Wildlife Diary and News Blog 2013 – notes from a small wood.
Observations from Groves Bank, Groves Dyke and Groves Coppice, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England.
09 June 2013 No buts
We strolled around the wood on this warm(ish), dry and almost sunny day, admiring all the recently cleared cants now full of wildflowers – but no butterflies. In fact, not many flying insects of any sort, including even Houseflies. Very odd.
We rebuilt the Andy Goldsworthy-style Deer-guard around BC’s Rowan, adding a few nails for the base layers this time. Carried down some more Ash logs from above the Middle East Cant to the woodyard, and sat in the conservatory to recover.
08 June 2013 Whitby’s Shard
We attended the unveiling of Whitby’s new war memorial at the Dock End, a magnificent shard of green Norwegian quartzite standing on a plinth of Yorkshire sandstone. A fitting memorial to the King of Norway’s connection with what used to be the Green Howards (now the Yorkshire Regiment).
Drove over the Hamer moor road to the village of Rosedale Abbey to buy a Gilles Jones glass vase, toured the last remnant of Rosedale’s Abbey (a spiral stair pillar) and had our 3 o’clocks in the village bakery tea garden.
06 Jun 2013 Grass again
SA and MD continued skilled joinery work on the roof panels of the new side wall of the polebarn. The frame is complete, the pamels are cut, now we just need some pond liner to cover them and some guttering brackets…
I spent almost 2 hours this afternoon cutting the lawns and also the (overgrown) path around the wood. 80 Smooth Newts this evening.
05 June 2013 Rather special
Today we escorted T and C across the moors via the Delves and the hamer road to Rosedale Abbey, stopping frequently to search the moortop for birds. Star of the show was a magnificent Golden Plover which landed on open ground next to our parked cars. It strutted its stuff, in all its eye-catching golden finery, which still camoflaged it perfectly against the grasses and Heather stems. Wow! [A few days later a superb photo of it arrived by email from EEJ himself, thank you very much indeed T]!
An excellent farewell lunch at the Blacksmith’s Arms in Hartoft and they drove South and West while we returned Northwards. Late that evening I counted 61 Smooth Newts in my pond.
04 June 2013 RSPB Bempton Cliffs
With T and C to Bempton for a morning of seabirds. Something like 250,000 birds cram every ledge and their sounds and smells flood the senses. We can’t do 1 million migrating Wildebeast in this country, but we can do very impressive seabird colonies as the UK’s contribution to wildlife spectaculars.
92 Smooth Newts after we got back from a very good meal at The Postgate in Egton Bridge, but this time no Short Eared Owl on the way home.
03 June 2013 A ton of Newts
With T and C to Danby, Danby Beacon, Oakley Walls and the pretty way home down the Esk Valley. Moorland birds included Cuckoo, Red Grouse, Wheatear, Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe, Golden Plover and a Redstart. Excellent, although the numbers were low.
SA and MD had completed the framework of the 18 inch wide side extention to the Polebarn (to keep the rain off the 16 inch logs to be stacked there) and improved the roof design.
Late that evening EEJ (who better as a wildlife witness?!) and I counted a grand total and all time record of 102 Smooth Newts in my pond. Woopee!
02 June 2003 Falling Foss
We took T and C past Doves Nest Farm, site of the proposed new Potash Mine, to Maybecks and then for lunch at Falling Foss. True to form, T identified a Garden Warbler singing loudly beside the car park.
We counted 68 Smooth Newts in my pond, loafing on submerged leaf tips as well as on the shallow ledge around the edge.
01 June 2013 Annual visitors
Delighted to welcome T and CJ back on their regular migration. Now for a bit of proper birding!
May 2013 Weather
A few days of very heavy rain during the month. The rainfall for the month was 86 mm / 3.5 inches. The maximum temperature during the month was 24 degrees C / 71 degrees F and the minimum was 2 degrees C / 32 degrees F. At 09.30am on the 1st day of the following month the actual temperature was 12 degrees C / 54 degrees F.
31 May 2013 Best day of the year
Suddenly, it’s summer. It’s hot. It’s dry. It’s sunny. About bloody time! The BUR family reported several Row Deer with young in the wood.
SA and MD worked on the 4 new legs of the polebarn extension. BC bought 4 Tumbling Tom Tomato plants from Perry’s Plants at the River Gardens and put them into the veranda growbags.
30 May 2013 Wet again
Wet and horrid again, all day. 68 Newts this evening.
29 May 2013 SA returns
Back to Yorkshire from his US trip, but returning to a very wet England. 57 Newts this evening.
28 May 2013 Prepare to build
With MD and his trailer to the builders’ merchants in Ruswarp to but tannalised timber for the polebarn extension.
65 Smooth Newts this evening.
27 May 2013 Stove out, Future Heat on – drum roll
Last night was the first time this year that it was warm enough to do without the woodburner, so I let it go out overnight. This morning, when the room had cooled a little, I was surprised that the super new Fischer Future Heat radiator (fitted months ago) had finally sprung into life! Win some, lose some!
I collected the bits of rope, chain, bolts and spanner which I have been collecting, walked to the top of the Middle East cant, and connected them to the drums of Cherry. It was child’s play to connect the bits, roll a drum down to the woodyard, dismantle and carry the reins back up for the next one. Which way to the Patent Office, please?
Walked up and through the North West Territory, almost inpenetrable, to discover a land flowing with red, white and blue as the Red Campion, Wood Anemone and Bluebells carpet the woodland floor. Dropped my good secateurs and belt holster as I clambered to get out! Still missing…
55 Smooth Newts this evening.
26 May 2013 Planting and basking
Warm, bright and sunny, so we did a little planting (Peas) and then had a little rest in the veranda. Then planted a few Sprouts and Baby Sweet Cord – and then had another little rest. Then had lunch and another little rest. Then walked up to check on Gnorman in the wood, carried down a couple of bits of Hazel cordwood – and had another little rest. Then planted Swedes and Parsnips, put the Tomatoes into the growbags in the yard – and had another little rest. I think we may have found the answer to this lack of energy thingy.
24 May 2013 White horses
A wild Northerly gale arrived, making the view from Whitby’s West Cliff quite spectacular. Colder, so back to soup n sandwich for lunch. A Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the Peanun feeder opposite the kitchen windows. We gathered some kindling and carried a few more logs from the woodyard to the house.
The Daffodils are all over now, the Apple blossom has survived the gale (so far), the Leeks have taken and the rows of Spuds are all showing. 47 Smooth Newts in my pond last night.
23 May 2013 Neverest windows
My least-favourite double glazing company’s windows required more mortar around the frames (as it keeps falling out every few years). Luckily I have now found someone local who knows how to do this properly, so no need to call the original manufacturers and installers back yet again again again.
22 May 2013 Split, carry, saw and stack
MD carried down lots of Ash to the woodyard, then BC and I joined in as well. We removed the tarp tent over the stack near the Middle East Cant, split some of the fatter logs with wedge and sledge hammer, then carried them down to add to the West Cord or the Lower East wall of the Woodshed. The original stack is now less than half its original size, while there is nearly a cord of Ash seasoning for next winter in the Woodyard.
The male Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the Peanut feeder in the yard, one of its few appearances so far this year.
21 May 2013 Grass cutting
By lunchtime the grass had dried off and I had gathered enough energy to do a couple of hours of mowing.
19 May 2013 Introducing Gnorman
Once upon a time there was a special offer on Gnomes in Homebase, so we bought one – on a swing. He is now swinging (and looking a bit dodgy) from a young Oak tree in the South West corner of the wood, reminding us of Norman Vaughan, so we christened him Gnorman. Obvious, innit? [NB: Perhaps it is the delirium of this horrid cold & cough, which we have had for about 2 weeks now?]
We planted out the Broad Beans and the Runner Beans today, and that seems to have been all we were capable of… [NB: See above].
18 May 2013 Wet
Heavy and continuous overnight rain added another 1 inch of rain, making a total so far this month of 2 inches. Since this almost fills the new rain guage, 2 inches was tipped out to leave room for any more rain this month…
First Swift flew over the garden this evening. By 11pm there were 57 Smooth Newts in my pond.
17 May 2013 Cuckoo and Smokies
The Cuckoo was calling again in the wood this morning. What a lovely call!
We thought a bit of sea air might do our colds some good, so went to Sandside Cafe for lunch. A cold wind but their Sandsend Smokies (Smoked Haddock in cheese sauce)helped a lot.
59 Smooth Newts in my pond late this evening (air 10 degrees C).
16 May 2013 New Newt record
At 10pm this evening there were 73 Smooth Newts in my pond (air temperature 7 degrees C). If only they had been Trombones…
15 May 2013 Sawn and estimated
MD sawed up the Ash in the woodyard, into either cord lengths for stacking or firelogs for the woodshed. It rained after lunch so we discussed the new Southern side-wall for the polebarn, worked out how to construct it and what of and how much of it and the cost. It looks like for not too much money we can build a framework of not-really-tannalised timber fairly easily this summer to keep the rain off next winter’s firewood.
60 Smooth Newts at 11pm this evening.
14 May 2013 Grass and Newts
I spent an hour cutting the grass this morning, and it was a very long hour.
59 Smooth Newts in my pond at 11pm (air 7 degrees C).
13 May 2003 Gas Sweep Gas
The gasman cameth to Groves Dyke, then the chimney sweep and the the gas man returneth, so all is well for another year.
12 May 2013 More Newts
57 Smooth Newts in my pond at 11.30pm (air 11 degrees C).
11 May 2013 First Cuckoo
First Cuckoo heard calling up in the wood early this morning. The first for this year and indeed, the first for several years. 30 Smooth Newts in my pond this morning (13 degrees C air temperature).
I gathered my strength and drove to Sandsend for a 50 yard walk on the pavement and a few lungfuls of ozone-laden sea air. Maybe that will clear my head a bit. If not, I may try unscrewing it… Strange how snatches of the great poets keep running through my mind:
It was a cough that carried him off. It was a coffin they carried him off in.
10 May 2013 Wetter
Still 13 Smooth Newts this morning (air 13 degrees C), as well as 1/3 of an inch of rain in the rain gauge over the past couple of days - which is 3 times more than in the whole of last month.
At 10pm the air temperature was down to 8 degrees C but there were still 52 Smooth Newts in my pond. So much for ‘balmy evenings’.
09 May 2013 Oak wins
Still 24 Smooth Newts in my pond at 9am.
In the annual race between the Major Oak and the Leaning Ash, the Oak has come into leaf first and is declared the winner by several heights. We must therefore predict that ‘Oak before Ash – only a splash’. (One really ought to look back for the results of last year’s race, since last year turned out to be the 2nd wettest year on record in the UK)…
By 10pm there were a mere 48 Smooth Newts in my pond.
08 May 2013 Newt night
Cooler, but presumably the water temperature is still balmy. There were 22 Smooth Newts at 9am (ish). For the evening count there were 67, which I think is an all time record number for my pond.
This afternoon a Sparrowhawk circled the wood and garden, dangling either its legs or a delicious morsel, in a very clear territorial display.
Having survived a long hard winter unscathed, I’ve now decided to develop a stinker of a cold and a rib-cracking cough. Quarintine time (and nothing whatever to do with Newt watching).
07 May 2013 Newts again
Still 21 Smooth Newts in my pond this morning about 9am. Then 53 at 10.30pm.
06 May 2013 Grass n Newts
I spent 1.5 hours cutting the grass this morning but it was a bit hot for anything so energetic. After lunch B counted 6 Smooth Newts in my pond and then we sat and tried out the new chairs in the veranda again, while watching a distant Sparrowhawk circling high over somebody else’s wood.
By 10pm there were 56 Smooth Newts in my pond. This is the best time of year for Newt surveys as they gather to mate. They usually choose ‘a balmy evening in May’ and can be counted by torchlight around the shallow edges of any pond.
05 May 2013 More green than brown
Good to see that most of the trees in the wood are now a more hopeful colour, except the Major Oak is still slightly ahead of the mostly brown Leaning Ash. We walked around the wood, surprised at all the twigs strewn across the path by last month’s strong winds. Gathered lots of long-dead Ash twigs for kindling, but hopeful that it may not be needed for several months…
Watched a Treecreeper spiral up a Cherry tree below the Orchid Glade, then heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming near the Major Oak. By midday it was 19 degrees C in the diningroom (as usual) and 19 degrees (and rising) outside – by far the hottest day of the year. After planting the Leeks (from Grasmere garden centre) we sat in the veranda and just basked in our new ‘American lounge chairs (from Hayes Garden Centre, Ambleside). Coffee. Bask. Ice cream. Bask. Coffee. Bask. First House Martin flew over the house and a Green Woodpecker yaffled from further up the drive.
04 May 2013 Almost…
Nice to see that Whitby and the North York Moors is a week or two ahead of the lake District, as far as Spring is concerned. The Hawthorn hedges are now in full leaf here, but not quite started around Ambleside. The other Great Truth is that we are the driest National Park in England, while t’Lakes is the wettest. Three of four wet and showery days in Ambleside – but not a drop of rain here. NB: Must water the veg beds.
Put seed back into the bird feeder on the spatio today and by afternoon the cock Pheasant was perched on top – presumably where he sat when it ran out last week.
03 May 2013 Back again
Just back from a week in t’Lakes, with lots of catching up to do over the next few days…
Highlights included: Faireyland Tea Garden (Grasmere); Cote How Tea Garden (Rydal Water); Giggling Goose Cafe (Ambleside); Brambles Cafe (Chapelstile); Matthew’s Bistro (Ambleside) – not to mention all the lovely footpaths and back roads in between!
April 2013 Weather
A very dry month. Started cold and windy, then a severe gale, then gradually warming up. The rainfall for the month was 2.5 mm / 0.1 inches. The maximum temperature during the month was 19 degrees C / 66 degrees F and the minimum was -4 degrees C / 25 degrees F. At 09.30am on the 4rd day of the following month the actual temperature was 10 degrees C / 50 degrees F.
26 April 2013 Drumming
As we sat in the conservatory (26 degrees C) with the door open, we were able to hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming somewhere just behind the woodshed. He seemed to be trying out different bits of various trees, to find the best reverberation – but then gave up and went quiet. This is only the 2nd time this year that I’ve heard this once everyday species.
Bright and sunny but with a cool wind and then the odd hail shower in late afternoon.
24 April 2013 Spuds in
This afternoon we raked over the new lower bed and planted 3 rows of Desiree potatoes (main crop). Hopefully, they won’t get blighted this year… We also scattered several small packets of wild flower mix on the middle bed, since it includes Clover, which should be almost as good as planting legumes to replace the Nitrogen in the soil – and less delicious to Deer and Rabbits.
Birds song all around, including Great Tit, Song Thrush, Wren and Robin. The Sycamore leaves are just beginning to show green and the Major Oak appears to be just ahead of the Leaning Ash. Several Tadpoles were sunning themselves on the sunny shelf in my pond, so at least a few have survived the ice.
23 April 2013 Double dug
Two hours of strimming and all the lawns have been cut at least once this year, also the woodyard and the path around the wood.
Then finish double digging the new spud bed, which nearly finished me as well.
21 April 2013 Double dig
We started on the new Potato patch near the beck, double digging to bury the upsidedown turfs under another spade-depth of (rather clay) soil. About half of the 8 foot by 4 foot patch was more than enough for today, thank-you – but we did plant the first row of Leeks in the top bed, and scatter some wild flower seeds in the middle bed. Hopefully, these 3 beds outwith the veg plot vermin-proof fence, will be unattractive to Rabbits, Deer and Wood Pigeon…
20 April 2013 Basking at Bay
We decided, as we sat on a sheltered bench overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay, that it must have been March 2012 since we were last able to just sit and bask in the sun. After that heatwave, the 2nd wettest summer on record was followed by a long and miserable winter with weeks if not months of cold, cloudy weather and that awful nithering wind that just never stopped until a few days ago. So we made the most of it and just sat and basked and admired Ravenscar a bit longer.
After lunch at the Victoria Hotel in Baytown, we dug over the top bed by the beck and finished painting the bathroom door.
19 April 2013 Vegging in
After changing-over the holiday cottage we planted the first of this year’s Shallots, Red Onions and Potatoes. ‘Nicola’ Second Earlies this time, which may crop before any Potato Blight this year!
17 April 2013 Two day summer?
Oh dear. Back to cooler, wetter and overcast weather again. The pair of Siskins left the Nigerseed feeder in the yard and moved around to the spatio seed feeder today. Brought down a couple of trugs of firelogs, now that the woodburner is required again.
In my pond almost all the Frogspawn has vanished (Sunk? Decomposed?) leaving just enough healthy-looking spawn to fill a school pudding plate.
16 April 2013 First grass-cutting
Dry and very windy again, but at least from a less damaging SW direction. Spent 2 hours giving the grass its first cut of the season. Let battle commence!
15 April 2013 Leading and sawing
MB brought down another 5 loads of Ash and Cherry from the Middle East Cant (new name for the East Cant!) down to the woodyard. After lunch BC and I joined in and we all bowsawed and occasionally used the non-sexist 2-person crosscut saw for the thicker Cherry logs, to get them straight (just one ’h’ please) under cover in the woodshed.
The warmer weather has brought the First Blackcap (a summer migrant and occasional over-winterer) into reappearing in the garden and feeding on the spatio fatballs.
‘Hello’ to our US delegation!
14 April 2013 Given the choice…
Having had months of cold Easterly winds and gales, last night and today we had a Southerly gale. Just as windy, but now we are being buffetted by a warm wind for a change. A vast improvement, after months of existing in ‘Survival Mode’. At one point it was actually a whole 17 degrees C today – almost tropical. The 3 very last patches of snow on Sleights Moor edge, and visible from the house, have finally melted away after weeks and weeks if not months and months.
We kept clear of the big trees as the warm wind howled around us and gleaned a bit more firewood and kindling for next winter from the big piles of Ash brash. The East Hazel cant is just beginning to bud. Then I dug over a veg bed for the Potatoes while BC planted this year’s Onions.
First Chiffchaff calling up in the wood, First Bumblebee flew / was blown across the patio at high speed, and a Wren by the pond. Below the stone seat Primroses and Daisies are blooming, while the triangle of big pale Daffs are just starting to flower in Groves Dyke garden.
13 April 2013 Double figures!
Today, for the very first time this year, the temperature rose above 10 degrees C. In fact, it went up to 14 degrees Centigrade, which is almost a heatwave these days. It was November 2012 when we were last above 10 degrees – 4 months ago! We celebrated with lunch at the Shepherds Hall in Lealholm and a very pleasant walk around the village. Saw 2 Lapwing on the moortop on Sleights Moor.
Then we finished sawing all the Cherry logs in the woodyard and stacking the resulting firelogs into the woodshed.
12 April 2013 Foggy
Cool and foggy. MD explored the far North West Slope in search of well-seasoned Hawthorn, then brought down 5 barrow loads of Cherry from just above the East Hazel cant. BC sawed and sawed and sawed Cherry into firelogs to get it under cover again asap, while I changed-over the cottage. Just a ‘Trace’ of rain today, the month’s total for April so far…
11 April 2013 Cool but sunny
A 15-minute bird count produced: Great Tit 4, Blue Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Blackbird 1, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit 1, Long Tail Tit 1, Tree Sparrow 1, Robin 1, Wood Pigeon 1. Equals 15 individuals of 10 species. 9.30 – 9.45. 7/8 cloud cover, high cloud, dry and calm.
10 April 2013 Almost pleasant
A very welcome warm, dry and pleasant day. BC, MD and I carried down lots and lots of Ash and then Cherry from just above the East Hazel cant. The Ash was sawn into 4 foot cord lengths, or 16 inch fire logs, and the Cherry all into firelogs and stacked in the woodshed. After lunch we split the 16 inch Cherry drums into flogs and carried them down for stacking. A good day and a good day’s work (but tiring).
08 Apr 2013 To York
Lovely day out in York, taking a passenger to a train, a donation to Macmillan for selling Unqiue Walking Sticks, and then doing the tourist thing of enjoying York itself.
Back home again and at dusk, KR and I watched a fine young Roebuck which strolled out from under the Willow Arch, stepped over the yat stead, stood in the woodyard and then wandered off past the stone seat.
07 Apr 2013 Dryzabone
An almost Springlike day but still with a sneaky (cold) wind. We pottered out of doors again today, sweeping-out the conservatory, potting-up Strawberry plants, tidying away broken roof tiles, rebuilding the Goldsworthy Deerguard and carrying down some long lengths of Ash from near the East Cant for next winter’s firewood. The paths around the wood are now bone dry, thanks to a month of the dry easterly wind. Doubtless the fire risk is now very high, as the good folk of Fort William discovered last week.
06 Apr 2013 Strawberryfields forever
After making the Twigwam more Twigwam-shaped (new string), BC weeded the Strawberry bed while I replanted the escaped Raspberry plants into a better place.
05 Apr 2013 Strawberry fields
BC dug out most of the Strawberry plants while I changed-over Groves Dyke. SA walked down for lunch to exercise his ankle and BC gave him a lift home afterwards.
03 Apr 2013 Coastal guide
We had a lovely day out, taking IJ and lots of boxes of Whitby Guidebooks up the coast. Dry and sunny but still a chilly easterly wind. Coffee at Ruswick Bay, a potter around Staithes and then up to Saltburn for a nice lunch at The Ship Inn. Good view of the 3 rows of brand new wind turbines being constructed just off Redcar.
This evening I got up to close my sittingroom curtains, only to startle the 2 Roe Deer which were standing just outside on the spatio (possibly hoovering up the fallen birdseed from the feeding station?).
02 Apr 2013 Siskins back
No overnight frost for the first time in weeks and my pond was NOT frozen over this morning. Nice change. A pair of Siskins were feeding on the Niger seed and a 15-minute bird count gave: Blackbird 3, Blue Tit 3, Dunnock 3, Longtail Tit 2, Robin 2, Tree Sparrow 2, Wood Pigeon 2, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit 1, Nuthatch 1. (9.15 – 9.30. 7/8 cloud cover, Bright cloud, light air, dry). 1 pair Collared Doves later.
01 Apr 2013 Spring visitor
Delighted to welcome IJ back to Whitby for her 20th year of holidaying here.
March 2013 Weather
This month will long be remembered as the coldest March since 1963, but with an almost continuous (and very cold) Easterly wind, up to gale force and very dry. The rainfall (including sleet and melted snow) for the month was 75 mm / 2.1 inches. The maximum temperature during the month was 8 degrees C / 47 degrees F and the minimum was -6 degrees C / 19 degrees F. At 09.30am on the first day of the following month the actual temperature was 3 degrees C / 38 degrees F.
31 Mar 2013 Spring forward
Another clear frosty night followed by a clear sunny day, with almost no wind. We walked around the wood and transplanted another 3 little trees from self-sown and less suitable places (eg my front lawn) to the cleared Blackthorn area along the eastern side of the wood. While we had the spade up there, we also dug JW’s Story of Life statue back to the vertical. Heard a Green Woodpecker yaffling in the wood and saw lots of deer slots in the now well-dried ground.
30 Mar 2013 Spring hopes eternal
Frosty last night but then bright, sunny and almost warm today – up to 9 degrees C at one point. The lazy east wind has almost gone but there were a couple of light snow flurries. A thin cover of ice on my pond by mid-morning but BC noticed 2 Newts loafing on the submerged ledge a few inches below the surface. By midday both ice and Newts had vanished. A Green Woodpecker yaffled from the wood.
We transplanted 5 young trees which had self-seeded in the lawn or the veg patch last summer. They are now within the 2 hurdle pens near the eastern boundary where SA and MD removed almost all the Blackthorn spinny 2 (or 3?) winters ago. When they get big enough the extra Oaks and Hazels will help to shade-out the Blackthorn regrowth.
Cleared the leaves from the drain alongside the drive and sawed the Willow from the Twigwam into firelogs and stacked them in the woodshed to form the first layer of next winter’s firewood. Unaccustomed as we are to outdoor work over the last few weeks (months?) of bad weather, we were surprised just how tired we were.
29 Mar 2013 Less awful
The sun shone this morning and the nithering Easterly wind dropped to a slight breeze, so we celebrated by drinking coffee on the veranda. But not for long, as the occasional snow shower fell and instantly melted on contact with the ground.
Even the layer of ice on my pond has melted today, leaving the poor ole Frogspawn uncovered for the first time in ages. Wonder if it has survived? We had a nice day off, pottering about in Pickering (less sunny and colder than here), bofore returning to find the conservatory had warmed in the sun to a pleasant 60 degrees F.
A pair of Siskins, the first sighting for weeks, were feeding on the Niger seed. The guests in Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage reported seeing 2 Roe Deer as they walked around the wood this morning.
28 Mar 2013 Sun!
This morning we had the first sun for what feels like weeks. Good to know that it is still there.
27 Mar 2013 Less windy
The strong perishing east wind has lost some of its strength and the temperature rose to 3 degrees C so the occasional snow shower just melted away. Five Robins co-existed amicably around the spatio feeder.
SA and MD patrolled the wood and soon noticed that the unpleasant easterlies have actually dried out the ground considerably. Even the lower half of the eastside path has improved. We transferred the barrel full of mini-logs to a couple of black plastic trays (labelled ‘Algarve Lettuce’).
25 Mar 2013 Twice as warm
This morning the temperature was +2 degrees C, which is twice as warm as yesterday (+1 degree C). The wind has eased a bit as well, which also helps. Apart from refilling trugs with firelogs, we made another gallon of Leaky Potato soup for the freezer.
This morning a 15-minute count of the feeding station produced: Blackbirds 3, Blue Tit 3, Coal Tit 2, Great Tit 2, Pheasant 2, Chaffinch 1, Dunnock 1, Marsh Tit 1, Robin 1, Tree Sparrow 1 (17 individuals of 10 species). 8/8 cloud, 2 degrees C, Dry with occasional snow flurries, cold E wind Force 4. Too early or late for the 15-minute window were Goldfinch 1 (on the Niger Seed feeder) and Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
24 Mar 2013 White tops
Still blowing a gale from the SE, but dry and still no snow here – unlike the rest of the country which has had 12 foot high snowdrifts and power cuts (NB: NOT ‘outages’, thank-you).
On our way to Lealholm for lunch we noticed the white tops of the catkins on the field of short-rotation Willow coppice alongside the A171, with the white tops of the North Sea in the background. Nice lunch with A&RJ at Egton Bridge, as the Lealholm pub was full.
23 Mar 2013 From Siberia to Sleights
Very very cold wind, gale force, from the East. A drive along the West Cliff in Whitby showed just how rough it is. Wonder if the nice new beach huts have been put out yet? If so, I suspect they don’t exist any more! The temperature remains a degree or two just above or below zero, but with the wind chill it feels like a great deal less.
Bought 2 peat-free growbags (£1.99 each from Lidl) and put them on the veranda wall to start warming up (ha!) for the Tomatoes… Painted the last bit of the new bathroom, then made a gallon of Leaky Potato soup for the freezer, including a few of our own Leaks freshly dug from the veg plot.
22 Mar 2013 Bitter
SA patrolled the wood while I did the change-over in Groves Dyke. Lots of Deer tracks at the top bridge and the paths fairly dry except from the East Cant downwards. BC arrived for lunch and afterwards we filled the trugs with firelogs to keep the home fires burning.
21 Mar 2013 Sunny
Nice to have the occasional dry, sunny day to report.
20 Mar 2013 Spring Equinox
No, it doesn’t feel like it, does it? SA came for lunch and with BC filled a few trugs with flogs afterwards. Snow overnight, but only on Sleights Moor.
19 Mar 2013 Deliveries
To Pickering, with SA and several boxes of this year’s Whitby Guidebook.
18 Mar 2013 Bathroom finished
Heard a Yaffle yaffling up in the wood. One thing I haven’t heard is any Woodpecker drumming this spring. After dark AD and I counted 18 Frogs cavorting in my pond.
16 Mar 2013 Downsettle
After all the upheaval of the past 3 weeks, we had a nice day off today – delivering boxes of the just-printed Whitby Guidebook 2013. The River Gardens in Sleights, Victoria Farm Garden Centre (lunch), Danby Moors Centre (met the brilliant photographer and poet Phil Cornealius at his exhibition there: ”Just take me up on the moor where the dogs lie, Give me a smile and throw me away.’), Shepherd’s Hall in Lealholm (3 o’clocks), Broom House Hotel and the Geall’s Gallery & Cafe in Grosmont.
Still a fair bit of snow lying beyond Lealholm, with the remains of drifts at every wall back.
15 Mar 2013 Wintry showers
While the new flooring went down in our new bathroom, SA walked around the wood and then sawed flogs in the polebarn, converting some of the Hazel pollards from the Mid-west Cant into next winter’s fuel.
He noticed that the upper Rowan was leaning and its deer guard partly collapsed. Lots of Roe Deer and/or possibly Badger tracks just above the top bridge, where the old fenceline was removed. Most of the paths around the wood have dried out, except for the lower half of the east side. Perhaps it is time to clear out my top neighbour’s drain again.
13 March 2013 More snow
Heavy snow showers on and off during the day, but it was thawing almost as fast as it fell. A different story in Whitby (3 miles away) where the snow fell thick until it was a couple of inches deep.
My nice new super-clever electric heater was fitted this morning by Fischer Future Heat UK and brought this morning from Leicester. It will keep my kitchen-diningroom-snug at a steady minimum temperature (18 degrees minimum by day and 15 degrees minimum by night), to be topped-up as required by the woodburner. The poor ole stove was far more than adequate for the kitchen-diner, but has struggled to cope once the wall was knocked-through to include the snug as well. Two room good, three rooms bad.
SA arrived for lunch and we loaded up all trigs and barrow with more fuel.
12 March 2013 Frozen frogspawn
Hard frost overnight and the freshly laid Frogspawn was under an inch of ice this morning. Wonder if it will survive? Frequent snow showers throughout the day. BC continued painting our new bathroom.
A 15-minute bird count on the feeders produced: Dunnock 4, Robin 4, Blackbird 3, Great Tit 3, Blue Tit 2, Tree Sparrow 2, Collared Dove 1, Marsh Tit 1, Pheasant 1. Total 21 individuals of 9 species. 6/8 cloud, Force 3 NE, 83% relative humidity. Snowing and thawing.
Too late for the count were, Song Thrush 1, Coal Tit 1 and 5 Longtailed Tit but the highlight of the day was a passing Goldcrest which hopped about the Cotoneaster next to the seed feeder, presumably attracted by the motley flock of assorted species actually using the feeding station.
11 March 2013 Snow
Snow this morning, before the very last scraps had melted from the last lot several weeks ago. The Coastliner bus from York got through after a few delays for a rolled-over car on the descent to Goathland.
All roads are open and passable, but with a bit of care!
10 March 2013 Painting
Cold and windy with occasional snowflakes. We bought some more paint and began painting our nice new bathroom in Groves Bank. (The one in Groves Dyke was brought into the 21st Century a few years ago). Goodbye to the 1950s cast iron bath and Hello to a nice modern bathroom!
09 March 2013 Theory meets Reality
Yorkshire Cottages Agency has been doing a great job, bringing in lots of nice new Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage bookings via their super easy website with instant booking. But behind their easy website they do have a very complicated system of dates and prices, which I had decided to match for anyone wanting to book the old fashioned way via me, phone and Royal Mail. Their instant online system may well be automated, with a spreadsheet calculating every possible combination of date, price, discounts and Special Offers – but our poor brains struggled with the correct price of the very first short break cum Special Offer of the season!
Don’t worry, we managed it and we now have a better understanding of how to do the next one…
08 March 2013 Last logs
Early Frogsong this morning. Mild and mizzly. A 15-minute bird count at the feeders produced: Great Tit 4, Blackbird 3, Blue Tit 3, Robin 3, Tree Sparrow 2, Bullfinch 1 male, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Marsh Tit 1. Equals 19 individuals of 9 species.
BC sawed the very last of last winter’s logs (felled in the winter of 2011/12) into flogs (fire logs) for burning this winter (2012/13), while I went to a meeting.
A lovely male Sparrowhawk (Sprawk to his admirers) chased a Wood Pigeon by the feeding station this afternoon. A bit ambitious, really, as it got away.
07 March 2013 First Frogs
Work in our bathroom continues, when KR (the joiner) noticed the First Frogspawn in our pond.
At 11pm there were some 22 Frogs all purring away frantically in our pond.
06 March 2013 Esk Valley Railway
I had a nice train ride up the valley to Middlesbrough and back. There are still a few scraps of snow above Castleton and Commondale.
For more information about the 4 return trains every day between Middlesbrough and Whitby, the extended Sunday service starting later this month, the brand new railway station to serve James Cook Hospital and the proposed reopening of the second platform at Whitby station, see www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk
03 March 2013 Holiday cottage
Since our new bathroom in Groves Bank wasn’t quite finished while we were away, we just moved next door and stayed at Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage instead. We’ve never stayed here before, but it’s very nice!
Gave the Twigwam a serious prune, completely removing all the stems thicker than 2 inches. This now leaves a circular fringe of skinny stems, which we can trim more carefully before pulling all the tops together again. The offcuts provided quite a bit of cordwood for next winter, lots of weavong poles for the new side on the polebarn, and lots of lop and top to add to the bonfire. Phew and Collapse!
01 Mar 2013 Home again
Just back from a holiday in Edinburgh (very nice thank-you) and still catching up…
February 2013 Weather
A wet start to the month, then dry and very cold. The rainfall (including sleet and melted snow) for the month was 2.6 mm / 1 inche. The maximum temperature during the month was 10 degrees C / 50 degrees F and the minimum was -7 degrees C / 20 degrees F. At 09.30am on the first day of the following month the actual temperature was 6 degrees C / 42 degrees F.
20 Feb 2013 Woodland patrol
SA, BC and Me had a stroll around the wood to admire the Ash Brash and the Ditch Dig, both of which are very impressive. We continued the circuit and carried down a few bits of Cherry to the woodyard, to start the first cord of next winter’s fuel supply. The woodshed is still more than half full, even after we carried a few trug and barrow-fulls to the cars and a few more to the conservatory.
New bath and basin due this afternoon…
19 Feb 2013 Unusual visitor
A Tree Sparrow joined the assortment of small birds using my new patio seed feeder, the first one I have seen here for months, if not years.
18 Feb 2013 Dawn chorus
This morning there was a recognisable dawn chorus for almost the first time this year. Another glimmer of Spring…
I proofread and returned the 2013 Whitby Guidebook (see www.VisitWhitby.com ) today. Later CR, KR and CN called in to discuss the joinery and plumbing required for our new bathroom in Groves Bank. OK so far. What can possibly go wrong…?
17 Feb 2013 Ditching again
Frosty overnight but then a lovely, dry, sunny and mild spring day. Maximum of 10 degrees C by late lunchtime. We cleared out the top neighbour’s ditch again, starting above our side neighbour’s field and then working upstream and across the slope, and all the way across the top of our wood to near the viewpoint. Lots of mini leaf blockages due to fallen twigs, branches and his fence posts, rails and netting wire. Hard work but well worth doing, as anywhere the ditch is blocked the water finds an unofficial route sideways to run down the hill and through the wood, alongside the garden and under Woodlands Drive to the River Esk.
16 Feb 2013 Scar face visor
We went to Scarborough (AKA Scarboro AKA Scar) to buy BC a nice new face visor from B and Q to avoid any facial injuries while splitting logs…
15 Feb 2013 Overall progress
SA gleaned some more firewood from the Ash brash while I went to Scarboro to see a man about a tooth.
14 Feb 2013 What blizzard?
Yesterday’s blizzard was but a distant memory this morning. Hardly any snow and almost calm again, but raining. It seems that it was really a warm front, but the rain on the leading edge was falling through cold air and falling on cold ground. Overnight almost all the snow was washed away by the rain, the wind dropped and by lunchtime it was warm and sunny.
13 Feb 2013 Nithering Ash brash
SA and MD worked in bitterly cold wind to glean some more firewood from the lop and top of the felled ash tree. Hot soup was required to thaw them out, load cars with firelogs and get everyone away before the snow got serious.
By mid-afternoon there was a full scale blizzard and all meetings were cancelled as everyone battened down the hatches. At Goathland the school bus had to stay on the main A169 high above the village while a couple of parents in 4x4s took over an hour to ferry the pupils down to the village and home.
12 Feb 2013 New ‘Book Sale’ page
Today I added yet more of my surplus and duplicate natural history books to my new Book Sale page on this website (> Other > Book Sale), including serveral First Editions and a few Signed by the Author. One day all my books may yet fit inside my bookcases, rather than overflowing across the floors – and even into Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage next door.
My prices include P&P within the UK and reflect the fact that I do not offer Loss leaders at 99p for Data Capture and endless span reasons, I do not lease my logo from my other company in Switzerland and I do not move my profits offshore, but I do pay normal UK taxes and I do value my once favourite books.
10 Feb 2013 Wet
A 15-minute bird count from our diningroom gave: Blackbird 2, Dunnock 2, Nuthatch 2, Robin 2, Bullfinch 1 male, Blue Tit 1, Coal Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Long Tail Tit 1, Pheasant 1. (14 birds of 10 species). 8/8 cloud cover, 4.2 degrees C, 95% Relative Humidity, Calm and mizzling.
09 Feb 2013 First veranda
Frosty but calm, dry and sunny. We drove to the top of Danby Beacon (once we were off the main roads, very gingerly on the ice) and had a short walk to admire the view. Still lots of snow at 1000 feet above sea level, but all very pretty. Saw 1 Red Grouse but saw lots of Rabbit tracks. Avoided Poverty Hill (too steep and icy) as we drove into Danby for lunch at Stonehouse Bakery. Busy! Overflowing with walkers and bikers, with some eating out of doors in the bright sun. Enjoyed our usual toasted tomato bread with pate.
Once home again we walked around the wood, admired SA’s and MD’s handiwork in the Mid-west Hazel Cant, un-brashed one Hazel stool to see what happens when Roe Deer and Rabbits do eat the regrowth at ground level – will it force the regrowth to come from the top of the young pollard instead? We shall see…
Then we enjoyed our very first coffee on the veranda of 2013, with a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. Very nice. And here’s to lots more veranda 3 o’clocks.
Two veg plots were forked-over (still completely saturated) and a blight-free growbag from last year’s tomatoes added to each.
08 Feb 2013 Brash and flog
SA and MD carried on pollarding the Mid-west Hazel Cant and after lunch BC and I sawed a bit more Hawthorn cordwood into firelogs in the polebarn. Raining. Then we threw the very last of last winter’s cordwood down to the polebarn and stacked it for another rainy day.
06 Feb 2013 Wintery showers
Bullfinch back on the new seed feeder again this morning.
Occasional hail showers with grey or even bright intervals between, but all a few degrees above freezing so nothing lying on the ground. SA and MD chain-sawed the remaining old polls from the Mid-west Hazel Cant, leaving the newer stem on each stool to sprout well above Roe Deer browsing height. Then they moved down to the woodyard and chain-sawed the thicker Hawthorn cordwood into firelogs for the woodshed.
After lunch they carried on, leaving the thinner ones for us to bow-saw to length. Then they went up to the top steps to cut the Ivy off a leaning Ash. We De-Brambled the South side of the polebarn, now that young S has removed the steels from the redundant cider-press. This will give us a chance to lay the old hedge (keeping all of its Honeysuckle) before adding a Yorkshire boarding side to keep the driving rain off.
04 Feb 2013 Indoors again
It’s just not nice out there. Nor was yesterday. So we did lots of indoor things instead.
02 Feb 2013 Day out
We drove to Pickering today. Some fresh snow on the moortops but a nice dry day on t’other side of the moor. We ordered our new bath as Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage has had its new one for several years now and ours in Groves Bank is at least 40 years old that I can vouch for. About time too!
Delighted to note that my sittingroom is noticably warmer, now that it has a full 12 inches of loft insulation.
01 Feb 2013 Black Run
Bright, dry, sunny and mild. SA and MD brought down the drums of Silver Birch on the bread tray sleigh, using the most direct route down through the trees. Quite exciting. Then SPS rang to say he was about to deliver 3 big dumpy bags of logs at SA’s, followed by 2 for me and then 4 for BC. That’s about 9 ton altogether. By late lunchtime the first 7 tons were all stacked away undercover and only a little bit still out under a temporary tarp.
1st Snowdrops flowering in Groves Dyke orchard. Then we all finished the Silver Birch and it too was all sledged, split and stacked in the woodshed. Very satisfying.
January 2013 Weather
Lots of cold and snow brought almost everything to a halt for a couple of weeks.
The rainfall (including sleet and melted snow) for the month was 84 mm / 3.3 inches. The maximum temperature during the month was 10 degrees C / 50 degrees F and the minimum was -9 degrees C / 16 degrees F. At 09.30am on the first day of the following month the actual temperature was 8 degrees C / 46 degrees F.
31 Jan 2013 Fully insulated
I finished insulating the sittingroom loft in Groves Bank, adding another 6 inches of fibre glass onto the 6 inches already there. Just a couple of steel office cabinets to empty of ancient Countryside Jobs Service receipts, etc and then I can rearrange them better and add even more insulation.
30 Jan 2013 First Dawn Chorus
Sunny, dry, mild and very windy. SA and MD and I choose a Silver Birch at the top of the Short Sharp Shock Path for felling and we soon had it felled, lopped and topped. They did all the chainsawing while I dragged the smaller bits away. By lunchtime it was in 16 inch drums and we began stacking them.
SR arrived to clear much of the veg (mostly Phragmites) from my pond and worked throughout the day, leaving about 25% where the hibernating Frogs, etc are.
Then the nice man from Fischer Future Heat UK arrived to survey Groves Bank and introduced the German concept of highly efficient 24/7 electric storage heaters which use 75% less electricity, thanks to better design and a remote and programmable digital thermostat. Interesting possibility…
SA and MD continued with the felled Silver Birch and then discovered along dead Oak lying in the beck gully. This was also ideal, some for firewood and some for woodturning, so they dragged the useful bits up out of the gully.
Bit of a busy day, but lots achieved by 3 o’clocks.
29 Jan 2013 First day out
My first day out of the dale in the past 2 or 3 weeks of snow and ice. Still lots of it on the moortop but the main road was completely clear. We swam in Pickering pool [pool!], had lunch in Russells and went to see a man in Coopers about a bath.
28 Jan 2013 Stable door
Now that the cold snap is over, I decided it was high time I laid the extra rolls of loft insulation in the Groves Bank loft (I had already done Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage loft well over a year ago). After prevaricating as long as possible, and doing all the other silly little jobs first, I finally got all the bits together and started work. It only took a bit over 1 hour and now the main house is even warmer and even snugger under 12 inches of fibre glass than it was under a mere 6 inches.
27 Jan 2013 Deliverance
Wet and windy last night as the warm front really arrived. Plus 7.3 degrees C this morning (the highest it has been for the past 2 weeks) and almost all the snow has gone from the garden. Still some snow on the far side of the dale and at the hedgebacks, but probably not for much longer.
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch today and a 1 hour count from 11.00 to midday produced: Blue Tit 4, Pheasant 4, Blackbird 3, Great Tit 3, Robin 2, Carrion Crow 1, Coal Tit 1, Fieldfare 1, Marsh Tit 1. Sunny and showers, Force 4 SW, 95% Relative Humidity. And not a single Dunnock in sight for a whole hour! Nor our usual party of Long Tailed Tit. BUT we did have the first Fieldfare so far this winter, which was nice. NB: The Dunnocks appeared about an hour too late to be counted!
Then we spent an hour sawing-up more of the Hawthorn cordwood and stacking it in the woodshed (which is now half full, with a 1/4 cord of Hawthorn still to saw). The Willow in Groves Dyke has a few catkins budding, the Daffs in the orchard have shoots 3 inches tall and some birds seem to have paired-up. Good thing there is a ‘glimmer of Spring’ on the horizon.
26 Jan 2013 Snow on the beach
Snowed overnight but this morning’s temperature of 5.9 degrees C was the highest for the past 2 weeks of snow and ice.
Cold but sunny so we went for a walk on the beach at Sandsend. A bit of ice on the pavement and the steps down, then a strip of snow-covered sand and then just sand where the sun shines and the tide laps. Lovely walk. Lunch in the newly extended Sandside Cafe, before returning home via a nice drive up to the top of Skelder Hill on the A171 Whitby to Guisborough road. The tarmac was all black but the snow is still piled as high as the fence and field wall tops, giving an idea of what it was like a few days ago (and probably still is like, just a few miles furher on.
Back home again to saw some of the Hawthorn cord into firelogs.
25 Jan 2013 Nithering
The end of this 2 weeks of cold and snow is finally in sight, with a warm front due this afternoon - but the leading edge will fall as heavy snow until everything gets above freezing tomorrow (ie thaw then floods).
SA arrived but MD phoned-in to say their side road was blocked with a ridge of snow left by the snowplough going past on the main road. Resourceful as ever, and suffering from cabin fever, he found a way through and was able to join us just as we finished our start-up coffee. They both filled all the trugs with logs, freed the trapped wedge in the too-well-seasoned Hawthorn drum and then walked around the wood. The cold increased as the wind strengthened and they decided to get back home while they still could.
BC chipped ice off the polebarn slope while I sorted extra bird feeders, then we brought in yet more logs in anticipation…
A 15-minute bird count (NB: the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is this weekend) from 09.45 gave: Great Tit 3, Robin 3, Blackbird 2, Coal Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Marsh Tit 2, Wood Pigeon 2, Blue Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Pheasant 1, Song Thrush 1 (20 individuals of 11 species). 6/8 cloud cover, High cloud, sunny & bright, Hard frost overnight, Force 3 South-westerly, -0.4 degrees C, 81% Relative Humidity. Still 2 – 3 inches of snow cover but some clear patches thawing on lawns.
23 Jan 2013 Thaw and saw
SA dragged logs down on the bread tray sleigh and filled all the trugs in the conservatory, then had a walk around the snowy wood. Drizzly snow showers and snow still lying.
After lunch BC and I joined him and we all sawed and stacked logs in the polebarn, using the non-sexist-2-person saw. Stopped early for 2 o’clocks and defrosting.
22 Jan 2013 Cabin fever
Overnight snow with a slight thaw and BL kept the drive clear of snow, so I was able to get the car out with a good chance of getting it back up the drive again. BC and I had lunch at the Coliseum in Whitby (highly recommended) and did a bit of shopping. Nice change. On return, I emptied out the 2.5 inches of water in the rain gauge – now that the conical block of ice and the snowcap have melted.
21 Jan 2013 Horizontal snow
All meetings cancelled, so very much an ‘at home’ day. One degree above freezing allowed some snow to thaw away, as more fell on top. Still aboiut 4 or 5 inches of snow cover on the lawns. A sudden noise made me look out just in time to see a female Kestrel fly up from just below my dining-room windowsill. Had she just caught or missed a small mammal (probably a Bank Vole) or was she trying to catch a small bird, in desperation?
20 Jan 2013 Less Danger Bank
Cold, bright, dry and sunny. With 3 – 4 inches of snow everywhere the side roads were almost completely traffic-free. BC and I walked down Danger Bank to Ruswarp and had a very good lunch at the Bridge Inn.
19 Jan 2013 SA patrol
He walked down from the village and around the wood, checking that all was well. 4-5 inches of snow but some daytime thawing before it is topped-up again.
18 Jan 2013 More snow
The heavy snow began about midday, adding to the snow already on the ground.
17 Jan 2013 Minus 7
-7.5 degrees C, in fact, at 9am this morning. The River Esk was frozen over just above Ruswarp weir and well upstream, with c30 Black-headed Gulls standing about on the ice near the hydro-electric turbine. The roads around Whitby are still clear, but England is cut off with deep snow on the moortop roads.
16 Jan 2013 Freezing and fog
Minus 6 degrees C outside at breakfast time, rising to a maximum of -1 at midday. Clear, calm and very cold with ice and freezing fog in the Vale of York and beyond. Not a good day for travelling, not even to see a man about a dog nor even a woman about anything else.
Bright, calm, dry and sunny all day. I walked around the wood admiring the couple of inches of snow in all directions. Lots of Deer and Pheasant tracks. The neat stacks of next winter’s firewood look very satisfying and the sheeting over some of them is all ok. Brought down several more trugs of firewood from the woodshed to the house to warm-up a bit before offering them to the woodburner. It’s 24 degrees in here and very pleasant, thank-you.
There may be some bad weather on the way… but August 2013 is now fully booked in Groves Dyke Holiday Cottage and there is only 1 wek left in July. Don’t worry, still lots of spring and autumn weeks available to book – but please don’t delay it too long or you may be disappointed!
Not nearly as good (bad?) as that famous Christmas in the mid-1990s when Anthea and I spent a week in a lovely holiday cottage 1000 feet up in the Cairngorms and the temperature got down to -25 degrees C overnight and rose to a maximum of -10 degrees C during the day! Cold? You don’t know the meaning of the word!
15 Jan 2013 First snow
It started snowing yesterday afternoon and kept going until after dark. This morning we have a couple of inches in the garden and it is all christmas card pretty. The main roads are open with care but some shovelling and grit was needed on my drive (which I discovered BL next door had already done, thank-you). Lots of meetings cancelled, so no need to go anywhere. Maybe I’ll create the new 2012 web page to archive all of last year’s News Blog, or maybe I’ll tidy and dust the house, or maybe I’ll bring down some more firewood to warm-up, or maybe I’ll just curl up by the woodburner with a good book… I might even do all of those. Might.
But then again… But I did at least create the new 2012 web page this afternoon, so this current News Blog should load a bit faster than before!
13 Jan 2013 Frosty and sunny
A good frost last night and a sprinkling of hail this lovely sunny morning. A 15 minute bird count over coffee produced more that we expected: 11.40 – 11.55, 4/8ths high cloud, calm, dry, sunny, 1.2 degrees C, 95% relative humidity: Blue Tit 3, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Great Tit 2, (Grey Squirrel 1), Long Tail Tit 10, Marsh Tit 1, Pheasant 1, Robin 3 and then… Sparrow Hawk 1 male flew in and landed on the patio wall, composed himslef, hopped into the Cotoneaster bush, hopped out again, hopped onto the frozen water dish, had a think, had another think and then flew away again. Total Sprawk-viewing time was perhaps 3 minutes – far longer than we normally see him for. Perhaps he was expecting a drink or even a bath? Very nice!
We filled-up several trugs with firewood and then sawed some Blackthorn cordwood into fire logs (‘flogs’) but cold hands soon put an end to this.
12 Jan 2013 Sunny day out
Snow is forecast so we decided to make the most of today’s nice weather and went to The Board at Lealholm for lunch, followed by a short walk on Danby Beacon.
11 Jan 2013 Handrails and Hawthorn
SA rigged-up a rope handrail on the woodyard steps which are very wet and slippy. Then started splitting some very reluctant hawthorn stored in the polebarn for at least a year. After lunch we started to split some equally tough crab apple (twisty and full of knots) and rescue the last of the old wicker fence that has served us well as dry kindling for most of the winter.
10 Jan 2013 Lots of bookings
The past 2 weeks have brought a sudden rush of bookings (just see my Availability page), very many of them via Yorkshire Cottages and their instant on line system. Please don’t delay your booking or it may have been snapped up before you get around to it!
09 Jan 2013 New leaf
Frost overnight, then bright and sunny. SA carried and stacked Ash from above and beyond the East Hazel Cant to the path. Nine Long Tail Tit joined us for lunch (we had soup and sandwiches indoors, they had fat balls just outside).
Then we moved to the young self-sown Ash too near the electricity wires and pollarded them just above Roe Deer-grazing height (4 foot 6 inches). This way they will continue to grow and produce a useful crop, without getting too big. Then on to check the cleared ditch was still flowing across the top of the wood, and not overflowing sideways and making the whole wood wet. We admired the nice new clearing where SA and I had tidied-away the felled Cherry trunks 2 days ago. Finally, we removed one old Hazel pollard stem from the Mid-West Hazel Cant, just to show willing. Another dozen remain to be done…
It was while we were doing this that we noticed the first new Hazel leaves of 2013.
07 Jan 2013 Cherry gone
SA chain sawed and I stacked the cordwood and 16 inch drums from the felled Cherry just below Flag’s Folly. After a couple of hours we had cleared the site, opened-up the young Oak and Alder to the North and covered the stack with a plastic sheet to keep the rain off. An excellent morning’s work!
06 Jan 2013 Sunny again today
Still, mild, dry and bright so we continued work on flogging the Blackthorn. After an hour and a half we had finished all the thicker cordwood and filled another wall of the woodshed with slow-growing, hard-sawing, slow-burning and hot-burning firelogs of lovely Blackthorn. That just leaves a few bits of thin Blackthorn cordwood to cut by hand, as well as half a cord of Hawthorn to do. The woodshed is now 5/6s full of assorted and well-seasoned firelogs.
Then we split some of the chunkier bits of seasoned ash firelogs, on the basis that 2 thinner flogs burn better than one thick one. NB: Must remember to split hardwood while it is still green, as seasoned wood is far harder to split!
05 Jan 2013 Farmhouse lunch
Our first lunch out, at Victoria Farm Garden Centre, this year. Excellent, as ever, and with unbeatable views across the fields to Whitby and the Abbey.
After lunch we took advantage of the mild, DRY and sunny weather to use the T-saw on the cord of Blackthorn. An hour later and we had made a good impression on the cord and the woodshed looked much more respectable.
04 Jan 2013 Tarp ash
SA continued working on the felled Cherry near Flag’s Folly, bowsawing the smaller lop and top. After lunch BC and I joined him and together we covered the freshly stacked Cherry drums with a plastic sheet, to keep the rain off but let the wind blow through. Having discovered in 2012 just how quickly Cherry logs, especially thin ones, go mouldy and rot in the wet, this winter’s felling of Cherry will be converted into 16 inch drums, covered and brought under cover asap. Then we put up a sort of a plastic sheet / tented roof over the ash logs as well – just in case.
03 Jan 2013 Sold out
Discovered that Dunsley Hall Hotel has sold out of all my Unique Walking Sticks, so I spent today producing several more for them, now that they sell almost all of my sticks. A lovely big Blackthorn staff with a twisted top, an unusual Holly stick, a couple of Hazel and an Ash should keep them going while I build up my stocks again.
A 15-minute bird count produced: Blackbird 3, Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 2, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Robin 1. The weather was 8/8 cloud, 11.4 degrees C, clam, dry and 94% relative humidity.
02 Jan 2012 Lopping, topping and ditching
SA and MD continued work on trimming-up the recently felled Ash and Cherry (opposite Bruno’s Bannisters) by chainsaw. After lunch BC and I cleared-out the top neighbour’s ditch so that the runoff from Aislaby Moor can get away across the slope and avoid running down through the wood.
01 Jan 2013 New Year, new all sorts
Happy New Year to you all! Our flame survived the passing of the year and the wood burning stove (as normal) was still alight this morning – always a good sign.
A frosty morning welcomed the first dry, sunny day for ages. We added the new duvets, new pillows, new kingsize bed, new bath towels and hand towels (now included) – not to mention all the new things in the past year, like new carpets throughout, new Freesat TV with DVD player, new oven, etc. Then we spent a couple of hours sawing the last of the Ash cord into firelogs and starting on the Blackthorn cord.
Following sticky buns and coffee, we began the challenging process of changing this website to reflect the new prices, facilities and on-line booking option. This took as long as the logging and far more effort (if only mental). Hopefully, all is now correct and clear…
Sparky arrived for his holidays and he and I had several walks around the wood, bringing down some more firewood every trip. The ground is very wet, the steep paths are very muddy and I can almost do the splits. Sparky is much more sure-footed, but then he has twice as many feet. Not to mention 4-paw drive.