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.
It’s been a blustery week on Southampton Common, so most of my time has, once again, been spent by the waterside, watching how the birds have been managing the wind and mud. A lot of feather ruffling has been going on!
Dipping under the water, out of the wind and rain, has been an attractive option for some.
Others have stayed above the water, and just ridden the waves.
With a surfeit of that damp drizzly rain that hardly seems to be there yet soaks you, accompanied by a smattering of real rain, the trees on Southampton Common have been much appreciated this week: although some of them have appeared less than impressed by my company.
Despite the somewhat inclement weather, there was one morning of beautiful early light for the swans on the Ornamental Lake to pose in. In addition, notwithstanding all my whingeing, the beautiful signs of Spring are still all around, albeit swaying uncontrollably.
So, another week has blown by on Southampton Common, and we are halfway through March. This means that I can begin my annual discussion with myself about whether to get a better macro lens for all those lovely summer insects that are just waiting to hide form me.
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!
This week has included a fair bit of cloud and rain, which always makes me enjoy the woodland areas of the Common, with their generous shelter and, at this time of year, pleasingly crunchy leaves to kick my way through (will I ever grow out of kicking leaves? I guess not) .
I haven’t been the only one playing with the leaves this week though. The birds on the Boating Lake have been swimming in leaves, and the little grebes have taken to wearing them
Speaking of the Boating Lake, the swans have been starting the process of moving back to the Ornamental Lake, and I can no longer predict who I will find where. One morning I found a solitary cygnet on the Boating Lake, squeaking dismally, having missed the morning flying lesson. I discovered his parents and sibling swanning around on the Ornamental Lake, reminding the ducks and gulls of whom they perceive to be in charge. The next day, the father and two cygnets were on the Boating Lake, whilst the mother enjoyed a bit of well-earned peace and quiet on the Ornamental Lake.
On the other side of the Common, at the Cemetery Lake, the shoveler ducks deigned to come almost close enough to the edge of the water for me to try to get a decent shot of them, whilst the tufted ducks looked disapprovingly on and the gulls remained pristine, despite the muddy surroundings.
Despite the colder weather this week, a few tiny fungi are still popping up, and although some of the trees have entirely lost their leaves, others are still in full autumn glory. You never know what season it will be as you turn a corner at this time of year.
But on Thursday, there was no doubt that winter was on the way, and it was a beautiful sight. The Ornamental Lake was laced with the first ice of the season, one of the swans was visiting, and the golden sunlight was just breaking through a vey slightly hazy sky. I never really feel able to welcome winter, but when it looks like this I just have to find my chunkiest jumper, pull on an extra pair of gloves, and love every cold minute of it.
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.
The Old Cemetery is a great place to go leaf walking
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.
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.
Summer has to be my favourite season, because it’s often warm, but every year autumn tries very hard to outdo it!
Today’s visit to Southampton Common begins in the Old Cemetery, to pause and pay respect. I was lucky enough to bump into one of the Friends of the Old Cemetery during my wanderings this week, who kindly showed me a beautifully restored World War One grave, near the Cemetery Road entrance.
This week the Common has been stunning, with autumn colours everywhere. It’s been difficult to know which way to look as I stroll along, crunching through the leaves and exclaiming aloud, to anyone whom I meet or just to myself, about how beautiful this time of year is.
When the rain rolls in, as it has from time to time, there is all that beautiful woodland to hide in, where I commune with the latest tiny fungi.
So, this has been a fantastic week to aimlessly meander around, breathing in the golden glory of autumn on Southampton Common. If the wind and rain have left a few leaves, next week might be even better. But whatever the weather, Southampton Common is a wonderful place to be, and we are very lucky to have so much natural beauty in the city.
This 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.
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.
There have been frosty mornings, when I could see my breath (and the swans’ breath too!), and the fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet.
In 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.
The 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.
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.)
The 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.
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.