Friday, 28 November 2014

Duller and Duller

I might have mentioned in yesterday’s blog for Wednesday that Wednesday was our dullest day of the month. Well it didn't hold the record for long as a drab, dreary and damp Thursday took over the record. Not much rain fell but it came more in drizzle than proper rain.

Sue ordered three new rose bushes last week, which I'm sure Sue will writing a blog post about soon. This time of year roses come bare rooted and so can’t just be left until conditions improve. On a wet Thursday I didn't fancy trampling all over wet soggy soil to plant them in their final locations so they've been heeled in until conditions improve.
I could reach this little bit of ground without having to walk on the soil or grass so our new rose bushes have this spot as their temporary home.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Brightness Didn't Last

It was expecting too much for the brighter weather to last anymore than a couple of days and so Wednesday returned to dull and damp remaining on the cool side as the temperature only managed to reach a high of 8.2°C. The cloud cover meant that overnight temperatures held up reasonably well falling to 5.8°C.

After the brighter weather of Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday became our dullest day of the month. 
This chart compares the last four years and the 2014 purple line made an excellent start to the month but since the 12th of the month it’s gradually fallen back until now when it’s become the dullest November of the last four years.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Paired Up

Tuesday was a rather crisp November day, dry and a bit sunnier than Monday. The better weather brought along a drop in temperatures too and Tuesday finished with the coldest average daily temperature this month of 4.2°C.

Sorting out our photographs from Monday’s visit to Old Moor it was noticeably how many of the ducks were paired up. It wasn't until we were tagging our ducks that we realised we’d spotted a couple of gadwalls which was a first for us.
In keeping with most of the other ducks Mr & Mrs gadwall were already paired up.

I've finished editing my video of a cormorant fishing. I had a full five minutes of video before editing of the cormorant swimming around trying to catch a fish. I didn't see it emerge from the water with a fish much to my and I'm sure the cormorants disappointment.

Is it just me or are there times when the cormorant looks like the Loch Ness monster?

If you’d like to see the full video of our visit to RSPB Old Moor I've added it below.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lots to See At Old Moor

After the drab weather over the weekend Monday was forecast to be bright and sunny but chilly. We decided on a visit to RSPB Old Moor to make the most of the brighter weather. To be honest the day wasn't as bright as forecast with the sun remaining behind light cloud for most of the day but it was much better than the weekend had been. 
Our last visit to Old Moor had been a little bit disappointing as far as photographic opportunities were concerned with most of the birds staying well out of range of our camera lenses. Our luck seemed to be in on Monday though.  
Our first stop was at the Bird Garden hide and it was a difficult choice to decide who to photograph first. As we arrived so did a great spotted woodpecker, a couple of reed buntings were busy feeding along with a male bullfinch. There were lots of chaffinches and greenfinches happily feeding from the plentiful supplies of seed.
It becomes a challenge to try to capture the birds more in their natural surrounding than sitting on a feeder. This upright log with holes filled with food seemed a great idea for attracting the woodpecker.
I couldn't help but try this shot as the woodpecker got a little bit closer but I might have extended my zoom lens range a little bit too far loosing a bit of detail.
After the Bird Garden hide we had a wander around the rest of the reserve and found plenty of ducks to photograph. There were lots of cormorants around the lakes too but well out of photographic range apart from one who decided to give us a display of his fishing expertise or lack of it. It will be coming as a short video clip once I've had time to edit the movie clip. 

By mid afternoon the cloud seemed to melt away and the sun came through giving a lovely if somewhat chilly end to the day.
A few more days like this would be most welcome.

Monday, 24 November 2014


Not a great deal to say about the weekend’s weather as the dull, damp miserable spell of weather continued through the weekend.

With a week or so left to go November has been mildish for the time if year but unless we have a few very warm days in the remainder of the month I don’t think it will beat November 2011.
As you can see the average temperatures for November 2011 (9.3°C) and 2014 (8.7°C) are fairly close to the 23rd of the month. The forecast for the week ahead is for much cooler weather with daytime highs less than that average of 8.7°C so the purple line might be heading in a downwards direction this week.

If it means we get some brighter colder weather it will be preferred to the miserable conditions of the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Squashed Out

Friday didn't continue the theme of slightly brighter days and the really dull dismal November weather returned. It started to rain in the middle of the afternoon and continued into the night.
Any lingering doubts I had at the back of my mind about doing a little bit more autumn digging on the plot can now be discarded as Friday’s rainfall of 13.0mm will certainly mean the soil is too wet to dig.

I did manage to use up the first of our stored Crown Prince squashes. 
 It was certainly a bit of a beast to get into. I think a good clean saw would be the easiest way to cut one of these in half but whilst I have a saw I wouldn't want to use it on something I was going to eat. After lots of effort with a large knife I managed to cut the squash into two so that the seeds could be removed before cooking the squash.
I decided to cook the squash first and see just how much weight of prepared squash flesh I would get out of my Crown Prince. Once cooked I measured out the 450gms required for my pumpkin pie and that left me with another 800gms of squash to use. I decided to freeze 450gms, enough to use in another pumpkin pie, and the remaining amount was added to a stew as a thickener.
The pumpkin pie turned out looking well as shown above but before we gave it the taste test I realised that I hadn't added any sugar to the pie. Fortunately it wasn't the disaster I thought it would be and despite its lack of sugar the pie tasted  pretty good. The squash is on the sweet side to start with and there’s the addition of a few spices so the sugar wasn't missed too much. Making the pie again I might not add the full 75gms of sugar recommended in the recipe in any case.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Friday, 21 November 2014

Not a Westerly and Is Spring Here Already?

Wednesday and Thursday both had spells during the day that weren't too bad but in generally they followed the now well established weather pattern of dull and mild weather.

I bet the Met Office don’t have this problem. One of our regular wood pigeons has taken up a vantage position on the top of my weather vane. Not for the first time I might add. I think he or she prefers it if the wind vane indicates a westerly wind direction and “Woody” arranges the vane accordingly even if the wind is from the east.
Whilst I was having a quick mooch around the garden as I filled up the bird seed feeders for the likes of Woody I couldn't help but notice the first few spring bulbs are breaking through the soil surface.
I’d image they’re usually covered in fallen magnolia leaves for most of the time but the blackbirds are constantly rummaging through the leaves for any insect life and have left these shoots uncovered. I wonder if these bulbs are normally pushing their shoots up by the end of November?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Bit On the Messy Side

Tuesday was forecast to be a bit brighter. To be honest it wasn't going to have to be all that much of an improvement to be better than the last few days. It didn't get off to a very good start.
It seemed like we got the only shower that was about in Northern England. Once that passed it was a little bit brighter and after lunch we decided that the trip to the plot to harvest some vegetables couldn't be put off any longer. 

First job was to dig some carrots, parsnips and leeks. It was sort of sunny when we arrived at the plot but the sky didn't give me much confidence that it was going to stay that way. I wasn't too sure which direction the weather was coming from. This was looking east.
And looking west wasn't too promising either.
We were under a patch of blue so I got on harvesting some vegetables. It’s so much easier to buy your veggies at the greengrocers at this time of year. The tops of the vegetables are wet, soil is wet and doesn't want to part company with carrots parsnips or leeks. Everything comes up covered in soil.
I’d hate to start trying to clean these vegetables at home so there was nothing to it other than get a bucket of cold water and give them a wash on the plot. Normally I try to avoid washing freshly harvested vegetables as I think it reduces their keeping qualities but in these cases I was prepared to make an exception.
As it happens they scrubbed up rather well. I did have to consign a few carrots straight to the compost heap as some had split and others had some slug damage. The couple of parsnips are only for a tester to see if the roots are sweet enough to harvest. They’re supposed to need a frost to sweeten them but I’m hoping these two will be good to eat without a “frosting”