Skip navigation
0
We may decorate our homes at Christmas with holly wreaths and robins on cards - visiting a relative recently, I counted at least 10 robins on Christmas cards - but I believe their bursts of bright red are also there to lure us outdoors at a time when we often want to stay indoors. They are the perfect symbols of nature's festive cheer.
holly1000-2.jpg
Wildlife Garden holly. The red holly berries are easy to spot in winter and they're only on the female trees. Although toxic to humans, they are an important food source for birds, lasting longer than many other fruits even after frost.

Children's wishes for a white Christmas this year may be sadly unanswered, but the mild weather does mean that on your winter walks you might actually spot some unusual things. And you can also help us in our Great holly hunt by telling us what holly you find locally and where on our online urban tree survey map.

 

Last week, which was decidedly colder around parts of the country, the Museum's film unit went to record Museum wildlife expert Fred Rumsey on a very wintry walk through the woods near our Tring Museum in Hertfordshire.

 

Watch our lovely festive video and find out what you could discover on a winter walk near you and who the mystery nibbler is...

 

 

Although many birds migrate over the winter there are still lots of garden birds out and about, including cheeky robins. In the Museum's Wildlife Garden in South Kensington, Caroline Ware, the garden's manager tells me:

 

'There are 7 moorhens pottering around and feeding in the Wildlife Garden which is very unusual for this time of the year and bluebell leaves are already  appearing in the some of the woodland areas. We've had lots of bird  species visiting the bird feeder including bluetits, great tits, coal  tits and greenfinches, as well as robins. On the ground there are feeding dunnocks, and squirrels and mice are rushing around, and even invading our garden shed.'

 

059x1000px.jpg

Territorial Strut by Ross Hodinutt. This award-winning image in the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition captures the robin's renowned perkiness beautifully. Ross snapped it in his Devon  garden in the unusually cold spell last December.

On our Wildlife in winter page you'll find ideas for seasonal surveys to take part in, species to spot, and wildlife watching tips.

 

Read the Great holly hunt news story to find out some fascinting facts about this festive shrub, there's even a tea you can make from it...

 

Browse our Festive Season pages for suggested seasonal activites at the Museum if you're visiting. The Ice Rink and Veolia Environnements Wildlife Photographer  of the Year exhibition are not to be missed.

 

Holly trees (Ilex species). The most well-known species in Britain is the common or European holly, Ilex aquifolium, one of only three native European species.

 

Robins (Erithacus rubecula) are one of the few birds to sing all year round. They do so to defend their territory and attract a mate. Their spring song - more powerful and upbeat than their melancholy autumn song - begins from mid-December.

 

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.


0

Feeling festive yet?

Posted by Rose Dec 9, 2011

Feast your eyes on these cuties that greet our Museum shop visitors. Our seasonal selection of soft toys are as cuddly as they come, from penguins to arctic foxes and reindeer to polar bears.

Shops-Xmas-001-02122011.jpg
New festive gift shop recommendations this year are the big radio-controlled inflatable clownfish and shark air swimmers, and the little wind-up dinosaurs. Of course no home should be without either a cow poo photo frame or rhino-poo-in-a-box banana tree kit, and there's more to choose from in the Museum's range of green gifts. Browse our online shop for Christmas gift ideas or the four Museum shops on your visit.

peng-soft-1896.jpgpolar-bear-soft-toy.jpgWind-up-dinos-006-16082011.jpg

'Hello. I'm more cuddly than you...' 'Yeah but I'm a dinosaurrrr' Click the images to enlarge.

Our Festive season pages are swirling with suggestions for entertainment and activities over the Christmas period and the outdoors Ice Rink is open late over the holidays, except for Christmas Day.

ice-rink-skaters.jpg

The next special festive event is our Winter Wonderland Night Safari with MasterCard on Monday evening, 12 December. This seasonal Central Hall tour promises to reveal some intriguing specimens, including real mammoth hair, a polar bear fossil discovered in London, and Dinosaurs by torchlight (above), as well as a look at the botany of Christmas.

dino-snores-t-rex.jpg

Following that is the kids' favourite sleepover, Dino Claus on 17 December, which also includes a Dinosaurs torchlit tour. And if you can't make the Santa-led sleepover in December, there are more Dino Snores coming up next year year - tickets a terrrific Christmas gift for little dinosaur lovers?

 

There are lots of other events, talks and activities to enjoy over the festive period, whatever age you are and the unmissable Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition, with beautiful, wintry award-winning photos available in the exhibition shop or as prints online. (Note the last day to order in time for Christmas delivery to the mainland UK is 19 December and 15 December for prints.)

pods-2011-on-white-wall_smaller.jpg

 

The Museum is only closed for 3 days over the festive break, on 24 to 26 December inclusive. So come and visit during your days off work. And if you can't make it, remember you can always shop online or find ideas of wildlife in winter to explore near you.

0

The search is now on for the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 as the new competition opens today.

 

As ever, this popular and prestigious competition looks for outstanding wildlife photography from both talented amateurs and established professionals, young and old. Images must faithfully represent the natural world while showing technical and artistic creativity over the 18 categories.

 

This year we've got a few category award changes - so look out for these before you enter the competition. We also have a more diverse range of competition judge, 13 and counting as I write this.

001.jpg

Pelican perspective, winner of 2011's Eric Hosking special award embodies the technical genius and artistic integrity this category is all about. From his kitchen table, photographer Bence Mate planned how he would achieve this image of Dalmation pelicans at water-level. He constructed his own catamaran-style floating photo system and used a fish-eye lens to achieve the remarkable shot taken on Greece's Lake Kerkini. Now 27 years old, Bence steps out of the Eric Hosking Portfolio award age group leaving the frame clear for others.

The Eric Hosking award becomes The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award this year and this special award looks set to be more hotly contested than ever before. This category is open to photographers between 18 to 26 years old, who must submit a portfolio of images that they think represents their best work. Bence Mate's 6 images won this special award in 2011 - he was of course 2010's overall winner too - but now at the grand old age of 27, Bence moves out of this category to make room for new contenders.

 

The Eric Hosking Portfolio award, named after this great photographer whose distinguished career spanned over 60 years, is particularly special because it bridges the gap between the young and the adult photographers in the competition. It's an award that celebrates a body of work which heralds a longevity in a developing photographic career, as well as seeking images that fuse technical innovation with artistic integrity. Bence's Pelican perspective (above) is probably the single image in his winning Eric Hosking portfolio that truly embodies the latter.

061.jpg

Sandra Bartocha tells how she captured her beautiful snowdrops at sunset: 'I could hear great crested grebes calling. I took an in-camera double exposure image, with one sharp exposure and then one much softer one, so the scene would appear as dreamy as it felt.'

Another award worth a mention is In Praise of Plants and Fungi which for the 2012 competition becomes the more atmospheric-sounding Botanical Realms, exemplified in the 2011 winning image, Harbinger of spring by Sandra Bartocha (above).

 

Female photographers are still somewhat under-represented in the wildlife photographer of the year competition, so it's good to see Sandra's work at the forefront of this category award. And girl power is creeping in too among the young ones. For some reason I imagined this ferocious bug was photographed by a boy. But no, it's the work of a 10-year old Malaysian girl, Hui Yu Kim who's into macro-photography. She liked the look of this Alien looking tropical rainforest beetle (below).

094.jpg

Hui Yu's Alien won the 10 Years and Under 2011 award. Hui is keen on macro-photography and chose the most colourful animal to take a portrait of. 'It had a strange look, like an alien, but it wasn't angry. It sat still on the branch all the time,' she says. 'I  want people to know that all creatures, even small ones, count. So don't destroy the forest,' she adds.

And if your work is more focused on documenting the relationship between people and the environment, whether constructive or destructive, then consider submitting your images in the new special award category The World in Our Hands.

 

Find out about the competition on the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year website Closing date for the compeition is 23 February 2012.

 

See the 2011 competition winners in the exhibition at the Natural History Museum here - book tickets in advance online.

 

Select images to enlarge them