Wednesday 10 August 2016

What do County Recorders actually do?

I was chatting yesterday to Robin Walls, the BSBI's County Recorder for Dorset, and he was telling me what he's been up to in the past few days. It struck me that Robin's account gave a very helpful glimpse into what a County Recorder actually does! So, many thanks to Robin for allowing me to share the account below.  

As you read Robin's account, please bear in mind that all our County Recorders are volunteers who have dedicated a huge amount of unpaid time to collating all the plant records they receive from members and non-members across their county and then entering them into the BSBI Distribution Database

And they also do this sort of thing... over to Robin:

"Been out all day chasing some old records. Cicendia filiformis (pic above) – the smallest I’ve ever seen it  and only a few plants – amongst Agrostis canina with Radiola and one plant of Anagallis minima. Then Illecebrum that turned out to be in the tank training area with forbidding notices, so we had to miss that one. Finally a good stand of Rhynchospora fusca (on left) and some very small Lycopodiella inundata plus a couple of other grid refs where it should be and has now gone. 

"Finally we met up with the Carnivorous Plant Soc. tour to see the Sarracenia purpurea (pic below) in lots of different forms and a few hybrids / vars. (if you believe in all this) in Hyde Bog. It is growing very vigorously here – better than in California according to a participant who is from there; so much so that the Forestry Commission have set up a meeting next month to discuss how to control it. [LM: see also this paper on S. purpurea by Kevin Walker - in New Journal of Botany.]

"So yes, a good day out in glorious weather. Tomorrow I’m meeting up with them again to see the Drosera hybrid recently renamed, which is why I wanted to access New Journal of Botany to read the note on it.

"You might also be interested in Sunday’s jaunt – Lobelia urens (pic below) at the site we bulldozed a couple of years ago. Now superb with over 2000 plants (we counted 2400 last year and an eyeball check says there are at least as many) and a couple of dozen flowers per spike – the most floriferous plants we’ve seen. Three years ago there were only six plants! 

"There are a couple of options to expand the population we are exploring. One is a few km away where quarry restoration has the potential to create the right conditions".

Robin's email also acknowledged all the records he will have to input this winter, but says, quite rightly "That is not a job for warm sunny days!" For now the focus is firmly on fieldwork and chasing up old records for Atlas 2020

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into Robin's activities as a County Recorder. Many thanks to him for sharing this account and for the images, also taken by Robin. 

But if you yourself are a County Recorder, and you're thinking "Hmm, that's not what I do all week!" then please email me a short account of your recent botanical activities and I'll be happy to post it here. So we can compare and contrast like good scientists!

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