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October 2016

1st October 2016, Saturday
5.6 C to 15.0 C / 1.7 mm / 4.9 hours / NW 2-3
A pleasant morning after a chilly start with plenty of autumn sunshine to enjoy, though around the middle of the day some showers would develop, a few of which were quite sharp in early afternoon. Becoming drier but cloudier in the second half of the afternoon though by the evening the cloud would begin to break up with some clear spells developing overnight.

Grosmont - Enjoyed a short stroll along the Esk Valley this morning on what was a perfect autumn morning up here in the North York Moors National Park. Overhead it was great to spot my first PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (Anser brachyrhynchus) of the autumn, the distinctive call of this species helping to identify it, though rather unusually it was by itself and not part of a larger skein. Perhaps it had become lost somehow. Around the church of St. Mathew's a few Nuthatches (Sitta europaea) were heard in the beeches which surround this relatively modern building, As I made my along further I came across a gentleman picking blackberries, a risky thing to do considering that we have now passed Michaelmas (traditionally it is bad luck to pick blackberries after the 29th of September). Further interest was provided back at the cottage courtesy of a Vine Weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) which was found crawling up the front door, a new species for me at least.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

2nd October 2016, Sunday
7.0 C to 15.0 C / 0.0 mm / 8.0 hours / N 3-4
A largely fine October day with sunny spells pretty much throughout, though it did become somewhat cloudier for a time in late morning and early afternoon. Feeling much cooler than recently, especially in the northerly breeze. Becoming clear by late afternoon and remaining clear throughout the evening and night, this allowing temperatures to dip well into single figures with a widespread ground frost in rural areas by dawn, especially down in the lower pastures of the Parklands.

Grosmont - As I headed out this morning I heard the high-pitched calls of REDWINGS overhead, these being the first I have heard this autumn. Hopefully autumn proper is just around the corner.

Darnholm - The short but pleasant stroll from Goathland station to Darnholm brought plenty of interest this morning, the weather being sunny but somewhat cool, especially in the moderate to brisk northerly breeze which was coming in off the nearby sea today. Fungi brought the most interest with specimens of what looked like Sickeners (Russula emetica), a few otherwise difficult to identify species of Brittlegill, a few old and damaged Blushers (Amanita rubescens), a particularly good example of Penny Bun (Boletus edulis), a few Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) and of course numerous other species which were well beyond my current mycological knowledge.

With October now here the rowan trees and laden with berries, the most exposed trees having already lost their leaves, whilst on the higher slopes the bracken is already rapidly turning. By the end of the month the autumn colours should be at their best. However a few reminders of summer still persist including numerous Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum), a few Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria), and a few lingering House Martins and late singing Chiffchaffs. Two new species of invertebrate were also found along the walk with a Parent Bug (Elasmucha grisea) and a Snail Hunter Beetle (Cychrus caraboides), the latter proving to be rather confiding as I lay back amongst the bracken above Eller Beck. The diversity of nature never ceases to amaze.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

3rd October 2016, Monday
3.5 C to 15.7 C / 0.0 mm / 8.5 hours / E 1-2
A clear and cold start to the day with a touch of ground frost in some areas and a low mist hanging over the low pastures, but with clear blue skies and an abundance of golden October sunshine it would soon warm up. Remaining sunny and clement throughout the afternoon and all in all another very pleasant autumn day. Cloud increasing for a time overnight but becoming clear again by dawn, though as a result of the cloud it was a much milder night than last night.

A touch of ground frost was noted throughout the local countryside this morning but especially down in the parklands where a nice coating of ice crystals had formed overnight. After what has otherwise been a mild autumn it was nice to finally feel a real chill to the morning air.

Following my first record of REDWINGS (Turdus iliacus) up at Grosmont yesterday morning, it was good to hear further birds passing over this morning back home near Beverley. Indeed their high-pitched calls were heard throughout the morning. Further observations today included a single and well-marked Buzzard over the old homestead, plus a few late butterflies enjoying the October sunshine, species recorded including Large White and Comma.

4th October 2016, Tuesday
6.7 C to 18.0 C / 0.0 mm / 8.3 hours / SE 4-5
Another clear start to the day with mist patches hanging over the low pastures, though not as chilly as yesterday morning. Remaining sunny for much of the morning though the breeze would begin to strengthen from mid-morning onwards, this becoming quite blustery by midday. Remaining sunny and breezy throughout the afternoon though by the evening the breeze would begin to ease down. Variable amounts of cloud overnight and much milder with a low of just 12.0 C.

A Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) was heard calling in the fields near Halfway House Farm this morning, a sound which does at least confirm that the small local population is still just about hanging on in the fields around our home. Meanwhile fewer Redwings were heard this morning though as I took the weather observations I did hear a few Skylarks & the odd Pipit passing overhead.

Later in the morning I was joined by a species of spider on the window-sill of my study, this proving to be a probable Winter Spider (Zygiella x-notata), a very common British species which is at its most frequent in early autumn (August to October). The species is particularly associated with man-made structures, especially windows and window-frames, and can easily be found on most buildings and houses at any time of year, even in mid-winter (hence the common name).

Winter Spider (Zygiella x-notata)

5th October 2016, Wednesday
12.0 C to 16.1 C / 0.0 mm / 5.0 hours / E 4-5
A mild start to the day with sunny spells and broken cloud, though as the morning wore on it would become increasingly cloudy with mostly grey skies by midday. Like yesterday the breeze would also freshen as the morning wore on, with conditions remaining mostly cloudy and blustery for the majority of the afternoon. However latterly things would begin to brighten up again with some late spells of sunshine to finish the day, the breeze also easing by early evening. Mostly clear overnight with temperatures dipping into single figures.

More Redwings heard this morning though numbers remain fairly modest, whilst down in the low fields a couple of Roe deer were gleaning in the stubble fields. At the pond a single Teal joined the 40 or so Mallard, and a lone Kingfisher also made a brief appearance, always a welcome sight.

6th October 2016, Thursday
8.7 C to 15.1 C / 0.7 mm / 7.9 hours / E 3-4
A largely fine and sunny day with temperatures around average for the time of year, though in the evening cloud would increase from the east. After dusk this cloud would increase further with outbreaks of rain and drizzle coming in off the North Sea shortly prior to midnight. Remaining cloudy for the remainder of the night with further occasional periods of rain &/or drizzle.

The single female Teal (Anas crecca) was again with the Mallards at the small flight pond this morning, the number of Mallards now up to 50+, a new record for this particular location. Meanwhile the horse chestnuts this year have only produced a modest crop of conkers, most of which are not particularly large or of high-quality either. The conkers are already nearing the end of their season whilst on the oaks the acorns are now falling, the crop of which, at least in comparison to the conkers, is good. I wonder what, if anything, this says about the prospects for the coming winter.

The moth trap was put out during the evening but due to the unexpected arrival of rain, which hadn't been forecast, I had to put it away shortly prior to midnight. Unsurprisingly only a few moths were discovered when I inspected the trap the following morning with one each of Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa), Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), Common Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma truncata), Pale Mottled Willow (Caradrina clavipalpis) and Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana). Hopefully better conditions will return by the weekend.

A beautiful collection of fresh conkers

7th October 2016, Friday
11.7 C to 15.3 C / 0.9 mm / 0.1 hours / E 2
An overcast morning for the most part with outbreaks of rain drifting in off the sea, though despite the inclement weather it was mild. Becoming drier and even a little brighter for a time around the middle of the day but cloud would thicken again by mid-afternoon with further periods of drizzle and rain. However any lingering precipitation would die out by the evening, though skies would remain overcast and cloudy for the remainder of the evening and the night. Feeling distinctly autumnal.

Inclement weather meant that large numbers of Redwings were heard streaming over throughout the morning, the easterly wind, low cloud and outbreaks of rain being perfect conditions. Indeed a few birds also appeared in the garden, attracted to the current abundance of haw and yew berries, and this is the joint earliest date for their arrival at Woldgarth, equaling the 2013 record. What this will mean for the coming winter is probably meaningless, since the winter of 2013/14 was exceptionally mild, whilst in 2010, when the Redwings also arrived early, the December which followed was exceptionally cold and snowy. Only time will tell I suppose but it is always fun to conjecture.

In other news from the local countryside a single female Teal remains with the abundant Mallards at the usual location, four Moorhens also being here this morning, whilst the recently drilled fields hosted about half a dozen Mistle Thurshes. Two dozen Greylags were also in the now established OSR fields just north of Woodmansey, a quick scan of the group not producing anything of note.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

8th October 2016, Saturday
8.1 C to 14.4 C / 0.0 mm / 2.6 hours / NE 2
A dull and grey morning but after midday things would begin to brighten up with some good spells of sunshine developing during the afternoon. Indeed with the relatively light winds it would feel quite pleasant with temperatures around average for the time of year. Cloud increasing again from the north east in early evening, but this would clear by 9 pm with skies remaining mostly clear for the majority of the night, this allowing temperatures to dip well into single figures by dawn.

Widespread autumn colours down here on the East Yorkshire lowlands have still yet to appear, though one of two trees have in the past week started to turn yellow and have begun to experience noticeable leaf-fall, the Horse Chestnut on the hill above Woldgarth being one such tree. This tree is always the first to turn in the area (it is also one of the first to leaf). Meanwhile up on the moors the bracken is now turning, whilst most of the rowans and some of the higher birches have also started to lose their leaves. I always look forward to this time of year and hopefully we will see a proper 'fall' this year rather than one of the prolonged and drawn out ones we have seen in recent years.

In the garden a brief moment of excitement was provided by a single WOODCOCK (Scolopax rusticola) flying low and fast, the bird in question arriving from the north-east and heading into the woods south of the old homestead. Whilst woodcock can sometimes be encountered in the local woods, especially in late autumn and winter, this was only the second ever record for the garden. Overhead Redwings were heard throughout most of the day, whilst a few Wagtails were also spotted, including at least one Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). Finally a Red Admiral was noted enjoying the sunshine among the ivy, this plant always providing a good place to enjoy autumn butterflies.

9th October 2016, Sunday
6.6 C to 14.3 C / 0.3 mm / 6.7 hours / NE 3-4
A clear and cool start to the day with a heavy dew upon the ground, and whilst it would remain mostly sunny throughout the morning, a few passing showers would also drift in from the north-east from time to time. However for the most part these showers managed to miss us here at Woldgarth with a largely sunny and dry afternoon being enjoyed, though the moderate north-east breeze did make it feel quite cool out in the open. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight, this allowing temperatures to dip into single figures, but cloud and the odd shower would return by dawn.

Only a handful of moths were in the trap when I emptied it this morning, the largely clear skies and low temperatures meaning that conditions were not that favourable. Nevertheless the lack of moths was still disappointing, though on the plus side one was a new addition to the year list, this coming in the shape and form of a Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri), one of the more common moths recorded here at Woldgarth in autumn. The other moths meanwhile were Angle Shades (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x1) and a somewhat late Diamond-back Moth (x1).

The light of the moth trap also attracted a number of Caddisflies, all of which appeared to be Limnephilus lunatus (x6), along with a few species of Cranefly and a species of Harvestman, this appearing to be Paroligolophus agrestis judging by the pale dots along the body and the thick 'thighs' which help to ID this species from other Opiliones. Paroligolophus agrestis, which doesn't have a common name (at least as far as I can tell), is one of the most common species of Harvestmen you will find in the garden or indeed the wider countryside, especially from late August through to early winter. Indeed in milder winters it can even be encountered well into January!

Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri)

Yorkshire Wolds - I enjoyed a gentle ramble around the Huggate area of the Wolds this morning, my eldest sister, eldest niece and their Red Fox Labrador joining me once more. The weather was mostly fine, though the odd shower would drift in from the north-east, especially at first, whilst temperature wise it was perfect for walking with temperatures in the low teens and a moderate north-east breeze helping to keep us cool. Hopefully we have finally seen the last of the unpleasant warmth and humidity which we had to endure for much of August and September this year!

Nature wise a few good observations were made, including my first FIELDFARES (Turdus pilaris) of the year in the hawthorns at the top of Horse Dale, whilst towards the valley bottom a male and a female pair of STONECHATS (Saxicola rubicola) were at the point where Horse Dale meets Holm Dale. I have seen Stonechats at this location in the past but not for a few years. I wonder if they will overwinter again? Meanwhile these grassy dales still host a number of Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis), though numbers have obviously dropped since the spring and summer months, whilst birds of prey included up to three individual Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and two Buzzard (Buteo buteo).

Being October plenty of Pheasants and Partridges are in the high fields and around the cover crops, the presence of freshly fired shotgun cartridges that had been missed by the game-keeping & beating staff showing that the new season has already had at least one shoot at this location (though rather strangely the few I did find seemed to be No.9 cartridges!). Shooting does bring in good money to the rural communities of the Yorkshire Wolds, whilst land management for gamebirds also provides additional benefits to wild birds too, especially in winter, but I do believe that some shoots, especially those operated by farms as just an extra means of income, do need a degree of better regulation, especially at a time when shooting is under greater scrutiny than at any time in the past.

Further nature notes from our walk included a few bumblebees still going strong, indeed a few flowers can still be encountered here and there, including some late Scabious in Horse Dale, though the best sighting of the morning was a single Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) near Glebe Farm, my first sighting of one of these beauties since August (I think). In the fields most crops have now been safely gathered, though some fields of potatoes are still waiting to be lifted, whilst already the tender shoots of winter wheat are coming up in one or two fields. The farming year never really ends!

Fieldfare (photo taken November 2012)

Female Stonechat (photo taken near Goathland in May)

10th October 2016, Monday
6.7 C to 12.6 C / 4.0 mm / 3.5 hours / N 3-4
A day of sunshine and showers, some of these showers being quite heavy as they drifted in from the north-east, especially in the second half of the morning and during early afternoon (peak rainfall rate of 29.8 mm/h). Feeling cool as well with temperatures struggling to just 12.6 C (54.7 F). Showers dying out by the end of the afternoon with skies becoming clear during the evening and the first half of the night, but cloud would increase again after midnight with light outbreaks of rain by dawn.

So far October 2016 is proving to be a largely dry month, rainfall currently totaling a modest 7.6 mm (0.30"), whilst temperature wise it is currently slightly below the long term average at 11.4 C (52.5 F). High pressure and easterly winds have dominated the first 10 days of the month, and should this weather pattern continue in the longer term, the coming winter could be very interesting indeed!

11th October 2016, Tuesday
6.4 C to 13.9 C / 2.7 mm / 0.2 hours / NE 3-4
A dull and damp day for the most part with outbreaks of rain coming in off the sea thanks to a gentle to moderate north-east breeze, some of these periods of rain being quite heavy around the middle of the day (peak rate of 11.2 mm/h). Becoming drier towards the end of the afternoon however with the cloud breaking up during the evening, the rest of the night seeing variable amounts of cloud.

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

12th October 2016, Wednesday
8.9 C to 13.4 C / 8.1 mm / 0.1 hours / E 3-4
A dry, mild(ish) and bright start but soon becoming cloudier with outbreaks of rain once more drifting in from the north by north-east, these becoming frequent for a time. Becoming drier for a time in the afternoon, with even some short lived brightness, but in the evening showers would return. Further frequent showers overnight, some of which were heavy (peak rate of 32.4 mm/h).

13th October 2016, Thursday
7.8 C to 11.9 C / 8.5 mm / 0.5 hours / SE 4
A showery day with frequent showers throughout the morning and afternoon, some of these showers being quite heavy (peak rate of 6.0 mm/h), though it was somewhat drier and brighter for a time in mid-afternoon. Feeling cool, especially during the showers, with temperatures really struggling to rise much above 10 C. Further showers in the evening and overnight, though becoming less frequent by the end of the night. The weather is certainly feeling very autumnal at the moment!

14th October 2016, Friday
8.3 C to 12.5 C / 0.6 mm / 0.1 hours / SE 3
Another cloudy day with occasional showers coming in off the North Sea, though the showers were nowhere near as frequent, prolonged or as heavy as yesterday! Becoming drier in the afternoon, apart from a short period of drizzle prior to dusk, and in the evening some breaks in the cloud would even manage to develop. However these proved short-lived with skies becoming cloudy once more overnight, this cloud becoming thick enough to produce some rain by the end of the night.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

15th October 2016, Saturday
9.5 C to 14.7 C / 0.8 mm / 2.7 hours / SE 2-3
A grey and damp start to the day with outbreaks of rain and drizzle, conditions becoming rather murky in mid-morning as low cloud descended from the Wolds, but from late morning onwards conditions would quickly begin to improve with even some spells of sunshine in the afternoon, something of a rarity in recent days. Feeling milder as well with temperatures around average for mid-October. Cloud increasing again in the evening with outbreaks of mostly light rain arriving by 9pm, these outbreaks of rain continuing on and off for much of the night. However it would clear latterly with some clearer spells developing, this allowing a mist to form by dawn.

A Speckled Wood butterfly was in the garden, attracted out no doubt by the relatively mild and sunny conditions in the afternoon. However apart from a few 'Whites' in the garden and the very odd Red Admiral or Comma elsewhere, the number of butterflies now on the wing is very few.

16th October 2016, Sunday
7.8 C to 14.8 C / 9.0 mm / 2.6 hours / SE 3
A cool and misty start to the day, everything feeling damp after overnight rain, though by mid-morning cloud would increase and thicken from the south-east with persistent moderate rain arriving by 10:30 am. The rain wouldn't last long though with drier and eventually sunny conditions arriving by mid-afternoon, the sun feeling warm with temperatures around average. Skies would remain mostly clear in the evening and overnight with just some high cloud veiling the impressively bright and large harvest moon which brightly illuminated what was otherwise a mild October night.

A succession of Fieldfares (and the odd Redwing) were observed and heard passing over the old homestead in early afternoon, their movement south-westwards coinciding with the clearance of the morning rain. Considering how scarce Fieldfares were last winter, indeed I hardly saw any until late March, their relatively early arrival this year is certainly worthy of some extra note.

Meanwhile my youngest sister visited North Cliffe Wood with her family this morning and found at least five Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) in fruit in the usual location. Since my nephew loves fungi hunting (or mushrooms as he calls them) he was rather happy to say the least.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

17th October 2016, Monday
9.4 C to 15.3 C / 3.0 mm / 6.4 hours / SW 3-4
A sunny morning with largely clear skies for the most part, though in the afternoon cloud would increase, indeed it would become mostly cloudy by mid-afternoon. A few showers would also bubble up in the second half of the afternoon (peak rate of 16.0 mm/h), but these would die out by the evening with clear spells soon developing. Remaining clear for much of the night, the near full moon once again lighting up the darkness, but cloud would increase later with rain arriving by dawn.

A Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) was seen in the garden again this afternoon, the butterfly in question favouring the area around the Yew and Cypress trees. Speaking of the Yews, these handsome trees are currently adorned in a mass of red berries, these providing food for the local thrushes, the visiting winter thrushes, and of course the large local population of Grey Squirrels.

18th October 2016, Tuesday
8.0 C to 11.7 C / 6.7 mm / 2.9 hours / W 4-5
A wet start to the day with outbreaks of rain, but things would begin to brighten up after mid-morning. However after the rain cleared it would feel noticeably cooler, this further emphasised by a freshening north-westerly breeze. Remaining bright with sunny spells into the afternoon but in mid-afternoon cloud would quickly invade from the west with a period of heavy rain for a time, the rainfall peaking at a rate of 22.8 mm/h. However the rain would clear as quickly as it arrived, with even some sunshine to end the day, whilst skies would remain mostly clear throughout the evening and at first overnight. Becoming more cloudy again after midnight however.

19th October 2016, Wednesday
5.7 C to 12.8 C / 0.3 mm / 2.1 hours / NW 4-5
A mostly cloudy and mildish start to the day, but as the morning wore on some brighter periods would begin to develop with occasional spells of sunshine. Indeed the remainder of the day would continue on a bright note with further sunny spells, though in late morning the odd very light passing shower would drift down from the north. Becoming cloudier in the evening and remaining mostly cloudy throughout the night, the cloud thick enough to produce a few showers latterly.

Cycled down to Weel and Hull Bridge prior to dawn this morning, hoping to hear a few winter wildfowl out on Swinemoor Common, but in the end all I heard were Mallards and a few Plovers. I didn't stop to see how the floods are coming along, though judging by the lack of birds heard, I would guess that the flood waters are either very limited or indeed non-existent. It was a very dark morning though with cloudy skies, so perhaps the birds were just keeping silent.

Meanwhile at least two skeins of PINK-FOOTED GEESE (Anser brachyrhynchus) were seen passing overhead this morning, the evocative cries of these winter visitors alerting me to their presence as I worked away in my study with the windows open. I always keep an open ear for migrants at this time of the year, especially the Pink-feet, and it was good to finally see a skein this autumn (see 1st). A good number of Redwings (Turdus iliacus) were also in the garden today, the birds feasting on the abundant red berries of the garden Yew trees. I do love this time of year.

Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus)

20th October 2016, Thursday
9.3 C to 13.8 C / 0.0 mm / 5.7 hours / NW 3-4
After an initially cloudy start to the day things would begin to quickly brighten up with good spells of sunshine in the second half of the morning and the afternoon. With lighter winds it also felt rather mild, temperatures slightly above average for mid to late-October. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight but becoming cloudier towards the end of the night.

After the dry start to October (just 7.6 mm between the 1st and 10th), the last ten days have brought much more in the way of rain with 39.7 mm recorded between the 11th and 20th. Indeed today was the first dry day after 11 successive rain days, whilst the monthly rainfall total has now increased to 47.3 mm. October is typically one of the wettest months of the year, averaging 58.8 mm, and it will be interesting to see what the rest of the month brings in terms of rainfall.

21st October 2016, Friday
7.5 C to 11.6 C / 1.3 mm / 0.4 hours / NW 2-3
A largely cloudy day, the cloud thick enough to produce the odd mostly light and brief shower around the middle of the day and during the afternoon, though the day wasn't without the odd brighter period as well, including some brief sunny spells at times. However by dusk skies would begin to clear and they would remain largely clear throughout the evening and most of the night.

A single adult WHOOPER SWAN (Cygnus cygnus) was seen flying north-westwards this morning, the bird in question flying fast and somewhat erratically. It is unusual to see Whoopers by themselves, whilst the strange behaviour of the bird possibly suggests that it had lost its herd. This is first ever record of a Whooper Swan at Woldgarth and only my second ever in the Beverley area.

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

22nd October 2016, Saturday
6.6 C to 12.1 C / 1.7 mm / 4.6 hours / NE 3
A largely fine late October's day with good spells of sunshine, though in the morning and around midday a few showers would drift down from the north-east, one of which was quite heavy. Clear spells in the evening and at first overnight, but after midnight a few moderate showers would come in off the nearby North Sea, driven in once more by the north-easterly breeze.

The garden Bullfinches have been conspicuous by their absence for a few weeks now, indeed I was starting to get worried about them, but thankfully a female was seen on the feeders today, perhaps signalling that they are starting to return to the garden after dispersing in late summer and early autumn to the surrounding countryside. Hopefully more will return in the coming days and weeks.

Meanwhile whilst clearing a much neglected corner of the garden, where we are hoping to perhaps keep chickens in the near future, I discovered a good clump of Parasol Mushrooms growing around and upon what used to be a compost heap. I am not sure which species of Parasol they are but they are darker and smaller than those I am more accustomed to seeing in the wider countryside. I also found a Common Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) hiding under some stones, which unfortunately I had to move, but I did make sure to relocate the lovely little amphibian in another hidden away part of the garden where he can hopefully spend the rest of the autumn and winter in safety.

Further interest today was provided shortly before dusk as five WHOOPER SWANS (Cygnus cygnus) were seen passing over Woldgarth, interestingly heading in exactly the same direction as the single Whooper which I observed yesterday. At the time I was attending to a bonfire and it was the unmistakable call which alerted me to their presence as they passed relatively high above me, the sound instantly bringing back fond memories of witnessing those wonderful winter spectacles which one can enjoy down in the Ouse Washes of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fenlands.

A family herd of Whooper Swans (photo taken at North Cave in November 2013)

23rd October 2016, Sunday
6.5 C to 11.2 C / 0.6 mm / 3.2 hours / NE 2
A morning of sunny spells and occasional showers drifting in from the north-east, a weather pattern which has become rather familiar this October. Hopefully these same weather patterns will repeat in the coming November and December and who knows we may actually get a proper winter this year! Drier in the afternoon with further spells of sunshine, though towards the end of the afternoon a few further light showers would give a light sprinkling. Clear spells in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling well into single figures by dawn.

Plenty of Fieldfares continue to arrive, with hundreds seen heading westwards shortly after dawn as I attended to the bonfire again. In the garden itself a few Redwings were also about, whilst as I worked away at clearing the garden I was joined by a couple of friendly Robins and roving bands of Long-tailed Tits, two of my favourite common garden birds.

24th October 2016, Monday
4.8 C to 12.5 C / 0.0 mm / 1.6 hours / E 1
A chilly but bright start to the day and remaining mostly bright with sunny spells throughout the morning. However in the afternoon extensive stratocumulus would drift in from the east, this making for a rather grey afternoon, though on the plus side it did remain dry, something of a rarity in the last fortnight. Mostly cloudy in the evening but clear spells would develop overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall well into single figures with a very heavy dew upon the ground by dawn.

More clearing of the garden unearthed yet more amphibians, with one Common Frog and at least five Common or Smooth Newts (Lissotriton vulgaris). Thankfully I was able to collect them all and re-homed them in another suitable corner of the garden where hopefully they will be able to survive the coming winter in safety & thrive when spring comes once more to this corner of the East Riding.

Common Frog (Rana temporaria)

25th October 2016, Tuesday
5.2 C to 13.6 C / 0.0 mm / 6.5 hours / SW 1-2
A clear and chilly start, the ground covered in a heavy dew, but in the sunshine things would slowly begin to warm up as the morning progressed. Remaining bright with good spells of sunshine throughout the rest of the day, and in light winds it felt quite warm with temperatures around or slightly above average for late October. Becoming cloudier in the evening and overnight.

With winds switching around to the south, and eventually south-west come the end of the day, fewer birds were about in the skies above Woldgarth, though despite this a number of Skylarks, Pipits and 'chack-ing' Fieldfares were heard heading inland, especially in the morning and during the second half of the afternoon. The garden yews also hosted a few Redwings once more, as well as the always charming and diminutive Goldcrests (Regulus regulus), one of my favourite garden birds.

26th October 2016, Wednesday
6.2 C to 15.6 C / 0.0 mm / 1.7 hours / SW 2
A largely cloudy day, though it was somewhat brighter for a time in mid-morning, and again in mid-afternoon, indeed for an hour or two it was rather pleasant with good spells of warm-ish sunshine. However cloud would increase again by dusk with mostly cloudy skies during the evening and overnight, this helping to hold temperatures up as a result with a low of just 9.9 C.

27th October 2016, Thursday
9.9 C to 13.8 C / 0.0 mm / 0.1 hours / SW 4-5
A cloudy and grey day for the most part, indeed around the middle of the day it was particularly dark, but in the end it came to nothing and remained dry throughout. It was also much breezier today with a moderate to fresh south-westerly wind, this helping to bring down quite a few leaves. Some breaks in the cloud around dusk would allow a fiery sunset to end the day, though in the evening and overnight it would remain mostly cloudy. A mild night as well with temperatures remaining in double figures.

With winds having turned around to the south-west, it was noticeably breezier today, indeed in the afternoon and the evening it was quite windy, and as result of these stronger winds the first of the now rapidly goldening beech leaves rained down upon the garden, something which I both love and loathe in equal measure. Meanwhile a single Cormorant was seen above the garden during the afternoon, not a particularly common sight here at Woldgarth, whilst shortly after dusk a group of Pink-footed Geese were heard passing over, always a lovely sound. We also enjoyed a rather beautiful sunset this evening, the sky showing various reddish hues as yet another busy day of garden work concluded here in this peaceful little corner of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

A fiery sky to end the day

28th October 2016, Friday
11.1 C to 14.1 C / 0.0 mm / 0.2 hours / W 3-4
A mostly cloudy and mild day with little worthy of mention. In the evening a few clear spells would develop, this allowing temperatures to fall a little, but cloud would return once more by midnight.

29th October 2016, Saturday
8.2 C to 16.1 C / trace / 1.0 hours / SW 1-2
A mostly cloudy and very mild late October day, the temperature rising above 60 degrees for the first time in almost four weeks, though it did become somewhat brighter for a time in mid-afternoon with even some good spells of sunshine for a while. Becoming cloudier again in the evening, and indeed overnight it would become quite overcast with some light drizzle in the air by dawn. A mild night.

Grosmont & Goathland - We spent a good day up in the Esk Valley area of the North York Moors today, the weather proving bright and sunny for the most part, though latterly it did become cloudy and eventually overcast as low cloud began to cloak the high moors. However prior to this the morning and early afternoon sunshine really helped to bring out the wonderful autumn colours that this part of the world enjoys, the oaks, limes, larches and extensive bracken looking particularly attractive in the golden autumn light. The best colours were up around Water Ark between Goathland and Beck Hole, and since today was also hosting a special NELPG event at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway we had a perfect excuse to spend a few hours in this beautiful part of the world.

Autumn colours at Water Ark

Golden oak leaves

On the nature front the sound of Redwings were heard throughout the woodlands of the area, especially around Grosmont and Beck Hole, and here Treecreepers and Nuthatches were also observed amongst the Oaks, two birds which are always nice to see. Overhead a skein of Pink-footed Geese were seen and heard heading south-westwards, though the best observation of the morning came near Fylingdales with the spotting of not one but two Merlins (Falco columbarius), a blackbird sized bird of prey which is very much at home up here on the Moors. A further note of personal interest was the coming across of the Saltergate Hunt near Levisham, the foxhounds of this small hunt being exercised just north of the nearby community of Lockton.

NER T2/Q6 No.63395 near Beck Hole

LNER B1 No.61264 at Moorgates

NER E1/J72 No.69023 at Water Ark

30th October 2016, Sunday
9.7 C to 13.2 C / trace / 0.0 hours / SW 1
A dull, overcast and mild morning with spots of drizzle at times, though as the morning wore on this drizzle would die out to leave a merely cloudy and mild October afternoon, temperatures being slightly above average for the time of year. Remaining cloudy and mild in the evening and overnight with conditions becoming misty by dawn, whilst temperatures remained in double figures throughout.

31st October 2016, Monday
10.0 C to 14.1 C / 0.4 mm / 3.3 hours / N 3
A dull and misty morning for the most part, though as the morning wore on it would begin to steadily brighten with some weak spells of sunshine by midday. Remaining bright throughout the afternoon with further spells of sunshine, and with temperatures rising above 14 C it would prove to be a mild end to October. Clear spells for All Hallows Eve and for much of the night, though cloud would increase later with some outbreaks of rain towards the end of the night.

Keeping the evil spirits at bay (?)

October 2016 Weather Report
A rather average October this year with temperatures, rainfall and sunshine all being around the long term average, though overall the month would conclude 0.3 C above the 1981-2010 mean and with 87% of the normal rainfall being recorded. High pressure dominated for much of the month, the average pressure being 1021.8 mbar/hPa, and this was reflected in the lack of any significant windy days, the maximum gust recorded during the month being a very modest 31 knots! The anticyclonic theme of October was also reflected in the frequency of winds from the eastern quarter, a rather uncommon wind direction in most typical autumns, though this year winds of various degrees of easterly were recorded on more than 50% of days. If this weather pattern continues into November and December the coming winter may well prove very interesting!

Average Temperature
 10.9 C
 +0.3 C
Average Maximum
 14.0 C

Average Minimum
 7.9 C

Highest Maximum
 18.0 C
Lowest Maximum
 11.2 C
Highest Minimum
 12.0 C
Lowest Minimum
 3.5 C
Air Frosts

Grass Frosts

Frost duration

Total Rainfall
 51.3 mm
Maximum total
 9.0 mm
Days =>0.2 mm

Days =>1.0 mm

Days =>10.0 mm

Total rain duration
 69 hours

Total Sunshine
 101.4 hours
Average per day
 3.27 hours

Sunless days

Average Wind Speed
 1.5 knots

Maximum gust
 31 knots

Days with Fog

Days with Thunder

Days with Hail

Days with Snow

Days with Snow lying

Maximum Snow depth

Snow Index