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Saturday, 12 April 2014

A few recent photos

Here are a few more spring photos taken during the last couple of days as the weather has remained clement and warm enough for spring to continue its steady advance in this corner of Yorkshire. No further migrants have appeared in the last few days and I am still awaiting a number of birds and butterflies which should start to appear soon, including the likes of Willow Warblers, Wheatear, and Orange Tip butterflies, but I remain ever optimistic that all three should make an appearance sooner rather than later. However I was happy to photograph my first Swallow of the year yesterday and indeed since their arrival on Wednesday the numbers have seemingly increased a little more :-)

However it seems likely that we will miss the arrival of some of these species as we will be away on holiday next week but hopefully we will be able to catch up with some of these species, and perhaps more besides, at our holiday destination. I look forward to catching up with you all next week :-)

Ladybirds seem to be everywhere at the moment, including this busy 7-spot

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Swallows return

Yet again I find myself apologising for the neglect of my blog but for whatever reason I am finding it so hard to motivate myself at the moment, though despite this I continue to enjoy long walks and cycles in the countryside and recording what I see in my little note book as my love for the natural world and the British countryside remains undiminished and constant as ever. Indeed this is such a glorious time of year to be out and about that I therefore find it somewhat 'wrong' and difficult to justify spending time indoors writing when their is so much to otherwise see, record and simply enjoy in the garden and further afield.

A beautiful Peacock butterfly sunning itself (10th March)

Monday, 10 March 2014

More moths and a Wolds walk

The moth trap was out again last night and what with the warm sunshine yesterday and the relatively mild overnight temperatures (no lower than 4.4 C) conditions looked favourable for another night of early season mothing. In the end some 15 moths of 8 species were recorded in my Skinner trap come morning, one of which was new to the garden list, and another which was a good record for this part of the country. The new species was a March Moth (x1), a rather grey but nevertheless interesting character, while the less common species was a Grey Shoulder-knot (x1), a moth species which was recorded only once last year. Other species in the trap were typical early spring fare with Clouded Drab x1, Common Quaker x2, Hebrew Character (NFY) x1, Early Grey (NFY) x2, Satellite (NFY) x1, and Common Plume x6, which together with the five species of butterfly recorded yesterday (see Moths and butterflies) takes our year list up to 14.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Moths and butterflies

On Saturday night the moth trap was put out and after a few frustrating nights earlier in the year when the trapped remained empty, last night proved far more productive with a total of seven moths being uncovered when the trap was opened up early on Sunday morning. All of them were typical early moths with a couple of macro species, Clouded Drab (x2), which incidentally was the first macro I recorded last year, and Common Quaker (x2), while the two micro species were Common Plume (x2) and a single Agonopterix heracliana (also known as a Common Flat-body).

Saturday, 1 March 2014

February 2014 & Winter 2013/14 Weather Report

February this year was a month of two halves with the first couple of weeks continuing the unsettled and often wet theme of January, but thereafter things would begin to improve with some fine late winter/early spring weather to end the month. Indeed during the last week of the month temperatures would climb as high as 13.5 C (56.3 F) and in any sheltered sun-traps it was comfortably warm enough to spend a few lazy hours in the garden, a welcome tonic after the grim and dull weather of weeks previous. Overall the month would conclude 1.4 C above the official 1981-2010 average and would become the 4th warmest February recorded here at Wold Garth since our records began.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Garden birds & spring thoughts

The last few days have seen some pleasant weather here in our little sequestered nook and in the walled garden it has been positively spring like with sunshine heating up the south facing wall to the point that it has been comfortable enough to spend a few restful moments relaxing in the garden. Indeed as I sat enjoying the sun my young nephew also joined me and together we watched the Honey Bees whom likewise were out enjoying the sunshine, the abundant Crocuses proving a major attraction to these industrious insects. A few Bumble Bees were also spotted buzzing about too, one of which appeared to be a Tree Bee, a species which is now becoming quite common here in eastern Yorkshire, though butterflies remained elusive despite my optimism that one would be seen.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A day to enjoy the sunshine

The attractive red stems of a Dogwood
Yesterday was one of those beautiful late winter days which almost make you think that spring has arrived early, with the strengthening sun making it feel much warmer than the thermometer suggested, especially so in any sheltered suntraps like a walled garden or on the leeward side of a wood. The sunshine also brought out a few insects which crawled or buzzed about the wall top Ivy and part of me even half expected to see my first butterfly of the year but alas it was not to be. I even put the moth trap out last night in hope of attracting something but unsurprisingly come morning nothing was to be found apart from empty egg-boxes and the odd gnat or two.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

January 2014 Weather Report

A wet, unsettled and generally mild month with a complete absence of northerly winds and barely any wintry weather of note, indeed so far this winter no snow at all has been recorded and there is now the prospect of winter 2013/14 becoming the first snowless winter on our records. However despite the lack of properly cold weather it was never particularly mild either during the month, with only a few days managing to see temperatures climb above 10 C, and in the end the month would conclude only half a degree centigrade above the 1981-2010 average which in the scheme of things is not particularly mild with four previous Januaries since 2003 seeing larger positive anomalies (the mildest January being 2007 with a mean temperature of 7.0 C, some 2.3 C warmer than this year!).

Friday, 31 January 2014

January - a quick catch up

Upper Bilsdale
First off I wish to apologise for the lack of updates lately but various things have kept me away from blogging in the last few weeks but with those behind me I am now looking forward to the rest of the winter and the spring ahead with some exciting new developments on the horizon (more about these in the future). Meanwhile I also want to say sorry for having no time to comment on all your superb and beautifully illustrated blogs but I have promised myself a catch up this weekend :-) It has also come to my attention that a number of my former posts have appeared on your blog feeds and again I apologise for this but hopefully this has now been fixed.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A frosty morning near Nunburnholme

Frosted ferns
Sunday began clear and frosty and as such weather has been shockingly absent so far this winter I was keen to get out and enjoy the crisp winter air before the forecast cloud and milder temperatures moved in from the south. Our destination of choice was the short but pleasant circular walk which begins at the top of Nunburnholme Wold (165 metres above sea level) and which then proceeds down the hill through Merebalk Wood before heading down to the village of Nunburnholme itself at which point the walk reaches its lowest point (30 metres ASL). From this point the walk heads straight back up Nunburnholme Wold with an ascent of 130 metres back to our original starting point (to see the full route and points of interest click here).

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Red Kite Roost

The bird I most associate with the Wolds
On a sunny but chilly afternoon we headed to the winter Red Kite roost near the town of Pocklington on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, this annual gathering of these magnificent birds of prey being one of the highlights of the year in this part of the county. I'm sure most local people are aware of the location where this spectacle takes place, though again, as I did a few weeks ago, I would urge people too never be tempted to trespass in order to see these birds (as per advice from the Yorkshire Red Kites group). In the end the number of Red Kites actually recorded didn't reach some of the reported maximums of the last week, though large gatherings were seen to the south (11+) and east (9+), of these only a small number actually drifted close to our vantage point which we shared with several other birders whom braved the chill wind to marvel at (and photograph) these raptors.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

North Cave Wetlands and first signs of spring

On Sunday morning we visited our favourite wetland nature reserve in the county, North Cave Wetlands, and with sunny skies for the most part it was an enjoyable and interesting morning with plenty to see and record. Our main reason for visiting was to see the Green-winged Teal which has been spotted here recently, and though we struggled to identify it amongst the thousands of Eurasian/Common Teal a very friendly couple were kind enough to point it out to us on the far bank. It was too distant for a decent photograph but the white vertical stripe which distinguishes this species (at least as far as drakes are concerned) was clearly visible and provided a good tick to start of 2014. This is only the second ever Green-winged Teal I have ever recorded, the first coming a few years ago at this same location.

Friday, 3 January 2014

2013 - The year in review

2013 was a good year for nature, largely thanks to a summer which proved to be blessed with both sunshine and warmth from late June onwards, and though of course their were some losers it was on the whole a much better year compared to some recently, especially 2012 which was so poor for so many creatures in our lovely countryside and the wider nation as a whole. Personally the starting of regular moth trapping at my home of Wold Garth provided some of my most enjoyable and educational moments of 2013, learning about the nocturnal insects which fly around my garden and the local woods proving to be an eye-opener, while my photography also provided some rewards (though plenty of frustrations as well) with my conversion over to Canon providing, on the whole, pleasing results.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

December 2013 Weather Report

Colourful skies at dusk
A mild and unsettled month in general with temperatures pretty much above average throughout and no periods of settled or crisp weather, but despite this the statistics for the month would actually provide some unexpected surprises. Utmost amongst these were the rainfall statistics as though precipitation was recorded on 15 days, the actual rainfall total for the month was a very modest 24.5 mm (0.96 inches), just 41% of the long term December average. Indeed despite the fact that many places within the UK saw dreadful flooding this month, especially in the south and west of the country, this would actually prove to be the 2nd driest December on our records since 2003 and continued the dry theme of 2013 which concluded with an annual rainfall total of 513.4 mm (20.2 inches), just 79% of the long term average. In contrast last year (2012) saw an annual total of 917.8 mm (36.1 inches) !!!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Wolds walk near Huggate

Horse Dale (Nikon D90, 70-300mm)
On Sunday morning we went for our customary walk up on the Yorkshire Wolds, and with fine weather yet again it was a joy to walk on these rolling chalk hills with a deliciously crisp and chill wind blowing away the Christmas cobwebs. Walking in the Wolds is always a pleasurable experience with very few people to disturb either ourselves or the wildlife which calls this area home, and in the damper months of the year the free draining and firm chalky soil generally ensures that the ground, for the most part, remains firm and pleasant for walking. Though it has been strange to experience a December with an almost complete absence of wintry weather we can at least be thankful that the weather woes of the North Sea coasts earlier in the month and more recently the flooding in southern and western parts of this island have left this region unscathed (at least so far!).

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Beautiful Rosedale and the eastern Moors

On what was a lovely winter's day we headed up to the North York Moors again on Saturday, primarily to view a few properties in the area but also to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of this corner of the British Isles. With one of our properties now nearly sold (fingers crossed that the sale proceeds without any hiccups) our search for a rural hideaway deep within the hills and dales of the Moors has entered a new phase and we were able to check out a few lovely properties yesterday, one of which I have to say I liked very much, especially as regards its position nestled within a quiet and sheltered dale with Cropton Forest to the east and Rosedale to the west.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day Hunt 2013

The annual Boxing Day Hunt
Today we attended the annual Boxing Day meet of the Holderness Hunt at nearby Beverley Racecourse, and with fine weather the event was well attended with large crowds coming from all corners of this part of south-eastern Yorkshire. I always enjoy these occasions, my usual dislike of crowds and large gatherings being put to one side for rural events such as these. As I have stated previously I am not pro or indeed anti hunt, and as long as the local hunt remains within the law as it currently stands I am willing to tolerate this colourful country tradition, though I am well aware that some of you may have much stronger opinions than I on this still divisive subject.

Friday, 6 December 2013

A cold winter's day in the garden

After testing my father's camera on Wednesday (see Stormy winds and testing the Nikon D7100) I felt a need to get out and compare it to my Canon gear, and with gorgeously clear winter skies today I set myself up in my new mini hide and enjoyed an hour or so of watching the birds come and go from the feeders which hang approximately eight metres away from my hidden position. A still brisk and very cold wind from the NW blew straight in at me and made my eyes water but despite the discomfort I couldn't have been happier watching the Tits, Robins and Finches come and go :-)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stormy winds and testing the Nikon D7100

Strong winds
Thursday proved to be a stormy winter's day here in the East Riding with strong winds buffeting the old homestead and the trees which surround the house roared and swayed about as powerful gusts blew through the woodland. Thankfully we live in a fairly sheltered spot, at least as far as westerly winds are concerned, but despite this the roof top anemometer registered a gust of 52 knots (60 mph) and average winds speeds were as high as 26 knots (30 mph) around midday when the cold front squall passed through the region. The 52 knot gust of today is not a new record, that 'honour' going to the 60 knot (69 mph) gust recorded in January 2012, and indeed it is not even the strongest gust recorded this year, but as far as sustained wind speeds go this was a notable storm and whose after-effects are now bringing misery to many coastal and low lying districts as extremely high tides sweep in off the North Sea, including in nearby Hull which I believe has flooded quite badly near the river :-(

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Black-throated Diver & a Wolds walk

Black-throated Diver
On Sunday evening I learnt that the Black-throated Diver which had been at North Cave a couple of weeks ago had unexpectedly returned and after missing it last time I was determined to not miss out again. With this in mind we made our way across the Wolds as soon as possible on Monday afternoon, and arrived at the nature reserve on what was a grey and murky kind of day with temperatures hovering around 6C. The awful light didn't promise much photography wise but to be honest I was not to bothered about this as I was more keen to simply see the bird as it would be a new one for me and take my Yorkshire bird list up to 210 species.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

November 2013 Weather Report

Frosted leaves in the garden
A quiet and pretty uneventful month which saw temperatures gradually fall away as one would expect during the course of a normal November in the northern hemisphere. Overall temperatures would conclude one degree centigrade below the 1971-2000 long term average with neither notable warmth or cold being hidden by these statistics. Indeed daytime temperatures merely fluctuated by just a few degrees during the month though night-time minima did vary somewhat more though again in winter this is to be expected. The month would also see both the first grass and air frosts of this winter season with a total of 11 grass frosts and 5 air frosts with a modest monthly minimum of just -1.6 C (29.1 F).

Friday, 29 November 2013

Sunsets, Beverley by night & Advent

Last years Advent 'trough'
With Advent coming on Sunday we are now entering what is perhaps my favourite time of the year, and though many people have an increasingly vocal dislike and antipathy towards Christmas these days, I myself have never lost my love for this most special time of year and look forward to it every single year. The four candle Advent wreath (or in our case a sort of Advent trough) has been prepared once more with holly picked from the garden and will be placed in its usual spot on Sunday morning, while this weekend I'll probably get the outside Christmas lights out of the garage loft and begin the annual untangling process which I love oh so much ;-)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Bits and pieces

Cottoneaster berries
For one reason or another the past week has been disappointingly uneventful with little chance to get out and explore the local countryside, what with illnesses and injuries in the family (nothing serious I'm glad to say) keeping us at home or at least restricting us to minor walks, while I have also been spending much of the week trying out and researching a combination of cameras and lenses for various photo sessions, the results of which I can't show here but have provided some interesting results. The weather has also been largely grey and damp lately with showers coming down off the perennially frigid North Sea and accompanied by an oft raw and biting wind, though a few impressive sunsets did at least provide some fiery spectacles on a couple of evenings.

Monday, 18 November 2013

North York Moors in late autumn

The North York Moors in autumn
Yesterday we enjoyed a day out up on the North York Moors with a mixture of nature, train spotting and house hunting on the agenda, and despite the initially grey skies things would improve somewhat around midday with some sunshine and even clear skies for a time when we were up in the beautiful dales and moors of the Eskdale region. Our day had begun at Pickering so that we could see 'The Green Knight', the only steam locomotive which was operating on Sunday, leaving the station and heading up towards Goathland (due to works on the line the trains are currently not operating between Goathland and Grosmont). These wonderful pieces of engineering are always an enjoyable object to photograph though today I left my usual camera at home and instead decided to give my old Nikon D90 and the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 a day out as I still love this camera, especially as it was my first DSLR.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A wander around North Cliffe Wood

Fly Agaric fungi
Yesterday morning we headed down to North Cliffe Wood in the hope of getting some autumnal scenes with our two differing camera systems, and with largely sunny and clear skies conditions were very promising when we arrived shortly after 10am. In the fields beside the reserve the farmer was lifting the Neeps (that's what their called in Scotland anyway!) and on the way to the wood we also saw a farmer pulling a trailer full of recently harvested carrots, a delicious sight indeed. However all this agriculture is straying away from the main purpose of our visit and this was to enjoy the autumnal scenes in the woodland which I will presently describe and illustrate below.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Kites & autumn woods near Nunburnholme

Red Kite
After a clear and cold night the morning dawned clear and sunny with a light frost down here in Beverley, and with such gorgeous weather we headed up to the Wolds with the extended family for a good walk near the village of Nunburnholme. This area of the western Wolds is more gentle than the high Wolds, with woods and pretty villages tucked beneath the steep western escarpment which marks the point where the Wolds end and the Vale of York begins, and on such a gorgeous morning the countryside was looking stunning with excellent visibility across the aforementioned Vale. Indeed the Pennines on the other side of the Vale were clearly obvious, their dark outline looming above the otherwise flat countryside which lies between the Wolds and the Pennines, and from Nunburnholme Wold we could look southwards towards Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire, while to the north the North York Moors could just be seen peaking out from behind the more northern areas of the Wolds.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Whoopers at North Cave Wetlands

Whooper Swan on a grey & dull afternoon
Yesterday afternoon we found ourselves with some free time and despite the grey and overcast skies we decided to pop across the Wolds to the little nature reserve at North Cave. With the reserve pretty much to ourselves we were able to take our time and enjoy the grey November afternoon with no one to bother or disturb us (a rare luxury indeed!), and we also got to see plenty of interesting birds and whatnot despite the otherwise unpromising overhead conditions (though at least the rain held off till after we left the reserve shortly before nightfall).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Jack frost pays his first visit

Melting frost in the garden
On Sunday and Monday nights we had our first visit of this autumn from good old Jack Frost, and on Monday morning in particular the garden was adorned with some of his beautiful handiwork with delicate ice crystals covering the fallen leaves and the last remaining flowers of 2013. I personally love cold and frosty weather and a really good frost can be as beautiful as any snowfall, plus it has the extra benefit of not causing the same kind of traffic chaos which inevitably comes from the lightest of snowfalls down here in England. Speaking of snowfall I've seen pics in the papers and online which show that some parts of the Pennines had their first snow of the winter yesterday and this has come as a timely reminder of just how close winter is now, the weather in recent days certainly feeling that bit more chilly with highs below 10 C (50F).

Monday, 4 November 2013

An autumnal walk on the High Wolds

Autumn woods
On a gloriously sunny but breezy morning we headed up to one of my favorite corners of the Yorkshire Wolds near the small community of Huggate and here we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the winding and contrasting dales of Tun Dale and Frendal Dale. The temperature was near perfect for walking with the mercury hovering around 9 C (48 F) and I don't know about you but it is nice to feel a chill in the air again after what has been a long summer and very mild autumn thus far. Indeed November is probably one of my favourite months of the whole year and in this part of the world at least it is usually when the autumn colours reach their glorious climax, though sadly it looks like this autumn is not going to be quite as spectacular as last year. However with a few chillier nights recently and the ever dwindling daylight hours things are finally starting to move along and hopefully a few of the photos in this post will convey some of the beautiful colours which are now on show up here on the roof of the Wolds.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A selection of garden birds

Blue Tit (Nikon D90 / Sigma 150-500mm)
For one reason or another I haven't been able to get out much lately or indeed make use of my little bird hide in the environs of Wold Garth (indeed I haven't been able to use that since spring!) so this post is instead a look back at some of the pics I took during last winter and early spring and will hopefully make up for the fact that my blog has become a bit light as regards bird photography lately. One of the problems with my bird hide is the darkness of the location with large mature trees all around the site and it is for this reason that I only tend to do bird photography in the winter months as in summer the location is in very heavy shade and also becomes somewhat overgrown.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Autumn rains

Autumn colours
The weather during the past week or two has been pretty unsettled with lots of the wet stuff falling out of the grey October skies and with little prospects of things improving this week it looks like we will just have to get used to this autumnal weather for the time being. It has also continued to be obscenely mild which has at least made conditions more favourable for butterflies when the sun does indeed shine, and species still being seen in the garden at the moment include those typical autumn butterfly species such as Red Admirals, Peacocks, Commas and Speckled Woods. Bird-wise we still await the first Fieldfares to be seen or heard but Redwings continue to be a regular sight or sound around Wold Garth while on many early mornings Skylarks and Pipits can be heard passing over. Feral bands of Greylag Geese have additionally been noted while a few unidentified species of wader were heard on some of the stiller and less windy nights during the past week or two.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A week in the North York Moors (Nature)

Cropton Forest
Though our holiday to the North York Moors was more about simply relaxing in this beautiful part of the British Isles (and doing both a bit of house hunting & seeking out new locations for upcoming photo shoots), I did nevertheless get out a few times to look around the woods and moors surrounding our holiday home and during these walks we were lucky enough to encounter plenty of interesting nature including lots of fungi, a few species of butterfly and moth (including Canary-shouldered Thorn & Pink-barred Sallow), and plenty of birds including a few species which are either unknown or uncommon in East Yorkshire such as Red Grouse, Wheatear, Nuthatch and Jay. Roe deer were seen outside our holiday home and the night brought the sounds of Owls and Foxes, though despite the fact Badgers were located near to our temporary residence we didn't manage to spot any. Speaking of nights I wish I had brought a portable moth trap with us as judging by the number of them flying around in the evenings we could have caught loads and it would have been interesting to see how the catch compared to what we get back home in the southern Wolds.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A week in the North York Moors (Landscapes)

Whitby Harbour
Below are a selection of photos taken during our week long stay up in the beautiful North York Moors, and since I have so many photos I have decided to share only the landscape shots during this post and will share some more photos in the next few days. As a few of you may remember it is landscape photography which is my favourite form of photography and despite the fact I am never able to reproduce images anywhere near as vibrant or interesting as what I had originally envisaged, I always nevertheless enjoy the process as I am someone whom prefers to actually take pictures rather than actually look at them. However in an endeavour to improve my photography I have recently begun to shoot my images in RAW format and this has meant I have had to learn how to process my own files via Canon's DPP software, the results of which have been somewhat mixed but I continue to try my best regardless. I would also like to point that these photos are the lowest possible quality jpegs in order to reduce file sizes for internet use and therefore may look a bit rough around the edges due to the high level of compression.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Geese aplenty at North Cave Wetlands

Egyptian Goose
Last Sunday we made our way across the Yorkshire Wolds to visit the little nature reserve of North Cave Wetlands, located just west of the pretty little village of yes you guessed it, North Cave, on what was a lovely morning with a beautiful golden autumn sun bathing the nature reserve. Upon arrival the sound of the resident Greylag Geese filled the air with that evocative sound which so characterise so many British wetland nature reserves, amongst this throng of Greylags a few Canada Geese were also being picked out by their honking calls. However within five minutes of our arrival the call of a third species of geese was heard overhead with skeins of Pink-footed Geese heading south-eastwards, undoubtedly on their way to that birding mecca along the north Norfolk coast, and throughout the morning a few more skeins of these wonderful wild geese would be seen and heard as they announced their return to our island nation for yet another winter.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Moth trapping resumes & Redwings return

Dark Sword-grass
After a break of nearly a month moth trapping resumed here at Wold Garth on Saturday night and the change in species since early September has been very interesting with no less than eleven new species being added to the year list which has now increased to 243 (just seven more to reach my 2013 target of 250 !). However the actual number of moths being recorded has significantly decreased with just 29 in the trap when I emptied it on Sunday morning, though a healthy number of species were represented with 16 different types in all, including some handsome species like Red-green Carpet, Red-line Quaker, Green-brindled Crescent, and Feathered Thorn. However the moth of the evening was a Grey-shoulder Knot, a relatively uncommon moth north of the Humber, and also in the trap was the similar looking but much more common Blair's Shoulder-knot, this occurrence allowing me to compare the two species side by side.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Nidderdale Show 2013

Nidderdale Show 2013
Despite the fact we were on holiday last week in the North York Moors we were nevertheless able to attend Nidderdale Show this year (we missed last year's due to the awful weather), this annual country show being my favourite in Yorkshire with the showground sitting picturesquely in the grounds of Bewerley Park in Nidderdale. Much of my childhood was spent in this beautiful part of the world and I always enjoy returning as it feels a little bit like returning home, this feeling of homecoming being further enhanced by the friendly and welcoming people of this green and fertile valley which owes its origin to the usually peaceful river Nidd which flows right past the showground. The river Nidd itself begins life much further up the valley on the bleak and windswept slopes of Great Whernside (one of the wettest locations in England) where after passing through three dams (the upper two of which provide water to the city of Bradford) it flows southeastwards through the dale passing communities such as Pateley, Summerbridge, Darley,  Birstwith, Hampsthwaite and then on towards Knaresborough (by which time Nidderdale itself has ended) and eventually meeting the river Ouse a few miles north of York at Nun Monkton.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

North Cliffe & North Cave (+ yet another sunrise)

Sunrise over Beverley
Yesterday morning we headed across the Wolds and paid a visit to both North Cliffe Wood and North Cave Wetlands and despite the grey skies, blustery wind and latterly at least, heavy showers, we had a good morning out. Our primary reason for visiting North Cliffe Wood was actually for a bit of blackberry picking, for as we are going away next week on holiday we thought this might be our last chance to collect some before Michaelmas on the 29th (the date upon which blackberries should no longer be picked as the devil supposedly curses them!).

Friday, 13 September 2013

Goodbye to Wold Garth's Summer Visitors

Reed Warbler
As summer now seems to be leaving these shores and autumn is taking its place I thought it might be nice to say a little goodbye to those summer visiting birds which grace the environs of Wold Garth from late March through to mid/late September. Of course not all of them have actually gone yet and a few Swallows can still be seen above the garden, albeit in noticeably reduced numbers now, but certainly the Swifts have long gone and so probably have most of our breeding warblers, the few warblers which are still around being more likely to be migrants passing through the area on their way south. Though of course it is sad to have to say good-bye to these fair weather avian visitors for yet another year, I am nevertheless now starting to get excited about the return of our winter garden visitors such as Siskins, Redpolls, Redwings and Fieldfares in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Morning mists and a bit of black & white

Late summer dawn
The last couple of days has seen the weather become distinctly autumnal in this otherwise sheltered location in the heart of East Yorkshire with yesterday seeing a gusty and chill NNW breeze, outbreaks of rain in the afternoon, and temperatures no higher than 12 C. Today likewise has brought further rain and with the Horse Chestnut trees now beginning to noticeably turn in the local woods one would be forgiven for thinking that autumn has indeed arrived, though as an amateur meteorologist & climatologist I think perhaps it is still a little early to consign Summer 2013 to the history books just yet.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Late summer at North Cave Wetlands

Blue Damselfly falling prey to a spider
Another extended family trip out saw us call in at North Cave Wetlands for the second time in two weeks on what was a pleasant late summer day, the countryside still looking golden and dry in this neck of the woods as the forecast heavy and persistent rain on Friday failed to materialise in this corner of East Yorkshire (my weather station near Beverley recording a mere 1.4 mm / 0.06 inches). However the golden countryside was further emphasised by the golden nature of the late summer / early autumn sunshine and it was lovely to see all the Haws, Blackberries, Hips, Crab Apples and developing Sloes in this soft light, the fruitful and autumnal scene further enhanced by the webs of spiders strung between the brambles and briars.