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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.

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