Microscopists’ weekend at Malham Tarn

Friday 28th to Monday 31st July 2017

Joan Bingley

The joint international weekend of the Quekett Microscopical Club and the Nederlands Genootschap voor Microscopie took place at the Field Studies Council Malham Tarn Centre in the Yorkshire Dales from Friday 28th to Monday 31st July 2017.

Tarn HouseTarn House [by John Tolliday]

Aerial video: FSC Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales, Copyright © Field Studies Council

After arriving by car, plane and train on Friday afternoon, we settled in and after a meal had an introductory talk on the area by Judith Allinson, followed by a tour of Tarn House. This included the modern cellars, previously the ground floor of the c1600 farmhouse.


Saturday the weather proved kind and most people explored the boardwalk to the fen and bog within the extensive grounds.

Judith Allinson pointing out botanical itemsJudith Allinson pointing out some interesting botanical items [by John Tolliday]

Judith Allinson explaining pH of the areaJudith Allinson explaining the pH of the area [by Geertje Pinxten]

We also met the group learning about caddis flies and inspected their Malaise trap. Sharon Flint explained to us the importance of the Malham sedge (Agrypnetes crassicornis); the tarn is the only UK site of this caddis.

Rene van Wezel with Malaise trapRene van Wezel studies the Malaise trap [by Joan Bingley]

Sharon Flint and Malham sedgeSharon Flint explains the importance of the Malham sedge [by Joan Bingley]

The Utricularia pool proved popular with both the pond dippers and those more interested in botany and lichens.

Rob van Es watching Piet ElenbaasPiet Elenbaas gets down to photography watched by Rob van Es [by Joan Bingley]

PotamogetonPotamogeton sp. [by Piet Elenbaas]

BladderwortBladderwort (Utricularia sp.) [by Piet Elenbaas]

DolichospermumDolichospermum sp. [by Jeremy Poole]

Pond dippersPond dippers (Jan van IJken, Wim van Egmond and Jeremy Poole) waylaid by bog asphodel [by John Tolliday]

Bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) likes to grow in boggy hollows that can be treacherous to stock – hence its botanical specific name

Bog asphodelBog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) [by Piet Elenbaas]

Judith Allinson with Carex flavaJudith Allinson pointing out the rare Carex flava, a yellow sedge [by Joan Bingley]

WaxcapsWaxcaps [by Joan Bingley]

Cladonia lichensCladonia lichens and a variety of mosses and liverworts also attracted our attention [by Piet Elenbaas]

The afternoon was mainly spent investigating the morning’s collections and sharing ideas and information over cups of tea and in the lab. However, an energetic few climbed the Scar behind the Centre and investigated the pools and lichens on the limestone pavement.

Toninia sedifoliaToninia sedifolia [by Pam Hamer]

After interesting talks on the QMC slide collection with special reference to Caffyn by Pam Hamer and on “The Fen De Bedelaar (The Beggar)” by Willem Cramer about comparative studies of this privately-owned fen a century apart, most people enjoyed relaxing in the bar at High Stables. (More about the Dutch fen at Quekex in October!)

Jeremy Poole, Johannes Huijbregts and John TollidayJeremy Poole, Johannes Huijbregts and John Tolliday relaxing [by Geertje Pinxten]


On Sunday, those who wanted to trawl the Tarn for plankton were the first party out and about.

Small boat on the tarnSmall boat on the tarn [by Joan Bingley]

John Tolliday and Zaineb HendersonJohn Tolliday and Zaineb Henderson afloat [by Jan van IJken]

CopepodCopepod [by John Tolliday]

Nauplius larvaNauplius larva [by John Tolliday]

Algal filamentAlgal filament [by John Tolliday]

GloeotrichiaGloeotrichia sp. [by John Tolliday]

MicrocystisMicrocystis sp. [by John Tolliday]

Volvox aureusVolvox aureus [by John Tolliday]

Jeremy Poole led a party to collect from the outfall.

VolvoxVolvox sp. [by Jeremy Poole]

SpirogyraSpirogyra sp. [by Jeremy Poole]

GloeotrichiaGloeotrichia sp. [by Jeremy Poole]

A majority headed to Malham Cove to enjoy the remarkable scenery of the area, some on foot all the way, others by car as far as Malham village and on foot thereafter.

On the way to Malham CoveOn the way to Malham Cove [by Piet Elenbaas]

Watlowes (dry) ValleyWatlowes (dry) Valley – Wim van Egmond, Rene van Wezel, Harry Nouwen, Ralph Prince [by Piet Elenbaas]

Limestone pavement above Malham CoveLimestone pavement above Malham Cove [by Piet Elenbaas]

On the limestone pavementOn the limestone pavement [by Piet Elenbaas]

View from limestone pavementAnd the view below [by Piet Elenbaas]

Cove as approached from the villageThe Cove as we approached from the village – Willem Cramer, Gertje Pinxten, Pam Hamer and Rob van Es [by Joan Bingley]

Stream emerging below the CoveThe stream emerging below the Cove – Rob van Es, Johannes Huijbregts, Willem Cramer and Pam Hamer [by Joan Bingley]

Although we had agreed to meet at the car park, curiously both parties met drinking English draught bitter at the Buck pub which welcomed our muddy boots as well as properly organised dogs!

Dog friendlyDog-friendly pub [by Joan Bingley]

On a showery Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed each other’s company and some microscope work before finishing the weekend with an evening enjoying a photographic record of the weekend (thanks to Rob van Es) and adjourning to the High Stables bar for further chat.

John Tolliday’s workstationJohn Tolliday’s workstation where he produced plenty of good photographs [by Joan Bingley]

Pam HamerPam Hamer intent on her finds, with Rene van Wezel’s portable Lomo behind her [by Joan Bingley]

Jan van IJkenJan van IJken at work, using a microscope supplied by the FSC Malham Tarn [by Joan Bingley]

GloeotrichiaGloeotrichia sp. [by Jan van IJken]

VolvoxVolvox sp. [by Jan van IJken]

Head of phantom midge larvaHead of phantom midge larva [by Jan van IJken]

Air sacs of phantom midge larvaAir sacs of phantom midge larva [by Jan van IJken]

Rotifer feeding [by Jan van IJken]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (1 minutes 20 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Gone to teaGone to tea [by Joan Bingley]

Ralph Prince’s microscopes are in the background; several people helped Ralph to set them up properly in the course of the weekend. In the foreground, Zeiss ID03 inverted used by Joost van de Sande for his work on water-flea identification and the Brunel SP400 used by Harry Nouwen during the weekend, both microscopes loaned by Joan Bingley.

Wim van EgmondWim van Egmond took many photographs and videos during the meeting [by Joan Bingley]

Micrasterias crux-melitensisMicrasterias crux-melitensis [by Wim van Egmond]

MicrocystisMicrocystis sp. [by Wim van Egmond]

DolichospermumDolichospermum sp.[by Wim van Egmond]

Eudorina elegansEudorina elegans [by Wim van Egmond]

RotiferRotifer [by Wim van Egmond]

Conochilus sp. [by Wim van Egmond]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (26 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Conochilus sp. (dark-ground) [by Wim van Egmond]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (17 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Peritrichs on cyanobacteria [by Wim van Egmond]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (21 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Peritrichs on cyanobacteria (dark-ground) [by Wim van Egmond]
Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (22 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen


Thanks to FSC Malham Tarn for looking after us so well with comfortable accommodation, good food and a generous willingness to sort out the few difficulties that arose. Thanks to all who attended and shared kit, expertise and ideas to give everyone a great weekend.

Report by Joan Bingley

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