Tiny winged things on Southampton Common

This week Southampton Common has been full of tiny winged creatures, and I have been very happy wandering amongst and beneath them. There seem to be more butterflies (and more missed shots for me) every day.

The damselflies are also out in force, and the number of dragonflies diving over the water and relaxing on nearby branches is increasing steadily too.

I’m very happy to report that there are plenty of bees on Southampton Common: this pleases me no end as these little guys are vital to our survival, and I have been enjoying myself so much this week that survival is something I am definitely interested in!

Amongst the other tiny winged creatures that I have spent quality time with this week are ladybirds, soldier beetles, and grasshoppers. There are so many different types of the latter, but they jump rather fast for my camera skill level!

And finally, much bigger bit still tiny: the ducklings on the Boating lake are looking really grown up, and we have four new babies at the Ornamental Lake.

So, the end of another week when small things have given me great pleasure on Southampton Common, and it looks as if next week may bring more of the same!

Sunny wandering on Southampton Common

It’s been a busy week for insects on Southampton Common: they haven’t always wanted to sit still for me, but the place has been a buzz of bees, butterflies, damselflies and more. I’ve enjoyed the company of moths, grasshoppers, ladybirds and, although not everyone’s favourite, caterpillars which fill me with hope for even more butterflies and moths. For someone who enjoys the small things in life, and doesn’t mind getting rather dishevelled in the process of seeking them out, summer is a fantastic time.

At the Boating Lake, three not-so-little ducklings continue to be carefully supervised by their mother whilst they do cute things for the crowds.

Of course a week can’t go by without a mention of the cygnets, and a few photos of their latest antics.

So it’s been another warm week of happy wanderings for me, watching the spring babies growing up and enjoying the confetti of insects fluttering around my head. What’s not to like about Southampton Common in summer?

Butterflies and bees on Southampton Common

It’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common, incorporating sunshine, really quite a lot of rain on Friday, and plenty of breeze in between to waft all the lovely flora in Southampton Old Cemetery around, and make it difficult for me to take photos of the numerous insects who are swinging around!

Southampton Old Cemetery has been my go to place this week, watching the swaying ox-eye daisies, admiring the rhododendrons, and, to my great delight, meeting a painted lady butterfly. The cemetery is an absolute haven for insects, and if you are a bee, or someone who likes to watch bees, I strongly recommend it to you!

The cow parsley around the Ornamental Lake is also a popular choice for the bees, so whilst waiting for a hint of cygnet action (they are hatching as I type, or so I am reliably told: three so far) I have been watching them balance on the white summer baubles.

There are also an ever increasing number of damselflies and a new little family of coot chicks to exclaim over at the Ornamental Lake. The older coot chicks are looking very sleek these days, as are the moorhens, with almost no resemblance to their younger selves of five or so weeks ago. 

On my travels between Southampton Old Cemetery and the lakes I have come across some beautiful wild orchids, including an especially impressive patch at the north end of the Common, near The Avenue.

Moving away from the Common for a moment, I want to give a quick mention to East Park, where I was lucky enough to see some beautiful demoiselle damselflies this week. These little guys absolutely delight me, so I was very pleased to have made an unscheduled stop on my way home and catch a glimpse of them.

So here I am at the end of yet another happy week of contented wandering on Southampton Common. Looking at the forecast, I’m not sure what next week will bring … but it looks as if it should include the cygnets at long last!

The first damselfly of 2019


On Friday I saw my first damselfly of 2019 in Southampton Old Cemetery. A sight that filled me with delight and resulted in people avoiding me for an hour or so as I smiled and exclaimed happily to myself about my find. How fantastic it is every year to see these little beauties returning.

The damselflies were by no means the only insects out and about this week. Southampton Old Cemetery was busy with butterflies, bees, and plenty of others. It was also a festival of brightness with the bluebells, blossom and rhododendron carpet.

The insects were also busy at the Ornamental Lake, and although I didn’t see any damselflies by the waterside there were several butterflies flitting around, including Holly Blues who like me to crawl around in an undignified fashion to take their photo.

The two surviving ducklings are growing bigger and bolder every day, rushing around the lake, further and further from their parens. Sadly, I saw two tiny moorhen chicks being assassinated by a trio of coots this week, although I am reliably informed that there is at least one surviving sibling. Nature is a cruel place sometimes, so take care little ones! The swans are mainly on and around the nest, but are also putting on some pretty good defence and flying displays if they are disturbed or if someone invades what they perceive to be their territory: that is to say, the entire lake!

Although it’s not on Southampton Common, the wisteria in East Park really merits a mention this week. It is looking just beautiful and was well worth taking my bicycle on a little detour to see.

So in and around Southampton, but especially on the Common, I have again been enjoying lots of beautiful spring sights, and the arrival of the damselflies in particular means that I am looking forward to lots more.

The butterfly gap is over on Southampton Common

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This week has seen the butterfly gap well and truly ended. The Common is replete with fluttering wings, and I have spent too many hours of my life waiting for their tiny owners to stop and rest, so that I can admire (and ideally also photograph) them.
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The appearance of the Marbled Whites always, for some reason, signals the real start of summer for me, regardless of the date, so seeing plenty of these papery-winged beauties has been a delight. Alongside them I have been distracted from what I am meant to be doing by Skippers, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, and Commas: not all of which have sat still for long enough for me to photograph. However, now that I know they are there, I will be mercilessly pursing them until about October, becoming increasingly dishevelled in my quest as the days go on.
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Not to be outdone, the damselflies and dragonflies are increasing in number too, and with slightly breezy conditions making them difficult to capture balanced on a handy grass reed, I have been lucky that the Emperor females are still busy laying eggs on the Boating Lake. They are often accompanied by blue damselflies, who for some reason like to play with, and annoy, them, taking on the appearance of irritating younger siblings as they chase and climb onto the larger creatures.
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While we are at the Boating Lake, the four cygnets are doing well, and taking on more of a swan-like shape each day, although still covered in grey fluffiness rather than the juvenile brown which will ultimately give way to their pure white adult plumage. The juvenile coots and moorhens are also almost indistinguishable now from their baby selves, and I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed watching them grow up this year, in between anxiously counting them at each sighting.
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They say it will be a gloriously summery week, so I am hoping that those butterflies and dragonflies are not feeling camera shy and that next week I will have a few more photos of my summer loves to share.
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Elusive and beautiful winged creatures on Southampton Common

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It’s difficult to drag myself away from the cygnets, but I’ve been trying my best this week to adopt a slightly wider perspective on Southampton Common. There has been plenty of opportunity to do just that, because the season of elusive winged creatures is here in earnest, and I have been delighted by the increasing number of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies that have been studiously avoiding my camera.
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The dragonflies, whose appearance I await impatiently from about October til May every year, are now established in abundance. They skim the water not caring one bit about the risks I am taking trying to photograph them. The female Emperor Dragonflies have been laying eggs in abundance on the Boating Lake, where, despite the mass of water available to them, everyone seems to aspire to that one perfect spot, leading to a few disputes.

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The damselflies are also busy and plentiful, and to my extreme delight I have seen two demoiselles this week. I don’t see these beauties very often on the Common, so it gave me a ridiculous amount of pleasure that I not only saw them, but that one sat still long enough for me to take their photo.
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However hard I try though it’s difficult to not mention those four little grey cygnets on the Boating Lake who continue to draw the crowds. They are growing fast, and looking more like miniature swans every day.
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So, the babies are growing fast, the insects are getting me into my summer exercise routine, and as ever, there is plenty to see and enjoy on Southampton Common!

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Golden ducklings, coot chicks and dragonflies

 

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DSC_0374DSC_0374It’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common: ducklings, baby moorhens and coot chicks. On the insect front the damselflies have been busy ensuring the continuation of their species, for which I am very glad as I like them very much. I have also seen a few dragonflies, although not always in happy circumstances.

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The first mallard ducklings of the season really are looking grown up now, the middle group are getting bigger every day, and there have  been more newborns for me to coo over, including two pure yellow ducklings in amongst the more traditional brown and yellow ones on the Cemetery Lake.

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DSC_0482DSC_0482Unfortunately the male swan, who is busy claiming ownership of the lake in preparation for his own family arriving, has been rather aggressive towards them. I had to tell him off sternly the other morning. This caused a couple of students who were taking a break from classes to slope slowly away from the scene of the strange woman talking angrily at an innocent looking swan.

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DSC_0155DSC_0155Meantime, back at the Ornamental Pond, there have been two sets of moorhen chicks to see, alongside this weeks big treat: six baby coots. They are beautifully and perfectly ugly, and very very cute. Rather like the moorhen chicks, but with the addition of erratic and electric orange hair, and slightly less of the blue eyeshadow look that the moorhen chicks sport.

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DSC_0375DSC_0375These little ones seem endlessly hungry, and I was enjoying watching the parent coots diligently and almost continually feeding their brood of six, until the unfortunate moment when I realised that one of my favourite photography  subjects was being fed to another!

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