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.

The sun and the rain on Southampton Common

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Easter is almost here. This always makes me think that summer is just around the corner (even when Easter is early, as it is this year), and at the beginning of the week that is exactly how it felt. Beautiful blue skies, delicate mist rising from the Ornamental Pond in the morning sunshine, and the lillies beginning to peep up through the water. It felt great, and I had a hot cross bun stashed away in my bag for morning snack. Life was very good, even if it was Monday morning.

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To see other photos of the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

To see some photos of sunrises on the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

Tuesday wasn’t quite so splendid, but the rather less promising weather didn’t put off a group of young women who arrived at the Cemetery Lake with a deckchair and bag of props in order to photograph one of their number in her swimwear. The wildlife generally carried on as if nothing was happening, although the pochards sneaked the occasional quizzical glance in the direction of the unusual style of camera action, and the swans seemed a little miffed that for once they were not being regarded as the most photogenic creatures present.

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To see more photos of the Cemetery Lake please click on this link
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Since then the Easter funfair has arrived on the Common and with it has come the rain. Nonetheless, despite everything being covered in a layer of raindrops the Old Cemetery is looking beautiful, with the flowers (both wild and cultivated) adding delightful splashes of colour to the tranquillity that exists there.

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To see some more photos of the Old Cemetery, please click on this link

The birds are busy building their nests, and I know that the butterflies are just waiting to appear and simultaneously delight and torment me. The rain is making everything a bit squelchy this week, but very soon I will be dashing between ducklings and dragonflies, not knowing which way to look, and very possibly teetering perilously at the edges of the ponds. Must check that my camera insurance covers summertime clumsiness!

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Cold but beautiful: icy mornings on Southampton Common

DSC_0176 copyTaken using Nikon D5500, Nikon 70-300 lens, ISO 1600, f9, 1/500 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link

It’s been a cold start to the week, but a happy side effect of this has been beautiful bicycle rides on my way to work via Southampton Common: and never mind that my two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks have been inadequate for the task of keeping me warm.

DSC_0041DSC_0041_1 copyTaken using Nikon D5500, Nikon 18-200 lens, ISO 100, f10, 1/15 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
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On Monday morning the Ornamental Pond was partially iced over. It was beautiful to see the sun rising above the shimmering ice and there was just enough water available for the swans to have a bit of an early morning preening session/ photo shoot for me. I was very grateful for their efforts, because Monday can be a bit of a cheerless event and I secretly felt that I deserved some kind of reward for braving the biting wind.

DSC_0155 copyTaken using Nikon D5500, Nikon 18-200 lens, ISO 1600, f8, 1/640 To purchase an unmarked copy of this image, please click on this link
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I considered popping in to the Common on my way home, but the call of a warm house achieved an easy victory over the much more subtle call of the camera.

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Tuesday was advertised as being pretty much as cold, if not colder, than Monday. But although the ducks were still sliding around on thin ice the unforgiving wind chill factor had abated. It was a less picturesque early morning, with the sunshine constantly hinting at a breakthrough but never quite making it. The up side of this was that I cycled away with a degree of sensation still remaining in my fingers and toes, and a feeling that there were definite compensations for the lack of a spectacular sunrise.

DSC_0108 copyTaken using Nikon D5500, Nikon 18-200 lens, ISO 400, f10, 1/10

 

Muddy knees on Southampton Common

There have been some beautifully sunny early mornings at the Ornamental Pond this week, but there has also been a fair bit of rain, which fits in well with it being the time of year when I get very muddy.

DSC_0237DSC_0237_3 copyIn fact I get muddy pretty much all the year round for one reason or another, but now is the season when I slightly adjust my main cause of muddiness. The snowdrops and crocuses are beginning to appear, the daffodils and tulips are not going to be far behind, and I have to kneel in the mud to take their photos.

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DSC_0378DSC_0378_1 copyThis need to worship the thought of spring means that, if I am not immediately cycling off to work, after seeing the morning arrive at the Ornamental Pond I am inclined to wander towards the Old Cemetery. Here, I can meander along the relatively quiet side tracks wearing a daft smile on my face and exclaim out loud to my heart’s content about how happy I am to see the buds appearing.

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To see more photos of the old cemetery, please click on this link The Old Cemetery 

On the way to my solitary conversations, I generally call in to see what is happening with everyone at The Cemetery Lake. My secret favourites here are the tufted ducks, with their windswept hairstyles. Although they do not always seem exactly delighted to see me.

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To see more photos of the Cemetery Lake, please click on this link The Cemetery Lake

After my tour of the Cemetery Lake and the Old Cemetery I delve into my pockets to see if there are any forgotten refreshments available, and then cycle off, muddy kneed, to wherever it was that I was meant to be before I was side tracked by hopefully sunny thoughts of spring.

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A soggy end to the year

There are times when going out to take photographs seems a ridiculous idea, and this morning was very much one of those times. But in our Christmas holiday plans it was a time that was scheduled for me to wander off to the Common for a last glance at 2017. The weather forecast at the time was for a pretty reasonable morning, so my plan was to go over for sunrise and be back for morning coffee.

DSC_0033DSC_0033_3To see more images of sunrises on the Common, please click on this link: The Ornamental Pond: Sunrises

Imagine my delight when I awoke to hear the rain pelting down and the trees rustling enthusiastically in the wind. I considered doing the sensible thing and settling back down under the duvet, but you just never know: occasionally (very occasionally) I have set off in these circumstances and the colour show has been spectacular. Besides, I had woken up by this time, and the rain had sort of stopped, so I cycled off, full of ridiculous hope.

DSC_0421dragonflyTo see more images of sunrises on the Common, please click on this link: The Ornamental Pond: Sunrises

I arrived at the Ornamental Pond at the same time as the rain. Even by squinting through my most rose tinted spectacles I couldn’t continue to believe in a glorious sunrise. The sensible thing to do would be to go home. However, I am not known for doing the sensible thing. Instead, I wandered disconsolately, wondering if I had a hole in my left boot, until I came to the tree where my photography journey began about three and a half years ago. By chance, the sky was doing a slightly interesting thing with its clouds, which made it worth getting my camera out. Having done that, I wandered aimlessly for a while longer, and ended up at the Cemetery Lake.

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This was becoming a bit of a trip down memory lane, as the Cemetery Lake was the venue that I originally migrated to with my camera after beginning my photography obsession at the tree. The light was pretty poor, and the cheerful weather forecast on my phone said something like “Unless you are incredibly stupid, do not stick around Southampton Common taking photos.” I adopted the middle path of being moderately stupid, taking a few shots, chatting to a gentleman who stopped by to tell me what the Cemetery Lake was like when he was a child, and then admitting defeat.

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It was a good decision: I arrived home just as the Christmas detritus was about to be served up with morning coffee, so I put down my bag, scattered a bit of mud around the kitchen, and joined in.

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