I don’t often do urgent, short(ish) posts – they’re not my style.
But something happened this morning which was so bizarre, even by the sometimes magical and unexplainable rhythms of life here, that I really had to slot in a quick post on this Easter Monday.
I’d got up early for the third morning in a row since I wanted to continue to film, using one second time lapse screen captures on my Camcorder, the antics of a pair of nest building magpies. We’re plagued with them here, and I’ve said before I view them as the gangsters of the avian world. Sharp monochrome suits, and raucous, staccato machine gun style ‘songs’. Also, very bright, and elusive. Perhaps not surprising, since because they’re hanging around the turkey run, and have been known to take both eggs and chicks, I’ve been out with the air rifle to try to keep them on the move. They’re far too clever for me to ever get within actual hitting distance though.
(Turkeys at base of sycamore tree to the left. Nest in fir tree to the right).
I could never see a magpie actually entering or leaving this large tangle of sticks, so hit on the idea of the time lapse. After one dawn session, I had confirmation that the nest was indeed their work. A hive of comic high speed animated activity with occasional pauses whilst they left the scene to gather twigs and such like, had been captured.
I also discovered yesterday, that I need to make a note of the new snowdrop cultivars’ locations quickly, since there are signs of them tugging out the white plastic plant labels from the frozen soil.
So, this morning I was out of bed again in dressing gown and long johns at 7.30 am BST, (6.30 by last Saturday’s GMT), to set up the tripod and camera, after a bit of a fitful night’s sleep. We’d both been woken in the early hours after hearing what sounded like a loud metallic crashing sound. Since it was fleeting, we weren’t even sure upon waking that we’d actually heard anything at all. Had we dreamed it? There was no wind noise flapping under the roofing felt, so we dozed off again.
After positioning the Camcorder so that it was zoomed onto the magpie nest, I thought I’d do a quick circuit of the house before nipping inside and putting the kettle on.
Then I saw it.
On the iron topped terrace table. I’m including quite a few pictures of it so that readers can appreciate just how large an object it was!
It must have come out of the blue black night sky. We obviously hadn’t dreamed the crashing sound.
We’d had a wonderful clear starry night,
at least it had been when I’d gone to bed, and yes, the house does lie under the flight path of high level transatlantic jets heading for America.
But just WHAT is it?
A huge crystalline, roughly spherical outlined, multi-faceted ice structure. Thank goodness it fell away from any of the buildings – it would clearly have smashed through the slates, if not further. A bit of research on Google found that it may be what seems to be known as a Megacryometeor, and that these have been recorded occasionally from around the world.There are debates though about their origin, and in size they can vary from 0.5 Kg to tens of Kg. I’ve no idea how heavy this one was, since it seems to have fused, or dripped in an almost Dali-esque surreal way around some of the metal bars of the table top which Fiona designed a few years ago.
There it will have to stay, I guess until the sun gradually works away at it. Presumably in spite of its icy nature, the actual impact created a certain amount of heat, since the temperatures were well below freezing all night.
Some think that a few strange ice structures like this are formed from the discharges from airplane loos, but those structures usually have a bluish colour thanks to the disinfectant, which seems lacking from the above ice “crystal”. Others think that they are just accumulations of ice from the fuselage of high altitude jets, which break away and fall to the ground. The problem with this theory is that apparently there are records of similar icy masses before aircraft were invented. Click here for details on megacryometeors. Others think that some really are meteor variants from outer space, though these usually have a more rounded appearance. Click here, and here for other examples.
Apparently, Jesus Martinez-Frias, (an interesting name in the light of when this object smashed into our table, and my often mentioned interest in synchronicity), a planetary geologist working at the Madrid Centre for Astrobiology pioneered research into megacryometeors, after ice chunks weighing up to 3 Kg rained on Spain for 10 days out of cloudless skies. Click here for further details.I do hope that this proves to be a one off, but after seeing the ice vase earlier in the year (click here for images), I’m left wondering how many more novel ice phenomena we are going to experience here before this prolonged winter is over?
Thank goodness that at least there doesn’t seem to be any significant damage to the metal of the table. After flattening one of our metal rocking chairs last year, by taking down a large fir tree which fell at right angles to my planned line of fall, we really have had enough external damage to our rusty furniture!
I’ll finish with a sunnier picture of some of the daffodils along our daffodil walk, which are flowering their hearts out, in spite of the cold.