The Winter Solstice

On the eve of the Winter Solstice, December in the Northern Hemisphere as one of my favourite Carols goes “In the bleak Midwinter”. The daytime temperature managed 10°C, but there was a chilly wind as we walked into Church for the Nativity play.

A dark cloud rolled over and a pink light heralded the sunset.winters-solstice


Unusual cloud formation

I don’t know what this cloud formation is called. I’ve been sky-watching for years, but never seen anything quite like this.
It looks like cirrus or alto cumulus but there is a strange ripple effect  which puts spikes in the sky.
It was the precursor to a line of thundery showers coming in from the North. The picture is taken taking facing NNE. Click the image to view a bit larger.

Spotted flycatcher!

We do have many birds, from our own, the hens and and canaries, we also have  sparrows, serins and starlings regularly nesting too. Other birds such as blackbirds, great tits, Sardinian warblers and doves are constantly  flying in and out of the garden. Winter visitors include robins and black redstarts, occasional visitors include hoopoes and eagles. The spring/summer heralds swifts, barn swallows and bee-eaters swooping  and soaring in the sky overhead.

This morning while crumbling yesterday’s dry canary bread on the bird table for the sparrows, I noticed a brown bird on the electricity wires acting differently. I called John to come and look, I asked him to bring his camera. The bird flew onto another wire, but not very far. The sounds it made were unfamiliar too.bird2

John managed to get a couple of images including the bird in flight. The bird has been identified as a spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), I will look out for it tomorrow.