Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year Plant Hunt over for another year.

Team Maria and a tricky Brassica sp. on Bull Island
The BSBI New Year Plant Hunt is over for another year and Ryan is doing an amazing job collating the unprecedented number of records we have received from a staggering 65 vice-counties across Britain and Ireland. 

Participants have ranged from experienced botanists and habitual NYPHers to people having a go for the first time - and all points in between!

It was particularly nice to see so many people taking part in Ireland, from Irish Officer Maria Long out on Bull Island, by Dublin Bay, to Donna O'Halloran who went for a walk with her dad in Glenbower Wood, Co. Cork and recorded 14 species in flower. 

Rodney Daunt in Fountainstown, Co.Cork recorded 40 species including this Bush Vetch Vicia sepium (on left), yet he tells us "I am not a botanist". Hmm I can think of 40 reasons why you are, Rodney!

On Anglesey, Ivor Rees was able to capture two flowering plants in one image (below)  while Helen, up near the Moray Firth, struggled to find one daisy in flower. 

Silene uniflora with Gorse
Image: I. Rees
Sophie Leguil again delighted us with one of her urban botanical still-lifes from the capital. This one (see foot of page) is entitled The Spurge, the Bill and the Bud. Several other people sent in records from the London area, and Ryan is beginning to build up a clearer picture of what is in flower where.  

He took a brief break this afternoon to let us know that so far, he has processed almost 2,500 records from 100 lists. He might have divulged a little more, but the records just kept on pinging into the Inbox at nyplanthunt@bsbi.org so Ryan headed straight back to work. If you haven't sent in your records yet, please do so, even if you only saw one species in flower - that still counts as a record.  


Fly on Hogweed
Image: B. Hoare
Also please tell us if you looked but found nothing in flower! The recent snow and frosts hit parts of the country very hard and had quite an impact on what was blooming at New Year. 

Click here to see how it affected recording in VC55 Leicestershire. 

And Jim, Judy and Tub, 3 BSBI members who went out surveying along The Wash, did manage to record 22 species in flower but also reported "Unfortunately the very heavy frosts of the past two days had wiped out what would have been our star find - Aster tripolium. It was in good flowering condition a few days ago but the flower head was completely shrivelled this morning - we should have bubble-wrapped it!"


Winter heliotrope
Image: RSK Ecology
Other participants in this year's Hunt included Ben Hoare, Features Editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine, who tweeted us this image (above) of a fly on Hogweed, one of six species he spotted in flower. 


Ben (in the Quantocks) and consultants from RSK Ecology (out in Warwick) both spotted Winter heliotrope Petasites fragrans in flower. Ben notes its fragrance and that it is "invasive on local hedgebanks" and asks "Do pollinators use it?" If you know, please leave a comment below.

We think we can see some patterns emerging but you are botanists so you will want proper analysis of the data - another day or two should do it if you can curb your enthusiasm until then!
The Spurge, the Bill & the Bud
Image: S. Leguil