Rural Living

Monthly Observations 2012


January 1st. NEW YEARS DAY. Late last night when many others were celebrating the forthcoming New Year, our canine friends accompanied us on a walk around the lanes. The furious winds encountered as the old year saw itself out had subsided and the weather was unseasonably mild. The dogs with their keen scenting ability snuffled in the hedgerows aware of mammals that had recently passed this way. A hare suddenly bolted from the hedgerow unseen by the dogs who were intent in following the recently laid scent of previous visitors. The verges were sodden by the rain of recent days, but the air had a freshness about it. The peace and tranquility of the lanes mirrored the quietness of the weather, a relaxing way to welcome in the New Year. By morning the winds had increased (30 - 40 mph) with heavy rain, after lunch the rain decreased in intensity allowing a little time for the continuing chore of clearing the gardens.

January 3rd. Yesterday was a fairly calm day with a few sunny periods and a light covering of snow on the peaks of the Northern Carneddau. Overnight the winds increased with gusts of 91mph recorded on the Llyn Peninsular. Heavy rain and high winds continued at our location with gusts of 66mph recorded on our weather station. The lane outside the house contains areas of standing water, and the local bird population are quickly visiting the feeders before taking shelter in the trees again. As evening approached a few wet and bedraggled buzzards could be seen sitting on the telegraph poles hoping for a meal before nightfall, although there is little evidence of wildlife in the fields or verges. The mountains have remained cloaked in cloud for most of the day looking grey and uninviting. The wind continues to howl with rain rattling at the windows panes into late evening and the weather station recording a wind chill of -3c at 22.00hrs.

January 4th. The weather remained windy overnight but had abated somewhat by morning with pressure rising to 1009mb. The wind increased again around midday and by mid afternoon pressure was dropping to 996.7mb by 21.00hrs with a continued downward trend, winds gusting to 45mph and 5mm of rain falling since 17.00hrs. A dismal day with low light levels adding to the gloom. A number of trees have lost branches during the storm with smaller branches suitable for kindling littering many of the lanes. The couple of feral cats that normally inhabit one of the sheds have instead been spending much of their time sheltering from the elements in a couple of hay bales stored in the log shed. Outside the log shed lay a dead Weasel (Mustela Nivalis) probably killed by one of the cats, a lovely looking creature with its brown coat and white underside. A determined hunter, its diet mainly consisting of mice or voles, although it will prey on rabbits and small birds if the opportunity presents itself, needing to eat a third of its body weight every day





January 5th. Gales continued overnight with reports of gusts of 90mph at Capel Curig, with our AWS reporting gusts of 46mph. with heavy rain between 03.00 - 04.00hrs. An early morning walk proved a chilly experience with a temperature of 5.8c, but with the high winds a wind chill factor of 1.6c at 08.00hrs. Pressure had dropped at 04.00hrs to 991mb rising during the day to 1011mb at 19.00hrs. Flooding continues to effect many of the minor lanes, with more branches littering the lane and verges. The birds are not much troubled by the weather with a magpie foraging around the bottom of the bird feeders picking up the seeds that the smaller birds have dropped as they peck the corn from the feeders. Flocks of starlings feed from the water logged fields, sharing their spoils with pheasants that have wandered up from the valley. The days are short, and as the starlings gather for the night and leave for the valley and coastal towns the land goes silent again.


January 7th. The weather has calmed down with a clear moonlit sky last night, giving a silver hue to the landscape. The rivers are full and flooding their banks in some places. Although the Conwy River levels have fallen the river still runs fast. The lane side hedge cutting has now been finished for another year, and many of the sheep that are due to lamb have been moved into the sheds and barns of local farms. With the recent mild weather the daffodils are starting to push their way up through the cold wet soil reminding us that the new cycle of growth is beginning.


January 14th. The last week remained very mild and wet at time. Yesterday the temperature dropped with a severe frost overnight and a temperature of -.8c at 08.00hrs. The fields remained whitened by frost throughout the day with a beautiful sunset as the sun melted below the mountain peaks at sunset.

January 19th. The first snowdrops have appeared on the bank behind the house, giving a reminder that whilst the weather remains cold and damp and the days are short and often dismal, nature has started to awaken to the new year. A number of pheasants remain around the bird feeders during the day before seeking shelter for the night. Splitting logs for the fire saw a Robin in the vegetable hedgerow having no fear of the cats or dogs laying around in a short spell of sunshine. He was later seen just before sunset looking for worms around a heap of manure in the vegetable plot. The dogs were showing a considerable amount of interest around the log shed, and it would appear that someone has made a home for themselves under the log pile.

January 27th. The weather station has finally failed and a replacement is on order that will show weather conditions in real time, which can be uploaded onto this site. The temperature has dropped and today has seen a number of sleet, hail and snow showers. The birds have been visiting the feeders with robins, blue tits, great tits and magpies. The grass has continued to grow over the last few weeks, and more daffodils are beginning to lift themselves above the soil.

January 30th. The new Davis Vantage Vue weather station is up and running with current weather data updated every minute on our web site weather page. Yesterday saw snow showers with light winds. Snow had fallen on the Northern Carneddau across the valley with the snow line down to 850ft. Today following a heavy overnight frost, the skies remained clear with buzzards circling above the fields, and the ponds having a covering of ice on them. We have put fat balls out for the birds which were being quickly devoured, the birds crowding around the feeders. The snowdrops are making a welcome show on the banks behind the house and down the lane. Tonight at 21.00hrs the temperature is -2.1c with light SE winds.

January 31st. Another night of clear skies and a heavy ground frost with the temperature dropping to -3.5c at 05.00hrs. Further snow showers appeared to have fallen overnight on the mountains with the temperature remaining around zero degrees during the morning at our location. With high pressure centred over Northern Russia preventing weather systems in the North Atlantic reaching Wales we continue to see very cold air being drawn from the east circulating around the United Kingdom. Ground frost remained throughout the 24hr period. Taking the dogs for a walk down the meadow after dark there was a chill in the air with the AWS recording a temperature of -2.5c at 21.33hrs. There was evidence of the Badgers scrapping at the meadow grass and a significant amount of interest from the dogs at the scent left by the various creatures that have passed through the meadow in the last few hours. Returning indoors to the warmth of the fire the dogs lay by the hearth as the flames circle the fire box reflecting their glow around the walls of the room.


February 5th. Last night saw light drizzle and although the temperature had risen a few degrees above freezing during the day the damp air felt much colder than recent days with a lazy wind that went straight through you and not around you. The day dawned dark and dismal but had brightened up a little after lunch with a few sunny intervals. During a walk along the uplands on the eastern side of the valley I observed what I first thought was a buzzard, but as it flew low in front of me I reconized the fork tail of a majestic Red Kite (Milvus mikvus). In the early 1990's there were only 50 breeding pairs in Wales but since then the population has gradually increased. They feed on small mammals, birds, worms, and carrion. This was the first I had seen in this area, although they are very common in other areas of Wales. After standing and watching him for a few minutes he disappeared below the tree line into the valley below.