Warnham Local Nature Reserve excursion

Saturday 19th August 2017

This was the ninth Quekett excursion to Warnham Local Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Horsham, West Sussex, hosted by the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve, and this year organised by Neil Henry and Graham Matthews. The weather stayed fine all day, with some good sunny spells. As in 2015 and 2016, we were able to set up our equipment in the Visitor Centre, which now has new tables that are much more stable than the old ones.

Microscopists in the Visitor CentreMicroscopists and visitors in the Visitor Centre

The Reserve includes a millpond, streams, dipping ponds, marshland, woodland and grassland. Collecting is not normally allowed in the Reserve, but Neil had arranged permission for us to collect small quantities from the areas that are open to the public.

After setting up our microscopes, cameras and computers, we walked through the wild-flower meadow to the 3 nearby dipping ponds that have wooden platforms for easy access.

Steve Durr, Robert Ratford and Chris AlgarSteve Durr, Robert Ratford and Chris Algar

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood

Chris Algar with his MagnivisorChris Algar with his Magnivisor

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood collecting from a pond invaded by Equisetum sp.

Members brought lots of interesting collecting equipment, small nets and big nets with short and long handles, golf-ball retrievers with extending handles, mud scoopers, trays and bottles.

Plankton net, sorting tray and small bottlesPlankton net, sorting tray and small bottles

We were surprised to see several marsh frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus) in and around the ponds.

Back in the Visitor Centre, we started examining, identifying, photographing and videoing specimens. This was a Quekett event, so there was lots of collaboration and lots of gossip. Topics included equipment for collecting pond life, LED conversions and morgellons (and the poor quality microscopy that provides “evidence” for it).

Graham Matthews, Martin Allwright, Steven Ettlinger and Neil HenryGraham Matthews, Martin Allwright, Steven Ettlinger and Neil Henry

Visitors included Quekett members Martin Allwright, Mary Morris and Pat Morris, and some families with young children.

Anne and Chris Algar used their their newly-acquired trinocular Olympus BHS microscope to record videos with their Canon EOS 7D and EOS Utility.

Anne and Chris AlgarAnne and Chris Algar

Copepod nauplius larva, ciliate and Lacrymaria olor (O. F. Müller) [by Anne and Chris Algar]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (28 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Chris showed us a selection of excellent colour prints that he and Anne have made using a microscope or Nikon CF objectives, and we encouraged him to enter some for the Annual Exhibition in October.

Dennis Fullwood brought his trinocular Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope and his trinocular Nikon Labophot compound with phase contrast. From the ponds, Dennis found mites (possibly Diplodontus sp.), Daphnia pulex, D. longispina, nauplius larvae, Planorbis planorbis and Brachionus sp. He set out yellow pan traps soon after he arrived, and collected them later to examine the catch and found small spiders, a couple of ants (possibly Lasius sp.) and quite a few small Diptera and Hymenoptera. Dennis spent a lot of time with visitors.

Dennis Fullwood with visitorsDennis Fullwood with visitors

Graham Matthews brought his Wild M8 stereomicroscope and his trinocular Leitz Dialux equipped for DIC (differential interference contrast).

Graham MatthewsGraham Matthews

Graham produced the following photomicrographs:

CiliateCiliate [by Graham Matthews]

Copepod naupliusCopepod nauplius [by Graham Matthews]

Euglena acusEuglena acus (O. F. Müller) [by Graham Matthews]

GyrosigmaGyrosigma sp. (a diatom) [by Graham Matthews]

Netzelia tuberculataNetzelia tuberculata (Wallich) (a testate amoeba) [by Graham Matthews]

Nitzschia sigmoideaNitzschia sigmoidea (Nitzsch) W. Smith (a diatom) [by Graham Matthews]

StentorStentor sp. [by Graham Matthews]

Maurice Moss used his Vickers stereomicroscope to examine a range of specimens, and took photographs with his Nikon Coolpix 4500 attached to an NCP-995A photo relay lens. His specimens included blackberry rust (Phragmidium violaceum (Schultz) G. Winter).

Chris Algar, Maurice Moss and Thanya NirantasookChris Algar (with his Magnivisor), Maurice Moss and Thanya Nirantasook

Judy Moss came too, and pointed out all sorts of interesting plants as we wandered around the Reserve

Neil Henry brought his small Bresser Biolux AL microscope with an eyepiece camera and his Veho Discovery USB microscope, connected to his laptop for taking photographs.

Neil HenryNeil Henry

Robert Ratford brought a simple stereomicroscope, using the base of another microscope as the light source. His specimens included some Daphnia that were pink (indicating that they had responded to living in water with a low oxygen content by producing haemoglobin), mites, mayfly nymphs, damselfly larvae and phantom midge larvae.

Robert Ratford’s stereomicroscopeRobert’s stereomicroscope [by Robert Ratford]

Phantom midge larva and pink water-fleasPhantom midge larva and pink water-fleas [by Robert Ratford]

Steve Durr brought his trinocular Leitz microscope with a nice set of NPL Neofluar phase and normal objectives, and used it to examine pond life. His specimens included Phacus sp. and desmids.

Steve DurrSteve Durr

Steven Ettlinger used his trinocular Motic BA310 with C-mount adapter and Panasonic DMC-G5 mirrorless camera to photograph pond-life.

Steven EttlingerSteven Ettlinger

Alan Wood and Thanya Nirantasook used their Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope (with an LED ring-light and an Ikea Jansjö lamp) to examine pond life (including Vorticella sp. and caddis larvae on the underside of a water-lily leaf, filamentous algae and pink Daphnia sp.), flowers, fungi and galls.

Thanya NirantasookThanya Nirantasook

Sycamore tar spotSycamore tar spot, caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum Schwein (the dark patch is about 10 mm across)

Underside of sycamore tar spotUnderside of sycamore tar spot

Common spangle galls on oakCommon spangle galls on oak, caused by Neuroterus quercusbaccarum (L.) (the galls are 3 mm across)

Spherical gall on a leafSpherical gall on a leaf (the gall is about 4 mm in diameter)

Our thanks to the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve for allowing us to collect specimens and to use the Visitor Centre, and to Neil Henry and Graham Matthews for organising the excursion.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood, except where indicated

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