Yet more weather records were broken in 2015.
2014 had set the record for being the warmest year on the planet, since records began. 2015 has now usurped it, while 2016 is geared up to be even warmer than that. In fact, the years 2011-2015 have been the warmest five-year period ever. Climate change and the peaking of a particularly ferocious El Niño weather phenomenon are both expected to drive the global average temperature, in 2016, to new highs.
However, the weather was mostly quiet in the UK, until mid-November. The summer was rather cool and wet, but early autumn provided fine, sunny weather as compensation. Conversely, from late autumn a succession of Atlantic storms brought exceptional rainfall, causing widespread severe flooding.
The UK mean temperature for 2015 was 9.2°C - 0.4°C above the 1981-2010 long-term average. It was also the sixth wettest year ever.
Personally, it was another very successful year for wildlife watching. I managed to break 2013’s record for visits – 82! These included trips to Spain and France, the usual pilgrimage to Norfolk and several visits to new, but local, sites. Most of my visits, of course, were to the big four: Amwell 36 times, Cheshunt 19, Sawbridgeworth 6 and Rye Meads 5.
Mild conditions greeted the first month of the New Year, with the UK under the influence of westerly weather. The temperature dipped around the middle of the month, with the second half rather unsettled and much colder, with some sharp frosts at times. It was the UK's fourth-equal sunniest January, in a series from 1929.
I ventured out six times this month, split between Amwell and Cheshunt. The birding year started out brilliantly, with excellent sightings of Bittern and then Goldcrest, which were both seen on the 2nd, at Cheshunt. Goldeneye; Smew and Goosander were present throughout the month, at both venues. Water Rail was either seen or heard on all six visits. Siskin and Marsh Tit were both seen at Amwell mid-month, while Lesser Redpoll and a Pintail were spotted at Cheshunt on the last trip of the month.
I was also fortunate enough to see Bank Vole and Stoat at Amwell, while a Fox was seen on the prowl around Cheshunt.
At the start of the month, the UK was under the influence of cold northerly weather, bringing wintry showers, especially to the eastern counties. The second half saw temperatures fluctuating with heavy rain and strong winds, but also brief incursions of colder air.
Despite the poor weather, I somehow managed to get out eight times. Again, three times to Amwell, two to Cheshunt, the first trip of the year to Rainham Marsh and a new venue, Bramfield Village.
Bank Voles were still at Amwell and were joined, on several occasions, by Muntjac. The first Snowdrops appeared early in the month, followed by Daffodils towards the end.
The winter of 2014/15 will be regarded as relatively benign and quiet, especially when compared to the exceptionally stormy weather of the previous winter. The UK mean temperature for the season was near average. It was the sunniest winter in a series from 1929, with some parts of eastern England receiving above average sunshine.
A Partial Solar Eclipse appeared this month, but it was yet another disappointing celestial event, with the moment again spoiled by heavy cloud cover.
The month itself began with cold weather bringing some wintry showers, but it became more settled by the end of the first week, under the influence of high pressure. It became gradually more unsettled during the last ten days of the month, with rain or showers and some very strong winds at times.
Although a wet month, I managed to pick out nine reasonably good days. There were visits to Amwell (4), Cheshunt (3), Barnes (1) and the first visit of the year to Rye Meads.
The start of this month saw the UK rather unsettled. However, it was followed by fine weather with some very warm days, with plenty of sunshine across many areas. Though the final six days of the month were unsettled and cold, with some sharp frosts. Sunshine was well above normal in most areas, making it the sunniest April in a series from 1929. Warm still conditions, combined with traffic fumes, pollution from Europe and Saharan dust were all factors, with eastern and southeast England most affected.
Apart from the highlight of travelling to Spain, I was also able to get out and about a further five times this month. I paid my usual three visits to Amwell, went down to Rainham again and lastly, travelled down to see what was about in London Zoo.
|Black-necked Weaver at London Zoo|
May was another unsettled month, with spells of rain. And, although there was some fine spring-like weather at times, it never really became settled. There were no notable warm spells, so it ended up being a rather cool and wet month overall. It was the coldest May since 1996.
|Norfolk in May|
Norfolk was supposed to be the highlight this month, but terrible weather spoiled all three days. In between the numerous rain showers, I managed to spot delights like Avocet; Black-tailed Godwit; Dunlin; Redshank; Willow Warbler and, oddly, a Black Swan. Chinese Water Deer and a Weasel were also seen.
|Dark Bush Cricket|
Spring was quite unexceptional overall. March brought a mixture of typical early spring weather. High pressure in April brought some notably dry, sunny and warm days, whereas during May, an unsettled northwesterly weather-type led to cool conditions, with well above average rainfall.
At the start of June, an intense low pressure system brought rain and unseasonably strong winds to the UK. After this, the month was typified by rather quiet weather generally. Much of the month was rather cool in an often westerly or northwesterly flow, but it became very warm at the end of the month. Parts of the London area and East Anglia were especially dry with less than a third of average rainfall in some places.
A total of nine visits was achieved this month, with a record five visits to Amwell. I also visited Cheshunt twice, with a visit apiece to Thorley Wash and Rye Meads.
|Black-headed Cardinal Beetle|
|Green Shield Bug|
End of Part One.......