Then and Now, Now and Then

The times they are a-changing

Then and Now.

Packing up old books from a shelf too high to reach, so clearly of no use… … I came across this book.


The Living Thames, John Doxat. 1977.

“The re-appearance of a creature so strange that I feel it deserves some space… three of these hardy crustaceans discovered in 1976 probably arrived in larval state in ships ballas: if they can establish themselves they will provide an exotic oriental addition to the Thames.

Online today: NHM: mitten crab watch.

Originating in South East Asia, the first mitten crab was recorded in the UK in 1935 in the River Thames at Chelsea. By the 1990s they had become well-established in the River Thames. Subsequently other river catchments including the Humber, Medway, Tyne, Wharfe and Ouse have recorded mitten crab populations.

These crafty crustaceans damage riverbanks, compete with native species, block water outlets and damage fishing gear such as nets with their claws.

Current distribution for Eriocheir sinensis shows it has established, though ispot records are minimal. (absent?)

Interesting that the 1977 text has it as hardy, while the NHM (from whom I would hope for less anthropomorphism) has it as crafty.


Another from Doxat, 1977.

Less likely to do so (become established in the Thames) is that popular marine oddity the Sea Horse; one was found at Dagenham in 1976, probably the only one ever taken from British waters other than the English Channel.”

Guardian 2008: “The discovery of a colony of short-snouted seahorses (Hippocampus hippocampus) living in the Thames means that the London river is becoming cleaner, conservationists said today. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have discovered five seahorses during routine conservation surveys in the Thames estuary in the past 18 months, evidence which they say indicates that a breeding population exists.”

Current distribution for Hippocampus hippocampus shows it has established, though ispot records are minimal (absent?).


It’s nice to see a little sanity and expression in the Forum
It is hopeless in the main site, (for me). I do not see my tracker and I expect little response from my input.
I cannot resist adding Observations, otherwise the photos will be stale, even forgotten. But there is so little feedback that maybe we should stop and do our best to nurture brand-newcomers, there were six yesterday and 6 already today (so far)
I love gbif (mocks NBN)
One of JoC’s links
Zoom in a little then use the time bar to watch how observation move northwards
Then move in on the record to see who and when and where Occurrence Detail 2961194356
Then use Google Dr PHILIP SMITH | The School of Biological Sciences | The University of Aberdeen
Better than a Quiz and waiting f’r y’r tracker

I think you might be underestimating the effect your contributions have. I have often used your observations to do my own identifications, because of the clarity and detail in the photographs and descriptions. Frequently followed suggestions and used the various guides. It would surprise greatly if others were not doing the same. I use the information far more often than I write a comment.

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Love this comment - I’ve spent years, not quite hopeless, but buoyed up by yourself, Mike and Jo, and occasionally others [quote=“dejayM, post:3, topic:1694”]
It is hopeless in the main site, (for me). I do not see my tracker and I expect little response from my input.
I cannot resist adding Observations, otherwise the photos will be stale, even forgotten. But there is so little feedback that maybe we should stop and do our best to nurture brand-newcomers
Please keep an eye-out for Janebatt
She is recording some really interesting observations in a tiny suburban location that could be a remnant of critically endangered Cape Flats Sand fynbos.
THEN for myself - I’m finding so many of my observations appear to have no, or very few records, other than on iSpot. But don’t know where else to save them.
This redlisted one of mine has gone unnoticed - see Prix and Charles observations to confirm


Another THEN…

Over two centuries ago in 1814, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours gave the world an official classification of colour. Charles Darwin is said to have found it indispensable on the 1831 -36 voyage of HMS Beagle.

It originally relied on written description alone. It contains such colours as Snow White, the breast of a black headed gull; the blue of the upper side of the wings of small blue heath butterfly; the purple of the stamina of single Purple Anemone and Emerald Green which is the colour of the beauty spot on wing of Teal Drake.

… AND NOW – they are all on a paint colour chart which says “In collaboration with the Natural History Museum”.

The one I found most difficult to envisage – “Dead leaves of the green Panic Grass”, but if I had the hex code maybe all would be revealed.

Interesting thanks Jo…
I am maybe the only spotter who has used Pan- or ISO-colour charts in Observations, One of a few

Here’s another “Then and Now” from the Naturalist in Britain a social history by David Allen (1976).

“At the beginning of the 18th century the world of natural history, one might say, came to exist almost solely on paper. To commit oneself to paper at this period, moreover, was to commit oneself to posts that were slow, costly and uncertain. To a quite maddening extent the letters of the early naturalists tend to be taken up - when they are not recounting all the grisly symptoms of their illnesses - with complaints of packages that have gone astray or with elaborate instructions regarding their dispatch. Merely to borrow a book from a friend could well involve sending of a tedious list of suitable coach -times and naming one or more resting places or agents to which it should be addressed. E even then it might not arrive; and even if it did arrive it might turn up days weeks or months after it had been expecting. “I find occasions of transmitting boxes uncertain and unsure by the common carriers”, , wrote Sutherland to Richardson in 1702- a masterpiece of understatement. Alternative means of transport could be almost equally unreliable: in 1755 when John Ellis chose to send a book by sea to the Reverend William Borlase down in Cornwall the latter was moved to complain of the great time that it had taken – occasioned, so he was led to understand by the excessive activity of the press-gangs, which so obstructed the navigation of the Thames that the ship that was carrying it had been long delayed.

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Know your Botanists/ Naturalists -


Thanks for these snippets

Another one for you @JoC @dejayM
I’ve always been fascinated by the specimens collected on the voyage of the HMS Herold that called at Simon’s bay (now Simon’s Town) in 1852 - the botanist Milne.
Wikipedia has this:
*From 1852 to 1861, under the command of Captain Henry Mangles Denham, Herald carried out a survey of the Australian coast and Fiji Islands, continuing the mission of HMS Rattlesnake. The naturalists on the voyage were John MacGillivray (1821–1867), William Milne (botanist) and Denis Macdonald as Assistant Surgeon-zoologist. James Glen Wilson was the ship’s artist. *
Herald, with her tender HMS Torch, a paddle steamer’ left Plymouth on 10 June 1852. They travelled via Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro, Tristan de Cunha, Cape Town and St Paul Island, arriving at Port Jackson (Sydeney Harbour) on 18 February 1853. Throughout the journey, surveying work was carried out, including deep-sea soundings, locating shoals, magnetic observations, establishing an accurate meridian distance between Rio and Cape Town, and a complete survey of St Paul Island. Many natural history observations were made.

Do you think this is the same species ?
Not getting the link to work
Thus is the image

1852 - 2011

Try linking HerbWeb yourself

That reminds me of a letter I received from a developing country in 1983. I opened it and read it and thought that it seemed oddly out-of-date. I then looked at the postmark and noticed that it had been stamped in 1980. It was in perfect condition and I have no clue where it had been on its three-year journey. (I was in said developing country in 1980.)

Prescient announcement.


Thought I’d post some more lichens, regardless (I’ll never finish if I wait to identify them)
What I’ve learned @Luisa - who has been there fairly recently - the carpark at Boulders has been extended and the environment of my Lichen rock will never be the same - see the street view on the map - is this tourism or conservation?

Then @dejayM thought you might know - are the little black spots ‘cyanobactéries’?
See: Understanding Microbial Multi-Species Symbioses
My post

@JoC @Surreybirder

Oh that’s sad about the car park!

If I’m looking at the same black spots they’re crystals in the rock. (If it is granite the black crystals would be biotite.)

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Thanks about the big back spots - I tried to find out more about the granite - i’m sure the granite we had at Fish Hoek - Sunnycove wasn’t as white. Sandstone predominates and then there are other formations at Cape Point (Venus Pool).
Just discussing this, having read about the granite at Rhodes Memorial and then on to the Capitol Building in Washington -
From the internet - but I haven’t double checked:
TIL the granite used to build the US Capitol is so radioactive that the building would fail federal safety codes regulating nuclear power plants.

ISpot really gets the grey-cells busy!!

Must try to find someone who will be interested enough to check for me and maybe send back some pics. Lichens aren’t as easy to photograph as flowers.

I’ve heard an anecdote of a sample of rock being taken into a nuclear power station, and being so radioactive that it wasn’t allowed to be removed. (Derek may be aware of the rocks in Orkney with 300 ppm of Uranium; there have been proposals to mine them.)

For geologists granite is a coarse-grained rock composed of quartz, feldspar (of varying and often multiple types) and biotite (mica) and sometimes accessory minerals.

The feldspathic component can be pink or white; if the former it’s easier to distinguish the quartz from the feldspar. In the case of your image I can’t pick out any quartz. That may be just the limitations of the photograph, but the rock could be a granodiorite, or a quartz-poor rock such as a syenite or diorite.

Intrusive_big.png (4793×5578) (

But vernacular usage applies the term granite to pale coarse-grained rocks in general. If I recall correctly the granites of commerce even include some non-igneous rocks, but I can’t recall an example at the moment.

1977 Indeed, I read about the fuss

I do not recommend the music