South Coast Spring Meeting

Saturday 22nd April 2023

Before the hiatus caused by the Covid virus, our meetings at Langton Matravers were proper Gossip meetings where a couple of dozen local microscopists, mostly from the Quekett and the Postal Microscopical Society, gathered to set up displays, discuss arcane details of microscopes and samples and then relax in the local pub. We always had the door open so holidaymakers and villagers would often drop in for a look. Sadly, some of the past members have passed away, but we hoped to rejuvenate the meeting now life is returning to some sort of normality. To encourage this, posters were distributed around libraries and notices put in tourist offices and newsletters in Poole, Swanage and Langton inviting visitors to drop by. Debbie Burfitt also passed posters to local schoolteachers to display.

On the day seven microscopists set up displays, and there was a special set of microscopes and magnifiers for children to use.

Peter Wakeman and Grenham Ireland showed live specimens on their microscopes and displayed them on video screens.

Mark Berry brought some microscopes to discuss the finer details of their construction.

Debbie Burfitt brought the microscope she had used many years ago to identify diatoms collected an identified during her PhD work. The microscope was fascinating for the microscopists as it was fitted with the phase contrast system using the cross version of illumination rather than the circular form.

Debbie Burfitt with David and Rhodri LewisDebbie Burfitt (right) with David and Rhodri Lewis

Debbie Burfitt’s photos of her original collection of diatomsDebbie’s photos of her original collection of diatoms

Pam Hamer produced the final product of the interesting beach stone identified as a Copperas. This was pyritised fossil stem-like structures derived from the vegetation in the swamp conditions as the stone was formed.

Brian Darnton came by bus with his microscope and part of his slide collection of historical collections of Foraminifera and diatoms.

Brian Darnton and Grenham IrelandBrian Darnton (left) and Grenham Ireland

Last but not least, Jeremy Poole showed superb SEM images of tardigrades – linking in with the live tardigrades in Grenham’s display.

Visitors admiring Jeremy Poole’s photos of tardigradesVisitors admiring Jeremy’s photos of tardigrades

During the day several other members and friends joined us, but despite the advertising very few local visitors. One was a local nature film maker who was particularly interested in Foraminifera. He has a sophisticated stacking system to image these along with marine live specimens. Another visitor was a young man with his father and it was gratifying to see his surprise at the detail he could see using our starter microscopes on an insect and a pollen-laden catkin. They were also intrigued by Jeremy’s SEM images, including the tardigrade standing to attention!

The meeting provided the opportunity for some in depth discussion – a good ‘Gossip’! Reluctantly, however, we agreed that we would not hold a meeting there in the autumn but hope to be back again in the spring.

Report and photographs by Pam Hamer

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