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September 2016

1st September 2016, Thursday
12.0 C to 21.0 C / 2.0 mm / 8.1 hours / SW 3
A sunny start to September and the first month of the meteorological autumn, with a mostly fine and clement day following with alternating sunny spells and cloudier periods. However a gentle to moderate breeze did mean it felt a little fresher than it has of late. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and at first overnight but cloud would increase later with a period of heavy rain around 3 am (peak rainfall rate of 22.6 mm/h). Clearing by dawn.

Whilst it was a strangely quiet morning around Old Hall Hedge, indeed not a single warbler was recorded, things were much productive down at 'Long Lane Wetlands' with a few good birds about, at least for my patch anyway. The best of the lot was a pair of Gadwall (Anas strepera), a bird which I have never previously recorded in the Parks, the year list now up to 86 and the patch list up to 104. Mallard were also recorded in good numbers this morning with 16 present in the area, a new 2016 high, whilst as I watched these I noted that the resident Moorhen have another chick, this being fed regularly amongst the reeds which are now becoming established at this new site.

As I wandered around the pond I could hear a mewing Buzzard to the south-east, though better yet was the somewhat melancholic call of a dozen Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) flying over, these seemingly dropping into a field just west of my home patch. Only the other day I was wondering when the first Golden Plovers would arrive back in the area. Other passage migrants heard passing over included a number of Martins and Swallows, though most interesting was the sound of Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) high in the sky, this being the first time this autumn that I have noted them passing over. No doubt they will become a regular sound during the next few weeks.

Additional notes included 25 Common Gulls in the pea fields, a dozen Lapwings in the stubble fields near Old Hall Farm, at least five Mistle Thrushes in the horse grazed pastures, a couple of Pied Wagtails overhead, and finally two Chiffchaffs sub-singing near Keldmarsh.

Common Gull (Larus canus)

2nd September 2016, Friday
13.5 C to 19.4 C / trace / 1.2 hours / SW 2-3
A mostly cloudy start to the day, the cloud thick enough to produce some drizzle in mid-morning but becoming drier by the end of the morning. Remaining dry but cloudy throughout most of the afternoon, though towards the end of the afternoon some breaks would begin to develop with some occasional sunny spells during the evening. Variable amounts of cloud overnight.

A walk around the local patch on what was a mostly cloudy and cool autumn morning, the ground wet underfoot after a short period of heavy rain last night. Bird-wise things were on the quiet side once more, but in the horse grazed pastures up to 20 Pied Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and at least one Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) were feeding with the Starlings. The pond meanwhile was almost devoid of bird-life this morning, apart from a half dozen Mallards and a Moorhen, though overhead good numbers of Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and the odd House Martin (Delichon urbica) would occasionally drop in and feed whilst the majority continued on southwards. In the pea fields the Common Gulls (Larus canus) continue to dominate with 31+ counted through my field-scope, though a few Black-headed Gulls, a juvenile Herring Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull also joined them this morning. The LBBG was a particularly fine specimen as well.

3rd September 2016, Saturday
11.8 C to 16.6 C / 11.7 mm / 1.1 hours / SW 3
A bright start but soon becoming cloudy, this cloud thickening as the morning progressed with rain arriving from the west shortly before midday. This rain would become persistent in the afternoon with moderate to heavy spells at times (peak rate of 7.8 mm/h), though eventually it would begin to ease and turn more drizzly, dying out altogether by mid-evening. Cloudy but largely dry overnight, though around 4 am a short period of rain would pass through, this clearing by dusk.

Little new to report from the Parks though a good count of c.100 Common Gulls in the pea-fields was worthy of note, these being complimented by 11-12 Black-headed Gulls, and at least one Stock dove as well. Mallard too were numerous with 28 being counted, a new high for 2016. However the best sighting of the morning went to the 8 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) which flew over heading north, this incredibly being the first record of this impressive species of Anserinae on my home patch this year! Speaking of Ansers a small group of 11 Greylag Geese were gleaning in the far western stubble fields, the first I have seen in the area for a few weeks.

Additional notes which I at least found of interest included a single Grey Wagtail flying over heading south, a Buzzard in the stubble fields opposite the new kennels, a singing Chiffchaff and at least three Willow warblers in the hedgerows. A Roe deer was also seen in the pea-fields.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

4th September 2016, Sunday
12.7 C to 19.3 C / trace / 5.3 hours / NW 4
A breezy and fresh sort of morning with sunny spells and occasional drizzly showers, though by the afternoon these showers would die out with alternating sunnier and cloudier periods for the rest of the day. Feeling cooler than of late, especially in the north-west breeze. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight with some decent clear spells at times.

A series of unfortunate events meant that my perambulation around the home patch was rather frustrating this morning, a parked taxi at my usual pond viewing point being the first, whilst the landowner at one of the farms was also conducting pigeon &/or corvid control (I presume). With his first shot the gulls in the pea-fields took flight and were not to be seen again during the rest of my visit, though from what I saw it looked like most were Common Gulls again with a few Black-heads mixed in as well. However I harbour no ill will against the gentleman, the control of such birds being a necessary evil sometimes, and as I said previously it was just unfortunate that I arrived when I did.

Back at the pond 32 Mallards were present, yesterday's 28 proving to be a short-lived record, though otherwise it was very quiet down here with just a few Pied Wagtails being additionally observed. However I thought I did hear some distant Golden Plovers to the west but unfortunately I was unable to confirm this. In the livery fields 7+ Pied Wagtails were among the horses, these fields also hosting a pair of Buzzards and a single Kestrel. Finally at Old Hall Hedge a few warblers were about including 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow warblers and a lone female Blackcap, though it has been a few days since I have seen a Whitethroat of either species on the home patch. A Goldcrest was also noted among the scrub, whilst overhead a small passage of Swallows made their way southwards.

Dark skies over the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds

Yorkshire Wolds - We enjoyed a short walk around the top of Pasture Dale and over into Nettle Dale this morning, my eldest sister and her lovely red fox Labrador joining us. The weather was cool, cloudy and breezy with occasional blustery showers sweeping in from the west-north-west, though every now and then a break would appear in the cloud allowing a short burst of early autumn sunshine. The countryside is certainly looking pretty tired now with most flowers now gone to seed and red haws abounding in the hedgerows, and whilst much of the cereal crops have been harvested some still remain up on these high Wolds, including some wheat, and what I presumed to have been spring barley. Indeed the barley up towards Cobdale Farm was lying flat in the field in places, though hopefully the forecast settled and warm weather for the coming week will allow most of the Wolds farmers to get the last of their crops in before the weather does inevitably turn for the worse.

Due to the poor weather it was unsurprising that things were pretty quiet on the nature front, sheep-grazed Pasture Dale producing just a few Meadow Pipits, finches (mostly Goldfinches) along the field edge, the odd Linnet in the gorse, and Swallows feeding on the flies attracted by the sheep. A Red Kite soared above at one point, this being mobbed by a few Common Gulls, and in total three Kites would be seen during the duration of our walk. Meanwhile the recently ploughed fields west of Mill Farm hosted Common Gulls and 30+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the LBB Gulls being of varying ages & plumages. Finally just one species of butterfly was noted, this being Meadow Brown, with about half a dozen being spotted fluttering around the top of Nettle Dale.

Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) flowering at Nettle Dale

5th September 2016, Monday
11.5 C to 21.4 C / trace / 3.5 hours / SW 3
A dry and clement day for the most part with alternating sunny periods and cloudier spells, though for a time in the afternoon it would become quite grey, this cloud producing nothing in the end despite looking quite threatening. Becoming clearer for a time in the evening but cloud and murk would arrive after midnight, this cloud thick enough to produce some light drizzle. It would also become noticeably warmer and muggy overnight with both temperatures and dew points climbing up into the high teens by dawn. Indeed the overnight minimum was a rather warm 15.0 C.

The local patch proved fairly quiet once more this morning, the passage of various passerines a week or two ago now becoming a distant memory, though it was nice to see another Grey Wagtail down at the wetlands, this passage and occasionally wintering bird once more favouring the drainage ditches which flow beneath the new bypass. In the northern most pastures a Fox was spotted making its way across the field, a Roe Deer also being observed nearby, whilst a single Buzzard was spotted drifting over the fields of the livery. In the pea-fields up to 60 Common Gulls were joined by c.20 Black-headed Gulls and at least three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, whilst the cereal fields hosted up to 33 Mallards, their heads comically standing above the golden stubble as they watched me walk by.

Old Lady (Mormo maura), a new species for the garden

Meanwhile the moth trap was put last night and once more it was the Yellow Underwings which dominated the catch, though numbers were nowhere near as high as last time. Nevertheless 85 Large Yellow Underwings, 16 Lesser Yellow Underwings and one rather late (and very worn) Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing were recorded. However the best moth of the night proved to be a new addition to the Woldgarth list, a rather large and interesting Old Lady (Mormo maura) being found tucked away deep within the egg boxes. this moth being relatively uncommon here in the East Riding of Yorkshire (VC61) with less than 250 previous records. Indeed the moth is generally most common in western parts of Yorkshire but it seems to be becoming more widespread.

Another nice moth was a single Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum), a moth which I never record in particularly large numbers despite the fact it is very common here in VC61, whilst others included a fresh looking Garden Carpet, a single Common Marbled Carpet, a rather late Dark Arches, a nicely marked Flounced Rustic (unfortunately it flew off just before I got a photo), three Square-spot Rustics, and a very worn Willow Beauty. Indeed a few moths were so worn & tatty that identification was impossible, something which can be rather frustrating at this time of year.

Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa)

North Cliffe Wood - We spent a few hours wandering around this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve on what was a mostly cloudy and somewhat breezy early September morning, the sun only managing to occasionally break through the extensive stratocumulus layer. However despite the cloud a very pleasing variety of dragonflies were noted, especially out on the heath, with three species of Darter, four species of Hawker and a single species of Damselfly, numbers as follows; Emerald Damselfly 20+, Migrant Hawker 5+, Southern Hawker 2+, Brown Hawker x1, Emperor Dragonfly x1, Common Darter 50+ (including oviposting pairs at the heathland pool), Black Darter x2 & Ruddy Darter x1. Interestingly the Emperor was my first ever record of this species at North Cliffe.

With autumn now here the hedgerows are now laden with haws and blackberries, whilst rowans are covered in bright red berries and the oaks are covered in green acorns. The acorns seem particularly large and plentiful this year, and it would seem that most plants are producing a good crop of berries and nuts this year, with the possible exception of the Elderberries which are, at least in comparison, rather poor. The brambles themselves were a major draw for the Speckled Woods, this often abundant species at this location proving to be indeed rather numerous with at least thirty being recorded. However otherwise butterfly numbers were very poor once more with just a few Whites being additionally noted, though a few orange coloured day-flying moths were flittering around the birches at the edge of the heath as well, possibly Vapourer moths (Orgyia antiqua).

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus)

Ling heather (Calluna vulgaris) on the heath

Further signs of the season came in the greater diversity of fungi now evident on the woodland floor, with species of Russula, including Ochre Brittlegills (Russula ochroleuca), numerous attractive Tawny Grisettes (Amanita fulva), what looked like Brown Roll-rims (Paxillus involutus), and a variety of other types well beyond my woeful mycological identification skills. An all white variety of what looked like a possible species of Amanita was also found, this so far proving awkward to identify with any great certainty. I really do wish I could better identify fungi as it undoubtedly would open up a whole new world of discovery, especially when wandering around the autumn woods.

On the bird front a hunting Hobby (Falco subbuteo) just south of the heath was a welcome sighting, these summer visiting birds of prey undoubtedly attracted to the large number of dragonflies in the area, whilst other birding notes worthy of mention included a calling Jay (Garrulus glandarius), at least two Marsh Tits (Poecile palustris) amongst a group of more typical woodland tits, and a good number of 'tsweep-ing' leaf warblers throughout the wood and heath. Further notes included a handsome Hornet amongst the blackberries and the discarded skin of a Grass Snake on the heath.

Emerging Tawny Grisette (Amanita fulva)

Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus)

Ochre Brittlegill (Russula ochroleuca)

A species of Amanita maybe?

6th September 2016, Tuesday
15.0 C to 25.6 C / 0.0 mm / 5.3 hours / SW 2-3
A cloudy and very humid start, temperatures and dew points in the high teens even at dawn, and whilst it would remain mostly cloudy throughout the morning, some brighter spells would begin to develop by midday. Alternating sunny spells and cloudier periods in the afternoon with temperatures climbing up above 25 C (dew points reaching a rather muggy 21 C), though towards the end of the afternoon a gentle breeze would help to make things feel that little bit fresher. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and at first overnight, but like yesterday it would become cloudy and grey with overcast skies by dawn. Very mild overnight as well with a minimum of just 18.8 C, this not only being a new September record but also the highest ever minimum recorded at our weather station.

A noticeable movement of House Martins was noted above the old homestead today, this species of hirundine being at its most common and frequent at this time of year, at least here at Woldgarth. The movement of Martins and Swallows was also noted in other parts of the county today, especially along the coast where thousands were reported at places such as Filey and Flamborough.

On the butterfly front the garden is still pretty quiet, something which has been all too familiar throughout this summer, barring a few days in early August (which coincided with my birthday) when we had both Red Admirals and Painted Ladies visiting frequently. However since then it has been very quiet again, sightings largely restricted to Large Whites, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, the odd Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood, and a handful of Holly Blues, even usually common species such as Peacock and Comma proving elusive. This poor year for butterflies is also reflected in many other parts of the country, the year on year trend for disappointing numbers in recent summers certainly being of great concern to those of us whom love the natural world.

7th September 2016, Wednesday
18.8 C to 24.4 C / 0.0 mm / 4.3 hours / SE 2-3
A dull and overcast start to the day, things once more feeling rather humid and muggy, but as the morning wore on it would become brighter with sunny spells developing by the end of the morning. Feeling very warm in the sunshine with temperatures rising into the mid-twenties, whilst dew points were up around 19 C. Remaining fine for much of the afternoon with sunny spells, though cloud would increase later with things once more becoming mostly cloudy by the end of the afternoon and into the evening. Mostly cloudy for much of the night but becoming clearer later.

Very quiet this morning, even by recent standards, with little worthy of note on the old home patch, though the pea-fields continue to attract a few species of gull, including c.70 Common Gulls, 5-10 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A flock of 10+ Mistle Thrushes was roving around the area as well, calling their distinctive rattly call as they did so, whilst overhead a few Skylarks were heard heading inland, presumably migrants arriving for the autumn.

8th September 2016, Thursday
14.3 C to 22.3 C / 0.0 mm / 9.5 hours / SW 4-5
A fine and clement day with an abundance of sunshine throughout, though during the middle of the day it was quite breezy with gusts of up to nearly 30 knots. Feeling much fresher than the last couple of days as a result, though still warm for the time of year with temperatures reaching a maximum of 22.3 C. Clear spells in the evening and overnight with the breeze easing.

The cereal harvest was largely completed today in the Parklands, the last fields of the winter wheat having been cut this afternoon in what were near perfect harvesting conditions thanks to the high temperatures, near unbroken sunshine, low humidity levels, & a lovely drying breeze from the south.

The moth trap was emptied this morning after what had been another warm and muggy night for the time of year here in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the continuation of the summer-like weather reflected in the species of moth being caught at the moment. Indeed very few 'autumnal' species have been turning up in the trap so far this month, though hopefully this will change as the nights continue to get ever longer as we approach the autumn equinox in a fortnight's time.

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)

Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata)

Unsurprisingly the trap was once more dominated by the Large Yellow Underwings with 73 counted this morning, whilst Lesser Yellow Underwings numbered seven in total. A couple of lovely fresh Angle Shades were welcome guests of my home-made skinner trap, whilst fresh generations of both both Common Marbled Carpets (x4) & Garden Carpet (x9) were noted. However the best moth of the night would be a diminutive Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata), this almost pug-sized species of moth having only been recorded at Woldgarth on two previous occasions. Another Old Lady (Mormo maura) was also great to see, though the specimen caught last night was a very tatty specimen indeed with the right wing almost reduced down to its mere 'skeletal' structure, whilst a single Marbled Beauty (Bryophila domestica) was a surprisingly late record for this species.

A lovely little new species of micro was also added to the garden list, this coming in the shape and form of a Golden Argent (Argyresthia goedartella), the tiny little moth rewarding close examination with its golden bands of colour reflecting beautifully in the morning light. Additional species of moth recorded were as follows; Grey Pine Carpet (x1), Straw Dot (x2), Willow Beauty (x1), Mouse Moth (x2), Square-spot Rustic (x3), Flounced Rustic (x1), Small Square-spot (x1), Flame Shoulder (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x8), Grey Tortrix (x1), Diamond-back Moth (x1), and Dark Triangle Button agg. (Acleris laterna / comariana) (x1). In total 122 moths of 21 species were recorded.

Further notes whilst emptying the trap included a single Red-legged Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes), a 10-spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata) of the octopunctata form, a couple of Night-flying Dung Beetles (Aphodius rufipes), a dozen or so Common Wasps, and a species of Hemiptera which I have cautiously identified as an Alder Spittlebug (Aphrophora alni). A large movement of hirundines was also noted overhead, with upwards of a hundred or so Swallows drifting southwards.

Marbled Beauty (Bryophila domestica)

Golden Argent (Argyresthia goedartella)

Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)

9th September 2016, Friday
13.2 C to 22.8 C / 1.6 mm / 5.5 hours / SW 4
A sunny and fine start to the day, a moderate southerly breeze making it feel much fresher than recent mornings, and it would remain sunny and clement throughout the remainder of the morning and for most of the afternoon, temperatures reaching a pleasant high of 22.8 C. However in the evening cloud would begin to increase with this cloud bringing some outbreaks of rain during the night.

A fresh and breezy visit to the home patch this morning with things remaining very much on the quiet side. Hopefully when the autumn weather does finally arrive things will get moving again! At the pond the Mallard count is now up to at least 35, whilst out in the pea-fields the Common Gulls numbered 63 with at least 5 Black-headed Gulls and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls joining them. These same fields also hosted a good number of Mistle Thrushes, whilst the teasels and burdocks along the weedy egdes played host to roving bands of Goldfinches and Linnets, a lovely autumn sight and sound. Meanwhile only a few passing hirundines were noted this morning, though both Skylarks and Pipits were heard passing overhead, the Pipits being the first I have heard this autumn. Finally a Cormorant was also spotted heading eastwards towards the nearby river Hull.

Back at home a lovely fresh looking Comma (Polygonia c-album) was sunning itself outside the kitchen window, this species having been quite scarce at Woldgarth this summer. This is also the time of year to enjoy the rather beautiful creations of the Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus), though the spiders themselves are no less beautiful, especially when studied up close. Indeed these spiders have always been a favourite of mine despite my mild arachnophobia, whilst the shape of the cross upon their abdomen has also meant that they have been looked upon favourably by many naturalists, especially those eminent Georgian & Victorian "parson-naturalists" to whom we owe so much.

A beautiful Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)

10th September 2016, Saturday
13.9 C to 15.3 C / 1.4 mm / 0.1 hours / SW 1-2
A dull morning with occasional outbreaks of light rain, the rain becoming somewhat heavier and more persistent for a time around the middle of the day. As the winds swung around into the north-east the rain would turn lighter and more drizzly, and indeed by the time the wind had continued into the north the rain would have cleared, the odd break in the cloud even managing to develop by early evening. Skies continuing to clear overnight with temperatures dipping into single figures.

With dull and damp conditions overhead I headed down to the patch in the hope that something may have turned up, such weather often bringing in the odd migrant at this time of year. Although initially all seemed quiet, I eventually picked out a small bird perched on the southern boundary fence of the pond, this turning out to be a juvenile Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the second to have graced this particular location this autumn (see 25th August). In the pond itself the Moorhen pair still have two chicks which they feed regularly amongst the reeds and bull-rushes, whilst the Mallards this morning numbered in excess of 30. In the pea-fields c.48 Common Gulls, 5+ Black-headed Gulls, a juvenile Herring Gull & 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (1 adult & 2 juveniles) were counted, these joined by a mixture of Wood Pigeons, at least one Stock dove & several Mistle Thrushes. A Mistle Thrush was also heard singing this morning, albeit somewhat distantly, a reminder that winter is not that far away. Further notes included a juvenile Fox in the rough pastures at the north end of Long Lane, a Kestrel (this putting the gulls to flight), very few hirundines and at least three Chiffchaffs.

Back at home I conducted one of my occasional garden bird counts, the rules as always being that only birds within the garden itself can be counted, whilst all numbers quoted are minimum counts to avoid the danger of double-counting. The weather was near perfect for bird-watching at this time of year with steady rain, drizzle and light easterly winds, and this was confirmed by a small passage of leaf warblers through the garden during the half-hour I conducted the count. Birds recorded were as follows; Blackbird x2, Blue Tit x6, Bullfinch x2 (1m. / 1f.), Chaffinch x5, Chiffchaff x1, Coal Tit x1, Dunnock x3, Goldcrest x2 (1ad. / 1 juv.), Goldfinch x8, Great Tit x3, Greenfinch x12, Robin x2, Willow Warbler x2, and Wood Pigeon x1. In total 50 birds of 14 species were counted.

Distant record shot of the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

11th September 2016, Sunday
8.3 C to 19.8 C / 0.0 mm / 11.8 hours / SW 2-3
A lovely early autumn morning with plenty of sunshine bathing the countryside of the East Riding, and it would remain summery and clement into the afternoon with wall to wall sunshine by the end of the afternoon. Skies remaining clear in the evening and overnight with a heavy dew by dawn.

The Red Arrows flew right over the house this afternoon, heading south in a 'V' formation as I played with my sisters dog, and my eldest niece in the garden. I think they were probably returning from Newcastle after performing a fly-by at the annual "Great North Run".

Yorkshire Wolds - We had the pleasure of enjoying another Sunday walk with my eldest sister and her Red Fox Labrador this morning, my eldest niece also joining us this week. The walk of choice was around the attractive and sheltered dry chalk valley of Deepdale, this deeply cut and winding dale being located near the highest point of the Yorkshire Wolds. It is often a good place to look for wildlife, including redstarts, butterflies and wildflowers in the summer, rare waxcap fungi in the autumn, and birds of prey in the winter, though today things were somewhat on the quiet side.

Nevertheless a few species of butterfly were noted, including at least five Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta), a fresh Small Tortoiseshell, at least six Speckled Woods and a few species of 'White'. In the grassy downlands of Cot Nab a few species of Grasshopper were noted, including what appeared to be Meadow Grasshoppers (Chorthippus parallelus), one of which was happy enough to sit on my nieces hand for a few minutes. Overhead a pair of Kestrels performed over the east-facing wood and two Buzzards were also noted, but apart from a nice flock of Bullfinches along the 'Bence' little else of interest was noted on the birding front. Still it was nice to see a few Swallows up here still.

Deepdale in early autumn

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) on my nieces hand

12th September 2016, Monday
10.9 C to 23.7 C / 0.0 mm / 7.0 hours / SW 2-3
A sunny morning again with plenty of sunshine to enjoy, the temperature rising up into the mid-twenties by early afternoon, though as humidity and dew points rose in the afternoon cloud would also increase with skies becoming cloudy for a time. However sunshine would return in the evening with skies becoming clear once more overnight, this allowing mist patches to form by dawn.

13th September 2016, Tuesday
14.0 C to 28.4 C / 0.0 mm / 9.1 hours / NE 2-3
A fine start to the day with largely clear skies and low mist hanging over the fields, and it would remain largely clear and sunny throughout the morning and indeed the afternoon with temperatures rising up above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Indeed the maximum of 28.4 C is a new September record for the weather station, beating the 26.8 C recorded way back in 2006! It was also rather muggy with dew points rising as high as 21 C for a time, this making it feel rather continental. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures remaining above 15 C throughout.

Little of note in the Parklands surrounding our home this morning, indeed even the gulls were absent in the pea-fields when I arrived around dawn on what was a gorgeous morning with golden autumn sunshine and shallow mist hanging over the pastures. However as the sun continued to rise above the eastern horizon the gulls would begin to slowly drift in from the south, and by the time I departed the area 28 Common Gulls and 5 Black-headed Gulls had arrived. In the pond the Mallard count still continues to rise with a new 2016 high of 37 this morning, other birds noted in this area including a lone Moorhen, a few "tsweep-ing" leaf warblers and "rattling" Mistle Thrushes. Finally one of the resident Peregrine Falcons was heard calling from atop Beverley Minster as I rode past.

North Cliffe Wood - On a very warm mid-September afternoon we headed over to this lovely little wood for a bit of fungi hunting and blackberry picking, a perfect way to spend an early autumn afternoon really. Despite the heat today (temperatures were above 80 degrees for a time) a good variety of fungi were noted once more, including an abundance of Tawny Grisettes (Amanita fulva), Birch Milkcap (Lactarius tabidus), another species of Milkcap which I yet to identify, a few Birch Brittlegills (Russula betularum) and Ochre Brittlegills (Russula ochroleuca) in the birch part of the wood, whilst around the oak woodland I found my first Blushers (Amanita rubescens) of the year. A single just emerged Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) was also found beneath the large lime tree which grows in the north-west corner of the heathland, whilst common species such as Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum), Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), Artist's Fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) & Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) were easy to find.

Blusher (Amanita rubescens), one of a small clump

Emerging Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), the first of the year

Brown Roll-rim (Paxillus involutus), very common but deadly poisonous

However the find of the day was several Parasitic Boletes (Pseudoboletus parasiticus) in two quite separate parts of the wood, the first clump fruiting from old earthballs near the boggy part of the wood along the southern perimeter path, whilst the others were discovered fruiting from earthballs in the area where the rhododendrons were removed a few years ago in the eastern part of the wood. I have never recorded this fungi before and a little research online suggests they are pretty rare in this part of the country, indeed their national status is uncommon to rare (link).

Other notes from the walk included a good view of a hunting Hobby (Falco subbuteo) just to the south of the heath, the handsome raptor cutting through the sky like an over-sized Swift, whilst other birds of note included a calling Jay, a few Marsh tits and numerous "tsweep-ing" leaf warblers. A few species of butterfly were noted, most numerous again being Speckled Woods (though noticeably less numerous than last week), as well as a few 'Whites', a couple of Red Admirals and at least one Comma, the latter seemingly having a late flourish to the year despite being almost absent through-out most of the summer. Dragonflies meanwhile included Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and Southern Hawker, though unfortunately we didn't have time to check out the heathland lagoon this afternoon. Finally the heath-land heather has now finished flowering for yet another year.

Parasitic bolete (Pseudoboletus parasiticus)

Another Parasitic Bolete growing from its Earthball host

Tawny Grisette (Amanita fulva), one of the most common fungi at the moment

14th September 2016, Wednesday
15.3 C to 24.1 C / 0.0 mm / 10.1 hours / NE 3
A sunny and muggy start to the day with light mist patches again in rural areas, and as the morning wore on the skies would remain clear and sunny with an abundance of golden September sunshine bathing the East Yorkshire countryside. Remaining clear and sunny throughout the afternoon, though thanks to a cooling breeze coming in off the sea it would be much more comfortable than yesterday with temperatures peaking at a pleasant 24.1 C. Clear skies in the evening and at first overnight but after midnight low cloud and murk would come in off the sea with foggy conditions by dawn.

Lots of moths (and craneflies) were once more attracted to the home-made 125W MV Skinner trap last night, though well over three-quarters of the 221 individual moths belonged to just one species. Of course this species was Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), 174 of them being found in or around the trap at dawn, though other species of "Yellow" Underwing are now in decline with just four Lesser Yellow Underwings (Noctua comes) today. More welcome was a single Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa), a species I do not record that frequently here, whilst Copper Underwings (Amphipyra pyramidea) were also quite numerous with 8 being found this morning.

Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)

Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa)

Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum)

One new species was added to the garden list, this once more being a species of micro in the shape and form of a Grey-streaked Smudge (Plutella porrectella), a rather attractive little moth which has has been recorded fewer than 50 times here in VC61. At first glance I assumed it was a species of Crambid but in fact it is close relative of the far more common Diamond-back Moth. Other moths recorded were as follows; Garden Carpet (x7), Common Marbled Carpet (x4), Brimstone (x1), Green Carpet (x1), Burnished Brass (x2), Silver Y (x1), Angle Shades (x3), Mouse Moth (x2), Square-spot Rustic (x2), Turnip Moth (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x6), Garden Rose Tortrix (x2), Common Marble (x1), and one, as yet, unidentified species of Pug.

Also attracted to the trap were a dozen or so Wasps (these thankfully all pretty dozy), along with a single Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus). This rather diminutive species of Shieldbug is always nice to see in the garden, and to my eyes at least it always looks rather similar to the otherwise far more common Hawthorn Shieldbug, albeit only about half the size.

Grey-streaked Smudge (Plutella porrectella)

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)

Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus)

15th September 2016, Thursday
13.9 C to 23.5 C / 0.0 mm / 7.0 hours / NW 3
A foggy start to the day, a phenomena which has been quite scarce this year, and whilst visibility would improve after 9 am, it would nevertheless remain grey and cloudy for most of the morning. However around midday it would begin to brighten up with yet another sunny and warm September afternoon following, temperatures once more rising up above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Mostly clear in the evening but becoming misty and eventually foggy after dusk, though after midnight a freshening NW breeze would blow the fog away. Remaining overcast however.

16th September 2016, Friday
14.0 C to 17.4 C / 8.1 mm / 0.4 hours / NW 5
A dull and overcast morning with persistent, and at times heavy rain arriving shortly before 11 am, this rain continuing into the first half of the afternoon. However by 3 pm the rain would clear away to the east leaving behind grey skies and a fresh blustery wind, though eventually some breaks would manage to develop by the evening, this allowing some late spells of sunshine to finish the day. Becoming cloudy again overnight with the breeze easing.

17th September 2016, Saturday
13.2 C to 17.0 C / 0.0 mm / 0.0 hours / N 4
A cloudy day for the most part with temperatures around average for the time of year, the ground remaining damp all day after yesterday's rain. Cloud beginning to break up in the evening with skies becoming clear overnight, this allowing a heavy dew with temperatures dipping into single figures.

18th September 2016, Sunday
8.0 C to 20.4 C / 0.8 mm / 10.4 hours / W 2
A sunny and clement autumn day with an abundance of blue skies throughout, this helping to push temperatures up above 20 C. Indeed with light winds it felt rather warm again. Remaining clear in the evening and during the first half of the night but cloud would increase later with grey skies by dawn.

Grosmont - An interesting species of beetle was encountered on the outside of our small Victorian terraced cottage this afternoon. The bright-red colour and black head and legs meant that initially I thought it was a Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (albeit exceptionally late!) but upon closer examination I soon realised it was something new and previously unknown to me. After a bit of research I think I have identified it as a species of Net-winged Beetle (Lycidae), possibly Platycis minutus, a scarce species of beetle nationally and particularly uncommon north of the Humber. However the North York Moors is a northern outpost for the species (at least according to NBN data). with nearly all Yorkshire records of the species coming from VC62.

Net-winged beetle species (Platycis minutus ?)

19th September 2016, Monday
9.3 C to 15.2 C / 4.7 mm / 0.0 hours / NW 2-3
A dull, overcast and damp day with periods of steady drizzle in the morning and the first half of the afternoon, though it would become somewhat drier by the end of the afternoon. Indeed by the end of the evening some breaks would develop with clear spells during the first part of the night. However cloud would increase again by midnight with overcast skies and drizzle by dawn.

20th September 2016, Tuesday
12.9 C to 15.3 C / 1.5 mm / 0.0 hours / N 2
Another damp and overcast day with periods of drizzle and rain in the morning, the ground becoming particularly wet after a couple of overcast days and light winds. Somewhat drier in the afternoon but remaining overcast and grey with further occasional periods of rain &/or drizzle from time to time. Overcast overnight and becoming misty by dawn.

21st September 2016, Wednesday
11.7 C to 18.9 C / trace / 1.4 hours / SE 2-3
A dull and misty morning but becoming brighter after midday with some good spells of sunshine developing by mid-afternoon, this allowing temperatures to rise up to a rather clement 18.9 C. Becoming cloudy again by the evening with a mostly cloudy and mild night following.

A few species of butterfly are still being observed in the garden including the odd Red Admiral, a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a single Comma and a few 'Whites'. The Small Tortoiseshells are particularly pleasing to see as apparently this colourful and usually common species is having a poor year in other parts of the country, though thankfully here at Woldgarth this has not been the case.

22nd September 2016, Thursday
12.8 C to 18.2 C / 0.0 mm / 6.2 hours / SW 2
After an initially cloudy start things would soon brighten up with some good spells of sunshine developing by the end of the morning, the sunny and clement conditions persisting throughout the afternoon. Indeed by the evening skies would become clear with mostly clear conditions persisting throughout the night. A cooler night as a result with temperatures dipping into single figures.

23rd September 2016, Friday
7.2 C to 18.6 C / 0.0 mm / 9.0 hours / SW 2-3
A sunny and clement early autumn day with an abundance of sunshine bathing the countryside of Yorkshire's East Riding, temperatures once more being slightly above average for the time of year. Indeed this month looks like it could be one of the warmest September's on my records. Clear spells in the evening and overnight but notably milder than the previous night.

The number of Swallows in the skies above our home has noticeably reduced in the past week with most hirundines spotted in the heavens above now being species of Martin, the vast majority of which are House Martins. Meanwhile at the bird feeding station we have recently been invaded by large numbers of Goldfinches and Greenfinches, indeed they have pushed out many other birds including the Bullfinches. Such large numbers means that disease is a real threat and I may stop feeding the birds for a week to allow some of the finches to disperse elsewhere, especially as I have noted at least two poorly birds amongst the Greens. I will also take this opportunity to give all the feeders and the feeding station a good scrub clean, especially with autumn proper being just around the corner.

24th September 2016, Saturday
10.7 C to 21.4 C / 0.3 mm / 5.0 hours / SW 3-4
A bright start to the day with sunny spells and it would remain clement into the first part of the afternoon with temperatures climbing up to a rather warm 21.4 C. However cloud would increase as the afternoon wore on with skies becoming cloudy by mid to late-afternoon, the breeze also freshening as the cloud invaded from the south. Remaining cloudy throughout the evening and overnight with some outbreaks of rain arriving towards the end of the night.

25th September 2016, Sunday
12.8 C to 18.0 C / 0.0 mm / 4.9 hours / SW 4
A damp start with outbreaks of mostly light rain but this would quickly clear with conditions gradually brightening up as the morning progressed. Indeed by the afternoon some good spells of sunshine would begin to develop, though with a moderate to fresh SW breeze it did feel somewhat fresher than it has of late. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

North Cliffe Wood - A late morning visit on what was an improving late September day brought plenty of interest as usual at this lovely little reserve situated just beyond the western edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. Fungi once more provided a good variety of interest with locally common species such as Tawny Grisettes, Birch Milkcaps, species of Brittlegill and Brown Roll-rims being encountered frequently throughout the majority of the wood, whilst the Parasitic Boletes found on our last visit (see 13th) were also once more noted, all be it now past their best. However a few new species were also found today, including a good showing of Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) fruiting from a decaying fallen birch, some Sulphur Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare), as well as a couple of rather limp looking Stinkhorns (Phallus impudicus), the first I have noted this year. The so called 'egg' of one of these easily identifiable fungi was also found in another part of the wood. Finally at least six Parasol Mushrooms were fruiting at the usual spot, two of which were at their best, two of which were already past it, and another two of which were still just emerging.

Parasitic Bolete (Pseudoboletus parasiticus)

Birch Milkcap (Lactarius tabidus)

Sulphur Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare)

The number of Speckled Wood butterflies on the wing continues to dwindle with only a few seen today, through a brisk south-west breeze meant that conditions weren't ideal anyway, this also proving to be the case as regards dragonflies. Nevertheless a few Common Darters were noted, as well as an unidentified species of Hawker. Around the blackberries, which are now nearing the end of their season, a Comma was noted, whilst around the birches what appeared to be a Vapourer moth was seen flittering around, this species of day-flying moth having a good year in 2016. Another observation around the blackberries was an impressive Hornet, this taking flight as soon as it spotted me, whilst out on the heath the gorse was covered in what appeared to be Four-spotted Orbweaver spiders (Araneus quadratus), an attractive species which is at its most frequent in early autumn.

Finally on the ornithological front it was a fairly unremarkable morning with just the usual array of typical woodland species, though for an east of the Wolds birder such as myself I always take some satisfaction from the sightings of species such as Marsh tits and Jays, both species being uncommon in my neck of the woods. On the heath 'tsweeping' leaf warblers were once more heard in good numbers, with other sightings including a yaffling Green Woodpecker and yet another Hobby, this summer visiting falcon proving to be a frequent observation at North Cliffe this summer.

Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera)

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

An interesting example of Tawny Grisette (I think?)

26th September 2016, Monday
9.3 C to 14.8 C / 2.3 mm / 0.0 hours / SW 2-3
A fiery sky to start the day soon gave way to cloudy and grey skies, this cloud being thick enough to produce some periods of rain in the second half of the morning and again in late afternoon and the evening. Much cooler than of late with the temperature remaining below 15 C for the first time since the 2nd of June! After a drizzly evening conditions would begin to improve overnight with some clear spells managing to develop by the end of the night.

27th September 2016, Tuesday
10.6 C to 19.4 C / 0.0 mm / 0.6 hours / SW 4-5
After another fiery start to the day, the eastern dawn sky lit up bright orange, cloud would once more quickly increase from the south with the remainder of the day seeing largely cloudy and grey skies, though in the afternoon the odd brighter period would also allow some short spells of sunshine. Indeed despite the cloud and a moderate to fresh SW breeze it would feel rather warm, temperatures falling just shy of 20 C. Remaining mostly cloudy and breezy in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling no lower than 12.7 C, rather mild for late September.

28th September 2016, Wednesday
12.7 C to 21.5 C / 0.2 mm / 1.3 hours / SW 4-5
A largely cloudy day once more but not without some brighter periods, especially in the afternoon. However it was the return to warm and muggy conditions which was the most notable feature of the weather today with temperatures climbing into the low twenties despite the cloud, and dew points reaching a rather muggy 18 C. It was also quite breezy during the morning but this would ease by the afternoon. Becoming clearer for a time around dusk but cloud would increase again by midnight, the cloud thick enough to produce some light rain by the end of the night.

A few Swallows were noted in the sky above the homestead this morning, these being the first I have seen over Woldgarth for a few days. Meanwhile a Chiffchaff was in the garden for much of the day and was seen visiting the bird bath on a number of occasions, whilst a species of White butterfly and a probable Red Admiral were also noted on what was an unseasonably warm and muggy afternoon.

29th September 2016, Thursday
13.9 C to 17.4 C / 0.0 mm / 8.8 hours / W 5-6
After early light rain cleared away, it would quickly brighten up with a largely sunny, if somewhat blustery day following. Indeed the wind would be quite strong at times in the afternoon with gusts up to gale force, and as a result of the fresh breeze it would feel much cooler than yesterday. Skies becoming mostly clear by the evening with a fresh and pleasant end to the day.

I had hoped to see my first skeins of Pink-footed Geese today, especially as a number were reported in different parts of the county and local area today, but despite keeping an eye (and an ear) out I unfortunately drew a blank. The coming of wild geese and the arrival of wildfowl in general to our shores is one of those events I always look forward to every autumn, and I wonder when our first winter thrushes will also appear in the gardens of Woldgarth. Hopefully it will be soon.

30th September 2016, Friday
8.2 C to 16.1 C / 1.4 mm / 7.1 hours / SW 4
A clear and sunny start to the day with skies remaining largely sunny and clement throughout most of the morning and the afternoon. However latterly the odd shower would bubble up, one of which was quite sharp (28.4 mm/h) in early evening, but these would soon die out with clear spells developing overnight. Under mostly clear skies temperatures would dip well into single figures with a low of 5.6 C by dawn, the lowest minimum so far this autumn.

Moorgates - A quick stroll around this area above Goathland brought a few interesting observations, including quite a few leaf warblers, numerous thrushes (no winter ones though), a couple of Jays in the mixed birch, alder and oak woods, an abundance of rowan berries, and turning bracken up on the higher slopes. Most of the heather has now finished flowering through the odd bit can still be found here and there in sheltered spots. Meanwhile the fly agaric clump near the parking area is not up to much so far this year, though one rather old specimen was found beneath the birch tree.

Grosmont - Not much to report from the village, the still green and almost summery countryside comparing interestingly to the notably more autumnal landscape up at Goathland. Indeed the relatively warm afternoon sunshine encouraged a few butterflies on to the wing, including 'Whites' and Speckled Woods, though the lack of dragonflies in the village this summer has been disappointing. Another observation of note was a single Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) seen along the river, the bat possibly emerging from the caves on the opposite river-bank. This is a species I would expect to see here, the slow flight (at least compared to Pipistrelle) and almost silvery-brown appearance helping to identify this common British species.

LNER B1 No.61264 departing Grosmont

Special guest for this year's autumn gala, GWR No.7822 'Foxcote Manor'

September 2016 Weather Report
A warm and largely dry start to autumn this year, the first half of September being particularly warm with temperatures rising as high as 28.4 C (83.1 F), a new station record for this nine month of the year. However the most notable new record of the month came on the night of the 6th/7th when a minimum of just 18.8 C (65.8 F) was recorded, this not only being a new September record but also the warmest ever minimum recorded at our weather station since records began in 2003. Overall it was the second warmest September on our records and the warmest since 2006, the month eventually concluding some 2.1 C above the long-term average (1981-2010).

Meanwhile rainfall was again notably below the long term average, the monthly total of 36.0 mm (1.42 inches) coming to 62% of what would usually be expected in a typical September. 12 days saw measurable rainfall but only nice saw in excess of 1.0 mm, the wettest day of the month coming on the 3rd when 11.7 mm was measured via the manually recorded Met. Office standard rain gauge.

The dominance of south-westerly winds was another notable feature of the month, winds from Atlantic dominating the vast majority of September, though by and large winds were rarely more than moderate to fresh throughout the majority of the month. However the 28th and 29th did see some stronger winds with gusts of up to gale force recorded on the 29th. After a succession of relatively benign autumn's it will be interesting to see what 2016 has in store for us this year.

Finally sunshine totals were close to the long term average with around 98% of the normal being recorded. Daily sunshine totals averaged exactly 4.8 hours, though four days did remain sunless, a slightly higher than usual occurrence for September. The sunniest weather came during the first half of the month, the first 15 days seeing 88.9 hours of sunshine compared to 55.1 hours in the remaining 15 days, though the reduction in daylight hours as September advances does partly account for this difference. One of the most notable features of autumn's in recent years has been an increase in sunshine hours and it will be interesting to see whether this continues again this year.

Average Temperature
 16.1 C
 +2.1 C
Average Maximum
 19.9 C

Average Minimum
 12.2 C

Highest Maximum
 28.4 C
Lowest Maximum
 14.8 C
Highest Minimum
 18.8 C
Lowest Minimum
 7.2 C
Air Frosts

Grass Frosts

Frost duration

Total Rainfall
 36.0 mm
Maximum total
 11.7 mm
Days =>0.2 mm

Days =>1.0 mm

Days =>10.0 mm

Total rain duration
 48 hours

Total Sunshine
 144.0 hours
Average per day
 4.80 hours

Sunless days

Average Wind Speed
 1.6 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