Author Archives: admin

headstarting – Project Godwit

We are almost half way through the wader breeding season and what a rollercoaster it has been. We started on some highs, with the return of Mark Whiffin as our Senior Researcher on the ground who was joined by Helen Jones, new to Project Godwit but not to wader research. The reserve team at RSPB Nene Washes had been very busy getting the habitat ready and the predator fences erected. So with the research team in place and the reserve looking fantastic, the godwits started to return and just as the first ones were about to start laying eggs, a huge amount of rain combined with high tides and the whole reserve went under water. This was a massive low point for everyone.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: headstarting – Project Godwit

Vegetative guide to orchids of the British Isles

Green-winged Orchid ©Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 30 May 2018

Green-winged Orchid ©Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 30 May 2018

An aid to identifying 39 orchid species when they are not in flower was produced by ID Trainer For The Future Mike Waller. It’s available to download from the Natural History Museum website.

Click here to download the guide.

Marsh Tit Species Focus

Marsh Tit by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 16 February 2017

Marsh Tit by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 16 February 2017

Do you know why Marsh Tits are in decline, their typical lifespan or how many gardens they are recorded in? Find out in this article from the BTO quarterly magazine,

Click here to download the article

Pasqueflower ©Phil Sarre, Knocking Hoe NR 9 June 2018

Trip report – Knocking Hoe Nature Reserve 9 June 2018

Leader: Matt Andrews

We all agreed this reserve was a star visit for botanists in the MKNHS calendar (but not for hay fever sufferers).

Joe and I compiled a list of outstanding flora, and others contributed observations on fauna.

We met at the ‘Live and Let Live’ pub in Pegsdon, just off the road to Hitchin, Bedfordshire, where we were treated to a rapid passing of a Merlin. We then set off with Matt who had arranged for us to walk up the private farm track along which we had sightings of several farmland birds, including skylarks, partridge, whitethroat, and yellow hammer.

Then we headed up into the chalk hills and immediately found displays of the chalk fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and impressive spreads of Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris), and Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum officinale), a member of the Borage family. The tight grassland sward showed the many characteristic plants of this habitat: fairy flax, milkwort, salad burnet, rock rose, Sainfoin, etc.

Burnt-tip orchid ©Mary Sarre, Knocking Hoe NR 9 June 2018

Burnt-tip orchid ©Mary Sarre, Knocking Hoe NR 9 June 2018

One of our target species, the Burnt tip orchid, (Orchis ustulata) was also abundant,  as well as the Pyramidal orchid and a few Bee orchids.

The Pasqueflower was largely over (photo at top of page of the one last) but its presence was clear from the many fluffy seed-heads, mostly on the southern side of the hill. The Field fleawort and Moon-carrot were also spotted here.

The spires of Wild Mignonette, Reseda lutea and Weld, Reseda luteola were noticeable rising from the longer grasses as we walked along the ridge towards the Beech woodland on the top. Here we saw a few White Helleborines, and Sanicle, common in woodland on chalk and limestone.

Returning down by the field paths, we were intrigued by a field of red poppies, perhaps a crop for poppyseed, with fumitory, candytuft and Field madder on the edge. A Brown argus, brimstone and Common blue were seen here.

We were then ready for a very welcome sit-down and refreshment at the pub. Many thanks to Matt for his expert local knowledge and direction.

Article supplied by Mary Sarre
Photo of Pasqueflower ©Phil Sarre

Swift Awareness Week, 16-23 June 2018

This summer, Britain will become the first country in the world to dedicate a national week in support of Swifts.

Swift Awareness Week will run from 16 – 23 June. There will be events and publicity all around the country, organised by dozens of local Swift groups. These events aim to raise awareness of Swifts and bring a focus to their plight, and of course provide information about how to help them. The Swift is one of the few endangered species that individuals really can help in their own property and there are many groups across the country working hard to try to halt their dramatic decline of 50% in just 20 years.

Source: Action for Swifts: 2018 UK Swift Awareness Week, 16-23 June

Australian magpies understand other bird calls

Australian magpies can understand what other birds are saying to each other, a new study has found.

The research, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, says the wily magpie has learned the meanings of different noisy miner calls and essentially eavesdrops to find out which predators are near.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Australian magpies can understand other bird calls, study finds | Environment | The Guardian

Butterfly Walk – Salcey Forest 23 June 2018

Third place, Wood White ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Wood White ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Woodland Wings will be hosting a butterfly walk in Salcey Forest

Salcey Forest. (SP801509, ‘horsebox’ car park, Nearest Postcode: NN7 2HA) Saturday 23rd June, 10:30am

Join butterfly expert Doug Goddard to learn about and look for woodland butterflies, with target species including Wood White and the rare Black Hairstreak. Parking is limited so please let us know if you are planning on coming.

Use the following links to find out more information:

Woodland Wings Events 2018
Download the Woodland Wings Project Overview

Operation Turtle Dove

Turtle doves are ecologically unique, being Europe’s only long distance migratory dove. They spend just a third of the year on their breeding grounds in Europe and spend the winter on their non-breeding grounds in sub-Saharan West Africa. There are four main factors associated with the decline of turtle doves. These include the loss of […]

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Why are turtle doves in trouble? – Operation Turtle Dove

Does garden feeding shape populations?

Our understanding of the impact of feeding wild birds is far from complete, but we are beginning to unravel the effects of providing foods at garden feeding stations. An important area of research has been to examine how supplementary foods shape populations through its impacts in individuals.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Does garden feeding shape populations? | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

RSPBNBLG Walk – 17 June 2018 Floodplain Forest NR

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip:

Location: Meet at Haversham Road car park (free) near Ouse railway viaduct

SP 816 421

A second visit to this newly created Parks Trust reserve. From the three hides we should see young waders and plenty of dragonflies.

Leader : Pete How

Time: 10 am to 12.30 pm

Price: Free

Find out more about this premiere birding site on our Wildlife Sites page.

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Preventing disease at bird feeders

Bullfinch on feeder ©Peter Hassett, Summer Leys 14 January 2017

Bullfinch on feeder ©Peter Hassett, Summer Leys 14 January 2017

If you feed your backyard birds or know someone who does check out our new brochure on “Strategies to prevent and control bird-feeder associated diseases and threats”. Help spread the info and help prevent disease and threats to birds.

Click here to download the guide.

National Moth Night – Bucknell Wood 16 June 2018

MKNHS members mothing at Linford Lakes NR by Julie Lane9 July2016

MKNHS members mothing at Linford Lakes NR by Julie Lane, 9 July2016

As part of National Moth Night, Woodland Wings will be hosting an event at Bucknell Wood. (SP660451, Nearest Postcode: NN12 8TW)

  • Saturday 16th June, 8:30pm  (bat walk at approx. 9pm)
  • Sunday 17th June, 8am

As part of National Moth night the moth group will be inviting members of the public to join them to see what species are caught in their moth traps. Join us for the evening to see the traps getting set up, then go on a bat walk whilst we wait for some moths to get trapped. In the morning a light breakfast will be provided whilst we identify and show you what moths were caught overnight. Pick and choose whether you would like to join us for the whole event or just the evening or morning, but please let us know if you are coming.

Use the following links to find out more information:

Woodland Wings Events 2018
Download the Woodland Wings Project Overview

30 Days Wild

Can you do something wild every day throughout June? That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness.

We’re giving you a free pack of goodies to help you plan your wild month, plus lots of ideas from your Wildlife Trust to inspire you to stay wild all throughout June (and beyond!). You’ll also get inspiring emails from your Wildlife Trust, invites to exclusive events and a chance to join in on social media.

Click on the link for more information: 30 Days Wild | The Wildlife Trusts

Corncrakes may have bred on Rathlin Island

RSPB staff and volunteers heard the unmistakeable call of the corncrake on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland during the last weekend of April.

Although this species has been heard on the island before, the timing is much earlier than usual and has prompted hopes that this is the offspring of previously heard birds.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Where are all our Swifts?

BirTrack chart of Swift migration 2018

BirTrack chart of Swift migration 2018

Data from @BirdTrack show the delay in Swift arrivals this spring. There’s still time for them to arrive but it is getting late.

You can read the BirdTrack April 2018 migration update here.

Thanks go to Sue and Andrew Hetherington for drawing my attention to BirdTrack;’s tweet.

Hydrotherapy helps a hedgehog to recover

<

In November 2017, a hedgehog that was unable to move its hind legs came into the care of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

A vet at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre recommended physiotherapy to help the hedgehog regain its strength, but this presented the centre with an interesting dilemma.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Green Drake mayfly, Ephemera danica by Frupus (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Mayflies

Last week (22 May 2018) on our walk around Stony Stratford Nature Reserve we saw lots of mayflies pulsating up and down above the river and settled in the foliage on the banks. On coming home I then read a very interesting article on mayflies by Nick baker in the BBC wildlife magazine and thought I would pass on some of the interesting facts here.

Green Drake mayfly, Ephemera danica by Frupus (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Green Drake mayfly, (Ephemera danica) by Frupus (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The mayfly we saw is I think the green drake or Ephemera danica which is the biggest of the British species, some of the other 51 species being absolutely tiny.

These mayflies, commonly copied by anglers for their lures, dance above the water in a mating frenzy with the females emitting an intoxicating perfume that attracts the males before she scatters her clutch of up to 8000 eggs into the waters to pass on her genes to the next generation. These eggs sink to the bottom and turn into nymphs which spend the next 1-3years developing in the sediment at the bottom of the river. Meanwhile their parents dancing above last but a day or two before they die (having no mouthparts they rely on the fat reserves laid down as a nymph to power them through this stage).

The nymphs carry on their lives in the river moulting up to 50 times before they are finally ready to return to the surface. At this stage they blow up like little air filled balloons and bob to the surface. Almost immediately on hitting the surface they unzip in a matter of seconds and emerge as adults with fully functioning wings. You might think this was their final moult but no they are unique in the insect world in having a second moult from one rather dull winged form to another, this time the sparkling beauty we saw last week. Why they do this no-one really knows.

Then the dancing begins and the whole lifecycle starts all over again.

One final fact – mayflies are the most primitive insects alive today and have been around since before the dinosaurs.

What an amazing insect!

Article kindly supplied by Julie Lane

Big Half Term Hedgehog Watch 2018

The hedgehog is rapidly disappearing from Britain. This half term week we need you to help us find out why. Hedgehogs are thought to have declined by around a third over the past 10 years, and the reasons for the decline remain largely unknown. To help solve the mystery we would like you to record when and where you see hedgehogs …

Click on the link for more information: Big Half Term Hedgehog Watch 2018 – The Mammal Society

Cooperation across the flyway for turtle doves

Yesterday (24 May 2018) a much-needed action plan was launched to save our most rapidly declining migratory bird: the turtle dove. The RSPB has worked for three years to get wide support for this plan and I am delighted to host this blog from my colleagues, Joscelyn Ashpole, Ian Fisher and Carles Carboneras, to say more.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Good news for a Friday: cooperation across the flyway for turtle doves – Martin Harper’s blog – Our work – The RSPB Community

GDT nature photographer of the year 2018

Click here to view the photos: GDT nature photographer of the year 2018 – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

Aylesbury Peregrine Project Watch Day 31 August 2018

Event details

Thu, 31/05/2018 – 10:00am2:00pm

Join us at our Peregrine Watch Day. We will be located near the Clock Tower, Market Square with our telescopes to show you these magnificent birds and their chick.

Venue location

Market Square, Aylesbury,
Aylesbury ,
Buckinghamshire ,
HP20 1TW

Click here to see the organiser’s web site.

Meadows and the Agriculture Bill

Ancient meadows have quietly disappeared from under our feet. Without the roar of chainsaws or the sound of mighty oaks crashing to the ground, sites with undisturbed floral histories going back generations can be lost in a single afternoon. Since the 1930s, over 97% of our meadows – a staggering 7.5 million acres – have been ploughed, ‘improved’ or built on. This is a key driver in the higher-profile declines of pollinators and birds – and a loss to us all.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Colouring our countryside: meadows and the Agriculture Bill

RSPBNBLG Walk – 6 June 2018 Calvert Jubilee & Gallows Bridge Farm

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip:

Location: Meet: roadside car park (tiny—please car-share if possible) 300m N of Calvert X-roads: SP 681 250. Short walk, but uneven in places.

CALVERT JUBILEE RESERVE & GALLOWS BRIDGE FARM, BUCKS
Two BBOWT reserves. Calvert, a former clay-pit, has “chalkland” butterflies like green hairstreak, dingy and grizzled skippers. Scrub holds many warblers, incl. possibly nightingale. Three miles on, Gallows Bridge Farm, part of the important Upper Ray Meadows, has breeding curlew.

Leader: Chris Coppock

All welcome

Time: 10 am to 1 pm

Price: Free

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Kew Gardens’ Temperate House restored – in pictures

Click here for more information: Kew Gardens’ Temperate House restored – in pictures | Science | The Guardian

Cranes by Sue and Andrew Hetherington, Gallows Bridge 16 May 2018

Cranes in Buckinghamshire 2018

Two cranes arrived at Gallows Bridge BBOWT reserve on Wednesday 16 May 2018.  They remain there to date (21 May 2018) so it is a possibility they will remain.  They are unringed which gives some clues as to where they came from – or rather where they did not come from.  Educated guesses say they may have come from Otmoor.  Some display behaviour has been observed.

Text and photo by Sue and Andrew Hetherington

Buckinghamshire Bird Club have published a  blog posting on the cranes which you can view here.

Waterbirds in the UK – Summary report 2016-17

Teal ©Peter Hassett, Willen 25 January 2018

Teal ©Peter Hassett, Willen 25 January 2018

Waterbirds in the UK presents the results of the annual WeBS report, with digital PDF copies of current and past editions available below. It provides a single, comprehensive source of information on the current status and distribution of waterbirds in the UK for those interested in the conservation of the populations of these species and the wetland sites they use.

Click on the link for more information: Waterbirds in the UK – Summary report | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Celebrate World Bee Day 20 May 2018

Hairy-footed flower bee ©Julie Lane, Olney 2 May 2018

Hairy-footed flower bee ©Julie Lane, Olney 2 May 2018

Slovenia proposed that the United Nations (UN) proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. On 20 December 2017, following three years of efforts at the international level, the UN Member States unanimously approved Slovenia’s proposal, thus proclaiming 20 May as World Bee Day.

The purpose of the www.worldbeeday.org website is to present the initiative and its implementation, raise awareness of the importance of bees and beekeeping, inform the public of major beekeeping events around the world and celebrate World Bee Day.

Click here for more information: Welcome – Celebrate World Bee Day

Record your Red Admiral sightings

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Park 22nd September 2016

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Park 22nd September 2016

Have you seen a Red Admiral? Please record it!

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a migratory butterfly colonising Central and Northern Europe every year from the South. In autumn, the offspring of these spring arrivals migrate southwards.

We investigate the migration of the Red Admiral by the help of citizen science. Thanks to the more than 40 citizen science portals across Europe that share their data with us, we are now able to study Red Admiral occurrence in an unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution.

Click on the link for more information: Red Admiral migration | Insect Migration & Ecology Lab

Starlings v Swifts – updated 21 May 2018

My daughter and her partner live in Cumbria and have starlings and swifts nesting in the eves of their house. Last year the starlings nested first and then the swifts moved in once the starlings had fledged. This year as normal the starlings are busy bringing up their babies in the usual place.

However last Saturday 12th May Susies partner heard a cacophony outside the house and saw a starling and swift tumbling together down onto the lawn followed by a tussle where the starling clearly had the upper hand and the swift’s life was at risk. He rescued the swift and after a rest launched it from an upstairs window. However after a while he saw the swift attempt to enter the nesting cavity and again the tussle ensued followed by another rescue and relaunch. Now a stalemate is in place where the swifts regularly fly by but the starlings are on high alert and drive them off.

This year they have erected two more swift boxes hoping to establish a small colony but it seems like this won’t be given a chance to happen until the starling family have fledged and moved out. But it leaves you with questions – does this competition happen regularly and do the swifts loose out. Or was it just because the weather was unseasonably hot that the swifts decided to try and get a move on early an start nesting?

Article by Julie Lane

And now an interesting response from Sue Hetherington:

Starling by Harry Appleyard, 20 April 2016

Starling by Harry Appleyard, 20 April 2016

I was interested to read Julie’s article about the nesting territories under dispute by starlings and swifts. I can’t offer any advice about the eaves of the house. However, Andrew and I have had similar worries about the possibilities of uninvited guests grabbing boxes intended for swifts.

Before our box was used, we found evidence that it had been used for roosting by some bird over the winter and realised a problem could arise. What we then did as autumn turned to winter, we cleaned the box out (which we no longer do, it’s not necessary) and we blocked the entry hole with a bathroom (or car washing) sponge.

We reckoned our swifts came back like clockwork on 3rd – 5th May so about half way through April, we removed the sponge. We always meant to attach a bit of cord to the sponge so it could be pulled out with having to start going up ladders, but of course we always forgot. It always appeared to us that the starlings wanted an earlier slot than the swifts so our sponge method always seemed to work.

I have heard of swifts having savage territorial disputes amongst themselves but hadn’t realised that a swift/startling fight could be so vicious. This competition for nesting sites sounds like yet another problem swifts are struggling against.

Sue Hetherington

Rutland Osprey record year

 

Osprey ©Peter Hassett Everglades, florida 26 February 2011

Osprey ©Peter Hassett Everglades, florida 26 February 2011

Rutland Osprey Project has reported that Maya (a female osprey) and her mate (known as 33 after his ring number), have successfully incubated a trio of eggs that began hatching during the early May Bank Holiday weekend.

This is the earliest recorded date of osprey eggs hatching at Rutland Water, and follows the earliest return date and egg laying of UK ospreys when Maya was spotted at her nest on 12 March, five days before the previous earliest return date on record.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Save Salcey Forest Treetop Walk

Salcey Forest Treetop Walk is being closed, apparently due to neglect it has now become too dangerous to use.

The treetop walk is a large part of our community and hundreds of visitors, families and walkers will now be missing the opportunity to visit the forest for this fantastic addition to Northamptonshires countryside. We would like to urge the Forestry Commission to undertake the relevant repairs required in order to keep this well-loved attraction open.

Source: Petition · Please stop the closure of the Treetop Walk · Change.org

Upper Thames Wader Project

The Upper Thames area is important for its wet grassland and flower-rich meadows, and has historically supported large populations of breeding waders such as curlews, lapwings, snipe and redshank.
However, surveys in 1994, 1997 and 2005 showed that all four species had suffered significant declines. The project sets out to reverse this decline.
The project area supports large numbers of lowland curlew and lapwing, as well as wildlife such as brown hairstreak and turtle dove. In the face of pressures on habitat, flood risk and climate change, farmers, conservationists and local communities are working together to give nature a home across this landscape.

Source: Upper Thames Wader Birds Conservation Project – The RSPB

Why butterflies matter

Silver-washed-Fritillary by Julian Lambley Bernwood Butterfly trail 24June 2017

Silver-washed-Fritillary by Julian Lambley Bernwood Butterfly trail 24June 2017

Butterflies conjure up images of sunshine, the warmth and colour of flowery meadows, and summer gardens teaming with life. Moths are one of the most diverse group of insects on earth, ranging from spectacular Hawk-moths to small, intricately patterned Footman moths.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – Why butterflies matter

Wildflower-rich meadows

Wildflower-rich meadows are very rare and important habitats. Some of these grasslands support an amazing number of wildflower species as well as providing habitats for many species of birds, invertebrates, amphibians and mammals. In particular they provide very important supplies of pollen and nectar for bumblebees and other insect pollinators.

Source: Wildflower-rich meadows – Farm Wildlife

Finalists Of The 15th Smithsonian Photo Competition  Announced, And They’re Stunning | Bored Panda

It’s that time of the year again, when The Smithsonian Magazine announces the finalists of their hotly contested photo contest. Year after year, the contest continues to blow us away with the quality of entrants, with only the cream of the crop qualifying as the 60 finalists, narrowed down from over 48,000 submissions.

Click here to see some stunning photos: Finalists Of The 15th Smithsonian Photo Competition 2017 Have Been Announced, And They’re Stunning | Bored Panda

White-legged Damselfly Investigation

The White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) is a delicate little insect that can be found fluttering along lushly vegetated margins of rivers, streams, pools and lakes in southern England and Wales. At first glance they can be mistaken for other, more common, species of blue Damselflies, such as Azure Damselflies; as a result, it is likely that White-legged Damselfly are under-recorded. However, on closer inspection the species can be easily be identified by a number of features, the most prominent being its pale legs, which are broad and feathery in males.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: White-legged Damselfly Investigation | british-dragonflies.org.uk

Properties of flexible resilin joints on damselfly wings

Emperor Dragonfly, Stonepit Field, 15Jul14, Peter Hassett

Emperor Dragonfly, Stonepit Field, 15Jul14, Peter Hassett

Resilin functions as an elastic spring that demonstrates extraordinary extensibility and elasticity. Here we use combined techniques, laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to illuminate the structure and study the function of wing flexibility in damselflies, focusing on the genus Rhinocypha. Morphological studies using LSCM and SEM revealed that resilin patches and cuticular spikes were widespread along the longitudinal veins on both dorsal and ventral wing surfaces. Nanoindentation was performed by using atomic force microscopy (AFM), where the wing samples were divided into three sections (membrane of the wing, mobile and immobile joints). The resulting topographic images revealed the presence of various sizes of nanostructures for all sample sections. The elasticity range values were: membrane (0.04 to 0.16 GPa), mobile joint (1.1 to 2.0 GPa) and immobile joint (1.8 to 6.0 GPa). The elastomeric and glycine-rich biopolymer, resilin was shown to be an important protein responsible for the elasticity and wing flexibility.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Morphological and mechanical properties of flexible resilin joints on damselfly wings (Rhinocypha spp.)

Reintroduced Species Stamps

Over the past two centuries, many animals and plants have become extinct in the UK – mostly due to the loss or degradation of habitats leading to increasingly isolated populations. This special collection of stamps and collectibles celebrates the UK’s successfully restored wildlife – including the Eurasian beaver, osprey, pool frog, sand lizard, large-blue butterfly and stinking hawk’s-beard.

Click on the link for more information: Reintroduced Species Stamps and Souvenirs | Royal Mail Group Ltd

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 20 May 2018

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 19 November 2018 10:00-16:00hrs.

Tea and coffee, home-made cakes available.
Second-hand books on sale as well as crafts and bird seed.
Great views through the new windows.
Lots of new arrivals come and hear the Warblers from the Warbler Hide!

Today we have a visit from Opticron Rep Sarah, who will demonstrate some of their products. Bins, scopes and magnifiers will be available to buy. Sarah will undertake some routine maintenance of Opticron products, so bring your bins along.

Hubble captures  “Einstein ring” created by distant galaxies

This image might look like someone left a coffee mug on a photograph of some Christmas lights, but it actually illustrates a fundamental part of our understanding of physics.What you’re looking at is a picture filled with distant galaxies, and in the middle of the image is a particularly dense cluster of galaxies. So dense, in fact, the cluster is distorting spacetime and creating what’s known as an Einstein ring.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Hubble captures a sublime “Einstein ring” created by distant galaxies | Alphr