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Yesterday I dipped my toes into the fungal microscopy waters and it was good! In fact, it was more than good. Funded by the Wales Biodiversity Partnership, hosted and organised by SEWBReC, and led by Mr Glamorgan Fungi Mike Bright, ably assisted by SEWBReC’s fungi whizz Amy Hicks, the whole day was simply excellent!

170205-microscopy-course

One of the most frustrating things about fungi can be trying to identify them and/or differentiate between visually similar species. Now I have the basic skills needed to do this. I’m under no illusions, though – I do realise that IDing my finds will still be difficult: I might not have collected a good specimen, I might not be able to find what I need under the microscope, I might not be able to find the information in books or online to compare with what I’m seeing, and, something that I hadn’t expected, the floaters I have in my right eye (a problem that comes from the vitreous gel in my eye hardening with age) interfere with what I see down the microscope.

So, I’m not rushing out to spend hundreds of pounds on a good ’scope just yet. Luckily, as a regular biodiversity recorder, I’m able to borrow the equipment they hold at SEWBReC, my local biodiversity records centre. Now I just need to find my first sample to identify!

Many thanks to my friend Graham Watkeys for the photo of me studiously peering down the ’scope, and sorry for the poor quality of my ’scope images – I now know photos of microscope camera photos shown on a laptop screen don’t reproduce very well.

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