Sunday 1 January 2017

New Year Plant Hunt 2017: Day One

The BSBI's 2017 New Year Plant Hunt kicked off shortly after midnight and for the third year running, Oisin Duffy takes the prize for spotting the first wildflower of the Hunt - a white clover (on left seen before 1a.m. in Ireland).

When the sun came up for the start of the Hunt proper, it only really did so in Ireland, Wales and the West Country.

Much of England and Scotland enjoyed murk and rain, but fortunately many local group admins had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and had rescheduled their Hunts for tomorrow or Tuesday.

42 lists have been published so far (ie all the records on these lists have been verified) from across Britain and Ireland and you can see them all here on our interactive map. 181 species recorded so far.

Rory, dogs, Gorse and sunshine.
Remember sunshine?
Image: Phoebe O'Brien
But it was Ireland's day, with records flooding in  - unfortunately many are still working their way through the British-based iRecord system so don't show up on the map yet. But they will.

Congratulations to Rory, Phoebe, Caroline, Eamon, Fionn, Paula, Clare, Oisin, Mairead and many other enthusiastic botanists. 

There was so much activity on Twitter that, around 8pm, we were notified that #NewYearPlantHunt was trending on Twitter in Ireland.

This is a real feather in Irish Officer Maria Long's cap. She has been doing a great job spreading the word about the New Year Plant Hunt and enthusing Irish botanists to get involved this year, including many first-timers. 

So it's great to see that everyone had such a brilliant day, great weather and lots of records generated for the New Year Plant Hunt database.

Phoebe, Claire and Rory spotted 42 species in bloom in West Cork, a great total, but it looks as though the day's star New Year Plant Hunt recorders were Sylvia and Julian Reynolds, who got 71 species in flower in Co. Dublin, including Sherardia arvensis and Geranium pusillum (on right).

The new app worked pretty well - a few glitches which of course hadn't revealed themselves during extensive testing, but people flagged any problems up quickly by emailing and our software wizard Tom Humphrey soon ironed them out so records could be submitted successfully. 

Mel & Gorse in Kingsdown
Image: Steve Coates 
Helen Taylor recorded Gorse in Perthshire (apparently it was bitterly cold) and then headed off to Arnside, where she went out recording again and got a few more yellow flowers

Mel Lloyd also recorded Gorse in bloom in Kingsdown but she didn't have quite such nice weather for her Hunt - and the Gorse next to her doesn't look nearly as happy as Rory's!

Dave was out in Kent and has already blogged about his New Year Plant Hunt and shared some great images on his Twitter account.

Botanist Laura Jennings was less successful - two hours surveying by the River Thames and nothing in bloom. Not even Gorse.

She's going to try again later in the week but for now, she is awarded the Day One Valiant Effort Award. Watch this space to find about more about Laura's (ahem) fabulous prize!

So, will the sun shine on England and Scotland for tomorrow's New Year Plant Hunt? 

For now, I'll leave you with Rory Hodd's image (above) of Thrift in bloom in the west of Ireland. In the sunshine. Sweet dreams New Year Plant Hunters!

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