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.

Storms and sunshine on Southampton Common

It’s been a stormy end to November, and only the most determined of  the autumn leaves are still hanging on.

I have spent an awful lot of time this week sheltering in the woodlands, walking through slightly soggy leaves, pausing to admire the fungi, and reminding myself how much we need all this rain to keep the land green and pleasant. 

Although it seems as if the week has been pretty damp, there have been plenty of beautiful moments: a misty morning …

A couple of lovely early starts at the Ornamental Lake…


and the meeting  of clouds and sunshine is always a delight to watch

Apart from the wild weather, this weeks events include  the Boating Lake being drained, meaning  that  those who had taken up residence there have had to find alternative accommodation. The cygnets have been safely relocated, and their parents have reluctantly accepted that it is time to return to the Ornamental Lake for winter. Of this I am very glad, as they add a photogenic touch to early morning winter photos. 

For the ex-Boating Lake dwellers who want to remain on the Common, the alternative to  the Ornamental Lake is the Cemetery Lake, and the established residents there have had to make room for a few new arrivals too.

All in all, despite the rather inclement weather, it’s been another week when I have been glad to be able to spend a few hours wandering the Common, doing nothing remotely useful, but enjoying doing it!

More autumn treats on Southampton Common

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It’s been another week of autumn glory on Southampton Common, leaves to crunch through, leaves to look up to and leaves fluttering onto me. The trees change every day at this time of year: one morning adorned in golden glory, the next protected by a barrier of fallen foliage. On some corners of the Common autumn is nearly over, and the trees are wintry and naked, but elsewhere it’s just beginning, with the leaves just beginning to turn.
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The Old Cemetery is a great place to go leaf walking
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Not to be outdone, the swans on the Boating Lake have been busy this week, taking longer flights with the two remaining cygnets, encouraging their independence, most likely in the hope that they will soon find territories of their own to fly to.
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I can’t ignore the fungi at this time of year: tiny mushrooms popping up everywhere, but especially in the woodland areas of the Common.
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Summer has to be my favourite season, because it’s often warm, but every year autumn tries very hard to outdo it!
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Two weeks of wandering on Southampton Common

 

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JHT_0019JHT_0019_1This is a bumper report on my wanderings on Southampton Common: I was engaged a different kind of wandering most of last week as it was half term.
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It’s been two weeks of what autumn does best: a bit of every kind of weather, and lots of beautiful things to see. Beautiful, crisp sunny days, interspersed with cloudy or misty starts.

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JHT_0240JHT_0240_4There have been frosty mornings, when I could see my breath (and the swans’ breath too!), and the fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet.

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JHT_0239JHT_0239In the woodlands, there are plenty of tiny fungi, which either provide me with the perfect excuse to dodge the rain or draw me in to admire them as they dance in the sunshine.

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JHT_0889The autumn is just beginning to achieve its full glory on the Common, and my meandering strolls are taking longer and longer as I pause more and more frequently to admire the golden colours.

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At the Boating Lake, the cygnets are busy perfecting their flying skills under their parents’ tutelage, and it wont be long before they have all found new homes I guess. (I am reliably informed that cygnet number three, who has been missing for a week or so, is safely ensconced in a  new residence.)

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JHT_0472JHT_0472_1The tufted ducks are back in force, looking disapprovingly at me, and there are still some little grebes on the Boating Lake, blending in with the autumn colours.

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So, it’s mostly the gloves on time of year now, but the Common is as beautiful as ever and I have a feeling it might get even more stunning over the next couple of weeks.

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Growing up on Southampton Common

 

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Last week’s mini heatwave is over and the weather has been a little less glorious over the past few days. On Friday I had to give in and return to wearing my winter coat and gloves and carrying my trusty flask. However, the Common is still beautiful, if a tad muddy once more, and there was enough sunshine for a few butterflies to be out and about on Thursday when I was wandering in the Old Cemetery.

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The main attraction and sadness for me though has been seeing the ducklings grow and go. By Tuesday their number was reduced to only four, but those four were undiminished in loveliness, although increasing in both size and defiance of danger each day, becoming more adventurous and starting to resemble mini ducks rather than tiny balls of fluff.

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Whilst the ducklings’ parents watch carefully over them the other residents of the ponds continue to be busy: preening, nest building and incubating their eggs.

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The swans on both the Cemetery Lake and Ornamental Pond are now on full time sitting duty. In between their shifts on the nest they are occupied with guard duty and collecting maintenance materials for their nests in the form of twigs, reeds, and the lace from one of my boots, which the male swan from the Ornamental Pond tried to remove the other morning. Luckily for me (and him) he was unsuccessful.

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So, despite the temperature falling back into single figures, spring is still very much in evidence on Southampton Common and the forecast says that there might be a little bit of warmer weather on the way. In the meantime though, I have my big coat and gloves ready for tomorrow morning.

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A tiny pleasure on Southampton Common

 

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The swans dominated the news at the beginning of this week. On Monday morning I stopped by briefly on my way to work, and was rewarded by the sight of the pair on the Ornamental Pond mating. The female swan has since been spending some time sitting where their nest is usually located on the island, so no doubt some serious building will begin soon. Looking back, their schedule is very much the same as last year, so perhaps I should book a few days leave for when the cygnets might hatch.DSC_0587DSC_0587To purchase an unmarked copy of this image please click on this link
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Meantime, there has been plenty of action elsewhere on the Common, and I have (again) made the mistake of trusting the weather forecast. This morning I set off for my weekly promenade with my friend attired for clouds and rain. Initially, this was exactly what was on offer, and I arrived at our rendezvous point at the Ornamental Pond just as a sizeable downpour began. Huddling under the slight shelter of some trees waiting for her I tried to talk myself into believing that today would be an excellent opportunity to practice taking shots of the shady woodland areas.

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However, as we set off on our constitutional the rain receded, and by the time I bade her farewell and went to the Old Cemetery the sun was shining, I was overdressed, and the bees were making an appearance. The longish semi –macro lens that I use for insects who do not like photographers was standing safely on the table at home, and I berated myself (possibly aloud) for trusting the gloomy bee-less forecast. Nevertheless, with the blossom cheering up the soggy pathways, and four Brimstone butterflies flitting past, I was very happy indeed and promised myself that I would never again leave that particular lens at home between now and November.

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After a brief stop at the Cemetery Lake for some mildly disapproving looks from the ducks and an impressive bit of splashing from a coot I trudged away from the Common muddy of boot but light of heart. I was really very glad that I had not been consigned to a morning in the undergrowth, and despite the snow that is forecast for the weekend I know that the macro season is pretty much here. For the next few months I can spend many hours throwing my happiness on the mercy of tiny, unwilling subjects. Won’t that be fun?!

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Unwelcome guests on the Cemetery Lake, Southampton Common

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Having visited the Common only fleetingly during half term last week I was planning a gentle stroll around yesterday: catching up with all the small but satisfying events that were on offer and generally mulling life in the slow lane whilst indulging in the odd warm beverage and sugary sustenance. However, as is so often the case when you try to make plans involving nature, things didn’t quite work out that way.

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The weather was deciding between sunshine and clouds, but at the little morning gathering of people on the sunny corner of the Ornamental Pond we all agreed that it was a beautiful day, and I went off to play in the mud. First, I went to the Old Cemetery. Here, I was engulfed by tranquillity, and spent some time worshipping at the feet of the tiny gods of incipient spring.

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After hoisting myself back to an upright position using my trusty but battered tripod I wandered over to the Cemetery Lake. It was here that the calm and leisurely ambience came to an end. To my great delight it was immediately obvious that not one, but six, creatures were even less popular than me today. This was most gratifying, and I settled down with my trusty flask and biscuits to watch as half a dozen visiting swans were asked to leave by the two residents. There was a great deal of chasing, causing my old friends the tufted ducks to look angrily at the warring parties, whilst the shoveler ducks stayed further away than ever.

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After a while the established pair retreated behind the island to talk tactics before returning, armada-like, for more. However, they had quite task, with six youngsters to try to evict.

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I stayed for a while, enjoying the action, before reclaiming my bicycle and returning home to distribute the fruits of my muddy adventures around the house. At this point,  all eight of the swans were still there. Not for long though, as it turned out. But more of that in the next blog entry.

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