Cannop Ponds (28 November 2008, contributed by Waltraud Englefield and Mike Burke, Lakers School, Coleford.)

This was a lunch time birdwalk with Lakers School Birdwatching Group, led by Mike Smart, Andrew Bluett and Juliet Bailey. Birds seen recorded:
Blue Tit, Great Tit, a good show of Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch (heard), Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Jay, Buzzard, 6 Redpoll flying over, Siskin flying over, one Wren, several Nuthatch, Mallard, Tufted Duck, one Greylag Goose, one Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, ringed Mute Swan with several cygnets, several Mandarin Duck and Woodpigeon. The walk was enjoyed by all and the group learned a great deal, including not to trust botanists who invite you to lick some white lichen which tastes very bitter! This was a great experience and we hope to work together again in the future.

And a note from Juliet (the botanist in question):
“Just to defend botanists from accusations of perfidy – I had a quick look at the lichens on the trees when we were at Cannop Ponds with the group from Lakers School. The standard field test to confirm one species – Pertusaria amara – is to moisten the end of the finger and rub it over the white powder (soredia) on the thallus surface. You then gingerly dab it onto your tongue, and wait a few seconds to see if a bitter taste develops. Then spit! I invited Andrew Bluett to try the test and describe what he noticed. He said it was like juniper berries – news to me, I think it is just nastily bitter. Then the students wanted to try too, so having confirmed with their teacher that this was all right, most people had a go.”

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