The cygnets have continued to steal the show at the Boating Lake this week, snuggling together in the grass, clambering in and out of the water, swanning around, and generally pleasing their adoring public.
The cygnets have some competition now though: a family of five ducklings appeared late in the week, and have attracted a following of their own. Meantime, the little grebes continue their nesting activity: so we carry on hoping for more babies.
It’s not been all cute and fluffy this week though. It’s been a bit breezy for photographs, but the air is busy with the fluttering and buzzing of beautiful summer insects. What a fantastic time of year it is: I get to wander around in pursuit if tiny things that fly away faster than I can focus!
They say that the mini-heatwave is over for now, but there are still plenty of numbers above the magic twenty mark on my weather forecast, so I’m hoping for some more happy, sunny wanderings on Southampton Common in the week to come.
It looks as if the heat wave is over for a few days! The cygnets and ducklings have been wondering what all this windy weather is about I think, as moist of their young lives have been spent basking in the sun. As well as the ducklings I am told that there are some coot chicks newly hatched on the Boating Lake, so let’s hope they do well after this stormy start.
The high temperature last week was a great incentive for the butterflies to be out and about, and the number of tiny flitting common blues was a delight to see. I know they are common, but they are delicate beauties. And they were by no means alone in the butterfly display.
Stalking butterflies requires a bit of care though, as there are plenty of other insects sheltering in the grass, and it’s easy to accidentally disturb them. The grasshoppers in particular were so numerous that some of them were having to queue on the grass.
But despite the dip in temperature, they say it will warm up again next week, so hopefully there will be plenty more butterflies, dragonflies, and a glimpse of those baby coots to come!
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.
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.