December 2015

1st December 2015, Tuesday
Min 1.5 C, Max 13.0 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind SW 4
A wet start to the day but becoming drier by mid-morning. However it would remain largely cloudy for the rest of the day, though in late afternoon the odd brighter period would just about manage to break through. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight. Very mild for early December with a maximum of 13 C!

2nd December 2015, Wednesday
Min 2.9 C, Max 12.4 C, Rain 4.1 mm, Wind S 3-4
A largely bright and sunny morning but in the afternoon cloud would increase with skies becoming overcast by the end of the afternoon. Cloud continuing to thicken overnight with rain arriving towards the end of the night. Mild.

A single STONECHAT was spotted beside the A169 on the climb up to the top of Sleights Moor this morning. Interestingly this is almost the exact same spot that I spotted one last December.

3rd December 2015, Thursday
Min 7.0 C, Max 12.6 C, Rain 2.6 mm, Wind S 4-6
A dull and damp morning with steady drizzle and mizzle at first and whilst it would become drier by late morning it would nevertheless remain overcast and grey throughout with little in the way of any brightness. Indeed after dark outbreaks of rain would arrive from the south, these becoming quite heavy in late evening, whilst the wind would also become strong for a time with gusts of up to nearly 40 knots. Becoming drier and calmer after midnight with clear spells developing latterly.

A good variety of gulls were around today, the cries of the Herring & Common (Mew) Gulls mentally transporting myself to the sea-side. The less appealing calls of the Black-headed gulls were also heard frequently overhead and whilst I would never describe myself as a "larophile" I have been dismayed to read that the Scarborough Town Council is once again waging a war on the feathered residents of the town, something which seems to happen all too often around the country at the moment. Worse still is the threat to Newcastle's Kittiwakes!

4th December 2015, Friday
Min 3.5 C, Max 12.2 C, Rain nil, Wind S 5-6
A bright morning with spells of hazy sunshine but by midday it had become cloudy and would remain so throughout the remainder of the afternoon. Also becoming increasingly breezy as the day wore on with some quite strong winds developing by the evening. Remaining cloudy and windy overnight with temperatures actually rising as the night wore on.

The Wood Blewit fung which appear annually on the edge of the garden lawn and on the edge of the woodland have appeared in the last few days, one particular large specimen being beneath the hawthorn tree. They seem to be a little late this year, the fungi usually appearing in mid-to late November, perhaps a consequence of the mild weather during the past autumn.

5th December 2015, Saturday
Min 6.8 C, Max 13.8 C, Rain trace, Wind S 6-7
A cloudy and blustery morning with a fresh to strong SSW wind, though despite the breeze it felt very mild with temperatures reaching nearly as high as 14 C. Remaining largely cloudy throughout the day and into the evening though overnight some clearer spells would develop. However the main feature of the weather in the evening and overnight was the wind with some strong gusts of wind buffeting the local countryside, though thankfully no damage was done apart from the odd broken branch here and there. Exceptionally mild overnight as well with temperatures remaining in double figures.

Grosmont
On what was a very windy day up here in North Yorkshire we spent another enjoyable weekend stay up at Rivergarth, the continuing lack of a kitchen not really proving that much of a hardship. As Grosmont itself lies in the shelter of Lease Rigg the village is remarkably sheltered from southerly and south-westerly gales, as proved when I decided to enjoy a stroll up the aforementioned hill and was promptly blown off my feet when I reached the top. However the strong winds did nothing to deter Archbishop Sentamu whom on his "pilgrimage of prayer" passed through the village today, the current Archbishop of York stopping at St. Mathew's and also paying a visit to the station after walking down from Goathland earlier in the day.


Strong winds always mean that bird-watching is difficult and indeed little of note was recorded around the village today, though the woods around the church hosted the usual array of tit species, as well as treecreepers and delightful goldcrests. The church yard is one of my favourite birding locations, the southern end of the church yard falling steeply down to the river some 20 or so metres below, whilst from here I can also look down on our garden on the opposite bank. However by this point the wind was getting very gusty indeed so I returned to the shelter of terraced cottage to enjoy a cosy evening indoors.

6th December 2015, Sunday
Min 10.6 C, Max 12.8 C, Rain 2.1 mm, Wind W 4
A windy start to the day with some light rain around breakfast but thereafter the day would improve with winds easing and some brighter periods developing by midday. Indeed in the afternoon some spells of sunshine would even break through from time to time with clear spells continuing into the evening. However cloud would increase overnight with persistent drizzle by the end of the night.

Thankfully the awful floods being reported from the Lake District and the Pennine regions of England have failed to reach the eastern side of Yorkshire, indeed the Murk Esk which flows past our cottage in Grosmont is actually quite low at the moment and is less than one foot deep at the village ford. Rainfall for the month so far is just 9.2 mm at my East Yorkshire weather station, quite a contrast compared to the extreme totals (>300 mm) being reported from the uplands of NW England.

Grosmont
I arose before sunrise and went for a short stroll down to the river Esk to start the day, the strong wind which had buffeted the village overnight still blowing strong as I walked along the road. With the Santa Specials again running at the NYMR this weekend, the road had been lined by no parking cones (the yellow triangular ones) but most of these had been blown all over the place during the night so I spent much of my time tracking them down in the neighbouring wood and putting them back in place, not the easiest of tasks in the near darkness. With my customary morning walk complete I spent the rest of the morning working in the garden, clearing more of the garden which had until recently been spared my attentions, the work being made all the more enjoyable by the antics of the Dippers whom showed well this week.


At the garden bird feeders I was pleased to that the garden Marsh Tits have finally started to visit, these small but neat birds being an uncommon bird back home on the Yorkshire Wolds, whilst at least two and maybe three Nuthatches are now regular visitors. Having lived for over 20 years in an area of the country where Nuthatches are almost unknown I sometimes do think that people do not quite appreciate just how happy it makes me to see these striking woodland birds in our new back garden. The fact they are also fairly tame and will visit the feeders when I am no more than 10 yards away I find simply extraordinary!


7th December 2015, Monday
Min 4.1 C, Max 13.5 C, Rain 1.3 mm, Wind S 3
A wet start to the day with persistent drizzle but this would clear away by late morning with brighter spells developing by the afternoon. Very mild again as well with temperatures climbing as high as 13.5 C. Clear spells in the evening and at first overnight but latterly cloud would increase with some rain prior to dawn.

It has been a very mild first week of December here in central East Yorkshire with the average temperature being some 4.7 C above the 1981-2010 average. Looking at the forecast it should become somewhat more average in the coming week though the GFS ensembles are still suggesting that the month will remain generally above average at least until Christmas!

8th December 2015, Tuesday
Min 8.3 C, Max 12.5 C, Rain nil, Wind S 4
A dull and overcast morning but becoming brighter by midday with even some sunny spells developing in the afternoon. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some decent clear spells.

9th December 2015, Wednesday
Min 1.9 C, Max 10.5 C, Rain 2.1 mm, Wind S 4-6
A largely cloudy day but not without some brighter periods too, a bit of welcome sunshine breaking through from time to time. Largely cloudy overnight with a strong and gusty wind in the evening and at first overnight.

10th December 2015, Thursday
Min 4.4 C, Max 8.2 C, Rain 1.8 mm, Wind SW 3-4
A wet morning with some persistent rain, though by 11 am this would begin to clear away leaving a dry but cloudy afternoon. Feeling cooler than recently. Clear spells developing in the evening though around midnight some showers would bring a bit of rain for a time. However these wouldn't last long with clear spells returning for the rest of the night.

Seven bullfinches were counted at the bird feeding station this morning, whilst greenfinches and goldfinches are also visiting in large numbers at the moment. Siskins are also being heard in the woods around the garden but as of yet have not been seen on the feeders. Meanwhile a very handsome cock Pheasant was attracted to the spilt seed beneath the feeders, joining the dozen blackbirds and up to five Grey Squirrels whom were also mopping up the excess at the time.


11th December 2015, Friday
Min 2.5 C, Max 7.0 C, Rain trace, Wind SW 4
A clear and cold start with a touch of ground frost and apart from a few light showers in the early afternoon it was a mostly fine winter's day with some decent spells of December sunshine. Feeling cooler as well, especially in the breeze. Clear spells in the evening for most of the night though cloud would increase latterly.

12th December 2015, Saturday
Min 2.2 C, Max 10.2 C, Rain 15.0 mm, Wind W 4
After a dry start rain would arrive shortly after 9 am, this rain becoming persistent for the remainder of the day and continuing till about mid-evening. With temperatures not rising much above 3 C for most of the day as well, it was all in all a pretty miserable day (however a short-lived "warm-zone" would see temperatures climb into double figures in late evening). Skies clearing overnight with temperatures dipping below freezing for the first time this December.

Snow was reported from the North York Moors today with a slushy covering above 150 metres and several inches on the higher ground above 250 metres. The northern Pennines also saw snow whilst County Durham, including the famous cathedral city of the same name, also saw some accumulations. However here in East Yorkshire we saw nothing but rain I am afraid to say.

13th December 2015, Sunday
Min -1.9 C, Max 7.6 C, Rain 1.2 mm, Wind SE 1-2
A cold and frosty start with widespread ice after all the rain yesterday but cloud would quickly increase from mid-morning onwards with the rest of the day seeing overcast skies with little in the way to commend it. In the evening it would also become increasingly murky with a period of rain around 6 pm, and whilst this rain would soon clear the remainder of the night would nevertheless remain overcast and murky.

The sub-zero temperatures last night meant that the skylights were covered in beautiful fern frost at dawn, the delicate patterns being one of the finest examples of natures wonderful and creative handiwork.

14th December 2015, Monday
Min -1.5 C*, Max 7.7 C, Rain trace, Wind S 2
An overcast and murky morning and whilst the murk would clear in the afternoon it would nevertheless remain cloudy throughout the day with little in the way of any brightness. Remaining overcast overnight with some spots of rain at times.

15th December 2015, Tuesday
Min 5.0 C, Max 12.4 C, Rain 2.8 mm, Wind SE 3
Another dull and overcast day with low cloud and murk over the hills, visibility being very poor on the higher routes throughout the day. Some drizzle and rain in the evening as well but for the most part it would remain simply overcast and murky throughout the night with temperatures slowly climbing as the night wore on.

Darnholm
Enjoyed a picnic at this lovely little spot today on what was a grey and murky day, indeed up on the Moors and Wolds visibility was very low indeed. Not many birds about apart from a couple of Grey Wagtails though a Stoat showed well and was seen to disappear into the rocks which lie on the opposite bank. Whilst it wasn't ermine it was noticeably paler compared to the warm rich brown of their summer apparel.

16th December 2015, Wednesday
Min 6.2 C, Max 13.4 C, Rain 0.3 mm, Wind S 3-4
A dull and wet start but this rain would clear by 8 am with it even beginning to brighten up for a short time. However thicker cloud would return in the late morning, this being thick enough for some light rain, but in the afternoon conditions would improve once more with even a few very brief bursts of sunshine in late afternoon, a rare treat in what has otherwise been a very dull month. Feeling very mild again with temperatures climbing to 13.4 C. Mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight with temperatures remaining in double figures.

With half the month complete it is looking like December will be exceptionally mild and dull with the average temperature currently standing at 7.5 C, 3.1 C above the average, whilst just 15 hours of sunshine have been recorded. However it hasn't been particularly wet, at least in this part of the country anyway, with rainfall being roughly around average.

North Cave Wetlands
A much overdue visit to this YWT nature reserve on what was an exceptionally mild afternoon, temperatures being around 12 C despite the largely grey skies. Water levels at the reserve are currently very high in most of the lagoons (with the possible exception of Reedbed Lakes) and today most of the wildfowl were concentrated at Main Lake and Village Lake, the other lakes being largely deserted. The lack of birds on the other lakes may well have been a consequence of the presence of a MARSH HARRIER on the reserve this afternoon, the increasingly common and beautiful bird of prey repeatedly quartering much of the reserve during our couple of hours at the wetlands.


As you would expect at this time of year it was the wildfowl whom dominated the scene, Teal being particularly numerous with at least 250 estimated (indeed the number may have been far more!), whilst 50+ Wigeon was good to see, the vast majority of these being at Village Lake. Other ducks included a small number of Pochard, a dozen or so Shoveler, 20+ Shelduck, and decent numbers of Gadwall, Tufted duck and Mallard, though it was disappointing that nothing less common such as Goldeneye or Pintail were about this afternoon, especially as both have been reported lately.



In the alders around Far lake and Reedbed lake a few LESSER REDPOLLS were noted amongst the more numerous Siskins and Goldfinches, whilst in the same area a large number of Redwings were about, their high pitched calls being heard almost constantly as we made our way along the northern perimeter path. A half dozen Fieldfare were noted in the stubble fields as well, a bird which I at least have seen very little of us this winter, whilst a large number of corvids, composing primarily of Crows and Jackdaws, were likewise seen in these fields. Further observations included a single Grey Heron at Dryham Ings, a dozen Mute Swans (sadly no sign of yesterdays Whoopers), a few Cormorants, at least a dozen Redshank, and 5 Snipe on the islands of Village Lake.


17th December 2015, Thursday
Min 10.1 C, Max 13.7 C, Rain trace, Wind S 3-4
Another cloudy, dull and mild winter's day with temperatures climbing up towards 14 C, some 7 C above what it should be at this time of year. Skies clearing in the evening and remaining mostly clear overnight but despite this temperatures would remain well above average with a minimum of just 7.8 C, amazingly high for a clear night only days away from the winter solstice! What has happened to winter this year?

Phileas Pheasant was again in the garden today, the rather beautiful bird being remarkably tame and confiding. Meanwhile a Sparrowhawk attempted to raid the bird feeders this afternoon but thanks to the fact that I have now placed the feeding station nearer the trees he came away empty 'clawed'. However the closer proximity of the trees does mean that the squirrels can again leap across to the feeders!

18th December 2015, Friday
Min 7.8 C, Max 14.7 C, Rain 0.6 mm, Wind S 4
After an initially clear start it would soon become cloudier, though prior to this we were treated to a lovely red sunrise. Thereafter remaining cloudy and grey once more with some rain in the afternoon, though again the main feature of the weather was the exceptional mildness with temperatures climbing up towards 15 C. Clear spells developing in the evening and for much of the night but cloud would increase again later with grey skies once more by the end of the night.

A few Plovers could be heard in the fields around Halfway House prior to dawn.

19th December 2015, Saturday
Min 8.5 C, Max 15.7 C, Rain trace, Wind S 5
A largely cloudy and breezy day though in late morning a few breaks did allow some very short lived spells of sunshine. Cloud increasing again after midday and becoming thick enough for a few spots of rain at times, but this didn't come to anything with the rest of the afternoon and evening seeing merely cloudy skies. Exceptionally mild again, the temperature climbing up to 15.7 C (a new record high for December). Cloud thinning and breaking overnight with clear spells developing.

What with the continuing exceptionally mild weather it has not really come as a surprise that some of the garden birds have been singing in the past few days, though considering that we have not even passed the winter solstice yet the poor creatures must be understandably confused. Mild autumns and equally mild winters have hardly been uncommon in recent times but even still this years warmth has been incredible and really began way back at the start of November. Therefore it came as no surprise to see a new December record being set today with the mercury rising to 15.7 C (60.3 F) at our weather station, whilst the monthly average currently stands at 8.3 C, some 3.9 C above the 1981-2010 average.

20th December 2015, Sunday
Min 9.0 C, Max 11.6 C, Rain nil, Wind S 5
A much brighter day than of late with some good spells of sunshine and though it was still mild for the time of year it nevertheless was cooler than it has been recently, the fresh breeze making it feel that bit chillier. Clear spells overnight.

North Cave Wetlands
We enjoyed a ramble around the reserve with my sister and her family on what was a bright and breezy morning, and whilst the reserve was pretty quiet as regards avian interest it was nevertheless a nice way to spend a Sunday morning. With young children with us we missed some parts of the reserve but despite this some good birds were spotted including at least two Little Egrets, a Buzzard over the northern fields, and a single MARSH HARRIER. The alders again hosted a few LESSER REDPOLLS amongst the Goldfinches whilst a lone yaffling Green Woodpecker was heard beside Far Lake.

21st December 2015, Monday
Min 4.4 C, Max 13.5 C, Rain 3.3 mm, Wind S 5-6
A bright and chilly morning with a cool moderate breeze but by the end of the morning cloud would quickly increase with outbreaks of rain in the first part of the afternoon, these quite heavy at times and accompanied by a fresh to strong blustery wind. Becoming drier by dusk with the cloud breaking up but it would remain blustery throughout the evening and the night. Outbreaks of rain returning in the second half of the night though clearing by dawn. Also become very mild again overnight.

22nd December 2015, Tuesday
Min 4.8 C*, Max 14.2 C, Rain 5.0 mm, Wind SW 5-6
A blustery and mild morning, temperatures rising as high as 14.2 C, but shortly after midday outbreaks of rain would arrive from the SW with the afternoon being particularly unpleasant with periods of rain and strong winds. Becoming drier by dusk and feeling cooler and whilst it would remain largely dry in the evening, further outbreaks of rain would sweep through during the night. Becoming dry again by the end of the night with skies clearing by dawn.

A Song Thrush was heard singing this morning as once again it was extraordinarily mild here in East Yorkshire. This December truly has been remarkable as regards temperatures!

23rd December 2015, Wednesday
Min 5.3 C, Max 11.0 C, Rain trace, Wind S 4-5
A sunny and pleasant winter's day, a real rarity this month, with temperatures even close to the seasonal average. Remaining clear into the evening and at first overnight but cloud would quickly increase after midnight, the breeze freshening with it whilst temperatures likewise would rise, reaching double figures by the end of the night.

24th December 2015, Thursday
Min 5.3 C, Max 11.0 C, Rain 4.1 mm, Wind SW 4-5
A grey and blustery start to Christmas Eve with rain arriving shortly after mid-morning, this rain being very heavy indeed for a time (51.4 mm/h). However the rain would quickly clear away after midday with skies clearing by dusk, and it would remain clear throughout the evening and night. Cold enough for a grass frost, amazingly the first for nearly a fortnight!

25th December 2015, Christmas Day
Min 2.0 C, Max 13.2 C, Rain 13.7 mm, Wind S 4
A lovely clear and chilly start to Christmas Day but it wouldn't last long with rain arriving by mid-morning and continuing on and off for the remainder of the day. Indeed outbreaks of rain would persist throughout the evening and night as well with some heavy spells at times, whilst it would also become increasingly mild with temperatures rising into double figures.


26th December 2015, Saturday
Min 3.1 C, Max 14.1 C, Rain 3.5 mm, Wind SW 5-6
A mild and grey morning with outbreaks of rain but these would die out by late morning with it even brightening up somewhat during the middle of the day. Mostly cloudy in the afternoon and evening with the wind becoming quite strong for a time, whilst further rain would return around 10 pm. However this wouldn't last long with skies clearing by the end of the night, the breeze likewise easing by dawn.

North Cliffe Wood
A wet walk around this woodland & heathland nature reserve this morning, and whilst it was largely quiet it was nevertheless nice to be out and about after the excesses of the day before. The best birds included a few noisy Jays, whilst a few Marsh tits were also heard amongst flocks of roving tits. A treecreeper was also noted in the heart of the wood but disappointingly there were no Woodcock about, perhaps because of the wet weather or possibly as result of the mild winter so far. The Honeysuckle meanwhile is now starting to leaf widely throughout the wood whilst amongst the leaves of the Wood Sorrel the first signs of bluebells are already beginning to appear as the bulbs start to push through the soil. Further interest was provided on the journey home with a female MERLIN spotted just outside the village of Hotham, my first lowland Merlin of the winter.

27th December 2015, Sunday
Min 4.3 C, Max 10.6 C, Rain 0.6 mm, Wind SE 2
A bright morning with hazy sunshine at times and remaining bright throughout the afternoon with some much welcome sunshine. However cloud would increase after dark with some rain for a time but it wouldn't last long with the remainder of the evening and night being mostly cloudy and murky.

Swinemoor
I made my way down to the flood meadows beside the river Hull this morning, and whilst it was dark during my brief visit, I could nevertheless hear plenty of wildfowl, including Teal, Wigeon, Mallards and Greylag Geese. The light from the near full Moon lit up the wetlands and river, the silvery light glistening on the floodwaters, whilst all the recent rain meant that the river itself was running high and at Grovehill was just a few inches away from bursting its banks. Further up, the river was lapping at the walls of the Crown & Anchor public house and with the river being currently much higher than Weel road, some water was leaching through the banks and across the road, especially just outside Hull Bridge.

28th December 2015, Monday
Min 4.2 C, Max 11.0 C, Rain trace, Wind S 3-4
A cloudy and grey day with some bits and pieces of rain at times. Skies remaining cloudy throughout the evening and night with temperatures not falling below 8 C.

29th December 2015, Tuesday
Min 8.0 C, Max 12.8 C, Rain nil, Wind S 3-4
After an initially cloudy start it would begin to brighten up as the morning wore on with good spells of sunshine developing by midday. Indeed in the afternoon skies became clear with wall to wall sunshine though after dark cloud would increase again with largely cloudy skies in the evening and overnight. Also becoming increasingly windy towards the end of the night.

30th December 2015, Wednesday
Min 7.0 C, Max 13.5 C, Rain 15.5 mm, Wind S 5-6
A cloudy and windy morning with the wind becoming strongest around midday when powerful southerly gusts would buffet the old homestead, this dislodging a few slates but nothing more thankfully. After midday rain would also arrive and would become persistent through the afternoon and into the evening, the rain being quite heavy at times, but it would eventually clear away prior to midnight with winds easing and skies clearing by the end of the night.

31st December 2015, Thursday
Min 4.3 C, Max 9.0 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind S 4-5
A dry and sunny morning and feeling cooler than of late, especially in the moderate breeze, though the winter sunshine wouldn't last with skies becoming cloudy by mid-afternoon. Remaining cloudy after dusk with a short period of heavy rain in mid-evening, but this would soon clear away with skies clearing by 9 pm and remaining largely clear throughout the night with temperatures dipping below freezing for the first time in more than a fortnight.

November 2015

1st November 2015, Sunday
Min 5.4 C, Max 14.4 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 1
A misty but bright start and remaining largely clear and sunny throughout with an abundance of late autumn sunshine to enjoy on this first day of November. However around dusk mist would quickly form with this soon thickening into fog as the evening wore on, this fog becoming quite thick by the end of the night.

Grosmont
With things continuing to move along nicely up at the cottage we decided to take some furniture up to Grosmont today, taking a few chairs, a kitchen table and a few other items as we start to finally think about moving in properly to our little Victorian railway cottage beside the swiftly flowing waters of the Murk Esk. The river itself had fallen overnight and was back to more normal levels whilst the sunshine today which bathed this little sheltered corner of North Yorkshire was surprisingly warm, so much so that two species of butterfly were spotted with a Red Admiral around the front of the house whilst more surprising was a very late Small Copper in the rose garden at the back of the railway station.This is also a new species for my Grosmont butterfly list.


Meanwhile a ramble around the now golden birch woods which surround the National Park car park revealed three Nuthatches chasing each other about, whilst as I worked in the garden I heard the distinctive sharp call of a KINGFISHER as it whizzed its way along the river. Unfortunately I doubt that these beautiful birds will ever fish beside our cottage as the river is quite fast flowing as it passes the garden but nevertheless it is lovely to see them as they move up and down the Murk Esk. Further notes of interest included a bumble-bee species up on Sleights Moor whilst a skein of 20 or so Pink-footed Geese were seen heading southwards, always an emotive and welcome sight.


2nd November 2015, Monday
Min 5.2 C, Max 10.7 C, Rain 0.3 mm, Wind SW 1
A very foggy start to the morning with poor visibility across the area, though from 9 am onwards conditions would improve with even a short burst of sunshine shortly before midday. However this was only a very brief spell of brightness with cloud and murk soon returning in the afternoon with this again thickening into fog by the end of the afternoon and into the evening. However the fog would lift somewhat overnight but despite this it would remain overcast and murky throughout.

A large movement of Pink-footed Geese was noted today with many reports from across the region coming via twitter and other such sources of useful info, and here at Wold Garth we too had at least two different skeins pass over as these wild geese made their way southwards. I wonder if they will stop off along the Humber or simply continue onwards to the birding mecca that is north Norfolk?

3rd November 2015, Tuesday
Min 5.8 C, Max 10.8 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 1
A dull and murky day with little to commend it, temperatures remaining in single figures throughout daylight hours for the first time this autumn. Little change overnight though temperatures would actually rise slightly.

The newly moved in family down the road seem to be continuing their almost daily slaughter of the trees in their garden, the once delightfully wooded garden which was once filled with birds and wildlife having now being transformed into an almost lifeless field of nothing with a great big house in the middle. I have always hated the sound of chainsaws so the last week or so has not been particularly pleasant for me, though of course my short-term discomfort is nothing compared to the far more serious loss of habitat that much of the local wildlife has had forced upon it. I don't know about you but I find myself at increasing odds against the rest of the "modern" world!

4th November 2015, Wednesday
Min 7.3 C, Max 12.5 C, Rain 2.8 mm, Wind SW 1
Yet another dull and murky morning with low cloud over the Yorkshire Wolds, this low cloud descending through the morning so that by midday it had become quite foggy here at Wold Garth. In the afternoon rain would also move in, this becoming quite heavy at times, and all in all it was a pretty dank afternoon with murk, rain and heavily overcast skies. Drier by the evening but nevertheless remaining overcast with poor visibility throughout the night.

Quite a few moths and insects have been coming indoors lately with a Red-green Carpet, a Twenty-plume and a Beautiful Plume having being discovered on the walls of the old homestead in recent days. Lacewings too are starting to take up their normal winter quarters in the darker corners of the house.

5th November 2015, Thursday
Min 8.7 C, Max 14.4 C, Rain 3.5 mm, Wind SW 1-2
Overcast and murky once more with outbreaks of drizzle and rain pretty much throughout, though conditions would improve in the evening with even some clearer breaks briefly developing around 10 pm. However these wouldn't last and skies would soon become overcast again. Very mild overnight as well with temperatures remaining in double figures throughout.

After a glorious start to November when almost 8 hours of sunshine was recorded on the 1st, the last four days have brought just a further 0.1 hours with no sun at all on the 3rd, 4th and today. Such dull weather is of course not unusual in November, especially when temperatures are well above average and winds are light, but this doesn't make it anymore welcome. Meanwhile the beech tree by the house has turned quite a bit in the last week (probably due to the lack of sunshine rather than low temperatures) and the slightest breeze brings down a flurry of copper leaves upon the garden. Indeed the gutters are rapidly filling up and will need to be cleared soon, especially since beech leaves are particularly slow to rot down compared to most other leaves!

Despite the weather it was a good night for the annual firework display at nearby Beverley Westwood, the climax of the show being as impressive as ever with a series of spectacular and colourful explosions lighting up the night sky. However I do always feel for the wildlife of the area whenever these shows take place and one can only imagine the stress and fear that the flashing lights and loud noises cause. However on the plus side it is only once a year and doesn't last much longer than 10 minutes, whilst my niece and nephew thoroughly enjoyed the show.

6th November 2015, Friday
Min 10.8 C, Max 15.2 C, Rain 11.7 mm, Wind SW 3-4
A damp and grey day once more with outbreaks of rain and drizzle pretty much throughout though in the evening conditions would begin to improve. Indeed after dark some clearer spells would develop but it wouldn't last with cloud and rain returning by the end of the night. Very mild again.

Moths
Very mild overnight conditions induced me to try a bit of late season mothing here at Wold Garth, though the threat of rain meant I had to use the old summer-house to give the bulb some protection from the elements (my trap doesn't have a rain cover). In the end just three moths of three species were attracted to the light with a single macro in the shape and form of an attractive Angle Shades, whilst the other two were micros and were represented by a Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) and an Ashy Button (Acleris sparsana). Whether this will be the last time I moth trap at Wold Garth I am not sure but it could be that Grosmont becomes the new home of the trap for the foreseeable future and I am pretty excited about what I might find up there.

7th November 2015, Saturday
Min 9.2 C, Max 17.6 C, Rain 0.6 mm, Wind W 4-5
A wet start to the day with persistent and at times heavy bursts of rain (22.0 mm/h) but by the end of the morning this quickly cleared away with a fine afternoon following with some good spells of sunshine developing. Exceptionally mild as well with temperatures climbing into the high teens and indeed prior to the rains final clearance around midday it felt very humid indeed. Clear spells in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling away nicely by dawn.

Grosmont
We would spend the whole weekend up at Grosmont this week, taking the opportunity to take bit more furniture up to the cottage, and also getting a little bit more done before the hopeful final completion in the coming week (fingers crossed!). When we arrived it was pretty wet, indeed there was a torrential downpour shortly after we arrived, and what with this and the heavy rain last night the Murk Esk was running full and fast, the river being almost a foot above normal at the ford with the marker board suggesting one and a half feet. However the weather would quickly improve once the rain cleared with some golden sunshine for much of the afternoon, this allowing me to enjoy a spot of birding around the autumn woods surrounding the village.


However the first highlight of the day would come in the garden as a trio of BRAMBLINGS were noted in one of the large beech trees further up the valley, these being my first Brambs of the winter. As I swept leaves in the garden a skein of Greylag geese numbering about 50 passed overhead heading westwards and up the Esk Valley, whilst the river hosted the usual resident Dippers and Grey Wagtails. A walk up past the church brought some close views of nearly a dozen Treecreepers feeding around the oak and beech trees which surround St. Mathew's, whilst the similarly tree creeping type bird that is the handsome Nuthatch was also conspicuously active with about three seen amongst the oaks. Walking through the woods was a delight thanks to the golden foliage, the low afternoon sun making the trees positively glow, whilst further up the hill a variety of tit species moved through the trees, including a few Marsh tits.


As evening fell upon the village a couple of Grey Herons passed over on their way to roost, one calling loudly as it cruised over in that way that only herons can, and as the light fell further the hoots of Tawny Owls began to fill the darkness which had descended over the Esk Valley. I had hoped to operate the moth trap in the evening but unfortunately a bit of rain put paid to that, but hopefully I will have more chances to try a bit of mothing up here in the not too distant future.

8th November 2015, Sunday
Min 4.9 C, Max 15.1 C, Rain 3.6 mm, Wind SW 5-6
After an initially bright and chilly start it would soon cloud over with outbreaks of rain arriving by mid-morning. Outbreaks of rain would continue on and off throughout the rest of the day, accompanied by a fresh to strong SSW breeze, whilst in the evening a particularly heavy spell of rain would pass through (peak rate of 17 mm/h recorded). However after this burst of rain the cloud would quickly break up with clear spells developing overnight.

Grosmont
I arose shortly before daybreak and decided to enjoy some early birding down by the river before breakfast, enjoying the stillness and dampness of the cool November air as I sat concealed on the riverbank. Soon I was joined by a pair of Dippers whom fed along the waters edge seemingly oblivious to my proximity, though being early it was far too dark for photography and I decided to simply enjoy the experience. Indeed more and more I prefer to leave the camera at home and just take my bins and notepad with me when I go birding, though of course I do realise that this does perhaps make my blog less interesting. Perhaps sketching would be the answer though unfortunately I can't draw for toffee!


After the dippers departed it was quiet for a good half an hour, this giving me time to note that the river had fallen by about seven to eight inches overnight, the marker board at the ford reading at slightly less than 1 foot. The last of the autumn leaves also brightened up the otherwise empty and peaceful scene, the river bank literally carpeted in leaves of many colours and hues, and every time the wind blew a flurry of golden and copper leaves would fall like giant snowflakes from the trees on the riverbank.


Eventually a young Moorhen appeared on the riverbank to provide some avian interest, this otherwise common bird species having only begun to recover locally after being decimated by mink, whilst a pair of Grey Wagtails also showed well on the opposite bank of the river, these busy and colourful wagtails being an almost constant presence along this stretch of the river. However the highlight of the morning would come as I was preparing to head back for breakfast, a flash of blue and a piping call from within yards of me alerting me to a beautiful KINGFISHER sat in one of the riverside willows. Being so close to such a beautiful halcyon bird was a fantastic privilege though it soon realised that I was there and flew off hastily upstream.


Meanwhile a late morning stroll around the village brought some unexpected surprises, including a Sainsbury's van which had got stuck at the ford across the river Esk. The water had been up to 2 feet yesterday and apparently the van had got into trouble whilst trying to ford the river in the evening, the driver having to be rescued by the fire brigade. By the time we arrived on the scene the van had actually been washed up against the foot bridge and even by the time we left the van had still not been recovered, the strong current and awkward position of the van making recovery difficult. It all happens up here at Grosmont!


9th November 2015, Monday
Min 5.5 C, Max 16.4 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 5
A mild, breezy and bright morning with some spells of largely weak sunshine, though as the afternoon wore on it would become increasingly cloudy and would remain so for the rest of the day and well into the evening. Variable amounts of cloud overnight and exceptionally mild with temperatures failing to drop below 13 C (the quoted minimum for the 10th being one of those statistical anomalies which often occur in winter due to official recording protocols at climatological stations).

A few birds of note were heard passing over the garden today including a skein of Pink-footed Geese heading southwards, plus a few Siskins mixed in with some Goldfinches.

10th November 2015, Tuesday
Min 9.3 C, Max 17.8 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 4
An exceptionally mild start to the day, the temperature just shy of 15 C at 6 am, and it would remain unseasonably mild throughout with temperatures rising up to nearly 18 C. However other than the remarkable temperatures it was a pretty uneventful day with largely cloudy skies and the odd brighter period from time to time as well. Largely cloudy overnight and remaining mild.

The first ten days of November have proved to be exceptionally mild, the current average temperature for the month being an unseasonable 10.9 C, some 4.4 C above the 1981-2010 average. Indeed today saw the highest November maximum ever recorded at my weather station since records began in 2003, the high of 17.8 C (64.0 F) beating the previous record of 17.7 C (63.9 F) set back in 2005.

Swinemoor
On what was an exceptionally mild morning (nearly 15 C at 6 am!) I made my way down to Swinemoor to see how things were getting on at my nearest local wetland. I would visit this location far more often if it wasn't for the fact I have to cycle right through Beverley to get there, and then have to do it all again to return home, but nevertheless it is usually a productive location for the 'patch' birder with interest pretty much year round. I arrived at the common just as it was starting to get light, a small bat species flying along the muddy waters of the tidal river Hull being a testament to the unseasonable warmth of the morning. Continuing along the bank a few Mallards and gulls flew overhead whilst as I drew closer to the developing floods on the meadows I could hear the distinctive ringing calls of Teal and the whistling of Wigeon, one of my most favourite winter sounds. In the end Wigeon would dominate the scene with well over a hundred crammed on the still modest winter floods, whilst a good variety of gulls, plenty of lapwings, hundreds of Greylag geese, and a Grey Wagtail were additionally added to my notebook, the latter being my first 'lowland' Grey Wag of the winter.

Back at home a skein of Pink-footed Geese passed over around midday whilst there seemed to be more Redwings about today with their thin high pitched calls being heard pretty much throughout the day, the garden yews also attracting a few to gorge on the berries. However I still haven't seen or even heard any Fieldfares yet!

11th November 2015, Wednesday
Min 11.9 C, Max 15.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 4-5
A largely cloudy and mild day though it was somewhat brighter at times, especially in the afternoon with even some spells of weak late autumn sunshine. Clear spells overnight and somewhat cooler than recent nights.

12th November 2015, Thursday
Min 6.5 C, Max 14.3 C, Rain trace, Wind SW 5
A largely bright day with some good spells of sunshine in the morning and the first half of the afternoon, though with a fresh breeze it did feel somewhat cooler than recently. Cloud increasing from mid-afternoon onwards and becoming increasingly windy as well during the evening, but apart from a little bit of rain around 10 pm the worst of the weather would soon clear away with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night.

Swinemoor
I popped down to Beverley's eastern most common again this morning, arriving at around 6.30 am just as first light began to illuminate the predominately flat & arable countryside which characterises the landscape of the river Hull valley. However Swinemoor itself has always been protected from the march of the plough thanks to its common-land status and has remained an area of preserved pasture since medieval times, the eastern most part of the common which lies between the river Hull and the Beverley-Barmston Drain often hosting extensive winter floods which are a draw for a good variety of wildfowl and waders, including a few rarities from time to time.

However today the scene was dominated by more common & typical winter fare with the whistling Wigeons again dominating the soundscape and landscape, their numbers being in excess of 200 and possibly much more. Also numerous were the Greylag Geese, amongst which were a number of other feral goose species which often confuse, myself included, beginner birders, though at this time of year it is always worth checking through them all for other goose species such as Pink-feet, White-front or even Bean. With a few Whooper Swans also in the area at the nearby nature reserve of High Eske I have also been hoping that a few will drop into Swinemoor but so far no luck. Still I live in hope.

Meanwhile other birds included plenty of Teal (50+ at least), a pair of Tufted ducks, Mallards, Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls and one Herring Gull. A Grey Heron also cruised over at one point whilst the woods east of the river were host to a few Redwings. Further interest was provided by a single Roe deer just outside the little riverside community of Hull Bridge.

13th November 2015, Friday
Min 5.7 C, Max 8.7 C, Rain 5.5 mm, Wind SW 5-6
A much chillier day than of late with frequent blustery showers, some of these showers being heavy enough to lower the temperatures to less than 5 C with even some pellets of ice mixed in at times. It is amazing to think that only a few days ago it was nearly 18 C! Further showers in the evening and at first overnight but becoming drier after midnight. However it would remain largely cloudy.

The weather has finally turned a little bit more seasonal today and whilst here in the East Riding we had only rain with occasional ice pellets mixed in, up on t' moors some far more wintry precipitation was reported with sleet as low as 200 metres towards the top end of Eskdale. Whether any snow settled up on Round Hill & Urra Moor (454 metres ASL) I don't know but I would have loved to have been up there to welcome winter back to these otherwise temperate climes.

14th November 2015, Saturday
Min 3.9 C, Max 14.4 C, Rain 8.5 mm, Wind SW 5-6
A chilly and cloudy morning, the cloud thickening as the day wore on with rain moving in around mid-afternoon. Though the rain was light and drizzly at first it would become more persistent and heavier as the evening wore on, the rain continuing for most of the night. Becoming very mild overnight as well.

Grosmont
Hoping to see a complete kitchen and all the electrics finally finished we arrived at the cottage with high hopes this weekend, but within moments of our arrival it became clear that once again nothing had been done. However rather than dwell on being let down once again we simply decided to enjoy the weekend and also get on with knocking down the large brick-built coal bunker we had inherited with the cottage. The bunker in question took up a large part of our back yard but with its removal, which took most of the afternoon to complete, we now have a sizable area to utilise for our own purposes.

On the nature front a new bird was added to my Grosmont & Goathland patch list, the bird in question being a Cormorant which was seen flying low over the Murk Esk as I enjoyed a breather in the garden. This is the 82nd bird species I have recorded on the patch since we acquired the property last autumn. Meanwhile a skein of Greylags passed over heading south-eastwards whilst the local nuthatches have rediscovered our garden bird feeders. Finally a GOOSANDER was also spotted passing over the river, the first I have seen up here since last winter.

15th November 2015, Sunday
Min 5.0 C, Max 16.5 C, Rain trace, Wind SW 5
After a wet start the day would soon improve with even some brighter periods developing by late morning and into the early afternoon. However the most noticeable feature of the weather was the warmth, temperatures rising up to 16.5 C, though it was also quite breezy with a fresh to strong westerly wind. Becoming cloudier again for a time in mid and late afternoon with some drizzly rain but by the evening this would clear away with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the evening and overnight.

Grosmont
After a night of persistent rain it was unsurprising to see that the river had risen significantly overnight, the fast flowing and muddy waters flowing right up to the bank at the bottom of the garden. The ford marker board suggested the depth was over 2 feet and considering that not that much rain fell (no more than 10 mm's here in Grosmont) it will be interesting to see just how high it can rise after really heavy periods of rain. Indeed we had a chat with our elderly neighbour and he told us that once the river reached his greenhouse, an event which would have totally submerged our garden!

Before breakfast I also strolled down to the river Esk and whilst there were no abandoned vans in the ford this week the river was actually a foot deeper than it was last Sunday, the marker boards showing a depth of 3 feet as the strong flowing river rushed past on its way to Whitby and the North Sea some 7 miles eastwards. Returning to the cottage I disturbed a GOOSANDER on the river, the second of the weekend, though there were no signs of the dippers or kingfishers this weekend. The warmth of the afternoon brought out a late Migrant Hawker which was hunting around the river and the village, whilst the new bird feeders were busy with the usual variety of tits, chaffinches and nuthatches.

16th November 2015, Monday
Min 8.4 C, Max 10.7 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 4
A breezy morning with sunny spells though as the day wore on it would become increasingly cloudy with largely cloudy skies persisting throughout the evening and overnight. Feeling cooler than recently.

17th November 2015, Tuesday
Min 6.9 C, Max 13.8 C, Rain 2.9 mm, Wind W 5-6
A cloudy day with some outbreaks of rain in the afternoon, these being quite heavy at times (9.2 mm/h), and whilst it would become drier by the evening it would also become windy for a time with gusts in excess of gale force. However winds would ease after midnight with some clearer spells developing by the end of the night.

After running out of bird food the garden feeders have been ominously quiet for a couple of weeks but having stocked up on sunflower hearts again the birds have quickly returned, especially the finches with lots of goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches and bullfinches being an almost constant presence at the feeders. A Treecreeper was also noted in the garden today, a bird which I hear far more often than I see, whilst the redwings remain in residence, the warm autumn not inducing them to move on yet. However with snow on the hills forecast for the coming weekend, indeed blizzards are possible above 300 metres, one wonders if this will soon change.

18th November 2015, Wednesday
Min 5.7 C, Max 13.1 C, Rain 0.8 mm, Wind W 5-6
A largely cloudy day with some rain showers in the early afternoon, though by dusk some clearer spells would begin to develop. Variable amounts of cloud overnight.

19th November 2015, Thursday
Min 7.9 C, Max 11.1 C, Rain trace, Wind W 3
A fairly bright day with some spells of sunshine, especially in the morning, though the odd very light shower would also drift over from time to time, these barely dampening the ground. Feeling cooler in a moderate westerly breeze. Clear spells overnight with a touch of ground frost in places by dawn.

20th November 2015, Friday
Min 3.2 C, Max 7.3 C, Rain 3.2 mm, Wind W 4-5 (6 overnight)
A bright but chilly day with some good spells of sunshine, especially in the morning, though around midday a brief but moderate shower would drift down from the north-west. Clear skies at first in the evening and overnight, this allowing a ground frost, but after midnight showers would become frequent, these being quite wintry at first with ice pellets mixed in. It would also become very windy with a strong northerly breeze buffeting the house with gusts of up to 45 mph.

21st November 2015, Saturday
Min 0.8 C, Max 5.0 C, Rain 4.0 mm, Wind W 5-6
A windy and cold morning with a strong northerly breeze, this wind bringing with it occasional showers from off the North Sea which as the morning wore on would become increasingly wintry with even some pellet and wet snow down on the lowlands. However above 100 metres these showers fell as snow which by mid-afternoon had produced a light covering, this being the first snow of the 2015/2016 season. Most showers would die out by late afternoon with clear skies for most of the night, this allowing temperatures to dip a couple of degrees below freezing by the end of the night.

Grosmont & Sleights Moor
A wintry trip up to the moors today with a dusting of snow on the highest parts of the Yorkshire Wolds on our journey and far more snow up on the moors themselves, especially around Fylingdales & Sleights Moor where heavy snow made road conditions very slippery and treacherous, indeed we had witnessed two cars slipping off the road on the steep descent from the Hole of Horcum, whilst just thirty minutes after we had descended Blue Bank the road had been closed due to cars getting stuck on the steep climb. However thankfully we completed our journey with little incident and as we arrived in Grosmont we were welcomed by a heavy shower of snow pellets which gave the area a wintry appearance.


Once the showers began to die out I decided to enjoy a good long walk up and over the windswept moor above the village, making the 250 metre ascent up to the 300 metre summit of Sleights Moor. I love the cold and I have particular affection for snow which dates back as long as I can remember when I grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and the Pentland Hills of Lothian, the latter being a particularly snowy location where I was often fortunate enough to miss days and days of school thanks to snow (I hated school!). In fact as I grow older my love for winter and the less loved aspects of the natural world seems to only grow more and more and therefore as I crossed the moor with snow flurries in the air and a bitter wind sweeping in off the nearby North Sea, I couldn't have been happier, my thick winter coat, gloves and scarf keeping the cold firmly at bay.


With the meadow pipits, skylarks and lapwings having now deserted the heather moorlands it was eerily quiet as I strode through the empty landscape, just the odd Red Grouse disturbing the peace as I followed a line of grouse buts, whilst in the wetter corners the odd Snipe was also flushed up, at least half a dozen being observed during my walk. Down near the hamlet of Green End, where the snow was beginning to thaw by the time I reached it in late afternoon, a few FIELDFARES were noted amongst the hawthorn scrubs, and as I dropped further I fell below the snow-line and returned to the green valley which I will soon call home, stopping at one point to enjoy a quick chat with some countrymen and farmers whom were enjoying a spot of rough shooting in the fields and woods above Esk Valley, their gun-dogs being particularly friendly and impeccably well trained. From Esk Valley it was just a half mile or so to Grosmont, the muddy path taking me beside the heritage railway sheds where in the yard a single Roe deer was mooching about whilst the pastures above the village hosted a few Green Woodpeckers and Mistle Thrushes. Finally with the light fading fast I returned to our little Victorian railway workers cottage on the banks of the Murk Esk, looking forward to more such walks in the not too distant future.


22nd November 2015, Sunday
Min -2.2 C, Max 4.9 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind W 4
A clear and frosty start with temperatures hovering around -2 C at dawn, but by mid-morning cloud would begin to increase with a few sleet and pellet showers drifting down off the North Sea. These would die out for a time with some sunny spells developing again in the afternoon but a few further showers would drift over around dusk. Becoming clear in the evening and for much of the night, this allowing another air frost, but cloud would increase later.

Grosmont
The morning began cold and clear with the temperature a couple of degrees below freezing as I headed out for a short stroll before breakfast. Icy patches covered the road through the village but for a welly clad pedestrian such as myself conditions were fine, the deliciously crisp winter air being like champagne as I breathed it in deeply. Passing over the river Esk a feral goose of some kind flew under the stone bridge heading downstream towards Whitby, and whilst down here in the village only small patches of snow and pellets had survived from yesterday, the higher fields & the moors above still held a dusting which glistened in the morning sun.


Back at the cottage we spent much of the morning taking down an old rotten fence in the garden, though as we did so I watched the coming and goings of the garden birds. The most frequent visitors are the Coal tits, closely followed by the Blue and Great Tits, whilst other species noted included Chaffinch, Dunnock, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Robin. A Treecreeper was also spotted on the bird table very briefly, though I haven't seen any Marsh tits visiting the feeders yet despite the fact that they are commonly seen and heard around our riverside garden. A pair of Bullfinches were also in the garden whilst we worked away, a bird which is a frequent visitor to our bird feeders back at Wold Garth but which has yet to grace our feeders up here at the cottage, whilst perhaps my favourite garden bird, the diminutive Goldcrest, was also spotted feeding around the fir trees in the garden.

23rd November 2015, Monday
Min -0.6 C, Max 7.2 C, Rain 3.2 mm, Wind S 3-4
A cloudy and cold morning with a hoar frost at dawn, and remaining cloudy and chilly throughout with little to commend the day. After dusk the cloud would become thick enough to produce some rain, this rain becoming somewhat heavier and more persistent for a time in mid-evening, though after midnight it would become somewhat drier again, though it would remain cloudy nevertheless.

24th November 2015, Tuesday
Min 1.0 C, Max 8.9 C, Rain 0.7 mm, Wind W 4
A dull and damp start with outbreaks of mostly light rain but becoming drier by the end of the morning. However it would remain cloudy for most of the afternoon with a few breaks just managing to develop around dusk. Variable amounts of cloud overnight with some decent clear spells developing by the end of the night.

25th November 2015, Wednesday
Min 3.4 C, Max 8.8 C, Rain nil, Wind W 3-4
A sunny and clement late November day with plenty of weak sunshine bathing the broad acres of Yorkshire. Clear spells overnight with a touch of ground frost by dawn.

26th November 2015, Thursday
Min 3.5 C, Max 11.1 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 2-3
A bright start to the day with some good spells of sunshine but by the end of the morning it had become cloudier and would remain so for much of the afternoon. However clearer spells would develop again after dark with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night. A mild night.

27th November 2015, Friday
Min 4.8 C, Max 12.4 C, Rain 3.6 mm, Wind W 4
A mild and largely cloudy day though there were some brighter periods from time to time, especially earlier in the morning and again in mid-afternoon. However in the evening a period of heavy rain, which was accompanied by a strong and gusty wind, would sweep through, temperatures dropping nearly 5 C by the time it cleared away to the east. The rain was particularly heavy at first with a peak rate of 69.4 mm/h being recorded. Skies becoming clear overnight with temperature dipping close to freezing.

28th November 2015, Saturday
Min 0.3 C, Max 8.5 C, Rain 6.0 mm, Wind SW 4-5
A clear and cold start with a touch of frost but soon becoming cloudy with outbreaks of rain, some of which were quite heavy, arriving in the early afternoon. Windy for a time too. Outbreaks of rain continuing into the evening but as the night wore on the rain would become more showery in nature and would eventually die out by the end of the night.

29th November 2015, Sunday
Min 2.3 C, Max 11.4 C, Rain 2.9 mm, Wind W 6 (8)
An initially clear start but like yesterday cloud would increase through the morning, the wind also strengthening as the day wore on. Outbreaks of heavy rain in the early afternoon (peak rate of 27.6 mm/h) with some very powerful gusts of wind at times too, including a gust of 55 mph at one point, but becoming calmer by the evening with just the odd occasional shower. After midnight it would become dry and clear with temperatures dipping low enough for a ground frost.

30th November 2015, Monday
Min 1.6 C, Max 11.0 C, Rain 10.6 mm, Wind W 4
A cloudy morning with rain from 10 am onwards, this becoming heavy at times (15.2 mm/h), especially in the middle part of the afternoon. Eventually becoming drier by mid-evening with some clear spells developing overnight, this allowing a touch of ground frost for a time, though latterly more cloud and rain would return by the end of the night.

A few Golden Plovers were heard in the arable fields as I cycled into Beverley this morning prior to sunrise. Otherwise it has been exceptionally quiet on the home patch recently with very little worth mentioning, though a few Treecreepers have been nice to see during the last fortnight.

October 2015

1st October 2015, Thursday
Min 6.9 C, Max 17.5 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2
A foggy start to October, though by mid-morning this fog was replaced by mere cloud. However this cloud quickly cleared away with clear blue skies and an abundance of golden October sunshine in the afternoon, temperatures being slightly above average for the the time of year. Mostly clear in the evening and for much of the night, though latterly cloud would increase for a time. However before dawn this cloud would clear away with mist patches forming by the end of the night. Ground temperatures dipping close to freezing.

The clement October sunshine this afternoon meant that a few butterflies were noted in the garden, including a few Red Admirals, a Small Tortoiseshell and a species of White (not sure which but most likely Green-veined White). A large number of ladybirds were also noted, especially around the windows, whilst in the Stevenson screen these colourful bugs are starting to congregate in the dark corners of the box. This happens every year with my weather instrument screen inadvertently doubling up as an insect box for a variety of species but especially ladybirds, lacewings and earwigs.

2nd October 2015, Friday
Bwlch-y-Garnedd - We set off for North Wales shortly before midday, picking up my eldest niece from school along the way as she and my eldest sister were joining us for the first weekend at Bwlch-y-Garnedd. The journey was largely trouble free with just the usual heavy traffic around the Manchester area slowing us down, but in little more than three hours we had reached the Welsh border, making the final half-hour of the journey to our little cottage just west of Llangollen with no further problems whatsoever. The cottage itself is located at the end of a mile long unsurfaced track near the hamlet of Rhewl, the former farmhouse being located in a peaceful and sheltered valley beneath the heather clad Llantysilio Mountains.


Since my sister wouldn't arrive until after 9 pm we decided to enjoy a short stroll up the hill with my niece in the evening, the beautiful weather which greeted us when we arrived in Wales lending the October landscape a rich & warming hue, especially up on the hills with the reddish heather and increasingly copper-hued bracken. Even down in the valley some autumn tints were showing down in the woods which line the river Dee, especially amongst the beeches and oaks, the same area where on the journey up to the cottage I had noted a number of Parasol Mushrooms fruiting in the fields. Since we were planning to climb Snowdon the next day we decided it was best to not wear out our niece too much on our walk and therefore we returned to the comfort of our cottage and retired early so that we could head off to beautiful Snowdonia bright and early the next morning.


3rd October 2015, Saturday
Yr Wyddfa - With fine weather forecast and with this being the only day it would be possible anyway, we took my sister and niece to climb Mount Snowdon (or Yr Wyddfa) in the beautiful and dramatic landscape which makes up the Snowdonia National Park. The journey to the mountain was through thick fog most of the way but as we reached our starting point we rose above the mists, the impressive bulk which makes up Yr Wyddfa looking even more dramatic thanks to the autumnal atmospheric conditions. Having climbed Ben Nevis with us back in August, my sister was keen to make the ascent of Snowdon as well, leaving just Scafell Pike to tick off in her quest to complete the 'Three Peak' challenge by the end of the year.


Having parked up at the eastern end of the Llanberis Pass (the car park at Pen-y-Pass being full when we arrived!) we began our walk in good spirits, the gentle start to the Miner's Track providing some spectacular views. We had chosen the Miners route as it is quieter than the Pyg Track and not as challenging as Crib Goch (we did have our niece with us after all), whilst it also took us along the scenic lakes which lie beneath the 1,085 metre (3,560 feet) peak which loomed high above us. As we continued the reason for the routes name became clear as we came upon the remains of the now ruined copper mine buildings beside Lynn Llydaw. Whilst these ruins looked very picturesque today one couldn't help but stop to think just how hard life would have been up here during those mining days.



After stopping for a short break beside the pretty lake of Glaslyn we began the long steep ascent up the side of the mountain, eventually joining the busier Pyg Track after a scramble up from the lake. Being a Saturday and what with the perfect weather it was very, very busy indeed with an almost constant stream of people climbing up the mountain (not my cup of tea at all!), but nevertheless we made good progress and eventually reached the top after about three hours. The top of the mountain was even busier, so busy in fact that people were queuing to take the now seemingly obligatory selfie beside the cairn, many of whom had of course come up via the train, but rather than joining the crowd we found a relatively peaceful spot from where we could sit and look down through the clouds and over the landscape below as we enjoyed a cup of tea and a light picnic.



A cold wind blew across the high peak whilst the grey cloak of cloud made it feel that bit colder (I estimate the temperature was about 2 to 3 C), though thankfully the cloud was not a thick blanket and occasional breaks allowed us to look down on the lakes and valleys below. After finishing our provisions and with little reason to linger we began the long descent, passing large numbers of people still making their way up the climb, though by now the best of the weather had passed and the mountain was obscured by a mantle of grey cloud. As we descended an unfamiliar bleating sound was heard from high above and through my binoculars I could see a small group of Mountain Goats amongst the rocks below Crib Goch.



Speaking of wildlife some interesting birds and whatnot were noted on our mountain walk, including of course the obligatory Ravens, Meadow Pipits & Buzzards, plus a single Stonechat near our starting point and a Grey Heron beside Nant Gwryd. A recent account by another birder whom lamented he had seen only six species of birds during his recent climb of Yr Wyddfa encouraged me to do my own such count, though I had somewhat better luck and counted 15 species in total. After another three hours we finally made it back to our starting point, ending what had been a very enjoyable six hours climbing Wales highest mountain.

4th October 2015, Sunday
Bwlch-y-Garnedd - After the exertions of yesterday we had a largely quiet day at the cottage, the weather yet again being kind to us with plenty of pleasant Welsh sunshine to enjoy. However before breakfast I did enjoy a solitary walk up to Moel y Gaer, the lowest of the four hills which make up Llantysilio Mountain, the walking straight from our cottage door being simply outstanding. Moel y Gaer was the location of an Iron Age hill fort, the circular shape of which can still just about be made out from the ground, whilst the name of the hill literally translates as the "Bald Hill of the Fortress". As I made my way along the path I noted Ravens cruising overhead, whilst amongst the heather Meadow Pipits and Red Grouse were also noted. A female or juvenile Wheatear was encountered on the very top of the hill, an unexpected sighting, whilst up on the slopes of Moel y Gamelin a few Stonechats could be heard, their distinctive stone like calls alerting me to their presence.


After returning to the cottage for breakfast my sister and niece went to explore Llangollen whilst we enjoyed a lazy morning in the garden, listening to all the birds which call 'our' little valley home. Buzzards were particularly abundant, their mewing calls being an almost constant sound throughout our week at Bwlch-y-Garnedd, whilst Jays were also a common sight and sound with at least three of these handsome crows being spotted at one point (Jays are an uncommon bird in East Yorkshire). The yaffling cries of Green Woodpeckers and the light twitterings of Siskins were also noted, though the highlight came in the afternoon when a BLACK GROUSE was spotted on the edge of the high field, Llantysilio Mountain being home to a small number of these rare moorland birds.


In mid-afternoon my sister and niece returned back home to East Yorkshire, the commitments of work and school meaning they could not stay with us for the rest of the week, and after seeing them off and wishing them well on their journey, we settled back down and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in peace. The continuing sunshine meant that a surprisingly large variety of butterflies were noted, especially considering it is now October, with species noted including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Small White, and best of all, a single Small Copper. This is probably the latest date I have ever seen this species. The lawn also hosted a Blackening Waxcap, a sign that this area has never been ploughed or 'improved'.


5th October 2015, Monday
Valle Crucis Abbey - The first day of the new week dawned wet and blustery at our temporary Welsh home, the trees around the cottage swaying in the brisk breeze which blew up the south facing valley, but as the morning wore on it would steadily brighten with it becoming drier for a time around the middle of the day and into the first part of the afternoon. Though we were perfectly content to stay at the cottage all day, after all it was so delightfully cosy and idyllic, we did decide to venture down into the rest of the world for a few brief hours, and enjoyed a gentle stroll around the nearby ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey.


This former Cistercian abbey was constructed in the early 13th century and was one of the most important Welsh religious sites in the medieval age, the abbey reaching its zenith in the 15th century with particular associations with a number of prominent Welsh poets of the age, including Gutun Owain, Tudur Aled & Guto'r Glyn, the latter being buried at the site. The abbey, in common with most religious communities of the age, was dissolved in the mid-16th century during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by the Tudors, and soon fell into disrepair, though the current site is now under the care of Cadw and stands picturesquely in a sheltered valley below the Horseshoe Pass.


However as pretty as the abbey ruins are, not to mention the dramatic hills which surround the location, one can't help but think that the whole atmosphere of the site is ruined by the presence of a large caravan site which surrounds the medieval ruins on three sides, whilst another nearby historic monument, the Pillar of Eliseg, which dates back to the 9th century, was hard to access except via a very busy road. However despite these minor complaints it was otherwise a fascinating place to spend a few hours with the ruins well cared for and maintained by Cadw.


6th October 2015, Tuesday
Talyllyn - I rose early and went out for a solitary walk up Moel Morfydd, taking the long route around the side and then up over the top of the 549 metre (1,803 feet) high hill. Of the hills which make up the Llantysilio Mountains Moel Morfydd is my favourite, and whilst the hill may not be particularly tall or indeed scenically dramatic, it is nevertheless a modest hill I have come to love, especially as I have yet to ever encounter another soul whilst walking on its slopes (being ever the misanthrope this is my idea of heaven!).



The weather for my morning walk was largely grey, the hill tops obscured by wind driven clouds from the SW, though from time to time the sun would appear, shining forth above the Dee Valley and the flatter lands of England to the east. As I made my way through the bracken, gorse and birch scrub on Morfydd's southern slopes I came upon a large clump of Fly Agarics with at least two dozen of these unmistakable toadstools fruiting in the shade of a birch, whilst amongst all the gorse scrub I noted a number of Pipits. After an hour I eventually reached the top of the hill, which was up in the clouds, and seeing no reason to linger I made my way home via Moel-y-Gaer and down the pretty little valley which leads down to the cottage, eventually dropping below the clouds again as I did so.


After a late breakfast we decided to head towards the Welsh coast and spend a day visiting what is perhaps one of the most important preserved narrow-gauge railways in the country, the famous Talyllyn Railway (or Rheilffordd Talyllyn) which runs from Tywyn on the coast to the former slate quarries near Abergynolwyn. Though the weather was not particularly cooperative, with periods of heavy rain coming in off the relatively warm waters of the Irish Sea, we nevertheless had a lovely time, the delightful little trains being beautifully cared for whilst the staff were friendly, welcoming and informative.



At Tywyn there was a very interesting museum devoted to the history of narrow gauge railways in the area and across Wales, whilst there was also a recreation of Rev. W. Awdry's study, the man perhaps better known as the creator of the Thomas the Tank engine books. In fact Rev. Awdry volunteered at the railway from time to time and the Skarloey Railway in his books is based on the Talylynn. After enjoying the return trip from Abergynolwyn we made our way home, heading up the coast in pouring rain, though a few Stonechats on the shore near Barmouth brightened up the journey back to our cottage.


7th October 2015, Wednesday
Welsh Highland Railway - Yet again the day dawned wet with pouring heavy rain beating down on the slate roof of the cottage, but thankfully by mid-morning things began to quickly improve with spells of sunshine by the time we set off for another trip on a narrow gauge railway, our destination today being the Welsh Highland Railway between Porthmadog & Caernarfon. Indeed sunny skies and pleasantly warm conditions greeted us at Porthmadog, a pretty little town on the western coast of Gwynedd, whilst the railway station, which sits atop the Cob (a 19th century sea-wall), gives good views across the bay to the west and over the wetlands to the east.


Since I love to combine my passions for both birds and railways, I consider this to be one of my favourite places to visit, the location being made all the more appealing thanks to the dramatic backdrop of Snowdonia and the mountainous lumps of rock beyond. Since the tide was out the number of birds on the shore was not great but despite this a few species were noted including Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Curlews whilst a few species of gull were also spotted. Turning my attention to the marshes on the landward side a good variety of wildfowl were recorded, most numerous being Wigeon whom appeared to number in the hundreds, whilst other species included Teal, Mallard, Greylag geese, Mute Swans, Lapwings and a single Grey Heron. In summer Ospreys may also be seen here but they have already moved on.



As for the railway journey itself this was truly a delight, the two hour plus journey to Caernarfon seemingly flying past, the first two-thirds of the journey through Snowdonia being particularly scenic with some good views of Mount Snowdon and the surrounding mountains. Our locomotive for the journey (as well as for the return) was a former South African Railway engine in the shape and form of No.87, a NGG 16 Class Garratt (2-6-2+2-6-2), the loco looking rather attractive in its Midnight Blue livery. Whilst I admit that my knowledge of narrow gauge railways is woefully poor, I do have to admit that I actually prefer riding on them compared to standard gauge railways, perhaps because they are so different compared to today's rather characterless electric & diesel multiple units.



In Caernarfon we had a nice walk around the castle and its walls, exploring the old streets of this fortified town on the NW coast of Wales, and delighting in the fact that the Welsh language is strong and thriving in this part of the country, at least judging by the number of speakers one heard as we wandered around its cobbled streets. We had visited the Castle back in March so we didn't bother this time and besides we didn't actually have that much time before the train returned to Porthmadog anyway, but I did have time to visit the statue of David Lloyd George, one of the great figures of the British Liberal Party. The return journey passed with little further incident, though our train was buzzed a few times by an RAF chinook which decided to show off a little (I have to admit it was impressive to watch), whilst on the drive back to Llantysilio we had to admire the beautiful landscapes around the busy little town of Bala. This part of Wales is definitely pleasing to the eye.


8th October 2015, Thursday
Bwlch-y-Garnedd - With better weather greeting us at dawn we decided to climb the highest hill of the Llantysilio Mountains prior to breakfast, taking on the steep climb up the western side of Moel-y-Gamelin on what turned out to be a beautiful morning here in North Wales. Indeed with mist and fog hanging down in the Dee Valley and with clear skies allowing golden sunshine to bathe us on the bare mountain top, it was outstandingly scenic by the time we reached the weather beaten cairn atop the 577 metre (1,893 feet) hill, the complete absence of any other human soul yet again making it all the more idyllic and treasured.



As we made our way back to the cottage along the longer route which takes you down towards the nearby slate quarry and then along the southern and western slopes of the heather clad hill, we noted a few typical moorland birds such as Ravens, Pipits and Grouse, whilst in a few spots the heather was still in flower, the purple flowers looking all the more attractive where it bloomed amongst the luminous and fragrant gorse. From here we could also look down at our cottage on the other hillside, the old white-painted farmhouse looking like an insignificant small dot compared to the grander natural landscape all around it.



After breakfast we took it easy for a while, sitting outside for a bit in the warm Welsh sunshine, the golden rays encouraging a few butterflies to make an appearance including a Small Tortoiseshell and a Red Admiral. On the walls of the house I noticed a Spruce Carpet and no doubt it would have been fascinating to have had the opportunity to run a moth-trap at Bwlch-y-Garnedd. When we come again maybe I could ask the landowner for permission so to do.


In the afternoon we down to the Rhug Estate, perhaps most famous for its herd of Bisons which graze in the fields around the farmshop, and whilst we didn't buy any bison steaks we did come away with some tasty produce to take home with us. We also visited the Rhug Chapel, a seemingly modest building outside but one which hosts some fine features of historical interest inside, the church being quite different from the more typical plain and stark chapels which otherwise characterise Calvinistic Wales. The reason for this rich interior was thanks to a local Royalist soldier and latterly a writer of Welsh verse whom, unlike most of his countrymen, was very much of a "High Church" persuasion, creating here at Rhug his own private chapel to reflect his religious ideals. The current building also owes much to another local landowner whom had the chapel restored in the mid-19th century, the restoration crucially being sympathetic to the original vision for the building.



9th October 2015, Friday
Bwlch-y-Garnedd - With this being our last morning in Wales we arose before dawn to head out on one last walk, hoping to reach the top of Moel Morfydd before sunrise. As we left the sound of tawny owls could be heard down in the valley whilst as we made our way through the woods we disturbed roosting pheasants, these overweight game-birds never being masters of subtlety. Above us the crescent moon shone down upon our little valley, whilst on either side the bright planets of Jupiter and Venus likewise shone forth, the fainter red disk of Mars also being noted in close proximity to its brighter celestial counterparts.


Down in the Dee Valley thick fog snaked its way along the valley, the faint twilight by now starting to illuminate the scene, and as we reached Moel y Gaer the sky began to redden in the east with a promise of a fine sunrise to follow. Heading westwards along the mountain top path we could see Snowdonia and its mountains in the far distance starting to catch the first of the morning rays, and as we neared the top of Moel Morfydd we timed our ascent with almost near perfection, the red sun rising above the misty countryside of England to the east as we arrived at the summit of the mountain.


As the sun rose higher it began to illuminate the top of the valley fog below us, the shadows cast by the surrounding hills making the landscape appear all the more dramatic, and as we watched the unfolding scene I became acutely aware of just how privileged we were to see such natural beauty, the sense yet again being all the greater thanks to our delightful solitude. Indeed what with the thick fog nearly all of the communities and farms were shrouded and hidden and as we stood there one could have been forgiven for thinking that the world was ours and ours alone, a thought both appealing and terrifying at the same time.


However of course all good things never last and the realities of the real world meant we had to get back to the cottage to clean it up and get it ready for the next visitors, but as we packed up and left Bwlch-y-Garnedd to set off for home I felt sure we would return again in the not too distant future. Indeed this little cottage and the heather-clad mountains upon which it sits have become one of those uncommon corners of the world in which I feel completely detached from the rest of the world, the feeling of liberty which comes with this being extremely intoxicating and very addictive.


10th October 2015, Saturday
Min 5.0 C, Max 14.8 C, Rain nil, Wind E 1-2
A foggy start to the day but soon burning away with a lovely morning following with plenty of golden October sunshine. However in the afternoon cloud would increase with skies becoming largely cloudy by mid-afternoon and it would remain largely cloudy for the rest of the day and the evening. Becoming clearer again overnight.

Whilst hanging out the washing this morning I heard numerous skylarks and pipits heading inland over my head, their distinctive calls being a common sound throughout most of October here on the east coast of England. The high pitched 'tsweep' of Redwings were also heard though I haven't seen any in the garden yet. Meanwhile the pleasant morning sunshine brought a few butterflies out including a couple of Red Admirals and a 'White' (again probably Green-veined), whilst a probable Small Tortoiseshell was also noted.

11th October 2015, Sunday
Min 7.2 C, Max 13.9 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2
A bright day with sunny spells throughout, though the gentle easterly breeze kept temperatures pegged back to no higher than 13.9 C. Clear spells overnight.

The first garden REDWINGS were spotted this morning with a small number of this handsome winter visiting thrush being spotted enjoying the garden yew berries and haws. Whether they are truly the first of the year is unknown as they may have arrived last week whilst we were away in North Wales, but nevertheless their arrival today is roughly on schedule, the earliest date for their arrival coming in 2013 when they arrived on the 7th, whilst last year the first was recorded on the 15th. Winter is undoubtedly coming!

Whilst I haven't had the good fortune to have seen any Pink-footed Geese so far this year (though many local birders have seen them passing over the county during the last fortnight or so), I did hear a large group of Greylag geese at dawn today. The call of Greylags and Pink-feet are quite different, especially when you hear them together, and undoubtedly Pink-feet provide a much more pleasing call compared to their larger and more boisterous cousins.

12th October 2015, Monday
Min 4.2 C, Max 13.9 C, Rain 1.7 mm, Wind N 2-3
A chilly and bright start to the day with some good spells of autumn sunshine in the morning, though in the afternoon showers would start to drift in from the coast, some of which would be quite heavy at times. Becoming drier by the evening but remaining mostly cloudy, the largely cloudy skies persisting throughout most of the night.

13th October 2015, Tuesday
Min 5.9 C, Max 12.6 C, Rain 2.3 mm, Wind NW 2
A largely cloudy day with showers drifting down from the north from time to time, especially in the afternoon, some of these showers being quite heavy at times. Temperatures struggling to just 12.6 C with temps falling into single figures during some of the showers. Further occasional showers overnight though some clearer spells would develop latterly.

Large numbers of migrant birds have been reported from along the East Yorkshire coast today, and whilst I would have liked to have seen it for myself it was sadly impossible. However the pics of hundreds of Goldcrests arriving at the likes of Spurn and Flamborough has been great to see, as have the rarer migrants such as Red-flanked Bluetails, Firecrests and a variety of exotic warbler species, the weather conditions recently having been perfect for such large 'falls' of migrants here on the east coast of the British Isles.

14th October 2015, Wednesday
Min 5.3 C, Max 12.6 C, Rain 3.1 mm, Wind N 3-4
A largely cloudy morning with occasional showers drifting down from the north, though in the afternoon it would become drier and brighter for a time. Cloud and showers returning towards the end of the afternoon and into the evening, some of these showers becoming heavier and more prolonged during the night.

A few redwings were in the garden today, the sight and sound of them brightening up what was otherwise a largely grey, cool and disappointing mid-October day. Redwings are one of my favourite birds and I love to see them in the environs of the old homestead, this species of winter thrush being to autumn & winter what Swallows are to spring & summer.

North Cliffe Wood
In the afternoon we enjoyed a stroll around my favourite woodland nature reserve and whilst the skies were largely cloudy back at home nearer the coast, over here on the inland side of the Yorkshire Wolds the weather was much brighter with some good spells of October sunshine to enjoy. This warm(ish) sunshine even encouraged a few late Speckled Woods to make an appearance along the edges of the wood, especially around the heath, whilst about a dozen Common Darters were also noted.



The moderate northerly breeze meant that golden birch leaves were tumbling from the canopy as we made our way along the perimeter path, though really the autumn colours are not that great yet with the Aspens along the western edge only just starting to turn gold. The bracken likewise is still pretty green in some areas whilst in others it has already turned dark copper and has begun to die back, whilst what with it now being mid-October I decided to do my first Woodcock search of the new season but unsurprisingly drew a blank. However they should be here by the end of the month.


On the woodland floor a good variety of fungi were spotted, including old favourites such as Fly Agarics and Parasol Mushrooms, as well as common species such as Grisettes, Butter-caps and Russulas, to name but a few. In the trees roving bands of tits moved through the birches in search of food, including a few Marsh tits, whilst at least two goldcrests were also seen moving with the flock. A large number of redwings were also heard throughout the wood and it would seem that these winter visitors have all arrived at once this year judging by the numbers currently being encountered around the county.



15th October 2015, Thursday
Min 6.7 C, Max 13.0 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind N 3-4
A wet start to the morning with a succession of heavy & prolonged showers coming in off the North Sea, a peak rate of 6.9 mm/h being recorded around 7 am, but by late morning it had become drier if not particularly bright. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon with just the occasional brighter period, with overcast skies persisting throughout the evening & night.

The garden birds were very busy and active this morning, as they often are on such damp and grey autumn days, with redwings again being particularly noticeable with at least two dozen being spotted in the trees and shrubs of Wold Garth. Indeed their high pitched 'tsweep' call is an almost constant sound at the moment.

16th October 2015, Friday
Min 8.4 C, Max 12.7 C, Rain nil, Wind N 3-4
A dull and overcast morning, the cloud thick enough for some light spots of drizzle at times, and whilst it would become somewhat brighter for a time in the afternoon it would nevertheless remain predominantly cloudy, temperatures struggling to just 12.7 C beneath the largely grey skies. Becoming overcast again in the evening with cloudy skies for most of the night but latterly some clearer spells would begin to develop towards dawn.

Swinemoor
Rode down to the local wetlands prior to dawn this morning in order to see whether the floods have started to reform, but given the lack of rain this autumn it was unsurprisingly dry. As a result there were no waders or recently returned wildfowl to see (or hear), though a large skein of feral Greylags were seen to the north-east whilst the woods and hedgerows hosted large numbers of redwings. I wonder when the first Fieldfares will turn up in this neck of the woods?

17th October 2015, Saturday
Min 6.1 C, Max 13.2 C, 0.3 mm, Wind N 4
A much brighter morning with some good spells of sunshine to enjoy, a welcome tonic after the recent grey skies which have dominated the weather during the past week, but as the moderate northerly breeze eased in the afternoon the cloud would return with grey skies to end the day yet again. Overnight the cloud would thicken further with some outbreaks of rain at times.

18th October 2015. Sunday
Min 8.5 C, Max 13.4 C, Rain nil, Wind N 2
A very dull and murky start to the morning, the top of the Wolds shrouded in low cloud, but as the day wore on it would steadily brighten with even some weak spells of sunshine towards the end of the afternoon. Clear spells developing in the evening and overnight.

Grosmont
With the carpet fitters coming to the cottage this coming week we had to get a lot of work done this weekend up at Rivergarth, including glossing the skirting boards, doors and any other surface which needed doing. The interior of the house has also been used as a workshop by the builders for several months now and since such basic tools as a brush and a vacuum seem to be unknown to them, we also had to clear much of the accumulated junk out of the way. Our builders are actually promising to have the cottage cleared out by the end of the week but you'll have to forgive me if I am a little sceptical about this promise, especially since they had promised to have the toilet and bathroom finished last week but when we arrived this weekend we of course found that it had not been done.

Due to the all necessary work we weren't really able to get out much during the whole weekend but despite this the garden provided some interest, again mostly coming thanks to the riverine species such as grey wagtails and dippers. The autumn leaves are also far more colourful up here in Grosmont, especially down by the river since it is in a little dip which allows cold air from the hills above to pool, with the beeches and horse chestnuts particularly colourful at the moment. Most of the apples have now finished, though I collected about four dozen this weekend which I will now store away in a dry and cool place for feeding to the birds in the lean winter months ahead. I wonder what kind of winter we will have this year?


19th October 2015, Monday
Min 6.0 C, Max 13.7 C, Rain nil, Wind W 1-2
A bright start to the morning with some sunny spells but by mid-morning it would become somewhat cloudier with just the odd sunny spell from time to time. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon and evening though overnight some clearer spells would develop again.

Not much to report today expect the continuing presence of good numbers of redwings in the area whilst skylarks were also heard passing over in the morning.

20th October 2015, Tuesday
Min 5.0 C, Max 14.2 C, Rain nil, Wind W 3
A pleasant sunny October morning with good spells of sunshine, these clement conditions continuing into the afternoon. Clear spells in the evening and at first overnight but cloud would increase later with some outbreaks of rain towards the end of the night.

A butterfly was spotted briefly fluttering past my office window as I worked in the afternoon, probably either a Peacock or a Red Admiral judging by the dark colour. Meanwhile I gave the main lawn what should hopefully be the last mow of the year, the abundant worm casts making it a somewhat muddy affair. Now we need a frost and some proper cold to stop the grass growing again until next March at the earliest.

21st October 2015, Wednesday
Min 5.8 C, Max 17.4 C, Rain nil, Wind W 4-5
A wet start to the day with some outbreaks of rain but by mid-morning this would clear away with it slowly brightening as the day wore on, indeed by the end of the afternoon some good spells of sunshine would develop. However this wouldn't last long with cloudy skies returning in the evening, these largely cloudy skies persisting throughout the night. Mild.

22nd October 2015, Thursday
Min 9.6 C, Max 14.2 C, Rain nil, Wind W 4-5
After an initially cloudy start it would quickly brighten with good spells of sunshine for the remainder of the day, indeed by mid-afternoon it would become largely clear with wall to wall sunshine bathing our East Yorkshire homestead. Remaining mostly clear overnight.

23rd October 2015, Friday
Min 3.1 C, Max 12.8 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 2
A clear and chilly start to the day, a touch of ground frost (the first I've recorded this autumn) being noted in the more frost prone areas of the Parks, but after 9 am it would quickly become grey and overcast and would remain so for the rest of the day with no brightness to speak of. Remaining cloudy overnight though one or two breaks would develop from time to time.

A few golden plovers were heard going over as I cycled into town in the pre-dawn darkness early this morning. I will be glad when the clocks go back to GMT this weekend as I much prefer it to be lighter in the mornings than in the evenings, indeed I actually like the dark evenings and look forward to the cosy winter nights ahead with my family and loved ones.

24th October 2015, Saturday
Min 5.2 C, Max 12.4 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind W 3
A cloudy morning with outbreaks of intermittent rain from 10 am onwards, the rain never really coming to much and eventually fizzling out by early afternoon. Remaining cloudy for much of the afternoon but clearer skies would arrive from the west by the end of the afternoon, skies becoming largely clear in the evening and overnight with a touch of ground frost in the frost prone corners of the area by dawn.

25th October 2015, Sunday
Min 3.5 C, Max 11.2 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 1-2
A clear and chilly start with a touch of ground frost in sheltered spots, with the morning remaining bright with plenty of autumn sunshine bathing the East Yorkshire countryside. However as the day wore on the sunshine would become increasingly hazy and watery, and whilst skies would be relatively clear overnight the moon and stars were nevertheless veiled by a layer of thin cloud. However despite the thin cloud temperatures would dip to 1.9 C by dawn with the first official grass frost of the autumn being recorded at the weather station.

North Cave Wetlands
With so many other things keeping us busy at the moment (cottages, holidays, family commitments etc) we have, much to my regret, neglected many of the local nature reserves which we usually frequent on a regular basis. However with a free Sunday morning and with some lovely autumn sunshine promised we decided to head over the Wolds today to pay a visit to North Cave Wetlands, this being our first visit here for almost seven weeks, an inordinately long period of absence!


Despite the early morning chill we soon noted a few late Common darters along Dryham Lane, this species becoming increasingly apparent as the day continued to slowly warm as the sun rose higher, indeed by the time we had finished our visit we must have seen at least 50 around the reserve. Other species of odonata were also spotted as well, despite the fact that November is now no more than a week away, with at least one Migrant Hawker and a possible Southern Hawker noted, though the latter was far from certain and it is a little late for this species to be honest. Still the colour and size was definitely more Southern than Migrant so it will just have to go down as a 'maybe'. Far more certain meanwhile was a single (and rather tatty) Speckled Wood butterfly along the perimeter path beside Carp Lake.


On the birding front the main highlight of the morning was the large number of LESSER REDPOLLS feeding in the birches and alders around Far & Reedbed Lakes. Redpolls are not a species I frequently encounter, primarily because most of my usual birding haunts are unfavourable for this small species of finch, so any sighting is warmly welcomed and hopefully it will not be the last this year. Amongst the Redpolls a few goldfinches and siskins were also seen, all three species having similar twittering calls, whilst as I watched them a few redwings were spotted along the northern hedgerow.


As we made our way around the reserve a couple of curlews passed over heading southwards towards the nearby Humber estuary, whilst latterly eight Pink-footed Geese were also spotted heading south-westwards. Speaking of Pink-footed Geese a single bird was picked out amongst the hundreds of Greylag Geese beside Main Lake, whilst here a good number of Canada Geese were also swimming about the blue waters of this former gravel pit. As we watched the distinctive call of a Kingfisher caught our attention, the halcyon bird flying right past the hide and out of sight, and as we made our way around the reserve we would see presumably the same bird again at Far Lake.


By the time our spot of morning birding concluded we had recorded 52 species of bird, a very good count for late October, or at least by my standards anyway, with other birds of note including a couple of Grey herons, a single Little Egret, about a dozen or so Snipe and two Buzzards. Wildfowl were well represented as one would expect by this time of the year, Teal being particularly numerous, whilst a few Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted duck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Shelduck, and of course Mallard were additionally recorded.


26th October 2015, Monday
Min 1.9 C, Max 13.1 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 2-3
A cold and initially clear start but soon becoming overcast and remaining so for the duration of the morning and into the afternoon. However by mid-afternoon the cloud would quickly clear away with a fine end to the day, the skies remaining clear throughout the first part of the evening. Cloudy skies would return however by mid-evening with it becoming overcast and murky during the night.

Moths
With temperatures last night dipping low enough for a touch of ground frost it was unsurprising that when I came to empty the trap this morning that I found just two moths, these represented in the shape and form of a Red-green Carpet and a YELLOW-LINE QUAKER. The latter was a new species for the garden list whilst the former was a particularly fine specimen of Red-green Carpet with some lovely colours to admire.

Grosmont
Having been repeatedly let down by our builders, my confidence in whom has now reached rock bottom, we decided to head up to our cottage today to make sure that the carpet layers would be able to access the property and to help them where we could. Indeed I think we will just have to bite the bullet and try to complete as much of the property by ourselves, especially with winter just around the corner!


The autumn colours around the cottage and the village have continued to advance, the woods and trees beside the river looking lovely in the brief periods of sunshine in the afternoon, and whilst the leaves are now rapidly tumbling from many of the trees down here in Grosmont, the copper and yellow leaves floating past on the dark peaty waters of the river, I think some of the best colour is yet to come, especially in the oak and larch woodlands further up the valley. As I walked along 'our' riverbank I came upon a dead fish which had washed up on the rocky bank, eggs pouring forth from its ruptured flanks, a reminder that the Murk Esk is an important spawning ground for both trout and salmon. The sneezing call of a Marsh tit was also briefly heard, a bird species which is unknown back at Wold Garth, indeed the species is rare east of the Yorkshire Wolds, whilst up on the hills there are increasingly few birds about apart from the ever present Red Grouse and a few Meadow Pipits. Meanwhile above Goathland quite a bit of moor burning was being carried out today.


27th October 2015, Tuesday
Min 4.5 C, Max 13.2 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 3
A dull, overcast and murky sort of day with no brightness whatsoever, typical late autumn weather whenever the wind comes from the south-east. Remaining overcast but dry overnight with temperatures barely falling below 50 degrees (10 C).

28th October 2015, Wednesday
Min 9.2 C, Max 13.1 C, Rain 6.7 mm, Wind E 3
Another dull and murky morning with a period of moderate and at times heavy rain around the middle of the day (peak rate 8.8 mm/h). However this rain would soon clear away and whilst it would remain cloudy for the most of the afternoon, a few clearer spells would manage to break through around dusk, this allowing a colourful sunset. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

The local population of Mallards in the Beverley Parks area has noticeably swelled in the last few days with over a dozen at the pond near the new Figham roundabout, whilst nearer to home the Long Lane pond currently hosts about 10. Maybe a few different species may be encouraged to visit by their presence. Meanwhile the winter gulls have returned to the areas around Beverley with increasing numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls and a few Herring Gulls being seen in and around the town.

29th October 2015, Thursday
Min 6.1 C, Max 13.9 C, Rain 11.2 mm, Wind SE 4
A mostly cloudy morning with a moderate south-easterly breeze, though as the morning wore on the cloud would thicken with some outbreaks of rain developing, these continuing into the afternoon. It would become drier by the evening and would remain so at first overnight, but further rain would arrive later in the night, this rain becoming persistent by the end of the night. Mild.

Swinemoor
A quick check of the common around dawn this morning revealed that the seasonal flood meadows are still stubbornly dry, and as a result there were only a few birds about with no signs of any wildfowl (bar the resident Mallards). However a Cormorant was spotted on top of one of the telegraph poles whilst a few "cheew-ing" Redshanks were also heard along the river. However other than these birds it was very quiet with just the usual gull species, a few flocks of mixed finches and Pied Wagtails being additionally noted.

30th October 2015, Friday
Min 9.9 C, Max 16.0 C, Rain 0.6 mm, Wind E 3-4
A very wet start to the day with persistent and at times heavy rain, but by the end of the morning this would clear away to leave a cloudy but very mild afternoon, temperatures rising up to 16 C. Remaining largely cloudy and mild in the evening and overnight though some clearer spells would develop later, this allowing some mist to form by the end of the night.

The rain and blustery southerly breeze brought a lot of leaves down this morning, and indeed many of the more exposed trees are already pretty much bare up on the hill above Wold Garth. However down here in the shelter of the wood things are not quite as advanced though the lawn is pretty much strewn with leaves (mostly beech, lime, hawthorn and birch), whilst the huge beech which looms above the house is still largely green with only a few copper leaves here and there. This tree has always been a late "turn-er" and sometimes still has leaves at Christmas!

31st October 2015, Saturday
Min 8.5 C, Max 12.3 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 1
A misty and initially bright start but by mid-morning cloud would increase with skies becoming largely cloudy for the remainder of the day. Remaining cloudy for much of the night but clearer spells would develop later, this allowing mist to form by dawn.

Grosmont
Finally some progress and for the first time in what seems like months we finally have running water up at the cottage. In fact the upstairs is now pretty much finished with all the bedrooms carpeted and the toilet and bathroom all plumbed in and fully installed, and whilst the kitchen still needs some work, everything, including the plumbing is now in place, and it should hopefully be all done and dusted by next weekend. Indeed the downstairs should also have new flooring down by next weekend though the lounge/living room (or whatever you like to call it) will have to wait a little longer as the fireplace still needs to be installed. We are slowly getting there.


Meanwhile the weather up at Grosmont was wonderful for most of the day, the last day of October being blessed with an abundance of golden sunshine which illuminated the wonderful autumn colours along the Murk Esk. Heavy rain yesterday meant the river was flowing strongly today and was almost twice as wide as usual, and whilst I am still getting to know this river and its various moods, I have noticed that it rises and falls very quickly in response to rainfall. Already I am planning to keep a consistent record of the river height as it passes our cottage garden.


As we enjoyed an alfresco lunch in the garden during the afternoon we were joined by a confiding Treecreeper which, as the name suggests, began to creep up one of our oak trees (hopefully a host for a Merveille du Jour or two), whilst the characteristic sneezing call of a Marsh tit alerted me to the presence of two of these often overlooked species moving through the garden with a band of other roving tits which included Great tits, Blue tits, Coal tits and Long-tailed tits. More surprising however was a late dragonfly hunting around the brambles at the top of our garden and eventually I was able to identify it as a Migrant Hawker.