Sunrises, icy days and goosanders on Southampton Common.

This week has been a good one for early mornings at the Ornamental Lake. Monday was particularly lovely, but Thursday and Friday gave it a good run for it’s money, with Friday throwing in a foreground of ice to finish the week  off in style.

If the sunrises weren’t enough to keep me happy, the Ornamental Lake has been looking beautiful in the sunshine.

A very pleasing recent addition to the Ornamental lake is that the goosanders are becoming a part of the seasonal Common Family. They are beautiful creatures, however they do like to swim just out of camera range, so I was mighty happy when they finally came a little closer to the lakeside path whilst I was there this week. I was a lot less happy when I saw the beautiful Ms. Goosander diving to retrieve, not a shimmering fish, but a black plastic bag. This is not what the goosanders want to eat, and seeing a beautiful bird with an ugly piece of rubbish in her beak makes me uncharacteristically angry.

This is not what Ms. Goosander wants to eat

When I have not been exclaiming over sunrises, or tutting at poor Ms. Goosander catching plastic waste, I have been on the wander in Southampton Old Cemetery, finding interesting shelter during rainy moments, and  delighting in snowdrops. 

They say it is going to get colder now, and on Friday the Ornamental Lake was frozen again.  

So, we shall see what next week brings. I am sure I will find things to amuse myself with, whatever the weather, but I would be very happy indeed if all the litter was put into a bin, or taken away from the Common, so that Ms. Goosander can get back to catching fish.

Snowdrops and ice on Southampton Common

A belated Happy New Year: Although I was mostly at home rather than on my wanderings until this week, I managed to catch the first sunrise of 2019, and it was a beautiful way to start the year. 

Since then Southampton has been a city of all seasons. The Ornamental Lake has had it’s fair share of ice, which must be mighty inconvenient for the wildlife, but has provided me with great opportunities to kneel at the waterside getting damp and muddy.

Whilst there have been icy days, there has also been the promise of spring: snowdrops. Catching sight of these little beauties in Southampton Old Cemetery filled me with a ridiculous amount of joy, and no amount of people wondering what on earth I was up to kneeling on the path apparently photographing the side of a grave could lessen my pleasure.

Not only have I been worshipping snowdrops, but I have also caught sight of a few bees foraging during sunny spells this week, and I have seen one, just one, crocus. But one is enough to remind me to hang on in there: Spring is happening this year!

Apart from all that excitement, even on cloudy days there have been some pretty morning skies, and wandering in Southampton Old Cemetery always provides me with something to enjoy: be it an interesting tree or a cheerful robin. 

So, here I am again, looking forward to another year of pointless meanderings on Southampton Common. Before we know it the ducklings and the beautifully ugly coot and moorhen chicks will be here, and the endless wait for this year’s cygnets will begin.

Southampton Common 2018

Today I’m looking back at some of the things that made my heart sing as I wandered on Southampton Common. This could take an awfully long time, because just about every day has brought something to make me glad that I can call then Common my home from home. 

Almost nothing makes me love winter more than clear, bright days when the paths are frosty and the ponds are frozen. 

The only winter thing that is even better than a frosty and bright morning is when it snows, and in March 2018 the Beast from the East provided us with just that.

Once the snow was gone, I was well and truly ready to welcome Spring. How happy I was to see the first flowers popping through.

Spring means fluffy babies, and Southampton Common certainly did not disappoint this year. The ducklings were the first to appear.

The coot and moorhen chicks were not far behind.

Then there was the long wait for the cygnets…

They will soon all be here again and I really can’t wait. Although apparently I will have to!

And  as spring took hold and summer crept in, I lurked around the ponds waiting for dragonflies and damselflies,  

Summer also saw me on many a butterfly and bug wander, stretching my macro lens to the limits of its ability  to endure, and returning home scratched from brambles, but happy to be in possession of one or two decent shots of  tiny insects.

The summer of 2018 was long and dry, and I had some beautiful times with my insect friends.

Then, as the days got shorter and the insects became scarcer, the leaves turned, the fungi popped up, and I was drawn into the golden days of autumn. This was no better for my sartorial elegance, as I crouched and knelt in the mushy undergrowth, and returned home covered in leaves and mulch.

All through the seasons, though, the place I’m most likely to be found is around the Ornamental Lake.

And now here we are in winter again, starting with the misty mornings

So, here we are, with the first few icy episodes behind us, and whatever 2019 decides to bring ahead.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.

Christmas time on Southampton Common

It’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common, and Southampton Old Cemetery has become more lovely than ever, thanks to the seasonal decorations that adorn some of the branches there. 

The week began with a delightfully eerie mist hanging somewhere between the ground and the sky, loitering unexpectedly around corners and enveloping parts of the Common whilst seemingly ignoring others. 

Over the Ornamental Pond, a new seat has been put in place, in memory of Amrik Singh Rai. The seat is positioned at the end of the lake, and I’m sure it will be very well used and much appreciated.  I myself have my eye on appreciating it very much, especially in the summer. What a lovely and thoughtful memorial.   

This week, there has been plenty to see at the lakes, with the swans preening in the sunshine, and patrolling their territory against interlopers.  As I wandered between ponds, I was lucky enough to see a bullfinch brightening up one of the bushes. Even more luckily, he sat still long enough for me to get a photo. 

I never need much persuading to spend time at the Ornamental Lake, and this week, between the lake and the top field, the morning sky has given me plenty opportunity  to push my cycling to the station time to the limits. 

As well as the beautiful Christmas decorations in the Old Cemetery, nature has been putting out  a few of her very own baubles this week: in between the sunshine and mist it’s been a little bit damp around the edges, which has given me the chance to practice taking photos of raindrops. 

So, with those seasonal sparkles, thanks very much for stopping by and viewing this blog. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas. xxx

Ice, rain and sun on Southampton Common

Variety is, they say, the spice of life, and Southampton Common has seen plenty of it this week. There have been cloudy days, beautiful sunshine, icy starts, and a day of wall-to-wall rain. Where would we be without the weather to observe and discuss?

Whatever the weather, there is always plenty of activity on the water on Southampton Common, with the swans on the Ornamental Lake having re-staked their claim, and the other birds organising the pecking order for winter. 

One of the many benefits of winter is the opportunity that it offers to see a bit of colour in the sky without getting up at an unsociable hour. With the Common on my (extended) route to work, this time of year is perfect for a not excessively early morning photo opportunity.

However, some of early mornings have been quite chilly, and on Friday the edges of the Ornamental Lake were frozen. Beautiful for me to see, but maybe not is much fun for the residents of the lake.

So, despite ending on a rather soggy note, it’s been another week when Southampton Common, and its residents,  have delighted me. 

Golden light and rainy days on Southampton Common

It’s been another of those weeks of all seasons on Southampton Common, and I have been very glad that the swans are back on the Ornamental Lake to  provide some morning and evening photo opportunities.

Tuesday was one of those sunny, misty days that make winter worthwhile, with a thin shimmer of morning frost and a lot of golden light. 

There have, however, also been some rather wilder times this week, when both the Common and I have felt a little windswept. 

Those have been my moments to head into the shelter and get grubby, because all this damp-but-quite-mild-really weather means that the fungi are still going strong. 

On most days, though, there has been beautiful moments, often in the early evening (the time known as mid afternoon when it’s summer), and the Ornamental Pond has taken on a golden sheen.

So it’s the end of another week of wandering, with my boots getting muddier, and my layers of clothing getting more numerous, by the day. But Southampton Common remains, as ever, a beautiful place to waste some time doing nothing particularly constructive or useful in the build up to Christmas.