The Museum’s collections are on the move. For decades, a deconsecrated church has been used to house material from our Earth collections, but we now have a new and improved off-site space, and between now and the end of 2018 a huge project is underway to sort and shift these objects. You can find out more about all this in our Stories from the Stores article.
Chantelle Dollimore, Move Project Assistant, recently emigrated from Australia and has been experiencing her first British autumn. Here she shares a glimpse of the natural encounters the collections move has offered so far.
As the project team for the collections move settles into the daily hustle and bustle of work there are extraordinary things happening outside. Winter is coming; we have already wound our clocks back for that extra hour of sleep. Leading up to that time, creatures great and small have been preparing themselves for seasonal changes.
Something truly blissful in an English autumn is the deciduous trees shedding their leaves as the days grow shorter and chillier. The crunching underfoot of hues of browns, reds, yellows and oranges adds charm as we make the rounds of our 19th-century church workspace.
Driving from the Museum to the off-site store, we’re likely to see at least one Red Kite. Less than 30 years ago Red Kites were nearly extinct, but through conservation efforts they have flourished in the Oxfordshire countryside. Their distinct calls and unique silhouette, with long narrow wings and forked tail, are a haunting yet beautiful addition to the skyline.
The move project team have also been visited by a different ‘bird’ altogether; the ladybird! At this time of year, when you find one you will most likely see many more close by. When a ladybird finds the perfect place to hibernate for spring it excretes a pheromone to attract more to the area. For some, the perfect place seems to be inside the church itself!
Grey Squirrels and deer are also making appearances throughout the day while we’re working. One cannot help but watch as the bushy tail of the squirrel peeks through the hedges as it forages for food and admire the deer as they stroll through the fields happily unaware of our activities some 50 metres away.
Although it’s great to admire the specimens on display in the Museum, I love that my job allows me to get out and about to appreciate the wildlife of the Oxfordshire countryside. There’s always something unexpected… like a butterfly choosing its resting place on some disassembled storage shelves.