Archive for September, 2019

Being a history buff, the British Museum is probably my favourite of the many museums in London. The collection dates back to the middle of the 18th century when the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his collection of over 71,000 objects on the condition that it was not broken up. The government accepted this and the British Museum was founded. In 1757 King George the second donated the Royal library to form part of the new collection. The first British Museum was housed in a 17th-century mansion in Bloomsbury on the side of the current building and the open for public viewing on 15 January 1759. In the early years the annual attendance was about 5000 people per year. The museum continued to acquire important pieces related to world archaeology and cultural studies. These included the Rosetta Stone, which was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics amongst other ancient languages, classical sculpture and, perhaps rather more controversially, the Parthenon sculptures from Greece. In the mid-19th century, the existing building was expanded and the natural history collection was moved to its own location in South Kensington (now known as the Natural History Museum). The collection continued to expand and the late 20th century saw new developments to enable more, and better, display of the collection. This included a complete reworking of the centre of the museum building and the removal of the British library from the site to a new purpose-built library near St Pancras. This work continues today and a brand-new set of galleries, together with new conservation facilities will be opened in 2014.

Further details and vistor information can be seen at http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting.aspx?ref=header

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Detail from the portico over the main enterance

Detail from the portico over the main enterance

The Museum in the 18th century

The Museum in the 18th century

The new conservation and exhibition building

The new conservation and exhibition building

By the middle of the 19th century it was becoming evident that the British Museum collection was outgrowing its home in Bloomsbury. It was therefore decided to create a new museum to exhibit the natural history component of the collection. The site chosen was the site of the 1862 exhibition building in South Kensington (this had been labelled as one of the ugliest buildings ever built). Ironically, the architect chosen to design the new museum was the same one as had designed the 1862 building. However, shortly afterwards he died and was replaced by Alfred Waterhouse, who designed the building, which stands today and is reckoned by many to be one of the most attractive buildings in London.

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Natural History Museum London
Photo by Jancsi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831835@N00/)

The museum opened to the public in April 1881.

Video by Paul Dinning ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPJXfmxMYAoH02CFudZxmgg )

Found in Southern and Eastern Britain, its recent range expansion has been linked to increasing temperatures.

Male Large White

Male Large White

Female Large White

Female Large White

The large white is one of the commonest butterflies in United Kingdom and is found in most parts of the country. The favourite food plant for its caterpillars are members of the brassica family such as cabbage and brussels sprouts and this has led to its colloquial name ‘the cabbage white butterfly’. Populations of the large white butterfly have held reasonably steady over the last 40 years, during which records have been collected showing a decline of less than 10%. In flight it is easily confused with the small white butterfly, from which it varies only in size and in the markings on the upper wing.

The Orange Tip is the first emerging butterfly of Spring – most other butterflies seen early in spring have hibernated over the winter. It can be seen between mid-April and mid-June as it patrols hedgerows and woodland margins looking for a mate. It is found in England, Wales and Ireland and has been doing well especially in the past decade. Overall numbers are up about 10% on 40 years ago.

These pictures of male Orange Tips were taken at Rutland Water and RSPB Rainham Marshes in April this year. The female lacks the distinct orange colouring and is often mistaken for Small White or Green-veined White.

The Comma is one of our commonest butterflies and easily recognised by the shape of the wings.

Orion Nebula

Posted: September 6, 2019 in Astronomy
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I havent done any astrophotography for quite a while now, but I came across this folder of pictures of the Orion Nebula which I have taken at various times and thought I would share them.

The Orion Nebula (also known as M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula located in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and may be visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is located at a distance of 1,344 light-years from Earth.

It has always been one of my favourite photographic subjects.

Mint Moth

Posted: September 5, 2019 in Butterflies and Moths, Natural History
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This common moth was once only found in chalk and limestone grassland, quarries, woodland or marshland, but is increasingly being reported from gardens. There are two generations, occurring from mid-April to June and again from July to mid-September. Flies actively in the sunshine and also at night.

Little Ringed Plover

Posted: September 4, 2019 in Birds, Natural History
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The Little Ringed Plover is a summer visitor to the UK, unlike its bigger cousin, the Ringed Plover which is primarily a winter visitor with only a few breeding pairs.

The distinctive features are the yellow eye-ring (which in Ringed Plover is absent) and a plain wing in flight (Ringed Plover has a white wing bar).

It is often found on sandy scrapes where it nests in a hollow in the ground. It is estimated that there are around 1200 breeding pairs in the UK.