mm / 4.1 hours / W 3.2 19 Kt.
A clear and cold start to the day, with patches of heavy hoar frost here and there, and it would remain sunny and clear throughout the morning. However in the afternoon cloud would increase, and it would become quite grey for a time. This cloud would become thick enough for a short period of rain shortly after dusk, but after this cleared the skies would again begin to clear with largely clear skies throughout the night, this allowing temperatures to fall just below freezing by dawn.

5th (Wed) -0.3 C to 2.9 C / 1.1 mm / 4.2 hours / W 4.7 28 Kt.
A bright and cold start to the day with some icy patches here and there, and remaining mostly sunny throughout the morning and into the first part of the afternoon. However later in the afternoon some snow flurries would begin to drift down from the north, these becoming somewhat heavier by dusk with a moderate to heavy dusting by nightfall. A few more showers of snow &/or snow pellets in the evening but overnight these would clear, and with clear skies the temperature would fall well under freezing, eventually reaching a low of -4 C.

First proper snow of the winter today, with a few showers in late afternoon and evening giving a heavy dusting of about 1 cm.

6th (Thu) -3.9 C to 5.0 C / 9.9 mm / 0.6 hours / S 5.9 25 Kt.
A very cold and clear start to the day, the heavy dusting of snow from yesterday evening nice and crunchy on the ground. However by mid-morning cloud would begin increasing from the west and through the day the cloud would slowly thicken with outbreaks of cold rain arriving shortly after dusk. The dusting of snow was soon washed away by this rain, though for a short time it was quite icy as the rain fell on the cold ground. Further outbreaks of rain throughout the evening and night with the breeze also becoming quite gusty at times.

First taste of winter
Yesterday afternoon and evening brought the first snow showers of the winter to this little corner of the East Riding of Yorkshire and by dusk the area was covered in what I would describe as a 'heavy dusting', ie. enough to provide a snowy aspect to the countryside but not really enough to be classed as a covering. With clear skies after the snow showers died out the temperature would fall sharply overnight with a low of -4C (24F) being recorded, and as I stepped outdoors prior to dawn this morning I took a moment to fill my lungs with the deliciously cold and crisp winter air.


Above me the waning half moon illuminated the still dark countryside and as I crunched over the dusting of snow upon the ground I was struck by the lovely light and shadows which were being cast by the shine of our nearest celestial neighbour. As is often the case after snow the countryside was quiet and still with barely a sound to be heard, though a distant hooting Tawny Owl pierced the silence at one point, and after my short bicycle journey into the nearby town of Beverley I returned home and tried to grab a few pictures of the scene before sunrise, though by this time the cold was starting to creep up on me and I soon decided to call it quits and went indoors to warm up for a bit.


7th (Fri) -2.0 C to 5.6 C / 2.2 mm / 0.4 hours / N 4.5 30 Kt.
An unpleasantly wet and cold start to the day, the brisk NW wind making it feel that bit rawer, but by 9am the rain would begin to clear with even some sunny spells developing for a time. However by the end of the morning showers would develop and these would continue for much of the afternoon and into the evening with precious little brightness in between the showers. Further showers overnight, but some clear spells in between did allow temperatures to fall low enough for a touch of grass frost.

8th (Sat) 0.7 C to 8.6 C / trace / 1.0 hours / W 5.7 28 Kt.
After early cloud cleared away it would become sunny and bright for much of the morning, and it would be somewhat milder than recently with temperature climbing up towards 9 C. Becoming cloudy again in the afternoon and it would remain generally overcast for the rest of the night, the cloud occasionally thick enough to produce the odd spot of rain at times. As a consequence it was a mild night with temperatures falling no lower than 7C, while as the night wore on the breeze would also freshen from the west, becoming quite gusty by dawn.

9th (Sun) 2.1 C to 8.2 C / 0.8 mm / 4.7 hours / NW 8.4 35 Kt.
A blustery and largely cloudy start to the day, but from mid-morning onwards the cloud would quickly break with largely unbroken sunshine for the rest of the day (bar the odd bit of cloud from time to time). The breeze would ease in the afternoon (earlier it had gusted up to 35 knots) and it would continue to ease during the evening and overnight. Mostly clear in the evening and at first overnight, but later some showers of rain &/or ice pellets would drift down from the north, some quite heavy at times.

Scoar Dale
On a beautiful and sunny December morning we headed up to the Millington Dale area, my favourite part of the Yorkshire Wolds as the landscape here is pleasingly scenic with many hidden and seldom visited dales which often abound in interesting and varied wildlife. Indeed most of our morning would be spent in one such hidden valley, the somewhat unattractively named Scoar Dale (this is Viking territory after all), and this deep and long valley is one of the Wolds best kept secrets (the local landowner doing little to encourage visitors to this 'Open Access' land with a number of locked gates having to be negotiated en route).


The weather was quite blustery this morning with a brisk NW wind but thankfully in the valley itself it was relatively sheltered, indeed so much so that it became surprisingly warm by late morning (the effort of climbing up and down the steep valley sides also undoubtedly helping to warm us up). As testament to this pleasant and unexpected warmth a very late Peacock butterfly was seen as we enjoyed a cup of tea near the top of the dale, and thankfully it settled down very near to us and I was able to grab a few pictures. As you can see in the photo the butterfly was in excellent condition for the time of year and considering that just a few days ago this valley was covered in an inch or two of snow it's remarkable that it has survived in such pristine condition.



As this valley is rarely disturbed, apart from the odd shooting party from time to time, a good variety of wildlife can be found, many of the birds and mammals no doubt benefiting from all the food put out by gamekeepers for the Pheasants and Partridges. Despite some misgivings about the ethics of 'driven shooting' you can not ignore the undoubted benefits to the countryside and its wildlife that shooting does bring, and it is no coincidence that those area of the Wolds which often see the greatest concentrations of wildlife, especially in winter, are also on or near estates where shooting takes place regularly. It therefore annoys me somewhat when all gamekeepers are tarred with the same brush regarding the repugnant activities of a few bad apples within the keeping community, as in my experience most keepers share with us a deep love of the countryside and perhaps an even greater understanding of the wildlife contained within it.



The number of Hares in the valley this morning was particularly pleasing, with at least a dozen being flushed from the long grass, while other mammalian sightings included a Stoat and a Roe deer. Overhead a couple of Buzzards were seen, with another being heard calling nearby in the wood at the top of the dale, while a few Kestrels were spotted hovering on the brisk wind, one of which allowed me to grab a few photos before it headed away and out of sight. Eventually after a few hours our walk reached its conclusion as we arrived back at our vehicle, bringing to an end what had been a very enjoyable morning's ramble around this beautiful corner of the Yorkshire Wolds.


10th (Mon) 1.9 C to 5.0 C / 3.7 mm / 2.9 hours / W 2.5 19 Kt.
A mostly bright morning with sunny spells, though the odd rain and ice pellet shower would drift down from the north. More in the way of cloud in the afternoon, with some outbreaks of rain during the evening. With falling temperatures this fallen rain would create widespread black ice, the situation not helped by further rain &/or freezing rain falling on this cold surface.

11th (Tue) -0.6 C to 3.1 C / nil / 4.8 hours / W 1.3 12 Kt.
A clear but very icy morning, rain from yesterday evening and some freezing rain last night covering most hard surfaces with a thin and clear covering of black ice. Remaining sunny and cold for most of the day, the temperature reaching a high of barely 3 C, and all in all it was a lovely crisp and bright winter’s day. Under clear skies the temperature would fall below freezing by early evening and it would remain clear and frosty throughout the night with a low of -3 C and a heavy hoar frost by dawn.

A female Blackcap was seen in the garden today.

12th (Wed) -3.0 C to 0.5 C / nil / 1.0 hours / SW 0.1 7 Kt.
A clear and very frosty start to the day, the hoar frost very heavy across the area, but by mid-morning it would become cloudy and would remain so for the rest of the morning. Remaining very cold however with temperatures remaining below freezing till midday and even then it only reached a high of 0.5 C and by mid-afternoon the temperature had already fallen below freezing again. Some brighter spells in the afternoon but all in all it was largely cloudy with any sunshine very hazy. Cloud clearing overnight with some long clear spells developing, this allowing temperatures to fall to -5 C with a very heavy hoar frost by dawn.

North Cliffe Wood
With the lovely spell of cold and frosty weather we are currently enjoying (at least I am enjoying it anyway), we decided to spend an afternoon out in the countryside whilst this weather is still with us, and choose North Cliffe Wood as our destination. The journey across the Wolds was in itself a delight to the eyes, with the all the trees, fields and hedgerows at High Hunsley covered in heavy frost and rime, and in many ways this kind of weather is better than snow as the countryside is transformed into a winter wonderland without the associated problems that inevitably comes with heavy snowfalls. Dropping down into the Vale of York the countryside was not quite as spectacular but nevertheless the successive nights of frost and temperatures barely above freezing had still given the lowland countryside an attractive wintry aspect and as we parked up at the wood we headed forth hoping to photograph just some of this frosty splendour.



Walking through the wood, especially along its edges where freezing fog had deposited the most frost and rime, it was wonderful to behold all this cruel and hard beauty. The birds were quite active as a result of the cold, they no doubt desperate to find whatever food they can to survive this bitter weather, and amongst all the typical tits and finches a few Marsh Tits and Siskins were noted (the latter being heard only). We also came across a couple of Woodcocks in roughly the same location as on our last visit though no Roe deer were spotted at this part of the wood this time. Latterly the subtle call of a pair of Treecreepers alerted us to their presence and we were able to watch them climb the trunk of a nearby Oak.


13th (Thu) -5.0 C to 4.5 C / 0.2 mm / 3.9 hours / SW 0.8 17 Kt.
A clear and very frosty start to the day, the ground as hard as rock after successive days of frost. Becoming misty and eventually foggy for a time in mid-morning as freezing mist/fog rolled off the Wolds, this depositing some ice crystals on the trees and shrubs. Clearing by the afternoon with a cold and sunny end to the day, the temperature reaching a high of just -0.5 C with the frost not thawing at all despite the winter sunshine. Under clear skies the temperature would fall as low as -4 C by 9pm, but thereafter cloud would increase overnight, slowly raising temperatures with it. However a short spell of snow around 5am would give a slight dusting, but this would largely thaw by dawn as milder air continued to move in from the SE.

14th (Fri) -4.1 C to 7.0 C / 9.9 mm / nil / S 6.4 34 Kt.
A cold start again, with a dusting of snow on the ground, but as the morning went on the weather would turn milder, duller and dreak, the lovely cold and crisp weather of late being replaced by typical British winter murk. Rain would arrive from the south by midday and through the afternoon this would become heavier and more persistent, accompanied by a fresh southerly breeze with gusts up to gale force. Rain dying out in the evening with variable amounts of cloud overnight, the breeze also easing during the night.

15th (Sat) 3.7 C to 9.1 C / nil / 2.5 hours / SW 2.6 18 Kt.
A bright morning with good spells of sunshine and it would remain bright through most of the day with just some broken cloud in the afternoon (though it was somewhat greyer for an hour or two between 1pm and 3pm). Mild as well with temperatures reaching a high of 9.1 C. Clear spells in the evening and for most of the night, this allowing temperatures to fall low enough for a grass frost, but by the end of the night fog would begin to form.

16th (Sun) 1.0 C to 6.0 C / 2.2 mm / 2.0 hours / S 0.7 10 Kt.
A dreak and foggy morning with visibility below 500 metres but by midday it would begin to burn off with sunshine for most of the afternoon. Remaining clear in the evening, a ground frost soon developing, but cloud would increase later with some outbreaks of rain throughout the night.

Horse Dale
On Sunday morning we headed out for our usual weekend perambulation but upon arrival at our destination just outside the high Wolds village of Huggate we found the countryside shrouded in thick fog (visibility was as low as 50 metres in places). I did toy with the idea of leaving my camera behind as to be honest prospects were not good as we set forth into the winter gloom, but as the morning wore on the weather would slowly improve and by midday glorious December sunshine bathed this tranquil and winding valley which cuts deep into the rolling chalk hills of the central Yorkshire Wolds.


This valley is a good location for Owl lovers with four species being encountered by myself on past nature walks, but today the valley was remarkably quiet with little of any real note to be brutally honest. Whether the weather was responsible for this I am not sure, but bird highlights of the morning were restricted to little more than winter thrushes, roving bands of finches and tits and a few Kestrels. However like last week quite a few Hares were flushed from the long grass as we made our way along the valley side and a Stoat was seen briefly, both pleasing and welcome sights, but overall it was a quiet morning with little to get excited about.



17th (Mon) 0.6 C to 6.5 C / 1.5 mm / 0.3 hours / W 2.0 13 Kt.
A largely cloudy but nevertheless bright morning and it would remain largely cloudy throughout the day with only some limited spells of winter sunshine. Remaining largely cloudy in the evening and overnight, the cloud actually becoming thick enough to produce some mostly light spells of rain after midnight.

18th (Tue) 3.6 C to 8.3 C / nil / 0.7 hours / NW 1.9 15 Kt.
A largely cloudy start to the day with the odd drop of rain, but after 9am it would begin to brighten up somewhat with even a few sunny spells. However this wouldn’t last long and the rest of the day would see largely cloudy and grey skies, though it would remain dry. Little change after dusk with overcast skies throughout the night.

19th (Wed) 4.5 C to 7.0 C / 10.6 mm / nil / SE 7.3 29 Kt.
A dull and overcast morning and remaining dull throughout, all in all a miserable mid-winter’s day. Cloud thickening overnight with the breeze also freshening from the SE and by dawn persistent moderate rain would have moved in accompanied by a gusty ESE wind.

20th (Thu) 4.9 C to 6.2 C / 22.4 mm / nil / E 6.8 32 Kt.
A very wet and blustery morning with persistent rain throughout, the rain quite heavy prior to 9am. The rain would continue throughout the day, and though never particularly heavy it would nevertheless cause some minor flooding (ie. the tool shed flooded again). No let up overnight with further persistent moderate rain &/or drizzle, with the rain continuing through to dawn.

31 hours of continuous rain we’re recorded today and by the time the rain began to ease on the 21st over 33 mm (1.3 inches) were recorded during this winter rain storm.

21st (Fri) 4.8 C to 6.6 C / 3.2 mm / nil / NW 2.0 15 Kt.
A dull, overcast and wet morning with persistent moderate and at times heavy drizzle, the ground very wet and saturated after over 24 hours of continuous rain &/or drizzle. The drizzle becoming lighter and more intermittent by midday and eventually it would become somewhat drier in the afternoon, though it would nevertheless remain cloudy and grey. Some breaks developing n the evening for a time but this wouldn’t last and overnight cloud would increase again, with rain arriving from the south by dawn.

22nd (Sat) 3.6 C to 12.0 C / 14.2 mm / nil / SE 3.6 26 Kt.
Another grey and wet start with persistent moderate rain moving in shortly after dawn and continuing for much of the day, this again causing problems in parts of the country after all the rain so far this winter. The rain would become somewhat lighter and more drizzley by evening, visibility falling below fog levels with the drizzle and murk, but as the night wore on the rain/drizzle would clear, though it would nevertheless remain largely cloudy. The breeze would pick up though (this clearing the earlier murk) and temperatures would also rise, reaching an unseasonable high of 12 C.

23rd (Sun) 5.7 C to 9.8 C / nil / 3.8 hours / SW 4.1 33 Kt.
A bright, breezy and very mild morning (and mercifully dry) and remaining bright and blustery throughout the day (the wind gusting up to 33 knots around midday). Clear spells in the evening, with the breeze easing, but overnight cloud would increase with overcast skies by dawn.

Wharram Percy
This morning we headed up into the Yorkshire Wolds on what was a dry but very windy Sunday morning, our eventual destination being Wharram Percy right in the far NW corner of the Wolds. This archaeologically important village which has been studied more than any other abandoned medieval community in the British Isles lies just over the county border in North Yorkshire, and is a favorite area of ours as the landscape here is very pleasant with rolling green pastures and wooded coverts. From the starting point of our walk near Bella Farm one is also afforded a distant view of that great estate at Castle Howard (made famous by the Brideshead Revisited television series) with the palatial house and the grand mausoleum rising above the wooded country of the Howardian Hills, and beyond that one can also just make out the ruins of Sheriff Hutton castle.


Walking across the exposed Wold tops the wind continued to be a problem, the wind roaring and whistling through the woods and hedgerows, but nevertheless we were able to watch flocks of finches feeding in the stubble fields, including a decent flock of Linnets, a bird which can become surprisingly elusive in winter months. Yellowhammers were likewise seen gleaning the cereal fields while more distantly a few Hares were spotted on these high and exposed windswept fields.


Eventually we dropped down into the relative shelter of Deep Dale, and from here we followed the valley northwards towards the actual site of the former medieval village of Wharram Percy. Today nothing remains of this once thriving community except the ruins of the church and it is strange experience to stand within this now roofless building with its crumbling bell tower and think of what it must have been like in the past. Indeed the church used to be much larger than it is today but as the prosperity of the village dwindled so did the church and today a mere husk remains standing in this sheltered and peaceful spot.


From the church we continued to head north, eventually joining and following the track of the abandoned Malton to Driffield railway until we came to the small community of Wharram. Just above this small hamlet the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve of Wharram Quarry can be found, this former chalk and limestone quarry being an excellent place for wildflowers (especially Orchids) and butterflies in the warmer months of the year. Of course today it was largely quiet with little to note except a Hare or two, but it was interesting to see the contrast between summer and winter at this peaceful spot. From here we followed the road to Wharram-le-Street before turning southwards and heading back up the hill towards our starting point at Bella Farm.


24th (Mon) 3.2 C to 6.5 C / 6.0 mm / nil / S 1.5 11 Kt.
A dull and grey start to the day, the cloud thickening as the morning progressed with rain arriving by late morning. This rain would continue on and off throughout most of the day and would be quite heavy at times, though towards dusk it would begin to clear with the cloud soon breaking up in the evening. Clear spells at first overnight but cloud would increase again later with a dull and grey start to Christmas Day.

25th (Tue) 3.4 C to 7.5 C / trace / 0.6 hours / SW 2.2 16 Kt.
A dull and cloudy start to Christmas Day, the cloud thick enough to produce some light rain at times. However as the morning wore on some brighter periods would develop and indeed by midday even some sunshine would break through from time to time. Remaining bright in the afternoon and feeling mild with temperatures reaching a high of 7.5 C, not very seasonal at all. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

26th (Wed) 2.2 C to 8.0 C / 8.0 mm / 1.0 hours / SW 3.0 23 Kt.
A largely cloudy start to the morning with some occasional light showers of rain, but after 10am it would brighten up with some nice spells of weak sunshine for Boxing Day. However this wouldn’t last long and in the afternoon cloud would increase and thicken, bringing with it some outbreaks of moderate and occasionally heavy rain in the late afternoon and in the evening. Clearing overnight with variable amounts of cloud after midnight.

Holderness Hunt ; Boxing Day Meet
Today we attended the annual Boxing Day meet of the Holderness Hunt at nearby Beverley Racecourse, and with fine weather the event was well attended with large crowds coming from all corners of this part of south-eastern Yorkshire. I always enjoy these occasions, my usual dislike of crowds and large gatherings being put to one side for rural events such as these. However I am not pro hunt but as long as the local hunt remains within the law as it currently stands I am willing to enjoy this colourful country tradition, though I am well aware that many others have much stronger opinions than I on this divisive subject.



27th (Thu) 2.4 C to 6.4 C / 3.7 mm / 0.4 hours / N 2.3 21 Kt.
A bright start with hazy sunshine but this wouldn’t last long and it would soon become cloudy and would remain so for the remainder of the day. Indeed in the afternoon the cloud would become thick enough to produce some outbreaks of rain, but this would clear after dusk. Clear for a time, this allowing temperatures to fall below freezing, but later cloud would increase again with outbreaks of rain arriving by dawn.

28th (Fri) -1.2 C to 11.9 C / nil / nil / S 6.5 32 Kt.
A grey and damp start with outbreaks of rain, these quite heavy at first, but by mid-morning these would clear. However it would remain cloudy for the remainder of the day and all in all it was a depressingly grey and unappealing mid-winter’s day with temperatures well above average (nearly reaching 12 C during the evening). Remaining cloudy throughout the evening and night with the breeze freshening from the south.

29th (Sat) 4.9 C to 11.4 C / 5.1 mm / nil / SW 4.3 30 Kt.
A dull and very mild start to the day, despite a brisk southerly breeze, and by late morning this cloud would be thick enough to bring a period of rain which would last well into the afternoon. However the breeze would ease once the rain arrived. Rain clearing shortly after dusk and in the evening and overnight some clear spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to fall to around 2.5 C. However by the end of the night the breeze would pick up again with a few showers of cold rain drifting over.

30th (Sun) 2.5 C to 11.2 C / 1.8 mm / 1.6 hours / SW 6.5 31 Kt.
A cold and showery morning, some quite heavy at first, but as the morning wore on they would die out with some decent spells of sunshine developing in the second half of the morning. However in the afternoon cloud would increase again with a few mostly light showers, though there were some brief brighter spells too. Becoming increasingly breezy in the evening with a short spell of heavy rain around 8pm, and though it would become largely dry overnight it would remain breezy with the wind becoming quite strong by dawn.

Noticed that the first Aconites are already starting to appear in our spring bed, though most bulbs are still barely more than an inch or two above the cold winter ground.

North Cave Wetlands
Yesterday morning we popped across the Wolds to visit North Cave Wetlands, the weather being mercifully bright and dry, though a brisk breeze did make it feel quite cool. We hadn't been down to North Cave for over a month and to be honest I wish we could visit more often as there is always something of interest at this compact wetland site just outside the attractive community of North Cave. Indeed since our last visit the water levels have risen considerably and only a few of the higher islands around the reserve remain above the water.


This is good for most of the wildfowl of course, and Teal are particularly numerous at the moment, along with the likes of Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveler and Greylag Geese. A pair of Shelducks were also noted this morning, though perhaps more interesting was the presence of a pair ofGoldeneyes at Island Lake. Goldeneyes are a particular favourite of mine and though these were somewhat scruffy looking immature specimens it was nevertheless good to see two together, their presence almost making up for the lack of Goosanders that I had been hoping for after a report of some the other day.


The high water levels however make the site less enticing for waders and as a consequence very few were seen this morning, even Lapwings being relatively scarce yesterday morning. However 30-40 Redshanks were on the Tern raft on Main Lake. Another bird I had been hoping to see was Hen Harrier, with a few reports of this impressive raptor during the last few days, but alas none were to be seen and raptor sightings were limited to Sparrowhawk and a distant Buzzard over the nearby Wolds. However typical winter passerines were seen well, with a good variety of finches, tits and thrushes, and these allowed some semi decent photographs to be grabbed, a number of Robins posing obligingly near the feeding stations and in the perimeter woodlands and hedgerows. All in all it was a pleasant mornings birding and a good way to end 2012.


31st (Mon) 3.0 C to 11.3 C / 4.0 mm / nil / SW 3.1 29 Kt.
A cloudy, windy and very mild morning (the temperature over 10 C at 9am), and as the morning progressed the cloud would thicken with a period of rain by the end of the morning. Become somewhat drier after midday but showers would develop in the afternoon, some of these heavy (peak rate of 17.6 mm/h). Showers dying out in the evening with clear spells developing overnight this allowing temperatures to fall low enough for a touch of grass frost by dawn.

November 2012

1st (Thu) 3.9 C to 7.8 C / 3.8 mm / 2.1 hours / SW 2.0 19 Kt.
A largely cloudy but bright morning, the area very wet and damp after last night’s rain. Spells of sunshine developing in the afternoon, but despite this sunshine the temperature would reach a modest high of 7.8 C. Clear in the evening with temperatures quickly falling, but later cloud would increase with some outbreaks of moderate to heavy rain. Clearing by the end of the night however with variable amounts of cloud by dawn.

In the garden a few Redwings were seen today, whilst the birds in general seemed quite active, no doubt feeding up as winter draws ever nearer.

I was also able to get out and do a bit of astronomy in the evening, the highlight being the close conjunction of the waning gibbous Moon and a very bright Jupiter. The bright star of Aldebaran in Taurus also added to the spectacle, the three objects forming an almost straight line in the heavens, and it was wonderful to see these three bright celestial bodies in such close proximity. Jupiter is currently very high in the sky after 11pm and it looks like being an excellent year to observe this giant gas planet, with the moons easily visible through a modest scope while larger scopes will reveal much on the planets disk, including of course the famous red-spot. Indeed Jupiter is probably my favourite sight through a telescope, with the coloured cloud belts and other more transient features providing plenty of interest, though Saturn is also a stunning sight at high magnification, and the blue jewel like stars of the Pleiades open cluster are another favourite.


2nd (Fri) 2.3 C to 8.7 C / 3.5 mm / 2.2 hours / SW 2.7 31 Kt.
A bright morning with spells of sunshine, though feeling cool in a gentle to moderate WSW breeze. Cloud increasing and thickening by mid-afternoon however, with a spell of heavy rain arriving shortly before dusk and continuing into the first part of the evening. However by mid-evening this rain would quickly with skies clearing, and beneath these clear skies it would become cold overnight with temperatures and falling below freezing with a touch of frost by dawn.

3rd (Sat) -0.4 C to 7.1 C / nil / 3.0 hours / SW 0.6 13 Kt.
A cold and bright morning, with a touch of frost at first, but by late morning it would become cloudier and would remain so until mid-afternoon, thereafter the cloud would quickly clear with some good spells of sunshine to end what had been a chilly November day with a high of just 7.1 C. It would remain clear in the evening and overnight and this would allow temperatures to plummet, eventually reaching a low of -1.5 C by dawn with a moderate to heavy hoar frost.

4th (Sun) -1.5 C to 7.2 C / nil / 0.4 hours / NW 2.2 12 Kt.
A clear and very cold start to the day with a moderate to heavy frost covering the area. However by mid-morning cloud would increase from the south and it would remain largely cloudy and grey for the rest of the day. In the evening the cloud would thin and break, and under clear skies the temperature would again fall low enough for another hoar frost by dawn.

Tun Dale
It would seem that winter has arrived early, or at least it very much felt like it yesterday morning up on the Yorkshire Wolds with a heavy hoar frost, fog patches, grey skies, and temperatures rising no higher than 5 C. It has been a funny year weather-wise, and this autumn has certainly been one of the coldest I can remember with temperatures as of today currently running more than 1.5 C below the long term average since the beginning of September. However the persistently under-par temperatures this year has at least brought some of the best autumn colours in many a year, and many woods are still a glorious sight to behold, especially on sunnier and brighter days.


Our walk would take us through such a woodland near the village of Huggate, and after beginning our walk near the ancient earth-workings which are known as Huggate Dikes, we headed along the road till we arrived at the top of Tun Dale. From here we descended through this wooded dale, taking time to soak in the wonderful range of warm hues which brightened up what was otherwise a very grey and uninspiring morning, though somewhat disappointingly birdlife and wildlife in general was notable by its almost complete absence (apart from the odd Pheasant here and there). This wood lies on a north facing hillside and because of this it tends to remain damp throughout the year, this helping to preserve many of the under-story plants such as Ferns and Snowdrops, though it also means that the woodland track also has a tendency to become very muddy in the autumn and winter months (today being no exception!).


After reaching the bottom of the dale we then headed south, following the track which leads towards the broad and deep dale known as Frendal Dale. The wood opens up a bit down here thanks to some forestry works about a decade or so ago, and indeed eventually the woodland to the east of the path abruptly ends and thereafter one has woodland to ones west and open sheep grazed grassland to the east. The wood here is a mixture of Beech, Sycamore, and Larch, with a few other species here and there (Ash & Oak mainly), and plenty of colour was again enjoyed as we headed ever onwards. In the trees a singleMarsh Tit was seen, a commonly spotted bird in this particularly plantation, while a few Goldcrests were also noted feeding actively amongst the golden needles of the mature Larches. A hunting Sparrowhawk suddenly appeared at one point too, this causing a sudden panic amongst many of the smaller birds, but this speedy and agile bird of prey would find no meals here and he soon headed northwards up the dale and out of sight.


Thereafter the remainder of the walk would see little else of interest, apart from the odd hunting Kestrel here and there, and some late flowers in nearby Pasture dale (including Herb-robert, Ragowrt, Nipplewort and even some very lateScabious), though we were also in a hurry to return home to catch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix so we may have missed a few things in our dash to return home. Hopefully we'll be able to get out again some time this week and fingers crossed the weather will be a little brighter.

5th (Mon) 0.1 C to 8.6 C / nil / 5.8 hours / W 3.1 22 Kt.
A cold and sunny morning, with a frost at first, and it would remain bright and chilly throughout with good spells of late autumn sunshine. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight, again temperatures falling low enough for a hoar frost, but towards dawn cloud would begin to increase somewhat.

6th (Tue) 1.0 C to 10.3 C / 0.4 mm / 0.1 hours / W 6.4 30 Kt.
An initially bright start with a touch of hoar frost at dawn, but by mid-morning it had become grey and overcast and would remain so for the rest of the day. Indeed by midday a period of moderate rain would arrive, and though this rain would soon become light it would continue till shortly after dusk. Thereafter the skies would clear in the evening and overnight, though the breeze would also freshen with gusts up to 30 knots. It was a much milder night compared to recently.

The smoke from last night’s bonfire on the Westwood filled the area this morning.

7th (Wed) 4.2 C to 11.3 C / nil / 2.9 hours / SW 3.8 22 Kt.
After an initially bright start it would soon become cloudy and would remain so for much of the morning, though some brighter and sunnier spells would break through at times. Little change in the afternoon, though some decent spells of sunshine would develop latterly. Broken cloud in the evening and overnight, and much milder than of late with a low of just 7.6 C.

8th (Thu) 7.6 C to 11.6 C / nil / 3.0 hours / SW 3.4 29 Kt.
A sunny but breezy morning with just some broken cloud from time to time. However by midday it would become more cloudy and would remain so through most of the afternoon, and into the evening. Cloud breaking up overnight with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night.

9th (Fri) 5.5 C to 10.6 C / 1.7 mm / 5.0 hours / SW 2.4 21 Kt.
A bright and sunny morning with a gentle SW breeze, though as the day wore on cloud would begin to increase from the SW, so much so that by mid-afternoon it had become cloudy. This cloud would become thick enough to produce some outbreaks of rain by evening, these continuing into the first half of the night, but it would become drier later. However it would remain cloudy through to dawn with murk and mist forming latterly.

10th (Sat) 5.8 C to 9.0 C / nil / 3.0 hours / W 1.1 12 Kt.
A grey and murky morning with poor visibility, and though it would slowly brighten as the morning wore on it would nevertheless remain quite hazy. The cloud continuing to thin in the afternoon with weak, hazy sunshine developing and by the end of the day it had become largely clear with clear skies for the remainder of the evening and overnight. This would allow temperatures to drop with a ground frost by dawn.

11th (Sun) 1.3 C to 9.2 C / nil / 6.2 hours / W 1.2 16 Kt.
A clear and chilly morning, with a touch of frost at first, and it would remain sunny and cool for most of the day with plenty of glorious late autumn sunshine. However the sun would become more hazy in late afternoon and this thin cloud would persist in the evening and overnight, thickening as the night wore on with mostly cloudy skies by dawn. However the thin cloud didn’t prevent temperatures from falling low enough for a touch of grass frost again.



Waxwings in Hull
This morning we finally managed to get down to Hull in order to see the Waxwings which have been resident at the ASDA car park on Hessle Road since late last week. We usually have dreadful luck when it comes to this species, with previous sightings of this variable winter visitor restricted to just brief fly-overs, but as we pulled into the car park around 7.45 am we soon spotted the large flock (perhaps numbering as many as 200 or so). These handsome birds proved to be very approachable, and through the binoculars they were a joy to watch and study with their colourful plumage and exotic looks.



Nunburnholme Wold
Remembrance Sunday dawned sunny and clear, and after spending the start of the day looking for Waxwings in Hull, we then headed out again for our usual Sunday preambulation around a part of the Yorkshire Wolds, hoping that the glorious morning sunshine would emphasise the autumn colours which are still gracing the countryside. Eventually we found ourselves near the attractive little communities of Nunburnholme and Warter, and after parking up we headed out on our walk from the top of Nunburnholme Hill. From here one has a fine view to the west, with the golden towers of York Minster easily visible, along with the distant Pennines on the other side of Yorkshire, while this spot is also an excellent spot for watching raptors and over the years I have recorded seven species alone at this one location and I know other local birders whom have spotted up to ten.


Of the seven species I have recorded here only about four are common, with Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and Red Kite all being regular sightings on even the shortest walks, and indeed all four were spotted today. The Red Kites put on a particularly good show around midday, with nine of them seen soaring together right over our heads between Nunburnholme and Warter, and I noticed that at least two of them appeared to be tagged and must have come from much further afield. The success of Red Kites in the Yorkshire Wolds region has been one of the most positive developments in recent years, the current population stemming from birds released from the Harewood Estate in West Yorkshire in 1999. The first Yorkshire Wolds breeding pair was recorded in 2001 and since then the number of these graceful birds of prey has continued to increase and now they are common in many parts of the Wolds, especially in western areas. Hopefully they will continue to prosper in the years ahead, and unlike some species of bird (especially Barn Owls) they seem to have been little affected by the recent run of colder winters (probably because their chief food source is carrion rather than live prey).



In roughly the same area as the aforementioned Red Kites, a trio of Buzzards were also spotted, one of these Buzzards actually joining the Red Kites for a time as they soared high above. However the raptor highlight of the morning would come later on during our walk with the brief spotting of a Peregrine near the top of Nunburnholme Hill, this speedy bird of prey seen heading westwards towards the chalk quarry located above the village of Burnby. Further ornithological interest on our walk was provided by a single Marsh Tit in Merebalk Wood, and a couple of Jays were also spotted flying in the direction of Warter, while a few species of mammal were also noted this morning, including Roe deer and Stoat. All in all it was a very pleasant way to spend a Remembrance Sunday morning, being ever thankful to those whom have fought and died in wars to preserve the freedom we now take for granted.



12th (Mon) 0.9 C to 11.1 C / 1.2 mm / 0.2 hours / SW 1.5 14 Kt.
A cloudy morning on the whole, the cloud becoming thick enough for some outbreaks of rain and/or drizzle by the end of the morning. Rain/drizzle continuing into the afternoon, but by mid-afternoon it would clear away with the cloud breaking up by dusk. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening, but overnight it would become mostly cloudy again, as a result it would be a much milder night than recently.

13th (Tue) 7.0 C to 13.3 C / nil / 0.1 hours / SW 2.4 21 Kt.
A cloudy and mild morning, and it would remain largely cloudy throughout the day, though some brighter periods would develop around mid-afternoon. Remaining mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight with temperatures remaining in double figures throughout the night.

14th (Wed) 10.3 C to 12.5 C / nil / nil / SW 0.4 10 Kt.
Another largely cloudy and mild day with little in the way of brightness. Remaining overcast overnight.

15th (Thu) 9.0 C to 11.3 C / nil / 0.9 hours / SW 0.5 10 Kt.
Yet another dull and overcast mid-November day for the most part, but after 2pm it would begin to brighten up, indeed by dusk it would become mostly clear with a lovely autumnal feel to the air. This would allow fog to form in the evening, and though the fog would lift to form low cloud overnight it would nevertheless remain very murky. Also becoming much colder and drier feeling overnight.


16th (Fri) 3.7 C to 8.1 C / 9.4 mm / 0.8 hours / SW 0.5 9 Kt.
A cold and murky morning with visibility almost as low as fog levels at times, though as the day wore on it would become steadily brighter with even some spells of sunshine in mid-afternoon. However cloud amounts would increase again by dusk and this cloud would continue to thicken in the evening and overnight, bringing with it some heavy outbreaks of rain after midnight (peak rate of 42 mm/h). Rain easing by the end of the night but nevertheless persisting through to dawn.

17th (Sat) 5.0 C to 8.7 C / 0.2 mm / 1.3 hours / W 1.5 13 Kt.
A cloudy and damp morning with outbreaks of mostly light rain, but by midday this would begin to clear and as the afternoon wore on it would steadily brighten with spells of sunshine by mid-afternoon. Becoming mostly clear in the evening and overnight, and with light winds this would allow temperatures to fall quickly away, eventually reaching a low of -0.1 C with a moderate hoar frost by dawn.


18th (Sun) -0.1 C to 6.7 C / nil / 5.8 hours / SW 1.0 17 Kt.
A cold and frosty start to the day, and it would remain mostly clear and sunny for the rest of the morning, the frost soon melting in the late autumn sunshine. Remaining largely sunny and clement for the rest of the day, though temperatures would struggle to a high of just 6.7 C. Mostly clear in the evening, this allowing temperatures to fall low enough for a grass frost, but overnight cloud would increase somewhat and the breeze would also freshen from the SSE, this raising temperatures somewhat.

North Cave Wetlands
On a clear but very cold morning we headed across the Wolds to visit North Cave Wetlands, arriving roughly at 7.15 am (twenty minutes before sunrise). The temperature was -3 C (27 F) when we pulled into the car park and hoar frost covered the ground, but we were soon rewarded for our early start when a herd of about 20 or so Whooper Swans departed from one of the reserve lakes and headed south, giving us a fine view as they passed relatively low over our heads (no photos I'm afraid as it was still to dark for photography at the time). After this early excitement we settled down into the hide, waiting for light levels to slowly improve and enjoying the crepuscular activities of the wildfowl and water birds on the Main Lake. After ten minutes or we spotted a handsome drake Goldeneye diving repeatedly near the western edge of the lake (far too distant for any photos unfortunately), while other wildfowl on this particular lake included plenty of Pochard, Tufted duck, Teal and of course Mallard.


As the sun began to rise above the south-eastern horizon, we headed out from the South Hide and proceeded to follow the reserves perimeter path, heading in a clockwork fashion. The low sun gave the countryside a lovely golden glow, made all the more attractive by the heavy hoar frost which glistened in the sun. Meanwhile low mist and steam rose off the lagoons and lakes, while the frosted hedgerows were alive with hundreds of winter thrushes, Fieldfares seemingly outnumbering the more demure Redwings. In the western Alders a large flock of mixed finches were seen, comprised primarily ofGoldfinches and Siskins, though I think I also managed to spot at least one Redpoll among them (the low light making it hard to ID the birds at this particular spot).


Continuing onwards we noted about a dozen Wigeon on Far Lake, their distinctive and evocative whistling calls filling the still wintry air, while on Reedbed Lake we managed to spot (despite the suns glare) a couple of female Goldeneyes, along with Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall. Eventually we arrived at the Turret Hide, here meeting two friendly gentleman whom showed us some Snipe on Island Lake, while further interest here was provided by a few Redshanks, loads of Lapwing(as usual), Teal, a couple of Shelducks, and at least a hundred Greylag Geese. Thereafter the remainder of our walk provided little of further interest, though a very obliging Fieldfare posed for some decent photos, while the resident Tree Sparrows showed well along the southern hedgerow. All in all a very enjoyable pre-breakfast perambulation at our favourite local wetland reserve on a deliciously cold and frosty morning.


North Cliffe Wood
After our visit to North Cave Wetlands on Sunday morning (see last post), we headed a few miles up the road to North Cliffe Wood, hoping to enjoy some of the late autumn colours on what was a stunning and chilly late autumn day. As usual we had the wood to ourselves, this relatively unknown Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve seeing only a handful of visitors on any given day, and after parking up we headed into this precious patch of Birch and Oak woodland. Most of the Birch leaves have now fallen and already the wood is starting to look quite wintry what with the bare branches, but despite this there was still plenty of colour to be found thanks to the copper coloured throngs of Bracken on the woodland floor, and the golden leaves of the mature Oaks. However the peak of fungi season already seems to have passed and only a few were spotted this morning (certainly no sign of Fly Agaric or Russulas this morning), but with the bare branches it is at least easier to spot the birds which inhabit this wood now.


The best birds of the morning included a couple of Woodcock, both of which we inadvertently flushed near the heart of the wood, these secretive and shy birds being always good to see however briefly, while a good sized flock of Marsh Tits were observed searching for food in the Oak woodland. Siskins were also heard on a number of occasions, though we actually failed to see any, while both Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were spotted as we made our way round the perimeter woodland path. Overhead a Buzzard was seen more than once, while somewhere distant to the south of the woodland a Curlew was heard to call, an evocative sound which always reminds me of spring up on the high Wolds as well as past visits to northern uplands and islands. Plenty of common woodland birds were additionally recorded, and at one point we stumbled across a couple of Roe deer, but yet again the highlight of the morning was not the beasts and fowls of the reserve but it was instead the woodland itself, a final celebration of autumn before the dark and cold days of winter are upon us once more.


19th (Mon) 1.1 C to 11.5 C / 1.0 mm / 0.6 hours / S 3.4 27 Kt.
A bright start, feeling cold in a brisk southerly breeze, but cloud would soon increase. This cloud becoming thick enough for some outbreaks of moderate rain in the afternoon, but this didn’t last long. Remaining cloudy however for the rest of the day with little change in the evening and overnight. A mild day with the brisk southerly winds.

20th (Tue) 5.4 C to 14.0 C / 7.4 mm / nil / S 2.3 32 Kt.
A dull and breezy morning, with some light outbreaks of rain at times, but it was very mild with temperatures already in double figures at dawn. Remaining overcast and damp throughout the afternoon with little in the way of brightness, and overnight the cloud would thicken again with further outbreaks of rain, this becoming heavier and more persistent by the end of the night.

21st (Wed) 6.8 C to 9.6 C / 15.6 mm / nil / S 3.3 21 Kt.
A dull and very wet morning with persistent moderate to heavy rain which would see a peak rate of 6 mm/h being recorded around 11am. Rain continuing into the afternoon but easing somewhat, and by the end of the afternoon it would become drier with even a vivid fiery sunset to end the day. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some long clear spells, though the moderate breeze would prevent temperatures from falling particularly low.


22nd (Thu) 3.3 C to 12.8 C / 7.8 mm / 1.0 hours / S 5.0 34 Kt.
A largely cloudy morning, though not without some brighter spells (especially at first), and also quite breezy with a gusty SSW breeze. Remaining cloudy into the afternoon with the wind becoming very gusty by dusk, and it would remain cloudy and windy for most of the evening. Outbreaks of rain moving in by 7pm and continuing till around midnight, but thereafter it would clear with the breeze also easing by the end of the night.

23rd (Fri) 3.8 C to 8.7 C / nil / 6.0 hours / S 1.1 11 Kt.
A clear and sunny morning and remaining bright with good spells of sunshine for most of the day. Under clear skies and with light winds the temperature would fall quickly overnight, eventually reaching a low of -1.2 C with a decent hoar frost by dawn.

24th (Sat) -1.2 C to 9.2 C / 32.3 mm / 0.9 hours / E 4.3 34 Kt.
A cold and frosty start to the day with a moderate hoar frost, and it would remain bright and cold throughout most of the morning, though high cloud would make the sun increasingly hazy as time went on. Cloud slowly thickening as the afternoon wore with rain moving in shortly after dusk. During the evening and overnight this rain would become persistent and at times heavy, this causing some problems by the end of the night with lots of standing water and minor flooding. The wind would also pick up towards the end of the night with some gusty winds by first light.

25th (Sun) -0.1 C to 8.0 C / 12.3 mm / 0.3 hours / W 3.7 35 Kt.
A very wet and windy morning with persistent moderate to heavy rain (this causing some minor flooding, including the tool-shed) and gusts in excess of gale force. Becoming drier after midday with the wind also easing, and by the end of the day it would even brighten up with some welcome sunshine. Mostly clear for most of the evening, temperatures falling low enough for a touch of grass frost, but overnight cloud would increase again with further spells of moderate to heavy rain by the end of the night.

26th (Mon) 2.3 C to 8.4 C / 16.9 mm / nil / NE 4.7 25 Kt.
Another wet morning with persistent moderate rain, though after 10am it would ease somewhat and turn to drizzle. However it would remain damp and overcast for the rest of the day, and in the evening the rain would return with another wet night following. By dawn 16.9 mm had been recorded, and over the last 72 hours we have received 61.5 mm of rain, this causing widespread, though mostly minor, flooding across the area with the ditches as full as I can remember and lots of standing water in the fields.

27th (Tue) 6.2 C to 7.9 C / 9.7 mm / nil / N 5.3 24 Kt.
A cold and breezy day with occasional outbreaks or showers of rain, and little in the way of brightness. Indeed in the brisk northerly breeze it would feel quite raw indeed. Further showers or longer spells of rain in the evening and overnight with little sign that this current wet spell will end anytime soon.


28th (Wed) 4.5 C to 7.3 C / 1.8 mm / 0.4 hours / NW 5.7 22 Kt.
A cold and breezy morning with frequent showers of cold rain, and though the showers would become less frequent by the afternoon it would nevertheless remain largely cloudy with a few spits and spots at times. Becoming clearer in the evening and overnight, and with the breeze easing somewhat it would become quite chilly with a touch of grass frost by dawn.

29th (Thu) 0.7 C to 5.6 C / nil / 4.9 hours / W 2.4 14 Kt.
A cold and clear morning with some welcome early winter sunshine. Remaining bright and chilly into the afternoon, though more in the way of cloud would make the sunshine more intermittent around midday. Clearing again in the evening and under clear skies the temperature would fall, eventually reaching a low of -2.1 C with a moderate hoar frost by dawn.

I thought I heard and saw a small flock of Waxwings pass over the garden around midday.

30th (Fri) -2.1 C to 3.8 C / 1.0 mm / 5.0 hours / W 1.7 13 Kt.
A clear and frosty start to the day with temperatures remaining below freezing till around 10am. Remaining sunny and cold throughout the day, with the frost persisting all day in the shade, and with skies remaining clear into the evening the temperature would soon drop below freezing again with the frost reforming. However later in the night cloud would increase from the north, bringing with it a period of wintry precipitation which would create some patches of ice by dawn.

October 2012

1st (Mon) 9.2 C to 16.5 C / 0.3 mm / 3.7 hours / SW 1.5 20 Kt.
A bright but quite cloudy morning with spells of hazy sunshine, but with lighter winds than lately it would feel quite warm. More in the way of more general cloud in the afternoon, this becoming thick enough for a short but moderate to heavy shower in late afternoon, though thereafter it would begin to brighten up again with a fine end to the day. Clear spells overnight with a waning near full moon lighting up the night.

50-60 Golden Plovers flew over the house at 9.30am heading southwards.

2nd (Tue) 7.9 C to 15.8 C / 5.0 mm / 3.4 hours / SW 3.0 20 Kt.
A clear start with a bright full moon, but by mid-morning cloud amounts would increase making any sunshine thereafter weak and hazy in the second half of the morning. In the afternoon the cloud would continue to thicken with some outbreaks of rain from 2pm onwards, this becoming heavy by 4pm with a peak rainfall rate of 10.8 mm/h. The rain would die out and clear in the evening with clear spells developing overnight, though the breeze would also freshen overnight.

A morning in the garden
On what was a sunny and clement early October morning I decided to spend a few hours out in the garden with my camera and notebook and see what I could find. It soon became obvious that I was not the only one taking advantage of the pleasant warming rays, with insects a plenty crawling and buzzing around the garden, and included amongst these were hundreds of hoverflies, a few Shield-bugs and most pleasing of all a couple of fine looking Red Admiral and Comma specimens.


Meanwhile high in the mature Yews which grace the eastern part of the garden, the Grey Squirrels were busy munching away at the ripe berries which seem to be quite plentiful this year, and while I watched them a flock of 50-60 Golden Plovers were seen overhead heading south, calling as they went. On the lawn and on the edge of the wooded areas a few species of fungi can now be found, including a few Ink-caps as well as a few beyond my ID skills, though there are no signs of the Blewits which came up in large numbers last year.


However it was the increasing amount of autumn tint which was most beautiful to behold this morning, the colours emphasised and warmed by the golden autumn light which made the turning Field Maples, Limes and Horse Chestnuts positively glow. The Silver Birches are also starting to yellow as the season progresses (a reminder that another visit to North Cliffe wood is in order), though it is the Virginia Creeper which grows in many places throughout our garden which is now providing the best colours. This non-native Ivy is a real star of the October garden, though unfortunately its annual display is usually very short lived as one autumn storm of wind and rain will quickly strip the red leaves to the ground, ending the all too transient show for yet another year.


3rd (Wed) 7.5 C to 14.2 C / 1.3 mm / 6.2 hours / SW 2.5 22 Kt.
A clear and sunny morning with a moderate to fresh WSW breeze, though by midday some cloud would begin to bubble up and in the afternoon this would lead to some cloudier periods. Indeed by the evening this cloud would become thick enough to produce a few moderate to heavy showers, though these would clear by midnight with clear skies for the rest of the night, this allowing the temperature to fall below 5 C.

4th (Thu) 4.6 C to 14.3 C / 5.0 mm / 6.0 hours / SW 1.6 14 Kt.
A clear and cold start to the day (with a slight low mist in rural areas), and it would remain clear and sunny throughout the morning. However in the afternoon cloud amounts would increase and these would continue to build as the afternoon wore on with mostly cloudy skies by evening. The cloud continued to thicken and increase overnight with outbreaks of rain after midnight, these lasting through to dawn.

Venus and Regulus were very close together in the dawn sky this morning, forming an attractive pair of bright stars before the rising sun obscured them from view.


5th (Fri) 7.1 C to 13.7 C / nil / 3.8 hours / W 3.3 23 Kt.
A wet start with showers or spells of moderate rain, but by 8am this would clear away with sunny spells soon developing. Remaining bright with sunny spells throughout the morning and into the afternoon, though later cloud would increase with mostly cloudy skies through the evening. However the cloud would clear after midnight with clear spells for the remainder of the night, this allowing temperatures to drop below 7 C.

6th (Sat) 6.7 C to 14.8 C / nil / 7.8 hours / W 1.9 18 Kt.
A clear and chilly morning, though it would warm up by midday with temperatures climbing up into the mid-teens. A bit more in the way of cloud in the afternoon, but overall it would remain bright with good spells of golden autumn sunshine. Cloud clearing away in the evening and becoming mostly clear overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall below 40 degrees.

7th (Sun) 3.8 C to 13.5 C / nil / 8.0 hours / W 0.4 7 Kt.
A cold and clear start with a very heavy dew, and it would remain clear and sunny throughout most of the day with just some high wispy cirrus in the south-western sky. Also feeling pleasantly warm in the sun with a high of 13.5 C. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures again falling sharply away (3.2 C), though by the end of the night fog would begin to form.

Bratt Wood, Nunburnholme
On a gorgeous mid-autumn day with stunning clear blue skies and temperatures in the low teens, we headed up to Nunburnholme, one of my favourite corners of the Wolds. The woods and rolling countryside around this village are very pleasant indeed, the community itself nestling in a sheltered valley right on the western edge of the Wolds and it was a delight to ramble through the autumn landscape on such a day as today. Upon arrival we soon noticed large numbers of Common Darter dragonflies enjoying the sunshine along the woodland ride which runs up through Bratt Wood, while other interest was provided by at least a couple of Commas and a single Speckled Wood. A single Migrant Hawker dragonfly was also noted later, and despite the cold start to the day it was good to see so much insect activity, a sight which will soon be consigned to history for yet another year as winter's chill begins to bite later in the month.


Climbing up the steep hill we came out on to the open grassland where sheep safely graze on this lush area of pasture which is kept green in even the driest years thanks to the number of springs which rise on the hillside. Overhead a Red Kite soared above us, and this provided a good test for my new camera and its lens, and despite the mere 105mm reach of the lens (compared to the 600mm lens of my old bridge camera), I was most impressed at how well the photos came out, certainly sharper and more detailed than I would have expected from my previous camera. Later we also spotted three Buzzards above the upper part of the wood, and again my new camera managed to capture some adequate shots of these handsome and large birds of prey, the fast auto-focus and clear optical view-finder making it much easier to latch onto a moving subject.



Continuing onwards through the upper part of the wood we came across a few other good birds, including a few Marsh Tits, Green Woodpecker and a Treecreeper, while on the woodland floor a few species of fungi were recorded, though as usual I have not been able to identify any of them with any certainty. Meanwhile the number of wildflowers in the local countryside continues to dwindle away, but nevertheless in the wood plenty of Herb-robert was seen, while beside the roadside on Kilnwick Percy Hill a fewKnapweeds, and perhaps more interestingly quite a bit of Toadflax was seen in flower. However the countryside was far from colourless this morning, the golden October sunshine really bringing out the tones of the turning trees, and some of the Beeches looked particularly good this morning with their yellow and copper leaves positively glowing beneath the azure autumn sky.



8th (Mon) 3.2 C to 14.1 C / nil / 2.0 hours / N 0.8 8 Kt.
A cold and foggy start, and though the fog would lift by mid-morning it would nevertheless remain grey and dull throughout the morning. However after 11.30am the sun would begin to break through and much of the afternoon would see hazy October sunshine, though after 4pm it would slowly become more cloudy and would remain so into the evening. Cloudy at first overnight but as the night wore on the cloud would break and clear with temperatures falling beneath the clear skies again with a low of 3.3 C.

9th (Tue) 3.3 C to 12.6 C / nil / 7.3 hours / NE 0.5 10 Kt.
A clear and chilly start to the day with a very heavy dew on the ground (which was slightly frosted in some sheltered dips), and it would remain clear and sunny throughout the morning and indeed the afternoon. Under clear skies the temperature would quickly plummet in the evening and overnight, with a low of -0.2 C being recorded shortly before dawn, the first air frost of this autumn/winter and indeed the earliest ever air frost on my records dating back to 2003.



10th (Wed) -0.2 C to 12.3 C / nil / 0.9 hours / E 0.3 7 Kt.
Initially clear and cold with temperatures just below freezing, but by 6am cloud amounts would begin to increase. Remaining bright but fairly cloudy throughout the rest of the morning and indeed the afternoon, with the cloud becoming more extensive as the day wore on. Remaining largely cloudy in the evening, but overnight some clearer spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to fall away to around 4 C.

11th (Thu) 3.5 C to 14.0 C / 9.8 mm / 1.3 hours / SE 5.0 21 Kt.
A bright but fairly cloudy start with some spells of sunshine, but by 10am it would become cloudy and would remain so for the rest of the morning. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon but some spells of hazy sunshine would break through at times, and all in all it was a pleasant enough mid-autumn day. Cloud thickening by the end of the afternoon with outbreaks of rain in the evening, some of these becoming heavy (32.8 mm/h) and accompanied by a freshening breeze. Further outbreaks of rain overnight but by the end of the night it would clear away with mostly clear skies by dawn.

Redwings were heard in the area today.

12th (Fri) 7.6 C to 13.0 C / nil / 5.7 hours / SW 3.5 31 Kt.
A bright but breezy morning with everything damp after last night’s rain. As the day wore on it would become progressively clearer, so that by mid-afternoon it would become clear with plenty of sunshine to end the day. Mostly clear in the evening and at first overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall to 2.5 C, but cloud would increase later with mostly cloudy skies by dawn.


13th (Sat) 2.5 C to 11.3 C / 0.5 mm / 2.5 hours / NW 1.1 11 Kt.
A cloudy morning with grey skies, but as the day wore on it would become brighter with some sunny spells developing. However a few showers would also develop, most of these light and brief affairs. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

A bright shooting star was seen in the SE around 9.15pm in the evening, leaving a bright tail which lasted a few seconds after it was initially seen.

14th (Sun) 3.4 C to 11.9 C / 0.9 mm / 1.9 hours / NW 2.4 21 Kt.
A cloudy start but by mid-morning some spells of sunshine would begin to develop. However in the afternoon some showers would also develop, some of which were quite heavy, but these would die out by late afternoon with skies clearing in the evening. Mostly clear for much of the night, this again allowing temperatures to fall quite low, but cloud would increase later with overcast skies by dawn.

15th (Mon) 3.2 C to 10.3 C / 7.0 mm / 1.7 hours / W 1.2 15 Kt.
A cloudy start with a period of rain between 7am and 8am, but thereafter it would soon begin to brighten up with spells of sunshine after 9am. However it would remain fairly cloudy and indeed in the afternoon there was more cloud than sunshine, and as a result temperatures would struggle to make even double figures. Cloud breaking up in the evening with clear spells at first overnight, but later cloud would increase with periods of moderate to heavy rain after midnight. The rain would also be accompanied by a fresh WSW breeze,

Quite a few Redwings were heard passing overhead this morning.

16th (Tue) 4.5 C to 10.0 C / 7.3 mm / 2.2 hours / W 4.2 37 Kt.
A cloudy and breezy start and it would remain largely cloudy throughout the morning, though there were some brighter periods too at times. Becoming very windy in the afternoon, with many gusts over gale force, though as the afternoon wore on the cloud would break up with a sunny end to the day. The breeze would rapidly ease in the evening, indeed becoming calm for most of the night, with variable amounts of cloud and some decent clear spells overnight (temperatures falling to 2.3 C). However cloud would increase by the end of the night with outbreaks of rain arriving by dawn.

The rain and wind brought a lot of leaves down last night, with some roads covered in golden leaves at dawn. The leaves do seem to falling much earlier this year.

17th (Wed) 2.3 C to 14.8 C / 8.0 mm / 5.5 hours / SW 1.3 20 Kt.
A very wet and dull start to the day with persistent moderate and at times heavy rain (9.4 mm/h), and even by 9am it was still so dark that artificial lighting was necessary. However by late morning the cloud would quickly break up and clear with sunny periods developing for most of the afternoon. Also milder than recently with temperatures reaching the mid-teens. Clear spells in the evening but overnight cloud would increase with some heavy outbreaks of rain after midnight.

18th (Thu) 8.7 C to 15.1 C / nil / 4.3 hours / SW 0.5 15 Kt.
A wet start but the rain would soon clear with the cloud breaking up by mid-morning. Thereafter thee remainder of the day would see a mixture of sunny spells and broken cloud, and in the sun it felt quite mild with temperatures reaching a high of 15 C. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening but overnight clear spells would develop, this allowing mist and even fog at times to form in the still and damp autumn air.


19th (Fri) 7.4 C to 12.7 C / trace / 0.4 hours / SW 0.2 9 Kt.
A dull and murky morning with visibility down to about fog levels at times, but as the morning wore on it would become steadily brighter with even some sunny spells breaking through around lunch-time. However this wouldn’t last and most of the afternoon would see mostly cloudy and grey skies. Mostly cloudy in the evening and at first overnight, but later the cloud would break with mist forming by the end of the night.

North Cliffe Wood
Regular readers of this blog will most likely be aware of my affection for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve near the community of North Cliffe, this relatively small woodland and heathland reserve of about 90 acres being a wonderful place to spend a few hours wandering around at any time of year. The woodland is predominately Birch, though sizeable areas of Oak woodland and hazel scrub can also be found, and in autumn the wood hosts a good variety of fungi, including some of the stars of the mycology world (ie. the likes of Fly Agaric, Stinkhorn, & Parasols).


When we arrived at around 11am the weather was still grey and murky, the morning fog lingering in the Vale of York, but as time went on the day would begin to brighten with even some weak spells of golden sunshine breaking through in the latter half of our walk. This surprisingly warm sunshine proved most welcome as it really helped to bring out the colours in the yellowing leaves of the Birches, as well as the copper fronds of the now dying back Bracken, a plant which covers most of the woodland floor here (at least in the Birch woodland).


The warm sunshine also encouraged a few insects on to the wing, with a few species of moth seen fluttering in the sunny glades, though of more interest, at least to me, was the presence of three species of dragonfly, including a single Migrant Hawker, half a dozen Common Darters, and one late Black Darter. This was in fact the first time we have actually managed to see a Black Darter at this site (somehow they always seem to elude us here), and it was good to finally tick off this handsome species.


However it was the variety of fungi and the autumn colours which stole the show today, and it was most enjoyable to stroll through the wood showing my young nephew the plants and wildlife of this tranquil and somewhat overlooked nature reserve on such a pleasant and mild October day. A couple of Fly Agarics proved particularly popular, these two specimens being the first we've seen this year, and other fungi included varieties of Grisettes, Russulas, Milk-caps, Mycenas, Tough-shanks, Earthballs, Puffballs and of course many others well beyond my very limited fungi ID skills. All in all a very enjoyable morning.


20th (Sat) 7.2 C to 12.6 C / nil / 5.7 hours / SW 0.5 12 Kt.
A misty start but by mid-morning this would clear with mostly clear skies and sunshine for the rest of the morning. Remaining bright with good spells of sunshine in the afternoon and all in all it was a pleasant mid-autumn day. Cloudier for a time in the evening but overnight this would clear with mist and then fog forming by the end of the night.

21st (Sun) 3.2 C to 11.1 C / 2.8 mm / nil / NE 1.7 13 Kt.
A foggy and chilly start to the day, and it would remain grey and murky for most of the day with little in the way of brightness. Cloud thickening overnight with some outbreaks of drizzle by the end of the night.

Deep Dale & Cot Nab
When we awoke to thick fog in the Beverley area this morning my expectations for our Sunday walk up on the Yorkshire Wolds were not that high, but as we climbed higher on our drive north-westwards we began to rise above the fog which enveloped the lowlands and were soon bathed in glorious October sunshine. The fog line was just below the high Wold village of Huggate, and thereafter for the rest of the morning we would enjoy clear skies throughout, though many of the deeper dales and valleys of the area held onto the fog for another hour or so, this providing some lovely autumn scenes as the hill tops and trees rose above the thick fog below.


Starting our walk from Callis Wold we headed southwards and then westwards, following the course of the old road known as the 'Bence' and passing farmers lifting potatoes from the thin, chalky soil, an activity which is keeping the local agriculture industry busy at the moment (this also meaning that many of the rural roads are very muddy around field entrances). Soon we passed beside a Larch plantation, the golden needles looking stunning in the soft October light, and from here we made our way down the path and arrived above Deep Dale. This appropriately named dale is one of my favourite locations in the whole of these British Isles, and with mist still hanging in the woods and valleys it looked particularly stunning this morning.


However within quarter of an hour of our arrival the remaining mist soon burned away and the whole glorious and rolling landscape was revealed. Above us a Buzzard soared and called, while the surrounding hawthorn scrub, which is currently decorated with bright red berries which this morning resembled fairy lights thanks to the water droplets which caught the low sun, we noted a good variety of typical finches, including Bullfinch, and a few species of Tit. A Yellowhammer also graced the hill top hedgerow while Black headed and Common Gulls headed for the nearby fields, no doubt in the hope of finding a few worms behind the potato lifters.


After reaching the bottom of the dale we were now faced with the climb up the other side of the hillside, this path taking us along the woodland track which winds its way up to Bishop Wilton Wold (the highest point of the Yorkshire Wolds at about 250 metres). However our destination was not the top of the hill but instead Cot Nab, an area of level pasture land which juts out into Deep Dale and from where one is afforded a fine view of the countryside to the south. This area of grassland (which is classed as a SSSI) is also an excellent site for fungi, in particularly Waxcaps (the so called Orchids of the fungi world) which thrive on the nutrient poor soil found here. This morning a small variety of fungi were found, including (at least I think so) Blackening Waxcap, Scarlet Waxcap, and some yellow and orange ones the identity of which I am not certain of (a good number perhaps being young Blackening Waxcaps).


This same area is also rich in wildflowers in summer, but despite the recent frosts quite a few late flowers can still be seen even now in late October, including Red Clover, Harebells and some Yarrow. The seed pods of Birds-foot Trefoil were also noted, and these late flowers even seemed to attract a lateSmall Tortoiseshell butterfly which fluttered by at one point. Speaking of butterflies we also stumbled upon a late Brimstone sunning itself on a Norwegian Spruce towards the end of our walk, and it was even kind enough to pose for a few photos before fluttering away. Here's hoping he or she survives the coming winter and re-emerges on a warm and sunny early spring day next year.


22nd (Mon) 4.6 C to 11.9 C / 0.5 mm / nil / N 2.3 15 Kt.
A grey, murky and wet morning with outbreaks of rain &/or drizzle. Becoming drier by the afternoon but it would remain dull and murky, with visibility gradually falling as the afternoon progressed, so much so that it fell to fog levels by dusk. Remaining dank and foggy throughout the night with everything dripping wet by dawn.

The low cloud and fog meant that Redwings flew low last night and were heard frequently passing over in the evening.

23rd (Tue) 10.6 C to 13.2 C / 0.4 mm / nil / N 3.7 15 Kt.
A foggy morning with visibility below 500 metres throughout the duration of the period, though by early afternoon the fog would lift and it would become merely dull and murky. Mild though with temperatures reaching 13 C despite the overcast skies. Little change overnight with some light drizzle at times.

Lots of Redwings were heard passing over this morning, while a Fieldfare was also heard when I was doing the morning weather measurements. Later in the morning a flock of about a dozen Redwings were seen feeding in the nearby trees, the first actually seen in the garden this autumn, while a few Mistle Thrushes also joined them, possibly migrants themselves.

24th (Wed) 11.0 C to 12.0 C / nil / nil / N 1.8 12 Kt.
Another grey, murky and mild day with little of interest to be honest. Little change overnight, though the cloud base would lift somewhat as drier air moved in from the north.

October mists
The rather dreek and unappealing weather at the moment (no sunshine has been recorded here in the Beverley area since Monday) has seen us largely confined to the home patch, but this has been no bad thing as it has allowed us to note hundreds of Redwings passing over the area (admittedly more often heard rather than actually seen), as well as even a few Fieldfares yesterday morning. However not all the Redwings have simply passed over and the last few days have seen up to a dozen feeding in the garden Yews, and surrounding woods, their thin and high pitched shrill call being very much a sound of the area at the moment. Reports of thousands of migrating birds such as Siskins, Bramblings, Winter thrushes and even a few rarer birds along the coast of East Yorkshire (especially Spurn and to a lesser extent Flamborough) have also been coming in throughout this week, and it all seems to confirm that winter is now beginning to tighten its grasp in the lands to our north and may well soon arrive here.


Certainly the leaves continue to fall in the garden and woods as autumn advances onwards, with even some of the higher and more exposed trees now nearly ripped bare by the strong westerly winds last week, but for the most part the majority of the local trees continue to hold on to their colourful autumn foliage, the Beeches, Chestnuts, Field Maples and Birches providing the richest and most visually appealing hues. Meanwhile, and despite the grey weather of late, the still flowering Ivy continues to draw in many insects (yesterday I noticed dozens of Wasps and even a few hoverflies feeding despite the thick fog), while on sunnier days the odd Comma and Red Admiral may be spotted enjoying this last feast before the winter famine begins. It is a somewhat sad thought that all too soon these colourful insects will be consigned to mere memories as winter bites, but it does make one appreciate them all the more while they continue to grace us with their presence.

25th (Thu) 8.8 C to 10.8 C / 0.5 mm / 0.2 hours / N 2.8 17 Kt.
A cloudy and grey morning, though by the end of the morning it would begin to brighten up somewhat as a few small breaks began to appear in the clouds. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon with only a few brighter periods from time to time. Again remaining mostly cloudy overnight but a few breaks would allow temperatures to fall, and as colder air moved in from the NE it would become drier with dew points falling to about 3 C.

26th (Fri) 4.2 C to 7.6 C / 4.9 mm / 5.2 hours / NW 5.9 27 Kt.
A mostly cloudy start to the morning, with a few showers drifting down from the north, but as the morning wore on it would become brighter with spells of sunshine developing. Remaining bright in the afternoon but the breeze would also pick up, this making it feel quite chilly and wintry. In the evening this breeze would further freshen and would bring with it some showers, many of which became quite wintry overnight with a mixture of sleet, pellets and even a bit of wet snow. Indeed one heavy pellet shower would give a partial covering of pellets, with some of this lasting till dawn on many cars and other cold surfaces. An early taste of winter.

Drewton Estate
We took advantage of the sunny and crisp weather today and headed up to the Drewton area a mile or so north of South Cave. This largely wooded walk is not one we often visit, as I for one prefer to get as far away from the environs of Beverley as possible and prefer those walks around Pocklington and Malton, but with the autumn colours now approaching their best and with not much free time on our hands it seemed an obvious choice. Soon after arriving the sound of Redwings and a few Fieldfares soon became obvious and throughout our walk further winter thrushes were noted, confirming that these attractive winter visitors are already now very much part of the local birdlife as winter approaches. A couple of Jays were also seen in East Dale, their striking plumage really standing out as they flew through the woodland, while latterly a couple of Buzzards were seen soaring together in Weedly Dale.


However it was, as has been the case for many of our recent walks, the landscape and countryside which was the main highlight of our 4 and a half mile ramble, the copper hued Beeches looking particularly resplendent in the chilly late October sunshine. Austin Dale was especially beautiful (this wood being home to St. Austin's stone, a large stone out-crop at the head of the dale), and walking down the old track which leads down into Drewton dale it was a delight to behold the autumn tones and colours (my photos in this post not really doing justice to the beauty of the area today). Near Drewton Manor the attractive artificial lake also provided some nice photographic opportunities, both flowing and standing water being relatively rare in the Yorkshire Wolds area, and it was a fine place to end what had been a very enjoyable stroll around a part of the Wolds we seldom tread.



27th (Sat) 0.5 C to 8.6 C / 1.6 mm / 2.1 hours / NW 4.3 31 Kt.
A cold and blustery morning with sunny spells and occasional wintry showers (mostly a mixture of sleet and ice pellets), though in the afternoon the showers would die out with the rest of the day seeing a mixture of sunny and cloudy spells. Clear spells in the evening and at first overnight, this allowing temperatures to drop low enough for a touch of grass frost, but later cloud would increase with a short period of rain for a time. This would clear by dawn but it would remain mostly cloudy.

28th (Sun) 1.8 C to 10.0 C / 2.2 mm / 0.1 hours / SW 2.3 18 Kt.
A largely cloudy and cool morning, but there were some brighter periods for a time in mid-morning with even a few breaks in the cloud from time to time. However by midday it had become dull and grey and the rest of the afternoon would see spells of light to moderate rain, these continuing into the evening. Becoming drier overnight with some clear spells developing later.

29th (Mon) 5.4 C to 9.6 C / trace / 0.1 hours / W 1.5 13 Kt.
After a bright start it would soon cloud over and become overcast and would remain so for the rest of the day. In the afternoon the cloud would become thick enough for some drizzle &/or rain, but on this side of the Wolds at least it didn’t really come to anything. Cloud breaking up in the evening with clear spells overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall to near freezing with a slight grass frost by dawn.

North Cave Wetlands
Yesterday afternoon we paid a long over-due visit to North Cave Wetlands, hoping to catch up with a few interesting birds which have been reported at this site in the last week or so. The weather however was far from ideal, with frequent showers of rain and a cool north-westerly breeze, but nevertheless we enjoyed a pleasant three hour stroll around the reserve before the rapidly fading light meant we had to head for home. The highlight of the morning was the spotting of at least two, and possibly three Jack Snipe on the eastern shore of the Main Lake, a new species for me and one I was finally glad to tick off my ever growing bird list. A Goldeneye was another good tick, my first of this autumn/winter, while other wildfowl included good numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, a few Wigeon, lots of Teal and an abundance of Greylag and Canada Geese. A Black Swan was also seen in Carp Lake, a regular sight at this former gravel pit, though sadly the Whooper Swans reported a few days ago were nowhere to be seen.


Overhead a flock of maybe as many as 80-100 Siskins were seen at one point, their distinctive calls alerting us to their presence, and during our walk we seemed to be accompanied by a roving band of Long-tailed Tits whose acrobatic feeding in the Alders, Willows and hedgerows kept us entertained throughout the afternoon. A Green Woodpecker in Snipe Fields also allowed fairly close approach, and through the binoculars it was a stunning specimen of the species with gorgeous and richly coloured plumage. Elsewhere a few Redwings were seen, and at least one Fieldfare was heard, these winter visitors no doubt enjoyed the abundance of berries which can be currently found around the reserve.


Continuing our walk we passed hedgerows rich in the aforementioned berries, with the Spindle trees along the reserves eastern edge looking superb, while bunches of Guelder Rose hung from the trees, the afternoon rain showers making these strikingly red berries shine like Christmas lights in the fading late October light. Eventually we reached the Turret Hide in the heart of the reserve, and from here we managed to spot a single Ruff feeding amongst the Teal, Lapwings and Redshanks on the edge of Island Lake, while up to 30 Common Snipe were also seen from here. Snipe have always been a favourite bird of mine, a portrait of one by Gordon Beningfield has pride of place on our wall, and sitting in drafty, cold and damp hide on a unappealing autumn afternoon while watching these diminutive waders I couldn't have been happier or more content, a fine way to end a day surrounded by the evocative sights and sounds of a British wetland in late autumn.


30th (Tue) 1.1 C to 9.6 C / 0.2 mm / 1.2 hours / SW 3.5 20 Kt.
An initially clear and cold start with a lovely sunrise to greet the new day, but by 8am it had become grey and cloudy and would remain so for much of the morning. Remaining largely grey in the afternoon, with even a bit of drizzle for a time, and it would cloudy for most of the evening and overnight (though the moon was visible through the cloud from time to time).

31st (Wed) 5.8 C to 11.1 C / 12.6 mm / 0.2 hours / SW 2.0 24 Kt.
A mostly cloudy and breezy morning with a brisk WSW wind, though there were some brighter periods for a time. Remaining largely cloudy and breezy in the afternoon, with the cloud thickening in the evening, this bringing a spell of heavy rain which would last well into the night. The rain was particularly heavy at first (peak rate of 40.4 mm/h) and was accompanied by some squally winds. Rain clearing by the end of the night with some clearer spells developing by dawn.

Crepuscular activities
The last week has been largely quiet on the home patch with little to report, except the continuing fall of leaves in the woodland and parkland, further Redwings being seen and heard, especially in the morning's and evening's, and a few Fox sightings in the early morning, including one very handsome dog Fox which I got within 20 yards of before it turned and fled to the safety of the nearby woodland. The Tawny Owl's have also been quite noisy on recent nights, their haunting calls filling the moonlit autumn wood, while the common woodland and garden birds have been noticeably more active at the feeding station and on the fruit bearing trees and shrubs, a sign perhaps of the advancing season.


Meanwhile I have been continuing to get to grips with my camera, and yesterday morning I decided to head down to the river Hull to capture the rising sun over the river near the small community of Weel. The dawn turned out to be a fantastic spectacle, the sky glowing a myriad of warm colours as dawn approached, and while I am not entirely happy with the photos I hope they give some impression of what a lovely start to the day it was. While down there I also kept an eye out for Barn Owls hunting over the rough grassland of Figham Common but sadly none were seen. It is both saddening and worrying to have witnessed the decline of these iconic birds in recent years, as a once locally common bird has become quite scarce after a series of indifferent springs and cold winters (most noticeably after the severe frosts and deep snows of December 2010) and I can only hope that numbers will recover to former levels in the years ahead.