Wimbledon Park Nature Weekend

Saturday 27th April 2019

This event at a new venue for the Quekett was arranged at short notice, but 4 members gave up their Saturday to support the Club’s outreach programme at the Nature Weekend organised by the Friends of Wimbledon Park. We were based in the Bowls Pavilion, which was nice and warm in contrast to the unseasonally cold day outside.

Bowls PavilionBowls Pavilion

The park includes a large lake with concrete banks in the public area and natural banks in the golf course.

Lake in Wimbledon ParkLake in Wimbledon Park

There is a small stream running through the park.

Stream in Wimbledon ParkStream in Wimbledon Park

Most of the park is flat, mown grass with a few trees, but there is also a grassy bank with wild flowers near the Bowls Pavilion, and we collected a few flowers to get our display started.

Grassy bank in Wimbledon ParkGrassy bank in Wimbledon Park

Flowers from the grassy bankFlowers from the grassy bank, under a stereomicroscope

We abandoned plans for yellow pan traps (for catching insects) because of the low temperatures and strong winds, but Dennis Fullwood and Paul Smith ventured out to the lake with their plankton nets.

Dennis Fullwood collecting from the lakeDennis Fullwood collecting from the lake

Back in the warm in the pavilion we started to examine the catch and were amazed by the numbers of large waterfleas, presumably Daphnia magna. They were all females with eggs, and their guts were green from the algae they had eaten.

Large waterfleasLarge waterfleas

Lake sampleLake sample

Alan Wood and Thanya Nirantasook brought their Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope.

Thanya NirantasookThanya Nirantasook

Barry Wendon brought his Olympus CK inverted microscope. Paul Smith brought his Wild M11 compound microscope and his Philip Harris stereomicroscope

Barry Wendon, Thanya Nirantasook and Paul SmithBarry Wendon, Thanya Nirantasook and Paul Smith

Dennis Fullwood brought his Nikon Labophot compound microscope and his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope.

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood

Dennis also used his Chinese inspection camera to show images on his Iiyama monitor.

Lake specimens on monitorLake specimens on monitor

Paul Smith used his Olympus Tough TG-5 camera to take photographs through his compound microscope, by holding it just above the eyepiece.

Paul Smith photographing specimensPaul Smith photographing specimens

We had a steady stream of visitors of all ages, some of whom were really interested and asked lots of questions.

Visitors in the Bowls PavilionVisitors in the Bowls Pavilion

In the afternoon, a small group of visitors went for a 2-hour walk around the park with Dave Dawson, the resident ecologist who has been studying Wimbledon Park’s birds, wildlife and plants for more than 30 years. At the end of the walk, they came into the pavilion to test water samples from the lake and to have a look through our microscopes.

Visitors with Dave DawsonVisitors with Dave Dawson

The specimens that we found included:

  • waterfleas (Daphnia magna and a smaller species)
  • water mites
  • mayfly nymphs
  • fish leech (Piscicola geometra)
  • annelid worm (Stylaria lacustris)
  • rotifers
  • diatoms (including Surirella linearis)
  • green algae (including Pediastrum sp.)
  • blue-green algae

Here are some of the photomicrographs that Paul Smith took:

Daphnia magna (female waterflea with eggs)Daphnia magna (female waterflea with eggs)

Small waterfleaSmall waterflea

Surirella linearis (a diatom)Surirella linearis (a diatom)

Drowned midge from the lakeDrowned midge from the lake

Pollen grain from the lakePollen grain from the lake

Report and photographs by Alan Wood, photomicrographs by Paul Smith

↑ Top of page