Monday, 5 January 2015

Weather and Wildlife 2014

January:  early -- wet, mild (no frost). Mid -- mild (no frost), some rain on most days, a lot of standing water in the fields, large numbers of Roe Deer visible during the day on young wheat crops (a herd of 20 or so, late morning, near Saint Branch). In the top 3 warmest and wettest on record.

February: mild (no frost), wet, with totally saturated soil. A lot of honey bee activity at the end of the month, as well as large numbers of Winter Damselflies. Significant numbers of overwintering butterflies on the wing on some intermittent warm sunny days at the end of the month.

March: early -- no rain!! frosty mornings followed by clear warm sunny days, with temperatures reaching the low 20s (at least 5 degrees above average). Contrast this with 2013, when temperatures at this time were at least 5 degrees below average. Late -- daytime temperatures got a lot cooler (in the low teens), with a lot of morning fog, but no frost overnight. The weather bureau records show we had about 50% more sun and 40% less rain than average for the month.

April: early -- days beginning overcast and warming up to high teens, occasionally drizzly. Mid -- dry, sunny, some warm days, some surprisingly cool given the sunshine, due to cold winds. Late -- cool, mainly overcast, with gentle rain showers and some morning fog. Overall, temperatures and sunshine hours were average for the month here, but rainfall was significantly down (by about 40% of what we would normally expect). For France as a whole, it was the second warmest April on record.

May: early -- cool and a bit damp, with a couple of days of good rain, others with just occasional drizzle. Some afternoons warming up considerably (into the 20s often). Mid -- some warm to hot days, but lots of wind on many days, some overcast and rainy days.

June: mostly warm and sunny.

 Just to prove we had some good days in July. This was taken on what was easily the hottest day up to that point in the year, with a maximum in the low 30s, on 3 July 2014...
July: a hot beginning, with some tremendous thunderstorms. By mid-month was cool and overcast with quite a lot of rain and some storm activity. The lack of sunshine was very noticeable. Overall it was the cloudiest and wettest July on record.

 ...however, this is what the sky mostly looked like in July (taken 20 July, near Loches).
August: Cool, with maximum temperatures in the low 20s. We had a cotton blanket, a woollen blanket and a patchwork quilt on the bed, when normally one would expect to be sleeping under a sheet or at the very most a cotton blanket. The beginning of the month was wet with downpours on several days. The tomatoes got blight. The end of August is when young mammals become more obvious, being more independent. Sadly, this is evident by the increase in roadkill at this time of year -- badger, fox, marten, hedgehog, squirrel.

Camping in August 2014. 
September: First two thirds -- sunny and warm, more like summer than autumn. Several dramatic storms, two with good rain. Tours recorded 102 hours of sunshine in the first 10 days of September, 60% higher than normal, and the second highest sunshine hours for the period ever recorded. Overall in the Touraine it was one of the three sunniest Septembers in the last 30 years. It was also the warmest September since 1900, with temperatures 1.6° higher than average. Rainfall was 50% lower than average. Later in the month the temperature dropped markedly, with minimums under 10° and maximums no higher than 20°, bringing very foggy nights and mornings. Very few Clouded Yellow Colias croceus butterflies around (normally common in September) and low numbers of browns and blues. The fungi outing in the forest of Preuilly was a complete dud, with very little found as it had been too hot and dry.

October: Very variable, with everything from cool grey days and some heavy rain, to positively hot sunny days. The maximum temperatures ranged between low 30s (!) and mid-teens and the month was one of the warmest Octobers on record, with average temperatures about 2° above normal. One day of high winds, the tail end of Hurricane Gonzales. By the end of the month we were experiencing cool foggy mornings, with the fog lifting around lunchtime for a warm sunny afternoon. Once the sun has gone down the temperature drops rapidly. Mostly the weather was more like summer until late October and between 1 September and 20 October we had 320 hours of sunlight, and overall for the month of October about 10% more hours of sunlight than average. Rainfall was a little below average, at about 80% of normal for the month. Total rainfall for the year has evened out to about average overall. Very few of the late flying butterflies around, with the exception of Speckled Wood, but good numbers of dragonflies (Emperors and Hawkers, Darters, Winter Damselflies and even some Bluetails). Also good numbers of ceps in the forests.

The Forest of Preuilly in October.

November: Early - Damp foggy starts to the days, sometimes rain, sometimes a bit of sun by late afternoon. Mid - less fog, but still overcast and light rain some days, some sun in the late afternoon some days. No frost yet. Late - a bit of mist in the mornings, overcast days, a bit of rain, still no frost.

Overall it's been the second warmest autumn since 1900, with a bit more sun than usual. The temperature on average has been 2° above normal, and rain has been a bit less abundant than normal.

December: Right on cue the weather turned colder, with maximums lower than 10°, but still no frost in the early days. At the start of the month the weather was cold, overcast, with mizzling rain most of the time.The temperatures finally went below 0 and the first frost was 7 December. Between Christmas and New Year we had a wild storm in the night, with lots of wind and bit of rain. The weather overall was distinctly dreary, but Christmas Day itself had some lovely clear sunny interludes. The end of the month was a cold snap with temperatures rarely peeking above 0°C but the pay off is that bright sunshine often accompanies that sort of weather (as well as a certain amount of freezing fog). Small birds have been very active in the gardens around our house -- Long Tailed Tits, Black Redstarts and Gold Finches are especially charming and welcome. They need to keep an eye on the ever burgeoning cat population though.
A la cuisine hier: Veggie burgers and salad.
Japanesish Noodle Stir-fry, which unfortunately I tweaked to use what we had in the fridge. Too much cabbage, too much dark soy sauce.


  1. 2014...
    summed up...
    wrong weather at the wrong times...
    nothing flourished...
    melons had no flavour...
    strange weather at end of year caused Spring bulbs to grow!!
    Plants don't seem to be able to cope with this...
    willow buds breaking in meadow...
    spotted those through the 'scope yesterday.

  2. Tim: I haven't noticed bulbs growing out of season. Cowslips flowering in autumn though.

  3. Weather issues aside, that photo of the area in October is drop-dead gorgeous...

  4. Betty: It's rather lovely, isn't it.