Basingstoke Canal excursion

Saturday 21st July 2018

On a warm summer day with sunny intervals a good crowd of Quekett members, spouses and friends came to Brookwood Memorial Hall for a day collecting from and alongside the Surrey stretch of the Basingstoke Canal, a Site of Special Scientific Interest that we visit each year.

Brookwood Memorial HallBrookwood Memorial Hall

As members arrived, they set up their microscopes, cameras, computers, nets, jars, trays, keys and books on tables in the hall, and then set off for the short walk to the canal in small groups. Anne Algar and Dennis Fullwood stayed behind to guard our equipment.

We started at Sheets Heath Bridge and walked along the path (unfortunately now popular with speeding cyclists) to the start of the Deepcut flight of locks just past Pirbright Bridge, looking for interesting specimens in and near the canal.

Basingstoke Canal from Sheets Heath BridgeBasingstoke Canal from Sheets Heath Bridge

Graham Matthews, Peter Wakeman and Tony PattinsonGraham Matthews, Peter Wakeman and Tony Pattinson

Plankton nets often come with multi-section handles so that you can assemble the length that you want.

Graham Matthews with his plankton netGraham Matthews with his plankton net

Mary Morris with part of her catchMary Morris with part of her catch

Tony Pattinson with his golf-ball retrieverTony Pattinson with his telescopic golf-ball retriever

A weed drag is useful for collecting samples of aquatic plants. Tie the string to your wrist so that you do not throw the drag too far.

Three-pronged weed dragThree-pronged weed drag [by Graham Matthews]

Three-pronged weed dragThree-pronged weed drag

Basingstoke Canal from the pathBasingstoke Canal from the path

Yellow waterlilies near Pirbright BridgeYellow waterlilies near Pirbright Bridge

The vegetation near Pirbright Bridge has recently been cleared, revealing a culvert that we had not seen before. Graham Matthews found several caseless caddis larvae there.

Graham Matthews collecting from the culvertGraham Matthews collecting from the culvert

Transferring specimens from a turkey basterTransferring specimens from a turkey baster

Alongside the canal, we saw a few butterflies and dragonflies, several damselflies and the expected plants.

Small skipper butterflySmall skipper butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris
(Poda)) on stinging-nettle leaf

Blue-tailed damselflyBlue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans (Vander Linden))

Common blue damselflyCommon blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum (Charpentier)) [by David Linstead]

Fly on flowersFly on flowers

Empty spider nursery on marsh horsetailEmpty spider nursery on marsh horsetail [by David Linstead]

BlackberriesBlackberries

Great willowherbGreat willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum L.)

Hypericum sp.Hypericum sp. [by David Linstead]

White waterliliesWhite waterlilies (Nymphaea alba L.) [by David Linstead]

Yellow loosestrifeYellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris L.)

Young frogYoung frog [by David Linstead]

Canada geeseCanada geese [by David Linstead]

Back in the hall, we started examining, photographing and identifying our specimens. It is always interesting to watch the more experienced members at work, spotting and isolating nice specimens from their jars and bottles and then photographing them. You can see some of the photomicrographs at the end of this report. As expected at a Quekett meeting, there was lots of useful gossip, including modifying a microscope for photography, which subjects for polarised light respond best to retarders, and recent guides for identifying specimens.

Chris and Anne Algar used their trinocular Olympus BHS microscope and Canon EOS digital SLR camera. The hands-free magnifier that Chris uses is a MagniVisor.

Chris and Anne AlgarChris and Anne Algar

David Linstead borrowed a Zeiss Standard microscope (with LED conversion) from Graham Matthews but used his own camera, a Canon EOS M3 with a Minolta 45 mm lens attached to a Leitz Periplan GF 10× eyepiece (an afocal arrangement).

David LinsteadDavid Linstead

David Linstead’s Canon EOS M3 cameraDavid’s Canon EOS M3 camera

You can see some of David’s photomicrographs at the end of this report.

Dennis Fullwood set out some yellow pan traps (picnic bowls with some water and a drop of washing-up liquid) for insects in the garden of the hall. To examine the flies, Dennis used his Chinese inspection camera connected to a monitor.

Dennis also used a pooter (aspirator) to collect ants for the Practical Microscopy Weekend at Flatford Mill.

Dennis FullwoodDennis Fullwood collecting ants

It can be awkward to pick insects out of the trap, so Dennis recommends pouring the water through a 100 µm polyester mesh held in an embroidery hoop. The hoop can then be put under a stereomicroscope.

Picnic bowl and embroidery hoopPicnic bowl and embroidery hoop

Insects in yellow pan trapInsects in yellow pan trap

Specimens from yellow pan trapsSpecimens from yellow pan traps

Inspection camera and monitorInspection camera and monitor

Graham Matthews used his trinocular Leitz Dialux with DIC, a Canon EOS 500D camera and a laptop running DSLR Remote Pro. He used a modified electronic flash for lighting, varying the output to obtain correct exposure. The camera is connected via a Tominon 50 mm f/4.5 enlarging lens and a Zeiss Kpl 8× eyepiece, an afocal arrangement.

Graham MatthewsGraham Matthews

Graham Matthews’ dishes of specimensGraham’s jars and dishes of specimens

DSLR Remote ProDSLR Remote Pro

You can see some of Graham’s photomicrographs at the end of this report.

Mary Morris used her Watson stereomicroscope to examine the material that she collected from the canal. She brought some nets for collecting, and a good collection of keys for identifying specimens.

Neil Henry used his PZO monocular microscope with the eyepiece replaced by a YW5.0M USB camera connected to a laptop with ToupView software.

Neil HenryNeil Henry

Paul Smith used his Wild M11 compound microscope with gliding stage. To take photographs, he used his Canon EOS M mirrorless camera with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens (an afocal arrangement).

Paul SmithPaul Smith

Paul Smith’s Canon EOS M cameraPaul’s Canon EOS M camera

You can see some of Paul’s photomicrographs at the end of this report.

Peter Wakeman used his PZO stereomicroscope to examine specimens in small Petri dishes, before using his trinocular GXM-XDS-1 inverted microscope for a closer look. To take photographs, Peter used a GXCAM HiChrome-MET camera and screen, connected via a 0.45× adapter.

Peter WakemanPeter Wakeman

Peter Wakeman’s tubes of specimens from the canalPeter Wakeman’s tubes of specimens from the canal

Peter has made a dark-ground adapter based on an up-turned LED ring-light. The top part is a disk of plywood, painted black, with a central circle cut out; Peter has made a few with different sizes of cut outs. To raise the disk above the ring-light, he uses a black plastic reducer intended for coupling 75 mm and 100 mm ducting

Sorting under a stereomicroscopeSorting and selecting under a stereomicroscope

Tony Pattinson used his PZO stereomicroscope to select interesting specimens in small Petri dishes, before transferring them to slides. For a closer look, Tony used his trinocular Olympus CH-2 microscope, fitted with a 5-way nosepiece and an LED conversion.

Tony PattinsonTony Pattinson

To take photographs, Tony used his 5 MP ToupTek camera connected to a laptop running ToupView software. The camera is fitted with a 12.5 mm Cosmicar lens for afocal coupling, and the distance between the camera lens and the microscope eyepiece can be adjusted using a compact Asahi Pentax bellows unit, to make the arrangement parfocal and to minimise vignetting.

Tony Pattinson’s ToupTek cameraTony’s ToupTek camera

Tony Pattinson’s specimens from the canalTony’s specimens from the canal

For some specimens, Tony uses a 3 mm tall ceramic ring to produce a deep cell; the ring is held in place by surface tension.

Tony Pattinson’s deep cellTony’s deep cell

You can see some of Tony’s photomicrographs at the end of this report.

We were also able to examine the range of collecting equipment that members have bought and/or modified.

Telescopic golf-ball retriever holding a plastic bottleTelescopic golf-ball retriever holding a plastic bottle

Plankton net fixed to modified golf-ball retrieverPlankton net fixed to modified golf-ball retriever

Telescopic golf-ball retriever holding a plastic bottleTelescopic golf-ball retriever holding a plastic bottle

Turkey basterThis giant pipette (28 cm long, holds 30 ml) is a turkey baster

Visitors during the day included Pat Morris, Noi Matthews, Joan Bingley, Fleur White and Thanya Nirantasook.

Report and most photographs by Alan Wood

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Specimens

Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifersSinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (4× objective, stitch of 3 images) [by David Linstead]

Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifersSinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers [by Graham Matthews]

Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground)Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground, 4× objective, stitch of 3 images) [by David Linstead]

Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground)Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground) [by Graham Matthews]

Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground)Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground, 2.5× objective, scale = 0.5 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]


Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground) [by Graham Matthews]


Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (DIC) [by Graham Matthews]


Sinantherina socialis (L.) colonial rotifers (dark-ground) [by Tony Pattinson]

Conochilus sp. colonial rotifersConochilus sp. colonial rotifers (dark-ground, 10× objective, scale = 200 µm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Conochilus sp. colonial rotifersConochilus sp. colonial rotifers (10× objective, scale = 200 µm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Chydorus sphaericusChydorus sphaericus (O. F. Müller) (10× objective) [by Graham Matthews]

Sida crystallinaSida crystallina (O. F. Müller) with eggs [by Graham Matthews]

Sida crystallinaSida crystallina (O. F. Müller) (dark-ground) [by Tony Pattinson]

Simocephalus sp.Simocephalus sp. (4× objective, stack of 58 images) [by David Linstead]

Simocephalus vetulusSimocephalus vetulus  (O. F. Müller) [by Graham Matthews]

Polyphemus pediculusPolyphemus pediculus (L.) (10× objective, scale = 200 µm) [by Tony Pattinson]

CladoceranCladoceran (DIC, stitch of 2 images) [by David Linstead]

Cladoceran with eggCladoceran with egg (DIC, stitch of 5 images) [by David Linstead]

Cladoceran with eggsCladoceran with eggs (DIC, stitch of 9 images) [by David Linstead]

Water miteWater mite (dark-ground, 2.5× objective, scale = 0.5 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Proasellus meridianusProasellus meridianus (Racoviță) [by Tony Pattinson]

CeratiumCeratium sp. [by Paul Smith]

Green algaeGreen algae [by Paul Smith]

Merismopedia sp.Merismopedia sp. colonial cyanobacteria (20× objective, scale = 100 µm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Spirogyra sp. filamentous algaSpirogyra sp. filamentous alga (16× objective, stack of 17 images, partially crossed polarisers) [by David Linstead]

Spirogyra sp. filamentous algaSpirogyra sp. filamentous alga (16× objective, partially crossed polarisers) [by David Linstead]

SpirogyraSpirogyra sp. (10× objective, DIC) [by David Linstead]

Spirogyra nucleiSpirogyra sp. nuclei (40× objective, DIC) [by David Linstead]

Surirella linearisSurirella linearis W. Smith [by Paul Smith]

FlatwormFlatworm (dark-ground, 2.5× objective, scale = 0.5 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Piscicola geometra showing proboscisPiscicola geometra (L.) showing proboscis (dark-ground, 4× objective, scale = 0.5 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Stylaria lacustrisStylaria lacustris (L.) (dark-ground, scale = 1 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Hydra viridissimaHydra viridissima Pallas (dark-ground, 4× objective, scale = 0.5 mm) [by Tony Pattinson]

Sponge on ivy-leaved duckweedSponge on ivy-leaved duckweed (Lemna trisulca) [by Tony Pattinson]

Sponge showing spiculesSponge showing spicules (10× objective, scale = 200 µm) [by Tony Pattinson]

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