Nature Notes December 2020

Total monthly rainfall: 159.5 millimetres.  Maximum daily rainfall: 36 millimetres (4th Dec)

Altogether there were 19 days when measurable rain fell, and 17 days with 100% cloud cover for at least part of the day. There was an overnight gale on December 26th into the 27th which brought down many young trees, and caused all ponds to overflow.

Maximum temperature on the warmest day was 13°C on December 21st. Maximum temperature on the coldest day was 2°C on the 31st. There were overnight frosts on December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 13th, 18th, 25th, and 28th to 31st. Most of these days also suffered from early fog and a cold wind-chill. All ponds were thinly part-frozen on the 31st.


Wildflowers this month were difficult to record because of the variation in weather, particularly the cold spells, which caused flowers to die out yet re-appear a few days later. We are sure the last yarrow was seen on the 13th. Plants flowering into next year are the groundsel, feverfew, lesser periwinkle, speedwell, and shepherd’s purse.

During the month we saw only one butterfly because we lacked warm, dry, sunny days throughout.

To our astonishment, on Christmas day (Dec 25th), during Christmas dinner we saw a peacock butterfly on the dining room window indoors attracted by outside sunshine and a roaring fire indoors. We could not let it out to face a temperature of 5°C so it is now hibernating in a cool part of our house.

Over three nights from 21st to 23rd we saw 5 winter moths on our lighted porch window during the warmest part of the month.

Frosty weather this month meant that our bird-feeding station was in great demand, with peanuts, bird-seed- and fat balls all disappearing as fast as they were topped-up. Away from the feeders our first sighting of a rook occurred on the 9th – an unusual event for us because they rarely leave the village rookery two miles away. On the 10th 100 plus common gulls flew north-west to south-east above our property and a cormorant made the first of several visits to the poplar above our lake. 21 Canada geese made one visit on the 2nd. Then vanished until the 16th, when 26 arrived. There were a further nine visits before the end of the month, with numbers ranging from one to 32.

On December 27th, a sparrowhawk landed on the roof of our house, where it was seen and photographed by our grand-daughter Emily, Finally, we counted 27 mallards on our lake on December 27th.

Despite December being the meteorological beginning of winter and the start of the dormant season among trees and shrubs in our woods, there were early signs of spring growth among new leaves on our wild honeysuckle plants and catkins on our hazel shrubs.

With all months of the year now complete we can report that our annual rainfall for 2020 was 934.7 millimetres.