We've had about 4 days of freezing fog and sub zero daytime temperatures above 200 feet in Somerset and Dorset, apparently in Devon too after a text from a friend on holiday there. Consequently the amount of hoar frost has increased day by day until it now resembles snow.
These photos can never show the full beauty of this weather phenomena. And of course if the sun had come out, all would have been lost. More images can be seen on my Art Blog.
I did see a farmer trudging over a field to feed some sheep, it brought back happy memories of my younger days on the land, remembering that frost is the farmers friend. Why? Well it locks up all that mud for a while and makes life bearable, no getting bogged down in gateways, heifers up to their udders in clarts, it's a blessing. Well apart from having to continually defrost all the water troughs.
Which came in the shape of Wells. As I drove off the Mendips, it was like another day, sun was out, no frost of course, but glorious. There'd been a report on the SOS website that Dippers had been seen regularly in the city. After a fruitless search for this bird, I headed off for a wonderfully restorative fish pie in the Cathedral's cafe.
Walking back to the car was like spring around the Bishop's Palace, Black Headed Gulls loafing about, willow in bud burst, had I really been in sub zero temperatures only an hour or two before? So off to the Somerset Levels.
When I got there, it was just beginning to get dark. As the sun set staggering numbers of Starlings flew towards Westhay a rough guess 2 huge flocks of 200,000 + followed by numerous smaller flocks. They didn't seem to be displaying, but as I was about 2 miles away watching an equally impressive but smaller sized Jackdaw roost, they may have been.
But a Peregrine caught my eye, as it flew across a flock of Carrion Crow in a field then perched on a Pylon. Nothing remarkable about that and for 5 minutes nothing happened. A second Peregrine flew past, the one perched flew off and the pair began a cat and mouse chase of singles of Carrion Crow as they flew into a roost. 2 super dives from a height, one splitting 5 Crows in blind panic, and one remarkable "up and under" which almost worked. Sadly after half a dozen failed attempts the Peregrine pair flew off as it was nearly dark by now.
I know Peregrines will take prey as big as Crows, but with the huge numbers of starling about, this seemed hard work to me, but then one Crow would make a good feast. Fantastic behaviour to watch though, especially as this was silhouetted against a wonderful sunset, and a perfect end to a perfect day out in the glorious Wessex countryside.... I'll leave you with that image.