Wimbledon Common Open Day

Sunday 10th September 2023

On a hot and humid September day, Neil Henry, Paul Smith and Alan Wood took their microscopes, cameras and computers 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, which we shared with the Wimbledon Common Nature Club.

Paul Smith brought his trinocular Swift M1000D compound microscope equipped with phase contrast, a small Telmu inverted microscope that lets you view samples from underneath, and a small digital microscope with a built-in screen.

Paul SmithPaul Smith

For taking photographs, Paul used an afocal arrangement with a Leitz Periplan 10x/18 eyepiece in the vertical tube, attached to a Canon EF-S 40 mm pancake lens via its filter thread, with the lens attached to a Canon EOS M3 mirrorless camera via an EOS-EOS M adapter.

Paul Smith’s cameraPaul Smith’s camera

Neil Henry brought his monocular PZO compound microscope fitted with a YW5.0M eyepiece camera, sending images via USB to S-EYE software on his laptop computer.

Neil HenryNeil Henry

Neil Henry’s microscopy toolkitNeil Henry’s microscopy toolkit

Alan Wood brought his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope equipped with a 144 LED ring-light, a small stereomicroscope (the STX Stereo Microscope sold on Amazon by GT Vision) and a Natural History Museum Pocket Microscope

Alan Wood’s microscopesAlan Wood’s microscopes

Alan collected plant specimens from just outsize the Centre and from the new Wildlife Garden. Paul collected specimens from the cattle trough using a turkey baster as a giant pipette, and found some dinoflagellates.

Paul Smith collecting from cattle troughPaul Smith collecting from cattle trough

Alan and Neil collected specimens from the pond in the new Wildlife Garden, the first time we have had access to it. There was a lot of filamentous algae, but not much animal life yet. They found a few chydorid waterfleas (Chydorus sp.), bdelloid rotifers, nematodes and ostracods, and a small dragonfly nymph.

All of the specimens were returned to the pond.

Chydorid waterfleaChydorid waterflea (Chydorus sp.) [by Paul Smith]

Chydorid waterfleaChydorid waterflea (Chydorus sp.) and rotifer [by Neil Henry]

OstracodOstracod [by Paul Smith]

New pond in Wildlife GardenNew pond in Wildlife Garden

The plant specimens included flowers of lavender (with a small caterpillar) and dock, leaves of clover and unripe blackberries.

Flowers of lavender and dockFlowers of lavender and dock

In addition to looking at specimens from the cattle trough, Paul showed a slide of crystals of herapathite under polarised light, and the effect of rotating the polariser on the colours.

Slide of herapathite crystalsSlide of herapathite crystals

Herapathite crystals under polarised lightHerapathite crystals under polarised light [by Paul Smith]

Paul also brought a beetle, a hornet and scorpions embedded in resin.

Scorpion embedded in resinScorpion embedded in resin

We had a lot of visitors during the day, mostly families with young children but also some interested adults, some of whom spent a long time looking at specimens and discussing microscopes.

Visitors in the Information CentreVisitors in the Information Centre

Wimbledon Common Nature Club

We shared the Information Centre with the Wimbledon Common Nature Club, which is run by Auriel Glanville. The Club is for 6–14 year olds and meets in the Centre on the first Sunday of the month, from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon. Auriel encouraged youngsters to “build a tree” from a roll of paper, needles or leaves, cones, and a bark rubbing. Quekett members will be showing interesting slides and specimens at the Nature Club meeting on Sunday 7th January 2024.

Auriel GlanvilleAuriel Glanville

Open Day

Outside the Centre, there was lots to see and do, with displays of animals and vehicles, stalls selling fast food, handicrafts, prints, second-hand books, pet supplies, toys for children and pets, entertainers, and stalls from other organisations. Behind the Information Centre are the stables with the horses used by the Rangers, not normally open to the public.

Wimbledon and Putney Commons ConservatorsWimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators

Friends of Wimbledon and Putney CommonsFriends of Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Visitors to the stablesVisitors to the stables

Wandle Concert Band Conductor Norma Whitson and the Wandle Concert Band

Greensleeves Morris MenGreensleeves Morris Men

Wimbledon BeekeepersWimbledon Beekeepers’ Association

Reptile EventsReptile Events

Bearded dragonBearded dragon (Pogona sp.)

The Hawking CentreThe Hawking Centre

British Herpetological Society and National Centre for Reptile WelfareBritish Herpetological Society and National Centre for Reptile Welfare

London Wildlife Trust and RSPBLondon Wildlife Trust and RSPB

Bargain booksBargain books

Refreshments in the garageRefreshments in the garage

Happy Cow FoundationHappy Herefords

DonutsCarol’s Crêperie and Donuts

German GrillGerman Grill

Cart on the CommonCart on the Common

John Deere agricultural machineryJohn Deere agricultural machinery

Household CavalryHousehold Cavalry


We are looking forward to the next Open Day on Sunday 8th September 2024.


We are grateful to the Rangers for allowing us to collect small samples from the Common, which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, and for allowing us to set up our equipment in the Information Centre.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood, photomicrographs by Neil Henry and Paul Smith

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