A week of inaction on Southampton Common

Not much action to report from me this week, as it was half term, and I’ve been occupied with things that don’t involve the Common. Just popped in for the odd misty springtime morning, to remind me of why the slight detour on my way to work is almost always worth it.

Instead of doing any proper wandering this week, I’ve spent time sitting on trains and vaguely participating in Lego city creations in the part of our house formerly known as “the attic.” In a few quiet moments I have put some of my photos onto Redbubble, where they can now be purchased as cards, pictures, mugs and other things. Any profits from sales will be donated to the Society of St James,  a Southampton-based homelessness charity, providing a range of supported living services in Southampton, Portsmouth and across Hampshire ( https://ssj.org.uk). I also purchased the distinctive red bike that warns of my presence on the Common from their bicycle workshop. So, if you fancy a souvenier of Southampton Common, with a bit of money going to a good cause, my stuff is at: https://www.redbubble.com/people/jaquiht

Next week, more serious wanderings will be resumed!

Misty rays and hints of Spring on Southampton Common

This week has been a delight of misty rays and hints of spring. There have been some really beautiful starts to the day on Southampton Common, and I have hardly known which way to turn to enjoy the light.

The early morning fog and mist have created some eerie sunrises at the Ornamental Lake. The Boating Lake is slwoly refilling, and the play of naked trees and reflections there have been rather lovely too.

Alongside the enticing mist, the blossom is starting to appear and the spring flowers are multiplying every day: Southampton Old Cemetery is developing a carpet of primroses, crocuses, daffodils, and snowdrops.

When everything is so stunning, it’s easy to forget the faithful inhabitants of the Common, on whom I rely on for company and photography in less dramatic situations. Soon, this year’s chicks, ducklings and cygnets will be on the way, and these guys will take centre stage again!


So, although there’s still plenty of mud for me to kneel in to take my photos, it’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common.

Stormy days on Southampton Common

It’s been a bit of a stormy week on Southampton Common, so I’ve spent a lot of time admiring the Old Cemetery, where I can easily duck under the trees for cover. The Old Cemetery is a beautiful place, where there are always new and interesting discoveries to be made.

Although there has been a fair bit of rain around, there have also been times of beautiful sunshine and blue skies. With the combination of weather we have had this week it’s not surprising that the spring flowers in the Old Cemetery are starting to look really beautiful.

The Old Cemetery hasn’t been my only shelter on the Common this week though: there are plenty of trees around, although lot of them are rather bare at this time of year!

All in all, there’s been plenty of good weather for ducks this week, so my friends at the Cemetery Lake have been pretty happy, although the tufted ducks always like to give me a little scowl.

Next week, I’m hoping for a little bit less breeze, and maybe a touch more sunshine, but whatever the weather, it’s always good to spend some time out and about on Southampton Common

A tiny bit of snow on Southampton Common

It’s been a cold week on Southampton Common, but a beautiful one too.  The frosty sunrises have been a delight to see. 

Both the Ornamental Lake and the Cemetery Lake have been frozen to varying degrees for a large part of the week. The birds always seem to adapt well to a frozen environment, and it’s kind of fun to watch them skating around.

Alongside the frozen water, the early morning frost has been very pretty.

And of course on Friday we had our own little dusting of snow. Whilst we didn’t get quite as impressive a fall as some parts of Hampshire, Southampton Old Cemetery looked especially charming with a sprinkling of the white stuff. The clumps of snowdrops that I have been admiring for a while became, literally, drops in the snow.

Despite the ice and snow though, there has been plenty of sunshine and no lack of blue skies this week.

All in all, another week when Southampton Common has been a beautiful place to take a purposeless winter stroll.

Ice, mist and shoveler ducks on Southampton Common

It’s been a wintry week on Southampton Common. However, there have been some beautiful starts to the day and winter is a fantastic time for sunrises, because I don’t have to get up early to see them. 

Standing around as the sun makes it’s way across the Ornamental Lake is always worth the cold feet it incurs: the way the colours change and the clouds reform minute to minute never ceases to amaze me.

The Cemetery Lake and Ornamental Lake were both frozen at times this week, which not only added something to the sunrise views, but also gave me a chance to watch the birds investigating and dealing with their frosty environment.

The Common really is beautiful on frosty days, as is the neighbouring Southampton Old Cemetery. 

Another great thing about the ice is that the ponds have slowly thawed at the edges, encouraging the shoveler ducks on the Cemetery Lake to come a bit closer to the water’s edge than usual. The only time I can get a half decent shot of them and their amazing beaks seems to be in icy conditions.

Spending some time at the Cemetery Lake this week had the happy side- effect of enabling the tufted ducks to do what they love to do: glare at me. 

It hasn’t been all ice and frost this week, though: there was a bit of mist drifting around the trees on Friday morning, making everything  slightly mysterious.

So, no snow for Southampton this week, but a few more patches of snowdrops in the Old Cemetery. The daffodils are just waiting to appear and there are one or two crocuses braving the elements. So, although we still have a few days of January to go, spring is peeping through the clouds.

Finally, who got up early and saw the big red moon this week? I didn’t. It was lovely the next day on my ride across the Common to the station though. Being just one day late wasn’t so bad …

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.