Storms and sunshine on Southampton Common

It’s been a stormy end to November, and only the most determined of  the 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!

Growing up on Southampton Common

 

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Last week’s mini heatwave is over and the weather has been a little less glorious over the past few days. On Friday I had to give in and return to wearing my winter coat and gloves and carrying my trusty flask. However, the Common is still beautiful, if a tad muddy once more, and there was enough sunshine for a few butterflies to be out and about on Thursday when I was wandering in the Old Cemetery.

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The main attraction and sadness for me though has been seeing the ducklings grow and go. By Tuesday their number was reduced to only four, but those four were undiminished in loveliness, although increasing in both size and defiance of danger each day, becoming more adventurous and starting to resemble mini ducks rather than tiny balls of fluff.

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Whilst the ducklings’ parents watch carefully over them the other residents of the ponds continue to be busy: preening, nest building and incubating their eggs.

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The swans on both the Cemetery Lake and Ornamental Pond are now on full time sitting duty. In between their shifts on the nest they are occupied with guard duty and collecting maintenance materials for their nests in the form of twigs, reeds, and the lace from one of my boots, which the male swan from the Ornamental Pond tried to remove the other morning. Luckily for me (and him) he was unsuccessful.

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So, despite the temperature falling back into single figures, spring is still very much in evidence on Southampton Common and the forecast says that there might be a little bit of warmer weather on the way. In the meantime though, I have my big coat and gloves ready for tomorrow morning.

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Ducklings

 

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After all that rain, Monday morning came along and brought with it sunshine and ducklings.

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My journey to work was immeasurably improved by the sight of these gorgeous little balls of fluff skimming across and scampering around the Ornamental Pond. They were already a few days old, but undiminished in cuteness.

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The world becomes a kinder place n the presence of ducklings. People who were clearly in a hurry slowed down, paused, and walked gently past the little ones, giving them plenty of room, so as not to alarm them or their mother. Young men cycling along in that special “no hands” way stopped, smiled and took a photo. People who didn’t know each other fell into conversation about how many there were, and had been (eight, and eleven), and how the swans were getting along with their reproductive responsibilities. The day was not quite so replete with bonhomie as it was when it snowed, but it was pretty close.

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Meanwhile, the cause of all this joy played happily around, climbing on sticks in the water, drinking from puddles, playing on the lily pads, whilst their mother kept a watchful eye on the surroundings.

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I went cheerily on my way to work, thinking what a good place the world was, if you focused solely on ducklings.

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The sun and the rain on Southampton Common

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Easter is almost here. This always makes me think that summer is just around the corner (even when Easter is early, as it is this year), and at the beginning of the week that is exactly how it felt. Beautiful blue skies, delicate mist rising from the Ornamental Pond in the morning sunshine, and the lillies beginning to peep up through the water. It felt great, and I had a hot cross bun stashed away in my bag for morning snack. Life was very good, even if it was Monday morning.

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To see other photos of the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

To see some photos of sunrises on the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

Tuesday wasn’t quite so splendid, but the rather less promising weather didn’t put off a group of young women who arrived at the Cemetery Lake with a deckchair and bag of props in order to photograph one of their number in her swimwear. The wildlife generally carried on as if nothing was happening, although the pochards sneaked the occasional quizzical glance in the direction of the unusual style of camera action, and the swans seemed a little miffed that for once they were not being regarded as the most photogenic creatures present.

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Since then the Easter funfair has arrived on the Common and with it has come the rain. Nonetheless, despite everything being covered in a layer of raindrops the Old Cemetery is looking beautiful, with the flowers (both wild and cultivated) adding delightful splashes of colour to the tranquillity that exists there.

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To see some more photos of the Old Cemetery, please click on this link

The birds are busy building their nests, and I know that the butterflies are just waiting to appear and simultaneously delight and torment me. The rain is making everything a bit squelchy this week, but very soon I will be dashing between ducklings and dragonflies, not knowing which way to look, and very possibly teetering perilously at the edges of the ponds. Must check that my camera insurance covers summertime clumsiness!

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More ice on Southampton Common

The Ornamental Pond was covered in a sheen of ice. It looked wafer-thin, but was somehow thick enough to support the duck and gull population. The sky was clear and the sun was shining: what a good start to the week (especially if, like me, you had remembered to put foot warmers inside your boots).

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There have been quite a few icy days lately, but the birds were still having quite a time investigating their solid environment.

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Over at the Cemetery Lake there was considerably less ice, but the seagulls were doing their best to stand on what little there was, whilst the tufted ducks indulged in a cold water bathing routine. The shoveler ducks, who were so friendly last week, had returned to their preferred activity of swimming in circles at the back of the island, out of range of my camera.

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There was just time for a quick visit to the Old Cemetery, which was a good thing because it is a delightfully peaceful place to go before immersing oneself in the chaos of the day. Or, in my case, the chaos of the week, because this is half term, and there will be plenty of Lego, Nerf guns, and other productive activities for me to immerse myself in, rather than wandering aimlessly the Common.

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Angry Ducks (on Southampton Common)

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I had another chilly start on Southampton Common yesterday, with the large field sporting a dusting of frost and part of the Ornamental Pond frozen over. However, it developed into a gloriously sunny morning as I set off on my quest for signs of hope in the Old Cemetery. As per my current route, I called in on the Cemetery Lake on my way.

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Here it came to my attention that the ducks absolutely do not like me. At first I thought it was just the tufted ducks that had been offended by some dark event in my past, but it seems that the look of disdain has now spread to the pochards, who are usually so gentle and mild mannered. Next week I guess the mallards will hate me too. Whilst we are on the subject of creatures that don’t like me, there has been a goosander on the Ornamental Lake for at least two weeks who has been avoiding me on purpose.

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Having topped up my paranoia at the Cemetery Lake, I proceeded to the Old Cemetery, where the light was playing beautifully behind the snowdrops and crocuses. This cheered me up a great deal, particularly because kneeling in the mud afforded me the opportunity to have a small morning coffee picnic, whilst planning the best approach to hoisting myself back to an upright position.

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To see more photos of the Old cemetery, please click on this link The Old Cemetery

I returned to the Ornamental Pond to collect my trusty bicycle. The goosander was busy fishing in the reedy area on the most distant shore, out of reach of my lens, and the seagulls were playing on what remained of the ice. I bade the Common farewell for the weekend, and cycled carefully away, trying not to offend any more of the wildlife as I went.

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To see photos of more impressive ice on Southampton Common, please click on this link Icy Days

 

 

A Sunny Corner

Yesterday’s fungus was fun, but I had been hoping for a slightly more spectacular post-Christmas return to the Common. So, armed with my usual optimism in the face of improbable odds, I decided to take a brief sunrise detour on my way to work this morning. This was a somewhat pointless exercise, unless you like clouds, but had I not gone along to see the action, it would have been beautiful.

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If you would like to see some sunrises on the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link The Ornamental Pond: Sunrises

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I called by again on my way home from work, and found myself drawn to the corner of the Ornamental Pond where the sun’s reflection on the reeds produces a beautiful golden hue as a backdrop for photos. By a happy coincidence, this is also the warmest corner of the Ornamental Pond, so I remained there for some time, taking photos of the moorhens, coots, ducks and swans.

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To see more swan photos, please click on this link:Swans

The juvenile moorhens are growing up, with their beaks just beginning their transition to the adult red. And judging by the behaviour of the ducks, we can look forward to a good number of ducklings this year!

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To see more photos of the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link: The Ornamental Pond

Just to prove to myself and to anyone who had been observing me closely that I had not lost the ability to move I walked a few paces to my right, and then a few to my left, to admire the reflections. The ones that particularly struck me were those on the little dog washing pool at the north end of the Ornamental Pond. Usually, this area is busy with dogs, but for some reason (possibly because everyone had been warned about the strange old woman sunning herself at the corner of the pond) there were no dogs around, and the pond was still, and beautiful.

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Having wandered a little, I remembered that I had an errand to complete on the way home so I sped off on my trusty bicycle stopping only to grab a picture of the Cemetery Lake. I have been meaning to take one at this angle for about two years, but always get involved in something else and forget to do so. Having accomplished this vague long-term mission, I was not at all dissatisfied as I left the Common for the weekend, despite the unpropitious start to the day.

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To see more photos of the Cemetery Lake, please click on this link: The Cemetery Lake

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