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8 Posts tagged with the urban_conservation tag
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Bee happy in the Wildlife Garden

Posted by Rose Jun 13, 2014

Our Wildlife Garden has been a hive of activity in recent weeks, entertaining visitors at pond life sessions and family events like Nettle Weekend, not to mention the arrival of summer all around. And there's more fun and sun promised for this weekend when we join in London's Open Garden Squares Weekend on 14 and 15 June.

 

It's an annual event and this year we'll be focusing on bumblebee conservation and welcome guest artist Jessica Albarn who will be drawing bees. Don't miss a peek inside the garden's oak bee tree to see what the honey bees are up to.

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Feel the buzz of the Museum Wildlife Garden and its bee tree at our Open Garden Squares event this weekend.

Learning how to build a green roof and decorate a flower pot are other attractions. And there will be delicious refreshments to hand and interaction for all ages.

 

Wildlife Garden ecologist Larissa Cooper, who is coordinating the event, says:

 

“Staff and volunteers have been busy preparting for the weekend.The plants are being cared for ready for visitors to plant in their own pot and take home, gazebos are going up (for the shade not to keep us dry hopefully!) and some of us are baking some yummy treats for you to enjoy!

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Watch artist Jessica Albarn at work drawing bees and meet bee conservationists. Select images to enlarge.

'We are delighted to have artist Jessica Albarn coming along to draw bees and raise awareness of the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Jessica’s intricate work of tiny creatures is something else and this will be an event not to be missed.'

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Learn how to build your own green roof. Spot the species on tree hunts, pond walks, nature trails and more.

Our Open Garden Squares Weekend runs from 10.00 to 4.30 each day of the weekend and is free to attend.

 

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The Wildlife Garden is gorgeously green at the moment and smells ever so lush. And this weekend it unveils its lusciousness on Sunday 8 May for the first in a series of weekend events that will be happening each month until October.

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Pink delights in the Wildlife Garden, open for its first weekend event on 8 May: Left, ragged robin and right, red campion. Select all images to enlarge them

Our Spring Wildlife event on Sunday starts at midday and along with the cakes, refreshments and a plant sale, there will be great discoveries to make at the display tables dotted around and in the meadows and the big garden shed.

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Join the bluebell demonstration and take a peep inside the bee tree (photographed last year) - once again home to a thriving colony this spring

You can try identifying seeds and fruits through microscopes, do a spot of leaf rubbing, find out about spring-flying insects and life in the nettle patch as well as spotting enormous tadpoles in the pond.

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If you want to learn how to attract birds or bats to your own garden, catch the advice of the experts who will be in the garden. There will also be a chance to witness a demonstration of how to survey bluebells and tell the difference between native and hybrid ones, just before they vanish for the year.

 

Walk along the pathways carpeted with plane tree seeds and secluded by pretty guelder roseand dog roses (most of the blossom has gone now) and look out for the dainty orange-tipped butterflies (right) flitting about and a few busy bees making their way back to the bee-tree colony (above). Also watch out for the cute little moorhen chicks on the pond. Caroline, the garden's manager, counted five last week.

 

There are yellow iris, red campions and ragged robin wildlflowers to enjoy too.

 

At 12.30 and 14.30, you can see more specimens close up and hear from our Nature Live team at the Springing into Life talk.in the nearby Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio.

 

Coming up next this month in the garden is the Great Museum Bioblitz on our Big Nature Day on 22 May with a tree hunt that's also being trialled this Sunday. So watch out for more news of that.

 

Find out more about the Wildlife Garden

 

Join our online bluebell survey

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Return of the sheep

Posted by Rose Sep 8, 2010

Remember the Dartmoor Tor family who grazed in the Wildlife Garden last year? They're back and they're larger, woollier and hungrier than ever before. Since their return last week, Bella and Bee with Little Mis have lost no time in eating the leaves of their favourite trees. Which is great news, says Caroline the garden's manager, as there's now a lot more light on the horizon at the edge of the meadow.

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Bella, her half-sister Little Mis and Bee, Bella's little one who's now 16 months old, in the Wildlife Garden meadow

 

Our 3 Greyface Dartmoors spent last year at the London Wetland Centre, with extended family members Kitty and Honey (part of the Wildlife Garden Tor sheep fraternity), grazing the meadows and the islands of the beautiful wetland reserve. The sheep were all shorn in May, but are looking large and woolly again.

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The Wildlife Garden's meadow and chalk downland will be grazed by our sheep over the coming weeks and their trampling actions help seeds to germinate.

 

When I visited the garden to greet the sheep, I also spotted a tiny frog jumping in the meadow with them, several wood mice scampering by the secluded logpile, some beautiful dragonflies on the fence and a family of humans investigating the Bee Tree. Have a look at the garden's Recent sightings sign below to see what's around.

 

Find out about the Wildlife Garden

 

Read last year's sheep blog

 

Discover the London Wetland Centre

 

Images: Bella's shaggy smile. Garden's Recent Sightings sign, below.  Click on the images to enlarge them. Thanks to Matt for them.

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I'm completely in awe of trees. Especially the trees that flourish, magically, amidst the concrete and bricks, and the metal, rubber and glass of London's busy streets, where I live and work.

 

So I'm very happy to be telling you about our new online Urban tree survey. This nationwide survey, that launched on Friday 16 July, will be one of the biggest tree surveys ever.

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A Judas tree in Cambridge © Andrew Dunn. This was our Species of the day to mark the launch of the Urban tree survey.

Although we know a lot about Britain's rural tree population, relatively little is known about the trees in urban areas. We're being invited to record particularly what's in our private gardens and local streets and parks of urban Britain, so our scientists and botanists can build a picture of what trees are growing where, and also find out how the urban tree population is changing.

 

Our survey focuses on 80 different types of tree normally associated with an urban environment.

 

I'm told that one of our most widespread trees is the sycamore, and in urban areas, the closely related norway maple may be as common or more so. These species were introduced to the UK. But we don't have actual numbers for the most common trees, only data on which are most widespread.

 

There are lots of resources on the Urban tree survey website to help with tree identification and advice on how to take part in the survey.

 

I recommend watching the Identify trees video first, which shows you what things to look out for to identify your trees correctly. Especially enjoyable because it's filmed in Holland Park, one of London's best parks in my opinion.

 

trees-leaves.jpgTo record your findings on the survey, choose an area you want to survey first, and think about the things you'll need to consider before you start recording your trees. For example, are the tree leaves hairy? Are they needle-like or scale-like, broad or lobed? What about fruits or cones? Petals, twigs, bark and importantly what does it smell like? The Tree identification key which you can download and take with you, will help with all this. You can check your identification using our online interactive identification key.

 

Read the news story about the Urban tree survey for some fascinating facts about the survey and our knowledge of trees.

 

Explore the lovely Judas tree Species of the day that marked the launch of the survey and is the main photo above. It's also featured in the survey. Now where did it get its name, I wonder?

Are these leaves from an elder or ash? Check your tree knowledge on the survey's ID key chart

The Urban tree survey will run for 3 years and our Cherry tree survey launched this spring is part of it.

 

Leaves image © Università di Trieste, Dipartimento di Biologia. Photo: Andrea Moro

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Our Wildlife Garden is taking part once again in London's Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 12 and 13 June.

 

Special treats lined up for visitors include the chance to meet a bat expert and to get more acquainted with our family of moorhens (left) and the rest of our busy pond community in the garden.


The Wildlife Garden's freshwater ponds are home to many species of plants and animals. If you're lucky at the weekend, you might spot the little moorhen chicks and azure damselflies competing for attention with the likes of diving beetles and common newts.

 

Our bat expert, Sean Hanna, will be in the garden both days, revealing lots of fascinating bat facts. Incidentally, did you know that brown long-eared bats, like the cutie in the picture below (click to enlarge), have such good hearing they can hear a ladybird walking on a leaf...long-eared-bat-600.jpg

 

Garden photographer Sue Snell will be signing copies of her new book, The Garden at Charleston, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning at the event. Sue has been photographing this artistic and quintessentially English garden at Charleston, beloved by the Bloomsbury Group, for the last decade,

 

Other highlights of our weekend event will include leaf rubbing and seed identification activities and stalls selling refreshments and wild flowers plants. The event is free.

 

Find out more about the Open Garden Squares Weekend event in the Wildlife Garden and visit the official Museum page on the Open Garden Squares Weekend website

 

Make the most of this weekend to also visit other rarely-open or little-known London gardens. This year there are 200 London gardens taking part in Open Garden Squares Weekend. You can find out who's taking part at the Open Garden Squares website

 

More to follow up online

 

Some bat secrets are revealed on our website.


If you're interested in more pond facts, have a look at our Freshwater ponds webpage


Browse our visitors' Wildlife Garden webpage

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We have a family of foxes living in the Wildlife Garden. They've set up a breeding den, called an earth, tucked away under the garden shed in the private part of the Wildlife Garden.

And now, we've got our first foxcam set up to follow our foxy lodgers scampering around. There are about 3 to 4 little cubs that have been spotted so far. They come out to feed on earthworms, beetles and other tasty snacks.

As I write this blog in the afternoon, one cheeky cub comes out to pose as if to say 'hello, watch me, I'm on camera'. What a show-off!

You can use the foxcam day by day and get a glimpse of the fox cubs growing up. The Wildlife Garden staff tell me that they are most active early in the morning and early evening about 6ish. So we recommend catching up with the foxcam at these times to get a good glimpse, but then I just saw my cub in the middle of the afternoon. Also on camera, you may spot pigeons, squirrels and the legs of humans too.

Our Wildlife Garden fox cubs were probably born in late March. Over the summer months they will play, explore and gradually begin to fend for themselves by joining their parents on night-time hunts. By September the cubs should be fully grown.

For a sneak peak of a fox cub appearance on our foxcam, have a look at our YouTube foxcam clip from 26 April.



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Our lovely Wildlife Garden has opened for spring and welcomes visitors on Sunday 11 April to its Yellow Book Day event.

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Yellow Book Day is part of the National Gardens' Scheme to open gardens for charity.

 

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At the daytime event, explore a bird hide installation by pastoral feltmaker Anne Belgrave, where you can try and spot some of her felt bird sculptures dotted around the garden. (With the help of some bird ID charts to hand.) One of her pretty creations is shown here on the left.

 

Become a bird detective and see if you can identify real species in the garden too. Recently a jay, heron and a pair of nesting blue-tits have joined our familiar moorhens, blackbirds and robins.

 

As well as identifying birds, enjoy spotting some incredible pond life through a microscope and find out about the garden's frogs, toads and newts.

 

Walk through the meadows and enjoy the spring plants and flowers as you browse stalls selling wild flowers, homemade tea and cakes. It's a perfect spring day out and a breath of fresh air if you've been inside the Museum's galleries for too long! Have a look at our Wildlife Garden highlights slideshow for more of a glimpse.

 

There is a bird talk in the afternoon in the Attenborough Studio about the felt bird installation by the artist Anne Belgrave, and Katrina van Grouw from the Birds Section at our Tring Museum will talk about British birds and how to identify and encourage them at home.

 

Our species of the day celebrates the jay. Unearth lots of fascinating facts about this shy yet striking, acorn-eating bird you'll find near oak trees.

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Autumn in the Wildlife Garden is busy for everyone

It's your last chance to enjoy the beautiful autumn colours in the Museum’s Wildlife Garden, before it closes at the end of the day on Saturday 31 October. It re-opens in spring on 1 April 2010.

 

But although the garden gate may be closing, you are always welcome to ring our information desk if you want to visit during the winter months. The number is at the top of our Wildlife Garden page on the website.

 

For those who might not get the chance to come now, here’s a bit about what’s been going on in our garden this autumn.

 

Most recent sightings in the garden have included several common moths such as the large underwing moth and the brick moth, a determined fox who has often been seen stalking birds, shield bugs and a magnificent kestrel spotted swooping down for a quick snack mouse. Just today, a gorgeous goldfinch has appeared, so maybe we will see more of these lovely birds in the future.

 

By November the different shades of autumn are completely transforming the Wildlife Garden to a rich palette of yellow, orange, red, pink and brown.

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'Please leave us some leaves to hide in'

Leaf raking has been taking place since early October to keep the paths clear for visitors, and to protect the grassland. Fallen leaves are left in hedges and woodland to break down naturally – helped by invertebrates living in leaf litter – and to provide refuges for animals such as toads. Leaf-raking chores have been made easier thanks to a big infux of volunteers from the nearby Imperial College. At this time of year, about 12 people (most are part-time) help look after the garden during the week and another 12-15 assist on weekends once a month. At the moment there is much to do.

 

 

The butter-yellow lime leaves were the first to fall and these trees will be the first to stand unclad. The London plane trees towering high above the garden are now turning orange brown. Plane tree leaves are very leathery and unlike our native trees, take ages to break down, so our garden carers have to gently remove them from certain areas and shred them up for re-scattering. (Otherwise they’d smother other plants beneath.) It’s the beech leaves which turn that gorgeous rich toffee colour, while the field maple and hornbeam go golden yellow and rowan pink and red. The wonder and diversity of trees!

 

It has been a busy time for many of the garden’s animal residents too.

 

From early autumn, fruits and berries have been ripening and birds and small mammals start harvesting before the winter and seasonal food shortages begin. The earliest berries to mature were rowan – they don’t remain on the trees for long as birds swoop in on them to devour the orange-red juicy fruits. In the hedgerows, blackbirds have been feasting on dark blackberries and bluish-purple sloes.

 

Cracked shells are everywhere in evidence of hazel nuts and acorns collected by squirrels, wood mice and jays – some are stored and some are eaten.

As well as the general upkeep that autumn changes make necessary in the garden, the wildlife gardeners’ work during the early winter months includes feeding birds, checking nest boxes and making any necessary repairs to the moorhens’ island.


Thanks to the Wildlife Garden team for their updates. Follow the What's new blog for more updates on our winter activities in the garden.