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 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.

Christmas time on Southampton Common

It’s been another beautiful week on Southampton Common, and Southampton Old Cemetery has become more lovely than ever, thanks to the seasonal decorations that adorn some of the branches there. 

The week began with a delightfully eerie mist hanging somewhere between the ground and the sky, loitering unexpectedly around corners and enveloping parts of the Common whilst seemingly ignoring others. 

Over the Ornamental Pond, a new seat has been put in place, in memory of Amrik Singh Rai. The seat is positioned at the end of the lake, and I’m sure it will be very well used and much appreciated.  I myself have my eye on appreciating it very much, especially in the summer. What a lovely and thoughtful memorial.   

This week, there has been plenty to see at the lakes, with the swans preening in the sunshine, and patrolling their territory against interlopers.  As I wandered between ponds, I was lucky enough to see a bullfinch brightening up one of the bushes. Even more luckily, he sat still long enough for me to get a photo. 

I never need much persuading to spend time at the Ornamental Lake, and this week, between the lake and the top field, the morning sky has given me plenty opportunity  to push my cycling to the station time to the limits. 

As well as the beautiful Christmas decorations in the Old Cemetery, nature has been putting out  a few of her very own baubles this week: in between the sunshine and mist it’s been a little bit damp around the edges, which has given me the chance to practice taking photos of raindrops. 

So, with those seasonal sparkles, thanks very much for stopping by and viewing this blog. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas. xxx

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. 

Golden light and rainy days on Southampton Common

It’s been another of those weeks of all seasons on Southampton Common, and I have been very glad that the swans are back on the Ornamental Lake to  provide some morning and evening photo opportunities.

Tuesday was one of those sunny, misty days that make winter worthwhile, with a thin shimmer of morning frost and a lot of golden light. 

There have, however, also been some rather wilder times this week, when both the Common and I have felt a little windswept. 

Those have been my moments to head into the shelter and get grubby, because all this damp-but-quite-mild-really weather means that the fungi are still going strong. 

On most days, though, there has been beautiful moments, often in the early evening (the time known as mid afternoon when it’s summer), and the Ornamental Pond has taken on a golden sheen.

So it’s the end of another week of wandering, with my boots getting muddier, and my layers of clothing getting more numerous, by the day. But Southampton Common remains, as ever, a beautiful place to waste some time doing nothing particularly constructive or useful in the build up to Christmas.