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December 2014

3rd, North Cave Wetlands
We went down to North Cave this morning on what was a sunny and frosty morning with patches of ice on some of the lagoons. The usual array of winter wildfowl dominated the scene, though a GOLDENEYE was a real bonus (my first of 2014), as was a particularly large number of Wigeon (over 55), this handsome duck being one of my favourite wildfowl species. Other wildfowl species included Shelduck (c.9), Shoveler (c.15-20), Pochard (c.6-8), Gadwall (c.10), Tufted duck (numerous), Mallard (numerous), and Teal (abundant). Waders included abundant Lapwing, a good number of Redshank, at least 6 Snipe, and a couple of Curlews overhead. Other sightings included 7 Cormorants, Fieldfares, Redwings, Bullfinches, a winter CHIFFCHAFF, and a single Roe deer. However the highlight of the morning would come north of the reserve, with a trio of BEAN GEESE being located on Hotham Ings, the Bean Geese showing all the characteristic features of the Tundra race. This are not only my first Yorkshire Bean Geese but also my first "Tundra's"!

3rd, North Cliffe Wood
Our visit to North Cliffe this morning was largely uneventful with little of note, bar bands of roving mixed tits (including Marsh tits) and a small flock of SISKINS overhead, but nevertheless it was a very pleasant stroll on what was a sunny December day.

6th, Swinemoor
Paid a brief visit to Swinemoor prior to dawn on what was a sparklingly clear and frosty morning with a large winter moon setting over the largely frozen floods and frosted pastures of this common on the eastern edge of Beverley. Obviously it was to dark to see the birds but listening to the calls I identified plenty of Wigeon, Teal and a large number of Redwings in the area. Flocks of Greylag geese also passed overhead whilst a trio of Roe deer were encountered along the road as I cycled southwards from Hull Bridge to Weel.

7th, Grosmont
A couple of salmon seen jumping in the Murk Esk this morning (at least I think they were salmon), whilst a Dipper was feeding on the opposite bank. Also a few Bullfinches, a Nuthatch and a couple of Marsh Tits.

9th, Wold Garth
3 Bullfinches on the feeders today with two females and a single male. The Greenfinches also made a welcome return today (the new feeding station was only erected last Thursday) and with Goldfinches and Chaffinches also visiting it would prove a good day for finches. Also spotted today was a solitary Treecreeper.

10th, North Cave Wetlands
An afternoon visit this week on what was a cold and very windy morning with icy showers of rain in the area. Wildfowl were numerous, most taking shelter against the worst of the wind, with approximate numbers being Pochard 13, Shoveler c.38, Gadwall c.48, Shelduck 12, Tufted Duck >30, Wigeon c.70, and Teal >250. The Wigeon count is one of the highest I have ever made at NCW and it is great to see this duck doing so well again at this site. Meanwhile an immature male GOLDENEYE was on reedbed lake whilst a male and female pair of GOOSANDER were on island lake. Further sightings of note included 7 Curlews, a single Snipe, a half dozen Redshanks, a beautiful Green Woodpecker with a stunning red crown, and a very large number of winter thrushes (mostly Redwings).

13th, Swinemoor
A cold and frosty morning with the bright half moon illuminating the winter floods. About a 100 Greylag Geese were seen leaving the floods and heading north-east shortly after my arrival whilst Teal were the most numerous bird, with even a few on the river itself. Wigeon also heard but seemingly not as numerous as last week with other observations including Redshank along the river and plenty of Redwing.

13th, Christmas Steam at York
On a sunny and frosty morning I joined my father at York station where two heritage locomotives were due to visit. The second of the two locos was to be the LNER A4 No.4464 'Bittern', a loco we have seen a few times this year, though this occasion was special for the fact that the Bittern's boiler ticket soon expires and this could well be the last time we see it for a number of years. When it comes back into service it may also revert to a BR livery instead of an LNER one so this was very much a case of catch it while you can.

The second loco meanwhile was a new one for the pair of us, coming in the form of GWR No.5043 'Earl of Mount Edgecumbe', a fine example of a Great Western Castle class. This loco had come up from Tyseley with the annual 'Christmas White Rose' run up to York (and back), and since locos of this type are relatively rare up here a large number of railway enthusiasts had turned out to see the handsome piece of engineering.

14th, North Cliffe Wood
6 WOODCOCK counted today, mostly in the hazel coppice area of the wood. Also a couple of Buzzards, a Green Woodpecker, a Jay, a number of Goldcrests and both Marsh & WILLOW TIT.

16th, Whitby Harbour
Herring Gull baring the orange/yellow ring '1716' on the harbour wall. Research indicates that this is a long time resident of Whitby with records dating back to May 2008, though it was originally ringed at Seamer Carr landfill in March 2007 and has been seen as far afield as Warrington in Cheshire.

18th, Wold Garth
Despite grey skies and a blustery SW wind a Bumble bee was spotted in the garden, a testament to the mild temperatures today (13 C at midday).

22nd, Wold Garth
Yet another male joined the garden Bullfinches at the sunflower heart feeder today with a total of four males and two females brightening what was otherwise a grey, windy and obscenely mild December morning. Other visitors included a few Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blue tits, Great tits, Coal tits, Dunnock, and Blackbirds.

26th, North Cave & North Cliffe
A Boxing Day stroll around North Cave this morning on what was grey, murky and chilly morning. I didn't do any counts this morning (my family were with me) but noteworthy observations included an immature GOLDENEYE on reedbed lake, three GOOSANDERS (two drakes & a duck), a good number of Shelduck (c.25), 3 Snipe, and a few SISKINS amongst the more numerous Goldfinches.

Meanwhile North Cliffe was largely quiet with highlights including a trio of WOODCOCK, a number of Marsh tits amongst the bands of roving tits, a single Teal in the boggy pool on the south side of the wood and at least two Buzzards.

26th/27th Wold Garth
Persistent sleet and rain overnight with 9.9 mm recorded. Snow reported from the higher ground of the Wolds, Moors & Pennines, though nothing particularly significant with just a decent covering.

28th, Wold Garth
Very icy this morning as rain which fell yesterday evening froze upon the cold ground. Meanwhile the higher parts of the Yorkshire Wolds had a bit of lying snow today, the snow line being around 200 metres.

28th, North York Moors
Usually the NYMR has a period of winter running during the Christmas holidays and this year was no different. Indeed despite ongoing problems with many of the locos the railway was able to provide a service throughout the period. On the 27th we were lucky enough to receive a slight snowfall up here on the Moors, and with the higher parts of the railway looking splendidly seasonal it was a joy to photograph the trains on the subsequent morning with crystal clear winter skies and temperatures deliciously below freezing.

Meanwhile a lovely male STONECHAT beside the Pickering to Whitby road was an unexpected bonus, an indication of perhaps just how mild this winter has been until recently, with the white snow making the attractive plumage of this 'chat' species look even brighter & striking than usual.

Up on Rosedale Moor the snow was beautiful and crisp with the roads still covered in icy snow in those areas above 300 metres, and here Red Grouse were seen in plentiful numbers. At Hartoft Rigg flocks of SISKINS were seen passing over our heads on regular occasions, the characteristic chattering call alerting us to their presence. I did check for any Redpolls but drew a blank.

Visiting our cottage at frosty but snowless Grosmont was an adventure, the steep 1 in 3 hill down which one accesses the village from the south being covered in sheet ice in places. Indeed we did almost lose control of the car at one point but eventually brought it back under control before the sharp left hand turn which takes you into the village. As usual the best of the birds were down beside the Murk Esk where Grey Wagtails and Dippers were noted, whilst a Buzzard or two were spotted over the woods to the west.

29th, Wold Garth
Very frosty this morning with the rural roads covered in white crystals which in places were like snow. However the overnight low was a modest -0.8 C (30.6 F) with a light breeze preventing temperatures from dropping particularly low.

30th, Wold Garth
Very frosty again, the local countryside looking like a winter wonderland at dawn. The temperature would reach a minimum of -3.5 C (25.7 F), the lowest temperature recorded so far in what has otherwise been a mild winter.

31st, Wold Garth
Another frosty morning and after several days of accumulated frost many places do look like they are covered in a light covering of snow.