East Midlands meeting

Saturday 8th April 2017

Fifth Keith Brocklehurst Memorial Meeting

By Jacky McPherson

Saturday 8th April 2017 marked the Annual Gossip meeting at Lockington, Leicestershire. This year the emphasis was again on freshwater biology and insect life.

Mike Samworth curated a selection of items that included: a list of articles Keith wrote for Balsam Post;

Keith Brocklehurst’s articles for Balsam PostKeith Brocklehurst’s articles for Balsam Post

a copy of Keith’s well-known co-authored Biology for Modern Courses illustrating his very practical approach to the subject; the FSC key to Springtails, in whose production he was heavily involved, reflecting his well-known interest in and study of these organisms; two PMS notebooks and slide boxes one (94/14) on Testate Amoebae and the later (5/10) on Springtails. The slides were available for viewing together with the notebooks in which there are comments well worth reading, for example by John Clegg, who wrote among other things, the Wayside and Woodland Book on Freshwater Life. The publication on rhizopods in Malham Tarn that Keith mentioned in the notebooks was there to see, together with a greeting card sent to Mike one Christmas, showing how beautiful some of these organisms can be. There were slides of onion root-tip chromosomes made by Keith, together with a complementary instruction sheet on counting the frequency of each phase.

Onion root-tip chromosomesOnion root-tip chromosomes [slide by Keith Brocklehurst, photo by Mike Samworth]

Broad bean root-tip squash for chromosome countingVicia faba (Broad bean) – Root Tip Squash for Chromosome Counting

The display gave a very clear picture of this most interesting person

Following on the theme of freshwater biology, Nigel Williams had brought a sample from a watering cistern on his South Croydon allotments that held a great variety of freshwater organisms, viewed with the Olympus SZ stereomicroscope and transmitted-light base that he bought at the Reading Convention.

Nigel Williams’ exhibitNigel Williams’ exhibit

Mayfly nymphsMayfly nymphs

And Steve Thorpe’s selection of subjects from his garden pond showed some very lively rotifers and water fleas nicely displayed in Live View with a small camera on his trinocular Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope with SZ-CTV attachment

Steve Thorpe and his exhibitSteve Thorpe and his exhibit, watched by Mike Woof and Mike Samworth

plus a video


Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (15 seconds)

Terry Hope kindly hosted an expedition to his beautiful garden pond, and on return Nigel had some caddisfly larvae and snails which had colonised a stone in the stream.

Mike Samworth brought back Spirogyra, very nicely displayed in his photomicrograph.

SpirogyraSpirogyra sp. [by Mike Samworth]

There were some interesting microscopes to see, or buy.

Tim Newton had a Beck Model 29 with unusual illumination obtained by shining the light upwards through a Bull’s Eye, and then directing it downwards across the stage. A method simple to achieve and described in the early editions of Carpenter as being devised by J. B. Reade.

Beck Model 29 microscopeBeck Model 29 microscope

Tim also displayed a Prior microscope using a 3″ Swift objective mounted directly on the bottom of the drawtube (not visible in the photographs).

Prior microscope with 3″ Swift objectivePrior microscope with 3″ Swift objective

Prior microscope with 3″ Swift objectivePrior microscope with 3″ Swift objective

This configuration gives a low magnification, approximately ×1.7, a great working distance and a lovely 3D image of insect specimens.

Beetle seen through Swift ×10 Telaugic eyepieceBeetle seen through Swift ×10 Telaugic eyepiece

The ×10 Telaugic eyepiece by Swift is not only unusual, but the perfect partner for low power microscopy

There was the usual mixture of items for sale, or even free to a good home including a choir of Service bodies

Watson Service bodiesWatson Service bodies

(excellent adjuncts to upper body exercises, maybe!), a Lomo vertical metallographic microscope that was somewhat seized up, but on the much more interesting side a rare 1940s Baker with a phototube.

Baker binocular microscope with phototubeBaker binocular microscope with phototube

Gadgets were in evidence, Mike Chaplin brought along a bespoke eyepiece mount for his Lumix 130 compact camera using a purchased mount that had been adapted with a wide-bore docking tube secured to the draw tube below the objective by three thumbscrews. And the mount for the camera clamped to the top bracket to position the lens at eye-distance from the objective – it’s a pity I didn’t take a photograph of it because the set-up seemed very flexible and effective.

Colin Kirk was there, sadly with no slides for sale but with his clever devices for ensuring cell rings have flat surfaces, and a neat portable illuminant for the stereo made from a cigar box

Orlon stereomicroscope with transmitted-light baseOrlon stereomicroscope with transmitted-light base

Transmitted-light base in cigar boxTransmitted-light base in cigar box

Geoff Mould had a display in which he demonstrated the growth of crystals under polarising light, using a hot air blower and aspirin.

There was a lively interest in all the exhibits.

General viewGeneral view (Les Franchi, Steve Thorpe, Tim Newton and Jeremy Poole in foreground)

General viewGeneral view

In the afternoon Steve Gill gave a walk-through of the revamped Journal archive software, a great improvement on the older versions with a fully searchable index, much greater ease of navigation and some interactive features that have brought this important resource up to date. The finished product – available very soon when beta-testing is complete – will come on a memory stick at the princely cost of approximately £10, and include Journals from 1866 to 2012. This is a MUST HAVE for any member wanting to refer to the wealth of information in the 41 volumes of published material from the Journal.

USB memory stick containing the JournalUSB memory stick containing the Journal

This was followed by a fascinating tour of Electron Micrographs of Mites given by Jeremy Poole. The detail in the anatomy was incredible but, for me, the finest image was of a foot – of a velvet mite I believe – with the dendritic structures that enable the creatures to adhere to vertical surfaces. Other detail of hedgehog mites, provided by a friendly vet, showed the female genital flap, the biting mouthparts, and we learned that adult males do not have the necessary equipment to suck blood, one of the reasons the vet was not able to provide an adult male for comparison. The males must get all of their nutrition before maturing.

On this lovely summer day in April this was a most interesting and relaxed meeting. Thanks are due to all the people who brought along items for perusal, and to Terry Hope for arranging the day

Report and photographs by Jacky McPherson

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