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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.