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October 2014

1st, Autumn Notes
So one month of autumn has passed and thus far the season has seen little in the way of what one would call ‘autumnal’ weather with the past September seeing temperatures above average, little rainfall and barely any winds of any real note. However despite this unseasonable weather the countryside has continued its steady march through autumn with a fine crop of Horse Chestnuts, tasty & plentiful Blackberries, and an increase in autumn tints from those tree species which generally turn that bit earlier such as Chestnuts and Birches. Up on the Moors the once green and thick bracken is now rapidly turning copper hued, especially in the smaller dales and valleys where cold air pools on the clearer nights, whilst the Mountain Ashes are laden with bright red berries. Fungi too is appearing in ever greater variety and the other day we found our first FLY AGARICS of the year, always a special treat.

In our moorland garden the resident Nuthatch has been visiting more frequently lately, though whether this is due to the shortening days or the greater provision of food on our part is certainly open for debate, but the witnessing of a few skeins of PINK-FOOTED GEESE heading southwards in the past week or so certainly was a genuine sign of nature’s restlessness as autumn becomes ever more assertive over the northern regions of our wonderful, dynamic and ever changing world. The sight of such skeins of geese is something I always find incredibly emotive every year and now I await my first Redwings of the year, which for me are like the first Swallows of the year as the coming of these handsome northern thrushes herald the crisp and wintry days of the months ahead, something which I at least look forward too.

Back in East Yorkshire the countryside is still relatively untouched by autumn, the mosaic of green, golden and brown fields which reflect the agricultural wealth of this part of Yorkshire now busy with farmers ploughing, drilling and spraying as one farming year ends and another begins. In the hedgerows a variety of wild fruits can be observed, from edible or semi-edible ones such as Blackberries, Haws and Sloes to those definitely not edible unless one wants an unscheduled trip to the nearest hospital. Butterflies too remain a common sight, Red Admirals being particularly numerous this year, though I was very pleased, to say the least, to stumble upon my first PAINTED LADY of the year, this migratory species being very variable in the British Isles and especially up here in the north-east of England.

4th, A wet morning in Grosmont
With work now beginning at the cottage we were up to see our builders and work out a plan of campaign, though since I had my camera with me I also decided to take a few photos of the trains as they departed outside our new home. With daily running now coming to an end and the imminent departure of the GWR 28XX it was nice to capture these activities before the end of the season.

10th, Autumn Gala at the Keighley & Worth Valley
On a lovely sunny day we made our way across to the West Riding of the county this morning to attend the annual KWVR autumn gala. The main attraction was the return of the SR West Country Class "City of Wells", this impressive loco having only recently returned to service after lying idle for several decades. Other attractions included the "WD" and a variety of locos from the KWVR home fleet.

12th, Golden dawn at Beverley
There was a spectacular sunrise this morning, the golden October sun lighting up Beverley Westwood as I made my way into town. A low mist made the countryside doubly attractive, the Minster and Black Mill looking quite dramatic.

15th, Wold Garth
First Redwings of the autumn seen in the garden with approx. half a dozen feeding on the abundant yew berry crop.

17th, Wold Garth
Despite all the recent rain a couple of Red Admirals were seen enjoying some autumn sunshine this afternoon. The resident Fox was also disturbed when I was giving the grass its last cut of the year.

19th, Kilnwick Percy
Marsh Tits heard in the woods of Kilnwick Percy, whilst the woodland floor hosted a wealth of fungi species. The autumn colours in the woods around the Buddhist retreat were also rather spectacular and were a delight to wander through.

22nd, An autumn stroll around Grosmont
As phase 2 of the re-development work on our moorland cottage is about to get under-way, during which we will not be able to actually live in the cottage as pretty much the whole building will have to be gutted inside, we have been enjoying a few quiet days in the National Park before moving down to East Yorkshire for the winter months. It would have been nice to spend Christmas at the cottage but that’ll just have to wait another year, though what with the ongoing works we will probably be up in the village fairly frequently to see how things are getting on (if everything goes to plan all works should be finished by April, weather permitting).

The recent rains have meant that the Murk Esk, the river which runs right beside our garden, has risen up and down quite a bit, though as of writing it is now back to more normal levels, whilst the autumn colours are now approaching their best despite the relatively mild and frostless season so far. Along the river Dippers and Grey Wagtails are frequently seen, whilst the woods host Jays, Woodpeckers and Nuthatches, the former two species now regularly visiting our garden bird-feeders. I also hope to install a new weather station at the cottage by the end of the year and speaking as a bit of ‘weather nut’ I am really looking forward to seeing how the climates of the Moors and the Wolds compare, especially as regards temperature and rainfall.

Other nature notes recorded recently in my personal diary included my first Redwings of the year on the 15th (though a week before these first sightings I had heard them passing overhead), a few late Hawker species of dragonfly (probably Migrant Hawkers), the odd Red Admiral flittering through the garden on any sunnier days, and plenty of fungi in the local woods.

23rd, Wold Garth
A large skein of Pink-footed Geese passed over around 7pm.

25th, North Cave Wetlands
Thousands of Pink-footed Geese seen heading north or north-east over North Cave this morning, seemingly birds from the Humber heading to the Wolds to feed. Otherwise few birds of note at the reserve apart from the usual wildfowl, though it was nice to see Redwings whilst Goldcrests were also quite numerous. Other notes included a single Stoat and a Shaggy Ink Cap.

26th, North Cliffe Wood
A decent number of Darters still on the wing both on the heath and in the wood, whilst a single Red Admiral was also spotted. Bird highlights included Marsh/Willow Tit, Redwings, a Green Woodpecker, and a single Jay. Fungi also numerous with two emerging Parasols and many others beyond my ID skills.

28th, Wold Garth
A couple of Red Admirals and a single Comma seen on the site. Bumble Bees also still around whilst a rather old and battered Feathered Thorn moth was found on the ground.