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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.