September sun on Southampton Common

Just when I thought it was time to say a sad farewell for a few months to my tiny winged friends, the last couple of weeks have been a treat of sunshine and insects. I have been in butterfly, bee, and dragonfly heaven.

I have been absolutely spoiled for butterflies these past two weeks: fluttering through the air, enjoying the last of the buddleias, sampling blackberries, and swaying on the tops of the last few meadow flowers.

The dragonflies have also been putting on a great flying display around the lakes, interspersed with posing on reeds, blackberries, and sometimes hanging around in thorny areas. There have been a few hovering over the beleaguered Boating Lake too, which is a good sign that things are improving there.

The bees have also been their typical busy selves.

But despite all this, autumn is clearly on the way: the trees are beginning their transition to golden leaf loss, the acorns and chestnuts are plentiful, the berries are brightening, and there are a few fungi popping their heads up. I think there might be more of those next week, after the rain we’re having today.

Today we have plenty of much needed rain, and the forecast tells me that next week is going to be a lot less like summer. I feel like I can be ready for autumn now though, after such a fantastic couple of weeks of insect company, although I will miss my beautiful sunny day friends.

In between on Southampton Common

It’s been a halfway couple of weeks on Southampton Common, with summer still doing it’s best and producing some glorious days, but autumn very clearly trying to edge it out and take it’s turn.

In the meadows and Southampton Old Cemetery there are still the last moments of heather, and a good number of insects feasting on the few remaining flowers.

The bees are still fairly abundant, and there are a smattering of butterflies flitting around during sunny interludes.

The dragonflies, although not so numerous as some years (possibly due to the Common being one water mass down), are still visible, and have been leading me a merry dance trying to photograph them.

Elsewhere, despite the beautiful green looks, autumn is showing itself, with acorns, chestnuts and fungi slowly appearing.

They say that we might have a couple more summery days next week, so I’m looking forward to more mixed wanderings, whilst the declining temperatures help our poor old Boating Lake to recover from it’s unwanted algae.

Summer in the heather on Southampton Common

It’s been another two weeks of mostly insect weather on Southampton Common, and I’ve been enjoying a few opportunities to wander, often close to the heather, which is a favourite location for me to meet my tiny winged friends.

My time on the Common has been quite butterfly heavy, but a close second place goes to the bees. They are a delight to watch, even, or maybe especially, when they are bedraggled in early morning dew. The dragonflies have been a bit sparse on the Common this year I think, probably because of the problems at the Boating Lake, but one or two have sat still for long enough for me to enjoy their company this week.

Despite all the lovely insects, it’s not been all sunshine these past two weeks. I’ve spent a bit of time sheltering under the trees on Southampton Common, and the acorns are already on the trees, reminding me that Autumn is just around the corner. But for now, it’s a beautiful bank holiday weekend, and I am loving summer on Southampton Common.

Before I go, a quick swan update following the blue green algae on the Boating Lake incident: the male swan was collected by the RSPCA just over a week ago, to check on his health. He is fine and has been released at another location. He may well find a new mate and return, so look out for incoming swans! The second cygnet is doing fine and will be released once they are big enough to manage.

Intermittent summer wanderings on Southampton Common

It’s been a couple of weeks of highs and lows on Southampton Common (my blogs are slightly less frequent event over the summer, because I am building a garden railway with my son, which leaves me less time to wander). Sadly, the Boating Lake has been affected by an algal bloom. Unfortunately, one of the cygnets has died, and the other has been taken into the care of the RSPCA as the lake isn’t really suitable for it to return there at present. The council have been spraying the lake with extra water to reduce the bloom, and the adult swans and other birds seem to have weathered the storm, although the sticklebacks have not been so lucky. With the cooler weather also now here the lake is looking much better and a fence has been put up around the perimeter to reduce the chances of dogs or humans going in, and hopefully also discourage litter from accumulating there. The rangers on the Common have worked over and outside of hours to manage the situation, and to do everything they can for the wildlife, so a big shout out to them for everything they do.

That has been the unhappy side of the summer on Southampton Commons. However, as always there have been plenty of pleasing things happening too. On the Cemetery Lake, there are two new families of ducklings, whose company I have been enjoying.

Elsewhere, I have been indulging my love of insects. They say that this year is a good one for painted lady butterflies, and I have seen a few over the past couple of weeks: one or two have even stayed still enough for me to get a decent shot of them, which is always an unexpected bonus!

There have been lots of other butterflies for me to enjoy as well and on breezy days, of which we’ve had quite a number, the heather provides them with something a bit lower down and more protected from the wind than many of the other flowers. As a happy side effect, it’s also a very photogenic colour.

Alongside the butterflies and moths, the bees and other insects are also out and about in force, so there has been no shortage of tiny life on for me to sit and watch on Southampton Common.

It’s time for me to get back to railway construction now, but in my allocated breaks from track building, I’ll be popping across to Southampton Common to enjoy a well earned wander!

The 2019 Heatwave on Southampton Common

Tiny things with pretty wings really do make my summer, and I’m pleased to report that butterflies and moths have dominated my wanderings over the last two weeks: the patches of heather in Southampton Old Cemetery has been a particularly good place to see and enjoy them. The weather has been great for meandering around, and the Common and Southampton Old Cemetery have plenty of shady places to combat heatwave weather.

The butterflies and moths haven’t been my only companions these past two weeks though: there have been dragonflies, grasshoppers, bees, and plenty of other insects vying for camera attention.

Southampton Old Cemetery is the perfect place to spend time in the company of insects, and admire the summer colours, and I have frequently found myself there enjoying the peace, quiet and wildlife.

Back at the ponds, there have been more new ducklings, and territory wars have broken out between the mothers from time to time. Meanwhile, the cygnets are definitely the swan equivalent of teenagers, and hardly recognisable as the cute balls of fluff of a few weeks ago. They are still, however, under the careful surveillance of their parents and woe betide any perceived threat to them!

It looks like the heatwave is over for now, but I’m sure I will still find lots of things to exclaim over during the next week or two on Southampton Common.

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?