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.
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.
After my morning devotions, kneeling at the feet of the gods of the promise of spring, I returned to the Cemetery Lake to see how my relationship with the ducks was developing: last week they definitely hated me.
This week though I feel that perhapsI had done them a disservice. Instead of glaring at me the tufted ducks were looking smug, as if they knew something I didn’t. Specifically, that this can be one of the coldest corners of the Common, but you can’t get your hot drink out because the mass of pigeons that hang around waiting to be fed may make an unwelcome contribution to it. One of the pochards almost smiled at me, and although they stayed well out of decent photography range the shoveler ducks deigned to glance in my direction. The coots seemed in rather bad humour, but this was not directed specifically at me and the moorhens, who are usually rather timid and fretful, seemed calmer than usual.
So, although the welcome I received was a little lukewarm, I felt that things were progressing very well for me at the Cemetery Lake. I am beginning to have an unreasonable hope that one of the shoveler ducks might pop over for a proper photo call next week.
Taken using Nikon D5500, 18-300 lens, ISO 1600, f10, 1/640
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.
Image taken using Nikon D5500, Lens Nikon 70-300mm, ISO 1600, f10, 1/640
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
Image 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.
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…