One thing I am learning very quickly is that seemingly small drops of water appear as huge oceans under the microscope. Trying to find organises becomes very hard when you have a’vast’ area to scan through. This being the case I have found very little lately. To make matters worse, even at low magnifications, I’ll see creatures whizz past my view and not be able to track them or find them again.
Another issue I am having is being able to take a decent clear photograph of what is in the view finder. I do own a mobile phone holder, that attaches to the eye piece, but it seems to have great difficulty focusing down the eyepiece in general let alone on any subjects that happen to be sitting within it. Maybe I need more practice.
This is the only recent image of anything of note, I believe it is a diatom, a type of algae. Amazingly these are responsible for over 50% of the oxygen we breath.
It is amazing what little thought or respect we give to things can we cannot see but we own so much to. Im sure the average person gives little if any thought to the pond life at the bottom of the garden with far greater concern given to what to watch on tv or what mobile should they upgrade to next. The fact we exsist at all, let alone can ponder our next consumer purchase, is pretty much down to those tiny insignificant creatures darting around underneath the surface. Without those microorganism we do not spare a thought for we would probably not have air to breath or even exsist in the form we do today.
I find it frustrating that, as a species, we tend to put ourselves on a pedestal and awe at our intelligence and invention when our entire exsistence is carried on the shoulders of those insignificant little ‘pond creatures’
We have sunk a small plastic bowl in the ground outside our flats, I think it’s actually the bottom of an old hamster cage but it does the trick, and filled it with water for any wildlife that sees fit to use it.
We have spotted a couple of our feathered friends visting it briefly but it tends to just be no more than just a algae reservation and any other water loving weeds that take a shine to it.
Having failed to see any form of life from my previous water source I thought this may be a far more promising prospect and again nabbed a small sample of water and pond weed.
Dropping a tiny sample of both water and plant debris on a slide I placed a cover glass over it and slid it under my scope. I am still struggling with the magnification settings of each of the lenses and tend to start with the lowest and slowly increase it after finding an interesting subject.
I could see the odd tiny shape darting around the view finder but could not keep track of them long enough to then zoom in. After slowing moving the slide around it was then I found a more promising subject.
These little guys are called vorticella and resemble, to me, a boxing glove on a spring. The large head/mouth would be drawn back and then shoot foward ridiculously fast hunting for any thing that is unlucky enough cross it’s path*. It is amazing that all these is happening, unseen, in a tiny tray of water outside my flat.
I was really hoping to find a water bear, maybe next time, and I really want to find out what those tiny dots were that were darting here and there. Hopefully I will also become a little better at tracking and focusing the subjects under my slide enabling me to get a better view and capture a photo of them. I must really clean my slides as well next time!!
*I’ve since read that they do not do this to capture prey but to avoid being prey themselves and is a form of survival instinct.
So my scope finally arrived together with my glass slides and cover glasses, they are so thin and fragile! Also arriving was my attachment for allowing my to take photos with my mobile via the eyepiece. I attempted to take a sample of pond weed from our tiny container ‘pond’ out back and view that. It was all rather messy and I initially took way to much. I proceeded to snip off a tiny part of it and sandwich it between the slide and cover glass and place that under my scope. It was actually more trickier than I had expected but eventually a green blur appear began to through the eyepiece. Using the focus wheel the image sharpened and vivid green stands came into view.
I was initially a little disappointed as I had expected to be be greeted with an abundance of pond life dashing into view but alas there was nothing, it was completely barren apart from the pond weed itself.
It seems hunting microbes may be a little harder than I had expected so will have to head out and try again another time. I have read that I should try looking at slightly dirtier water where life has had time to develop and multiply or I could even just try and leave a bowl of water outside to mature and grow algae etc. The hunt continues!!
So my original choice of scope is now unavailable, typically, so I went with another recommendation, a Swift Microscope SW150 together with some slides and slide covers. I also picked up a mobile phone eye-piece clamp which will allow me to photograph the samples I view through the scope via my mobile phone.
I remember being given or buying a cheap microscope when I was around 9 or 10 and being fairly excited. I looked at the usual suspects, salt and suger grains, leaves and insects etc but then for some reason my interest fell off the shelf and I think I passed the scope on.
Now a lot older with and so many resources out there like cable TV and YouTube etc I have recently had my interest reignited, namely down to a YouTuber called Microbehunter. Although he owes some professional scopes he reviewed one that I knew I could get from Amazon and thought, hey why not.
The scope in question was a TELMU Microscope 40X-1000X Compound Monocular Microscope.
He even goes on to show you how to collect samples to view from nearby enviroments and the best spots to go for. Recommended viewing if you to have a yearning for the microbe world.
He’s approach is very relax and very easy to understand and I guess aimed at people like me who are just curious.