Misty rays and hints of Spring on Southampton Common

This week has been a delight of misty rays and hints of spring. There have been some really beautiful starts to the day on Southampton Common, and I have hardly known which way to turn to enjoy the light.

The early morning fog and mist have created some eerie sunrises at the Ornamental Lake. The Boating Lake is slwoly refilling, and the play of naked trees and reflections there have been rather lovely too.

Alongside the enticing mist, the blossom is starting to appear and the spring flowers are multiplying every day: Southampton Old Cemetery is developing a carpet of primroses, crocuses, daffodils, and snowdrops.

When everything is so stunning, it’s easy to forget the faithful inhabitants of the Common, on whom I rely on for company and photography in less dramatic situations. Soon, this year’s chicks, ducklings and cygnets will be on the way, and these guys will take centre stage again!


So, although there’s still plenty of mud for me to kneel in to take my photos, it’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common.

A tiny bit of snow on Southampton Common

It’s been a cold week on Southampton Common, but a beautiful one too.  The frosty sunrises have been a delight to see. 

Both the Ornamental Lake and the Cemetery Lake have been frozen to varying degrees for a large part of the week. The birds always seem to adapt well to a frozen environment, and it’s kind of fun to watch them skating around.

Alongside the frozen water, the early morning frost has been very pretty.

And of course on Friday we had our own little dusting of snow. Whilst we didn’t get quite as impressive a fall as some parts of Hampshire, Southampton Old Cemetery looked especially charming with a sprinkling of the white stuff. The clumps of snowdrops that I have been admiring for a while became, literally, drops in the snow.

Despite the ice and snow though, there has been plenty of sunshine and no lack of blue skies this week.

All in all, another week when Southampton Common has been a beautiful place to take a purposeless winter stroll.

Ice, mist and shoveler ducks on Southampton Common

It’s been a wintry week on Southampton Common. However, there have been some beautiful starts to the day and winter is a fantastic time for sunrises, because I don’t have to get up early to see them. 

Standing around as the sun makes it’s way across the Ornamental Lake is always worth the cold feet it incurs: the way the colours change and the clouds reform minute to minute never ceases to amaze me.

The Cemetery Lake and Ornamental Lake were both frozen at times this week, which not only added something to the sunrise views, but also gave me a chance to watch the birds investigating and dealing with their frosty environment.

The Common really is beautiful on frosty days, as is the neighbouring Southampton Old Cemetery. 

Another great thing about the ice is that the ponds have slowly thawed at the edges, encouraging the shoveler ducks on the Cemetery Lake to come a bit closer to the water’s edge than usual. The only time I can get a half decent shot of them and their amazing beaks seems to be in icy conditions.

Spending some time at the Cemetery Lake this week had the happy side- effect of enabling the tufted ducks to do what they love to do: glare at me. 

It hasn’t been all ice and frost this week, though: there was a bit of mist drifting around the trees on Friday morning, making everything  slightly mysterious.

So, no snow for Southampton this week, but a few more patches of snowdrops in the Old Cemetery. The daffodils are just waiting to appear and there are one or two crocuses braving the elements. So, although we still have a few days of January to go, spring is peeping through the clouds.

Finally, who got up early and saw the big red moon this week? I didn’t. It was lovely the next day on my ride across the Common to the station though. Being just one day late wasn’t so bad …

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.

Southampton Common 2018

Today I’m looking back at some of the things that made my heart sing as I wandered on Southampton Common. This could take an awfully long time, because just about every day has brought something to make me glad that I can call then Common my home from home. 


Almost nothing makes me love winter more than clear, bright days when the paths are frosty and the ponds are frozen. 

The only winter thing that is even better than a frosty and bright morning is when it snows, and in March 2018 the Beast from the East provided us with just that.

Once the snow was gone, I was well and truly ready to welcome Spring. How happy I was to see the first flowers popping through.

Spring means fluffy babies, and Southampton Common certainly did not disappoint this year. The ducklings were the first to appear.

The coot and moorhen chicks were not far behind.

Then there was the long wait for the cygnets…

They will soon all be here again and I really can’t wait. Although apparently I will have to!

And  as spring took hold and summer crept in, I lurked around the ponds waiting for dragonflies and damselflies,  

Summer also saw me on many a butterfly and bug wander, stretching my macro lens to the limits of its ability  to endure, and returning home scratched from brambles, but happy to be in possession of one or two decent shots of  tiny insects.

The summer of 2018 was long and dry, and I had some beautiful times with my insect friends.

Then, as the days got shorter and the insects became scarcer, the leaves turned, the fungi popped up, and I was drawn into the golden days of autumn. This was no better for my sartorial elegance, as I crouched and knelt in the mushy undergrowth, and returned home covered in leaves and mulch.

All through the seasons, though, the place I’m most likely to be found is around the Ornamental Lake.

And now here we are in winter again, starting with the misty mornings

So, here we are, with the first few icy episodes behind us, and whatever 2019 decides to bring ahead.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.

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!