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.
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!
Just as we thought we were heading to spring, Southampton has been visited by the “Beast from the East”. Elsewhere in the UK the Beast has brought snow with it. So far, we have only had the mildest of flurries, but more is promised for Thursday. In the meantime it’s been a combination of summer and arctic conditions on the Common. Stand in a sheltered sunny patch and you might take off your coat and wonder what all the fuss is about. Turn the corner into a shady but windy spot and you will know. I have been looking even odder than usual, wearing unmatched gloves as I have again lost at least three of mine, and trying to pull my hat down to meet my coat when cycling against the wind. Tomorrow I may borrow one of my son’s go-karting balaclavas, especially if the snow closes the schools and we are out playing.
The ponds on the Common are now back down to their usual quota of swans: the new arrivals having departed from the Boating Lake, no doubt as a result of a visit full of heavy hints from the couple from the Ornamental Pond. All three ponds are now frozen over and the wind has been ruffling many feathers amongst the bird population. On the Ornamental Pond the residents are all shoehorned into a tiny channel of water at the island end, and on the Cemetery Lake they are deriving what comfort they can from a tiny trickle of water round the edges of ice sheet.
I settled down in a sunny, sheltered, corner by the Cemetery Lake today, accompanied by my comfort items of flask and biscuits. Despite their restricted circumstances the birds were generally all getting on with life (possibly because they do not have the doom saying weather forecast to cheer them up), although the coots in particular seem to find the icy surfaces a bit puzzling. On a positive note, the conditions meant that the shoveler ducks finally deigned to come over to the photgraphable part of the Cemetery Lake again, and a very friendly little robin popped out to see me. So, as usual, life was good on Southampton Common, provided one stayed out of the wind and in the sunshine, and we eagerly await the promised snow and school closures tomorrow.
There was an impressive frost today, and I had to go to the supermarket. Despite having a small mountain of post Christmas detritus in the kitchen, you kind of need something to go with the remains of the Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, and the chocolates that no-one likes. So, I thought I would relieve my family of my company for a bit longer than was strictly necessary and pop in to see how the Common was doing in the cold.
Having overcome the slight challenge of the lock on our bicycle shed being iced up I made my way to the Common. The Ornamental Pond and Cemetery Lake were both more or less frozen over when I arrived at about nine o’clock. However, the brave were already out and about, crunching their way along the paths and across the grass, and as the morning wore on the Common became a hive of activity. Children of all ages were playing with their outdoors themed Christmas gifts, cracking icy patches on the paths, feeding the birds, and generally blowing away the Christmas cobwebs. Meantime, the birds on both ponds gave pretty good skating demonstrations, until the sun began to thaw their habitats and they basked in the relative warmth of nearly-but-not-actually-frozen water.
I dug out my flask, had a quick warming beverage, and was delighted to discover a forgotten half bar of chocolate in my pocket. Munching happily I bade goodbye to the Common and plunged into the post Christmas shopping crowds.