Rays, fungi and a few dragonflies on Southampton Common

It’s been a beautiful couple of weeks (in between the rain) on Southampton Common with misty mornings and spider webs reminding me of the approach of Halloween.

The morning mist can be almost magical, especially when it’s followed by an amazing show of rays of light.

The autumn colours are slowly breaking through and in the next week I think there’s going to be an explosion of autumn beauty on Southampton Common.

My biggest treat on Southampton Common at the moment though is the fungi: they really are amazing this year ( I expect that I said that last year too!) Be careful where you tread, because I have found some absolute beauties along the paths as well as in the woodlands, by the lakes, and … just about everywhere!

Despite all this autumnal focus, during some of the beautifully sunny moments the dragonflies have still be playing around the Ornamental lake. Fungi, rays and dragonflies all in one day. How much better can life be?

I think this will be the last post on this site, but I will still be wandering Southampton Common, posting my adventures on Instagram, and maybe creating a new site if I can persuade my teenage son that this stuff is more important than his personal engineering projects and the occasional encounter with a smidgin of homework. So please do say hi if you come across me grovelling around in the mud, muttering to myself when I discover something interesting, or exclaiming aloud to no-one in particular when I see something beautiful. On reflection, maybe you won’t feel it’s advisable to come close enough to say hi, but do wave at me from a safe distance ­čÖé

It’s a festival of fungus on Southampton Common

It’s almost the time of year when I can, if I’m lucky, catch a quick sunrise on my way to work.

A few weeks back we were all noticing how low on water the lakes were, and that we needed some rain. Well, we sure have that now. The lakes on Southampton Common are nice and full, and there’s plenty of mud for me to clump around in. Happy days!

In between the much-needed-but-not-always-fully-appreciated-when-they-arrive downpours, there’s been some beautiful sunshine, and a few last dragonflies and butterflies for me to fruitlessly pursue.

Autumn is definitely here though, with the leaves starting to change colour, and the sun lower in the sky.

Best of all, with the rain, sunshine, and changing seasons I’ve been having a beautiful time with my tiny fungal friends over the last couple of weeks, kneeling in muddy leaves, enjoying their delicate company and returning home even more dishevelled than usual.

The season of pretty webs is also here, with their amazing but sometimes less popular occupants.

It looks as if next week might bring a bit more rain and mud, so I’ll most likely be found sheltering in the undergrowth, chatting to the mushrooms, and scaring innocent passers by when I spring up abruptly from my undignified pose.

Autumn rain on Southampton Common

This week it’s been feeling and looking a lot like autumn. Although the dragonflies are still whizzing around the lakes during sunny spells, there’s been lots of the much needed rain in between the sunshine, and it’s feeling a whole lot like autumn.

In Southampton Old Cemetery, the autumn colours are starting to appear. The berries are out, and although I have been looking wistfully at the places where I spent many sunny summer hours with butterflies and bees, it’s all looking very beautiful.

It’s also the time of year for horse chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, acorns and fungi, and the much needed rain is easier to appreciate under the shelter of the extensive woodland on Southampton Common. Cue an increase in sightings of a strange old woman crouching in the undergrowth.

The spiders’ webs are starting to be interesting again, covered in raindrops or early morning dew (although this week they’ve been waving in the breeze a bit too much for photography purposes).

The ponds are finally filling up after a long dry summer, and with the dragonfly and butterfly numbers reducing, I’ve taken to visiting the slightly larger winged creatures. As you can see, the pigeons at the Cemetery Lake were loving the weather this week!

All in all, despite the wind and rain, over the next few weeks I’m looking toward to more lovely autumn colours appearing, kicking my way through fallen leaves (how can one ever grow out of doing that?) and crawling around in dark places looking for fungi.

September sun on Southampton Common

Just when I thought it was time to say a sad farewell for a few months to my tiny winged friends, the last couple of weeks have been a treat of sunshine and insects. I have been in butterfly, bee, and dragonfly heaven.

I have been absolutely spoiled for butterflies these past two weeks: fluttering through the air, enjoying the last of the buddleias, sampling blackberries, and swaying on the tops of the last few meadow flowers.

The dragonflies have also been putting on a great flying display around the lakes, interspersed with posing on reeds, blackberries, and sometimes hanging around in thorny areas. There have been a few hovering over the beleaguered Boating Lake too, which is a good sign that things are improving there.

The bees have also been their typical busy selves.

But despite all this, autumn is clearly on the way: the trees are beginning their transition to golden leaf loss, the acorns and chestnuts are plentiful, the berries are brightening, and there are a few fungi popping their heads up. I think there might be more of those next week, after the rain we’re having today.

Today we have plenty of much needed rain, and the forecast tells me that next week is going to be a lot less like summer. I feel like I can be ready for autumn now though, after such a fantastic couple of weeks of insect company, although I will miss my beautiful sunny day friends.

In between on Southampton Common

It’s been a halfway couple of weeks on Southampton Common, with summer still doing it’s best and producing some glorious days, but autumn very clearly trying to edge it out and take it’s turn.

In the meadows and Southampton Old Cemetery there are still the last moments of heather, and a good number of insects feasting on the few remaining flowers.

The bees are still fairly abundant, and there are a smattering of butterflies flitting around during sunny interludes.

The dragonflies, although not so numerous as some years (possibly due to the Common being one water mass down), are still visible, and have been leading me a merry dance trying to photograph them.

Elsewhere, despite the beautiful green looks, autumn is showing itself, with acorns, chestnuts and fungi slowly appearing.

They say that we might have a couple more summery days next week, so I’m looking forward to more mixed wanderings, whilst the declining temperatures help our poor old Boating Lake to recover from it’s unwanted algae.

Storms and sunshine on Southampton Common

It’s been a stormy end to November, and only the most determined of ┬áthe autumn leaves are still hanging on.

I have spent an awful lot of time this week sheltering in the woodlands, walking through slightly soggy leaves, pausing to admire the fungi, and reminding myself how much we need all this rain to keep the land green and pleasant. 

Although it seems as if the week has been pretty damp, there have been plenty of beautiful moments: a misty morning …

A couple of lovely early starts at the Ornamental Lake…

and the meeting  of clouds and sunshine is always a delight to watch

Apart from the wild weather, this weeks events include  the Boating Lake being drained, meaning  that  those who had taken up residence there have had to find alternative accommodation. The cygnets have been safely relocated, and their parents have reluctantly accepted that it is time to return to the Ornamental Lake for winter. Of this I am very glad, as they add a photogenic touch to early morning winter photos. 

For the ex-Boating Lake dwellers who want to remain on the Common, the alternative to  the Ornamental Lake is the Cemetery Lake, and the established residents there have had to make room for a few new arrivals too.

All in all, despite the rather inclement weather, it’s been another week when I have been glad to be able to spend a few hours wandering the Common, doing nothing remotely useful, but enjoying doing it!

Changing seasons on Southampton Common

This week has included a fair bit of cloud and rain, which always makes me enjoy the woodland areas of the Common, with their generous shelter and, at this time of year, pleasingly crunchy leaves to kick my way through (will I ever grow out of kicking leaves? I guess not) .

I haven’t been the only one playing with the leaves this week though. The birds on the Boating Lake have been swimming in leaves, and the little grebes have taken to wearing them

Speaking of the Boating Lake, the swans have been starting the process of moving back to the Ornamental Lake, and I can no longer predict who I will find where. One morning I found a solitary cygnet on the Boating Lake, squeaking dismally, having missed the morning flying lesson. I discovered his parents and sibling swanning around on the Ornamental Lake, reminding the ducks and gulls of whom they perceive to be in charge.  The next day, the father and two cygnets were on the Boating Lake, whilst the mother enjoyed a bit of well-earned peace and quiet on the Ornamental Lake. 

On the other side of the Common, at the Cemetery Lake, the shoveler ducks deigned to come almost close enough to the edge of the water for me to try to get a decent shot of them, whilst the tufted ducks looked disapprovingly on and the gulls remained pristine, despite the muddy surroundings.

Despite the colder weather this week, a few tiny fungi are still popping up, and although some of the trees have entirely lost their leaves, others are still in full autumn glory. You never know what season it will be as you turn a corner at this time of year.

But on Thursday, there was no doubt that winter was on the way, and it was a beautiful sight. The Ornamental Lake was laced with the first ice of the season, one of the swans was visiting, and the golden sunlight was just breaking through a vey slightly hazy sky. I never really feel able to welcome winter, but when it looks like this I just have to find my chunkiest jumper, pull on an extra pair of gloves, and love every cold minute of it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jht_0134jht_0134_1.jpg