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Bats take over Bank Holiday Weekend

Posted by Rose Aug 26, 2010

If you want to discover some real stars of the night this Bank Holiday Weekend - as opposed to the festival rockers or carnival kind - flock to our Wildlife Garden for Bat Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 August.


Three species of bat have been seen flying and feeding in the Museum's Wildlife Garden (Common pipestrelle, above, Soprano pipestrelle, and Daubenton's bat). Live bat photos here and below © Hugh Clark, Bat Conservation Trust

We join the European Bat Weekenders in a celebratiion of bats, giving 1000s of people across the country the chance to find out more about bats. The Bat Conservation Trust is urging everyone to go out and see and hear bats in their natural enviroment.



Highlights at our own weekend event include a bat treasure hunt round the garden, hands-on demonstrations from bat experts, including bat box building, and lots of batty crafts. Come and see a display of insects that bats feed on and visit the Bat Conservation Trust information tent on the front lawn. We have teamed up with the Bat Conservation Trust, our Centre for UK Biodiversity, and the OPAL team to bring you the event.


Batty talks are being held on Saturday and Sunday in the Attenborough Studio. See some of the speakers' featured bat specimens in the Darwin Centre atrium after the talks at 13.15 and 15.15.


Fingers crossed for some sunshine. Last year, we had a really popular event here (pictured below).


Find out more about our Bat Weekend. If you can't make it here, see what bat events are near you.

Any sightings of bats made over the weekend can be shared online on the Interactive Big Bat Map. Look out for the common pipestrelle (in flight above) and the brown long-eared bat (above right).

On Saturday, also watch out for the scary-looking Daubenton's bat featured online as our Species of the Day.


I leave you with a few bat facts:


There are 18 species of bat in the UK, 17 of which are known to breed here, accounting for more than a quarter of mammal species.


It is estimated that a pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night! There are few other nocturnal insect-eaters, and a single insect-eating bat may eat 100s of insects a night.


Human activities have by far the greatest influence on bat populations. Loss of habitat for roosting and foraging has caused declines in bat populations. Intensive farming practices have led to a reduction in the abundance of insects which the bats rely on as their only food source.


Find out much more about bats on the Bat Conservation Trust website. Youngsters can join the Young Batworkers' Club, learn batty facts and find fund things to do.

Click on the images to enlarge them. Thanks to the Bat Conservation Trust for the live bat images.


Bee movie

Posted by Rose Aug 12, 2010
Get a glimpse of our thriving bee colony inside the Wildlife Garden's bee tree in our latest video on the Natural History Museum's YouTube space.honeycomb-up-close2.jpg
In the bee tree video, join Museum beekeeper Luke Dixon as he strolls through the Wildlife Garden and looks inside the bee tree's observation hive to marvel at the colony and its wild honeycomb.

Watch the Wildlife Garden's bee tree video on YouTube


Luke reminds us how much we need bees and how important it is to encourage them, especially since the drastic decline in our worldwide bee population.bee-tree-tall.jpg


We've been keeping bees here in the Wildlife Garden for about 6 or 7 years and in the height of the summer months our bee colony can be 50,000 strong. Once a bee emerges from its cell it can live between 3 to 6 months depending on the time of year and food available.


This summer the bees living in the bee tree, pictured here earlier in June, have had a very successful season and have since extended the honeycomb to the very bottom of the hive.


You can also catch up on the bee tree colony's daily progress with our online beecam.


As the days get longer they're beginning to settle down for the winter. The male bees, the drones, are being kicked out of the hive and the number of workers is reducing dramatically as the queen stops laying eggs for new offspring.

The honey that the bees have made is their winter stores, to feed on in the long, cold months when there is nothing to forage on outside of the hive. I wonder if there'll be any spare for us?



Read the earlier bee tree blog.


Find out more about the Museum's honeybee species, Apis mellifera.



Click on the images to enlarge them.


T. rex roars back

Posted by Rose Aug 4, 2010

Last week I joined the queue to re-visit our famous giant, moving T. rex in the Dinosaurs Gallery. I felt the buzz of excitement and anticipation as we got closer to the pit and the faraway roars got louder. I've visited T. rex many times, but that roar and the mist from the pit just before you turn the corner, always gets me.


Re-live the roar in this short clip of T. rex in action


Visitors arriving now from all over the world to marvel at the Museum's star attraction won't probably know that our T. rex has recently been absent from the Dinosaurs Gallery for about 5 weeks. This disappearance was due to a serious operation involving a hip replacement, major cosmetic surgery, and some much-needed pit improvements. Well, poor T. rex is after all, about 65 million years old and it's a challenging job frightening Museum visitors day after day.


Perhaps it was my imagination, but as I walked past the noticeably swampier-looking pit, I thought I saw a twinkle in those small, ferocious eyes. I'm sure T. rex is glad to be back in business. (In our busiest weeks T.rex can attract up to 50,000 visitors a week.)


It was engineers Steve Suttle and Martin Kirkby who carried out the highly skilled replacement of T. rex's strained hip joint parts and neck. These T.rex bits had got very worn through, so the new joints and parts mean smoother motion, all the better to scare us with. Technician Rob Lewenstien did the careful cosmetic surgery on the silicone skin to smooth over cuts.


There was also major scenic work done on T. rex's pit by our Display and Conservation team, led by Claire Kelly. The team re-painted and re-defined the ground and water area in the pit and also re-worked the carcass which T. rex sniffs around. Extra foliage, tree stumps and plant stems have been added to get a more authentic swampy habitat. The picture below shows work in progress.


Finishing touches came from the Museum's SFX and Media Tech teams who have improved the lighting and the ambient soundtrack to better show off the pit and create a more atmospheric and dramatic display.


t.rex-Jesmonite-around-carcass.jpg'The project showed off the wide range of skills in the Museum's in-house production teams,' enthused programme manager, Nick Sainton-Clark, 'and the engineering work was extensive but successful, so we shouldn't have to have this kind of closure for the foreseeable future.'


Enjoy the Dinosaur Gallery highlights in our slideshow


Learn about Dinosaurs on our website


Explore our Dino Directory




Click on the images to enlarge them.


What are you most squeamish about? Giant cockroaches, spiders, centipedes, scorpions, beetles or even moths?


Me, I'd say most of them, especially if they were the size of a hand or more. Luckily, most of the biggest bugs on our planet are usually found in jungle rainforests, savannahs and caves, or in the safety of our Museum collections.


However, this summer, some of our largest and heaviest insect and arachnid specimens are being let out to star in the Big Bugs exhibition at our Natural History Museum at Tring which opened yesterday and runs until 21 November.

The Australian rhinoceros cockroach is the heaviest cockroach in the world. A female was recorded at just over 1 oz (33.45gms).

From the safety of their exhibition display cases, despite my squeamishness, like many others I will find these mega mini-beasts utterly mesmerising to behold, and highly recommend a visit to Big Bugs. The exhibition is free.

Live creatures like the venomous Emperor scorpion and world's longest stick insect at 14 inches, are on show alongside many rare and incredible specimens from the Natural History Museum's collection. It's the first time that all these enormous bug specimens have been displayed together.

And it's not just the scary bugs and spiders you'll meet, but eye-catching beauties like the delicate Helicopter damselfly and Queen Alexandra's Birdwing butterfly, the largest butterfly in the world.


There will also be creepy-crawly activities for kids at the exhibition and other bug-related activities at Tring throughout the summer season.


The docile giant leaf bush-cricket from New Guinea has a maximun wingspan of 11 inches


The inspiration behind the exhibition is a recently published Museum book, Big Bugs Life-size by our Museum entomologist and bug expert, George Beccaloni, which features actual life-size pictures of each marvellous mini-beast included.



My favourites in the book are the nocturnal rhinoceros cockroach, which is the world's heaviest cockroach, and the giant leaf bush cricket with a wing span of a whopping 11 inches. But the white witch moth, below right, tops that with 12 inches and the greatest wingspan of any living insect.


Read the news story about the Big Bugs exhibition and book


The Natural History Museum at Tring is located in Hertfordshire.


Explore insects and spiders on our website. You can identify and discuss bugs on our bug forum




Click on the images to enlarge them.

Ping pong fever hits the Museum

Posted by Rose Jul 23, 2010

shakespeare-ping-pong-413.jpgShakespeare did it, Boris did it and so do 300 million members worldwide. Table tennis is now apparently the second most popular participation sport in the world, next to football.


It’s no surprise then that the London 2012 Olympic Games countdown starts this week with Ping! which promises a month of free ping pong fun.


From master classes to competitions and random acts of ping pong, there are round-the-table activities for everyone to join in across 100 London landmarks. And the Natural History of Museum is one of them.


Our ping pong table arrives officially on Saturday 24 July and stays with us until 22 August. It'll be located by the Butterfly Explorers exhibition and is free of chping-bats-balls.jpgarge. Just grab the bats and balls provided and start 'twiddling'.


For ping pong fans, there's a special event on Saturday 24 July, to mark the launch of the Ping! London month. Players can join Passport to PINGland here and at other London venues to complete some tricky challenges and win a top quality bat.


Find out more about Ping! at the Natural  History Museum. See who else is taking part in the Passport to PINGland Saturday event


On Friday 30 July, especially for After Hours visitors, our ping pong table moves to the Darwin Centre Courtyard. At this Round the World Ping After Hours evening, coaching classes are on offer. Beginners are welcome.


Other Ping! locations include Hoxton Square, Geffrye Museum, Victoria Embankment Gardens, Soho Square, Brunswick Shopping Centre, Westfield Shopping Centre, the British Library Courtyard, St Pancras International, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Heathrow's terminal 3 and the O2.

Been practising that shakehand grip Boris? Our mayor officially launched Ping! London last month

Read The Sunday Times news story about Boris making London Ping Pong Central


Ping! is created by Sing London, the participatory arts organisation behind last year’s Street Pianos Project. It is delivered in partnership with the English Table Tennis Association who will bring Ping! to 4 more cities over the next 2 years, returning to London for 2012.


Images courtesy of Flickr's Ping! London photostream


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.


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


The massive Ice Age mammals that lurk in the recesses of the Central Hall, some giant worms and a gigantic gold nugget, these are all highlights of our last summer Night Safari tour on Monday 12 July.



Our fossil mammal expert, Adrian Lister, introduces the Ice Age glyptodon.jpgmammals on the night and gives safari visitors the rare chance to get closer to some of our most iconic Central Hall exhibits, like the Ilford Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks, below left, and our armadillo-like Glyptodon fossil, pictured right.


Upstairs in Central Hall, curator Emma Sherlock and her giant worms lend their charms to the Tree gallery, and mineralogist Mike Rumsey shares some golden moments in the Vault gallery. Museum botanist Sandy Knapp presents her top Museum pieces, Central Hall's botanically illustrated ceiling panels, and butterfly explorer Blanca Huertas reveals her favourite flutterers.


As before, Night Safari visitors can enjoy a drink and snacks at the bar before and after their exclusive tours of Central Hall. There's also a break in the middle of the tour.


Book tickets online for Night Safari on 12 July


Believe it or not, there was actually a proposal of marriage made - and accepted - in The Vault gallery at the last Night Safari in May, by one of the safari visitors. He'd rung the event organisers beforehand to arrange it and said afterwards: 'Not only was the Night Safari so cool, but finishing the night knowing that I will be spending the rest of my life with my girlfriend, is beyond happiness.' How sweet is that and what a place to do it, surrounded by all those gems.


And put this date in your diary. On 1 November, Night Safari returns for a Halloween special.


Back to one of July's highlights ... the Ilford Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks display in Central Hall, shown below, is something to behold. But the enormity of this Essex fossil doesn't really come across here. It's the only complete mammoth skull ever to be found in Britain.


The Ilford Woolly Mammoth model, on the right here, is not on public display, but held in our Palaeontology collection at the Museum


The big buzz

Posted by Rose Jun 30, 2010


Hot news from the Wildlife Garden is that our bee tree is now humming with a new swarm of bees which was introduced about a month ago.


Caroline, the garden's manager, told me she's been waiting to see how the bees got on before telling everyone. Actually, they are doing really well and will be a star attraction at the garden's Yellow Book Day this Sunday, 4 July.


So 'what's a bee tree exactly?' I hear Pooh bear mumbling in my ear. It's a bbeehive-wildlife-garden-1.jpgee hive that's been cut into an 8-foot high ash tree trunk, pictured left. There are now about 15,000 bees in the hive which also houses eggs, young bees and honey. You can find out more about our bee tree at the event on Sunday. A word of advice, when you visit it, open the bark doors very carefully. And make sure to close them when you've had a look, as bees like the dark.

Another highlight of Sunday's event is the chance to meet our resident beekeeper, Dr Luke Dixon. Luke is an expert in urban beekeeping and helps look after the garden's 2 private beehives, which are also new this year and doing well. He will be holding 2 sessions at 12.30 and 14.00 and visitors can don the protective beekeeping clothing to have a look inside the hives.


There may be some Wildlife Garden honey to sample too, yummy!



Other activities on Sunday include pond-dipping and a guide to the garden's native plants. There will be stalls with refreshments and wild flower plants for sale.


By the way, did you know that Melissa is Greek for honeybee?

Check out the Museum's Wildlife Garden


If you're interested in beekeeping, have a look at the Beekeepers Association website for some handy hints


Find out more about honeybees on our honeybees webpages


Thanks to Matt for the bee tree image and to Luke Dixon and Kristian Buus for the recent Wildlife Garden beehive images. Click on the images to enlarge them.


This Sunday, 27 June, at the Museum we have some real treats for butterfly lovers and insect fans, to mark the final day of National Insect Week.


Our brilliant butterfly expert, Blanca Huertas, will be giving 2 free talks in the Attenborough Studio about what it's like to be a butterfly explorer.


At our Meet a Butterfly Explorer talks (12.30 and 14.30), Blanca will recap her adventures in Colombia's deepest jungles, tracking down new species. She'll reveal some of the most thrilling butterflies in the world. It's sad to think that butterflies are in decline, but Blanca will also talk about the encouraging things being done for their conservation.


Claudina butterfly, Agrias claudina, one of the world's most beautiful butterflies, is Sunday's Species of the day


Another treat outside on the front lawn, is the experience of 100s of live butterflies fluttering around you at our Butterfly Explorers exhibition. Look out for the pretty African Plain Tiger butterflies that have been populating the butterfly house madly in the last week. The exhibition's outdoor garden is looking especially lovely thanks to the recent sunshine.


Also on Sunday, we'll be featuring this gorgeous Claudina butterfly (above) as our Species of the day, which is regarded as one of the world's most beautiful butterflies. Follow our online Species of the day


If you're interested in butterflies and insects generally, read our news story about what it takes to Become an entomologist


National Insect Week at the Museum


Find out about the butterfly's life cycle


Did you know, an incredible 80% of the world's known species are insects and the UK has about 23,500 different types? Or that stick insects make the perfect pets?

'I won't scratch the furniture, please can I be your family pet?' Our Insects as Pets event is on Saturday 26 June

It's definitely the small things in life that matter this week. We join other organisations and groups around the country to celebrate National Insect Week, from 21 to 27 June. We have special events going on all week and visitors will be able to meet some of our insect experts and their creepy-crawly companions.


Highlights of the week include Thursday night's insect talk, Six-Legged Wonders: The Return on 24 June in the Attenborough Studio, where you'll hear from 3 Museum entomologists who reveal insect truths. The talk also features an insect trivia quiz and the bar is open for drinks outside the studio. Watch out for the deadliest insect, so deadly in fact, it has to be kept in 2 separate bags... and some edible ants. You need to book for the Six-Legged Wonders ticketed event.


rose-chafer-Cetonia-aurata-500.jpgMy favourite event planned for Saturday is the Insects as Pets talk, where you'll discover what lovable crawlers stick insects and giant cockroaches can be. So I'm assured. On Saturday, there's also pond-dipping in our Wildlife Garden.


Find out about National Insect Week events and activities


Read the news story about National Insect Week


For events around the country, visit the official National Insect Week website

Watch out for some rare six-legged beauties, like the endangered Rose Chafer beetle, pictured right, in our online Species of the day insect series.


Discuss insects in our popular bug forum


Click on the images to enlarge them.


There'll be dancing in the streets and on the Museum lawns this Sunday, 20 June, as visitors and staff join in the celebrations for Exhibition Road Music Day.

Last year's Exhibition Road revellers enjoying the sounds from the Museum Lane stage

music-day-hands-2009.jpgHere at the Museum, this year you can enjoy the harpist in Central Hall or jig-it-up to spicy jazz and chap-hop from the Museum Lane stage, near the Exhibition Road entrance. We have lots of different musicians performing throughout the day, indoors and outside. Most of the day's events start around midday.


Check our Music Day event for details of artists and times.

BBC Blast will also be staging performances from grime collective Roll Deep and other up-and-coming artists.


If you're 13-19 years-old you can join some of their creative workshops like a theramin drop-in, or learn about make-up for the stage, film-editing and samba drumming.


Some of the sessions are booked up already, but some you can still just drop in to attend. BBC Blast is already at the Museum from now until Sunday.You'll find them in an bbc-blast-cropped.jpgoutside mobile studio at the front of the Museum by the main Cromwell  Road entrance.You can book and find more details on our BBC Blast event details or the BBC Blast website.


There are lots of other local museums and cultural institutions taking part in Exhibition Road Music Day, so why not take a look at the website to find out more?


Read more about South Kensington's Music Day events and its history on the official Exhibition Road website


batperson-ally-pally.jpgLondon’s Alexandra Palace Park played host to a Wild Day Out on Saturday 5 June. Natural History Museum and OPAL scientists went on a mission to record as much wildlife as they could in the park over 24 hours, including some strange batmen, like this one. OPAL is the Open Air Laboratories Project network.


Over 8,000 people joined in the Ally Pally BioBlitz, making the event a huge success. The final species count is to be confirmed but is expected to be in the region of 700.


The bioblitz event was partnered by the BBC who helped to rally lots of local people to assist with pond dips, worm charming, nature surveys and other activities in a bid to record all the plants and animals that live in the park. There were also arts and crafts activities for kids.


See some BBC pictures of Wild Day Out


For the uninitiated, a bioblitz is a kind of wildlife hunt against the clock, and anyone can join in. It can be a really big event in a large public space or a small one in your garden.

As well as the Ally Pally event, our Museum scientists and OPAL researchers staged another bioblitz at South Devon's Mothecombe Beach on 11 June. Here, local residents, schools and holiday-makers helped scientists record over 700 different species in just 28 hours.




kids-alexandra-palace-bioblitz.jpgBoth bioblitz events are part of our national International Year of Biodiversity in the UK celebrations.


There are lots more bioblitzes happening around the country and you can find details on the National Bioblitz Programme 2010 website


Find out more about other UK biodiversity events on our Biodiversity is life website


OPAL, the Open Air Laboratories Project network, run lots of surveys and citizen science activities you can join in your local area and online. They have a base in our Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity.

Browse the OPAL website and explore nature


Read about a bioblitz in a journalist's back garden conducted by some of our scientists, on the Guardian website

Click on the images to enlarge them.



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


We have lots of festivities planned this weekend to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, IBD, on Saturday, 22 May, and Nettle Weekend on 22 and 23 May.

Biodivesity festival at the Museum, 22 May

From painting a new Elephant Parade sculpture and the launch of the Young Darwin Prize for young natural history reporters and Biking for Biodiversity to our science roadshow and live quartet music, our biodiversity day festival here promises a packed programme of events for visitors.

We've just heard Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games (right) from BBC Springwatch are our hosts for the day.


During the day there will be various talks in the Attenborough Studio on topics like 'Big, Beautiful Nature' and 'Food Biodiversity', with link-ups to other national festivities.


For more details, visit our International Day for Biological Diversity webpage.


elephant-parade-painted-tall.jpgMost of our IBD events are focused around the Darwin Centre. This week we officially launched the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, which is in the Darwin Centre, so drop in and see what it's all about if you get the chance.


We join over 400 organistations, charities and groups across the UK celebrating International Year of Biodiversity. The fun has already begun this week with highlights including walking with wolves, taking part in BioBlitzes, and Scottish Highland safaris.


Find out about events taking place across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the International Year of Biodiversity in the UK website.


Read about Elephant Parade at the Museum in my earlier blog.

Nettle Weekend in our Wildlife Garden and across the Museum, 22 - 23 May685px-Urtica_dioica06_ies.jpg

As part of our biodiversity celebrations and the national 'Be Nice to Nettles Week', we are also hosting Nettle Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.


Many of us tend to be put off by nettles from an early age, but the merits of the common nettle should be discovered anew. For starters, without stinging nettles, the caterpillars of peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies would miss their favourite food plant.


Nettle-based activities, food and drink in the Wildlife Garden, a yurt on our West lawn showcasing nettle herbal medicine and textiles, and the nettle quiz are a few of the many highlights over Nettle Weekend. You'll discover the history and value of nettles and there are talks with nettle experts in our Attenborough Studio. Find out about Nettle Weekend.

You can learn some fascinating stuff about nettles and their stings on the official nettle website and look out for our Urtica dioica (common nettle) Species of the Day on Sunday, which is Nettle Day, when we examine the nettle's taxonomy, uses and habitat.

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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