Discoverers is the Friends of Richmond Park activities programme for families and young people.
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Deer in the Park
Discoverers families spent a lovely Spring morning exploring the Park and learning about some of its wildlife - read about it below.
Details of our next session in May will be posted here soon
Join the mailing list to get information as soon as it is available
|Sunday May 21||Highs and Lows Trail|
|Sunday June 26||Butterfly Trail|
|Saturday Sept. 23 (or 30)||Autumn Bat Watch|
|Sunday November 12||Fungi/Art Workshop|
After an introductory presention in the Cambrian Community Centre about Richmond Park's famous deer population, Susanna Ramsey (of The Nature Collection) led our Discoverers families into the Park 'on safari'. The children studied ant hills, learned about their importance to Park ecology, and in the life cycle of the Green Woodpecker - and how to recognise Woodpecker poo! Susanna also showed us where owls and kestrels can be seen, how owls are able to fly so silently - and much else. To cap it all, we even came across groups of red deer grazing peacefully!
Trying antlers on for size
Feel the weight of these
Antlers can weigh as much as 5 kg
Green Woodpeckers feed on the ants in these ant hills
They eat what?
Explaining the aerodynamics of an owl feather
A quiet moment to catch up
On the look-out for deer in Conduit Wood
The good news was that the sky was clear long enough this time for thirty or so hopeful sky-watchers to look at the First Quarter Moon, with brilliant planets Venus and faint Mars nearby. The bad news was that our guest astronomer, Robin, and his telescope were unable to get to us in time! However, with the help of a smaller telescope, and a large pair of binoculars, we were able to look at Orion's sword stars, and the famous Orion Nebula. We caught tantalising glimpses through clouds of the stunning Pleiades (Seven Sisters) star cluster. But, the main event of the evening was a great view of the International Space Station (ISS) which passed overhead just as we were starting to pack up and leave!
November's Full Moon was a Super Moon Ė closer to Earth than at any time since January 1948. Thirty two children and parents gathered at the Cambrian Community Centre to take a look at our nearest neighbour with the help of the large telescope brought along by our visiting astronomer, Dr. Robin Scagell. However, as so often happens, our weather had other ideas and the skies remained cloud-covered until half-an-hour or so after the end of our session! Very disappointing, still, we learned a lot about our Moon and Robin's telescope was a big hit. We will be giving this event another go early next year!
Dressed for the occasion
Demonstrating Captured Rotation
Trying the eyepiece
Useful links: Web site for the Society of Popular Astronomy. See http://www.popastro.com/
To see the International Space Station viewing times go to http://www.heavens-above.com/
To learn more about Stellarium, the free software you can download to find your way around the night sky, go to http://www.stellarium.org/en_GB/
Fungi are Nature’s recyclers and Autumn is the season when they are at their best - eight Discoverers families enjoyed a most interesting event based at the Holly Lodge Centre. The workshop was led by Janet Bostok helped by Elizabeth and Eleanor, not to mention our team of volunteers. Adults and children alike learned a huge amount about the mysterious Kingdom of the Fungi. This has now become a popular annual event.
Working hard trying to identify the parts of a mushroom
They've found some!
Found one! Now can you spot it too?
Janet shows off a fungus
Our bat watch had to be postponed a week this year, thanks to bad weather. The session was led as usual by Philip Briggs of the London Bat Group and Bat Conservation Trust. Seven families accompanied by the Discoverers' team watched athletic Daubenton's Bats and Common Pipistrelles catching insects at Adams Pond in the park. When it was too dark to see the bats their sounds were picked up on our bat detectors. One family wrote "..fun and informative. Thank you so much and we're we lucky the bats were so busy last night!"
Discussions with Philip Briggs before the start
Watching Bats at Adams Pond
Picking up sounds on the bat detectors
Are the deer listening too?
Our base was the Holly Lodge Centre's Nature Trail. After a brief introduction, the group set off with Hugh Bradshaw, our expert birder, to see what was out and about on a beautiful spring day.
Spring Bird Trail - Talk before walk
On the Trail
Looking for Tadpoles
Finding a Blackbird's egg
Birds get up early in the morning to feed. By the time we got going it was their siesta time! Here are photos of some we spotted - can you name them?
Ten families celebrated the first day of Spring, learning about the rich wild life of Richmond Park with Susanna Ramsey and the Nature Collection [link]. After exploring this unique display of animal bones, feathers, antlers and much more, Discoverers had great fun taking apart Barn Owl pellets - the indigestible remains of an owl’s meal, regurgitated by the bird. The task was to reconstruct the skeletons of tiny mammals e.g. voles and field mice!
The Workshop Leader was Susanna Ramsey (of The Nature Collection). Her unique and unforgettable hands-on display of animal bones, feathers, antlers etc., represents the rich wildlife of Richmond Park.
Looking at the display
Separating bones from fur
Could be a skull here!
After the dissection, some people made pictures and patterns from the bones discovered
JOE was here
Bones in motion
Portrait with a difference
This is definitely a workshop we will be repeating next year!
We had excellent weather for this popular annual event, calm and warm. This meant that there were plenty of bats around in the evening twilight. We saw pipistrelles and Daubentonís bats swooping over the water at Adamís Pond, and picked up their sounds on bat detectors. Here are some pictures:
Watching bats (and swans) on Adam's Pond
Waiting for the bats!
We started off at the Holly Lodge Centre for a short talk about the birds of Richmond Park from our expert, Hugh Bradshaw.
The group then set off into the Park towards Pen Ponds, keeping eyes and ears open.
One of the most interesting sightings was a pair of Great Crested Grebes beginning their courting (see the picture below).
A courting pair of Great Crested Grebes on Pen Ponds
A spot of boot trouble!
Looking for Skylarks
Mother Mallard Duck and family
Here are some pictures taken on a very cold morning spent meeting Park visitors next to one of Richmond Park's oldest Oaks. This particular veteran is an estimated 515 years old.
If you want to prove it for yourself, just measure around its massive trunk with your arms -
an adult 'hug' = about 100 years
a child's 'hug' = about 75 years
Susanna Ramsey's Nature Collection also provided close-up views of some of the Park's bird and insect life dependent on trees like this one for food and shelter.
|(d)||Ring (or Rose)-necked Parakeet|
|(f)||Green Woodpecker in flight|
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