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January 2013

1st (Tue) 1.4 C to 6.9 C / trace / 3.4 hours / W 4.7 26 Kt.
A clear and chilly start to the New Year with a touch of grass frost, and it would remain bright and sunny throughout the morning, though the breeze would pick up somewhat, this making it feel quite cold in exposed areas. More in the way of cloud in the afternoon but it would remain dry, and in the evening the cloud would clear away again with clear spells for much of the evening and night (the breeze however would prevent temperatures from falling particularly low). However by the end of the night cloud would move in with overcast skies by dawn.

On New Year's Day we headed down to the small community of Wilfholme and had a bracing walk along the river Hull on what was a sunny but chilly morning. The river level was roughly the same as it was back in late November, though flooding on the surrounding farm land has increased quite a bit and the Beverley-Barmston drain continues to overflow onto the neighbouring fields. Indeed the drain is now higher than it was a month or so ago, and access to Watton nature reserve is now almost impossible with thick mud and knee deep water covering the footpath. Even the footpath which runs along the eastern side of Watton is now covered in flood water and our planned walk up to Tophill Low had to be curtailed due to the depth of the water being higher than my wellington boots. With drier weather forecast for much of January hopefully this will allow water levels to fall in the next week or two.

All this flood water means that much of the typical winter wetland bird-life is quite dispersed at the moment but nevertheless the river Hull hosted a couple of male Goldeneyes and a few Tufted ducks whom bobbed about on the choppy and muddy waters. A Little Grebe was additionally noted near the pumping station at Wilfholme, while along the river bank a half dozen Redshanks were spotted feeding along the edge of the swollen river. Along Watton beck a loneGrey Wagtail was a pleasing sight, though the highlight of the morning would turn out to be a Peregrine Falcon which flew past us at high speed and headed south towards the village of Aike.

2nd (Wed) 2.7 C to 12.1 C / 0.8 mm / nil / SW 4.3 32 Kt.
An overcast start with outbreaks of mostly light rain arriving after 8am. This rain would die out by midday however but it would remain cloudy throughout the afternoon with little in the way of brightness. Some clearer spells would develop in the evening however but overall it would be largely cloudy overnight with temperatures actually rising throughout the night (above 10 C by dawn).

3rd (Thu) 5.0 C to 11.8 C / trace / nil / W 4.4 24 Kt.
A cloudy but very mild day with little in the way of brightness. However at dusk the cloud would begin to break up, this giving a colourful but short lived end to the day, and in the evening and overnight there would be further clearer spells, though despite this it was another mild night with temperatures no lower than 8.7 C.

4th (Fri) 8.7 C to 10.5 C / nil / 4.5 hours / W 5.4 33 Kt.
A brighter day with variable amounts of cloud and sunny spells in between (especially in the afternoon), and though not quite as mild as yesterday it nevertheless felt warmish for the time of year with temperatures again reaching double figures. Clear spells in the evening and at first overnight though cloud would increase later with cloudy skies by dawn. Another very mild night for the time of year with a low of just 7.3 C.

5th (Sat) 7.3 C to 10.5 C / nil / 0.6 hours / SW 1.9 19 Kt.
A dull and overcast morning to start with, but by the end of the morning it would begin to brighten up somewhat with even some hazy spells of sunshine by midday. Remaining bright but largely cloudy in the afternoon, with little change going into the evening. However overnight some clearer spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to fall lower than recent nights with a low of just below 4 C.

6th (Sun) 3.6 C to 8.8 C / nil / 0.2 hours / S 1.3 9 Kt.
A bright start with hazy spells of sunshine, and much cooler than recently with temperatures around 4 C at dawn. However by mid-morning light fog would drift in and though it would soon thin it would nevertheless remain grey for the remainder of the day. Little change overnight with mostly cloudy skies throughout.

7th (Mon) 3.9 C to 9.5 C / nil / 0.1 hours / S 1.6 12 Kt.
A largely cloudy morning, though by mid-morning the cloud would thin somewhat and allow some spells of very weak and hazy sunshine. However by midday it had become dull again and would remain so throughout the afternoon. Mild again with a high of nearly 50 degrees. Little change overnight with cloudy skies, this helping to keep temperatures above 7 C throughout the night.

8th (Tue) 7.0 C to 10.9 C / 1.2 mm / nil / W 2.6 15 Kt.
A cloudy and grey day with little in the way of brightness and still mild for the time of year. In the evening the cloud would be thick enough for some outbreaks of rain, but this didn’t last long and overnight the cloud would break up and clear, this allowing temperatures to fall by dawn with a low of about 3 C.

Wold Garth : Week One
2013 has begun on a mild and largely dry note here at Wold Garth (the dry weather being very welcome after all the wet weather we experienced in this corner of Yorkshire during the second half of 2012), and this has seen the first signs of spring appear within the confines of the garden. Already most bulbs are now pushing up above the still cold ground of mid-winter, and in some of the warmer and more sheltered spots the first Snowdrops and Winter Aconites are only a week or two away from flowering. As much as I enjoy the winter it is heart warming to see these signs of renewed life so early and already my mind is starting to look forward to the glories of spring ahead (spring being my favourite time of year). However one has to remember that this is still only early January and undoubtedly winter is far from finished with us yet, and I expect colder and more seasonal weather will return by the middle of the month, bringing with it the threats of frost and snow.

The bird-life of the garden is also just beginning to stir, partly in response to the recent mild weather but perhaps also in response to the now lengthening days as the sun begins to climb higher in the sky. That perennial songster the Robin has been particularly vocal lately, while both Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush have been heard singing within the environs of Wold Garth. As January continues I expect more and more birds will begin to warm up for the coming spring, though of course, as with so many things in nature, this will be dependent on what the weather brings in the next few weeks.

At the bird feeding stations the normal variety of garden birds have been visiting the feeders, with four species of Tit (Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Long tailed Tit), four species of finch (Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Bullfinch), both House and Tree Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Great spotted Woodpecker, far to many Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Crows, Rooks and a few handsome Jackdaws. A female Blackcap was also seen on one day recently, always a pleasing site but particularly welcome in the bleak mid-winter, but typical winter visitors such as Siskins, Bramblings and winter thrushes (Redwings & Fieldfares) have been notable by their complete absence. Maybe some colder weather in the remainder of the winter will see them return to the garden as food becomes scarce in the surrounding countryside.

9th (Wed) 2.8 C to 6.3 C / nil / 5.9 hours / W 3.2 15 Kt.
A clear and sunny day for the most part, a refreshing change after the recent dull weather, but also feeling much cooler with temperatures more average for the time of year with a high of 6.3 C. Remaining largely clear overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall low enough for a touch of frost by dawn.

Nunburnholme Kite Roost
This afternoon we decided to go and witness the spectacle of the Red Kites coming in to roost near the village of Nunburnholme, an annual occurrence every winter at this particular location and one of the highlights of the Yorkshire Wolds year. The weather was mostly clear and cold and as the golden winter sun set over the flat fields of the Vale of York the Red Kites began to arrive, with at least a dozen being seen as they drifted in and gathered in the mature Ash trees of the shallow valley below. To be honest this was a fairly low count by the standards of this location, and I have heard reports of up to 30 being spotted on some evenings recently, but nevertheless it was good to see these attractive raptors which in just a decade have become a firm and established part of the Yorkshire Wolds wildlife. While watching the Kites a few other birds of prey were spotted from our vantage point, including a couple of Buzzards and even a Peregrine, but without a doubt the Kites were the stars of show and I hope to come back again and enjoy this marvelous spectacle all over again.

However I'm afraid to say I failed to get any decent shots of this event but I wouldn't leave downhearted as nature put on another fantastic and far more colourful display in the form of one of best sunsets I have seen in many weeks, the sky being aflame with a beautiful array of warm hues and tones as the sun sank below the horizon. Indeed from our vantage point above the community of Nunburnholme we were able to witness the changing colours as darkness fell, the scene changing minute by minute, and despite the rapidly lowering temperatures I could think of nowhere else I would have rather been. The whole occasion was further enhanced by those sensory experiences that are beyond the mere imagery of a camera lens, including the sound of calling birds, braying donkeys in the village below, sheep in the fields, and the smell of damp earth on a cold winter's evening and the whole cumulative experience of our afternoon and evening in the countryside I love most will be something which will remain in my memory for some time to come.

10th (Thu) 0.1 C to 6.1 C / 0.8 mm / 1.0 hours / W 1.2 11 Kt.
A clear and frosty start to the day with temperatures near to freezing, but as the morning progressed cloud would increase from the south-west. Largely cloudy by midday and remaining so for most of the afternoon, but nevertheless there would be the odd sunnier period from time to time. Mostly cloudy and becoming murky in the evening and overnight it would become overcast with some light rain latterly.

A large Fox was seen outside the front door at 5.15 am this morning.

11th (Fri) 0.4 C to 4.8 C / trace / nil / E 0.5 12 Kt.
A dull and overcast morning with some light rain at first, and though this rain would soon die out it would nevertheless remain dull and cloudy throughout the day with little in the way of brightness. Remaining cloudy at first in the evening but overnight some clearer spells would begin to develop, and as colder air began to arrive from the east this would help push temperatures to just below freezing (the first air frost of January so far).

12th (Sat) -0.1 C to 4.8 C / 3.8 mm / 0.7 hours / E 0.9 15 Kt.
A largely cloudy morning with occasional light showers of rain, though the odd break in the cloud did allow some brighter spells. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon, though again there were some brighter periods from time to time, but towards the end of the afternoon some largely light showers would begin to drift in from the east. These would continue infrequently during the evening, become increasingly wintry as time wore on with showers of sleet and ice pellets. Mostly cloudy and cold overnight with a few further wintry showers at times.

13th (Sun) 0.0 C to 2.0 C / 0.7 mm / 0.1 hours / S 0.5 10 Kt.
A cold and cloudy morning for the most part, feeling particularly raw in the damp near zero temperatures (though up in the Wolds we enjoyed much better weather, see post below). Remaining cold and grey in the afternoon and overall it was a bleak winter’s day. Cloudy in the evening and overnight, the cloud thickening up for a time and bringing a period of wet snow around 3am, this giving a slight covering to the lawn and flower beds and readily sticking to the trees.

Bishop Wilton
Winter returned to the Wolds last night with snow showers giving a slight covering to those areas of the region above 100 metres, and as we made our way to our destination for our morning walk we passed through the Huggate area where the landscape had been given a distinctly wintry aspect with snow covering most of the fields. With much more snow forecast tomorrow it looks like winter has finally arrived after what has been a very mild January so far, and hopefully I'll be able to get out again some time this week to photograph and enjoy this wintry weather.

Our walk today was near the village of Bishop Wilton, a pleasant and always interesting area for a short ramble, and though this is a walk we have done a few times recently (as regular readers may have noticed), this time my sister and nephew joined us, this particular walk being a favourite of theirs. The snow here on the western edge of the Wolds had not been as heavy as it had been around Huggate, but nevertheless a dusting gave the countryside a renewed aspect and as we set off from our parking place at the top of Worsen Dale I was looking forward to our walk, especially since the countryside was bathed in winter sunshine for a much welcome change.

Walking along the path above Worsen Dale we had the usual attractive view out to the west over the broad acres of Yorkshire, the fields of the Vale of York green in contrast to the snowy fields of the Wolds, while below us the quiet community of Bishop Wilton with its spired church looked a picture in the morning sunshine, smoke drifting lazily from the numerous hearths of its cottages and dwellings on what was obviously a chilly January morning. Meanwhile in the fields to our east a mixture of Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges gleaned the cereal stubble for food, and likewise Goldfinches andChaffinches searched amongst the dead seed-heads of last summers wildflowers for whatever food they could find, a reminder that for our wildlife, and especially our birds, this kind of weather can be very hard indeed if it becomes prolonged.

In Crow Wood a good variety of typical passerines were seen as we walked along the perimeter of the wood, including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and even a single Marsh Tit, while further interest was provided by a couple of Treecreepers feeding amongst the Larches. A few Goldcrests were also heard as I stopped to photograph some of the aforementioned Blue Tits but alas they remained unseen within the safety of the wood, while another bird which was merely heard this morning included at least one Jay near Worsen Dale House. Thereafter the rest of the walk passed without little further incident, except for my nephew losing his wellies in the thick and sticky mud near the village springs, but despite this little misfortune the morning perambulation had been a most delightful one and one which we had greatly enjoyed, in part thanks to the constant entertainment provided by my nephew, but also thanks to the beautiful countryside which we yet again had had the privilege to explore and enjoy in relative peace and comfort.

14th (Mon) -0.7 C to 0.6 C / 6.1 mm / nil / NW 1.1 10 Kt.
A dull and cloudy morning, with a slight covering of wet snow from last night’s short period of snow. This lying snow would largely thaw by late morning but by midday a period of snow would arrive from the north-west, and though it was initially light it would become quite heavy in the afternoon and persist through till about 5pm, by which time the whole area was covered in three to four inches of snow (the trees looking particularly impressive under their wintry blankets). After the snow cleared the temperature would rise slightly, leading to a very slight thaw, but by 9pm the temperature would again begin to fall with a few further snow flurries during the night. Some decent clear spells would also allow temperatures to fall latterly, eventually reaching a low of -3.1 C.

15th (Tue) -3.1 C to 1.2 C / 0.8 mm / 1.1 hours / NW 0.7 12 Kt.
A cold and crisp morning with occasional light snow flurries adding insignificant amounts to the 6-8 cm of lying snow from yesterday afternoon. Further occasional snow showers in the afternoon, a couple of which were quite heavy and added nearly a cm of fresh snow, but between these showers it was very pleasant with gorgeous crisp winter sunshine.  Under largely clear skies the temperature would quickly fall in the evening, eventually reaching a low of -7.6 C by the end of the night.

Wold Garth ; Week Two
Well what a difference a week makes, as last time I posted from Wold Garth the weather was exceptionally mild, but as I write the ground is now covered in four inches of snow and winter seems to have finally arrived in this little corner of East Yorkshire. Already this colder weather has brought in a few winter thrushes to the garden and it will be interesting to see if anything else turns up in the week ahead as temperatures are forecast to remain low with the threat of further snow by the end of the week. Beyond the weekend the forecast is not certain at the moment, though a return to somewhat milder conditions is probably the favoured outcome according to most weather charts, but that could easily change and it will be interesting to see which weather type comes out on top.

However all that is in the future and for the time being winter is here to stay, though actually for much of this second week of 2013 the weather had not been very wintry anyway, with further Winter Aconites and Snowdrops appearing within the garden.Crocus' are also not far from flowering (though I expect any further growth will have now been brought to a standstill by the current weather) and like last week some of the birds have been singing during the day, though perhaps with somewhat less enthusiasm than had been the case earlier in the month.

A highlight of the past week was the encountering of a large dog Fox right outside our front door at dawn on the 10th, the animal being a fine example of the species with a lovely thick coat and an incredibly bushy tail, and it was fantastic to see this usually shy animal at such close quarters. I was also able to spend a few hours in my 'bird hide' (in reality an old shed which has an aspect on to a small area of woodland) and with the help of a small bird table and some food I was able to attract a range of typical woodland species to within three metres of my waiting camera.

North Cliffe Wood
Below are a few photos I have managed to capture of the current wintry weather which continues to hold this neck of the woods tightly in its grasp. Since the snow fell on Monday afternoon there has been virtually no thaw at my home, and indeed yesterday saw some further snow showers which added an extra centimetre or so, and as I sit and write this post on a cold and dark winters evening I can look out of my window and see the whole area still covered in a white blanket with even the largest trees still holding onto the snow which fell over two days ago. The lack of any thaw is not really that surprising considering that temperatures have barely risen above freezing since Monday, and indeed last night we had the coldest night of the winter thus far as the minimum thermometer reached a low of nearly -8 C (18 F). With the possibility of some further and potentially far heavier snow at the end of the week it looks like winter is not going anywhere in a hurry and one has to feel for the birds and animals for whom this weather brings the combined threats of exposure and starvation.

Meanwhile yesterday afternoon we decided to pop down to North Cliffe Wood, hoping to see a wintry wonderland. However it soon became obvious that areas to the west of the Wolds had received somewhat less snow the day before, and indeed by the time we arrived a temporary thaw had set in down here on the Vale of York with much of the snow crashing down from the tree tops as we made or way around this small nature reserve. In spite of this it was nevertheless an enjoyable morning's walk, with a good variety of common woodland birds being noted in my logbook, including at least four Marsh Tits amongst a 100 strong mixed flock of Great Tits, Blue Tits, and Long tailed Tits along the woodlands western edge. The snow also revealed the activities of the woodlands mammalian life, with lots of Roe deer prints and a few of Fox, and in the wood we came across an area where the deer had obviously been grazing during the night or earlier in the day. However our recording of these two species would not be restricted to mere footprints and towards the end of our visit we were fortunate enough to spot both animals at the same time, the two wild creatures passing within yards of each other as they made their way across the snow covered heath in opposite directions :-)

16th (Wed) -7.6 C to -0.5 C / nil / 2.9 hours / NW 0.1 5 Kt.
A very cold and crisp start to the day, the temperature nearly -8 C at 7am, and it would remain cold and mostly sunny throughout the day with just some cloudier periods from time to time in the afternoon. Despite the sunshine the temperature would remain below freezing all day, and as a consequence the snow barely thawed at all (even on the trees). Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some long clear spells at times, these allowing temperatures to again plummet with an overnight low of -9.5 C (15 F).

17th (Thu) -9.5 C to 0.7 C / nil / 1.8 hours / SE 0.7 14 Kt.
A bright and gorgeously cold start to the day with temperatures down to nearly -10 C at dawn, and throughout the morning it would remain bright and bitterly cold. Clouding over in the afternoon and becoming quite grey, but nevertheless it would remain cold with temperatures remaining below freezing. Mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight, though as the wind picked up a bit from the SE the temperature would actually rise for a while, even managing to rise above freezing for a short time, but some clearer spells would develop later and temperatures would fall away again to around -2 C by dawn.

Wayrham & Pluckham Dale
When we awoke yesterday morning the temperature was a bitterly cold -10 C (14 F) at our home near Beverley but despite this I was keen to get out into the Wolds, especially since the sky was largely clear with cold winter sunshine bathing the snow-fields of eastern Yorkshire. With the potential for more snow at the weekend, combined with the threat of strengthening winds, I also wanted to get up into the high Wolds while we still could, as, if the forecast is to be believed, the open roads of the region may become impassable due to the threat of drifting. Our chosen destination was the high Wold valleys of Wayrham Dale and Pluckham Dale (located between Huggate and Thixendale), and as we pulled into the little lay-by beside the busy A166 we were soon joined by a friendly Robin whom obviously hoped we would provide a few crumbs of comfort in this bitter and hard winter weather.

After spending a few minutes enjoying the company of this little bird we headed into Wayrham Dale, noting as we did so a large number of Red-legged Partridges passing over our heads and winter thrushes feeding in the Hawthorn and Elder scrub. Judging by the footprints along the path we were only the fourth (and fifth) people to visit since the snow fell on Monday afternoon, and for this reason I was hopeful of seeing some good wildlife thanks to this lack of disturbance. Indeed by the time we reached the wood we noted some recent Badger activity, while the snow also revealed the activities of Fox, Stoat, Squirrels, Rabbit and Hare. However actual sightings were not particularly forthcoming, though latterly we did spot a couple of Weasels (not a particularly common sight, at least for me) and perhaps less appealingly a dozen or so Rats feeding around the Pheasant and game-bird feeders in Pluckham Wood.

However the biggest highlight of the morning was not the wildlife of the area but was instead the beautiful wintry landscape in which we had the pleasure of wandering through and in which the only man-made sounds were our own feet crunching through the soft and powdery snow. As the snow was not particularly deep (only 3 to 4 inches) and had not drifted thanks to the light winds this week, the walk was also relatively untaxing with no need to fight through knee deep drifts as is often the case up here on the high Wolds in such weather, and thanks to the hard frosts of recent nights the snow was also covered by a layer of ice crystals, these sparking in the winter sunshine. Eventually our walk would draw to a conclusion, though by this time cloud was beginning to roll in from the south and the best of the day had certainly passed, and as we made our way home with temperatures still around -3 C we realised how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area of this country.

18th (Fri) -7.8 C to 1.3 C / 10.5 mm / 1.5 hours / SE 1.8 20 Kt.
A bright and cold morning again with some decent spells of winter sunshine, though by midday it would begin to cloud over and it would remain dull for the rest of the afternoon. By dusk some largely light snow would push in from the south and through the evening this would become heavier and more persistent with about five hours of continuous moderate to heavy snow (including a flash of lightning and rumble of thunder around 9pm). By the time it eased about 10cm of snow had fallen atop the snow which has been lying since Monday evening, and by dawn about half a foot of accumulated snow was recorded in the garden.

A few Redwings were seen in the garden today.

19th (Sat) -1.4 C to 2.1 C / 0.2 mm / nil / E 3.0 15 Kt.
A cloudy morning with spells of light snow (a sort of snizzle), adding insignificant amounts to the 14-15cm of lying snow which now covers the garden. Remaining dull in the afternoon with further occasional light snow at times. Overcast in the evening and overnight with temperatures actually rising a little (reaching the dizzy heights of 2 C by dawn).

20th (Sun) -0.1 C to 2.5 C / 8.0 mm / nil / E 4.2 20 Kt.
A dull and cloudy morning, and somewhat milder than recently with temperatures around 2 C, this leading to a slight thaw of the 11-13cm of lying snow. The breeze would also pick up from the east, this helping to knock the snow of the trees and shrubs. Remaining dull in the afternoon with some light snow pellet showers at times. In the evening the temperatures would rise a little bit more with sleet and then wet snow after 10pm, and these spells of wet snow and snow pellets would continue for much of the night, with the snow on the ground being reduced to 10-12cm by dawn.

21st (Mon) -0.5 C to 1.0 C / 2.6 mm / nil / SE 0.5 15 Kt.
A cold and miserable morning with persistent moderate wet snow, this turning the 10-12cm of lying snow into a horrible mass of slush. Latterly the wet snow would turn into proper snow again, and by midday the temperature would drop below freezing and would remain so for the rest of the day. Mostly cloudy and cold in the evening and overnight with temperatures around -1 C.

22nd (Tue) -1.7 C to 3.0 C / trace / 1.2 hours / E 1.0 13 Kt.
After an initially cloudy start it would begin to brighten up after 8am with spells of crisp sunshine developing, this looking lovely as it lit up the 9-11 cm of lying snow. However by midday it would become cloudy again and it would remain so for the rest of the afternoon. A little milder today too, with a high of 3 C, but the snow only thawed a little on the ground. Mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight with temperatures remaining above freezing.

Wold Garth ; Week Three
Winter well and truly arrived at Wold Garth this week with temperatures struggling to rise much above freezing and snow lying throughout the week, reaching a maximum depth of 15cm (6 inches) on the 19th. There was a short lived thaw on Sunday night but even after that a level snow depth of 10cm (4 inches) was recorded this morning and looking at the forecast I expect the snow till last at least til the weekend when a more substantial thaw looks likely as milder and wetter weather arrives from the south-west. As much as I enjoy snow and wintry weather it does become increasingly tedious after a week or so and therefore I am looking forward to some milder weather, a hope which I expect is shared by the local wildlife whom struggle to find food in the current snow covered landscape.

The cold and harsh conditions have encouraged quite a few Redwings into the garden this past week, these handsome winter visitors being seen on most days as they seek out what little food is now available in the garden. I also saw one eating some snow the other day, as not only is food scarce but also water, though I have tried my best to keep the bird baths free of ice this week, a task which I do not relish. Fieldfares have also been spotted in the local woods and flying over, their loud chattering calls alerting me to their presence, though as of yet this cold weather has not brought any of the other winter visitors such as Siskins, Redpolls or Bramblings into the confines of the garden.

Meanwhile the bird feeders have been very busy as you would expect with all the typical garden birds coming to take advantage of the plentiful food we put out for their benefit. Food scattered on the ground has attracted Crows, Jackdaws, Pheasants and lots of Wood Pigeons, though they have to get there quickly to beat the dozen or so Squirrels which call Wold Garth home. Squirrels are a real menace here what with the wooded nature of the area surrounding the garden, and all our bird feeders have to be fully squirrel proof in order to thwart these persistent creatures. Nevertheless they are cunning animals and always seem to find a way around all the defences in the end, but at least their attempts in trying to do so are always entertaining to watch.

23rd (Wed) -1.6 C to 2.5 C / trace / nil / E 0.4 8 Kt.
An overcast morning with occasional light sleet / snow grains, though these outbreaks of wintry precipitation would die out by mid-morning. Remaining cloudy in the afternoon, though around dusk it did brighten up very slightly as a few small breaks developed. However these breaks wouldn’t last long and it would become cloudy and overcast for the rest of the evening and night with the cloud thick enough to produce some snow grains later in the night.

24th (Thu) -0.5 C to 3.1 C / trace / nil / E 0.3 7 Kt.
Yet another cloudy and grey day, the cloud thick enough to produce some light snow grains at times, particularly in the morning. Remaining largely cloudy in the evening but overnight some breaks would develop, indeed by the end of the night it would become largely clear and this would allow temperatures to fall a few degrees below freezing.

25th (Fri) -3.0 C to 2.0 C / 18.2 mm / nil / S 2.8 24 Kt.
After an initially clear start with the stars shining brightly in the pre-dawn sky, cloud would quickly increase after sunrise and it would become overcast and grey by mid-morning. Remaining dull and grey for the remainder of the day, with the breeze freshening from the south, and in the evening snow would begin to fall, lightly at first, but becoming very heavy after 10pm and continuing for several hours. However latterly the snow would begin to turn into sleet and then cold rain, and though the approximate maximum snow depth of about 20cm would diminish somewhat, a deep covering of 16-19cm of snow would still be recorded by dawn.

26th (Sat) -1.8 C to 7.6 C / 4.5 mm / 2.9 hours / S 4.2 28 Kt.
A sunny and bright morning, with the heavy snow from last night turning the area into a fresh winter wonderland again (lying snow depth at 9am was 16-19cm). However temperatures would rise as the day wore on and it would also become cloudier after midday with overcast skies by mid-afternoon. Outbreaks of rain would push in from the south-west in the evening and with temperatures continuing to rise the snow would begin to thaw rapidly, though nevertheless even after the rain cleared by dawn much of the garden was still covered in slushy snow.

Pasture Dale & Nettle Dale
With the fortnight long spell of cold and snowy weather forecast to end tomorrow, we decided to head up into the Yorkshire Wolds this morning before the thaw set in. The weather was gloriously sunny as we made our way up towards Pasture Dale (located between Huggate and Millington) and though the roads were a little tricky in places after the heavy snow the night before (especially where the drifts hadn't been ploughed out of the way) we nevertheless arrived safely at our destination. After digging out a space to park our vehicle beside the road we set off into the winter wonderland, heading westwards along the top of Pasture Dale from where we had some stunning views of the snow covered landscape.

Walking along the top of the dale would prove very hard work indeed, with deep drifts in places from snow blown off the field above, but we nevertheless trudged onwards through the virgin snow and eventually arrived at the little patch of woodland which divides Pasture Dale from Nettle Dale to the south (our walk to this point taking at least twice as long as usual). Along the route we had noted good numbers of Fieldfares in the hawthorn hedges at the top of the dale and over the woodland a pair of Buzzards circled, mewing as they did so.

Several Red-legged Partridges also allowed close approach along our walk, the harsh weather seemingly making them more tame than usual (perhaps they also know that the shooting season is nearly finished for yet another year) and this allowed us to get some half decent shots despite the fact I was only using my 18-105mm lens today. At least a dozen Hares were additionally encountered along our walk, and judging by the prints left in the snow these handsome mammals have been very active during this wintry weather, the snow likewise revealing the activities of many other mammals, including Fox and Stoat.

In Nettle Dale we would encounter the deepest drifts of the morning, our legs sinking at least two feet into the soft and powdery snow, but as we headed down into the valley conditions improved somewhat and we were able to progress onwards at a far more satisfactory pace. In the wood and scrub we found yet more Fieldfares and gamebirds seeking shelter and food, while a few Rabbits also searched for what morsels they could unearth in the relatively shallow snow beneath the trees. After crossing back into Pasture Dale we turned back eastwards along the bottom of the valley and after half an hour of solid walking arrived back at our vehicle. Along the way we had met a pair of stranded motorists whose small car had become stuck in drifts, and to be honest this was unsurprising as this road was unsuitable for anything but a 4x4 this morning, but after learning that they had help on the way we gave them our best wishes and left them to it. As it was I would need to give our own vehicle a good push out of the snow as a plough had blocked us in while we had been out on our walk, but thankfully experiences learned in previous winters meant we were soon back on the road and heading for home.

27th (Sun) 1.1 C to 7.5 C / 0.4 mm / 3.5 hours / SW 5.1 32 Kt.
A cloudy start with some light rain, though what was most noticeable was how much milder it felt with temperatures around 6 C. This has caused much of the lying snow to thaw rapidly, though nevertheless a covering of 5-7cm was still recorded at 9am this morning. Becoming brighter after 10am with the rest of the day seeing a mixture of sunny spells and the odd blustery shower (the wind gusting up to 32 knots). Clear spells in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling low enough for a grass frost (any remaining snow patches also being turned into ice).

28th (Mon) 0.7 C to 9.8 C / trace / 1.0 hours / SW 7.0 34 Kt.
A clear and frosty start (still some sizeable snow patches here and there too) but by mid-morning it would begin to cloud over and would it would remain largely cloudy throughout the rest of the daylight hours, the cloud even thick enough to produce a few spots of rain. The wind would also freshen in the afternoon and would become quite gusty (maximum gust of 34 knots). Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with the wind easing as the night progressed.

29th (Tue) 2.8 C to 13.3 C / 2.2 mm / nil / SW 4.5 35 Kt.
A largely cloudy day but very mild with temperatures rising to an unseasonable high of 13.3 C in early evening as the breeze freshened from the SW. Indeed in the evening the wind would become very gusty, especially during a heavy squally shower (peak rain rate of 45.6 mm/h and gust up to 35 knots). Mostly cloudy overnight and remaining breezy and mild through to dawn.

Wold Garth ; Week Four
This fourth week of 2013 has been very quiet to be honest here at Wold Garth, with the cold and snowy weather of last week finally ending at the weekend, bringing to a conclusion 14 days of continuous snow cover (the longest such period since the bitter December of 2010). However prior to the rapid thaw which saw 19cm (8 inches) of lying snow melt within 48 hours, the theme of this past week was distinctly wintry with low temperatures and very little sunshine, and all in all it was a pretty grim week with little to brighten the raw winter days. Indeed with such grey and unappealing weather I was unable to get any decent bird photos this week, and despite hopes that the cold weather would bring in some interesting birds or other wildlife to the garden, the week would conclude with only some Redwings and Fieldfares to add some extra interest to the usual array of feathered visitors.

The deep snow which covered the garden for a fortnight also meant that the slowly emerging early spring flowers were hidden from view, but as the snow melted at the weekend the golden flowers of Winter Aconites began to reappear along the edge of the wood, and these were soon joined by the Snowdrops whom, despite the recent frigid weather, have continued to emerge in many parts of the garden. However the flowers of Mahonia and Winter Jasmine have not fared so well and now look decidedly sorry for themselves, but in the spring beds the newly revealed green spikes of Daffodils, Hyacinths, and Tulips do at least bring with them the promise of more blooms to come in the increasingly long and hopefully warmer days ahead.

30th (Wed) 6.0 C to 10.4 C / 3.7 mm / 3.2 hours / SW 7.9 53 Kt.
A sunny and breezy morning, though as the morning progressed cloud amounts would increase somewhat. In the afternoon a few heavy and very squally showers would develop, some of which contained hail and one of which saw a maximum gust of 53 knots being recorded, but between these showers there was still some good spells of late winter sunshine, which in any sheltered sun-traps felt very pleasant indeed. Variable amounts of cloud overnight and the breeze also easing somewhat.

A Peacock butterfly was found in the garden today, and despite the recent snows and today’s strong winds, it was in remarkably good condition.

31st (Thu) 4.2 C to 9.0 C / 1.6 mm / 2.9 hours / SW 6.9 40 Kt.
A largely clear start to the day with some early sunshine, but by mid-morning cloud would increase somewhat with alternating sunny and cloudy spells for much of the rest of the day. However the strong gusty wind would be the most notable weather feature today, with some very big gusts at times (max of 40 knots), and this caused the odd broken branch here and there. A short spell of rain after dusk but this soon cleared away and the rest of the evening and night would see variable amounts of cloud, the breeze also easing after the spell of rain.