Snow came overnight from the north-east, patterning the face of the out-take wall approaching Scout Scar. The Howgills lie snow-white and sculptural. Fells to the north and west are lost in mist and low cloud. Mist rises like drifting smoke from the Lyth Valley and toward Morecambe Bay the estuary and the sea gleam as the sun casts a soft gold over the sky. The panorama of snow-clad fells is hidden but Scout Scar escarpment lies sunlit under snow, and that is rare.
What birds had I seen today, I was asked by a local couple. They had found a handful of fieldfare on Helsington Barrows. I was returning from the spot but had missed them. We spoke of garden birds, of blackbirds and the January hungry gap. Blackbirds had gorged on their rowan berries back in early autumn, perhaps as early as August. He had seen a blackbird eating twenty rowan berries, then crashing into their windows in intoxicated flight. He must have seen my scepticism and they assured me it is so. Drunken blackbirds?
From behind the Scots Pines the full moon rises radiant on a cold, clear night. Scintillae of light sparkle somewhere in the freezing air, somewhere between the moon and me there are spiculae, ice-particles only my camera can see. Then she appears in a corona of blue. The moon looks down upon us with serene gaze. I am curious of her mysteries.
At midnight, she illuminates stairs to the skylight where I open the window and look out upon her.
Snow-cloud gathered to the east and blotted out the fells. Slowly, gently the snow came in the afternoon. Snowflakes floated in the air, snowflakes so light and airy they rose and fell in a swirl.
Stay at home is the Government's urgent plea as the NHS comes under unprecedented pressure during the pandemic. There are ice warnings so stay at home makes sound sense. Stay at home and find a project. Mine today is weather-watching and to see what I might photograph from home.
One spring, I came upon a young jay that had fallen from the nest. And watched the brood learning to fly. This winter, I often hear a jay in these same trees as I walk to Scout Scar.
A jay visits our gardens. With lockdown 3 here is a challenge.
Photograph the garden jay in good light, all aspects and details of plumage.
Is it the same jay who comes to the garden?
The breeding season is not far off. Will this bird find a mate and raise young here in our gardens?
Find where he spends the night.
New Year's Day and the panorama from Scout Scar is beautiful. And beguiling. The flow of cloud, of light and shadow, makes it difficult to be sure of what you're seeing.
Cloud or fell? The word cloud means both crag, fell and atmosphere - all in the mix.
To the North, sunlight confers a warm glow on the fells. The woods below Scout Scar show in warm colour, with a hatching of shadows to distinguish the crown of individual trees in the canopy. Snow on the distant fells, the ground hard and a keen frost.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)