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December 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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