Rays, fungi and a few dragonflies on Southampton Common

It’s been a beautiful couple of weeks (in between the rain) on Southampton Common with misty mornings and spider webs reminding me of the approach of Halloween.

The morning mist can be almost magical, especially when it’s followed by an amazing show of rays of light.

The autumn colours are slowly breaking through and in the next week I think there’s going to be an explosion of autumn beauty on Southampton Common.

My biggest treat on Southampton Common at the moment though is the fungi: they really are amazing this year ( I expect that I said that last year too!) Be careful where you tread, because I have found some absolute beauties along the paths as well as in the woodlands, by the lakes, and … just about everywhere!

Despite all this autumnal focus, during some of the beautifully sunny moments the dragonflies have still be playing around the Ornamental lake. Fungi, rays and dragonflies all in one day. How much better can life be?

I think this will be the last post on this site, but I will still be wandering Southampton Common, posting my adventures on Instagram, and maybe creating a new site if I can persuade my teenage son that this stuff is more important than his personal engineering projects and the occasional encounter with a smidgin of homework. So please do say hi if you come across me grovelling around in the mud, muttering to myself when I discover something interesting, or exclaiming aloud to no-one in particular when I see something beautiful. On reflection, maybe you won’t feel it’s advisable to come close enough to say hi, but do wave at me from a safe distance 🙂

It’s a festival of fungus on Southampton Common

It’s almost the time of year when I can, if I’m lucky, catch a quick sunrise on my way to work.

A few weeks back we were all noticing how low on water the lakes were, and that we needed some rain. Well, we sure have that now. The lakes on Southampton Common are nice and full, and there’s plenty of mud for me to clump around in. Happy days!

In between the much-needed-but-not-always-fully-appreciated-when-they-arrive downpours, there’s been some beautiful sunshine, and a few last dragonflies and butterflies for me to fruitlessly pursue.

Autumn is definitely here though, with the leaves starting to change colour, and the sun lower in the sky.

Best of all, with the rain, sunshine, and changing seasons I’ve been having a beautiful time with my tiny fungal friends over the last couple of weeks, kneeling in muddy leaves, enjoying their delicate company and returning home even more dishevelled than usual.

The season of pretty webs is also here, with their amazing but sometimes less popular occupants.

It looks as if next week might bring a bit more rain and mud, so I’ll most likely be found sheltering in the undergrowth, chatting to the mushrooms, and scaring innocent passers by when I spring up abruptly from my undignified pose.

Autumn rain on Southampton Common

This week it’s been feeling and looking a lot like autumn. Although the dragonflies are still whizzing around the lakes during sunny spells, there’s been lots of the much needed rain in between the sunshine, and it’s feeling a whole lot like autumn.

In Southampton Old Cemetery, the autumn colours are starting to appear. The berries are out, and although I have been looking wistfully at the places where I spent many sunny summer hours with butterflies and bees, it’s all looking very beautiful.

It’s also the time of year for horse chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, acorns and fungi, and the much needed rain is easier to appreciate under the shelter of the extensive woodland on Southampton Common. Cue an increase in sightings of a strange old woman crouching in the undergrowth.

The spiders’ webs are starting to be interesting again, covered in raindrops or early morning dew (although this week they’ve been waving in the breeze a bit too much for photography purposes).

The ponds are finally filling up after a long dry summer, and with the dragonfly and butterfly numbers reducing, I’ve taken to visiting the slightly larger winged creatures. As you can see, the pigeons at the Cemetery Lake were loving the weather this week!

All in all, despite the wind and rain, over the next few weeks I’m looking toward to more lovely autumn colours appearing, kicking my way through fallen leaves (how can one ever grow out of doing that?) and crawling around in dark places looking for fungi.

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!