Alderney Nature Diary

January 2001


This was the wettest January on record since 1955 with only 1984 coming close. Rainfall was almost 12 times that of last January and more than double the average with two days with over 30mm in the 24 hours. A spell of high pressure from 13th-19th brought six consecutive dry days with only two others in the month, and three days with more than 6 hours sunshine. Except for 13 days, it had rained every day from 13th September 1999 to 9th January.

The total Eclipse of the moon 9th. was partly obscured by cloud. Despite the rain and gloom, January was actually the 3rd sunniest since 1955, with a total 30 hours up on the average from 1981-2000.

Gale force winds blew continuously from the ENE from 10th-14th, bringing low temperatures for a week, with a wind chill factor to -5ºC most days, reaching 42-44 knots each day and averaging about 33 knots maximum readings, in each 15 minute period throughout that time. Following this as the pressure rose, the winds gradually backed round the compass to the North by the end of the month and the temperature rose rapidly.

Figures for comparison with January last year and the 20-year average

Year 2001 2000 20-year average
Rain mm. 175.98 14.89 79.0
Sun hrs. 81.76 66.55 51.3
Max. temp recorded °C 11.8 11.8 12.8
Min. temp recorded 1.6 -2.8 0.4
Mean day temp 7.8 8.4 8.4
Mean night temp 7.1 7.7 5.8

The Diary

8th. Another 58mm rain in the last week, first nearly dry day. In flower in the garden were St. Peter Port Daisy, more properly called Mexican Fleabane Erigeron karvinskianus; Stinking Hellebore Helleborus foetidus; with hundreds of self sown plants around the adults, Marigold Calendula officinalis, Sweet Violet Viola odorata, a solid bank of flower almost obscuring the leaves; Maderan Geranium Geranium maderense, also with hundreds of seedlings coming up all over the garden, even in the lawn; Soft Sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus; bush Veronicas, Hebe x franciscana and H. salicilifolia; a few small clumps of self-sown Primroses Primula vulgaris; Gunnera macrophylla a sort of large-leaved Forget-me-not; White Campion Silene latifolia; Seaside Daisy Erigeron glaucus. The tall pink-flushed white Crinum, C. moorei and the Guernsey Lilies Nerine sarniensis, had both put out some late flowers.

9th. Longis pond has been overflowing and the water is now running across the road, starting to flood the area behind the German Sea Wall. Had to pump about 5,000 gallons out of my swimming pool for the same reason, the second time this winter so far. Darwin's Berberis Berberis darwinii almost covered in bright orange flowers in the rough scree near Corblets Quarry, a large self-sown bush, escaped many years ago from the garden of the Fort. A few yards away the small clump of an unidentified Bamboo which I first noticed about 5 years ago as three stems, has spread somewhat and now has about 20 stems. A single Curlew was marching along the sand at the edge of the water on the beach below, almost low tide.

12th. Dreadful weather continues, another 30.86mm rain yesterday, and offers no encouragement to go botanising.

13th. Lots of Black-headed Gulls on Crabby Beach, in company with a single Whimbrel, one Lesser Black-backed Gull and a few Herring Gulls. On windier days they spend a lot of time on the shelter of the fresh water down in the old York Hill Quarry just across the road from the beach. The water here must always be quite warm as it is used to cool the generators in the Power Station alongside.

26th. About 30 Mallard on Platte Saline pond, reformed into a reasonable area after all the rain.

27th. The only other wild flowers noted in a quick trip round the island by road were Daisies Bellis perennis in the verges and short grass on the commons and a Periwinkle flowering on a roadside wall in Le Petit Val. no sign of any Buttercups, 'Stinking Onions' Allium triquetum or Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans yet.

Berberis darwinii at Corblets, with White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus leucorum