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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.

I hope you enjoy this little look back at 2013 and some of the highlights which have featured on this blog during the past year. Here's hoping that 2014 brings plenty more interest, enjoyment and happiness for those of us whom draw so much pleasure from the simple act of watching and recording the natural world :-)

A serious lack of effort on my part meant that 2013 wasn't a great year for us bird-wise with just two new birds added to our life list, a Montagu's Harrier (Titchwell, Norfolk) and Black-throated Diver (North Cave Wetlands, East Yorkshire), which together lift our personal bird list to 210 species.

Our bird list for 2013 (click to enlarge)

Most of our best birding this year came during our trip to Norfolk in May and we really did have a fantastic time in that lovely part of England, with frequent dawn and dusk trips to Titchwell and visits to other locations such as Holkham, Wells, and Cley. It was also down there that we took most of our favourite bird photos of the year, though much nearer to home Bempton Cliffs also provided plenty of good photography opportunities (oh how I wish I had such locations within a cycles distance of my front door!).

A few garden birds

Birds of Wold Garth

Norfolk birds 1

Norfolk birds 2

Bempton birds

A few other Yorkshire birds
After a disappointing 2012 the summer of 2013 provided a welcome improvement for butterflies, with much drier, warmer, and most importantly sunnier weather making conditions nearly ideal for these seemingly delicate insects which bring so much interest and beauty to the summer landscape. However the year actually began very slowly for them, cool weather in April and May meant that many species were actually quite late in emerging, but as the weather became markedly improved by late June things soon picked up and July turned out to be a near butterfly fest with my favourite species the Marbled White seemingly flourishing in the fields and meadows of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Lepidoptera recorded this year (click to enlarge)

A few butterflies from 2013

A few more butterflies :-)

Marbled Whites, my favourite species of butterfly and one which continues to thrive on the Yorkshire Wolds

However one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of 2013 was the beginning of regular moth trapping at Wold Garth, something I had wanted to do for some quite time but only got around to doing this year. However after acquiring my trap in January I had to wait quite some time for the weather to improve and it wasn't until April that it became warm enough for regular trapping to occur, with my first moths of the year being a Clouded Drab and a Satellite on the 11th April. Even so things remained slow throughout much of the spring as winter's chill held on for longer than normal, but as June arrived things picked up and by the end of the month we were trapping 100+ moths in one single night. By high summer this had increased to 200+ moths and on the 1st August some 500+ were in the trap, the recording and identification of so many moths taking up nearly half the day !!! Come September things began to slow down and by the end of November it became common for the trap to be empty come morning, with the last moth of the year coming on the 10th of December, a Winter Moth appropriately enough.

A tiny fraction of all the moths recorded here at Wold Garth in 2013

The fortunes of our dragonfly hunting followed a similar course as it did for butterflies and moths, with the season beginning very slowly what with the chilly weather in April and much of May. Our first Odonata came in late May down in Norfolk, with a newly emerged Azure Damselfly amongst the reedbeds of Titchwell, and during the rest of the year we would go on to record some 17 species of Odonata, five of which were new to our lifetime list. The first of these came in the form of a Broad-bodied Chaser which was seen in the garden a few times during July, and this was shortly followed by a number of Four-spotted Chasers at North Cave Wetlands, truly a striking species. The other three 'newbies' were added during a trip to Tranmire Bog up above Cropton Forest (North York Moors) in late July, with Common Hawker, Keeled Skimmer and the stunning Golden-ringed Dragonfly all being found at this lovely moorland spot. A Common Hawker was also photographed at North Cliffe Wood later in the summer with my last odonata of 2013 coming at this same site in the form of a Common Darter in mid November.

2013 Odonata (click to enlarge)

A small collection of Dragonflies

For the first time in quite a few years a new species of mammal was added to our life-time list as during our trip to Norfolk in May we were lucky enough to see Chinese Water Deer frequently whenever we visited Titchwell at dawn and dusk. Nearer to home the only mammals seen with any frequency included the typical animals one associates with lowland farmland habitat, ie. Roe deer, Foxes, Rabbits, Hares, and Stoats, while the woods and gardens as ever were full of cheeky but always entertaining Grey Squirrels as well as other garden stalwarts like Hedgehogs, Bats, and a variety of Rodents. Less pleasing was the fact that the only Badgers I saw this year were dead ones, with all of these unfortunate animals falling victim to motorised vehicles, and to see such handsome and elusive creatures being killed in such an ignoble fashion is both distressing and disheartening for anyone whom truly cares about our native wildlife.

A small collection of mammals I photographed this year. The Chinese Water Deer in the upper right photo was a new species for me and became a regular sight during our week at Titchwell. The fox, or vixen if one wants to be truly accurate, is a regular sighting in the nearby fields and it was while watching these beautiful animals that I first decided I wanted to try wildlife photography a few years ago :-)

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE : 9.5 C / 49.1 F (0.2 C below average)
AVERAGE MAXIMUM : 13.4 C / 56.1 F (0.1 C below average)
AVERAGE MINIMUM : 5.5 C / 41.9 F (0.4 C below average)

HIGHEST MAXIMUM : 28.4 C / 83.1 F, 18th July
LOWEST MAXIMUM : -0.5 C / 31.1 F, 16th January
HIGHEST MINIMUM : 16.9 C / 62.4 F, 2nd August
LOWEST MINIMUM : -9.5 C / 14.9 F, 17th January

MAXIMA =>21 C (70F) : 55
FROST DURATION : 360 hours

TOTAL RAINFALL : 513.4 mm / 20.21 inches (79% of the average)
MAXIMUM TOTAL : 23.2 mm / 0.91 inches, 17th March
RAIN DAYS (=>0.2 mm) : 159
WET DAYS (=>1.0 mm) : 108
RAIN DURATION : 639 hours

MAXIMUM SNOW DEPTH : 19cm / 7.5 inches, 26th January
SNOW INDEX : 132 cm/days

TOTAL SUNSHINE : 1493.8 hours (96% of the average)
AVERAGE PER DAY : 4.1 hours

AVERAGE WIND SPEED : 2.9 knots / 3.4 mph / 5.5 km/h
MAXIMUM GUST : 53 knots / 61 mph / 98 km/h, 30th January
WIND FREQUENCY : N 19, NE 34, E 54, SE 30, S 33, SW 73, W 90, NW 32


2013 at Wold Garth

2013 Thermograph (Maxima & Minima for each day during 2013)

Temperature and Rainfall anomalies by calendar month

Winter scenes

Spring scenes

Summer scenes

Autumn scenes

Finally may I thank all of my lovely readers and those whom have become friends over this past year, your continued support and kind comments are appreciated more than perhaps you can understand and I am always grateful and happy to read your feedback. Indeed you truly make blogging an enjoyable and rewarding experience and I was made even more keenly aware of this during a difficult patch for myself earlier in the year when I nearly decided to give up both blogging and photography. Hopefully 2014 will bring some exciting new developments for us as a family but wherever we end up I will undoubtedly continue my love affair with nature and the wonderful countryside of which we as a nation are so blessed to have all around us.