Alderney Nature Diary

November 2001

The Weather

In contrast to the UK, where the wettest Autumn on record in nearly 300 years has been experienced, Alderney has only had its 6th wettest September-November period since 1955. A total of 352.77mm (13.9 inches) of rain fell in the three months. 1960, 74, 76, 79 and 87 were all wetter with 1976 having a massive 456.18mm (17.96 inches). The 20 year average is 224.66mm (8.84 inches). There have only been 7 days without rain since 18th September.

Sunshine was noticeably lacking, six days with none in the month and almost 20 hours less than the long term average total, but there have been five Novembers since 1955 with less.

Maximum and average temperatures were all about 2º down on average, whilst wind speeds and in particular the wind chill factor were all higher. Night time temperatures on 27th averaged 1º warmer than day as a warm front passed over.

Barometric measurements were all well down on last year, with a low of 966Mbar (28.5in.). Winds were mainly from the SW with only a few short bursts between NW and NE. Gusts of 52 knots (58mph) were recorded on 2nd and 6th. 11th and 25th were the windiest days with average maximum speeds on both days about 32 knots (36mph) and 24 hour averages of just over 22 knots (26mph). These corresponded with the full moon and dark of the moon respectively.

Figures for comparison with November last year and the 20 year average

Year 2001 2000 20-year average
Rain mm. 156.77 43.53 72.4
Sun hrs. 53.77 64.56 71.8
Max. temp recorded °C 14.5 16.9 16.3
Min. temp recorded 4.4 5.7 4.1
Mean day temp 10.5 11.4 12.5
Mean night temp 10.3 11.1 8.9
Total rainfall, year to date, mm. 741.6 661.99 628.1
Total sunshine, year to date, hrs. 1697.5 1895.6 1741.8

The Diary

As can be inferred from the weather report above, the month was dismal and wet. There were only 2 dry days and with 6 sunless days, another 4 with less than ½ hour and only three with more than 4 hours sunshine, (all in the first 4 days of the month). Winds on 13 days averaged over 20 knots throughout the 24 hours.

These factors largely contributed to a very poor showing of wild flowers in bloom. The white heads of Sweet Alison were still clothing many roadside banks and bare patches, with a few scattered Hawk's-beards, Hawkbits and Sow-thistles adding a touch of yellow here and there. Some Tamarisk trees and patches of Duke-of-Argyll's Tea-plant were also blooming. Both these species seem to flower several times in the year.

In gardens, Elephant's-ears (Bergenia crassifolia) added a touch of pink to many borders and a few early Sweet Violets were peeping from amongst their spread of leaves. Several Rosemary bushes were noted in flower and a few late Red-hot Pokers and Geraniums were still in evidence. Hedges of "Blue Gem" Veronica (Hebe x franciscana) were beginning to show their blue flower heads, and Bay trees and Elaeagnus were both coming into flower, their tiny white or creamy bells almost hidden under the leaves.

One or two late butterflies were seen on the few sunny afternoons and two specimens of the Silver Y moth flew into my conservatory one day in the middle of the month, the latest I have ever seen these.

Small numbers of autumn bird migrants were noted, but the fierce winds seem to be keeping their numbers and variety down. The Gannetries are empty now but the occasional bird has been seen flying close inshore and at least two Little Egrets have been noticed at Clonque and Longis Bays. Robins have appeared in my garden on a few days and the daily visits of a cock Pheasant continue, on one single occasion accompanied by a female and two youngsters. The whole family were noted feeding on Platte Saline, just across the road on most days in the month.

Altogether a disappointing month for observations, with little inducement to venture out on the cliffs looking for more species of plant or bird.