Wimbledon Common Open Day

Sunday 10th September 2017

On a cool September day, Barry Wendon, Dennis Fullwood, Paul Smith and Alan Wood took their microscopes, cameras and monitors to Wimbledon Common for the annual Open Day as a contribution to the Club’s microscopy outreach programme. The Open Day originated as an opportunity to meet the Rangers and their horses but has expanded into a country and crafts fair. As usual, we were based in the Information Centre.

Information CentreInformation Centre

Dennis Fullwood brought his familiar Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope (for showing galls on oak leaves) and his Nikon Labophot compound microscope (for showing interesting prepared slides including blowfly tongue by Enock and microphotographs by Dancer). He also brought a Chinese inspection microscope connected to an Iiyama monitor for showing hornets and insects collected in yellow pan traps, including a scorpion fly. The magnification was a bit too high, but Dennis will soon have a 0.5× reducing lens.

Dennis Fullwood, Barry Wendon and Paul SmithDennis Fullwood, Barry Wendon and Paul Smith

Barry Wendon used his Olympus CK inverted microscope to show organisms collected from the cattle trough, including some unusually large ostracods and some diatoms and Pediastrum spp.

Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope and Olympus CK inverted microscopeOlympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope and Olympus CK inverted microscope

Alan Wood and Thanya Nirantasook walked down the hill to Queensmere and collected some duckweed (Lemna sp.) and filamentous algae to examine under their trinocular Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope (connected to the Centre’s wall-mounted television via a Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera).


Their specimens included brown hydra (Hydra oligactis Pallas), one of which had a large bud almost ready to separate, water-fleas, fly larvae, Phacus sp. and a grey species of Stentor.

Budding brown hydraBudding brown hydra

Grey Stentor sp. on filamentous algaGrey Stentor sp. on filamentous alga

Paul Smith brought his trinocular stereomicroscope connected to a monitor via a Canon EOS M digital camera. Most of the time, he used it to view and photograph a hornet nest.

Paul Smith and Thanya NirantasookPaul Smith and Thanya Nirantasook

John Lock brought in a nest of a European hornet (Vespa crabro L.) that had been removed from a bird box in a local garden; the nest was square because it had expanded to fill the bird box.

John LockJohn Lock

The hexagonal cells are made of a mixture of saliva and wood (and other plant materials), with a white silk dome over the top of each cell. Larvae develop into adult hornets inside the cells.

Hornet nestHornet nest

Hornet in cellHornet in cell [by Paul Smith]

Hornet in cellHornet in cell [by Paul Smith]

Cell in hornet nestCell in hornet nest [by Paul Smith]

HornetsEuropean hornets

Throughout the day, we had lots of visitors, some of whom we hope to see again at the Annual Exhibition of Microscopy on Saturday 7th October.

Young and adult visitorsYoung and adult visitors

This year, we shared the Information Centre with the Wimbledon Common Nature Club, who were showing children how to make hairy monsters (mixture of grass seeds and compost in old tights or stockings, with two glass eyes).

Outside the Centre, there was lots to see and do, with displays of animals (including lizards, snakes, birds of prey, alpacas, horses, sheep and goats) and John Deere farm machinery, the Wandle Concert Band, stalls selling fast food, organic vegetables, handicrafts, prints, second-hand books and pet supplies, and stalls from organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Visitors to the stablesVisitors to the stables

Wimbledon and Putney Commons ConservatorsWimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators

Royal Society for the Protection of BirdsRoyal Society for the Protection of Birds

Handling lizards and snakes with Reptile EventsHandling lizards and snakes with Reptile Events

Watch birds of prey from The Hawking CentreWatch birds of prey from The Hawking Centre

Kingston City FarmKingston City Farm


Shire horses from the Royal ParksShire horses from the Royal Parks

Household CavalryThe Household Cavalry

John Deere farm machineryJohn Deere farm machinery

Chainsaw carvingChainsaw carving (Bruk’s Carving Shop)

Humble Brown drawingsHumble Brown prints

Live Life on the VegLive Life on the Veg (Riverford Organic Food)

Listen to the Wandle Concert BandListen to the Wandle Concert Band

Fun for childrenFun for children

The Butcher & GrillThe Butcher & Grill

Wimbledon BreweryWimbledon Brewery

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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