This week we have had a fantastic bit of summer in Southampton, and I have been basking in the company of any insects that care to stay still long enough for my camera.
At the Boating Lake and Ornamental Pond the dragonflies have been busy, skimming, mating, fighting over territory, and occasionally sitting nicely for a few seconds on a reed or branch for me to photograph them.
Their smaller counterparts, the damselflies, are also plentiful by the water and in the long grass, getting up to very similar antics. The range of colours that these tiny creatures exhibit never ceases to amaze me, and their big eyes on those stalk -like bodies are mesmerising.
Then there are the butterflies and day flying moths. In this beautiful weather when the humans are trying to move around as little as possible these industrious little creatures are fluttering urgently around, taking only the shortest of pauses to land on brightly coloured flowers, or nestle in the long grass to ensure the next generation.
Alongside the butterflies the bees, an endless source of delight to me, have been hovering around flowers and slurping up nectar.
Meantime, lets not forget the young birds: the moorhen and coot chicks are more or less unrecognisable from their cute, fluffy and ungainly infant forms, and are looking sophisticated and mature as they traverse the Ornamental Pond with their parents. The cygnets at the Boating Lake have reached a rather bedraggled stage, but are still as adorable as ever.
Oh, and lets not forget this guy!
The snow is once again disappeared from Southampton Common and, much as I loved it, a couple of days was enough. I would next like to see that beautifully photogenic blanket around November time. There is a nasty rumour going around about the snow returning over Easter, but I am ignoring that. I am well and truly ready for Spring now.
Fortunately, it looks as if Spring may also be ready to join us for real. Wednesday was warm and sunny, and although things have clouded over a little since then, the bees are back, I have seen the first Red Admiral that would sit still for me (I saw one a while back, but it was busy doing a kamikaze style fly-past along the London Road), the blossom is beautiful, the catkins are tantalisingly fluffy, and the other day I caught whiff of freshly cut grass whilst I wandered in the Old Cemetery. It has to be Spring if I can smell freshly cut grass.
Meantime, the goosander has brought a female companion to the Ornamental Pond. She is very beautiful and despite the fact that the pair like to hide together over in the shadowy unphotogenic areas of the pond, there are plenty of photographers and bird watchers keeping a beady eye on them. So I hope that they realise how much we love them, find a woody hole in which to make a nest and bring the Common baby goosanders to coo over.
The swans on the Ornamental Pond are also getting closer each day to building a proper nest, and the ducks, coots are moorhens on both the Cemetery Lake and Ornamental Pond are very industrious (not to mention a little combative) about their own family preparations.
So, although I am not yet ready to swap the warm beverage in my flask for a cold one, all in all, I am feeling very upbeat about Spring really arriving this time round.