Lots of sunshine on Southampton Common

This week began with a beautiful Monday morning of blue skies and sparkling water, and the days just carried on getting better.

The ducks have been busy pairing up, with a fair bit of not completely friendly competition amongst the male mallards, the goosanders are (I hope) considering my request to make the Ornamental Lake their breeding ground, and at least one pair of coots have made a nest in the reeds. I can’t wait to see the super-ugly but beautifully cute coot babies again.


Not to be outdone, the swans at the Ornamental Lake have been checking their nesting site, and chasing off any real or supposed threats to their territory.

All across the Common, but especially in Southampton Old Cemetery, there have been enough butterflies, blossom and flowers to keep me amused, if not entirely out of mischief, for hours.

And last, but by non means least, we have a new springtime species on the Common: the Mr Men, in the form of Mr. Nosey. One of the many Mr Men Mosaics that are popping up mysteriously across Southampton.

All in all, it’s been a delight of a week on Southampton Common. I’d like quite a few more like that, and baby goosanders at the Ornamental Lake too, if at all possible, please.

A week by the waterside on Southampton Common

There’s been a lot of beautiful spring blossom on Southampton Common, and on Monday I was pleased to see that the majority of the flowers in Southampton Old Cemetery had survived the weekend storms. Today it’s pretty breezy again, so let’s hope there’s till some left tomorrow.

Although the Common is full of spring flowers, the windy weather has made doing them justice in photos rather tricky this week, so I have rather kept to the watersides. This has been no great hardship, especially on those mornings when the Ornamental Lake has been misty and golden.

The resident swans on the Ornamental Lake always add something to the scene, emerging from the morning mist, preening, and generally swanning around. They have been inspecting their regular nesting site on the island this week: maybe we are moving towards the long annual cygnet watch!

Luckily for Common wanderers like me there is always plenty to watch on the lakes. There have been varying goosander counts on the Ornamental Lake this week, but a regular group of three females and one male have been consistently spotted, usually steadfastly located on the most distant side of the water, although they are not above popping over to do a bit of fishing amongst the reeds beside the path just after I have packed my camera away . The other birds on the lakes have been variously getting muddy faces, pairing up, arguing over territory, and glaring at me.

They say that next week will be rather wet and windy again, but although the ducks and I may all end up looking a bit muddy and windswept again, I’m sure there will be fun to be had on Southampton Common.

A taste of Spring on Southampton Common

Strolling Southampton Common has been a real pleasure this week, beginning with rays of beautiful morning light to welcome me back from my week away from wandering.

The Ornamental Lake looked particularly lovely in the misty morning light, especially when the goosanders came close enough to the path to be photographed. We are very lucky to have these gorgeous birds on the Ornamental Lake again this year, and I would very much like them to become regular seasonal visitors.

The early part of the week was a real springtime preview, with Southampton Old Cemetery budding with beautiful blossom, and a smattering of bees and butterflies to give me a bit of insect-missing macro photography practice ready for summer. Every year I long for these tiny creatures to return, and when they arrive I remember how disinclined they are to co-operate with my photographic plans for them!

The ponds on the Common are always a good place to spend a bit of time, and this week has been no exception. The swans are often the main attraction, but the goosanders really do give them a good run for their money, with their sleek beauty, and propensity to take long dives and pop up suddenly just where you weren’t expecting them. I also rather like the pochards over at the Cemetery Lake, who always seem to me to have a vaguely nervous expression.

It looks as if the next few days might be a bit stormy, but I suspect that even in the wind and rain I will find a few interesting things to waste my time enjoying on Southampton Common.

Sunrises, icy days and goosanders on Southampton Common.

This week has been a good one for early mornings at the Ornamental Lake. Monday was particularly lovely, but Thursday and Friday gave it a good run for it’s money, with Friday throwing in a foreground of ice to finish the week  off in style.

If the sunrises weren’t enough to keep me happy, the Ornamental Lake has been looking beautiful in the sunshine.

A very pleasing recent addition to the Ornamental lake is that the goosanders are becoming a part of the seasonal Common Family. They are beautiful creatures, however they do like to swim just out of camera range, so I was mighty happy when they finally came a little closer to the lakeside path whilst I was there this week. I was a lot less happy when I saw the beautiful Ms. Goosander diving to retrieve, not a shimmering fish, but a black plastic bag. This is not what the goosanders want to eat, and seeing a beautiful bird with an ugly piece of rubbish in her beak makes me uncharacteristically angry.


This is not what Ms. Goosander wants to eat

When I have not been exclaiming over sunrises, or tutting at poor Ms. Goosander catching plastic waste, I have been on the wander in Southampton Old Cemetery, finding interesting shelter during rainy moments, and  delighting in snowdrops. 

They say it is going to get colder now, and on Friday the Ornamental Lake was frozen again.  

So, we shall see what next week brings. I am sure I will find things to amuse myself with, whatever the weather, but I would be very happy indeed if all the litter was put into a bin, or taken away from the Common, so that Ms. Goosander can get back to catching fish.

A sunny day with the goosander on Southampton Common

DSC_0004 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500 with Nikon 18-200 lens, at f10, ISO 100, 1/8 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link

The first three days of this week were pretty dismal, but yesterday morning the clouds lifted and it was a glorious day for wandering on Southampton Common. If a tad muddy underfoot after three days of pretty constant rain, and slightly breezy. My old friends the tufted ducks were looking a tad windswept.

DSC_03211 copyImage taken using  Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 70-300mm, ISO 1600, f10, 1/640
DSC_0267DSC_0267_1 copyImage taken using Nikon 5500, with Nikon 85mm macro lens, ISO 640, f10, 1/100 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link

To my delight there were several new clumps of snowdrops in the Old Cemetery, crocuses were popping up everywhere, there were primroses, and the daffodils were at the tantalising point of nearly blooming. All of this made me very happy indeed and I spent an hour or so with a silly grin on my face, frightening unsuspecting strangers with a cheery “hello.”

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

DSC_0153DSC_0153 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 85mm macro, ISO 640, f10, 1/40 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
DSC_0276DSC_0276_1 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 85mm macro, ISO 640, f10, 1/100  To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
DSC_03031 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 85mm macro, ISO 1250, f14, 1/60

After annoying quite a few people in this way, it was time for me to go and do something vaguely useful. As I wandered back towards the Ornamental Pond I wondered whether I would remember to buy a new flask (to replace the one that has curiously disappeared from my life.) It was a tad chilly, and I liked the idea of a warm drink, but a cruel twist of fate meant that the lovely Hawthorns Café on the Common is closed this week. But on my arrival at the Ornamental Pond all thoughts of flasks disappeared because the goosander decided to make my day just that tiny bit more splendid than it already was. I have been watching this fellow for a couple of weeks, but he as been steadfastly occupying the reedy areas on the far bank whenever I am around. This was exactly where he was when I arrived, so I ignored him and went to unlock my bicycle. As I dumped my pack into the basket I noticed him out of the corner of my eye, swimming casually across to the photographable zone. I scuttled back to the pond, skidding slightly on the mud and coming to a fortunate standstill at the water’s edge. Just in time to grab a few shots before he returned from whence he came.

DSC_0717DSC_0717 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 70-300, ISO 1250, f10, 1/640 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
DSC_0735DSC_0735 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 70-300, ISO 1250, f10, 1/640 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
DSC_0751DSC_0751 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 70-300, ISO 1250, f10, 1/640 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link

I was all smiles again, chatted happily with a man whose dog was preoccupied with peeing on my bicycle wheel, and then cycled away at top speed (for me, which is pretty much walking pace for everyone else). I wanted to look at those goosander shots. The flask is yet to be replaced…

DSC_0114DSC_0114 copyImage taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 85mm macro, ISO 640, f10, 1/40 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link