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January 2015

1st January 2015, Thursday
Min -1.3 C, Max 13.4 C, Rain 1.5 mm, Wind S
An overcast and grey start to the New Year with some light rain in the afternoon. Becoming increasingly windy in the evening and overnight with some very strong winds at times, including gusts up to 45 knots (52 mph) during a short but heavy period of rain.

2nd January 2015, Friday
Min 4.7 C, Max 7.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SW
A windy but bright day with spells of sunshine. The winds would be strongest in the morning, with gusts up to 40 mph. However overnight the winds would ease.

A pair of very noisy mating Foxes in the wood during mid-evening!

Little Bustard Twitch
We went up to Fraisthorpe early this morning with my father to see if we could catch up with the Little Bustard which had been reported there on New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day. Unfortunately it failed to show and indeed no reports were recorded today (at least via twitter anyway). It is a shame we missed out as other commitments meant we couldn’t go yesterday, especially since another Little Bustard in this area is highly unlikely for some time.

3rd January 2015, Saturday
Min 2.5 C, Max 4.8 C, Rain trace, Wind W
A largely cloudy day with a little light rain around midday. Colder than recently and as skies cleared in the evening and overnight there would be a decent frost.

4th January 2015, Sunday
Min -1.3 C, Max 4.6 C, Rain trace, Wind S
A frosty & sunny morning across most of the East Riding, though the frost was best, as always, in those parts of the county west of the Yorkshire Wolds, especially around Market Weighton and North Cave. Remaining bright for the remainder of the day though cloud would increase later during the night.

North Cliffe Wood
A frosty walk around the birch wood and its small heath this morning, the temperature being a very pleasant -3 C upon arrival. Bird-wise the morning began well with a Treecreeper and Marsh Tit being recorded along the western perimeter pathway, while overhead a Buzzard was seen, as was a distant small skein of PINK-FOOTED GEESE (four Greylag Geese would also be recorded later). On the heath a Green Woodpecker was heard, whilst in the heart of the wood three WOODCOCK were noted as were four Roe deer.

5th January 2015, Monday
Min -0.8 C, Max 7.9 C, Rain nil, Wind S
An overcast and dull day with very little to commend it. However it was somewhat milder.

PINK-FOOTED GEESE heard going over around 6.10 am, a nice sound to wake up to on an overcast Monday morning. Presumably they are part of the herd reported at Swinemoor recently via facebook and twitter.

6th January 2015, Tuesday
Min 3.0 C, Max 8.8 C, Rain 0.6 mm, Wind S
A dull and grey morning with some rain around midday, though in the afternoon the cloud would begin to break up with even some late brightness to end the day. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with a few light showers around midnight.

7th January 2015, Wednesday
Min 0.9 C, Max 10.4 C, Rain 1.4 mm, Wind SW
Mostly cloudy with some outbreaks of rain in the afternoon. Remaining largely cloudy overnight with the wind freshening from the SW.

A third female Bullfinch was identified at the feeding station this morning, taking the number of individual Bullfinches up to seven (four males & three females). Meanwhile approx. 30 PINK-FOOTED GEESE flew over at 9.35 am heading south-westwards, while a few minutes later another 15-20 were seen heading westwards.

8th January 2015, Thursday
Min 3.2 C, Max 11.0 C, Rain trace, Wind SW
A mostly cloudy, blustery and mild day with a light shower or two in the afternoon.

9th January 2015, Friday
Min 3.5 C, Max 15.1 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind W
A cloudy and windy day, indeed becoming very windy in the evening and during the night with the wind gusting up to 52 knots (60 mph), the winds being at their strongest towards the end of the night. It would also become unseasonably mild during the night with the temperature reaching a high of 15.1 C (59.2 F), which incidentally is a new January record for the weather station.

Grosmont & Dalby Forest
We enjoyed a quiet half hour down at the holiday cottage and its riverside garden this morning simply watching and recording the birds of the garden. The most pleasing sight was up to 5 Bullfinches (3 males & 2 females), and whilst all the other birds recorded were common garden birds it was incredibly relaxing to watch them come and go with just the sound of their calls and the river to disturb the peace. I also additionally noticed that the first of the spring bulbs which we planted in the autumn are starting to come up, an uplifting sight. Meanwhile on the journey home we stopped off at Dalby Forest where Siskins were seen & heard in the woods surrounding the "Lumberjills" memorial.

10th January 2015, Saturday
Min 8.0 C, Max 9.3 C, Rain trace, Wind W
Remaining very windy throughout daylight hours with gusts up to 51 knots (59 mph), though the winds would ease during the evening. However despite the winds it was actually quite a bright day with spells of sunshine, especially in the afternoon.

A fourth individual female Bullfinch was identified this morning taking the garden total up to 8 individual Bullfinches (4 males & 4 females).

11th January 2015, Sunday
Min 1.5 C, Max 10.2 C, Rain trace, Wind SW
A bright morning but becoming cloudier in the afternoon. Still mild for the time of year and remaining breezy.

North Cliffe Wood
Yet another Sunday stroll around the birch wood on what was a largely cloudy and blustery morning, though the weak sun did break through from time to time. Our regular WOODCOCK count reached four today, again all being seen in and around the hazel coppice, whilst in this same area a single Hare and two Roe Deer were recorded. Along the eastern perimeter Marsh Tit and Treecreeper were noted, while a number of Goldcrests were seen feeding with the roving tits too. The strong winds have made Buzzards very noticeable in recent days with at least three being seen this morning.

12th January 2015, Monday
Min 3.5 C, Max 11.3 C, Rain 0.9 mm, Wind SW
A largely cloudy day with a short but sharp period of heavy rain in early afternoon with a peak rainfall rate of 7.8 mm/h recorded via the AWS rain gauge. The rain was also accompanied by some strong squally winds.

13th January 2015, Tuesday
Min 2.1 C, Max 6.1 C, Rain nil, Wind SW
A bright morning with some winter sunshine but becoming cloudy in the afternoon. However skies would becoming clearer again overnight. Colder.

14th January 2015, Wednesday
Min -0.7 C, Max 10.0 C, Rain 2.0 mm, Wind S
Nice and frosty this morning, the rural lanes covered in white crystals which was like a light dusting of snow in places, especially early on. However cloud would increase in the afternoon with some rain in the evening and overnight.

15th January 2015, Thursday
Min 0.1 C, Max 7.7 C, Rain 0.2 mm, Wind SW
Any dawn showers soon cleared away to leave a sunny but breezy morning. However cloud would again increase by mid-afternoon with largely cloudy skies and the odd shower overnight, though latterly skies would clear allowing temperatures to fall close to freezing.

16th January 2015, Friday
Min 0.7 C, Max 4.9 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind W
Very icy in places this morning with patches of black ice here and there, though otherwise it was a sunny if somewhat chilly start to the day. Some showers around midday and in the early afternoon but clearing by the evening with variable amounts of cloud overnight.

17th January 2015, Saturday
Min -0.9 C, Max 3.9 C, Rain 2.0 mm, Wind SW
A bright but chilly morning with a few wintry showers. Further wintry showers in the afternoon and the evening but not coming to anything and eventually dying out after midnight. Skies clearing thereafter with temperatures falling a few degrees below freezing by the end of the night.

The first WINTER ACONITES are starting to appear along the edge of the wood.

East Lancashire Railway Winter Gala
On a cold winter’s morning we headed west across the broad acres of Yorkshire and over the snowy peaks of the Pennines to make our first visit to the East Lancashire Railway. This heritage railway is primarily based around the town of Bury, with services running north to the pleasant, though somewhat unfortunately named, town of Ramsbottom, and then onwards to Rawtenstall, the railways northern terminus.

The weather for our visit was very wintry indeed, with frequent and at times prolonged showers of snow and hail (indeed the odd rumble of thunder was also heard), and after a succession of showers the area had a slight, if somewhat slushy, covering of snow with the snow being heaviest around Bury & especially Ramsbottom. However since last winter was almost devoid of snow I wasn’t complaining, indeed quite the reverse, and I relished this chance to photograph the trains running in the snow.

A good variety of locos were on show at the gala, with all, bar the two Black 5’s, being new to me. Being an LNER fan I was most keen to see the railways resident K4 in action, this handsome Gresley designed 2-6-0 going by the name of ‘The Great Marquess’ and running under the BR number 61994. However LMS locos also interest me, especially since my great-grandfather worked for the company, and indeed it was the Hughes Fowler Crab 2-6-0 No.13065 which really caught my eye, this loco looking stunning in its red LMS livery.

Also present were two Black 5’s, with No.44871 & No.45407 ‘The Lancashire Fusilier’, both having visited the NYMR last April, as well as a handsome BR Standard 4 tank in the form of No.80080, and a Lancashire & Yorkshire Class 27 0-6-0 (or latterly LMS A Class) No.12322. Sadly one of the guest locos was unable to attend but a GWR Collet 2-6-2 was there to add an extra bit of variety, No.5643 looking suitably handsome in its distinctive Great Western finery.

18th January 2015, Sunday
Min -3.3 C, Max 2.7 C, Rain 6.0 mm, Wind W
A sunny and frosty morning, the countryside looking stunning in the winter sunshine, especially up at High Hunsley where a light dusting of snow from yesterday evening made it look even more like a winter wonderland. However cloud would increase in the afternoon with some periods of sleet after dusk. As temperatures fell in the evening this would turn into snow with an hour or so of moderate to heavy snow around 8pm, this giving a covering of about 2 cm by the time it concluded. Thereafter any further snow showers died out with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night.

North Cliffe Wood
A frosty walk around the birch wood on a gloriously sunny and crisp Sunday morning. As regards the birds there was little out of the ordinary, with just a few Marsh Tits and a Jay overhead being worthy of mention, though it was interesting to hear a Woodpecker drumming in the NE corner of the wood. The WOODCOCK count was just two today, again both in the hazel coppice area, and it was also here that we noted the first signs of the Bluebells beginning to appear on the woodland floor.

19th January 2015, Monday
Min -2.9 C, Max 2.8 C, Rain nil, Wind W
A bright morning with some sunshine, though the biggest story was the 2 cm of lying snow at the weather station, this incredibly being the most snow recorded here since March 2013 !!! The snow would persist throughout the day with very little thaw, the cloudy skies and low temperatures in the afternoon keeping it preserved for another day at least. However those same cloudy skies did prevent temperatures from falling particularly low during the night with a modest minimum of just -2.5 C.

20th January 2015, Tuesday
Min -2.5 C, Max 2.3 C, Rain 3.4 mm, Wind SE
A cold morning with freezing fog preventing temperatures from rising above freezing till at least midday. Becoming brighter for a time in the afternoon with some chilly winter sunshine before cloud increased again later. Still 1 cm of lying snow at the weather station.

Despite the current cold & somewhat snowy conditions the birds have been responding to the lengthening days with a subtle but nevertheless marked increase in bird song.

21st January 2015, Wednesday
Min -2.7 C, Max 3.4 C, Rain 0.8 mm, Wind SE
Persistent sleet and wet snow at the weather station this morning, though snow was widely reported from the Yorkshire Wolds with some moderate accumulations on top of the pre-existing snow from the weekend. Most of the snow was above 150 metres, with villages such as Wharram, Fimber, Fridaythorpe, Thixendale and Huggate (to name a few) seeing the most. However despite the morning sleet the lying snow at the weather station would persist for another day, albeit very slushy and not particularly appealing by the end of the day. Overall it was a pretty dull, raw and unappealing day with it becoming quite murky overnight as temperatures began to rise slightly with a more general thaw in the lower parts of the county.

Grosmont & Darnholm
Another enjoyable visit up to our cottage, the work on which is continuing ever onwards towards conclusion some time in the next six to eight weeks. I put out more bird feeders in the riverside garden and whilst wandering down to the riverside a female GOOSANDER was seen to fly-by, a great new record for the garden & patch list. A Grey Wagtail was also noted along the riverside, whilst in the garden the first SNOWDROPS are starting to flower.

Meanwhile a short snowy stroll between Darnholm & Goathland brought some great views of the Dippers, including two chasing each other, whilst in the birches up to half a dozen Treecreepers were noted, the largest number I have ever seen together. They were also remarkably confident and didn’t mind our presence at all. In this same area we also spotted Goldcrests, heard Siskins, and saw a WEASEL, a species of mammal which is quite uncommon back in the East Riding, at least compared to Stoats anyway.

The aforementioned snow was also interesting, with not a flake in Grosmont itself whilst just up the hill at Sleights Moor the landscape was very wintry indeed. I am really looking forward to moving up here as soon as possible as I really do love the varied landscapes & habitats of this beautiful area.

22nd January 2015, Thursday
Min 0.4 C, Max 5.4 C, Rain nil, Wind S
A grey and murky start to the day and with temperatures above freezing nearly all of the snow had gone from the area by mid-morning, though here at the station a covering of snow is stubbornly holding on here and there. Becoming much more pleasant after midday with a good period of sunshine in the early afternoon, indeed in the shelter of the walled garden it was quite pleasant for a time, but cloud would increase again later. Variable amounts of cloud overnight with some clearer spells later, this allowing temperatures to drop below freezing.

23rd January 2015, Friday
Min -1.3 C, Max 6.2 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind W
A bright and sunny start to the day with a delightful crispness to the air, but this wouldn’t last long with cloudier conditions arriving before midday. This cloud brought somewhat milder air from the west too, though despite this patches of lying snow would at least persist till the evening in the darker & colder corners of the weather station. However some intermittent periods of rain in the evening and overnight meant that even these were nearly gone by the end of the night.

Millington Dale
The day dawned bright and sunny, perfect for a long winter walk, and though most of the snow has gone from the lowlands, there is still plenty of snow up here above 100 metres with snow & ice still on the untreated rural roads. Indeed it was still -3 C at 10 am in the higher areas and it would remain below freezing till at least 1 pm, the temperature being further depressed by the low cloud and murk which was coming from the Vale of York, as well as a brisk breeze which saw a wind chill index of below -10 C (14 F) in the most exposed areas. However if truth be known I actually love this kind of weather and as we walked through the bleak and empty winter landscape I was in my element with not a soul to disturb the peace.

As we walked the snow revealed the activities of many of the areas mammals, including Stoat, Fox and Hare, though later in our walk we would actually come across a Fox, whilst Hare were frequently seen, this cold and snowy weather always making them easier to spot up here on the high hills. As is often the case in such weather the birds were concentrated in certain areas, with plenty of Fieldfares feeding amongst the Hawthorn scrubs, whilst covert crops along the edges of the fields hosted large numbers of finches and buntings, especially Yellowhammers and Linnets. Indeed I am not sure I have ever seen so many Yellowhammers in one single area before.

As we enjoyed a warming cup of tea at the top of the dale we were treated to superb views of two Red Kites, one of which was playing with something which it repeatedly dropped and then caught again, though despite its acrobatic tumbling skills it eventually pushed its luck and dropped the item in question. A Buzzard also drifted over us at one point, though a Crows relentless mobbing meant it didn’t hang around long.

24th January 2015, Saturday
Min -1.0 C, Max 6.3 C, Rain nil, Wind W
Plenty of winter sunshine today, though a brisk breeze meant it wasn’t as warm feeling as it otherwise could have been. Nevertheless the last of the snow patches has now finally thawed in the coldest corners of the weather station.

25th January 2015, Sunday
Min 0.9 C, Max 9.0 C, Rain 1.0 mm, Wind SW
Variable amounts of cloud with a sunnier period in late morning and early afternoon though feeling chilly in a brisk SW wind. Becoming milder in the evening and overnight with a short period of rain after midnight.

North Cave Wetlands
We made our first visit of the year to NCW this morning on what was a mostly bright and sunny morning, though it did feel quite chilly in the brisk SW wind. The reserve was busy with visitors, as is often the case on Sunday mornings, though with the new visiting facilities near the reserve entrance, as well as the muddy conditions around the back of the reserve, we actually enjoyed a relatively quiet walk as many of the weekend visitors don’t really stray beyond the comfort of the graveled path.

In total some 44 species of bird would be recorded between 10 am and 12 pm, and since I recently embraced the 21st century and finally got me an iphone thingy, I was able to record my sightings on to the BTO’s ‘Birdtrack’ App, this being a surprisingly easy task even for me. No birds of particular note would be recorded, though a MARSH HARRIER was a good tick whilst a single Stock Dove outside one of the Owl boxes was a new addition to the year list. Other pleasing observations included a confiding Stoat outside the Turret hide, a singing Skylark above the northern perimeter path, at least 25 Tree Sparrows around the recently improved feeding stations and a few very tame Goldcrests which were within yards of us as we watched them feeding amongst the brambles. The total number of species were as follows; Mute Swan x1, Greylag G 100+, Shelduck c.20, Wigeon c.75, Gadwall c.50, Teal 200+, Mallard, Shoveler x3, Pochard c.20, Tufted duck, Pheasant, Cormorant x10, Grey Heron x1, Little Grebe x1, Marsh Harrier x1, Buzzard x1, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Redshank x3, BH Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Stock dove x1, Wood Pigeon, Kestrel x1, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Goldcrest x3, Blue tit, Great tit, Skylark x1, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow 25+, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet x3, Goldfinch, and Reed Bunting.

RSPB Garden Bird Survey
Meanwhile in the afternoon I conducted my annual RSPB garden bird survey, doing my hour long survey between 1.45 pm & 2.45 pm. The weather was cloudy but bright with temperatures around average for late January. In total 16 species of bird would be recorded with numbers as follows; Woodpigeon x4, Collared dove x1, Magpie x1, Jackdaw x2, Crow x1, Blue tit x7, Great tit x3, Coal tit x1, Wren x1, Starling x3, Blackbird x3, Robin x3, Dunnock x3, Chaffinch x3, Bullfinch x3, and Greenfinch x2.

26th January 2015, Monday
Min 3.4 C, Max 7.7 C, Rain 0.2 mm, Wind W
A bright but breezy morning with plenty of sunny spells, though there was a short but heavy shower around 9 am. Becoming more cloudy in the afternoon with variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

27th January 2015, Tuesday
Min 1.3 C, Max 8.8 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind SW
A mostly cloudy day though it did begin to brighten up somewhat in the afternoon. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening with a fresh breeze, though cloud would increase again overnight.

28th January 2015, Wednesday
Min 3.9 C, Max 8.8 C, Rain 1.6 mm, Wind W
A squally period of rain between 9 am and 10 am with winds gusting to 46 knots (53 mph) and a peak rainfall rate of 6.6 mm/h. The wind would also veer from the South to the WNW during this hour with temperatures falling from 8 C at 9 am to 5 C at 10.30 am. As the temperature fell further some of the subsequent showers became increasingly wintry, with a brief snow shower around 1 pm, though for the most part the afternoon was blustery but dry with some sunny spells at times. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight, with one or two light snow showers (only enough for a slight dusting on cold surfaces) and feeling very cold in a raw breeze.

29th January 2015, Thursday
Min -0.4 C, Max 3.5 C, Rain trace, Wind W
A cold and raw start to the day with variable amounts of cloud through the morning. In the afternoon a few light snow showers would drift down from the NW but they came to nothing and produced no more than the slightest and short-lived of dustings. Skies clearing by dusk with temperatures below freezing by 5 pm, and with long clear spells overnight the temperature would eventually fall to -4.0 C (24.8 F) with a lovely white and hard frost by dawn.

30th January 2015, Friday
Min -4.0 C, Max 5.4 C, Rain nil, Wind W
A sunny and frosty morning and remaining largely bright throughout most of the day with plenty of chilly but pleasant winter sunshine. Clear spells overnight but cloud increasing by dawn.

The Bullfinches were much in evidence at the feeding station this morning, obviously warming up after a cold night. At least three males and three females would be noted munching on their favourite sunflower hearts.

31st January 2015, Saturday
Min -0.8 C, Max 4.1 C, Rain 11.3 mm, Wind NW
A wet morning with persistent spells of rain, sleet and wet snow (sometimes at the same time) but becoming drier by the end of the morning with even a brief period of sunshine in early afternoon. Feeling very raw in the strong wind though. Becoming cloudy again by mid-afternoon and remaining so in the evening and overnight with periods of rain and sleet by the end of the night.

Great Central Railway Winter Steam Gala
We arrived in Loughborough shortly after 8 am to spend a winter’s day at what is perhaps my favourite heritage railway in the whole of the UK. True this railway lacks the scenic beauty of the NYMR or the SVR but the sheer locomotive variety and intense timetable of this double tracked heritage railway is second to none. Even the weather wasn’t lacking variety when we arrived, with periods of rain, sleet and even some heavy wet snow at times, but it was the rawness of the wind which would make it feel bitterly cold today, especially at the more exposed station at Quorn where the wind seemed to cut right through to the bone.

The two guest locos for this annual gala were two GWR locos which we have both seen previously, with 0-6-0 pannier tank locomotive GWR 1500 Class No.1501 having been seen at the SVR & NYMR last autumn, whilst GWR Manor Class No.7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ was seen at the NNR back in August. However both locos are beautiful pieces of engineering and with their contrasting designs & sizes they made welcome guests in what is after all former LNER/GCR territory.

Another notable feature of the gala was the ‘blackening’ and weathering of the resident 8F No.48624 which usually operates in attractive late BR crimson but for this gala was cosmetically ‘distressed’ to simulate the appearance of many steam locos in the latter years of their operation by British Railways. Personally I am not a huge fan of distressing, be they real locos or even model ones, but it does add a little bit of variety I suppose and perhaps even a degree of authenticity.

Other locos (ten were in operating in all) came from the resident GCR fleet, including the LMS Class 2 2-6-0 No.46521, BR Standard Class 2 2-6-0 No.78019, LMS ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T No.47406, SR King Arthur Class 4-6-0 No.777 ‘Sir Lamiel’, BR Class 7P 4-6-2 No.70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’, BR Class 9F 2-10-0 No.92214 (formerly ‘Cock of the North’ at the NYMR), and finally a DMU service in the form of a Class 101 two car unit in its attractive dark green British Railways livery.