Sunday 3 January 2016

New Year Plant Hunt: Day Three

Day Three and more records are coming through from villages, suburbs and capital cities of Britain and Ireland. 

The Wild Reekie group on their
New Year Plant Hunt
Image courtesy of Eleanor Harris
Edinburgh has yielded more lists so far than other capitals and the BSBI Twitter network made it possible to connect several Edinburgh botanists such as Jim who then met up to fit in an extra Plant Hunt in a different part of the city. 

Also in Edinburgh, a New Year Plant Hunt on Blackford Hill on 1st January, led by Eleanor of the Wild Reekie group, yielded 21 species. Warren was Hunting in the same area the day after and found 40 species in bloom. 

Gus, who joined Eleanor's walk on Friday, liked it so much that he went on to do two solo Plant Hunts in the area and then tweeted: 

It's been great!.. So far... Going to Holyrood Park tomorrow for another , I'm addicted

Collage of plants seen in bloom by James
Image: @GranthamEcologist  
Read more about Gus's Plant Hunts here. He seems to be on course to win a prize for the most New Year Plant Hunts in 2016, although he faces stiff competition from James - watch this space or follow their respective (and numerous) Plant Hunts on Twitter! 

Only a few plants have so far been recorded in bloom in Glasgow, and a Hunt at Carrbridge in the Cairgorms yielded just two daisies in bloom, but Su in Inverness found a few more plants in bloom on a walk on the edges of the city. Su told me that she enjoyed her first New Year Plant Hunt so much that she's thinking of repeating the route through the seasons and keeping a record of what she sees in flower. An excellent idea! 

Sandy's New Year Plant Hunt Team
Image: Sandy Knapp
Finally from Scotland, five species were recorded by Cliff on a walk round Loch Fleet NNR in Sutherland but we could still do with records from the Hebrides please! 

In the London area, Dr Sandy Knapp (Natural History Museum) and her team were out Plant Hunting on Walthamstow Marshes. Sandy is checking a specimen of one of the plants she found, by comparing it with the ones in the Herbarium at the Natural History Museum. 

That's why botanists love herbaria so much - once you think you've identified a plant, you can compare it with lots of other specimens of the same plant and see if you are right. 

It's a bit like leafing through a plant's photo album - a specimen pressed in springtime, showing the young leaves at their best, next to one of the plant in fruit with leaves that have done a lot of photosynthesising, next to one that grew on a rich site and is much bigger and lusher than usual. 

Fred (on left) takes BSBI members and guests
behind the scenes at the
Natural History Museum Herbarium.
BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2015
Image: Waheed Arshad
You really start to get a feel for what a plant looks like throughout its lifetime once you've been through its herbarium folder. And the folders in the Natural History Museum Herbarium are full of delights! 

Also out Plant Hunting in the London/Surrey area were Annie and her team of eight (including five botanists from the London Natural History Society). They recorded 60 species in flower.
London Botanical Still Life 2016 #1
'The Euphorbia and the Snail'
Image: Sophie Leguil
Caroline sent in 32 records from Surrey and Sophie, who arrived back in London yesterday, had already tweeted about the plants she found in bloom in France last week and today she treated us to one of her C21st London Botanical Still Lives which were so popular last year. Merci beaucoup Sophie! 

Floods in Kerry didn't deter Marc & Rory!
Image: Rory Hodd
From the Dublin area, records are now in from Balbriggan (32 species in bloom) and several very long lists have been received from Sylvia and Julian Reynolds, who then headed off to Limerick on the other side of Ireland for yet another Plant Hunt.

More to follow once we have processed and checked all their records and those of several other people who submitted very long lists. 

On the other side of Ireland, floods made life difficult for Marc and Rory but they still got a good list from Killarney although no Strawberry Tree in flower there this year. 

And from Armagh, Oisin reports here on a New Year Plant Hunt with Mairead and BSBI President John Faulkner. A great example of cross border botany! 

Outside capital cities, 67 species were recorded in Chepstow area by Monmouthshire Botany Group - more details to follow about New Year Plant Hunts in Wales here on Polly's blog. Terry in the Cotswolds found 22 species in bloom, first-time Plant Hunter Lisa got nine species in Sunderland and a Plant Hunt in Norfolk led by botanist and author Simon Harrap attracted a good crowd and nailed 67 records. 

Lesser Celandine blooming in Kerry
Image: Marc Cruise 
Botanists in Cumbria have struggled to find very much in flower due to recent floods but their lists, however short, are still helping us build up a clearer picture of what is in flower now across Britain and Ireland. 

Over in Yorkshire, Zach submitted records and blogged about his New Year Plant Hunting here. Zach was recently awarded BBC Wildlife Magazine Junior Blogger of the Year so we are honoured that he chose to take part in and blog about the New Year Plant Hunt.

So, tomorrow is the final day of the New Year Plant Hunt. If you have contacted us with lists and queries and we haven't got back to you yet, please accept our apologies. So many emails and messages this year and we do want to read and respond to all of them, but it may take a few days!

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