seashore field guide - highland nature guides (DVD) - fern guides

James Merryweather, 2014

ISBN 978-1482681819 Blue-Skye Books at Amazon - £10.50 (or less)

user-friendly seashore guide - coverThe User-Friendly Seashore Guide has been prepared to serve the specific needs of the Highland (Scotland) Seashore Biodiversity Project, 2013-2015 and also – in the fullness of time – to present a new, intermediate-grade identification kit suitable for seashore enthusiasts around Britain.

Users are strongly encouraged to avoid picture-matching, a haphazard process that often results in misidentifications, and to work their way through reliable identification keys resembling those used by specialists, but with an innovative twist that contrasts with their scientific counterparts. So that they can be approached by all users, the keys are couched in plain English and contain virtually no technical terms. Whilst users need to adopt methodical patience (as opposed to the randomness of picture matching), they should find the stepwise keys highly accessible, painlessly discovering the identities of most common seashore species found around the Highland coast. Further information about more species can be looked up in the more advanced literature. To be effective, all identification guides must be tested. It is expected that early versions of ‘User-Friendly Seashore Guides’ will require modification and expansion after each occasion when they are used. Publication with Amazon’s CreateSpace, in which only the number of copies required are printed to order, means that new versions may be produced as required. The book will improve and expand as the project progresses. After three years of testing and additions, we should be able to publish a thoroughly competent new-look field guide.


James Merryweather, 2012

FREE - from The Highland Council's Biodiversity Officers
A few left. Please contact James.

These Guides have been produced by Dr James Merryweather with support from the Highland Biodiversity Partnership. They are being reproduced, marketed and distributed with funding from the Highland LEADER Programme 2007-13, Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland. Four out of the five have already been issued on single discs, now combined on one DVD-ROM with the spectacular new HIGHLAND SEASHORES FOR ALL. The guides on the disc are:



A tour of the entire Highland coastline with 46 recommended seashores and numerous chapters packed with all the animals, seashells, seaweeds, wildflowers etc. we find there. For browsing, learning and the exploration of nature. This presentation is a brand new version for everybody – Highland residents and visitors, young and old – of the more technical The Seashore, below. Highland Seashores is for pure enjoyment of the fabulous seashores we have on our doorstep. Specially created as part of the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project, 2013-2015 to help everyone to identify seashore wildlife.


2. THE SEASHORE (9 lectures)

This presentation consists of nine PowerPoint lectures covering all aspects of ecology and biodiversity on the seashore. It will be of interest to anyone who enjoys seashore biology/ecology as well as school biology teachers, university lecturers and students working independently.

It was inspired by and is based upon 30+ years of first year undergraduate teaching at the University Marine Biological Station, Millport, and has been tailored to suit a range of interested audiences.

These presentations can be used for lecturing or private viewing and include a comprehensive manual of field and laboratory study methods.

Lecture 1 Shore types
Lectures 2-4 Rocky shore zonation, plants & animals
Lecture 5 Sedimentary shores
Lecture 6 The Strand Line
Lecture 7 Methods: Shore profile
Lecture 8 Methods: Quantifying plants & animals
Lecture 9 Physical measurements.


3. FERNS, Clubmosses, Quillworts & Horsetails

This is a gigantic compendium of illustrated information about all of the British pteridophytes in fourteen chapters. It complements the Field Studies Council’s two A.I.D.G.A.P. publications (below), also by James Merryweather, which are specifically identification guides that do not attempt to cover the ecologies of these plants and illustrate only essential diagnostic features.

Chapter 1   Pteridophyte relationships & evolution
Chapter 2   Clubmosses, Quillworts & Horsetails
Chapter 3   Fern anatomy Rhizomes
Chapter 4   Fern anatomy Fronds
Chapter 5   Three unlikely ferns
Chapter 6   Filmy ferns
Chapter 7   Ferns with undivided fronds
Chapter 8   Ferns with pinnate fronds
Chapter 9   Ferns with bipinnate fronds pt 1
Chapter 10 Ferns with bipinnate fronds pt 2
Chapter 11 Ferns with bipinnate fronds pt 3 (distinguishing male ferns)
Chapter 12 Ferns with bipinnate fronds pt 4 (male ferns illustrated)
Chapter 13 Ferns with tripinnate fronds
Chapter 14 Ferns in winter

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“I can’t tell a moss from a lichen.” Understandable and forgivable, but nevertheless it shocked the author because the difference seems obvious to a botanist. The non-specialist who made that comment is the new user for whom this DVD was prepared, now made available to all.

This interactive presentation is very much an introduction to the liverworts, mosses, hornworts, lichens and pteridophytes, but does not (cannot and need not at this stage) take the user as far as species identifications. So it is the starter for those who are unfamiliar with plants that reproduce with structures other than flowers and the non-mushroom-forming fungi we know as ‘lichens’.

Except the lichens, which are simply illustrated in all there marvellous, colourful diversity, the presentation takes the familiar form of a dichotomous key, which you use on your computer, answering paired questions until you reach a general identification of the group to which your unknown specimen belongs.

As long as you have the specimen with you - not just a tantalisingly incomplete memory - and you are pretty certain it’s not an angiosperm (wild flower), then you should be able to find out what sort of plant it is and more besides, eventually graduating to full identifications using more detailed guides when more familiar with the generalities of flowerless plant groups dealt with here.



Rhododendron ponticum is the problem, a non-native shrub that is invading large swathes of the British countryside, not just evicting native plants, but also ruining entire native habitats. This presentation - which may be used for private instruction or as a public lecture discusses the problems we face with the rhododendron invasion and introduces the revolutionary Lever & Mulch control method.

Lever & Mulch requires no specialised vehicles or machinery, no chainsaws (cutting rhododendron exacerbates the problem), no chemicals, no brash transport and no fires. Operators require sensible protective clothing and simple tools: saw, hammer and their own body with which they simply dismantle rhododendron bushes. Brash is left in place to smother regenerative growth and recycle nutrients on site.

Therefore, Lever & Mulch is safe and inexpensive, but not only that: it is highly effective and environmental disturbance is kept to a minimum. Because every bush has individual characteristics that govern the technique needed for its own destruction, training and experience are essential. This presentation introductory and should not be considered the equivalent of a training manual.




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