9 of us assembled at the village hall in Hillesley for a day peering down microscopes. Pete (Martin) brought a selection of Didymodons for the more experienced bryologists to try their hand at identifying (including one trick specimen – you guessed it, Ceratodon purpureus!). Sharon brought fresh specimens of Dicranella howei (and D. varia for comparison) which has recently been added to the British list and is probably quite common in Gloucestershire.
Pete volunteered to spend time with new members who have had little or no experience with microscopy, and ended up with practically the whole group standing around his desk.
Gary had a look at the Dicranella specimens and reckons he’s probably seeing quite a bit of D. howei around the Cheltenham area.
A few people struggled manfully with the Didymodon specimens and key. Axillary hairs were sought and occasionally found, and tiny shoots tackled in attempts to get usable sections. The ‘whole dry shoot’ technique was demonstrated by Sharon and agreed to be slightly more successful than attempting to section individual leaves.
Last but not least, much cake was consumed. Thanks to Pete for chocolate brownies (made by himself of course), Wendy for a homemade sponge with gooseberry jam and Gary for mince pies.
And thanks to everyone for an enjoyable day.