Saturday, 14 October 2017

St James Park London and Environment Issues Network

St James Park - home of geese, algae lichens and more..

On 10 October I went to London (via Giggleswick and Lancaster train) for the Environmental Issues Network meeting of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which was held at Church House, Westminster.

Arriving 1 hour early, I asked the doorman for a suggestion of where to go for an hour.. He said "Go and see the Queens Swans in St James Park".

So ignoring Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall and the Houses of Parliament, I trotted off to St James Park - which was indeed only 5 minutes away. I passed troupes of Japanese tourists - their guides holding a post high with a flag on it (reminded me of Venice many years ago)

It was a much more relaxing and refreshing way of spending 40 minutes than "doing historic buildings".

Greylag geese

 Assorted ducks. 
And graceful grey squirrels. - how wonderfully they unfold their tails
It was great to see them all so close up. Sadly (or maybe fortunately) I had left my sandwiches at Church House - but even  to opening my bag on the ground  pretending  to get food would draw some of the animals.

I looked at the trunks of several trees  - nearly all London Plane, and also a Lime tree

I found Phaeophyscia orbicularis (the grey one below - it has rhizine underneath, so is held slightly away fro the bark.) , Hyperphyscia adglutinata (the greener one - firmly stuck to the tree) a tiny bit of Xanthoria parietina, and lots of alga

The Phaeophyscia is very common over most of UK, but the Hyperphyscia (form this map below from the NBN Altas) Is more of a southern species but is working its way north.

 Hyperphyscia adglutinata from the NBN Atlas

Books say that both species grow where there is a lot of dust. 

I did not find Lecanora conizoides .

 Paper on Lichen and bryophyte distribution on oak in London in relation to air pollution and bark acidity

More links: lichen-lins1

There were good views from the bridge:-

Towards Buckingham Palace

A Greylag Goose

Ladybird Larva

Horse guards parade

Friday, 13 October 2017

Lichens at Lofthouse - Report of the Moorland Festival Workshop

Fourteen of us including myself met on Sunday 8th October 2017 at Lofthouse Village Hall for the Beginners Lichens Day as part of the Upper Nidderdale Moorland Festival

First we examined the crustose lichens on the walls outside the hall
Candelariella vitellina : This is the yellow lichen on the acid sandstone

In some places, another yellow lichen:- Caloplaca citrina.. 
It was growing on mortar or where water had run over the mortar and then deposited limey material

Here I am sitting in the foreground testing the yellow lichen with KOH - Ah it goes crimson - It must be the Caloplaca.
Ah this one has also turned red - It must be some more Caloplaca

This is Acarosproa fuscata. The thallus is thin  on the capstone of the relatively new wall outside the hall. Later we found it growing half a cm thick  looking like deposited mud on the gritstone wall  on the road up out of the village.(That wall is over 200 years old) 

Porpidia tuberculosa

Here is the Porpidia close up.  The black line round the very edge is called the prothallus. The thallus (main body of the lichen) is arranged in areoles (tiny islands)  with cracks in between. The blue grey marks are soralia - patches where the white skin (cortex) of the fungus allows the contents below to come out - powder made of fungal threads and algae.

We spent time in the hall looking at pictures on a screen and learning these names of parts of a lichen. Then keen not to loose the sunshine, we set off up all of 200m,  up the hill outside the village.. carrying our lovely sandwich lunch that the festival had provided.

Lunch with a view up to Middlesmoor - Later we looked at the trees on the left.

Lunch was relaxing. There were no lichens whatsoever amongst the grass of the grassland - though we did find three waxcap fungi (Hygrocybe punicea, nivalis and a yellow one)  and a Liberty-cap

After lunch we examined the lichen of the trees and the wall

 he green filamentous alga is called Klebsormidium crenulatum.  The darker brown areas - looking a bit like deposited mud are the lichen Acarospora fuscata.  Both grow well where there is lots of reactive nitrogen

Yes there is a farm nearby - but you get this Klebsormidium growing on the wall right to the very tops of these hills.

Acarospora fuscata

And below we have Parmelia saxatilis - called  Crottle or Stony Rag in English

 One person found some Stereocaulon vesuvianum. and we found several species of  Cladonia and

and looked briefly at the welcome to Lofthouse sign 

where there was more Candelariella vitellina  (yellow remember?) and some Rhizocarpon reductum with the fruiting bodies growing in concentric circles 

Then it was back to the village hall

Ah - but we had kept some of the Provisions for tea..

The participants stick some of the larger specimens to their charts with Copydex, and I show them Frank Dobson's book.


  1.  post about the exploratory day I made for this trip here - with more pictures of lichens
  2. The provisional programme
  3. More posts on lichens in this blog
  4. Read a good article about Lofthouse here- The village that was nearly flattened
  5. and make sure you call in for delicious ice-cream made on the farm here, at the foot of the Cote de Lofthouse:
    Meadowdale Icecream Facebookpage

Mint Meadowdale Ice-cream is a different green
to Rhizocarpon geographicum
 See if you can spot this yellow green Rhizocarpon geographicum - (Map Lichen)  to the top right of the plaque.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Provisional Programme: for Nidderdale Moorland Festival Lichens Workshop 8 October
Please Book and meet at Lofthouse Memorial Hall,
Grid Ref: 

(You are welcome to bring a couple of specimens with you from home to contribute to our display. Then you can learn the name of two lichens from where you live!)
Meet Lofthouse Memorial Hall Car Park. 

10am: Meet.  Coffee.
If you have brought a lichen specimen from home, we will put it on display.

10.10 Introductions.

10.20 Search for crustose lichens on the wall around the car park and Hall using hand-lenses

10.40: Illustrated talk"What are lichens? Lichen Structure; etc"

11.30; Model lichen
11.45: Lichen Chart
12.00: Short walk to bridge, and returen
12. 30: Lunch (Outside if fine, back at hall if wet)
1.30:  Short Moorland wall. We will drive there)
3.30: Return to hall. Continue with charts
4pm: depart.

 ( Book for the lichen day here )

More pictures coming later today.

Crustose lichens as  seen under a handlens
yellow:  Candellariella vitellina
Pale grey with black futing bodies in concentric circles: Rhizocarpon reductum

Hypogymnea - a foliose lichen

(Côte de Lofthouse  - see a cyclists view)

Lichens at Lofthouse - workshop and walk for absolute beginners

Nidderdale Moorland Festival Event - Sun 8 Oct
Lichens workshop for beginners run by Judith Allinson

This post is about the exploratory day I made before the event.
TO read the report of the event with pictures Click here

Please Book and meet at Lofthouse Memorial Hall,
Grid Ref: 

(See provisional programme and more pictures here)

If you know nothing about lichens or only a teeny weeny bit, then this day is for you!!!

Look around yourself on your walks in the countryside.

Would you like to be able to notice and understand more about the beautiful patterns and colours of lichens growing on the rocks and walls and tree bark?

Come on this rare opportunity to have tuition with other complete and near beginners in this topic. Have a fun day out.

And at the end of the day you will know more than 90% of the people in the  UK about lichens.

Please book for this event as places are limited.  Only £5-00

The workshop includes tea and coffee, and handouts.
Hand-lenses can be borrowed on the day
Please bring strong foot wear and waterproofs. However a significant part of the day will be in the hall.

Judith writes:-
I went on a short walk in September to explore the village - at the foot of the Côte de Lofthouse (Steep road going up over the moor towards Masham, used in the April 2017 Tour de Yorkshire)

Just to the top right of the metal Lofthouse sign is a yellow green lichen. A closeup follows:

This lichen looks like Rhizocarpon geographicum -
 It is not the same colour as the mint ice cream I bought from the farm below.. We'll check on the day.

This is Meadowbank Farm, at the bottom of the hill. The ice-cream is made on the farm
Hypogymnia- a foloiose lichen

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal 2017 - all Welcome

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal -  for people in Settle and Villages around - will take place again this year at St John's Church

See pictures of last year when we catered for 50 people from Settle and villages around.

Pictures of Settle Community Christmas Day Meal 2016

Adults £10, children £5.00

Please book   or phone 01729 822138

Voluteers to cook, serve food,  and transport guests also welcome.

. A poster will appear here shortly.


N.B. There we also be an afternoon tea time Drop in session on Thursday 28 Dec 2.30pm-4.30pm for anyone fancying a walk into town on 28th. This is not related to the Christmas Meal - but you might be interested to know it is happening.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Coffee morning for MCS to raise awareness and reduce plastic in the sea

Updated in Oct:- We made £100 at this event. A big thank you to all who contributed.
Tue 5 Sep 10-12
St John’s
Methodist Church, Settle
, BD24 9JH
Directions: From Settle Petrol Garage, go under the viaduct, walk for 1 minute (100metres); the church is behind the red brick bungalow on your left.
In Aid of:-
Marine Conservation Society and their campaign to
Reduce Plastic in the Sea
By 2050 There will be more plastic in the Sea than fish. (If current trends continue)
Whales are dying because they eat plastic bags - which fill their stomachs and they then starve
Tiny fragments of plastic attract algae, The plastic with the algae are eaten by tiny sea creatures which are eaten by larger fish and then end up on our plates of fish & chips

Eight Actions to reduce plastic waste:
1. Write to your MP and supermarket to ask that drinks should only be sold in returnable bottles.
2. Take part in the Great British Beach Clean 15-17 Sept
3. Don’t flush Wet Wipes down the Loo
4. Sign the petition for clearer labelling by retailers about products such as Wet Wipes
5. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle plastic - but best of all Refuse!!
6. Don’t buy bottled water. Water is fine from the tap.
7. Take the Plastic Challenge - See how many days you can go without using single-use plastic
8. Join the Marine Conservation Society  

Friday, 1 September 2017

Songs for Wildlife Workshop at Settle Folk Gathering - 2 September

I have a good selection of songs about care of the environment - so am organising an event on Saturday - do join us:
We'll sing some of the songs / hymns that were written for Settle Hymn Competition in 2001 that I put together for the (still draft) book "Environment Praise".
And we'll sing some  good published songs that I have found in books or on tapes.
Settle Folk Gathering Fringe Event
At St Johns Methodist Church, Settle, BD24 9JH
(Go under the viaduct next to the Petrol garage.
Walk 100m to the red brick bungalow on the left)
Sat 2 Sept 5-7pm
Songs for Wildlife Workshop
A workshop on songs – Christian and Secular
(and other faiths if you can contribute a song) - on
Care of the Environment
Organised by Judith Allinson
Free Tea and Coffee.  Sandwich making facilities are available. Stay for the whole event or just call in.

Judith has collected hymns and songs about care of the environment. We will sing/play some of these-bring your instruments- (many arranged in D, G or C). If you know songs too please bring them so we can share
01729 822138

Change - Smartphones - Big Brother -

Some thoughts on 1 September 2017 - I write this as a record of where I am at - maybe a tipping point. 

It is six weeks since I bought my very first Smart Phone.
I know that because I took my first photo on it - 22 July  -of Settle Cricket Club Bar and tea room and pitch.

Three weeks ago I wrote:
It is MI I I I ND    BOGGLING !! 
It is MI I I I ND    BOGGLING !!
And a further three weeks on 
it is still MI I I I ND    BOGGLING !! 
My mind has just been boggled.

I am adding this post as I shall surely look back to 1 September and say "My, wasn't life simple then!"

I  resisted getting a smart phone in the past: "There is poor reception in my house." I used to say.

 And I whilst I am addicted to checking my emails every few hours on the computer, I really do enjoy being away from the machine and away from the phone.

But ... I really would have liked one so that I could record a podcast about the splendours of Craven Speakers Club

What's mind boggling?

The way the phone just got all my details from my laptop.

The way that people could now easily get access to these details.

The way that "Big Brother" can see where I am.  (If I resist using  my plastic bank cards at supermarkets I can remain relatively untraced.. apart from my emails )

The way that if I get dependent on it, losing my phone will be as bad as loosing my laptop. 

The way that there is so much space to store stuff on the "Cloud".. 15GB on Google Drive

The way that I went to buy a microSD memory card for my phone last week. - I discovered you can by 32GB and 64GB SD cards for cameras - 
Four years ago I managed with a 2GB card in may camera - but was pleased to buy an 8Gb card for recording photos and videos --
 Now for the same price one can buy a 32 GB card .. and for a bit more,a 64GB card.

Why - my first computer's hard drive was only 4 GB, and my friend Christine's older computer was only 1 GB.
(I sound like myself  years ago saying "When I was a student I had a holiday job at a Crop Research station doing statistics for them using a mechanical adding machine..).. 
I used to wonder what it was like for my grandparents growing up when there were no or hardly any cars around - what changes they had lived through
I used to wonder what it was like for people in the countryside in Africa coming to the cities..

But we are all (except the very elderly and maybe some of the struggling illiterate who need our awareness and empathy) all going through change now.

When I first bought it I felt like a London Taxi driver learning all the roads .. my brain must be really swelling.


I'm learning bit by bit how to use it.
I suspect that by not buying one 8 years ago, I have skipped the stage when mobile phones were more difficult to use
I went outside now to look up at the stars and feel rooted on earth.. only to see an aeroplane fly overhead - maybe en route to America.

I love going outside learning how to identify flowers and lichens..
but how long will it be till we can just put a leaf into a hand held machine and it will recognise the DNA?

It's exciting seeing these developments -- 
The new generation of children have missed out on this excitement.

I have been taking photos and videos .. and the way they load themselves up into cyberspace and onto
(or not as the case may be) and how to donwload them to my laptop or send them to you tube.. It's amazing - like Alice in Wonderland or down a rabbit hole.
But they will have other things to learn .. and I still have to learn how to speak more effectively -  to promote Craven Speaker Club


How long will it be till Artificial intelligence takes over?

1 Aug: Talk: Wildflower Walks around Settle - at St John's, Settle

Did you miss the Talk on Wildflower Walks around Settle?

This is a report on the  Illustrated Talk "Wildflower Walks around Settle" held on 1 Aug 2017.

Twenty three people came altogether including myself who gave the talk and Wendy (Refreshment maker) and Michael - Projectionist. - So a big thank you to Mike and Wendy.

I displayed my photo-greeting cards, and invited donations for the Rainforest Fund. We made £63 om the evening plus donations of £5 and £10 that were given because people saw I was running the event.  = £78   

Again thank you for these donations - That's almost £100 enough to save an acre of rainforest!.

Just remember, we live at a time when between 97% and 99% of all the larger animals on land (weight wise) are human beings and their domestic animals.. So there is not much space left for wild animals.. The human population is still set to increase by another quarter by 2050, and peoples lifestyles demand from the environment.  SO I hope the £78 we raised can go to good use for protecting habitat.

We the land around Settle is farmed, - mainly sheep and cattle-  but some areas are "low intensive" with some natural plants and wildflowers surviving. Average and intensive fields contain mostly Ryegrass. 

Cliffs and ravines provide good places for wild plants Road verges and tracks-sides often proved much more botanically rich habitats than their adjacent fields.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Freshwater Life in Malham Outflow Stream

Have you wondered what little Ellie (in the Water Babies) would be finding when searching for water creatures with her tutor, Professor  Pttbmllnsprts?

Craven Conservation Group members set off to find out. - Sat 19  - a windy wet day in August.

On the way we found the patch of Spring Sandwort flowering with its pink anthers. (Yes is was the Sandwort - obviously thought it was spring and not summer weather)

Our equivalent of the professor was Sharon and Peter Flint.

We left the cars just south of the Tarn and marched down to find where the outflow stream would be sinking today.  A little way back up we found a wooden post lying in the stream. Sharon, with help, enthusiastically levered it up to see what was clinging on to it. "Such wood adds diversity" she said. "When beavers gnaw at trees and fell them, the trunks fall into streams and add diversity."

We put our finds in a tub - and then collected more organisms from the mosses and algae on the rocks of the stream.

We found a longer than wide snail: Bithynia tentaculata 

Everyone except me (for some reason) saw a Fingernail clam: Sphaerium corneum. These are bivalves (have two shells)  Their primary food sources are diatoms and other phytoplankton
Sharon told us how they are filter feeds and  "hoover up" gunge, and keep the lake clean.

Here is a Mayfly nymph called Serratella ignita  (Thanks to Sharon for the picture) 

We also found some stonefly nymphs. Mayfly nymphs have three tails and can swim and so move very fast in water. Stoneflies just walk or run in water. The stonefly nymphs we found were quite small - but they would be quite young, having just been laid earlier n the summer. They would grow bigger and shed their skins several times before next summer.

For one species we found Sharon said the male did not fly. When it emerges it crawls around on the rocks, waiting for a female fly and visit it. The females emerge from the water with their eggs ready developed.They visit a  male and then then eventually crawl back into the water to lay their eggs.

This is a picture of an empty pupa case of the caddis Ceraclea nigronervosa    The stone particles are held together by silky material. If the case had been closed, the pupa would have been inside. When the pupa needs to emerge it chews its way out.  These cases are relatively flat and can fit under rocks.

Oh, Sharon has just sent me a photo with the larva inside

There are 199 different species of Caddis in Britain, and one third of them can be found in and near Malham Tarn. 70. Not bad!!

The Yorkshire Naturalists Union did a lot of surveys and research over a period of five years in Malham Tarn in 1960s(?)
Peter and Sharon spent a year last year or rwo

Below is a cranefly larva or leather jacket. (See video)  "It bit me" said the finder. "Well a few cranefly larvae  are carnivorous  - though many eat plant roots   And and a few do live in water " said Peter.

Due to  concern that we might get sunstroke due to the intense heat,  (???)  we had a shorter trip than planned - but hope to arrange another day shortly. Let us know if you would like to come.