Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2017 - BSBI New Year Plant Hunt - Settle

Fun Botanising and Conchologising

2017: The sixth year of the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt. (BSBI = Botanical Society of the British Isles). 

What is the New Year Plant Hunt?

People go out for a period of up to 3 hours during 1 to 4 January, and count how many wild plants they can find IN BLOOM, and send in the results. It is the third year Craven Conservation Group have taken part.
Here is last year's blogpost (2016) and the previous year (2015)

See our results for 2017 at Settle on the map
on the national BSBI results site. (By 4th Jan, 240 lists had been sent in)
This year they have a new app/website program to enter results direct via IRECORD, So the the results appear straight away. Last year I sent them an Excel worksheet.

We did the walk in two halves this year - Day 1 West of Church Street and the Market Place, Day 2 East of Church Street;  On the second day we briefly went back to tick off species only seen north of Church Street.. especially the Red Valerian

On 1 January for 1 1/2  hours three of us searched some of the same streets and alleyways in Settle as the previous two years.  west of Church Street (B6480) 

 On the 2nd Jan, Melanie and I, and Ruby the dog (see above)  searched on the rest of the streets west of Church Street (B6480) and also found some new corners and back pathways, the land next to the electricity substation near the entrance of Mill Close being especially productive.

After Day 1, having only found 12 wild plants in flower,  I thought "We are going to have a lower score this year - The Ivy was all in fruit, as was the Procumbent Pearlwort and Herb Robert,  There was no sign of Snowdrop flowers, the Rue-leaved Saxifrage was only in leaf, not flower; The Methodist church itself was gone, A weedy garden of 2015 had been tidied up. 

However with Ruby the dog and Melanie's help on Day 2 and a new start and new energy in the sun, we extended the number of back pathways explored.
Score 2015: 19
Score 2016: 19 plus several garden incl Snowdrop
Score 2017: 24. !!

New species in 2017 are: 
Rat's-tail Fescue,
Soft Brome,
Hairy Bittercress (would like to double check that) and
Sticky Groundsel.
Soft Sow-thistle (found on 2 Jan in Settle as well as on Bucker Brow) 
(Note each year I have included the Primrose near the Anglican Church entrance which I am sure was put there.)

Here are some pictures of us at work:

DAY 1:
Red Valerian

discovery of Red Valerian (video coming shortly)

Both days were sunny and cold. On the first day, passage ways behind Church Street and behind the old library site revealed 12 plants in flower, as we grovelled around in the gravel and looked on walls. 

A trip to Settle Parish Church churchyard enabled us to tick off Daisy .. and get sidetracked by lichens on the gravestones.
Looking at the big patches of Porpidia tuberculosa,
and under the ledge is Opegrapha gyrocarpa

 We also found five ferns and looked at two mosses. We ate our packed lunch indoors of St John's Church Hall.

Then we had a complete break and drove up to Bucker Brow (Buck Haw Brow), to the limestone. Here we found one extra flower - Soft Sow Thistle - on the limestone cliff (and lots of plants of Blue Moor-grass Sesleria caerulea, but none in flower)

We searched for the "Heath Snail" - Helicella itala - that used to be commoner Yorkshire 50 or 100 years ago  ( map )  but is now decreasing/rare except along the east coast.

It is easy to recognise as it has a large umbilicus (hole in the centre underneath) and is fairly flat.  The Heath snails are are in the top right half of the picture below.

The two long snails are "Door snails- 
(Clausilia sp), and I think the shiny flat one i the foreground is a  Glass snail (Oxychilus sp)

Within 10 minutes we had found 40 empty shells if the Heath Snail - seen diagonally centre-right below. Then there is a row of the large Garden Snail Helix aspera  on the left of the picure,  and to the right of that the slightly smaller Brown-lipped, (also called Banded Snail) Cepaea nemoralis 

After examining the snails we walked along the limestone cliff top. But there were wild plants here not "weedy/ruderal ones" and we did not see any in flower. Just animals eating them.

The walk back to the road. Settle is in the distance, far right.


On the 2 Jan, after ten minutes of scraping ice off the car wind screen I drove to Settle to meet Melanie. We wandered along the back of Craven Terrace, handlenses in hand for examining Wavy bittercress. 

Here is Soft Brome (Bromus hordeaceous). I dissected a floret later to make sure there were still anthers and that we were not just looking at the fruit.

Anthers of Soft Brome
Soft Brome

Sticky Groundsel

A spikelet of Bread Wheat (or Common Wheat) Triticum aestivum

And the anthers from a floret of wheat

Vulpia myuros Rat's-tail Fescue grass. And Ruby

 Here is some Honeysuckle.- I would like to go back and check the species

Monday, 26 December 2016

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal 2016

Coffee and hot fruit punch
were served in the
large meeting room

when we arrived 

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal took place in style again this year. 

A big thank you to:-

1. The guests who came - without you it would not take place! 

I was pleased that R. was able to come again and join in the singing - now 99! and also others from Hellifield and some of the regulars from Settle, Limestone View, Townhead and elsewhere.

2. The volunteer helpers buyers, - drivers, servers, washers uppers, piano player, table decorations provider, sprout and potato peelers....

and especially the chief cooks: Edith and John Diggles

3. Three local firms who gave us discounts: - Courtyard Cheese, (cheese) Naked Man Cafe (Christmas Cake) and Drake and Macefield (turkey), Thank you. the cheese, cake and turkey were all  delicious.

4. The people of St John's Church for maintaining and letting us use their premises.

5. Other people in Settle who wished us well!

After coffee/hot punch we went into the chapel and sang carols for our meal!

Rev Stephen Dawson MCd, Joy played the piano.

This year we got the serving right - super efficient and so the meals were tasty AND hot.

Single people came, some people came who had lost partners or relations, and others came in groups bringing visiting relations with them. It was good being all family together.

After lunch we sat in a circle in the hall and played pass the parcel. Joseph and Darren held the buckets of parcels - while we actually passed soft toys. I was able to play first lines of a variety of folk songs and carols on my accordion

Then we had "party pieces" - people had brought some Christmas Poems, and readings about misfit presents and a host of other topics. One lady sang a rainbow song, beautifully, and another recited "Ernie, the fasted milkman in the west"

Then it was tea time. Cake, cheese, sausage rolls, grapes, clementines, stollen, mince pies..

And finally home. People could admire the decorations at the church entrance as they left.. through the rain.

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Break 

and Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Happy Christmas 2016

To you all -
to friends and to visitors from round the world to to this website:- 
May you have a Happy Christmas
and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Here are  pictures from Settle and Skipton  in the Yorkshire Dales and the Settle - Carlisle Railway.

All the best with choosing your New Year Resolutions 
(How about:  Learning about some aspect of wildlife e.g. lichens? Going for a walk outside each day? Listening to people more carefully? Saying "Thank You" to other people more often?)

 I wish you all Peace on Earth


10 December 2016 - Apologies for jumpy filming - but meaningful words

10 December 2016 - This one makes a nice story watching it.

Skipton in the evening (after Speakers Club)

Skipton in the evening when all the market stall have gone.

 Settle Voices at Settle Station on 10 Dec

Enjoyed the Christmas Food at Settle Station 10 Dec

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Aspicilia calcarea - Big white lichen on top of limestone walls

If you are in the centre of Settle look up to Castleberg Crag. The big white patches on the south facing cliff are Aspicilia calcaria.
I would like to give this lichen  the English name: "Big white lichen on top of limestone walls"

How to remember the word Aspicilia: - 
 Ass Pee Sillier.
What could be sillier than an Ass  balanced on top of a wall, or on top of a cliff?
The margin of the thallus can sometimes be slightly lobed and have a dark grey/black margin.
I have just discovered the French Website for Lichens so here the link to Apsicilia
Climb up and look at it more closely. (The yellow patches are Caloplaca flavescens .. that is for the next species)

On the cap stones on the wall at the summit you can find more.

Of visit the Locks, Langcliffe and see it on the wall there: (First 30sec only)

Here is some on the vertical leg of a tombstone at Horton Churchyard, with A.P. The  cat seems interested too,

Left: Verrucaria fusconigrescens 
Right:  Aspicilia calcarea

Apothecia 0.2-1 mm of Ø, ± immersed, round or angular, with a slightly protruding thalline rim, black disk, not or only slightly pruinous, sometimes ± confluent.
Ø means diameter
The thallus does protrude above the rock and is white chalky to gray whitish.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Dales Area Speech Competition at Addingham

The ASC Yorkshire Dales Area Speech and Evaluation contest was held at Addingham Memorial Hall and organised by Wharfedale Speakers Club on Saturday 12 November. I was to represent Craven Speakers Club in the Speech Contest.

I spent the morning on Ilkely Moor on a Bryophytes trip with people from Wharfedale Nats, North West Naturalists and the YNU (Yorkshire Naturalists Union), but left them just before lunch, (clutching specimens of Sphagnum russowii and Discelium nudum)   to attend the speech contest.

I gave my speech on "What is the YNU?". It came second.

A highlight of the meeting for me was the speech given by Denise Adlard, as the "Sample Evaluation Speech" - the the evaluation contestants had to evaluate:

Spring, Foam or Gel? -

Who would have guessed that this title would into of a very humorous speech on choosing a bed - and later making us aware that lack of sleep can cause road accidents. Car accidents caused by lack of sleep cause (per injury) more serious injury and deaths than drugs and alcohol   21-27 Nov 
Five clubs took part. In the Evaluation Competition, five people had to give a mini-speech analysing Denise’s speech, highlighting good points and techniques and offering practical advice with examples on how the speech could be improved.
The winner was Martin Bishop of Bradford Speakers Club.

 In the speech competition the audience were treated to a range of subjects - ranging from the history of umbrellas to the three main types of comedy: from the Activities of the Yorkshire Naturalists Union to How to show more empathy. Chris Birch gave a moving talk “Can you hear me?” which included  remembering the people who lost their lives during past wars. Tracy Wood, again of Bradford Speakers Club won with her “The Power of Empathy” Speech. Tracy and Martin will now compete in the District Competition to be held near Wetherby in March.

The entrants in the Speech competition receive their certificates from Lindsay Dutch (left). Tracy (centre) is the winner. thanks to Tony Morris for the pictures

The entrants in the Evaluation competition receive their certificates from Lindsay Dutch (left). Martin (second from left) is the winner

Discelium nudum - a good find in the morning on clay slippage banks beside stream (1mm graph paper behind)
No wonder people get the word "Naturalists" mixed up with Naturists...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Women, Leadership and Entrepreneurship; the Speakers Clubs Website and Dinner

What has a national training day at the Association of Speakers Clubs and the Speakers Club President's Dinner got to do with saving the rainforest?

One of the workshops
1. If I learn from it and become more efficient I can achieve more for the Rainforest Fund
2. If you learn from my notes below, especially the tips here, perhaps the same can apply in your efforts in wildlife conservation.

The meeting was held at Samlesbury Hotel, Preston, which was a brilliant location. Near the intersection of the A59 and the M6.

1. The 1st training workshop, by Bernie Morgan of Thanet Speakers Club was "Women into Leadership and Entrepreneurship " 

2. The 2nd workshop was on the Association of Speakers Clubs new website

Suggestions were given on how to improve it. and a plea made to keep individual speakers clubs up to date.

1. Pictures

Bernie (centre) leads the workshop, and has invited one of the participants (right) to speak
At the beginning she had asked everyone to sit at the front.
Well done!!
This makes a good picture having no empty chairs at the front!

Above two pictures: Bernie, the workshop leader (centre) invites participants out (after small group discussion)  to tell us some of their leadership needs and experience.

Neil, the President, thanks Bernie for her workshop

Jackie Mafi and Nigel Thorne announce the launch of the new website:
There is then feedback. One person rightly says she does not like to see empty chairs in a picture.
I assure you, there were lots more people further back.
 The President's Dinner

The lady with her hand raised later helped collect the raffle money. At the beginning of the dinner the lights were  bright enough to take good photos, but below, when the lights were lowered it was harder.

A table just starting on the sticky toffee pudding phase of the meal


Prizes and speeches then followed after the meal.

2. Women into Leadership and Entrepreneurship

At speakers clubs we practice doing evaluations. Here are points I like about the way Bernie's workshop was presented:
  1. Bernie asked people to sit in the front rows.
  2. She had us working in paired discussion almost right at the beginning. This was excellent for breaking the ice and filled in time whilst late comers arrived
  3. More small group discussion, and asking several people to come out and share their experience, worked well.
  4. Bernie wrote down points that people raised during these discussions and talks on a flip chart. Then in her talk she elaborated on these points.
  5. She told some of her personal experience. This made it interesting, gave examples to refer to of points whe was talking about and showed she had expereince to give the talk.
  6. She had good eye contact, posture, smiling face, and thing we learn about in Speakers Club; and she had good knowledge of her subject - So it was an excellent workshop
Points I gained from the workshop:

1. Have a vision and be able to communicate it. Create a vision of what you want to do; and where you want to go.

2. Have to believe in yourself and stand your ground. Be Bloody minded.

3. Get a support group. If one does not exist set it up.  Being a leader can be a lonely position. You can't necessarily discuss your problems with your subordinates or your boss - It is often better to find someone from out side of your job.  We found that one lady had actually done this. (formed a group of leaders with a similar position to her)

4. Dealing with criticism: (sometimes rephrase this as dealing with feedback). Sift through it. People are just angry and venting their spleen. Work out what is valid and what needs dealing with.think "What is the nugget".

5. Ask Questions. Be curious.

6. Tell someone about your idea. People want to help.

7. Don't make assumptions.

8. Time management - suggestions from floor etc: Get up earlier; Do it immediately. set Priorities. It is deeply frustrating the the other person can't make a decision.

9. Be flexible. in the charity sector people are much more willing to be flexible. They thus learn a lot. Bernie said she used to put her hand up and say "Yes I'll do that" so learnt more and became more employable.

10. Negotiation is about timing - think of what the drivers are for the other person.
Write down: who makes the decision?
Who influences him?

11. She asked "What barriers are stopping you taking on the role of being a leader.
i) . One president of a local speakers club said "It is difficult to get other people to commit to doing things. they are volunteers. In a pad job with paid employees it is different".
Ans: Sit down and speak to the person, and tell them why. 
Even when not giving some a contract or sacking a person:
tell them your vision
Tell them your thought process
and then why giving them a contract/ continuing their job does not fit in with this. At least they will understand. And feel better about understanding

12 Another difficutly: ii) lack of self motivation, and difficulty in making decisions.
Suggestions varied from reading "One Minute Manager" to Prioritising, to writing down the problem then leaving it on oneside whilst you do something completely different for a while.
Read a book by Pink "We're all salesmen now"

13. You as an individual - what is your brand?
Leaflets and website have to convey your brand.

... This leads us into the second session. which I may eventually transfer to a new webpost

3. The ASC new website

Jackie Mafi and Nigel Thorne introduced the new website.

There was a lot of feedback about the site, some of which I hope Nigel will find helpful.

It gave them opportunity to explain to us the reasons for aspects of the website.

He showed us the excellent pages of testimonials, and some of the videos of speakers.

He recommended the site (For a usability site, the sentences do have rather a lot of long words per sentence.  I'll try and read it another day.)

One good feature about the website which I learned is that you can flick quickly through the pages of the website by hitting the forward (or backward) arrow on your keyboard. Try it.

It was a helpful session - especially for Nigel  and Jackie to get ideas across to participants.
 - now it is up to us to pass on the news to other members of the clubs.

Jackie and Nigel announce the launch of the new website: