Snowdrops and ice on Southampton Common

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.

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.

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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