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 …

Snowdrops and ice on Southampton Common

A belated Happy New Year: Although I was mostly at home rather than on my wanderings until this week, I managed to catch the first sunrise of 2019, and it was a beautiful way to start the year. 

Since then Southampton has been a city of all seasons. The Ornamental Lake has had it’s fair share of ice, which must be mighty inconvenient for the wildlife, but has provided me with great opportunities to kneel at the waterside getting damp and muddy.

Whilst there have been icy days, there has also been the promise of spring: snowdrops. Catching sight of these little beauties in Southampton Old Cemetery filled me with a ridiculous amount of joy, and no amount of people wondering what on earth I was up to kneeling on the path apparently photographing the side of a grave could lessen my pleasure.

Not only have I been worshipping snowdrops, but I have also caught sight of a few bees foraging during sunny spells this week, and I have seen one, just one, crocus. But one is enough to remind me to hang on in there: Spring is happening this year!

Apart from all that excitement, even on cloudy days there have been some pretty morning skies, and wandering in Southampton Old Cemetery always provides me with something to enjoy: be it an interesting tree or a cheerful robin. 

So, here I am again, looking forward to another year of pointless meanderings on Southampton Common. Before we know it the ducklings and the beautifully ugly coot and moorhen chicks will be here, and the endless wait for this year’s cygnets will begin.

Ice, rain and sun on Southampton Common

Variety is, they say, the spice of life, and Southampton Common has seen plenty of it this week. There have been cloudy days, beautiful sunshine, icy starts, and a day of wall-to-wall rain. Where would we be without the weather to observe and discuss?

Whatever the weather, there is always plenty of activity on the water on Southampton Common, with the swans on the Ornamental Lake having re-staked their claim, and the other birds organising the pecking order for winter. 

One of the many benefits of winter is the opportunity that it offers to see a bit of colour in the sky without getting up at an unsociable hour. With the Common on my (extended) route to work, this time of year is perfect for a not excessively early morning photo opportunity.

However, some of early mornings have been quite chilly, and on Friday the edges of the Ornamental Lake were frozen. Beautiful for me to see, but maybe not is much fun for the residents of the lake.

So, despite ending on a rather soggy note, it’s been another week when Southampton Common, and its residents,  have delighted me. 

Icy start on Southampton Common

There was an impressive frost today, and I had to go to the supermarket. Despite having a small mountain of post Christmas detritus in the kitchen, you kind of need something to go with the remains of the Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, and the chocolates that no-one likes. So, I thought I would relieve my family of my company for a bit longer than was strictly necessary and pop in to see how the Common was doing in the cold.

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Having overcome the slight challenge of the lock on our bicycle shed being iced up I made my way to the Common. The Ornamental Pond and Cemetery Lake were both more or less frozen over when I arrived at about nine o’clock. However, the brave were already out and about, crunching their way along the paths and across the grass, and as the morning wore on the Common became a hive of activity. Children of all ages were playing with their outdoors themed Christmas gifts, cracking icy patches on the paths, feeding the birds, and generally blowing away the Christmas cobwebs. Meantime, the birds on both ponds gave pretty good skating demonstrations, until the sun began to thaw their habitats and they basked in the relative warmth of nearly-but-not-actually-frozen water.

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I dug out my flask, had a quick warming beverage, and was delighted to discover a forgotten half bar of chocolate in my pocket. Munching happily I bade goodbye to the Common and plunged into the post Christmas shopping crowds.

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To see other icy occasions on the Common, please click on this link Icy Days