2016 07 - Idle Valley Display

28th July 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
21st July 2016
Images By Dik Allison & Spike Walker

Idle Valley Display

Our participation in the Spot it! ID it! event organised by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust at their Idle Valley Nature Reserve was an outstanding success. We were unique among the many groups whose interest is in the natural world. Our members provided an attractive display of photographs of insects, reptiles and molluscs.

Set against this was our innovative live demonstration of photomicrography courtesy of one of our newer members, Spike Walker. A microscope was set up with a video camera attached providing a feed to a large television screen. This enabled visitors to the event to view what is normally visible only through the eyepieces.

The sample under study for most of the day was a teaspoonful of water collected from the pool at the front of the centre. Our preparatory visit revealed very little, but with the drier weather and rising temperatures this had all changed. The star of our show was a mosquito lava along with a varied mixture of creatures and debris comprising minute, one eyed, creatures called cyclops, one or two mayfly larvae and a few even more minute creatures.

Even experienced nature watchers were surprised by the mobility of the larva's head; by the fanning action it used to waft its prey towards it and its apparently voracious appetite. Who knew mosquito larvae were predatory? This one certainly was as it set about relentlessly reducing its supporting cast of thousands of mini beasts to a cast of hundreds.

We had ample evidence that it preferred animal foods as it totally ignored the volvox colonies which we were lucky to have found in our sample. These transparent spheres, about 0.3mm in diameter, are made up of tens of thousands of individual cells which somehow work co-operatively to move it around. They contain 'daughter colonies' which we observed as dark green spots within the sphere. The microscope enabled us to fill the 32" screen with this minuscule subject.

Retford members came to support the event and see this new activity, which we were able to display thanks to Spike’s professional skills with the microscope and Dik’s skills in kinking it up to the display. A lifelong practitioner in the field, Spike easily identified all the species we saw and answered everyone's questions. Children and adults alike were enthralled.
NWT staff and volunteers were equally fascinated and brought along their own samples to get a closer view of them than they otherwise could. Images of the TV captured on phone cameras may not be state of the art, but certainly are a great improvement on anything we could have seen with the naked eye and they were eagerly captured.

Thanks to Spike for a fascinating day when all of us were able to see something unfamiliar in great detail, to all the Retford members who supported the display with exhibits or by attending and to NWT for giving us the opportunity.

The next opportunity to see members' work is the Festival of Bird Art at Bakewell over the weekend of September 10th and 11th. Members are reminded to bring their mounted and digital images along on 5th September for this event.

Our new season starts on 5th September at 7.30pm at St Joseph's Church Hall, Babworth Road, Retford DN22 7BP. The first meeting will be a social time when we can catch up after the summer break and have an opportunity to chat to new joiners and guests. If you are interested in improving your photography or just having an enjoyable evening out seeing glorious photographic images, we would be very pleased to see you. Contact us via our web site and we will look out for you or just come along to a meeting. We are there every Monday evening.

Weekly meetings continue until May 2017. Guests and new members are always welcome. For more information see the 2016 / 17 programme on www.retford-photographic.co.uk