Tuesday 24 July 2012

Lichen Workshop at Grassington Methodist Church

Although not a specifically church event, local Methodists Christine Bell and Judith Allinson made good use of Grassington Methodist Chapel and its schoolroom when Christine invited Judith to come and run a Lichens workshop for the Botany Group of Upper Wharfedale Field Society on 24th July.

 "How many lichens do you think there are in Britain?" asks Judith.
Answer "Almost 2000. And about 1000 in Yorkshire, as recorded by Prof Mark Seaward. A lichen is an association of a fungus and an alga. The fungus is always different for each lichen, but many lichens have the same alga. Algae contain a green pigment and make sugar for the lichen using the sun's energy."

Under a hand-lens lichens have beautiful shapes

After the morning session and lunch the group set of for Grass Wood.. but first we are sidetracked by the wall outside the church.

Passers-by stop to ask "What is going on?"
Judith lends a hand-lens for one to try. "Hold the lens close to your eye. Then move your finger nail until it is in focus and clear"

At last we reach the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve of Grass Wood.
We carry out a survey organised by OPAL  . We can learn much about the air quality from the lichen species. This survey  records species that are tolerant or sensitive to pollution by nitrogen oxides (from car fumes, and fertilizers)

We look at lichens on Willow and then on Oak. The wood is quite shaded and there are not too many species. (Which makes it easy for beginners...)
Then we move across the road to where the trees are more spread out so there is more light.
On the branches of an oak we are rewarded by finding the "fruticose" lichen Ramalina farinacea   sometimes called the Farinose Cartilage Lichen

Well, we did not see the 2000 UK lichens, nor the almost 1000 species as recorded by Mark Seaward in Yorkshire, nor even the 346 species on the Checklist for 5km radius of  nearby Malham Tarn (Seaward and Pentecost) .. (Of which about 48 may be extinct in the area) but we did name 15 different species.. A good start.. and I think most of the group will be happy if they go away remembering three.

To the Group "Which three can you remember?"

Latin Name English Name
Arthonia radiata
Aspicilia calcarea Calcareous rimmed lichen
Caloplaca flavescens
Cladonia pocillum Carpet Pixie-cup
Collema auriforme Jelly Lichen
Evernia prunastri Stags horn or Oakmoss
Hypogymnia physodes
Lecanora chlarotera
Lecidella elaeochroma
Lepraria incana Blue-grey Dust Lichen
Melanelixia fuliginosa - Parmelia glabratula Brown Parmelia
Parmelia saxatilis (Crottle, Stony rag)
Ramalina farinacea Dotted ramalina, The dotted line;
Farinose cartilage lichen
Verrucaria nigrescens Black Verrucaria
Xanthoria parietina Bird perch lichen

Monday 23 July 2012

Ribble and Long Preston Deeps Project

 The River Ribble flows/ meanders  -for about 6 miles just south of Settle along what was once the bed of a glacial lake.
This area often floods in winder and is good for waders. The Long Preston Deeps project is to increase the bird life, and now 9 of the farmers in the area are in involved in the scheme and get or are applying for Higher Level Stewardship money to enable them to farm the land in certain ways to allow this.

This year however (with the Jet stream our of place)  the river flooded three times in summer - and the waders lost their nests and eggs.

The sand martins in the river bank are now having a third attempt at breeding this year.

The flood banks prevent the river overflowing (normally) but streams flowing into the Ribble "back up" and can flood the land.

The ? Environment Agency used to mend the flood banks. with cut backs they have stopped doing this. However this project means that new banks will be built - so at least for now the banks will hold!

Long Preston Deeps Catchment Appraisal Tour Mon 23rd July
The Ribble Rivers Trust organised a walk meeting along the Ribble tonight. The invitation said:-

"Join us on a short walk to discuss the challenges and opportunities for managing this part of the Ribble catchment and to learn more about the work
already undertaken, and being planned as part of the Long Preston Deeps SSSI River Restoration project."
And that's what we did. Fascinating.

Here is Jack of the Ribble Rivers Trust explaining how the flood defence bank at this point has been moved back. 3 foot lengths of willow branch were planted in the ground in April and have now produced roots and shoots.

The flood defence bank has been moved "inland" and the 20m or so strip of bank which will now be covered with water when the river floods has been planted with trees - mostly ash, rowan, alder, oak and willow.

Jack explained to that when tree branches, or tree roots stick out into the river it reduces the flow and causes eddies,  and sheltered areas behind the obstruction. Tiny river creatures and consequently larger fish like to stay in these sheltered places..

So the tree roots beside the river bind the river bank. They are good for wildlife. they increase the number of fish. The trees don't have to be large - they can be coppiced or pollarded

In the picture below the flood bank once ran at the water's edge. Now it has been moved 20m back and trees planted on some of the area. You can see (almost centre) where a channel has been cut which fills with water when the river is flooded.

Here you can see where the old bank has been cut. It is made out of glacial gravels.

The two dogs fetch the ball thrown in the water. The sand martins nest in the banks


Monday 2 July 2012

Running the Race - the Torch comes to Settle

That was changed this Sunday.
Last week I wrote about seeing the Olympic Torch at Skipton - and wondered a little what link  it had with the themes of this blog  - rainforest, saving habitats and the rainforest fund; and also grasses, nature and things to do with St John's Church, the church hall and Settle.

The theme of our bimonthly informal Cafe style service in St John's Church Hall this week was "Running the Race" and most of us guessed that the event would have an Olympic theme.  But we had no idea of the important guest who would be there..

It was 14 year old Rachel Coote from Bentham (10 miles away) who attends school in Settle -  Settle College - who on 20th June had carried the torch at Penrith. We saw a film of her carrying it along her part of the route, and she answered our questions.

The three themes to the service were
1. Follow your goal/ follow Jesus, look straight ahead
2. There are obstacles in life (and sport) - pray to God to help overcome obstacles - 

3. Team work - 

1. Follow your goal/ follow Jesus, look straight ahead, just like the hurdler in the picture on the screen. If he looks around he will get distracted.. and knock the hurdles over.

1. Follow your goal/ follow Jesus, look straight ahead.

This was illustrated by a wii game - Each girl has a remote control and has to make her hurdler on the screen jump at the correct time.

 Three more people try.

2. There are obstacles - which can be over come -  Here we had a personal talk on obstacles being overcome.
3. Team work - The four tables in the room acted as different teams. Each Team had to throw two hoops over a post - and then, make a paper chain with the links fastened in the correct order.

Which team will win?  .. Team A?

Or team B?

Or Team C?

 but it is difficult getting the hoops in the correct order..

for team A,
 for team B
and for team C

It was team D - Team D!!!  team D won

There were special medal biscuits - bronze, gold and silver.

which I videod whilst we sang a hymn --

Then there was opportunity to look at the torch, 

ask Rachel questions 

and then pose for photos with her

I hope you enjoyed through this post sharing with us in our Cafe service. - If you live near Settle why not come to our next service - which is on Sun 23 September 

In his blog this morning, in a post called "Keeping it brief", Nick Baines,  the Bishop of Bradford said he had once said :  “The job of the church is to create the space in which people can find that they have been found by God.”  

Rachel Coote and her father made us happy.
The people who made the cakes and our tea made us happy.
The people who organised all 8000 torch bearers and the associated publicity made us happy.
We have a lot to be thankful for.