1st September 2015, Tuesday
Min 10.9 C, Max 19.4 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind NW 4
A damp and grey start with light outbreaks of rain but becoming drier and brighter by mid-morning with sunny spells by the end of the morning. Remaining sunny and warm for much of the afternoon, the temperature climbing to just shy of 20 C, though a few showers would drift down from the NW in late afternoon and the evening. Becoming drier again overnight but remaining largely cloudy.
2nd September 2015, Wednesday
Min 9.1 C, Max 16.3 C, Rain 1.8 mm, Wind NW 2-3
A cloudy sort of morning, though not without some brighter periods, though after midday some showers would also develop, one or two of which were quite sharp. Mostly cloudy for the rest of the day with some further outbreaks of rain, especially in the evening, with little change overnight. Cool again with a high of just 16 C.
A young Willow warbler was in the garden when I was hanging the washing out this morning, whilst a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was also noted, the first I have seen at Wold Garth this autumn. The demise of Spotted Fly's in this area has been sad to witness over the last couple of decades but at least they remain an almost annual sighting in the garden, especially during August and September as they migrate south through the area.
North Cliffe Wood
We went blackberry picking this morning, our eldest niece joining us for this most pleasurable and rewarding of annual activities. The quality of the blackberries was very good with some particularly large and juicy ones, whilst they also tasted very sweet and should be perfect for pies, crumbles and jams. I should point that we only take what we need for it is important to leave plenty for the birds, rodents and insects whom also enjoy this natural harvest. Indeed on the woodland floor the fallen hazel nuts showed much evidence of the activities of Wood Mice, whilst the berries hosted Speckled Woods, Wasps and even a few Hornets.
With my hands full (and reddened) picking fruits I didn't take any photos this morning but despite this I noted plenty down in my notebook with a good variety of butterflies and dragonflies still widely in evidence, though admittedly not in the numbers of previous visits. Five butterfly species would be recorded with the most numerous by far being Speckled Woods, indeed I couldn't count them all but a general estimation would be at least 30, whilst other species included Green-veined White (x4), Small Copper (x5), Peacock (x1) and Red Admiral (x2). A Yellow Shell moth was also noted.
On the heath a dozen or so Hawkers were hunting over the bracken and heather, and though I only noted Migrant Hawkers, I imagine a few Southern types were also amongst them too. Common Darters remain numerous with 50+ recorded, whilst Emerald damselflies are also still plentiful around the heathland pond, though no other species of damselflies were noted. Finally a trio of Black darters were also recorded.
In the woods the growing diversity of fungi was pleasing to see, though the large number of mosquitoes and horseflies wasn't, whilst on the edge of the heath a few Parasol Mushrooms looked impressive beneath the woodland canopy, this relatively tall and wide toadstool being one of the largest types of mushroom in the British Isles. In the same area two GRASS SNAKES were also stumbled upon, one a largish specimen (about two feet long) whilst the other was a very small and almost pencil thin specimen.
Bird wise a single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was good to see (my second of the day!) whilst the sound of both Marsh Tit and WILLOW TIT in the same wood is always worthy of particular mention, especially since Willow Tit is so rare these days, at least around here anyway. A couple of HOBBIES were also seen and heard towards the south, and judging by the number of observations we have enjoyed of this summer visiting raptor over the course of this season, I strongly suspect that they have bred in the area, either here at North Cliffe or at the nearby South Cliffe Common. Indeed the similar habitat at South Cliffe but the lack of human disturbance thanks to the access issues at the site means it would be a near perfect breeding location for Hobby.
3rd September 2015, Thursday
A Barn Owl was hunting over the parklands this morning, the attractive owl stopping to rest on a fence post about 50 yards from where I watched along the lane to Old Hall Farm. The increasingly frequent sightings of Barn owls around Wold Garth has been one of the most pleasing and welcome developments during this past year.
North Norfolk & Holt
We made the three hour trip down to Holt in north Norfolk today, arriving at the small (and very posh) town shortly after 3 pm. With a little time to spare we decided to pay Cley Spy a visit as I have been wanting to upgrade my binoculars for a long time now, whilst I also had an eye on trading in my scope in for a lighter and more versatile model. In the end I only came away with a new pair of bins, picking up a discounted pair of Kowa Genesis 33's (8x33 version) to replace my grandfathers ageing Swift 8.5x44 (which are optically superb) and my pocket sized Opticron Traveller's (which aren't). Hopefully these new bins should last me a good few years.
4th September 2015, Friday
see The Railway Cottage - North Norfolk Steam Gala
5th September 2015, Saturday
North Norfolk - Cley & Titchwell
The day in Holt dawned grey and damp, a brisk northerly breeze making it feel distinctly autumnal with temperatures barely higher than 10 C and spits and spots of rain in the wind. However by mid-morning it began to rapidly brighten up and by the time we had made the short drive down to Cley Marshes the sun had come out. Mind you it remained very windy, especially down at the beach, with gale force gusts buffeting us as we gazed across the uninviting expanse of the North Sea. However these winds made it good conditions for seawatching, with large numbers of Gannets, mostly juveniles, passing the north Norfolk coast. Most were well out at sea but the odd one cruised close to the shore, whilst other birds of note included Fulmar, a variety of gulls, a few Turnstones and a raft of approximately 20 Common Scoter.
On the marshes themselves plenty of waders and wildfowl were noted, all of these being noted from the comfort of the visitor centre and its pleasant cafe overlooking the coastal wetlands, with species including Godwits, Avocets, Ruff, Lapwing, Wigeon, Teal, and Gadwall, to name but a few. A Marsh Harrier was also observed quartering the marshes to the east, always a regular sighting in this part of Norfolk these days.
Moving on we traveled westwards along the coast to visit Titchwell Marsh, stopping briefly at the One Stop Nature Shop in Burnham Deepdale to pick up a new stay-on-case for my spotting scope (I refuse to pay the ridiculous prices charged by some manufacturers for their cases!). In use it has already proved to be just as good as the more expensive brands stay-on-case whilst the lack of logos and branding also helps to hide the scopes true identity from both nosy gear freaks & those with perhaps more malicious intentions.
As ever the variety of birding at Titchwell was excellent and whilst there was nothing extraordinary about I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed my four hours at the reserve, a place which will always be dear to my heart for a variety of reasons, both birding and personal. The weather was sunny but cool, a fresh to strong breeze blowing in off the sea, and as I made my way through the marshes I became aware of a variety of dragonflies, including Southern Hawkers and Common Darters. The strong wind meant it was unsuitable weather for butterflies but a few species were spotted, with a single Comma, a few Speckled Woods, and a Green-veined White.
Continuing onwards the freshwater marsh was full of birds, the recent high tide having pushed many birds to the refuge of this part of the reserve, with Ruff, that most variable of wader species, being particularly abundant. Plenty of Dunlin were additionally noted amongst the throng, most being juvenile specimens, whilst a single Grey Plover, a dozen or so Turnstones, 10+ Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers, Avocets, Redshanks and both types of Godwit also being espied. A single SPOTTED REDSHANK flew past at one point and briefly showed well in front of the hide, whilst wildlfowl were represented by large numbers of Shelduck, several dozen Wigeon, plenty of Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, and of course Greylag geese & Mallards.
As we made our way past the saltmarsh towards the coast we noted a number of Curlews probing the muddy edges, the occasional one taking off and calling out that most evocative of calls which instantly take me back to spring on the moors or Orkney, whilst in the sky above us hirundines were noted in good numbers, mostly House Martins but with a few Swallows also mixed in for variety. To the west of the reserve Little Egrets were seen on Thornham Marsh, as were Grey Herons and flocks of roving Linnet, whilst a single Egyptian Goose was also worthy of note (probably a feral bird from Holkham or Houghton).
After being sand-blasted as we crossed the dunes to access the beach, we found a relatively sheltered and hidden away spot from where we could do a spot of cosy sea-watching. The tide had receded since our earlier bit of sea-watching at Cley and indeed far fewer birds were seen, but a few Common Scoter, plenty of gulls, and some very distant Gannets were noted. The shore itself provided more interest with Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Turnstones, Sanderlings, Godwits and even a few Knot recorded, whilst gulls included both types of Black-back, Herring, Common & Black-headed. No terns were spotted, which was disappointing, but nevertheless it was a good visit with over 60 species of bird being recorded.
6th September 2015, Sunday
Min 5.4 C, Max 18.9 C, Rain nil, Wind W 2-3
A beautiful early autumn day with an abundance of sunshine throughout, especially in the morning, and feeling much warmer than recent days thanks to the wind moving into the west rather than the north. Clear spells at first overnight but becoming cloudy after midnight.
A quiet day in the garden with the usual garden visitors to enjoy, though the increasing number of goldfinches is nice to see. Indeed their twittering calls are an almost ever present sound in the garden at the moment, whilst the resident Robins are still busy singing away as they establish their winter territories. The squirrels are also becoming more conspicuous again with a trio feeding below the feeders as I write (in past winter's we have had as many as ten!), whilst the September sunshine encouraged a few insects on to the wing, including a Migrant Hawker dragonfly and a variety of butterflies, including Speckled Wood, GV White, Large White, Comma and Holly Blue.
7th September 2015, Monday
Min 7.4 C, Max 16.8 C, Rain trace, Wind N 2-3
A cloudy and grey morning with cloud coming in off the North Sea, but in the afternoon this cloud would clear away with some good spells of sunshine developing. After a fine evening, which included a beautiful sunset, cloud would increase again overnight with overcast skies and light mizzly rain by dawn.
All the cereals (bar one field of spring wheat) has now been safely gathered in in the Parklands and with the end of the farming year approaching at the end of the month (traditionally marked by Michaelmas), we can start looking forward to the next year ahead. Indeed those fields which have been earmarked for Oilseed Rape need to be prepared and drilled as soon as possible, this partly to ensure that the crop is well established before the first frosts but also to lessen potential slug damage, though those fields which will again host cereals next year are best left for a while, the stubble and spilled grain providing food for the birds and small mammals.
In the hedgerows the black ripe fruits of the elderberries hang from the tops, their weight making them droop down towards the ground below, whilst the stony red fruits of haws look like little fairy lights, especially after any rain or fog. Blackberries meanwhile are somewhat hit-and-miss, though where they have done well they seem particularly juicy and sweet this year, and I have also noted that the crab apples are starting to drop from the trees, providing food for birds and insects (especially wasps). The rowan trees are also laden with bright red berries this year and within a week or two the first fully brown & glossy conkers should be ready to be gathered from the Horse Chestnuts, an activity which I still look forward to despite the fact I am now nearing my mid-thirties!
8th September 2015, Tuesday
Min 8.3 C, Max 15.2 C, Rain trace, Wind E 1-2
A very gloomy morning with dark overcast skies, the cloud thick enough to produce some very fine mizzle at times, and whilst it would brighten somewhat by the afternoon it would nevertheless remain cloudy for the duration of the day. Little change overnight with light drizzly rain returning towards the end of the night. Cool for the time of year.
With the gloomy skies this morning it was very dark indeed when I left the homestead shortly after 6 am, so dark in fact that the lights on my bicycle were bright enough to illuminate the track in front of me. If those 'lighter later' people get there way it would be dark like this every morning for most of September & October and I do hope that the silly, and in my opinion, selfish idea of moving the clocks forward an hour has been kicked into the long grass again.
Despite the gloom I decided to pay the new drainage pond beside the southern Beverley bypass a visit and I was immediately rewarded with the sight of a prospecting KINGFISHER checking out the area. The beautiful halcyon bird flew around several times, occasionally alighting on the posts, on reeds or even on the ground (I don't know about you but I'm not sure I have seen a Kingfisher on the ground), and as I watched through my new bins (which are excellent by the way) I even saw it briefly plunge into the water and return with a water snail of some kind. I doubt the bird will remain as to be honest the location is not really suitable, but it just goes to show how important a small patch of water can be for drawing in wildlife. Meanwhile five Mallards were also at the pond whilst in the stubble fields a pair of Roe deer were gleaning. One of the neighbours cows had also escaped into the same field!
9th September 2015, Wednesday
Min 9.8 C, Max 16.8 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2-3
A similar start to yesterday with gloomy skies and light mizzle, but it would brighten up as the morning progressed with sunny spells developing in the afternoon. However the gentle easterly breeze kept temperatures pegged back somewhat. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with a heavy autumn dew on the ground come dawn.
10th September 2015, Thursday
Min 7.4 C, Max 19.6 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 4
A pleasant early autumn day with sunny spells in the morning and the afternoon, indeed by mid-afternoon any cloud had cleared away leaving clear blue skies for the duration. A little warmer too, though the easterly breeze, which was quite fresh at times, added a slight chill to the air. Clear skies overnight with a heavy dew and mist patches by dawn.
The large number of finches visiting the bird feeders at the moment is seeing me fill the feeders almost daily, the sunflower hearts proving extremely popular at the moment with the greenfinches, bullfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches (the latter also coming for nyjer seeds). Indeed the tits are not really getting much of a look in due to the finch invasion and it will be interesting to see whether this continues throughout the autumn.
Meanwhile only a few butterflies were about today, though a couple of Holly Blues are still going strong despite the approaching equinox in less than a fortnight, whilst the Migrant hawker, which has been hanging around the garden since August, remains an almost daily sighting. Elsewhere a clump of fungi of the boletus type have appeared on the edge of the wood, these same fungi appearing for the first time last year, and due to their large size and their proximity to the beech trees I suspect they may be Penny Buns (Boletus edulis), an edible and sought after species.
11th September 2015, Friday
Min 6.4 C, Max 19.5 C, Rain 4.2 mm, Wind SE 5
A clear and chilly start with a heavy dew upon the ground and patches of mist over the fields, but it would soon warm up with plenty of sunshine being enjoyed throughout the day. However like yesterday it would become quite breezy in the afternoon with a brisk SE breeze keeping temperatures around the seasonal average. Largely clear in the evening and at first overnight but cloud would increase later with outbreaks of rain arriving prior to dawn.
My first spot of mothing for about three weeks was conducted last night on what was a clear autumn's night with temperatures dipping to around 43 degrees (F), the lawn soaked by a very heavy dew come dawn. It soon became apparent that yet again the Large Yellow Underwings had invaded Wold Garth en masse with over 150 of them eventually being counted in and around the trap, some of the egg boxes within the trap being covered by them. I know that some people suffer far worse LYU eruptions, especially those lucky enough to have Robinson traps, but this was nevertheless my largest count of the species so far.
In total 192 moths were counted, these being represented by 19 species of which four were new additions to the year list. In truth this was somewhat disappointing, as I had been hoping for some of the autumn specialists which begin to appear in the garden from September onwards, but at least this will provide an extra incentive to conduct at least one or two more moth trapping sessions during the rest of September. The four new additions were Dusky Thorn (x1), Small Square-spot (x2), Dark Marbled Carpet (x1), and Flounced Rustic (x1).
Other species and numbers recorded were as follows; Large Yellow Underwing (x150+), Lesser Yellow Underwing (x21), Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (x1), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (x2), Copper Underwing (x1), Flame Shoulder (x1), Mouse Moth (x1), Straw Dot (x1), Garden Carpet (x1), Angle Shades (x2), Silver Y (x2), Willow Beauty (x1), Riband Wave (x1), Garden Pebble (x1) and Garden Rose Tortrix (x1). A large number of wasps and craneflies were also attracted to the light last night.
North Cave Wetlands
With a bit of free time this afternoon I spent a couple of hours down at our local nature reserve on what was a sunny but breezy sort of day. However being further inland and sheltered by the Yorkshire Wolds it was noticeably warmer than back home at Wold Garth, indeed quite summery one could say, and this was perhaps reflected in the lack of migrant birds on the reserve this afternoon with just a single COMMON SANDPIPER being worthy of note. However increasing amounts of wildfowl were welcome, even if the vast majority are still in eclipse, with lots of Teal and about a dozen Wigeon joining the usual species. The feral Black Swan which turns up from time to time was also at the Village Lake.
Gulls were few and far between, most probably feeding elsewhere (the middle of the day not being the best time for gull watching!), though a few species were represented including Lesser Black-backed gull, Common gull and Black-headed gull. On the 'Ings' a couple of Grey Heron were present, much as they have been throughout the summer, whilst at least two Little Egrets were feeding in the still active gravel pits west of the reserve, much to the dislike of the local corvids. A single Curlew made a brief appearance as it flew over the reserve as I wandered along the northern path, whilst in the hedgerow a young Blackcap was nice to see, especially as warblers were quite elusive today. Finally at Village Lake, which was dominated by thousands of noisy Greylag geese and Lapwings, a small group of Snipe were noted. In total 46 species of bird would be noted.
However it wasn't all about birds, and with the warm weather today a good variety of odonata were enjoyed, the Common darters being particularly numerous (at least a 100+ and maybe far more). Southern hawkers were also widely apparent, the odd Migrant hawker providing a bit of variety, whilst beside Carp lake a single Brown hawker was also noted. Two species of damselfly were also jotted down in me notebook, with a couple of Blue-tailed damselflies and 50+ Common Blue damselflies.
Butterflies too provided further interest, despite the strong breeze, with six species being ticked off in my little birding notebook. Most numerous of all were Speckled Woods, this species being very common in the right habitat at the moment (including Wold Garth), and it would seem that this species has now returned to pre-2010 levels in the county. Common Blue butterflies were seen well in the SW corner of the reserve and also around the Turret Hide, with maybe two dozen noted, whilst other species included a single Small Tortoiseshell, two Meadow Browns, a dozen Green-veined Whites, and at least two Large Whites.
12th September 2015, Saturday
Min 11.7 C, Max 20.5 C, Rain 0.5 mm, Wind SE 3-4
A largely wet morning with spells of moderate and occasionally heavy rain, but by the end of the morning this cleared away with sunny spells quickly developing after midday. However this sunshine combined with high humidity levels (dew point of 16 C) meant that a few thundery showers would bubble up by mid-afternoon, though all of these drifted past us and produced no more than a few distant deep rumbles. Variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the day with sunny spells in between, with clear spells persisting overnight.
Three dozen goldfinches were roving around the environs of Wold Garth this morning, the birds in question showing a preference for the birch trees outside my office window. Being mid-September it is always worth checking such flocks for other finches such as Siskins, but today it was just a mixture of adult and greyplate 'thistle-tweakers'.
13th September 2015, Sunday
Min 5.8 C, Max 17.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 2
A sunny morning with light winds, though in the afternoon it would become cloudy for a time before sunny spells returned in the evening. Clear spells at first overnight but fog would form latterly, this becoming quite thick by dawn.
It had been almost a month since my last visit up to the cottage and as a result most of our day was spent in the garden with mowing and weeding being the most essential tasks, whilst I also decided to line the edge of one of new flower borders with stones collected from beside the river (yes we are allowed to do that!). Progress on the cottage remains depressingly slow but could still potentially be finished within a week if we could just find a heating-engineer/plumber, the lack of which is apparently a fact of life in the Whitby area according to our neighbours.
In the afternoon I went for my favourite stroll around the village, heading down to the river Esk and then up the steep hill of Lease Rigg, from the top of which there are fine views up the valley of the Murk Esk towards Beck Hole and Goathland, as well as Eskdale itself. The pretty little houses at the top of the hill hosted a number of butterflies, the buddlieas still flowering up here, with the highlight being a couple of PAINTED LADIES. Though it hasn't been a classic year for PL's, certainly not as memorable as 2006, it has nevertheless been a good year for them and I think I have had more sightings this year than in the last five years put together!
Other butterflies seen today included Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, and Large White, whilst down by the Murk Esk a couple of Migrant hawkers were hunting around the area. The river itself was quite full today, the local area having received a fair amount of rain recently, and was particularly dark and peaty coloured. Indeed where the Murk Esk meets the Esk down by the cricket field one can clearly see why the Murk Esk is so named due to the obviously darker hue of its waters.
Bird wise up to four Grey Wagtails (including two juveniles) and three Dippers were the highlights at our cottage, whilst a single Moorhen was worthy of note as according to my book about the village and the article written by Mr. Norman (the former owner of our cottage) about local birdlife, Moorhens were wiped out locally by mink in the period leading up to the millennium. Perhaps recent efforts to eradicate mink are working. Meanwhile up above Goathland the Fly Agarics have appeared at Moorgates, whilst a few other species were also noted, including a few Blushers.
14th September 2015, Monday
Min 7.3 C, Max 13.8 C, Rain 4.2 mm, Wind E 2
A foggy start and remaining dull and overcast throughout the day with some outbreaks of rain at times, especially in late morning and early afternoon. In the evening some further pulses of heavy rain would arrive, this being accompanied by some distant rumbles of thunder to the east, whilst overnight it would remain inclement with further periods of rain at times. Cool.
A very disappointing collection of moths were uncovered in the trap this morning, though due to a large wasp presence around the bulb I had to first deal with them. Indeed the wasps outnumbered moths by three to one and for the first time this year no new additions were made to the year list, my 20th moth trapping night of the year being thoroughly forgettable. Still all & any moths visitors are always welcome, and are treated with the care and attention that they deserve, as after all when you trap them you are diverting them away from their usual existence so it is only right and proper to try and make their stay as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
In total 10 moths of six species were recorded and were as follows; Large Yellow Underwing (x5), Lesser Yellow Underwing (x1), Garden Carpet (x1), Common Marbled Carpet (x1), Silver Y (x1) and finally Light Brown Apple Moth (x1).
15th September 2015, Tuesday
Min 9.2 C, Max 15.7 C, Rain 3.6 mm, Wind W 3
A dull morning with outbreaks of rain, the rain becoming persistent at times, but after midday it would begin to dry up with it slowly becoming brighter as the afternoon wore on. Indeed by late afternoon and the evening some good spells of sunshine would develop, whilst overnight clear spells would allow temperatures to fall well into single figures. However cloud would increase again by the end of the night with grey skies by dawn.
The three dozen goldfinches were at the feeding station today, pushing out all other species bar the more dominant greenfinches and the occasional robin. Meanwhile the chaffinches were feeding below the feeders along with the blackbirds, dunnocks, collared doves and wood pigeons, the feeding station being particularly busy during the heaviest of this morning's rain.
We also collected elderberries, blackberries, haws, apples and a few other items from the garden today for hedgerow jelly, the collected fruits and berries being enough for a few jars of what is a deliciously dark & rich jelly. However we have decided to not bother with making any elderberry wine this year as we still have plenty from previous years!
16th September 2015, Wednesday
Min 5.6 C, Max 15.6 C, Rain nil, Wind NW 4
A cloudy morning on the whole, though in the afternoon it would become a little brighter with some sunny spells at times. However cloud would increase again in the evening, the breeze also picking up from the north, but despite appearing very threatening it would remain dry. Largely cloudy overnight with some clearer spells towards dawn.
17th September 2015, Thursday
Min 8.0 C, Max 16.8 C, Rain nil, Wind W 2-3
A cloudy start to the day but brightening up after 9 am with sunny spells for the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon. Cloud increasing again in the evening but overnight skies would clear once more with light mist forming over the fields by dawn.
A lovely fresh looking Red Admiral was fluttering around the garden today, this striking species being one which I associate with this time of year. A couple of species of White were also seen though it has been a few days since I have seen any Holly Blues. Maybe the recent weather has finished them off for yet another year.
18th September 2015, Friday
Min 5.5 C, Max 18.5 C, Rain 3.1 mm, Wind N 1-2
A delightfully autumnal and chilly start to the morning with low mist hanging over the fields, and it would remain largely clear and sunny throughout the morning. However after midday some heavy showers would drift down from the north, some of which were heavy (peak rate of 32.0 mm/h) and slow moving. These showers would clear away by the end of the afternoon with clear skies returning in the evening. Mostly clear overnight with mist patches by dawn.
A singing Chiffchaff was at Wold Garth this morning, whilst down at Old Hall Farm other warblers were also noted, including a couple of Willow warblers and a single Blackcap. At this time of year I try to keep an eye and ear open for Pink-footed Geese heading south, as usually they start passing over in the last fortnight of September, but so far I haven't seen any. However the local feral Greylag geese also get restless at this time of year, their innate instincts kicking in, and they have been seen passing over in variable flock sizes on a number of recent days, including a skein of nearly thirty a couple of days ago. Meanwhile three Roe deer were grazing in the horse pastures as I cycled into town shortly prior to 7 am.
19th September 2015, Saturday
Min 6.2 C, Max 18.8 C, Rain nil, Wind W 2
A sunny start to the day with light mist and a heavy dew upon the ground, and remaining largely sunny throughout the day with plenty of sunny spells and temperatures rising to slightly above the mid-September average. Clear spells overnight.
Grosmont & Green End
With the imminent completion of our cottage now on the horizon (finally!) we went up to Grosmont today on what was a sunny and warm autumn day to do a few tasks which need to be finished before work is allowed to progress. However this didn't take that long and what with the perfect weather today I decided to head out on a good walk around the local area, starting from our cottage and making my way up to the nearby hamlet of Esk Valley, though rather than taking the normal route I decided to head up to Lease Rigg first before heading back down again to the unusual row of terrace houses which make up the hamlet. This little community, like Grosmont, has its origins in the local iron mining industry of the 19th century, and though today few signs of this past industrial heritage remain, the row of terrace houses are a lingering reminder of how different this part of the world was little more than a century ago.
From Esk Valley I followed the course of the Murk Esk, noting the distinctive call and blue streak of a Kingfisher as I neared the newly completed bridge over the river, and rather than walk on towards Goathland I decided to take the newly reinstated bridleway route provided by the aforementioned bridge and headed for yet another small hamlet in the form of Green End, a collection of farms and small homesteads which sit peacefully on a small ledge between the open heather moors above and the green and wooded valleys below. The climb up through the woods and sheep grazed fields was most pleasant, the yaffling cry of a Green Woodpecker accompanying me as I went, as well as the odd late singing Chiffchaff and the 'tsweep'ing calls of other leaf warblers, until finally I reached Green End itself.
After passing through the farms which make up this unassuming hamlet, I found myself up on the lonely moors with just the sheep, Red Grouse and Pipits for company, whilst a cool breeze blowing across the open and exposed landscape came as welcome relief after the long climb. As I made my way through some thick bracken, most of which is still lush and green, a Yellowhammer was noted, whilst on the heather moors themselves I took time to enjoy the last of the purple flowers. A few fungi were noted, including a Waxcap species, whilst as I neared the top of Goathland Moor I came upon a typical black moorland pool were I flushed a pair of Snipe from the boggy edges and found a few dragonflies, including a pair of COMMON HAWKERS and a dozen or so BLACK DARTERS, both typical moorland species.
From the top of Goathland Moor, which is just shy of 1000 feet above sea level, I was able to look down on Whitby and its famous ruined abbey some six miles distant, the cold waters of the North Sea beyond looking blue beneath the clear azure September sky, whilst to the west the relatively lush valley of Eskdale snaked its way inland, the greenness of its pastures and woods contrasting with the bleaker heather moorlands rising up on either side. From this high point I made my way back down to Grosmont, and as I fell ever lower I returned to the rich pastures of the sheltered valley which I now call home, enjoying the sweet smell of freshly cut grass for an autumn crop of silage, whilst House Martins and a few Swallows were also reminders that summer has not quite yet deserted this far north-eastern corner of Yorkshire.
Indeed quite a few butterfly species were also noted around the village today with Small Tortoiseshells being particularly numerous (at least 10+ anyway), whilst other species included Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood and Large White. A few Silver Y's were additionally noted, especially around the buddleias up on Lease Rigg, whilst a Common Rustic (agg.) moth was also stumbled upon high on the moors. A Migrant Hawker was also in our cottage garden during the afternoon, though interestingly there were no signs of the local Dippers or Grey Wagtails today, the recent spate of the river last week (it was up to the bottom wall of our garden!) perhaps seeing them move elsewhere, at least temporarily.
20th September 2015, Sunday
Min 6.6 C, Max 17.4 C, Rain nil, Wind SW 2
A bright morning with plenty of sunny spells, but as the afternoon wore on it would become increasingly cloudy with largely overcast skies by the evening. Remaining cloudy overnight.
21st September 2015, Monday
Min 9.6 C, Max 14.6 C, Rain 3.2 mm, Wind W 3
An initially bright start but soon becoming cloudy with outbreaks of rain arriving around midday. Outbreaks of rain continuing for much of the afternoon though by 5 pm it would begin to clear away to the east with skies quickly brightening up with some golden autumn sunshine to end the day. Clear spells overnight with mist patches by dawn.
There are few days in the year that I look forward to more than the annual Nidderdale Agricultural Show held at Pateley Bridge every third Monday in September, this show being traditionally the last one of the year here in Yorkshire. This usually means it is well attended with many livestock breeders coming to enjoy this last hurrah of the farming year, though admittedly the lateness of the show does always mean that is very vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather, especially true up here in Nidderdale (the top of the dale is reputedly the wettest corner of Yorkshire!). Indeed the weather for this years show was decidedly mixed, with drizzle and light rain for much of the morning, heavy rain around midday, and sunshine to end the day, but all this is part of the charm of this event and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my day out in this beautiful corner of England.
Indeed coming to Nidderdale is always a sort of homecoming for me, much of my childhood having been spent near the village of Birstwith in lower Nidderdale, and on a day such as today I am reminded of why I love this corner of Yorkshire so much. Having left Wold Garth shortly prior to 7 am we arrived at Pateley around 9 am, quickly making our way to the showground to admire the beautiful horses being shown in the various classes. The first three hours of the show are devoted to equines, at least in the main ring anyway, the hunters always being my favourite class. Indeed one particular animal caught my eye and surely there are few things more beautiful in the whole of creation than a hunter in good health and tip-top condition.
We also took time to check out the various cattle and dairy classes, the quality of bovine stock at Nidderdale always being top notch in what is after all one of the richest agricultural corners of Yorkshire and indeed the British Isles. The family from Lockton (which is near Grosmont) with their British Blondes were present again, the cattle victorious as they were at Ryedale back in July, whilst other familiar faces were noted, though it was sad to see that the local pedigree Limousins (whom shall remain nameless) were not present this year, the demise of the once award winning herd having been sad to witness since the farm was put up for sale.
Being surrounded by high hill country the show always hosts a good variety of sheep breeds, the standard of which amongst some of the breeds such as Swalesdales, Wensleydales, Teeswaters, and Mashams, being as good, and in some cases better, than you will find at county shows in less favoured corners of England. The traditional Pennine breeds are always my personal favourites, especially the Swaledales and Mules, though I was disappointed to see no Kerry Hill's at this years show. Indeed should I ever have sheep of my own I think Kerry Hills will be my favoured breed! I also rather enjoyed watching a dog being told in no uncertain terms to clear off by a particularly feisty ewe.
I also took time to watch the sheep dog trialing which takes place in the steep field above the showground, again the nature of the local farming always ensuring that the quality is high and that there is no shortage of shepherds & shepherdesses willing to show off their skills with both sheep and dog. Classes for both singles and braces are held at Nidderdale, the brace always being my favourite, and whilst I would not describe myself as a lover of dogs, indeed often quite the reverse, I do nevertheless admire the intelligence and skill of collies, especially when they are doing what they were bred to do in the sort of countryside where they truly belong.
Speaking of working dogs, the foxhounds of the West of Yore and the beagles of the Claro made their annual appearance, the hunt being warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by the vast majority of those attending the show. Whilst I have learnt that it is perhaps best to keep my opinions to myself as regards some rural isssues, I will nevertheless admit that I do enjoy seeing the hounds and the beagles at such occasions, as well as the huntmen and huntswomen atop their fine steeds in their traditional hunting jackets and apparel. The terrier racing was also a popular event with the crowd, the ferocious little dogs showing the skills and speed required to catch rats in the traditional manner, whilst I also enjoyed the quad bike racing, something I would rather like to try myself, though perhaps not in front of so many people! All in all a grand sort of day and already I am looking forward to next year.
22nd September 2015, Tuesday
Min 5.6 C, Max 16.2 C, Rain trace, Wind NW 4
A largely fine and bright day with plenty of sunny spells, especially in the morning, though in the afternoon a few fleeting showers would occasionally drift down from the NW, these barely producing enough to dampen the ground. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some longer clear spells by the end of the night.
23rd September 2015, Wednesday
Min 8.3 C, Max 16.6 C, Rain nil, Wind W 3-4
A bright morning with sunny spells throughout, though in the afternoon it would become increasingly cloudy with largely grey skies by the end of the afternoon and into the evening. Remaining largely cloudy overnight.
Four roe deer were in the stubble fields around 6 am this morning, whilst I have also begun to notice some early leaf fall in the area, though despite this the woods are still largely green with little signs of autumn tint yet. However some Horse Chestnuts have now started to turn yellow and red here and there, whilst in the birch woodlands the trees are slowing beginning to 'yellow' as the nights have now become longer than the days after the autumn equinox.
24th September 2015, Thursday
Min 10.0 C, Max 15.9 C, Rain 0.2 mm, Wind W 4
After a cloudy start it would soon become sunny and clear and would remain so throughout most of the morning. Remaining largely sunny in the afternoon though a few showers would drift over from the west, a couple of which were quite sharp, whilst the breeze also became quite fresh at times, this making it feel quite cool. Showers dying out by the end of the afternoon with mostly clear skies throughout the evening and overnight.
25th September 2015, Friday
Min 6.7 C, Max 17.2 C, Rain nil, Wind W 3-4
A largely sunny and pleasant late September day with temperatures slightly above average for the time of year. Skies becoming clear overnight with temperatures falling below 40 F for the first time since early June.
26th September 2015, Saturday
Min 4.3 C, Max 17.4 C, Rain nil, Wind E 1-2
After an initially promising and clear start it would become cloudy by mid-morning and would remain so throughout much of the day. However in the second half of the afternoon it would start to brighten up with some late sunshine to end the day. Mostly clear skies overnight with fog forming latterly.
Grosmont & Goathland
Besides trainspotting I also noted a few other interesting things during our day up on moors, including quite a bit of autumn tint starting to appear in sheltered spots here and there. Last year the autumn colours were wonderful around our cottage and hopefully we will see a repeat this year. Meanwhile down on the cricket field a few species of fungi were noted, mostly Ink-caps, whilst the river hosted a single heron. Back at the cottage I had the privilege of watching a Dipper feed on the opposite river bank for about five minutes, the Water Ouzel being within 20 yards of where I stood, whilst a few butterflies were noted despite the grey skies, including Comma and Red Admiral. Meanwhile more Fly Agaric have appeared at Moorgates, about a dozen or so currently fruiting beneath the host birch, whilst some of the berry laden Mountain Ashes have started to turn quite red as the leaves start to fall along the lane to nearby Birchwood Farm & Cottage.
27th September 2015, Sunday
Min 5.4 C, Max 16.3 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 1-2
A foggy start to the morning with visibility down to little more than 200 metres, though after 9 am the fog would be replaced by merely grey skies. However in the afternoon it would begin to brighten up with sunny spells developing after 1 pm, and by the end of the afternoon skies would become clear with another fine end to the day. Clear skies in the evening but after midnight thick fog would quickly develop, this persisting throughout the rest of the night.
The LUNAR ECLIPSE, which this year was coinciding with a so called 'Super Moon', was just about visible through the thick fog during the night. However when it was at its darkest, the point where it can often look quite red (a Blood Moon), it was very difficult to see due to the poor visibility, which of course was a shame, but at least we were able to see it as it disappeared in to the Earth's shadow shortly after 1 am and as it began to reappear again around 4 am.
28th September 2015, Monday
Min 4.6 C, Max 17.5 C, Rain nil, Wind SE 2
A foggy morning, the fog being of a particularly wet type with everything dripping wet as I cycled into town, but by 9 am it would begin to burn away with sunny spells soon developing in the second half of the morning. Remaining bright in the afternoon with sunny spells throughout, this helping to push temperatures slightly above the long term average. Mostly clear skies in the evening and overnight though like last night mist and then fog would form after midnight, this becoming thick by dawn with visibility down to little more than 100 metres.
A few Red admirals were fluttering around the garden this afternoon, the striking species that is Vanessa atalanta being attracted to the Ivies which are currently covered in flowers. These same flowers also attracted bees, wasps and hoverflies, the ivy providing one final banquet before the leaner days ahead, and indeed as one stood near the ivy covered walls one could hear the constant hum of dozens if not hundreds of insects buzzing around its clusters of green grape-like flowers. Elsewhere in the garden the Virginia creepers now look glorious in the autumn sunshine, the golden light of this time of year really emphasising the rich red hue of its autumn leaves, whilst berries abound everywhere, brightening up the now tired autumn gardens.
29th September 2015, Michaelmas
Min 6.3 C, Max 16.6 C, Rain nil, Wind E 2
Another foggy start, the fog being denser and longer lasting than yesterday, but nevertheless by the end of the morning the fog would quickly dissipate with plenty of autumn sunshine in the afternoon, feeling pleasantly warm with little in the way of any wind. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight but once again fog would begin to form by the end of the night.
The apple trees that we inherited at our Grosmont cottage have produced a wonderfully large crop this year, the trees seemingly being of two different varieties. The most productive tree produces a Worcester type apple, the fruits being particularly tasty when picked straight from the tree, whilst the other is a green type which is even sweeter, though unfortunately this tree seems diseased and I can't see it lasting more than a few years. However as long as it keeps producing a decent crop of apples I can't bring myself to get rid of it just yet.
Meanwhile back at Wold Garth I enjoyed watching a pair of Goldcrests hopping about the garden hawthorns as I enjoyed a tea-break in mid-morning. The trees were still wet after the thick morning fog, droplets glistening in the misty sunshine wherever one looked, and whilst the two birds were probably part of the local population of this diminutive species, they could have also been migrants from across the North Sea given the time of year. The migration of these tiny birds must surely be one of the remarkable of annual autumn events. Elsewhere more Red Admirals were noted in the garden today, one particular individual liking to sunbathe on top of the Stevenson screen, whilst a single Small Tortoiseshell was also spotted.
30th September 2015, Wednesday
Min 6.9 C, Max 17.8 C, Rain nil, Wind E 3
Yet another foggy start but it would soon burn away with clear blue skies and an abundance of sunshine for the remainder of the day. Feeling pleasantly warm again. Clear skies in the evening but yet again thick fog would quickly form after midnight.