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April 2015

1st April 2015, Wednesday
Min 2.2 C, Max 9.7 C, Rain 2.6 mm, Wind W
A sunny and blustery start to April, though feeling somewhat chilly for the time of year, especially in the WNW wind. Meanwhile the afternoon would see a mixture of sunny spells and blustery showers, though around dusk (which is now quite late since the clocks went forward) a longer period of rain would arrive and would continue on and off till around midnight. Skies clearing thereafter with a touch of ground frost by dawn.

The female Blackcap was seen at the feeders this afternoon, whilst a Green Woodpecker was heard in the wood, a common sound in the last fortnight or so (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that we have our first ever breeding pair this year). Meanwhile the garden itself is now looking a pretty picture with daffodils in full flower and shurubs such as forsythia & berberis adding extra splashes of colour with their yellow & orange flowers, while greater colour diversity is supplied by the blue flowers of lungwort (Pulmonaria) and the first pink spikes of hyacinths here and there.

2nd April 2015, Thursday
Min 1.1 C, Max 10.7 C, Rain 1.8 mm, Wind SE
A sunny and clement April day with largely clear skies throughout, though it did become somewhat hazier as the afternoon wore on. Indeed as the evening wore on cloud would increase and would thicken overnight with outbreaks of rain arriving in the second half of the night.

With an abundance of spring sunshine bathing the area it was an absolute delight to be outside, especially with all the daffodils, primroses and what have you in the garden at the moment. The singing birds were equally delightful to behold with three chiffchaffs in the area again today, and I am now keeping my ears open for the first willow warblers.

3rd April 2015, Good Friday
Min 3.4 C, Max 9.6 C, Rain 2.4 mm, Wind NW
A grey and wet start to Good Friday with persistent light rain & drizzle and though it would become drier by late morning it would nevertheless remain grey and overcast for the rest of the day with further drizzle towards the end of the afternoon and into the evening. Indeed by the evening it would become increasingly murky too with poor visibility and it would remain grey, murky and generally damp throughout the night.

The bullfinches have begun their annual assault on our fruit trees with up to five (three males & two females) seen nibbling on the buds today. This is undoubtedly unwelcome behaviour and in previous years they have caused severe damage to the amounts of blossom and of course the subsequent fruit harvest, but it is something I am willing to endure to have such a beautiful bird as a numerous breeding resident in our East Yorkshire garden.

4th April 2015, Saturday
Min 4.8 C, Max 11.7 C, Rain nil, Wind N
A damp and drizzly start but by mid-morning it would begin to brighten up somewhat with even the odd sunny break in the cloud from time to time. Remaining largely cloudy in the afternoon with just the occasional brighter spell. Little change overnight though with all the cloud it was at least a mild night with a minimum of just 5.5 C.

5th April 2015, Easter Sunday
Min 5.5 C, Max 13.6 C, Rain nil, Wind N
A grey but mild start but as the morning wore on it would slowly brighten so that by the afternoon it had become largely sunny with just the odd fluffy cumulus cloud in the blue sky. Feeling warm in the sun too with barely any wind at all. Clear skies overnight with a touch of ground frost in rural areas.

Grosmont & the North York Moors
We enjoyed a fantastic day up at our cottage on what was a warm and sunny day, indeed in sheltered Grosmont it was 'almost' too hot in mid-afternoon would you believe (the weather being warmer & sunnier up here compared to Beverley today), but I certainly wasn't complaining. Indeed the strong sunshine meant that quite a few butterflies were noted fluttering around the village including numerous Peacocks and at least one pair of Small Tortoiseshells, whilst bumble bees went about their busy lives. Chiffchaffs were singing everywhere too, at least half a dozen being heard in the vicinity of the village, and whilst no Swallows or Willow Warblers were noted I am sure they will be here sooner rather than later if this weather continues.

In our cottage garden all the daffodils and narcissi are now out, whilst it was interesting to note a large clump of Violets growing on the steep grassy bank which leads down to the river. I am not sure what species of violets they are (possibly Sweet Violets) but judging by the blunt rather than dagger-like sepals they are not the more familiar Dog Violets that we have growing in our East Yorkshire garden. Meanwhile a chat with one of neighbours helped confirm that we also own another patch of ground down by the river, a fantastic little spot which has fantastic wildlife watching potential, especially since she confirmed that otters do indeed occur along the river, whilst we were also informed that we may also own a large greenhouse in the same area which was definitely news to us. This cottage just keeps getting better and better.

After measuring for carpets and curtains we decided to head up to Danby to pick up a parking permit for the National Park car park in Grosmont (our cottage has no car parking facilities at all), and after completing this simple operation we headed up on to the moors to enjoy a peaceful picnic overlooking Eskdale and the delightfully named Great Fryupdale (the name probably deriving from the Anglo-Saxon-Danish goddess Frigga). As we sat upon the sun drenched hillside Curlews & Lapwings displayed over the moors, whilst Pipits performed their parachuting song flights all around us. Later 250+ Golden Plover were spotted over Glaisdale Moor, as was a single displaying Snipe, and as we looked down on the green walled fields of the two dales below newborn lambs were enjoying the sunshine, some of whom were still unsteady on their feet having only been born a few hours earlier.

Finally we finished our day around Beck Hole and after helping a family whose car had become stuck on the steep climb out of the small hamlet we enjoyed a pleasant stroll down to Water Ark. This is often one of the first places that Willow warblers return too in spring but sadly none were heard today, but there were at least several Nuthatches, a Treecreeper, a pair of Marsh Tits, a few Chiffchaffs and a large Toad on the footpath to provide plenty of interest. No doubt we will return here frequently anyway in the coming weeks as this location is one of the best places for Green Hairstreaks, not to mention Small Coppers, Small Heaths and both lizards & snakes.

6th April 2015, Easter Monday
Min 3.4 C, Max 10.9 C, Rain nil, Wind E
An initially sunny and beautiful start to the day with a touch of ground frost but around 8 am a harr would move in from the NE with the rest of the morning being grey, murky and overcast. Remaining grey into the afternoon but from 2 pm onwards it would gradually brighten, indeed by late afternoon (4 pm) it had become largely clear though the cool NE breeze kept temperatures pegged back. Remaining clear throughout the evening and night with temperatures dipping close to freezing.

Enjoyed a good long ride this morning, taking advantage of the near deserted roads on what was for the most part a sunny start to Easter Monday, though latterly a harr came in off the sea, bringing with it low cloud & a chilly NE breeze. Chiffchaffs can now be found all around the Beverley area, their two note song being a near constant sound whilst out and about, whilst up on the edge of the Wolds Skylarks are likewise constant companions. Down towards the river a Barn Owl was hunting over the 'carr meadows', a nice compensation for the continuing absence of willow warblers in the area, whilst out in the arable fields a trio of Roe deer were spotted. On the seasonal wetlands, where the water levels continues to recede, eight Cormorants and a Grey Heron were amongst the more typical wildfowl, whilst above them dozens of Lapwings performed their swooping display flights. Along the road Reed Buntings sang out, and on the roadside verges the number of wildflowers on show continues to increase, with Celandines now at their best whilst Dead-nettles, Ground Ivy, Speedwell and Butterburrs are also starting to appear. However already the first flush of blossom has now concluded though blackthorn is now widely out and some hawthorn hedges are rapidly greening up in response to the improving weather.

Meanwhile back at home the Green Woodpecker was again heard in the area, whilst in the afternoon a Peacock butterfly was briefly seen fluttering through the garden. In the nearby woods the Wood Anemones are also now in flower, a cheering sight indeed.

North Cave Wetlands
We enjoyed an evening stroll around this wetland reserve on what was a sunny end to what turned out to be a pleasant enough, if somewhat chilly, early April day. The reserve was alive with the sounds of typical wetland birds as we made our way down Dryham Lane, with the Black-headed Gulls and Greylags dominating the sound-scape, though the calls of Lapwings, Redshanks & Teal (to name but a few) could also be picked out too. A flash of blue over Dryham Ings caught our eyes as we scanned the wet fields, a Kingfisher no doubt, but before we had time to raise the binoculars it was gone and out of sight. Continuing onwards we came to one of the new lagoons, and here we enjoyed our first views this year of both AVOCET (x6) and RINGED PLOVER (x2), always pleasing & welcome observations (I am just about old enough to remember when Avocets were still rare in this part of the world!).

A Grey Heron was also feeding along the edge of the Ings, with a dozen or so Redshanks too, whilst in the deeper lagoons typical wetland wildfowl were recorded, including Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Shelduck, Teal, Moorhen & Coot. Several pairs of Great Crested Grebes were additionally seen, birds which weren't present at the reserve when we last visited way back in January, while on the neighbouring fields large numbers of Greylags were feeding, joined by the odd Oystercatcher and Lapwing. At the new bird feeding stations Reed Buntings were showing well, and though I spent some time scanning the skies I came away empty-handed as regards my first Swallow of the year, though the reserve logbook did reveal that some birders had seen half a dozen earlier in the day. Maybe tomorrow...

7th April 2015, Tuesday
Min 0.9 C, Max 17.4 C, Rain nil, Wind W
A bright and crisp start to the day with a touch of ground frost, though some high cirrus/cirrostratus clouds to the east produced a halo & a pair of sun dogs as the sun rose this morning. Remaining sunny throughout the morning though some cloud would bubble up by the middle of day with sunny spells alternating with short cloudier periods in the afternoon. Feeling warm in the sun with temperatures climbing to 17.4 C, easily the warmest day so far this spring. Clear spells in the evening and overnight with a heavy dew by dawn.

Enjoyed another long ride this morning, again stopping by at the local flood meadows to check out the birds (this time remembering to bring along my binoculars). On the areas of standing water a few species of wildfowl could be seen, with hundreds of Teal, a dozen or so Shoveler, 6 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall and of course plenty of Mallards. Along the edges Lapwings & Redshanks were seen in healthy numbers, while approximately 8 DUNLIN were also spotted, all of which were still wearing their plain & grey winter plumage. Along the river Pied Wagtails flew by and perched on the moored boats, and as I watched I suddenly noticed a hirundine fly past. Thankfully it came past me again and I was able to confirm it as a SAND MARTIN, my first of the year. Further observations from the wetlands included 6 Cormorants and two Roe deer.

Meanwhile the number of Chiffchaffs in our local vicinity has grown yet further with 5 being heard along the length of Long Lane and in the woods, though the biggest highlight of the day was a gorgeous male BRIMSTONE butterfly which flittered through the garden, my first of the year and the third species of butterfly I have recorded in 2015. Meanwhile the warm afternoon sunshine saw up to at least half a dozen Peacock butterflies in the garden, most sunning themselves in the micro-climate of the walled garden, whilst three Small Tortoiseshells were also seen. However despite a few hours of Swallow lookout I again drew a blank today.

8th April 2015, Wednesday
Min 2.8 C, Max 15.7 C, Rain nil, Wind SE
A chilly but clement start to the day with a heavy dew and a low mist over the rural fields, though in the morning sunshine it would soon warm up with temperatures into the mid-teens by 11 am. Cloudier for a time around midday but becoming largely sunny again in the afternoon, though a cool SSE breeze kept temperatures pegged back somewhat. Mostly clear skies in the evening and overnight, bar the odd bit of high cloud, but toward the end of the night fog would begin to form, becoming thick by dawn.

Rode down to the wetlands this morning on what was a pleasant spring morning with a light mist hanging over the meadows & the winter floods. It was quite chilly though, with the river steaming in the cool morning air and indeed I had to wait quarter of an hour or so for the mist to clear so that I could look out on the more distant areas of flood. As I stood on the riverbank a pair of roe deer were seen in the fields, the buck barking occasionally, whilst in the nearby wood a Jay (possibly two) was heard noisily calling, while a pair of Stock doves were roosting on one of the riverside vessels.

Out on the floods three CURLEWS were noted, these soon moving off northwards as the sun climbed higher in the morning sky, whilst other waders included an abundance of Lapwings, numerous Redshanks, a few lingering Golden Plovers, a pair of Snipe, a single RINGED PLOVER, 2 DUNLIN and what may have been a few Ruff, though they were too distant for me to be sure. A quick count of the Teal at the two main pools revealed about 75, and here two Wigeon, 5 Shoveler and a single Shelduck were also noted.

Meanwhile in the garden a fourth species of butterfly was added to the year list, with a SMALL WHITE seen fluttering through the garden as we enjoyed a light lunch outdoors. Other butterfly species seen today included Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell, while I was also pleased to see that both TAWNY MINING BEES & BEE-FLIES have also now appeared within the garden, both being favourite insects of mine.

I put out the moth trap for the first time this year last night, and though I wasn't expecting much (the moths don't really get going here till mid-April), I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent variety when I opened up the trap this morning. The main highlight was a striking SHOULDER-STRIPE, a new moth for our East Yorkshire garden & the 269th species to be recorded here, whilst the other species were typical early season fare with 8 Common Quakers, 2 Hebrew Characters, 3 Double-striped Pugs, a pair of Early Greys, and a single each of Common & Beautiful Plume.

9th April 2015, Thursday
Min 1.8 C, Max 17.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SW
A foggy start to the day, visibility below 200 metres at times, but this would quickly burn off to leave a largely sunny (if somewhat hazy at times) spring day, temperatures climbing to 17.5 C in mid-afternoon. Remaining largely clear in the evening and overnight with a light mist by dawn.

The first SWALLOW of the year was spotted in late afternoon, with a single individual spotted on top of a neighbours aerial. After being on swallow lookout for the past few days it was great to final connect with this herald of the warmer & hopefully sunnier days ahead. Meanwhile further signs of the season have been noted with the rapid greening up of the local hedgerows (especially the hawthorns), widespread blackthorn blossom, first roadside cowslips, and even a hint of yellow in south-facing oilseed rape fields.

North Cave Wetlands
I went down to our local wetland nature reserve this morning, being dropped off just prior to 9 am and spending a good three hours wandering around the reserve and simply taking my time. In total 50 species would be recorded with the morning being dominated by the continuing return of spring migrants, especially wading species with new additions to my year list coming in the shape and form of five (possibly six) RUFF, and 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS. The number of Avocets has increased from six the other day to at least 25 today, whilst other species included Ringed Plover (6+), Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and 2 Snipe.

A number of Sand Martins were noted over the gravel pits and at least five Chiffchaffs were heard around the reserve, though again I was surprised by the lack of any Willow warblers or even singing Blackcaps, especially given the recent weather & SE winds. However reading some others peoples blogs it would seem that many of the spring migrants are running a little late this year and it is not quite clear why this is the case as the weather in Africa & the Mediterranean doesn't seem particularly poor. It would seem that even now we still don't fully understand the mechanics of bird migration and how it exactly works!

However reminders of the winter past have not yet fully deserted us just yet, with a BRAMBLING at the bird feeding station (ironically my first of the 'winter'), and whilst wildfowl numbers have dwindled there are still plenty of Teal, Tufted ducks, Shovelers and Gadwall, plus 2 Wigeon, 2 Pochard and at least 49 Shelduck. A pair of recently reported Mediterranean Gulls proved elusive for me, but other sightings of interest included a Stoat along the northern path, and three species of butterfly in the form of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell & Brimstone.

10th April 2015, Friday
Min 2.7 C, Max 18.8 C, Rain 1.1 mm, Wind S
A sunny and warm day with temperatures reaching a high of 18.8 C, the warmest day of the year so far (beating yesterday's short-lived record). The sun would become increasingly hazy by the end of the afternoon though, with skies becoming mostly cloudy throughout the evening and night.

A few more Swallows seen today above our East Yorkshire abode, including one chattering away right above me when I was emptying the moth trap at 6 am, and further Swallows were also seen along Long Lane as we enjoyed an afternoon ride in the warm sunshine. I also heard my first singing BLACKCAP of the year this morning, the rich song of the so called 'Northern Nightingale' being one of those sounds which instantly evokes pleasant spring-time memories for me.

The 125W Skinner trap was out again last night on what was a clear and initially mild night (still above 10 C at 9 pm), though temperatures would fall close to freezing by the end of the night with a very heavy dew by dawn. In total 5 species of moth would be recorded with one new species for the year list in the form of Clouded Drab (x2), as well as other typical early spring fare in the form of Hebrew Character (x5), Common Quaker (x3), Early Grey (x2), and Beautiful Plume (x1).

11th April 2015, Saturday
Min 5.5 C, Max 11.7 C, Rain 0.2 mm, Wind W
A cloudy start with a period of rain in mid-morning, this lowering the temperature from 10 C at 6 am to just 5 C by 9 am. The rain & cloud clearing away by 11 am with sunny spells developing, though it would remain quite chilly and would also become quite blustery with a fresh WNW breeze which would gust in excess of gale force at times. Clear spells in the evening and overnight but becoming cloudier by the end of the night.

12th April 2015, Sunday
Min 4.3 C, Max 13.0 C, Rain 1.2 mm, Wind W
A cloudy morning on the whole, though the odd brighter spell would break through at times, and also quite breezy, especially towards midday. Cloud thickening after lunch however with a period of moderate rain in mid-afternoon, accompanied by some short-lived gusty winds, but this would soon clear away with skies brightening up by the end of the afternoon. Skies becoming clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures dropping low enough for a touch of ground frost.

North Cliffe Wood
After missing our weekly walk around this peaceful & tranquil wood last week we were interested to see how just how far spring had advanced in the past fortnight, especially what with all the glorious spring weather we have enjoyed recently. We began our walk at the other entrance to the wood, the monthly YWT work-party have taken our normal parking spot, this taking us through a corner of the wood we usually miss. Chiffchaffs could be heard everywhere as we strolled along the path (at least 5-6 would be heard during our walk), whilst on the woodland floor the primroses are now at their best, with other wildflowers including wild strawberries, dogs mercury, a few Wood Anemones, and plenty of Wood Sorrel.

However most exciting of all was the appearance of the first BLUEBELLS of the year, these first pioneers still being early in their development but nevertheless being numerous enough to be noticeable to even the most unobservant observer. Likewise hazels and the younger birch trees are now widely coming into leaf, joining the hawthorns whom are already giving the countryside that lovely fresh green tint which so typifies April, whilst back on the woodland floor the delicate and slender leaves of Stitchwort are coming up through the dark green leaves of the bluebells.

Meanwhile the biggest highlight of the morning, at least for me, was my first WILLOW WARBLER of the year, the gently descending chorus of notes that this small summer visiting bird sings being one of my favourite sounds, and one which instantly evokes memories of warm and sun-soaked spring and early summer days out in the countryside I call home. However we didn't just hear one but at least 4 during our walk, and it seems likely that they have probably been present at this site for the last few days. Further sightings of note included a pair of Buzzards, a pair of Marsh Tit, plenty of singing skylarks, and a pheasant egg along the footpath.

13th April 2015, Monday
Min 1.0 C, Max 13.6 C, Rain nil, Wind SW
A clear start with a light hoar frost, especially in rural areas, and remaining largely bright and sunny throughout the morning, though going into the afternoon the sunshine would become increasingly hazy, so much so that by the end of the afternoon it had become largely cloudy. Mostly cloudy overnight, though some clearer spells would develop later.

A definite GREEN-VEINED WHITE was in the garden at lunchtime, the fifth species of the year to be recorded so far (after Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone & Small White). Peacock butterflies were also seen frequently while overhead a small number of Swallows were seen throughout most of the day. The Green Woodpecker was also heard in the area this afternoon.

Bempton Cliffs
This morning we enjoyed our first trip of the year to the nearby Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve at Bempton Cliffs, enjoying a few hours of seabird watching on what was a sunny if somewhat chilly April morning. All the typical seabirds species than one would expect to see here were present on the towering chalk cliffs, including thousands of Guillemots, Gannets & Kittiwakes, hundreds of Razorbills, a good number of Fulmars and of course Puffins, though numbers of this crowd-pleasing species did not seem numerous yet (I only saw half a dozen).

However this time of year is also good for seeing passage spring migrants, Bempton Cliffs after all is part of Flamborough Head, an internationally important bird migration hotspot (one of three along the Yorkshire coast!). Though nothing super-extraordinary was spotted this morning it was nevertheless pleasing to see my first WHEATEAR of the year (a solitary female), as well as a single ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD which cruised over our heads heading south-eastwards. Though at the time I was uncertain of my observation it was later confirmed via both birdguides & twitter and is my first RL Buzzard for a number of years.

Other birds noted around the reserve included plenty of Linnets in the gorse & bramble scrub, plenty of Skylarks, a few Pipits, and one jangling CORN BUNTING (my first of the year). Pied Wagtails were also seen along the clifftop paths whilst a few Swallows cruised low over the cliffs, though numbers were not as numerous as I was expecting. It was also surprising that no Willow warblers were heard around the new visitor centre, especially considering the numbers present at North Cliffe Wood yesterday, though Tree Sparrows were as numerous as ever.

14th April 2015, Tuesday
Min 4.1 C, Max 17.7 C, Rain nil, Wind W
A bright day for the most part with plenty of warm sunshine, though there were some cloudier periods too from time to time, especially around midday. Warm in the afternoon with temperatures climbing to 17.7 C. Clear spells in the evening and overnight.

A beautifully singing Blackcap was in the garden for much of the day, a wonderful sound to listen to as I 'worked' away in my office. Meanwhile the first HOLLY BLUE of the year would be spotted flittering around the Yews in the warm afternoon sunshine, whilst other butterflies in the garden today included Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White. It would also appear that a pair of Robins is currently nesting amongst the ivy with an adult seen to be regularly coming and going throughout much of the day.

North Cave Wetlands
We enjoyed a visit to our nearest nature reserve on what was a lovely warm and sunny April evening, perfect conditions for some lazy spring birding with my family. A number of typical spring migrants were on the reserve as we strolled around the former gravel pits, with at least a dozen YELLOW WAGTAILS, 4 Ruff, a single Dunlin and one lone COMMON SANDPIPER. On the Main Lake a pair of MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were picked out amongst the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, though the biggest highlight of the evening would be a LITTLE GULL which was kindly pointed out to me by another birder. This is my first Little Gull for many, many, many years and the first I have ever seen at North Cave Wetlands.

Continuing around the reserve Sand Martins flew around the continuing gravel extractions to the west of the reserve, with good numbers of this hirundine now present at the site, whilst on Dryham Ings a decent number of Ringed Plovers & quite a few Little Ringed Plovers were spotted. At the same location 26 Avocet were recorded (a further 6 would be recorded elsewhere on the reserve), and as we looked over the Ings a Marsh Harrier cruised over, sending the gulls & lapwings into a mass panic.

Walking through the willows we heard at least three species of warbler in song, with Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow warbler all announcing their presence, whilst the deep lagoons held their usual mix of wildfowl, including Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal & Mallard. On the fields a large number of Greylag geese fed out in open, joined by the odd Lapwing and Oystercatcher, and as the sun set over the rich agricultural landscape of the Vale of York a Barn Owl made an appearance over the fields to the east of the reserve, a fantastic way to end a beautiful evening.

15th April 2015, Wednesday
Min 4.7 C, Max 13.4 C, Rain nil, Wind W
A sunny and clement start to the day with warmish sunshine, but after 9 am cloud would increase from the north-west with largely cloudy skies for the remainder of the day. Feeling cooler as well, with even a few spots of rain in late afternoon. Remaining cloudy overnight.

A summer-like ride around the local area early this morning with the sounds of Swallows, several Blackcaps, a few Chiffchaffs and one or two Willow warblers providing the natural soundtrack. The sudden arrival of the Blackcaps over the weekend has been quite dramatic and at least half a dozen were heard within a few miles of our East Yorkshire home as we rode along the country lanes, whilst the Willow warblers were the first I have recorded in the Beverley area this year.

A quiet night for moths with only 6 in the trap when I emptied it this morning, though it was nice to add another species to the year list in the shape & form of Small Quaker (x1), whilst other species included Common Quaker (x3) & Hebrew Ch. (x2).

Grosmont & Goathland
With work continuing towards conclusion we headed up to our new cottage in Grosmont this morning on what was a cool & cloudy morning up on the North York Moors. It has been a long five and a bit months but light is now definitely at the end of the tunnel and even the scaffolding came down today, the new roof having been completed last week. Though a few more rooms still need plastering and the kitchen remains incomplete, I am hopeful that the cottage should be finished in another month, and will be at least habitable within a fortnight.

However our attention today was primarily on the garden, the recent spring warmth and sunshine having seen the weeds return en masse, and therefore we spent half of the day trying to bring a degree of order to the chaos. However I actually found this an enjoyable task, with just the sound of the river, the birds and the odd passing steam train to disturb the peace, whilst every now and then we would stop for a break and rest quietly on the riverbank, from where we could breathe in the distinctive & evocative aroma of Ramsons (Wild Garlic), listen to singing Chiffchaffs, and at least one Willow warbler, and watch a pair of Grey Wagtails and a single Dipper fly past. Above our heads we noted that Swallows have also returned to Grosmont, with a few seen over the village as we worked away, while a Curlew was even heard at one point, no doubt drifting over from the high moorland which lies immediately above the village.

After spending most of the day at Grosmont we headed back to East Yorkshire in mid-afternoon, though on the way back we stopped off for a lazy stroll around Darnholm & Goathland, this part of the moors being beautiful at all times but especially now in spring. Here willow warblers were numerous, the area around the ford filled with the sound of their song, while both Pied & Grey Wagtails were fairly numerous along the beck. A pair of Stock dove was a nice observation, a new addition to my 'Esk Valley' list, and it was equally delightful to breathe in the sweet coconut scent of gorse as we strolled along the alder & rowan lined beck. In the woods a Green Woodpecker was heard, and over Sleights Moor at least 4 Curlews and half a dozen Lapwings displayed, though also worthy of mention was the passing of the LNER K1 No.62005 'Lord of the Isles', this being the first time that I have actually seen this loco moving under its own steam. Hopefully I will see more of this loco during the upcoming spring gala.

16th April 2015, Thursday
Min 3.6 C, Max 11.8 C, Rain nil, Wind NE
A largely grey and cloudy day with little in the way of brightness, and feeling quite cool in a light NE breeze. Mostly cloudy at first overnight but skies would clear later allowing temperatures to drop and a light mist to form in rural areas.

We rode down to the river this morning on what was a grey and cool start to the day, though our spirits were immediately lifted by the sound of a singing SEDGE WARBLER (Y119) amongst the riverside reeds, our first of the year. A Barn Owl was seen hunting over the rough hay pastures east of the river, a less frequent sighting recently due to the lighter mornings, whilst over on the flood meadows the water levels are getting quite low. Indeed 2015 has thus far been a very dry year with April rainfall currently standing at less than 10 mm, whilst barely 70% of the average rainfall has been recorded since the start of the year. However enough standing water remains on the meadows for a decent variety of wildfowl and waders, with birds recorded this morning including 4 SHELDUCK, 50+ Teal, a handful of Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, a couple of CURLEW, at least 7 RUFF, a dozen or so Redshank and of course plenty of Lapwings. Some smaller waders were also noted but I couldn't ID them from the distance of the riverbank, while other observations from the area included a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Buzzard and a barking roe deer.

Meanwhile in the afternoon we went for another ride, this time in the Parklands, hoping to spot any spring passerines such as Yellow Wagtails & Wheatears on our East Yorkshire patch, as well as perhaps our first Whitethroats or Cuckoos of the year. Unfortunately we drew a complete blank as regards these species though nevertheless we still enjoyed watching the 2 dozen Swallows over the pastures, listening to the singing Blackcaps and Willow warblers and noting a few pairs of Pied Wagtails in the wetter parts of the paddocks.

17th April 2015, Friday
Min 3.0 C, Max 14.1 C, Rain nil, Wind E
A chilly but sunny start to the day, with low mist hanging over the rural fields, and it would remain sunny throughout the morning with temperatures climbing into the mid 50's in Fahrenheit. However by midday some fair weather cumulus would bubble up and in the afternoon would become somewhat more extensive, but this would clear away again by late afternoon with a fine, if somewhat cool evening following, a nagging easterly breeze adding a noticeable chill to the air. Clear spells overnight with temperatures falling low enough for a slight ground frost.

We rode past the flood meadows again this morning, though when we arrived shortly after dawn the area was actually veiled in low mist with only the calls of the birds allowing us to ID the presence of Redshanks, Lapwings and both displaying Meadow Pipits & Skylarks. When the mist did eventually clear we also spotted at least 9 RUFF, and plenty of Teal, though the biggest highlight would come latterly with the arrival of a WHIMBREL. The lone bird was very active and unsettled, but nevertheless I was able to pick out the distinctive supercilium, the shorter & almost bent at the tip bill compared to Curlew, and most importantly of all the white 'V' shaped feature on the rump. Meanwhile beside the river Hull, which again was flowing inland with the incoming tide, a single Sedge Warbler was again heard, though he had relocated a little further down the river compared to yesterday, whilst overhead a pair of Grey Herons passed over. In the woods a JAY was heard calling, and a Woodpecker was repeatedly drumming, and it was also interesting to see 5 Roe deer come out of the woods, including a handsome buck with a decent pair of antlers (well at least for a Roe anyway).

Yorkshire Wolds & North Cave Wetlands
After popping home for breakfast we decided to head out again, this time cycling all the way over to North Cave Wetlands on 't'other side of Wolds'. The 20 km cycle was a delight in itself, especially with the glorious weather this morning (all be it slightly on the cool side), and as we made our way over the 'summit' of the route we spotted displaying Lapwings over the fields and a pair of soaring Buzzards. The wide verges which are a characteristic of the old drove roads of the Yorkshire Wolds hosted a decent variety of wildflowers, including celandines, butterburs, and wood anemones to name but a few, these flowers attracting a few species of butterfly including Brimstone, Peacock and most numerous of all Small Tortoiseshell. I had hoped to see an Orange-tip but this species remains elusive for me so far this year.

Dropping down towards Newbald we passed a wood which was carpeted with Wood Anemones, whilst the strong and evocative perfume of Ramsons (or Wild Garlic if you prefer) hung in the still woodland air. The ramsons are not in flower yet but it won't be long judging by the flower buds. This same piece of wood also hosted at least three singing Blackcaps, this rich songster being a delight to the ear, whilst a few chiffchaffs were also heard in the area.

After 50 minutes or so we eventually made it to North Cave Wetlands, passing through the very pretty estate village of Hotham on the way, here the roads being lined by daffodils and other planted spring bulbs. However already many of the daffodils have already finished flowering and it seems spring is moving along very fast indeed this year. Whilst in the village we also stopped to admire the sturdy looking Norman church of St. Oswald's, and being a lover of all things equine I couldn't help but stop and admire some of the fine looking and well-bred steeds grazing in the green & daisy strewn pastures around this affluent community of 200 or so souls.

The nature reserve was quite busy when we arrived, one of the popular bird watching groups which have sprung up in the area filling up the hides with their enthusiastic participants, so therefore we spent most of our time down at Dryham Ings, this area being the most productive part of the reserve at the moment anyway. It was nice to see that the 1s LITTLE GULL was still present, whilst a couple of RUFF were also seen feeding along the waters edge with the more numerous Redshanks, Avocets and Plovers. At least six Little Ringed Plovers are now present in this part of the reserve and I enjoyed watching a male repeatedly trying to impress a clearly uninterested female with his 'fluffy' dance.

Looking further afield all three types of 'British' hirundine (ie. ones which breed here) were spotted over the gravel workings, with Sand Martins, Swallows and HOUSE MARTINS acrobatically sweeping through the sky, the House Martins being the first I have seen this year. A few Oystercatchers were down in the gravel workings too, with a pair of Stock doves also spotted, and as I looked down from the viewing area a single Curlew flew overhead, calling its characteristic & evocative call, the sound of which takes me straight back to springtime up on t' Wolds or Moors.

Along the lane a number of warblers called from the nearby willows and from the hedgerow, most noticeable of all being Blackcap, a bird which seems to have had a good winter judging by the large number of them about this spring. Butterflies also fluttered down the lane with Brimstone, Small White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell being spotted, but again frustratingly I have yet to spot a few species which I would have liked to have recorded by now, including Speckled Wood, Comma and of course Orange-tip. Maybe tomorrow....

18th April 2015, Saturday
Min 1.8 C, Max 13.4 C, Rain nil, Wind NE
A clear and chilly start with the slightest of ground frosts, but soon warming up in the April sunshine with temperatures close to the seasonal average. Sunny spells in the afternoon, though during any longer cloudier periods it would feel quite cool, especially in the moderate NE breeze. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

A quiet day at home today (in truth still recovering from the cycle ride yesterday!) but nevertheless plenty of interest in the garden with a decent variety of bees and butterflies, including our first LARGE WHITE of the year. Other butterflies fluttering around Wold Garth today included Green-veined White, Small White, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell & Holly Blue, the latter posing for some pics, but still no Orange-tips.

19th April 2015, Sunday
Min 2.8 C, Max 11.9 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind NE
A largely cloudy & breezy morning, though latterly some decent enough sunny spells would break through, which out of the wind at least felt pleasant enough. However cloud would increase again in the afternoon with outbreaks of rain coming in off the North Sea by late afternoon, and with temperatures barely more than 7 C it was a raw and decidedly unspring like end to the day. Rain clearing after dark with clear spells developing, this allowing temperatures to fall low enough for a slight ground frost by the end of the night.

North Cliffe Wood
Our customary Sunday stroll around this birch & oak woodland was undertaken on what a cool and breezy morning with occasional spells of sunshine, though thanks to the dry weather recently the ground has now firmed up all around the reserve with the water table having fallen a few inches since the start of the month. Unfortunately the combination of wind and low temperatures meant that butterflies were non-existent during our 2 hour walk, though quite a few bees were spotted buzzing about, no doubt enjoying the ever greater variety of wildflowers which can currently be enjoyed in the countryside, as well as the not so wild Oilseed Rape in the surrounding fields.

The primroses are particularly beautiful at the moment, the pale yellow blooms being dotted throughout this precious patch of preserved woodland, whilst further bluebells have appeared since our visit last weekend, especially in the shelter and warmth of the hazel coppice where the beginnings of a 'blue carpet' is just about noticeable. In the ditches marsh marigold is now widely brightening up the otherwise black peaty waters, whilst amongst the primroses and wild strawberries a decent number of Violets have appeared since last week, a heart-warming sight.

In the birch woodlands, which this morning were alive with the singing of numerous willow warblers and the odd blackcap, it is wood sorrel which is providing extra splashes of colour to the otherwise bare ground of this part of the wood, no doubt flowering before the bracken and brambles once more swamp them out. It was also around this area that we found a few broken pheasant eggs (with a couple also found near the heath), most likely robbed by various predators, though we also found another curious egg near the reserve entrance. Since most bird books do not include egg images anymore for fear of encouraging egg collecting (and rightly so too!) it took us a while to ID the egg in question, but after a bit of argument and research we both eventually decided it was Magpie... probably.

On the birding front it was, apart from the all the singing warblers, a largely quiet morning with no Whitethroats or Cuckoos to be seen or heard, but nevertheless we enjoyed watching a Treecreeper making its way up a birch tree as we enjoyed a cup of tea, whilst all the while being constantly serenaded by a willow warbler singing above us. A pair of buzzards made an appearance at one point too, much to the consternation of a pair of crows, and as we made our way across the heath a grey heron flew over, this common riverine species always looking twice the size in flight compared to when it is on the ground.

20th April 2015, Monday
Min 1.0 C, Max 14.9 C, Rain nil, Wind E
A much better day with plenty of pleasantly warm sunshine, the brisk and cold NE wind from yesterday being much lighter today. Clear skies in the evening and overnight with temperatures dipping close to freezing with a light ground frost by dawn.

One of the garden chiffchaffs seem to lose his 'chiff' today and spent most of the day just 'chaff-ing', this unusual sound making me think that we had some strange migrant bird in the garden until I was able to track down the culprit.

21st April 2015, Tuesday
Min 0.3 C, Max 17.7 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2-3
A cold start with a light frost, but with clear skies and an abundance of sunshine it would soon warm up with the day turning out to be near perfect with wall to wall clear blue skies and temperatures climbing into the high teens. Clear skies persisting throughout the night with a touch of grass frost.

With clear skies and temperatures down to 0.3 C I wasn't expecting much when I emptied the trap this morning, my fears being confirmed upon inspecting its contents with just a couple of rather chilled Hebrew Characters snuggled deep within the egg boxes at the bottom of the trap. It has been very slow going at Wold Garth so far this year (just 9 species so far) though past records indicates that things usually begin to pick up from late April onwards so things should improve soon.

After another disappointing moth trapping session I decided to cheer myself up by heading down to the flood meadows for a spot of dawn birding, arriving shortly after 6 am with the ground still white with frost. The recent Whimbrels noted by myself and another local birder were not to be seen, but nevertheless a good variety of typical spring wetland birds were noted at this under-watched site located on the outskirts of Beverley. Best amongst these were at least 7 RUFF at the largest of the surviving lagoons, at least three WHITE WAGTAILS, a beautiful YELLOW WAGTAIL along the riverbank, and a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS.

More common place were two Shelducks, 47+ Teal, a pair of Snipe, three Herring Gulls, both Swallows & Sand Martins, a single Grey Heron, a half dozen Redshanks, and of course the ever present Mallards & lapwings. Along the river the number of singing Sedge Warblers has increased to two individuals, and I wonder how long it will be till they are joined by the Reeds. Still no Cuckoos or Whitethroats though with warmer weather on the way I am hoping these two summer visitors will make an appearance by the end of the week.

In the garden a few species of butterfly were apparent again, with the most numerous being Green-veined White, Holly Blue (at least three are now fluttering around the garden) and Peacock, but other species spotted included Large White, one probable Small White and Small Tortoiseshell. The bee-flies were also hovering around, favouring the areas around the Yews, whilst the increasing variety of hoverflies is pleasing to see, though I only wish I was better at identifying these busy and quick moving insects.

North Cave Wetlands
We went for a stroll around our local nature reserve in late evening, enjoying the sights and sounds of an English wetland as the red sun set over the broad acres of Yorkshire. The cries of black-headed gulls dominated the soundscape, but oystercatchers also made themselves known, as did redshanks, geese, and other wildfowl, though the most exciting sound of the evening would come directly below the Turret Hide with our first REED WARBLER of the year. Sedge Warblers would also be heard with at least one at Village Lake and another at Reedbed Lake, and whilst blackcaps weren't as vocal as on other recent visits, at least three were counted, with one each of chiffchaff and willow warbler as well.

On the lakes it was nice to see the first goslings of the year, whilst around the reserve a number of avocets are already clearly paired up, the number of these graceful waders having now increased to at least 38. 6 Little Ringed Plovers at Dryham Ings showed well in the golden evening light, whilst a single Ringed Plover and a lone RUFF were also picked out. Pied Wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail provided further interest, and a quick check at the Main Lake confirmed the presence of the two MEDITERRANEAN GULLS.

22nd April 2015, Wednesday
Min 1.8 C, Max 18.0 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2
After an initially clear start cloud would increase from the north-east with largely cloudy skies for rest of the morning. However by midday some breaks would develop again with sunny spells in the afternoon, and with light winds temperatures would again climb into the high teens, reaching a maximum of 18 C. Clear skies in the evening and for most of the night but becoming cloudier latterly with grey skies by dawn.

A ride through the Parklands this morning brought no whitethroats, but the pond did host a Mute Swan and a pair of Greylags which was better than nothing I suppose. Very few wagtails in evidence in the paddocks with just a pair of Pied Wagtail, these being joined by a flock of three dozen Starlings and a single Mistle Thrush. However in the field drain I spotted my first WATER VOLE of the year, always a pleasing observation.

In the afternoon our first ORANGE TIP of the year fluttered past us at nearby Bishop's Croft, a much anticipated and most welcome observation, with other butterflies today including the three common Whites, Holly Blue and Small Tortoiseshell. Hopefully Speckled Wood will be added to the year list by the weekend.

23rd April 2015, Thursday
Min 4.3 C, Max 17.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 1-2
A cloudy and grey morning for the most part but after 11 am it would begin to brighten up with spells of sunshine by midday. Indeed in the afternoon it would become clear and sunny and with light winds and wall to wall sunshine it felt very pleasant indeed with temperatures in the high teens. Remaining largely clear throughout the evening and night with a very heavy dew by dawn.

A much better night as regards moths, helped no doubt by the somewhat higher overnight temperatures, sunshine the afternoon before and light winds. Three new species would be added to the year list with one each of Garden Carpet, Red-green Carpet, and Brindled Pug, whilst a single POWDERED QUAKER was a new addition to the garden list, a common species which has in the past eluded me. Other species in or around the trap included Hebrew Character (x5), Early Grey (x4), Common Quaker (x3), Clouded Drab (x1), Double-striped Pug (x1), and Common Plume (x1).

24th April 2015, Friday
Min 4.1 C, Max 20.6 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 4
A largely sunny and very warm day, the temperature climbing above 20 C for the first time this year, but as the afternoon wore on it would become increasingly hazy with cloudy skies by mid-evening. Remaining cloudy but dry throughout the night.

The parklands were alive with singing warblers this morning, with blackcaps, willow warblers and chiffchaffs, but despite my best efforts I failed to locate any whitethroats again. However I did think I heard one near Old Hall Farm but rather frustratingly I failed to actually locate it. Meanwhile at the pond the pair of Greylag Geese now have three goslings with them, and at the wood I heard a peculiar willow warbler whom seemed to think he was a chiffchaff, his song beginning with the familiar series of descending notes but ending in a rather poor imitation of chiff-chaff. In the same woods the Horse Chestnuts are pretty much in full leaf and are just about to start flowering, whilst the sycamores are just beginning to leaf with their maple-like leaves unfurling upon their spreading branches.

Goathland Moor
Whilst others went into Whitby to look at carpets and other uninteresting things, I spent a much more enjoyable few hours up on the rocks of Goathland Moor, made all the more pleasant by the gorgeous weather which bathed the county today. In fact what with all the recent warmth and lack of rain the moors themselves are tinder dry, especially so considering that is still only April, and I believe a fire was reported only earlier this week in another part of the National Park. However the forecast for the week ahead is looking far less settled and much, much colder (snow is even forecast for the highest hills in the area next week!), so this will at least help to alleviate some of the potential fire risk.

The rocks up above Moorgates are one of my favourite places in the whole of my 'Esk Valley' patch, being as they are easily accessible for anyone of moderate fitness but far enough off the beaten path to deter most visitors, and today the area came up trumps with a number of good sightings. Chief amongst these was at least one, and possibly two RING OUZELS amongst the rock strewn hillside. Whether these were just migrants passing through (loads have been reported along the coast lately) or possibly part of the local breeding population which dwell up here, I can't really be sure, but whatever their origin or destination it was great to see them on the patch.

The WHEATEAR meanwhile is a favourite bird of mine and as I sat quietly on the hillside I observed at least three separate males going about their business amongst the boulders, with occasional disputes and occasional bursts of song and even some short song-flights. I did curse the fact that I only had my standard zoom lens with me and in retrospect I should have thought to have brought my bridge camera with me, but hey-ho it did nothing to diminish the simple enjoyment of being able to enjoy a few hours with this charming little moorland bird.

Pipits meanwhile seemed to be absolutely everywhere, with dozens of them hopping from rock to rock and occasionally performing their characteristic parachuting song flights, whilst up on the open moors themselves the evocative cries of CURLEWS, Lapwings and a few Red Grouse drifted down to my sequestered nook overlooking the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. In the alders beside Eller Beck it was willow warblers whom dominated the soundscape and in the warmer & more sheltered valley a few species of butterfly were about, including Peacocks and at least one species of White. Speaking of lepidoptera the moors were covered in Common Heath moths, this day flying moth being abundant in this neck of the woods, whilst a few COMMON LIZARDS were also seen scurrying about the warm & sun-bathed rocks.

By comparison our afternoon at Grosmont was a much quieter affair, concerned as it was about house fixings and what have you, but we did enjoy meeting another one of our new neighbours whom owns the land the next door. However it seems that every time we talk to our neighbours we discover that we own more and more land, today the addition being yet another garden shed. If this goes on we will own half the village soon! Nature wise the highlights were a Grey Wagtail along the river and a number of Orange Tips in the garden (as well as an unidentified white species), whilst I also measured out a potential site for a bird/wildlife hide overlooking the river.

NYMR Spring Gala
The second weekend of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway spring gala started today with a good variety of locos working along the 18 mile route which runs down to Pickering from our home in Grosmont. This year's gala is dominated by a mixture of LMS, LNER & BR Standard type locomotives, with the two LNER locomotives running today being K1 No.62005 (sometimes referred to as 'Lord of the Isles'), and K4 No.61994 'The Great Marquess'. The resident LNER A4 No.60007 'Sir Nigel Gresley', a sister of the world-famous 'Mallard', was not running today but plenty of interest was still provided by three LMS Black 5's (No.45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier', No.45428 'Eric Treacy' & No.44871), two BR Standard 4's (No.76079 & No.75029 'The Green Knight'), and one diesel in the shape and form of Class 25 D7628 'Sybilla'.

25th April 2015, Saturday
Min 7.3 C, Max 16.3 C, Rain 5.0 mm, Wind N 4-5
A largely cloudy morning, though some brighter periods would break through too, especially towards the end of the morning when some spells of weak sunshine would pierce through the cloud. However in the afternoon showers would develop, some of which were heavy (17.8 mm/h), but by evening they would die out with clear skies following overnight, this allowing temperatures to dip close to freezing by dawn.

A largely cloudy and mild night meant conditions should have been ideal for moth trapping, and indeed a good variety of moths were actually recorded, but it was the number of them which was disappointing with just 13 moths in and around the trap when I rose early this morning to inspect its contents. Since I will need a new trap for our new cottage I think it might be time to upgrade to a Robinson, though looking at the prices I think I will have to start saving now!

As for the moths recorded four were new additions to the year list and one was a new species for the garden list, this coming in the shape and form of an OAK-TREE PUG. I had been struggling to ID this particular pug but it was a post on East Yorkshire Nature Notes which made me suddenly realise which species I had before me, a good new record with less than 250 reports before in VC61. The other new additions to the year list were Purple Thorn, Flame Carpet, and Spectacle, these species making a nice change from the more typical Orthosia species which dominate spring time mothing. The remaining moths recorded were Garden Carpet x1, Hebrew Character x2, Clouded Drab x1, Early Grey x2, Double-striped Pug x1, Common Plume x1 and Beautiful Plume x1.

After emptying the trap I made my way down to the wetlands to see if anything interesting was about, and as I reached my viewing point I instantly heard a familiar sound from the depths of the hedgerow, a singing WHITETHROAT, my first of the year. It even showed off for a bit, this allowing me to get some truly awful record shots. With this excitement out of the way I turned my attention to the wetlands, setting up my scope on the riverbank and scanning across the extensive wetlands before me. A chilly and fresh breeze blew across this open and windswept location, with black-headed gulls dancing on the breeze, and swallows swooping low over the flood meadows.

The RUFF, which have been at this site for a week or so now, were again in evidence, seven of these passage waders being recorded this morning, whilst in the areas of receding flood waters a pair of Shelduck and 32 Teal were noted. A pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were picked out distantly towards the northern end of the flood meadows, as was a single WHITE WAGTAIL, whilst along the river at least two Sedge Warblers were noted again, though there is still no sign of any Reed Warblers yet. It was along the river that I also noted that Cuckooflower has now come into flower and as I made my way home a stunning Barn Owl landed about 30 yards in front of me, tolerating my presence for a couple of minutes until a passing motor vehicle made it take flight.

26th April 2015, Sunday
Min 1.3 C, Max 13.0 C, Rain nil, Wind W 4
A cold start but with clear skies and wall to wall sunshine it would slowly warm up through the morning, though temperatures would remain much lower than they have been recently. More in the way of cloud in the afternoon but nevertheless remaining bright with sunny spells. Skies becoming clear again overnight with temperatures dropping below freezing.

We were up at the cottage today with a mixture of painting and gardening occupying us for most of the day, However I did pop down to the MPD to see the locos being prepared for the last day of the Spring Gala, and as I watched 'Sir Nigel Gresley' being watered and coaled up I suddenly heard a distant but familiar sound, my first CUCKOO of the year. By the sounds of it, it was up towards Green End, but it is nice to known that this iconic bird can be found on our new 'patch'. Meanwhile the woods along the Murk Esk hosted Jays and a singing Nuthatch, whilst as we strimmed & mowed the garden we were treated to the sight of a Dipper going about its business less than 20 yards from where we worked. Up close you can see why this bird used to be called the Water Ouzel.

Other sightings included a few Orange tips, a Buzzard overhead and a Grey Heron passing by and landing a little further up the river. As we worked we were also accompanied by singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, and it seems that the local birds are not particularly shy for they seemed to show no concern as to our presence when visiting the feeders, the Long-tailed Tits being almost close enough to touch sometimes!

NYMR Spring Gala
Today was the last day of this years Spring Gala and with plenty of sunshine it was an excellent day with most of the locos performing excellently along the worlds most popular heritage railway (or so the NYMR claim anyway). It was a real shame that the Great Western loco 'Kinlet Hall' was unable to attend, this partly because of West Coast Railways current ban, as it would have added a nice bit of variety to this years gala, but nevertheless today was a champion day for fans of the LNER with the A4 No.60007, K1 No.62005 and K4 No.61994 providing a thrilling spectacle.

27th April 2015, Monday
Min -1.0 C, Max 12.7 C, Rain trace, Wind SW 4
An initially frosty start but with wall to wall clear skies and an abundance of life giving rays it soon melted with most of the day enjoying plenty of sunshine, which in any sun traps felt very pleasant indeed despite the somewhat modest temperatures. However in late afternoon cloud would increase, with even some spots of rain in the evening, but this came to nothing and soon cleared away, leaving a night with variable amounts of cloud.

Not much to report today as I was busy with other things but it was nice to see at least three Holly Blues fluttering around the garden Yews and Hollies. Our small colony of Holly Blues at Wold Garth is one of my favourite aspects of our East Yorkshire home, and with their early start this year we will certainly have two broods to enjoy this summer.

28th April 2015, Tuesday
Min 2.6 C, Max 11.3 C, Rain 3.6 mm, Wind W 5
A cool, blustery but bright morning with plenty of sunny spells but by midday some sharp but brief showers would develop, accompanied by some squally winds and hail at times. Further showers in the afternoon with sunny spells in between, but the showers would die out in the evening with clear skies for the majority of the night, this allowing temperatures to dip low enough for a ground frost. However cloud would increase again by dawn.

29th April 2015, Wednesday
Min 0.9 C, Max 12.1 C, Rain trace, Wind W 4-5
A wet start to the day with outbreaks of rain but this would soon clear away with sunny spells developing for the rest of the morning. Remaining bright into the afternoon with plenty of sunny spells, though a few showers would also brush past our location, including one which produced a few rumbles of thunder. It was nice to hear thunder again as it has been over six months since this powerful & impressive weather phenomena was last recorded at Wold Garth. Any showers dying out by late afternoon with variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

North Cliffe Wood
Despite being very busy with a variety of mundane things today, we were at least able to escape for a couple of hours this afternoon, the youngest of my sisters and my two year old niece joining us for a stroll around our favourite woodland nature reserve. The weather was cool, especially in the brisk breeze, but at least it was largely sunny with most of the thundery showers drifting to the north of our location. The Bluebells in the wood are still at least a week from their best but in the warm, sheltered heart of the wood the faint of aroma of the bluebells is now hanging in the air, whilst the first of the Stitchwort has joined the other spring blooms on the woodland floor.

The stiff wind meant butterflies were in short supply, but a Green-veined White & a female Orange Tip provided some interest at least, though the biggest highlight of our stroll was my first GARDEN WARBLER of the year. The bird in question was singing beautifully amongst the willows along the central path, and even showed quite well at times (at least for a Garden Warbler anyway), allowing me to grab my first ever photos of this very plain looking songster. Elsewhere willow warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps were widely apparent whilst other birds of interest included a buzzard pair, and a Green Woodpecker.

30th April 2015, Thursday
Min 3.9 C, Max 12.5 C, Rain 0.4 mm, Wind NW 4-5
Another bright but cool day with plenty of sunny spells and a moderate to fresh NW breeze. A few showers in the afternoon but not really coming to anything and dying out by late afternoon. Skies becoming clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures dipping low enough for a ground frost by the end of the night.