Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Tips on debating

Afraid of taking part in a debate? Don't know what the procedure is? Worried you won't be able to think of replies, and give a summary?

That was me last week. 

But now after the workshop at Skipton at Craven Speakers Club on Mon 24 October, led by Anne Todd of Halifax and Huddersfield Speakers Club, I feel really enthusiastic. 

Second speaker proposing the motion at our evening

I can see that
  1. there is a pattern, rules and procedures - 
  2. that if you stick to these rules /guidelines it can be fun, 
  3. just like a game of hockey or monopoly or scrabble is fun.
And the audience is spellbound

There is not space to present the whole workshop. 
But here are three tips:

1. There is standard terminology, and a standard format

The chairman should say something like:
"The motion before the House tonight is 'This House  .....  '
"Speaking for the Proposition we have ........ and ....,,..... "           

"The Opposition tonight is provided by  ........  and   ............. "
(The chairman was given a script to help him say traditional sentences)
So two people speak for the motion, two people speak against the motion, there is time for points from the floor, then one person from each side gives a summary of points.

2. Make your points very clearly separated.

When you make your points in favour of a motion, make them very few and very clear as separate points (even number them). This admittedly makes it easier for the opposition to refute each of the points. But that is far better than the opposition saying "Well the proposal is a muddle, they have no case". And it makes it much easier for the Judge of the competition to see what is happening.

3. Don't add extra information and ideas in the summary

If you give the summary for your side, you can only include points made by the speakers and by the floor. You are not allowed to add extra ideas and information.

The Workshop:

1. Warm up exercise and listening:

At the beginning of the evening Anne had us sitting in tables of four. Our table was given the pair: past and present. Another table had summer and winter;  and so on. Two of the four then had to speak for 1 minute each in favour of the idea (past) and two had to oppose it (present).  The topics were easy, but it really taught us to listen hard to what the previous speaker was saying so we could refute the ideas.

2. Interval: 

Coffee, chat, strawberries and biscuits: meeting new people in the group, and visitors from other clubs.

3. Full debate:

Then we were shown how to run a (shortened) full debate. The chairman was given a standard text to use. We were given the mark scheme that the judges would use, and were asked to fill it in for one person - This was really helpful in seeing what judges are looking for. Our debate was "This house believes that mobile phones are killing communication."  

If you get opportunity to attend a debating workshop led by Anne Todd I recommend it.

Find out if you local speakers club is holding a debate

Chocolate prizes are given to all the debaters.

Below: Three of the debaters speak in turn

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Saving Wildlife - Coffee Morning 1 November

All welcome at the Coffee Morning on 1 November 2016 at 
St John's Church, Settle, BD24 9JH  10am-midday

A display of some of the cards available

Earth has lost ½ its wildlife 
in 40 yrs

More specifically:  ‘in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half’ The Living Planet Report 2014-WWF

What can we do in Settle about this?

Saving Wildlife

Cards and Cake
10am  to 12
Tue 1 Nov

Coffee Morning
at St John’s Methodist Church
Settle, supporting the charities:-  

World Land Trust, Cool Earth
and the A Rocha Ghana project


Friday, 14 October 2016

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal 2016

Settle Community
Christmas Day Dinner and Tea 

 11.45am – 4.45pm on 25 Dec 2016 

at St John’s Methodist Church Hall Settle BD24 9JH 

Old and young – all welcome - 
£10 a head.  Children £5-00 Transport available. 

If you have a neighbour in, or near Settle who might like to come
please let them know. 
Contact Judith Allinson on 01729 822138. 
Please book - late bookings accepted 
Volunteers to help with the meal and transport needed. 
Planning Meeting mid-November 
(Volunteers take part and have meal too)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

St Chad's, the YNU and Leeds MSc Ecologists.

Have you ever wondered how people learn about all the wonderful creatures and creepy crawlies in Yorkshire?

Have you heard of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union, Yorkshire's prestigious society for both naturalists and natural history societies - that is now 155 years old?

Have you ever thought -"Is there anything of wildlife interest in my local churchyard?"


Well read on.

Each year, at the beginning of the Leeds University MSc Ecology Course, a day at St Chad's (Far Headingly, Leeds) is arranged with members of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union and the new students.  The YNU "experts" get their transport paid, and the chance to inspire the "next generation". The students have opportunity to meet people with expertise on groups of animals and plants ... and learn a little about a new subject.  Such people are now becoming as rare as some of the plants and animals they study.

The YNU started 155 years ago. (We celebrated out 150th anniversary in 2011)
It is an umbrella organsation for 45 natural history societies in Yorkshire and nearby. It also has individual members who are enthusiasts in various fields of natural history.

This year Albert Henderson and Chris Young were not running a lichens workshop - so I had opportunity to run the workshop.

You learn by teaching.  :)

I just hope my four students will go away and try teaching other people a couple of the lichens that they learned to identify..

I went to St Chad's Church, Far Headingly the week before to meet Suzanne Dalton who is involved with St Chad's Green Team. She showed me round the churchyard and gave me copies of the excellent Nature Trail Leaflet and the Geology Leaflet.  

I was able to see how the churchyard is managed for wildlife.  The church was dedicated in 1868. It was built on farmland before herbicides and pesticides and intensive fertilizers were used, so there are some remnants of wildflowers and grasses such as Good Friday Grass and Sweet Vernal-grass. There is an area of grassland where the Pink Waxcap (or Ballerina) fungus grows (This was formerly a red data species).

She also gave me a list of lichens that the YNU had recorded in 2003.. specifically Chris Hitchin and albert Henderson 22-23 September..

Leeds at the beginning of the last century had very bad sulphur dioxide air pollution and soot. Leeds still has air pollution due to car fumes etc. The lichen flora is very restricted. "But this will make it easier for teaching complete beginners." I told myself.

I was delighted that day too to go and visit Albert Henderson who gave me tips about running the course. He suggested going to Golden Acre Park. I asked "Does Xanthoria polycarpa grow in the churchyard?" (This is sometimes known as Cushion Xanthoria and is a tiny golden lichen that grows well where there is Nitrogen oxide pollution. This is pictured on the charts that people use for the lichen nitrogen oxide air pollution survey organised by OPAL) I have failed to find it myself near Settle. .  He was surprised I had not seen it at Settle. "It grows in forks of twigs" he said. I was adamant. "It's not there," I said.

I visited Golden Acre Park (X84 bus) and saw the Xanthoria parietiena (Common Orange Lichen, or "Leafy Xanthoria) on the birch trees, and the cafe, and lake, but in the given (very short time) no X polycarpa.

Xanthoria polycarpa - Cushion Xanthoria - see how tiny it is compared to my fingernail.
I returned to Headingly and went for a walk into the south end of Meanwood Park where I found a lime tree with Xanthoria polycarpa on it. Hurray.

I looked at the churchyard again and caught a Number 1 bus back to the railway station.


So the day of 21st arrived.

I came with Sharon and Pete who were to run the freshwater biology workshop.

Rupert Quinnell of Leeds University welcomed us and the students.


Andy Millard told us about the history of the YNU. He showed people the St Chad's Churchyard leaflets.

I took my four students to the Ash tree at the entrance to St Chad's Parish Centre to introduce them to a few big colourful lichens. Previously I had recorded six different species of lichen on this trunk (compared to most trees that have none).

By the end of the day I had recorded 10 species on this trunk!!! It show the importance of looking very carefully, with handlenses.

This tree had some
Xanthoria parietiena (Common Orange lichen) (a foliose lichen), some Lepraria incana (a powder lichen). One girl noticed some Ramalina farinosa (Cartilage lichen or Strap lichen) - which is a fruticose lichen - and an indicator that the air is now not totally polluted. We found a twig on the ground with  a crustose lichen on it - Lecanora chlarotera - with pale fawn-pink "jam tarts"-like reproductive bodies. Physcia tenella is present, as may be Physcia adscendens

We returned to the parish centre. Other groups were beavering away: Snails, Spiders, Fungi, Flowers; Plant Galls, Insects

 In time it got quieter as other groups departed to look for specimens outside. I gave a formal introduction to lichens.
I showed them three crustose lichens on rocks I had brought in from near Settle, including the bright orange Caloplaca flavescens; and some lovely "Old Man's Beard Lichen (Usnea) from Scotland

Then we went to a table where Clare and Mark from the North & East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre gave us a talk on recording systems and centres.
This is actually the "Flowers" group learning about DataBases

We had a look at the NBN gateway too - I asked to see the distribution of Xanthoria polycarpa - and indeed it had NOT been recorded close to Settle.

It must be about ten years since I attended a YNU conference when we leaned about NEYEDC and Data bases. 

It was a then rapidly developing subject, and a standard system had not quite stabilised.

Guess what. 

It is still a rapidly developing subject and a standard system has not quite stabilised.. 

"Sometimes projects get funding and they use the funding to develop an "App" for collecting online data for their project. But thought has not always been given to what happens to the data after their project has finished.." Mark said.

Any idea of going to Golden Acre Park was scrapped as we finally got outside -- into the churchyard and  --  sat down for lunch.

It was great to have a whole day to look at things carefully.
Porpidia tuberculosa - (sometimes called cigarette ash lichen) on acid rock.
See St Chad's spire in the distance -
and see how blackened the spire is by soot)

On lime-rich tombstones we found other species, some whose reproductive bodies are found in tiny holes dissolved the rock.

The Geology rail alerted us to ripple marks on the huge slab of Elland Sandstone at the entrance to the church: to special marks left by stone-masons on the outside of the lady-chapel (recycled old stone from much older buildings was used when this extension was built in 1911); to the tall Portland Stone obelisk. Portland Stone comes from the Isle of Portland in Dorset. The same rock is used for Leeds Civic Hall and the University clock tower. The leaflet says "It was a popular building stone in cities because unlike sandstone for example, the solution effect meant that it remained fairly clean.". Some curved fossil oyster shells are protruding 2 to 3mm from the surface - showing that this much limestone has dissolved.
We met other groups. Bill Ely showed us galls on beech leaves -  the Beech Leaf Miner  Phyllonorycter messaniella  and the Hairy Beech Gall caused by Hartigola annulipes 

We went back to the original Ash tree. I noticed a minute yellow lichen.

I had thought it might be a Candelariella .
Later, after the students had gone, I had time to test it with KOH.
It went red. 
So not Candelariella (which does not react with KOH). It must be another species of Xanthoria.

See it - a teeny weeny foliose lichen growing amongst the grey Physcia. See my finger nail for scale

It is the Xanthoria candelaria group  ( either X candelaria or X ucrainica). (Both grow in Nitrogen Oxide  polluted areas).
the 2003 YNU list had 44 lichens. We had found 20.

So our group had found 20 lichens, 2 algae, a Rove-beetle, a Harlequin Ladybird larva, some Bootlace (or Honey) Fungus and two Beech Galls. Not bad!!

Holding Dobson's book for identifying lichens

To find out more about Yorkshire Naturalist Union Events visit ynu.org.uk

Friday, 9 September 2016

Lecanora soralifera

We will give examples of this,, first in Ingleton Parish churchyard, then in Settle Parish churchyard.

This pale grey - grey-green crustose lichens grows on acid rocks, such as "slate" tombstones, It also grows on the greywacke (a type of metamorphosed sandstone) which form many glacial eratics in our area

The thallus is divided into areoles. The areoles have soralia (minute patches with powdery soredia). - which are a lighter green than the rest of the areole. - See glossaries for definitions of these 
Glossary -  Last Dragon
Glossary - Irish Lichens

The first time I was shown this (thanks AP) on acid tombstone in Ingleton, a big effort was made to see whether the soralia (the minute powdery patches which house the powdery soredia) were at the centre of the aereoles or a the edge. L soralifera has them at the centre.
St Mary's Ingleton

Different year - same tombstone - St Mary's Ingleton


Go to this big block tombstone then look at the upright one just to the left of it

Look at the lichen on the top surface. There is some bluey grey (Porpidia tuberculosa) and some green grey - the Lecanora soralifera

Opegrapha gyrocarpa

Orange brown mosaic with black edges (like map lichen); "growing on vertical and slightly shaded base poor rocks surfaces: 

See this video of the tomb to the let of the block tomb marked with the arrow. eventually the video shows the block tomb stone with its Opegrapha gyrocarpa on the shaded vertical parts of the tomb


Wednesday, 7 September 2016


Psilolechia lucida is  sometime know as Sulphur Dust Lichen or 
Lemon-coloured Rock Lichen
The Lichens in Churchyards Aidgap Leaflet has a picture of Psilolechia lucida at the beginning as an example of a lichen on an acid rock

To Quote Last Dragon:
Thallus a thin to granular, powdery, yellow-green to sulphur yellow crust, in places thicker and irregularly cracked; apothecia rare, very small, yellow-green to orange. Common throughout Britain, often in somewhat shaded situations, generally on base-poor rock,

Go to Settle Parish Church churchyard, to this big box tombstone marked by the red arrow. Then go to the gravestone to the left of it 

There is a little bit of bright lemon green Psilolechia in a groove (top right) on the tombstone to the left -See below

Here seen close up:-

There is also some Psilolechia at the courtyard of Malham Tarn House

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Porpidia tuberculosa - Cigarette Ash Lichen

 Learn your Lichens 9 

Porpidia tuberculosa can form big grey (white-to pale blue grey) patches on acid rocks in church yards. Looking closely with a hand lens there are dark blue-grey almost silvery soredia. The edge of the thallus (the prothallus) is dark.

Here is is in Settle churchyard.

I spent hours going back to this tombstone hoping to photograph it in the sunlight.. but the trees to the south shaded it until the sun finally set behind the railway viaduct.

I'm calling this the "Big block grave". It has lots of Porpidai tuberculosa on its roof. 
The tombstone 3   along to the left has Porpidia tuberculosa too too.

Look at the top rim of the gravestone one to the left of the big block grave:

Here is the top rim of this gravestone
The lichen with the arrow is Lecanora soralifera. The one below it, next to the finger is Porpidia tuberculosa.

Here is a video of this tombstone (the one to left of the large block tombstone as at the top of this post)

Here it is in Ingleton, St Mary's Church 
Round the back of the church is a big colony on the church wall

 Porpidia tuberculosa. -  a very big patch. - below same species close up.

Learn your Lichens Series

Porpidia tuberculosa - Cigarette Ash Lichen

 Learn your Lichens 9 

Porpidia tuberculosa can form big grey (white-to pale blue grey) patches on acid rocks in church yards. Looking closely with a hand lens there are dark blue-grey almost silvery soredia. The edge of the thallus (the prothallus) is dark.

Here is is in Settle churchyard.

I spent hours going back to this tombstone hoping to photograph it in the sunlight.. but the trees to the south shaded it until the sun finally set behind the railway viaduct.

The tombstone 3 (actually 4)  along to the left has Porpidia tuberculosa too too.

Here it is in Ingleton, St Mary's Church 
Round the back of the church is a big colony on the church wall

 Could this be Porpidia tuberculosa? seems a very big patch. - below same species close up.

This video includes Porpidia tuberculosa

Learn your Lichens Series