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25 Posts tagged with the wildlife_garden tag
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Wildlife Garden springs into action

Posted by Rose Mar 27, 2014

See what's bursting into life and who's out and about in the Museum's Wildlife Garden in our spring photo gallery below. Everyone who works behind the scenes in the Wildlife Garden team, including some very shaggy helpers, is busy getting the meadows, pathways, ponds, sheds and greenhouses ready for the garden's opening to the public once more, from 1 April.

 

It's also the time of year that the garden and its different habitats require special attention with all the new life in abundance. Frogs have been getting matey and mallards have been checking out the pond's moorhen island.

 

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The Museum's Wildlife Garden opens its gates to the public once again from 1 April with its first public event, Spring Widllife, on 5 April to herald the start of the Easter holidays.

 

The garden will be the focus of lots of fun and nature-filled activities, planned through the coming spring, summer and autumn seasons. And as usual we'll be hosting regular, free monthly weekend events starting with Spring Wildlife on Saturday 5 April.

 

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Pretty red crab apple blossom caught on camera a couple of weeks ago.

 

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Glowing cowslips appearing in the meadows.

 

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Our Greyface Dartmoor sheep, who usually visit from the Wetland Centre in the autumn, have been staying for a few days to graze down the meadow grass. It's the last chance to do this before wild flowers start coming up. By nipping the spring grass in the bud there will be more light for the flowers to come through.

 

mallards-bird-island-1500.jpgMallard visitors exploring the moorhen island lookout on the pond.

 

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Frogspawn was spotted in the garden's pond around 17 March.

 

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Wood anemones have recently come into flower.

 

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Violets on the hedge banks.

 

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Sweet-smelling gorse bushes in the early morning spring sunshine.

 

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White blackthorn blossom perks up the pathways.

 

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Behind the scenes in the garden's greenhouse, staff and volunteers have been preparing seedlings.

 

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The latest green roof in the garden atop the sheep shed was created last autumn. The sloping roof is planted with stonecrops and plants such as thrift, sea campion and sea lavender. More about green roofs coming later in the season.

 

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Alfred Russel Wallace the collector stands watch in front of the Wildlife Garden. His statue was unveiled here last November to commemorate his centenary.

 

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Rain or shine, it's half-term time

Posted by Rose May 25, 2013

As ever, there are heaps of things to do at the Museum over the half-term holidays and you don't even have to come inside the building to enjoy all of them. Just step into the outdoor Sensational Butterflies house and meet 100s of live ones (and it's warm in there), enjoy a coffee or ice cream by the lawn's cafe kiosk, or take a stroll in the lovely Wildlife Garden and its bustling ponds to meet London wildlife among the daisies and buttercups.

 

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Left: An awesome Atlas moth in the butterflies exhibition, snapped by our butterfly house manager. Why not take your own butterfly pics inside the exhibition or at home and enter our Pinterest competition?

 

On Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 2 June, the Wildlife Garden is the focus of our free Bat Festival weekend, which also spreads its wings into the Museum's Darwin Centre for extra displays and talks, so make some plans if you're a batty friend.

 

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Tadpoles, yellow rattle, buttercups and the thriving bee tree in our spring-filled Widlife Garden, which also hosts the Bat Festival on the weekend of 1 to 2 June. Below, batty action at last year's festival.

 

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Inside the Museum, there are over 30 wonderful galleries to explore and the chance to book in advance for the ever-popular Dinosaurs, as well as puppet shows, hands-on activities and investigative fun. Browse our What's on for kids section to get the best recommendations.

 

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Left: Fossil corals display in Dinosaur Way. Right: The roaring jaws of the sabre-tooth cat in the Extinction exhibition - look out for our 2for1 ticket vouchers for Extinction in the Museum.

 

For more grown-up stimulation, there's a choice of two major ticketed exhibitions, Sebastaio Salgado's Genesis and Extinction. Or you could drop in to one or more of the many free talks in our Attenborough Studio scheduled through the week. Starting Sunday 26 and ending on Wednesday 29 May, the talks include live-links to the Isles of Scilly where the Field work with Nature Live team are accompanying Museum scientists performing their research. The Treasures Cadogan Gallery is also a must for anyone who wants to get to the heart of the Museum in one gallery.

 

Volunteers week, 1 to 7 June, coincides with the half-term holiday break and you can get a look at some of the Indonesian fossil corals volunteers helped to prepare for research in a new display cabinet in Dinosaur Way. Or take the lift up to the Specimen Preparation Area in the Cocoon on 30 May to see our new volunteers actually at work.

 

Keep up to date with our What's on and What's on for kids pages.

Find out more about volunteering at the Museum

Read the Wildlife Garden blog

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Are frogs on their last legs? Not if we and all the frog fans out there can help it. The Museum's Wildlife Garden joins the awareness action this weekend as the venue for the UK's Save the Frogs Day, hosted by the Froglife charity.

 

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'Help, I can't find my pond...' Save the Frogs Day is on Saturday 27 April, come along to our event in the Wildlife Garden or join in where you are. Image: Common frog, Rana temporaria, courtesy Silviu Petrovan.

 

As well as the fun stuff like pond-dipping and decorating your own tropical frog models to take home, there will be lots to learn about ambiphians and their conservation at our event here on Saturday, 27 April.

museum-garden-pond-may2012.jpgThe Museum's large pond in its Wildlife Garden: Home to amphibians like the common frog, toad, and common newt, and many more aquatic animals. Enjoy some pond-dipping at our Save the Frogs Day event on Saturday.

 

If you can't make it to the Museum for Save the Frogs Day, here are some quick tips of how to help conservation wherever you are:

 

  • Listen to and share comedian John Shuttleworth’s Save the frog song
  • Tweet your froggy pics and support to #Savethefrogs
  • Don’t move frogs or frogspawn - particularly important at the moment when frogs are arriving in local ponds
  • Don’t release pet amphibians (or any other animals) into the wild
  • Report any dead or ill amphibians in your garden to Froglife
  • Add Water and dig a wildlife pond in your own garden
  • Make your gardening organic and chemical-free
  • Support amphibian conservation projects

 

With more than 5,800 species currently identified, frogs and toads are the most familiar and most abundant amphibians on the planet. But the sad fact is that UK populations of frogs are under threat from disease and habitat loss. They make up 32% of the already large fraction (one-third) of amphibian species that are threatened with extinction.

 

9780565092627-with-drop-shadow.jpgThe ranavirus disease and destruction of local ponds are among the causes for our frogs' decline. These factors can wipe out a local population in a short time (ranavirus is a disease that Froglife has been aware of since the 1980s and there is an ongoing research project with the Institute of Zoology to help stop the spread of the disease.)

 

If you want to immerse yourselves more in the amazing world of frogs and toads, the Museum's guide to Frogs and Toads by Chris Mattison is really comprehensive and beautifully illustrated (above and right).

 

Find out lots more about frog conservation on the Froglife website

 

What's the difference between frogs and toads

 

Learn about freshwater pond habitats

 

Identify your frog or amphibian find on our ID forum

 

Follow our Wildilfe Garden blog

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Our Wildlife Garden is the beesness

Posted by Rose Jul 26, 2012

'What bees hate is the three Ws,' says Luke Dixon, our garden's beehive manager. 'That's the Wet, Wind and Wintry weather!' ... 'Oh dear', I think to myself as I catch up with him on a recent visit to the Museum's Wildlife Garden.

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There are about 40,000 bees living in each of the Museum's Wildlife Garden hives. Select photos to enlarge.

'It's been a poor year across Britain for the bee populations because of the summer rains,' Luke continues, 'but, our bees in the Wildlife Garden have been doing fantastically so far.'

 

I discover that each of our two bee hives near the garden shed (n.b. in the private bit of the garden) is currently home to about 30,000 to 40,000 bees. I'm not sure how they manage to count them, mind! And the Bee Tree by the meadow is bursting with about 50,000 to 60,000 this summer.

 

You can watch what our most industrious garden inhabitants are up to right now on our live beecam.

 

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Inspecting the Museum's hives

 

'Here in the Wildlife Garden, it's sheltered and because of our different habitats, there is a lot for the bees to forage on,' explains Luke. I can see exactly what he means. As Caroline, the garden's manager, leads me up the path to investigate the Bee Tree we pass a mass of pretty wild flowers in the meadow and later I notice the flourishing heather on the heathland.

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Irresistable wild flowers in the Wildlife Garden's meadows, one of the thriving habitats we cultivate.

The Bee Tree is certainly buzzing and full to almost bursting point with honey combs. It also appears that something has been trying to get into the honey treasure trove - sawdust on the bark's back door is a bit of a give-away. Caroline suspects a woodpecker.

 

For those who remember the 2010 Wildlife Garden honey, the news is they may collect honey from the bees in October, but it depends. 'We want to leave the bees some to eat in the winter months' says Luke, so we'll have to see.

 

Bee-Swarm-kevin-s-garden-1000.jpgThis amazing photo (left), taken by our Museum photograher, shows bees swarming in his garden. They sometimes do this in late Spring and, for the first time in the eight years that we've kept them, the bees of the Museum's hives did so in the Wildlife Garden last week! I asked Qais Zacharia, who also looks after the Museum's hives, why this occurs:

 

'This is slightly unusual for this late in the year, but could be due to the poor start to the summer. Swarms form when the colony becomes overcrowded; the queen leaves and approximately one third of the bees from the colony follow her in search of a new home. The remaining bees stay behind to rear a new, replacement queen.

 

'During the swarm tens of thousands of honeybees can take to the air and, despite appearances and terrible B-movies, they are not agressive (their principal focus is finding a new home). After leaving the old colony, the swarm will typically congregate on a nearby branch while scouts search for a suitable place to form their new colony, a process that can take as long as a few days.

 

'Experienced beekeepers are able to capture the swarm at this point - assuming it is within reach - by shaking the bees into a "nucleus box" before moving them into a new hive. However, we didn't manage to do this last week as the swarms were too high up in the trees and they must have made a new home elsewhere, which could be anywhere from somewhere close by to several miles away.

 

 

'At the old colony, the new queen will hatch after about a week and will venture out to mate with drones from colonies nearby before returning to lay eggs. A good sign that a queen has successfully mated is pollen being taken into the hive but, if mating wasn't successful, the colony will dwindle and eventually die off. This can be prevented in kept hives by swapping in a specially bred and mated queen for the unsuccessful original.'

 

If you're visiting the Museum in summer, drop into the Wildlife Garden. And look out for a 'living' bee sculpture by artist Tomàš Libertíny outside the Museum between 28 July and 5 August as part of the Exhibition Road Show.

 

Watch now on our live beecam

 

Enjoy our Wildlife in summer website

 

Find out about visiting the Wildlife Garden

 

Browse the Wildlife Garden highlights slideshow

 

Discover the habitats in the garden

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The sun shone, the worms were charmed, bugs counted, trees trailed, and ponds dipped while visitors were led a merry dance through the Museum and outdoor gardens by the Insect Parade for Big Nature Day last Sunday. Over 5,000 people came. It was a resounding success.

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Hundreds of excited children made bug hats and got their faces painted at the workshops in the Darwin Centre atrium to join the Insect Parade (above and below). The parade was led by the insect band on stilts who were dressed as a giant ladybird, earwig, leaf insect and beetle. They took the procession twice around the Museum, through the Central Hall under Dippy's tail, back into the Darwin Centre and out into the Courtyard for a final song.

 

The event was also abuzz with about 50 nature groups who had amazing displays in the indoor and outdoor marquees. Friends of the Earth had people dressing up as bees to raise awareness of the decline of bumblebees. The National Trust brought their shepherd’s caravan and did bark rubbing and a poplular log run challenge. The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers showed visitors how to make bird boxes and bug hotels to encourage wildlife into their gardens.

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Among the crowd you could often spot members of several Cub Scout packs who joined in the pond dipping and bug counting activities to earn their Cub Naturalist Activity badges.

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Read the news story about Big Nature Day and the Cub Scout resources

 

Enjoy some more highlights in pictures. Select images to enlarge them

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Insect carnival revelry

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The Friends of the Earth stand where you could dress up as a bee

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Getting a painted face

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Admiring bugs

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Leaf shaking for insects in the Wildlife Garden

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Worm charming in the Wildlife Garden

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Pond dipping

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Strumming ladybird

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Insect Carnival on the move

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Darwin Centre atrium workshops

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The peaceful shepherd's hut

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Our Big Nature Day on 27 May is a special kind of celebration and a brilliant day out for anyone who's interested in the natural world, whatever their age. It is the largest free event of its kind in the UK, and this year we've invited more than 50 nature groups from across the country to join us.

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Get bug-faced and hatted for the Insect Parades led by the insect band performing on stilts at our nature festival. Select images to enlarge them

One of the big excitements on Sunday is sure to be the Insect Parade led by the colourful insect band from the Museum's Darwin Centre atrium. In the morning and at lunchtime, children can drop into workshops with the street theatre company Emergeny Exit Arts to make bug-themed hats and then follow the parades - scheduled for 13.00 and 15.30 - through the Museum wearing their creations. Face painters are at hand to help kids look their buggy best.

 

Like last year, there will be marquees on the Courtyard and this is where you'll find most of the visiting nature group displays. 'It's really exciting to welcome so many voluntary nature groups across the country to the Museum - what a fantastic chance for our visitors to meet so many wildlife experts in one place,' says Lucy Carter from the OPAL citizen science project. Popular stands are bound to be The London Wildlife Trust's stag beetles and the Bat Conservation Trust's where they will be investigating bat poo!

 

Worm charming sessions take place under the Courtyard trees and several nature talks will be held in the Museum's Attenborough Studio. A Busy Bee Puppet Show workshop will entertain the little ones in the morning.

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Out in the Wildlife Garden you can get into pond-dipping, bug hunting, ladybird counting, leaf and nettle trailing, and more. We're interested in recording the species found in our garden, so scientists and volunteers will be around to help with finds and identification advice. We'll also be welcoming a group of cub scouts to the garden who are trying out their brand new Cub Scout Naturalist Activity Badge resource (the badge is pictured below).

 

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Over on the West Lawn, look out for the Bee aware display in the marquee and the National Trust's 'shepherd's hut'.

 

And remember, this is the national Be Nice to Nettles Week, so mind where you tread.

 

Big Nature Day celebrates the UN International Day of Biological Diversity and OPAL's nature activities and citizen science projects.

 

More details about Big Nature Day.

 

Find out which nature groups will be at Big Nature Day

 

 

 

Enjoy the video clip below of last year's Big Nature Day

 

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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.
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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.'

 

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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.


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The Museum's Sensational Butterflies exhibition is definitely the fluttery flavour of the week. Not only has an incredibly rare half-female-half-male butterfly hatched in the exhibition's butterfly house very recently, Sir David Attenborough also made a very special appearance there today.

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The rare dual-sex butterfly recently hatched in our Sensational Butterflies exhibition is a great mormon, Papilio memnon, from Asia. One half is female, with paler colours and blue, red and tortoiseshell flecks. The other half is male and is darker.

The discovery of this unusual dual-sex butterfly - such creatures are called gynandromorphs - caused huge excitement in the Sensational Butterflies exhibition when it was originally spotted. Gynandromorphy happens very occasionally across a range of species, from spiders to crabs. The word comes from gyn which is Greek for female and andro which is Greek for male.

 

Luke Brown (below right), manager of the exhibition's butterfly house says:

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'Pure bilateral gynandromorphs are incredibly rare. I have only ever come across two in my whole career. So you can understand why I was bouncing off of the walls when I learned that a stunning half male, half female bilateral gynandromorph had emerged in the puparium at this year’s Sensational Butterflies exhibition. Many permanent butterfly exhibitions will go through their entire existence without ever seeing one of these rarities.’

 

The gynandromorph butterfly, however, may not be around for much longer. These species, sadly, only live for two to three weeks.

 

Read the news story and learn more about the gynandromorph discovery at Sensational Butterflies

 

Our other exciting and famous visitor to Sensational Butterflies today, which some lucky schoolchildren were lucky to catch a glimpse of, was Sir David Attenborough. He was here to help launch the Big Butterfly Count project organised by the Butterfly Conservation group which asks us to help record butterfly sightings from 16 to 31 July.

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Children from The Russell School in Richmond with Sir David Attenborough are charmed by a swallowtail at the Big Butterfly Count launch in our butterfly house this morning.

'Butterflies are one of the stars of the British countryside. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without them' says Sir David

 

It's the second year running for the Big Butterfly Count and last year more than 10,000 people took part with 189,000 butterflies counted This year's results may help reveal the impact of our record-breaking spring weather.

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Our Sensational Butterflies exhibition with its butterfly house full of 100s of live exotic butterflies and moths is highly recommended for a summer holiday visit. Open until 11 September 2011. Tickets £3.50.

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As you approach the butterfly house marvel at the glorous outdoor garden (above) where you can learn butterfly-attracting tips for your own garden. Inside the butterfly house, who knows what else may hatch in the coming months? You might even catch sight of the extraordinary Madagascar moon moth (right). But remember when you visit, it's hot, hot, hot in the house, 'cos that's the way the butterfly beauties like it.

 

Find out about our Sensational Butterflies exhibition

See some exhibition highlights

Buy Sensational Butterflies tickets online

 

The nationwide OPAL Bugs Count also asks you to look for butterflies, in particular the small tortoiseshell butterfly. There are a humungous 380,041 bugs counted so far at the time of writing, but it grows larger every minute!

 

Learn more about the butterfly life cycle

More photos taken at the Sensational Butteflies exhibition this week. Select images to enlarge them

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Do you know what bugs are living near you? Are some spiders more common in cities or in the countryside?

 

Help us find out by joining in the new nationwide Bugs Count survey launched today, 8 June, by the Museum and OPAL partnership. The scientists asking for our help want to know what bugs are out there and the differences between what we find in the cities or rural areas.

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Hunt for bugs in soil, short or long grass. Search on paving and outsides of buildings and on plants and shrubs.small-tortoiseshell-butterfly-crop.jpg

On your bugs hunt, keep a special eye out for six specific minibeasts, including the small tortoiseshell butterfly (right), which is in decline. Use the Species Quest bugs sheet to help in your identification.

 

Find out how to join in the OPAL Bugs Count and what resources you'll need

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You'll be surprised at what buggy creatures you can find in towns and the countryside.

 

On the recent Big Nature Count of our Wildlife Garden, we found over 60 species of bugs in a morning and the final count hasn't been done yet. As well as the unusual drab wood soldier fly, Solva marginata, discovered, there was a new Coleophora glaucicolella moth found, not recorded in the garden before. And just the other day, a Museum volunteer out on a field trip in Surrey's Bookham Common, found a population of scarlet malachite beetles, left, one of the UK's rarest insects.

 

Read the news story about the bug count and which six specific minibeasts you should look out for

 

Come along to the Museum's Attenborough Studio this Saturday, 11 June, to hear two Big City Big Hunt talks at 12.30 and 14.30 with our scientists. Afterwards, you can take part in various bug-hunting activities and pick up a Bugs Count pack in the Wildlife Garden.

What's a bug?

The term ‘bug’ is a widely used name for insects. In our Bugs Count we are including non-insect groups such as spiders, centipedes, millipedes and woodlice. These are all collectively part of the group called arthropods and are invertebrates.

 

True bugs are a specific group of insects that include shield bugs, water bugs, aphids, scale insects and others.

 

More bug information

 

Find out about bug identification in our Nature Online section

 

Join the Bug forum

 

Browse our Young naturalists page and enjoy the Big Nature Day video

 

Discover how to identify the Cockshafer May bug and watch the video


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Last year's Bat Weekend and its stars (see below) was one of our most popular events in the Wildlife Garden in 2010. And this year will be battier and better, because we're celebrating the Year of the Bat.

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Our Bat Festival this weekend on 4 and 5 June promises to be a great family day out. You can go on the bat bed and breakfast trail through the Wildlife Garden to find out what insects they eat and where they sleep, try out things like bat box building, make willow bats and do other batty crafts, as well as see bat specimen displays. I've also heard a rumour there will be bat-shaped shortbreads on the refreshments stalls.

 

If you head over to the nearby Darwin Centre, you can learn about echolocation and bat detection in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. And in the Attenborough Studio there are two free bat talks at 12.30 and 14.30 on both days.

 

baby-bats.jpgJune is a particularly active month for bats because it's when the young are born, so it's a good time to find things out about them.

 

As in past years, the Sussex Bat Hospital and the Bat Conservation Trust will be joining us over the weekend and telling us about what they've been doing to help our bat community.

 

About 25 per cent of the world's bats are threatened with extinction. At least 12 species, such as the Puerto Rican flower bat, have already become extinct. That said, there are more than 1,100 species of bats worldwide, making up around  one-fifth of all mammals. And new bat species are

still being discovered.

 

The United Nation's Year of the Bat campaign is spearheaded by the Convention on Migratory Species and EUROBATS. It aims to highlight the unique role bats play in the environment and stress the urgency for global bat conservation. Historically bats have had a bit of a bad press - think Dracula, vampire bats etcetera - and the campaigners also want to give bats a fresh image.


So don't miss our festival, bats are depending on you to show support. And it's free.

Bats
  • are one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals. Flight has enabled them to live almost everywhere in the world. Bats are most numerous in the tropics, and Central and South America are home to almost one-third of the world’s bats. Indonesia has 175 species of bats while here in the UK we have 18 speciesbat-book.jpg
  • can be as big as a small dog or as small as a bee. The largest bats are the flying foxes with wingspans of up to 2 metres and a body weight of 1.5 kilograms. At the other end of the scale is the bumblebee bat or Kitti's hog-nosed bat, weighing only 2 grams – the world’s smallest mammal
  • are not blind
    • help replenish our forests and sustain other important eco-systems from deserts to wetlands. Through insect control, bats reduce crop damage and slow down the spread of disease. Many foods, medicines and other products are created thanks to bats, (including shortbread bats no doubt!)

    If you want to delve further into the world of bats, the Museum has just published a new edition of Bats by bat expert Phil Richardson.






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    There's no doubt about it, when you join us for our Big Nature Day extravaganza this Sunday on 22 May, you'll get your hands dirty.


    But that's pretty essential if you're going to help our scientists and wildlife experts in the Big Nature Count to find and identify how many different species of plant and animal there are in our Museum Wildlife Garden. It's a 24-hour census - or a bioblitz race for those familiar with the term -  to celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity and International Year of Forests, as well as the start of the UN's Decade on Biodiversity.

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    Can you handle it? Find out which worm charmer to be on Big Nature Day with our experts in the BBC film clip on our website

    As Stuart HIne, manager of our Centre for UK Biodiversity says: 'We have many visitors to the Wildlife Garden, from our regular human ones to more unusual visitors such as honeybees, damselflies and hawkmoths. In fact, since the garden opened in 1995, we’ve recorded more than 2,000 different species and it would be great to know what's about on Sunday.'

     

    Along with the regular Big Nature Count guided tours, worm charming (above) will be a popular highlight of the day. There are two sessions at 12.00 and 15.00. The recent rain should help lure the worms to the ground's surface. Although we're hoping that the sun will shine gloriously on the day, of course.

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    Spot the spots on the ladybirds you find and watch out for cockchafer May bugs on the Big Nature Count guided tours. Select images to enlarge

    Other garden action includes the Bugs Count, Tree Hunt, moth trap checking, investigating pond life, and check out the Bee Tree.

     

    Inside the Darwin Centre, head over to the Specimen Roadshow to identify your favourite specimens (or bring in a picture) and there are nature talks in the Darwin Centre's Attenborough Studio.

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    Look around and above, plants and trees may hide moths (like this Poplar hawkmoth, left) and butterflies. There are eight common trees in the Wildlife Garden to identify. Select images to enlarge

    Take pictures on the day

    Most important of all, though, bring your cameras or have your mobile phone to the ready to snap the species you do manage to spot. With these, you can help us create a spectacular Photo Wall in the Darwin Centre atrium at the Interactive Media area. You can print your pictures here for the display or upload them with your comments to our Big Nature Day guestbook on the computers available or at home afterwards.

     

    Big Nature Day is a free, drop-in event that will appeal to all ages, but you'll need to book on the tours and worm charming sessions.

     

    When you arrive at the Museum head for the West lawn or Darwin Centre atrium where you'll be directed to the Base Camp in the Darwin Centre Courtyard, the hub for the day's activities, and where you can see lots of special displays.

     

    Keep up to date on our Big Nature Day website for the Big Nature Count tours schedule and latest information

     

    Get prepared for the activities on Big Nature Day by watching some great how-to nature videos on our website

     

    Explore the Museum's Wildlife Garden

     

    Discover what else is on for the International Year of Biodiversity

     

    Visit our newly-launched Decade on Biodiversity website

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    Yann Arthus-Bertrand film treats at the French Institute on 22 May and on the International Year of Forests website

    If you want to see an amazing nature documentary by The Earth From Above photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, head over to the nearby French Institute for a special free screening of Home at 18.30. Our Museum botanist Sandy Knap is introducing the film. Although it's free you need to book a place on their website.

     

    Find out about booking for the special screening of Home at the French Institute

     

    You can also catch a glimpse of Yann's special short fiilm for the International Year of Forests on the official website

     


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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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    Although the gates of the Wildlife Garden are now closed to regular visitors, winter is a busy time for the garden's team. Caroline, the garden's manager, gives us some festive news as the snow was falling in the recent cold spell.

     

    'By mid-winter, when all fruits and nuts have been removed by birds and squirrels or fallen and collected by smaller animals, it is time to prune and lay hedges and to coppice small trees and shrubs such as hazel, and willow.

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    The view of the Museum's Waterhouse building from the Wildlife Garden's frozen pond

    'The cut wood is used for making woven fences around the meadow. We will also be planting small hawthorn and blackthorn shrubs (whips), to thicken up our new hedges.

     

    'When the ground is freezing we retreat indoors (to our shed-come-office below) to input data of species recorded during the previous year.

     

    'Observations last summer included this colourful longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata (below left) photographed by one of our visitors, Mark Mansfield, in the garden’s meadow, during Open Garden Squares Weekend in June.

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    'Other new insect sightings in the Wildlife Garden last year included the small copper butterfly Lycaena phlaeas and 5 moth species, including Elachista obliquella which hasn't been previously recorded elsewhere in Middlesex.

     

    'In November, the Wildlife Garden was awarded the Princess Alice Countess of Athlone Award for the Environment by the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme.

     

    'The gates to the garden will open again in April. In the meantime, the garden is open by arrangement, and if you would like a winter visit please enquire at the Information desk inside the Museum. As you can see from the footprints in the snow pictured above, there is still wildlife activity even on the most wintry days!'

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    The Wildlife Garden 'office' - a warm retreat when it's freezing outside

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    Honey and hedges

    Posted by Rose Oct 5, 2010

    We've been harvesting some delicious honey from our Wildlife Garden bees. I was visiting the garden when Luke Dixon, the Museum’s beekeeper and Caroline, our Wildlife Garden manager, were shaking and brushing out our bee hive trays. We've added a video clip of the honey collecting on YouTube.

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    Beekeeper Luke Dixon shaking out bee hive trays in the Wildlife Garden

     

    Watch the Wildlife Garden honey collecting video clip on YouTube.

    Discover the delights of the Museum's Wildlife Garden.

     

    The beginning of September is the honey collecting season, explains Luke in the video, as he enthuses about the deliciousness of urban honey and especially London honey. I can support him wholeheartedly on this as I was one of the lucky staff members and volunteers who managed to get our hands on a jar before they all disappeared. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough to sell to the public. Our bees have created a distinctive taste that is really flavoursome and floral. It truly reflects the amazing variety of flora in the garden.

     

    By the way, the smoke you’ll see in the video is there to calm the bees so they don’t get too anxious and angry about losing the fruits of their hard work all summer.

     

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    On Saturday 25 September, the Wildlife Garden team was joined by staff and volunteers from the RSPB and OPAL for its last public event. You can see one of the day’s highlights pictured here. The hedge laid by hedgerow expert Rob Graham at Hedgerow Harvest was much admired by all.

     

    Caroline was delighted it was such a success and a wonderful event to end this year's Wildlife Garden events season.

     

    'As well as highlighting the importance of hedges for wildlife both in the countryside and in our gardens and parks,' said Caroline, 'it was about talking to our visitors about the many different hedgerow plants and associated insects, birds and other animals - some of which they could see in the garden - and introducing hedgerow plants used in folk medicine and edible plants. There were also some tasty samples of jams and wines made from wild fruit such as sloes, bramble and elderberries.'

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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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