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November 2016

1st November 2016, All Saints' Day
6.9 C to 10.7 C / 0.0 mm / 4.0 hours / W 3-4
An initially grey and dull start to November but brightening up as the morning progressed, indeed by midday some good spells of late autumn sunshine would develop. Remaining sunny and pleasant throughout the afternoon, the low November sun really bringing out the autumn colours, though it did feel cooler than recently, especially in the breeze. Remaining mostly clear in the evening & overnight with a touch of ground frost for a time, though a freshening breeze would raise temperatures later.

North Cliffe Wood - We enjoyed an afternoon stroll on what was a sunny and clement November day, the golden sunshine really bringing out the colours which are rather spectacular this year. The birches and hazels looked particularly attractive, the warm tones further emphasised by the copper coloured brackens, whilst in a few locations the Oaks likewise showed some good colour (they will probably be at their best in about a fortnight). As we walked along we heard the distinctive call of Marsh Tits amongst the roving bands of Tits, whilst in the heart of the wood a pair of noisy Jays could be heard calling. Roving bands of Goldfinches flittered through the birches, though despite a good search I was unable to spot any winter finches amongst them, though ample compensation came in the shape and form of a single WOODCOCK (Scolopax rusticola) along the southern path.

Golden tones in the heart of the wood

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

The variety of fungi on the woodland floor is now passed its peak, indeed the Grisette season is already over it would seem, whilst Brittlegills are also less apparent, though in their place they have now been replaced by the Butter-caps (Rhodocollybia butyracea), a greater variety of Bonnet (Mycena) type fungi's, the emerging fingers of Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea) and some Shaggy Scalycaps (Pholiota squarrosa) here and there. On the edge of the heath the Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) are still fruiting, with at least six being found in varying states of development, whilst back in the wood species such as Brown Roll-rim (Paxillus involutus), Birch Milkcaps (Lactarius tabidus) and even the odd Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) can still be found widely (as well as others beyond my very limited fungi ID skills!). However the best display was provided by the wonderful Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) with at least 18 being found this afternoon, including a clump of over a dozen along the western path. This is the largest count of this always impressive and attractive fungi that I have ever made at North Cliffe Wood.

Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

Shaggy Scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa)

A variety of Bonnet, possibly Clustered Bonnet (Mycena inclinata)

Other observations of additional interest included at least three Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) out on the heath, these dragonflies favouring the shelter and warmth along the edge of the birch woodland, a single November Moth agg. (Epirrita dilutata agg.) in the heart of the wood, as well as a single Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) on the southern edge of the heath, the deer being disturbed by the cutting of the maize crop in the neighbouring field. Finally a skein of Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) were heard to pass over as we headed back along the access path, though again it was the fantastic golden colours of the trees which impressed most, the early setting November sun making the trees almost glow as we made our homeward once more.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Rowan berries

The golden light of a November afternoon

2nd November 2016, Wednesday
2.7 C to 8.8 C / 0.0 mm / 5.9 hours / W 3-4
A sunny and cool morning, the moderate north-westerly breeze making it feel particularly chilly in exposed locations, though in the afternoon this breeze would ease with a lovely, sunny and somewhat crisp end to another fine November day. Becoming cloudier in the evening and for a time overnight, but clear spells would return later with a touch of ground frost by the end of the night.

3rd November 2016, Thursday
1.8 C to 8.7 C / 1.1 mm / 0.1 hours / SW 2-3
An initially bright and chilly start but cloud would increase by mid-morning with the rest of the day seeing cloudy and grey skies. This cloud would be thick enough to produce some rain in late afternoon and early evening, but otherwise conditions would remain cloudy throughout the night.

4th November 2016, Friday
5.0 C to 10.2 C / 1.1 mm / 5.9 hours / W 4
A dull start to the day but things would quickly improve with an abundance of sunshine developing by mid-morning, the remainder of the day continuing to enjoy good amounts of late autumn sunshine. Remaining clear into the evening and at first overnight, this allowing a touch of ground frost for a time, but cloud would increase later with showers arriving from the NW by dawn.

It is now that time of year when the Wood Pigeons gather in the hawthorn tree to eat the berries, up to a dozen, and sometimes more, arriving to enjoy the heavy crop of berries in the mid and late-afternoon. The hawthorn is also starting to turn with the leaves now raining down upon the ground.

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

5th November 2016, Saturday
2.9 C to 9.0 C / 1.4 mm / 4.8 hours / NW 5-6
A bright and cool day with sunny spells and occasional showers, the showers being largely light and fleeting. However it was windy, especially in the afternoon, with gusts in excess of 30 knots for a time. However the breeze would ease by the evening, and with variable amounts of cloud, conditions were reasonable for bonfire night, much to the relief of the organisers of the annual display at nearby Beverley Westwood. Showers returning overnight and becoming frequent after midnight. Chilly.

Another excellent bonfire display at Beverley Westwood this evening, the final crescendo being particularly impressive with golden fingers of sparks drifting in the chilly autumn night air. We also enjoyed a small family-only display of our own, my nephew and youngest niece delighting in the show and the subsequent sparklers. Part of me doesn't like fireworks, especially its affects upon both pets and wild animals, but it is just one night a year (at least for us!) and the children do enjoy it.

Spectacular fireworks at Beverley Westwood

6th November 2016, Sunday
2.9 C to 7.6 C / 3.3 mm / 0.7 hours / N 5
A chilly day with a brisk wind and frequent blustery showers coming down from the north, indeed in the morning the showers were slightly wintry with a bit of sleet mixed in during the heavier bursts. Remaining cold, breezy and showery in the evening though by midnight the showers would begin to die out to leave variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night, some decent enough clear spells allowing temperatures to dip low enough for a light ground frost.

Wet snow fell up on the higher parts of the Moors today, a light covering being reported from a few notorious spots, including the infamous Lion Inn up at Blakey Ridge. Parts of Teesdale also reported a covering, at least for a time, whilst the tops of the Pennines were also bedecked in the first widespread fall of the season. Is this a taste of things to come I wonder?

My eldest sisters rabbits came to live with us today, with Poppy and Sally (whom are sisters) settling in nicely after I had given the hutch a much needed scrub out and clean. The rabbits had been given to my eldest niece, but after the initial excitement had passed, and especially after my sister bought a dog last year, the rabbits had become neglected, this not helped by the fact that my sister has a very demanding job which meant that she too couldn't commit the time that the rabbits needed. However hopefully they will find their new home much to their liking and already I have plans to create a large rabbit home where they can spend the rest of their lives in comfort and contentment.

Poppy and...

...Sally, the newest residents at Woldgarth

7th November 2016, Monday
2.7 C to 7.4 C / 0.2 mm / 3.7 hours / NW 4
Another chilly day with sunny spells and occasional showers drifting down from the north, though the showers were less frequent and less heavy than yesterday, and indeed would largely die out by mid-afternoon. Clear spells in the evening and overnight with a light frost.

With the return of colder days and nights the birds have certainly begun to return to the garden, especially the beautiful and wonderfully diverse finches. The stars as ever were the brightly coloured Bullfinches, with about four or five currently visiting the garden, though the most numerous visitors at the moment are the Goldfinches and Chaffinches. The latter have certainly had a good year this year and I can't remember a time when they were so numerous at the feeding station here at Woldgarth. Greenfinches also visit frequently, along with Great, Blue and Coal Tits, whilst beneath the feeders the Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons share the scraps.

A handsome male Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a beautiful but often overlooked garden visitor

8th November 2016, Tuesday
0.4 C to 5.1 C / 6.5 mm / 1.6 hours / W 1-2
A chilly but bright start with a light frost and ice on any cold surfaces, though this would soon melt in the late autumn/early winter sunshine. Remaining bright and chilly for much of the day with weak spells of sunshine, temperatures not rising much above 5 C all day, but in the second half of the afternoon cloud would begin to increase with mostly cloudy skies by nightfall. Remaining cloudy throughout the night with outbreaks of cold rain arriving by 3 am, this wintry rain continuing right through to dawn and beyond (snow meanwhile was reported up at nearby High Hunsley).

The rabbits continue to settle in well and now have free-reign of the old summer house (during the day), this giving them over 50 square feet in which to exercise and explore. Since they had little more than 20 square feet in their two tier 5x2 hutch, it must be quite liberating for them. I also hope to add an outdoor run to the 'rabbit shed' in the coming weeks, this hopefully adding an additional 50 square feet to their existing home. However since our garden is full of yew trees, I will have to take extra precautions to make sure that none of the needles can make it into the run, as Yew is highly toxic to rabbits and indeed most livestock (and people!).

9th November 2016, Wednesday
1.9 C to 4.1 C / 5.6 mm / 0.0 hours / W 2-3
A wet, cold and miserable morning with overcast skies and little to commend it (at least down here on the lowlands!), this wintry rain continuing into the first half of the afternoon. However the rain would begin to clear by dusk and with skies clearing in the evening and overnight it became rather cold and misty with temperatures dipping below freezing for the first time this autumn/winter.

Snow was widely reported from the Dales, Moors and the higher parts of the Wolds this morning, my eldest sister reporting that High Hunsley was rather beautiful as she made her way to work on t' other side of the Wolds this morning. Meanwhile the higher parts of Nidderdale reported 5 to 6 inches of the white stuff (at Greenhow), and whilst back here in the east of the county the totals were modest, coverings were noted at Chopgate and Sutton Bank via the North Yorkshire traffic cameras.

A light covering of snow at Chopgate (Bilsdale) this morning

10th November 2016, Thursday
-1.2 C to 8.1 C / trace / 3.5 hours / W 3
A bright and chilly morning with the autumn sunshine soon melting the early frost, though as the morning wore on it would become cloudier with mostly cloudy skies for a time in early afternoon. However skies would become clearer again by the end of the afternoon with clear spells in the evening and overnight, this allowing temperatures to dip close to freezing with a ground frost.

We had new windows fitted to my office today and according to our joiner he heard a few Ravens (Corvus corax) passing over in mid to late-afternoon. Ravens are rapidly expanding eastwards through Yorkshire, and indeed they have become increasingly common observations in some parts of the Wolds, including nearby Drewton Dale (barely five miles away as the Raven flies). Therefore it is certainly possible they have now reached this side of the Wolds as well, and if I can confirm the observation it would be the 105th species of bird to be recorded at Woldgarth since 2006.

Raven (Corvus corax). Image courtesy of the RSPB.

11th November 2016, Friday
0.2 C to 8.9 C / 9.1 mm / 7.0 hours / SW 2-3
A clear and chilly start again with a touch of frost, skies remaining largely clear and sunny throughout the remainder of the day with an abundance of November sunshine bathing the East Yorkshire countryside. Feeling milder as well, with temperatures around average for the time of year. Thin cloud increasing and then thickening as the evening the night wore on, with persistent rain arriving after 3 am. The breeze would also freshen from the SE towards the end of the night.

As I glanced out of the window shortly after 6 am I noticed a bright light drifting through Orion and heading eastwards towards the rising sun, this bright light turning out to be the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time I have noted this distinctive man-made object for several months.

12th November 2016, Saturday
1.6 C to 8.8 C / 0.8 mm / 0.0 hours / W 3-4
A wet and dreek morning with persistent rain and drizzle, the rain accompanied by a moderate southerly breeze, though by midday this rain would become lighter and more drizzly with the rain eventually petering out by mid-afternoon. Indeed by dusk some breaks would begin to develop with clear spells during the evening and overnight.

13th November 2016, Sunday
4.1 C to 9.8 C / 2.7 mm / 5.8 hours / SW 2-3
A sunny start to the day with an abundance of golden November sunshine in the morning, though in the afternoon cloud amounts would begin to increase with skies becoming mostly cloudy by 3 pm. In the evening this cloud would continue to thicken with outbreaks of rain arriving by mid-evening, these outbreaks of rain continuing on and off for much of the night. Milder.

Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

14th November 2016, Monday
5.2 C to 15.0 C / 0.0 mm / 0.1 hours / W 4
A mostly cloudy, breezy and exceptionally mild day. temperatures reaching an unseasonable high of 15.0 C (59.0 F), making this one of the warmest November days on our records (the record itself belonging to the 10th last year when the mercury reached 17.8 C!). Remaining mostly cloudy in the evening and overnight with temperatures remaining in double figures for most of the night.

15th November 2016, Tuesday
9.5 C to 14.4 C / trace / 2.9 hours / W 3
A cloudy and very mild start to the day but as the morning wore on things would gradually brighten with sunny spells by midday. Remaining bright and mild into the afternoon, temperatures rising up to 14.4 C, though once the sun set in late afternoon the temperature would begin to fall beneath the largely clear skies, the so called 'Super Moon' illuminating the long darkness of the November night. Staying largely clear overnight apart from the odd light shower during the second half of the night.

With half of November now gone the average temperature for the month is currently standing at 6.1 C (43.0 F), this being roughly 0.5 C below the long term average for central East Yorkshire. Indeed as it currently stands this November is on course to become the third coldest on our records (since 2003), though of course this could all change in the remainder of the month. Rainfall wise some 31.8 mm (1.25 inches) has been recorded, roughly about average, whilst sunshine duration has come to a decent 46.0 hours, not bad at all for early November. What will the rest of the month bring?

The chilly and sunny conditions have been good for the autumn colours this November

16th November 2016, Wednesday
4.7 C to 11.9 C / 0.2 mm / 2.7 hours / W 4-5
A bright start to the day with sunny spells but by late morning blustery showers would drift over from the west, this producing the odd bright rainbow from time to time. Further blustery showers in the afternoon, all of which were rather fleeting affairs thanks to the breeze, and indeed by mid-afternoon they would begin to die out with clear spells developing by dusk. Remaining largely clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures dipping well into single figures.

A skein of Pink-footed Geese were heard passing over as I fed the rabbits this evening, a sound which I always enjoy hearing. Good numbers of Pink-feet seem to be about this autumn.

17th November 2016, Thursday
3.4 C to 8.1 C / 6.6 mm / 3.0 hours / SW 4-5
A chilly and sunny morning for the most part, though as the morning wore on cloud would increase, the increasing cloud accompanied by a freshening breeze. A period of heavy rain would sweep through shortly after midday, the rain peaking at 13.2 mm/h, but with the strong wind it would clear by mid-afternoon with skies becoming clearer by dusk. Clear spells continuing in the evening and overnight, though the odd shower would also drift over from time to time as well, especially in mid-evening and again later during the second half of the night. Temps falling close to freezing with a ground frost by dawn (the eighth so far this month), though the breeze made it feel much colder.

Stopped off at Pickering (North Yorkshire) this morning to see if we could catch up with the c.70-80 Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) which have been showing well near the swimming pool for the past week or so. In the end they proved easy to find, and indeed a friendly resident allowed us to enjoy some great views from their property, the tree in front of their house being the birds favoured place to roost after feeding on nearby berries. One can never fail to be impressed by these stunning winter visitors, though for me their charming trilling calls are just as wonderful, whilst it certainly looks like this is turning out to be a good winter for these wandering birds with large numbers of reports from around much of the country, especially in northern and eastern parts. However it was disappointing that the weather was so grey and overcast, this making photography very difficult indeed, but I was able to grab a few record shots which meant I went away happy enough.

A pair of Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus)

Just some of the large flock which were in Pickering this morning

Meanwhile a trip to Cropton Forest brought very few birds indeed, though some lovely Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) were noted, whilst a single Stoat (Mustela erminea) was also recorded running across one of the many forestry tracks which cut across this area. The countryside up here is now rather bleak, the weather today making it appear especially so, though some stubborn larch needles, especially on the younger trees, are still providing some colour. However on lower ground, especially in Newtondale, and also down in the sheltered lower parts of the Esk Valley, plenty of autumn colour can still be enjoyed, though what with the rain and wind today many of the leaves were falling at a rapid rate, autumn now certainly giving way to winter, up here at least, for yet another year.

Meanwhile the journey back through the Wolds was characterised by large numbers of Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) in the hawthorn scrubs and hedgerows, hundreds being encountered near Fairy Dale alone. Fieldfares have always been one of my favourite birds, indeed no other bird, apart from maybe the ubiquitous Pheasants, do I associate more with the Wolds in winter than these Scandinavian migrants, their chattering calls as they move from one bush to another being such a part of a season, which I at least, look forward too. Meanwhile the amount of standing water on many of the roads was another striking feature this afternoon, indeed the Wolds are usually free draining with flooding being rare, but down around Burdale and Fimber large sections of the road were covered with muddy and unappealing water. Flooding was also encountered near Kiplingcotes, the period of heavy rain around midday obviously not helping matters, and it is to be hoped that things don't get much worse.

A handsome Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

18th November 2016, Friday
1.1 C to 5.2 C / 3.3 mm / 1.7 hours / SW 4
A cold and sunny start to the morning, the breeze making it feel particularly chilly, though as the morning wore conditions would become somewhat cloudier with occasional showers of cold rain drifting through. Feeling raw, especially in the showers, with temperatures barely rising above 5 C. Further showers in the evening but overnight some decent clear spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to dip close to freezing with lots of ice around by dawn.

Pink-footed Geese (A. brachyrhynchus) were once again heard passing over in mid-evening, the skein being of a decent size judging by the number of birds heard. I wonder if they are still migrating birds, or simply birds which are returning to roost somewhere along the nearby river Humber.

With colder air once more sweeping across the country, it was unsurprising to see snow return to the higher parts of the North York Moors this morning, the traffic cameras at Chopgate (Bilsdale) and Sutton Bank revealing a light covering of the white stuff. Of course down here on the East Yorkshire lowlands we just had cold rain, this making things even muddier & more miserable than ever before.

Another wintry start up at Chopgate (Bilsdale)

19th November 2016, Saturday
0.8 C to 7.0 C / 5.5 mm / 4.4 hours / NE 3-4
A cold and icy start to the day, any cold surfaces covered with ice at dawn, including some beautiful fern frost on many of the unheated windows, though as the pale November sun rose higher in the sky it would soon melt. Remaining sunny and cool throughout most of the day, and under largely clear skies frost would soon begin to form after dusk, conditions becoming quite frosty by mid-evening. However cloud would increase thereafter, the cloud eventually bringing persistent rain in the second half of the night, the rain also being accompanied by a brisk breeze and rising temperatures.

20th November 2016, Sunday
0.5 C to 7.2 C / 0.5 mm / 0.0 hours / N 4-5
A wet and blustery start to the day with a fresh northerly breeze helping to strip those trees which have stubbornly held on to their colourful autumn cloaks, though by late morning the rain would become patchier and lighter, eventually dying out altogether by early afternoon. However it would remain cloudy for the rest of the afternoon, and in the breeze it would feel quite cold, especially out in the open. Remaining largely cloudy for much of the evening, though overnight some good clear spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to dip close to freezing with a ground frost forming for a time. However it wouldn't last with cloudy and blustery conditions returning by dawn.

I conducted my first garden bird count of the winter this morning, the survey taking place around 11 am and lasting about half an hour. Only birds actually within the garden were counted, whilst the count was of individual birds only, in effect making this a minimum count of each species. By the conclusion of the informal survey some 44 birds of 15 species had been recorded, the best of the lot coming in the shape and form of two BRAMBLINGS (Fringilla montifringilla), one of which was a female, whilst the other was possibly a juvenile male, at least judging by the markings. These are the first Bramblings I have encountered this winter so this made the observation doubly welcome.

The complete list of birds recorded was as follows; Blackbird x1, Blue Tit x4, Brambling x2, Bullfinch x2 (one male & one female), Chaffinch x6 (two males & four females), Coal Tit x1, Dunnock x1, Great Tit x2, Goldcrest x1, Goldfinch x12, Greenfinch x8, Magpie x1, Robin x1, Sparrowhawk x1 (male), and Wood Pigeon x1. As you can see finches are still dominant as regards the most common garden birds at Woldgarth, with five species being represented today thanks to the arrival of the Brambling pair. I wonder if the Bramblings will hang around or quickly move on to pastures new ?

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). Photo taken earlier this year.

21st November 2016, Monday
0.4 C to 10.4 C / 33.1 mm / 0.0 hours / NE 4-5
A chilly and blustery start with outbreaks of rain arriving shortly after dawn, this rain becoming persistent by mid-morning and continuing for the rest of the day. The rain would be very heavy at times, especially in the afternoon (peak rate of 36.2 mm/h), with a bright flash of lightning and loud rumble of thunder also being recorded shortly prior to 5 pm. Things would become drier in the evening, though the main feature of the weather by this time was the mildness of the air, and it would remain largely dry, cloudy and mild for much of the night. However outbreaks of heavy rain would return after 3 am, the rain peaking at 44.0 mm/h at one point, and all in all it brought an end to what had been an exceptionally wet November day.

33.1 mm (1.30 inches) of rain were recorded today (0900-0900), making this the wettest November day since records began at Woldgarth in 2003. It was also the wettest day at the weather station since the 10th of August 2014. At the moment the monthly total is standing at 81.0 mm (3.19 inches) and it remains to be seen if will pass the magic 100 mm mark, something which hasn't occurred here for now well over two years. Meanwhile flooding was recorded in many parts of the country, which given the rainfall is hardly unexpected, though other than extensive standing water and some rather full and muddy field drains, we seem to have escaped the worst of it yet again here in East Yorkshire.

Cycled past Swinemoor this morning, via Weel Road, and despite the fact it was still pitch black, I could hear birds out on the expanding winter floods, the extent of which should surely only increase given the forecast for the next few days (lots of rain!). Most apparent of course were the always noisy and gregarious Greylag Geese (Anser anser), though also picked out were some whistling Wigeon (Anas penelope), a sound which I always love to hear. Common year round residents such as Mallards and Lapwings could also be heard, though I will have to return in daylight hours to do a more comprehensive check of the birds currently wintering at this under-watched location.

22nd November 2016, Tuesday
6.5 C to 8.0 C / 0.8 mm / 0.5 hours / NW 2-3
A dull and damp start, large areas of standing water and extensive mud making for unpleasant conditions after all of yesterday’s rain, though on the plus side it was largely dry, bar the odd spot of rain from time to time. Remaining mostly cloudy for the rest of the day, though the odd brighter spell would break through from time to time, especially around the middle of the day, with even some weak spells of November sunshine also managing to break through as well. However it would become mostly cloudy again by dusk, the cloud thick enough to produce the odd shower during the evening, though these would die out overnight with largely cloudy skies for the remainder of the night.

North Cave Wetlands - A late afternoon visit to the local wetlands proved most productive, with good amounts of wildfowl and typical winter passerines being encountered as we wandered around the reserve on what was a mostly cloudy and distinctly late November feeling day. Swans were particularly well represented, with at least 19 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), most of which were located at Island Lake, this particular lake also hosting a lone Black Swan (Cygnus atratus). However the biggest highlight would come in the winter stubble field north of Far Lake, this hosting a single Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) which was gleaning for food in the rapidly fading light of a short November afternoon. Whoopers are always great to see, indeed they are my favourite Swan species after Bewick's, and they are especially welcome when they turn up at one of my birding spots.

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Geese too provided plenty of interest, the herd of Greylag Geese (Anser anser) in the north-east fields easily numbering in excess of 250 (this being a very conservative count). Among this huge throng a single Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) was picked out, and I wonder if this is the same bird which has often been seen wintering around the area, on and off, since at least 2007. As we made our way along Reedbed Lake the sound of Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) could be heard, a skein of 200+ birds eventually being spotted as they headed back south towards the nearby Humber estuary. Large number of gulls were also seen heading back towards Humber as the light continued to fade, whilst Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) likewise began to gather as darkness fell.

The reserve is host to a decent sized roost of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) these days, with 20+ being spotted in the Alders separating Far and Carp Lakes, whilst evidence of the changing times came in the shape and form of three Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) also roosting in the Alders beside Main Lake. It is not that long ago when it was rare for these relatively new arrivals to winter this far north, but as the population continues to expand it would seem things are changing. Mean-while a single Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) was fishing beside Main Lake, this same area also hosting a trio of Great-crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus) & a few Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis).

Teal and Common Snipe

Mute Swan having a stretch

Winter thrushes were abundant, as one would expect at this time of year, Redwings (Turdus iliacus) seemingly outnumbering Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) by four to one, though a search for winter finches proved fruitless. Still a good view of one of the resident Green Woodpeckers (Picus viridis) was much appreciated, whilst better yet was the sound of a Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) from deep within the wet scrub between Island Lake and the Dragonfly Pond. Back at the lagoons themselves the number of wildfowl was impressive, Teal (Anas crecca) alone numbering in the hundreds, whilst others included 30+ Wigeon (Anas penelope), 50+ Gadwall (Anas strepera), 25+ Shoveler (Anas clypeata), 15+ Pochard (Aythya ferina), a lone Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), and of course common residents such as Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). A few waders were also noted among the ducks, including at least 7 Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and a half dozen Redshanks (Tringa totanus), these helping to push the species total for the afternoon to just over 40, not bad for a couple of hours 'work' in late November.

Sunset over the wetlands

23rd November 2016, Wednesday
5.1 C to 9.0 C / trace / 3.0 hours / NE 2-3
A mostly cloudy start to the day, the cloud thick enough to produce some light rain &/or drizzle at times, though by late morning things would brighten up with some good spells of welcome sunshine in the afternoon. Feeling milder too. Clear spells in the evening but becoming mostly cloudy during the night.

24th November 2016, Thursday
4.2 C to 8.8 C / 0.0 mm / 0.3 hours / E 2
A cloudy day for the most part, though there was the odd brighter period from time to time as well, especially around the middle of the day. Still feeling mild. Remaining cloudy overnight with temperatures dipping no lower than 6.7 C.

25th November 2016, Friday
6.7 C to 9.3 C / 0.0 mm / 3.5 hours / E 1-2
A cloudy morning for the most part, though by midday things would begin to quickly brighten up with some good spells of early winter sunshine throughout the rest of the afternoon. Feeling mild as well with temperatures climbing up towards double figures. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some longer clear spells later, this allowing temperatures to dip close to freezing by dawn.

26th November 2016, Saturday
0.6 C to 7.5 C / trace / 4.4 hours / W 2
A bright and crisp day with plenty of late November sunshine, though it was somewhat cloudier around the middle of the day as fog from the other side of the Wolds rolled over on the light westerly breeze. Clear at first in the evening but cloud would increase later with mostly cloudy skies throughout the night, the cloud even thick enough to produce some drizzle by the end of the night.

North York Moors – We made our way up to Grosmont this morning, enjoying the crisp sunshine up on the high ground and admiring the sea of fog which lay across the Vales of Pickering and York, a beautiful sight to behold as we gazed back southwards. Grosmont itself was the same as ever, though the heavy rain at the beginning of the week had brought large amounts of soil, sand and stones from the high ground, whilst thick mud had been deposited at the ford across the river Esk. Judging by the mud-line the water level must have been rather impressive. Bird-wise not much was about (apart from Pheasants and Grouse of course!), though a male Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) was seen near the top of Sleights Moor beside the A169.

Beautiful Rosedale as viewed from Hartoft Rigg

A curious local resident

After finishing at Grosmont we decided to head across to Rosedale and Hartoft Rigg, this wonderful vantage point being perhaps my favourite corner of the National Park. In the early winter sunshine it looked particularly beautiful, the golden larches still providing some colour in the increasingly bare and skeletal countryside, whilst to the south we could once more look across a sea of virgin white fog which had enveloped the lowlands below, the highest points of the Howardian Hills, and the Yorkshire Wolds beyond standing above the all consuming blanket of water vapour.

Yorkshire Wolds – The fog down in the lowlands was equally dramatic up on the Wolds, the view from above Duggleby and down the Great Wold Valley being particularly spectacular, emphasised even further by the setting of the sun turning the sky pink and eventually red as it set low in the south-west sky. As we gazed across the Great Wold Valley I became aware of a large flock of Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) in the beech trees above us, these colourful winter visiting finches seemingly having a good year this winter.

Fog hanging in the valleys of the Yorkshire Wolds

27th November 2016, Sunday
0.8 C to 8.8 C / 0.0 mm / 1.7 hours / N 2
A cloudy morning, the cloud thick enough for some drizzly rain at times, though by the end of the morning things would begin to brighten up with some good spells of sunshine in the afternoon.Becoming cloudier again by the evening however, with skies remaining mostly cloudy throughout most of the night.

I cycled past Swinemoor this morning shortly prior to dawn for a bit of ‘ear birding’, this again revealing good numbers of Wigeon (Anas penelope) and plenty of Greylag Geese. However this time I was also able to pick out a few calling Teal (Anas crecca) as well, especially in the central pools, whilst with more light this morning I was able to see that the current floods are already of a decent size and should provide good conditions for the remainder of the winter. Further notes included a single Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) flying south down the river at Hull Bridge, whilst a beautiful Barn Owl (Tyto alba) was quartering over the rough pastures of Weel Carrs, this area being the strong-hold of this owl species in the Beverley area.

28th November 2016, Monday
2.8 C to 8.7 C / 0.0 mm / 4.7 hours / S 0-1
A sunny and still day with temperatures around average for the time of the year. Becoming cloudier for a time in the evening but overnight skies would clear with temperatures soon dipping below freezing, eventually reaching a minimum of -2.8 C (26.9 F).

29th November 2016, Tuesday
-2.8 C to 4.0 C / 0.0 mm / 6.6 hours / W 2
A lovely frosty and cold start to the day, the frigid air like champagne, and it would remain cold and clear for the rest of the day, the frost persisting all day in the shade despite the abundance of early winter sunshine. Mostly clear skies in the evening and overnight with another frost, though a light breeze prevented temperatures from falling as low as last night.

A wonderfully crisp start to the day along the river Humber this morning, frost lying heavy upon the ground and light patches of low mist hanging over the fields and carrs. As dawn broke the south-eastern sky became fiery red and all in all it was the sort of morning which made you glad to be alive. Bird wise Greylag, Wigeon and Teal all made themselves known as I cycled past Swinemoor, their calls filling the still and frigid pre-dawn air, whilst over Weel Carrs at least two Barn Owls (Tyto alba) were quartering over the rough pastures. However the best sighting of the morning came down at Figham Pastures where a single SHORT-EARED OWL (Asio flammeus) was seen distantly quartering over the coarse grasses of the eastern most part of the common. This is the first SE Owl I have seen in the Beverley area for a few years and hopefully it will hang around for a bit.

The leaves were tumbling from those trees which still had leaves today, the cold and frost making them fall like snow-flakes upon the frosted ground. Indeed most trees are now largely bare, including the hawthorn, ash, whitebeam, lime, horse chestnut and birch, with just the beech and sycamores still hanging on to their lower leaves. However if we have any strong winds soon I think these too will soon be stripped bare as well.

30th November 2016, Wednesday
-2.3 C to 7.9 C / 0.0 mm / 3.4 hours / W 2
Another cold and frosty start to the day, the ground rather white after two nights of accumulated frost, but this would soon melt to leave a mostly bright and clement day with some good spells of sunshine, a fine way to conclude November. Feeling milder as well. Cloud increasing in late afternoon (this providing a very fiery sunset indeed), with mostly cloudy skies for the rest of the evening and the night.

I came across my first Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) of the year whilst helping my eldest sister move into her new house on the other side of Beverley, the rather grey and plain moth being attracted to the utility room window. Since I do not often trap in the winter months this is a species I do not come across much, so it was rather pleasing to stumble upon it whilst otherwise busy with other things. It also provided a much welcome excuse for a bit of a rest from hauling furniture about !

A fiery end to November

November 2016 Weather Report
A chilly and damp month with temperatures eventually concluding just shy of one degree Celsius below the long term average for central East Yorkshire. Indeed it would actually prove to be the second coldest November on our records dating back to 2003, and whilst the month lacked any wintry weather, at least down here on the lowlands, it nevertheless felt rather cold at times with the mercury thermometer only managing to rise into double figures on six days.

Rainfall wise the month saw 130% of what would usually be expected in a typical November, though 33.1 mm of the final monthly total of 81.8 mm would actually come on just one day alone, the 21st becoming the wettest November day since our records began. This drenching brought some localised flooding to the countryside with standing water in many of the fields, though the river Hull catchment area once more managed to contain the waters safely within the river and drainage system which protect this former flood-plain. The rain on the 21st was also accompanied by some thunder during the evening, a fairly uncommon phenomena at this time of year.

Given the below average temperatures and excessive rainfall it is perhaps surprising to see that November actually concluded with more sunshine than normal, the 85.9 hours recorded coming to around 114% of the 1981-2010 average. Less surprising was the predominance of westerly winds during the month, winds from the western quarter being recorded on no less than 21 days, though five days with easterly winds was notable for the fact that easterlies are perhaps at their least frequent at this time of year.

Average Temperature
 5.6 C
 -0.9 C
Average Maximum
 8.6 C

Average Minimum
 2.6 C

Highest Maximum
 15.0 C
Lowest Maximum
 4.0 C
Highest Minimum
 9.5 C
Lowest Minimum
 -2.8 C
Air Frosts

Grass Frosts

Frost duration
 12 hours

Total Rainfall
 81.8 mm
Maximum total
 33.1 mm
Days =>0.2 mm

Days =>1.0 mm

Days =>10.0 mm

Total rain duration
 86 hours

Total Sunshine
 85.9 hours
Average per day
 2.86 hours

Sunless days

Average Wind Speed
 1.9 knots

Maximum gust
 34 knots

Days with Fog

Days with Thunder

Days with Hail

Days with Snow

Days with Snow lying

Maximum Snow depth

Snow Index

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