RICHARD WILLIAMSON I’ve looked at the clouds from both sides now...

September gave us some lovely weather with what I call Prince of Wales feather clouds very high up in the atmosphere.

These in my photograph taken from the garden are not strictly cirrus uncinus as they do not have hooked tips as some did in the month. But they are not far short of that cloud type. They were especially spectacular when seen over the chrome-yellow harvest fields of those perfect late-summer days.

Quite by chance I flew through these types of cirrus on my way back from Portugal. I was surprised at just how high these clouds were for we were well above the Tropopause and up into the Stratosphere at 37,000 feet, about 13kms up.

The airliner trembled and shuddered slightly as we hit this layer of cloud. They were as diaphanous and fine as the fist August mists over the rivers and water meadows.

But next to my face there were small jagged pinpricks of ice on the window so we were in fact in a most hostile place, and this reminded me of being on the glaciers and ice fields of the Himalayas. All very well in a distant photograph; which can be said for lots of other things in life.

As the day progressed and the sun sank towards sunset, a couple of splendid sundogs formed either side of the sun. These were the mini rainbows of refracted sunlight split into bright pools of colour. These spectacles used to intrigue the ancients who gave them the name sundogs, like the firedogs that guard your hearth.

Much later in the deep dead of night I went outside hoping to see that peculiar cloud formation which forms sometimes above 80kms high up in the Stratosphere, called noctilucent clouds.

These resemble decayed cirrus but are fine dust from old volcanoes or even space debris.

Decades ago they were seen as the remains of old nuclear testing. Like the Northern Lights, they are usually seen in northern latitudes.

I hope each year to see examples of the 70 or more cloud types which have Latin names for universal identification. We saw some good mamma downdraughts under thunder heads in July, some ice crystal showers under altocumulus in mid-September, and some lenticular clouds forming behind standing waves which were formed behind hills and which resemble smooth white cushions.

Once or twice orographic cirrus have formed behind these waves, bred from the parent wave, and streaming almost endlessly like a vast snowfield hundreds of miles long. Mackerel skies have often formed pretty dappling like the sandshoals on the seashore.

Some spectacular jet engine contrails have formed, best on a Friday afternoon as the world travels north to south and east to west for the weekends.

These have sometimes almost occluded the sun, for the supercooled droplets of water vapour from burnt fossil fuel attract even more condensation from the atmosphere so the long, thin cloud grows wider and wider.

One of the benefits of cloud watching, by the way, is that you have much better chances of seeing birds such as peregrine, house martin and even last week for me, a flock of immigrant jays that swept silently high overhead with some hawfinches.