Monday 2 January 2017

New Year Plant Hunt 2017: Day Two

New Year Plant Hunters
at Glengarriff NR, West Cork
Image: C. Heardman
After yesterday's rain and murkiness over much of Britain, the sun came out today for most of us and the plant records started streaming in to the new Results page for the New Year Plant Hunt.

Verified records so far: 1,790, with a similar number being processed.

People are really enjoying seeing their records appear on the interactive map here. We've also had a few people asking why their records aren't on the map yet but please rest assured that they are working their way through the system. 

The day was cold for many, although not as bad as that encountered by Charles Babington on 2nd January 1854. Before he set out on a New Year Plant Hunt in Cambridgeshire, Roger Horton tweeted the image on the left.

Once at Coldhams Common with fellow botanists, Roger found some dandelions in bud, but only plants truly in flower count for the Hunt - so he put out this plea on Twitter:

😀Aging gent. botanist seeks lady sim. ints GSOH & portable hairdryer > encourage opening of local dandelions

Erodium moschatum in Kerry
Image: F. Moore
We don't know if Roger managed to attract any ladies - he's not the sort of chap who boasts about such things - but he and the group had built up quite a decent plant list by the end of the day.

In Ireland the sun shone (again!) and some very nice plants were spotted, like the Musk Stork's-bill Erodium moschatum on the right, spotted by Fionn Moore on Beara. Check out the distribution map to see why Fionn and the County Recorder were so pleased with this record. 

Local botany groups were also out in force today and you can see many of their finds on BSBI's social media platforms. Links to all of them are here.

Some recorders put together composite images of their finds, like Mel (on left), who also added another list today - it's great to see how many people are following in the footsteps of Gus and James this year and heading out Hunting more than once. 

Unfortunately, some recorders are not finding anything in bloom, despite diligent searching. 

They are encouraged to email the New Year Plant Hunt team to let us know where they hunted. Nil records are also valuable and will help us build up a clearer picture of how our plants are responding to our changing weather. 

Red dead-nettle 
Image: S. Connor
13-year old naturalist and pan-lister James had a fruitless (and flowerless!) Plant Hunt in Surrey for the second year running but took the time to send us the grid ref for his nil records and also helped first time plant hunter Dara (aged 12) with using the app. 

So James is the recipient of the Day Two Valiant Effort Award, which seems fitting on the day New Nature magazine was launched to such great acclaim.  

It's been gratifying to see so many first-timers having a go at recording for the New Year Plant Hunt, and many are taking to Twitter to talk about how much fun it's been and helping each other with IDs.  

Sophie Connor, a student on the Species Identification & Survey Skills MSc course at University of Reading, was pleased to spot ten species on her first Hunt, including Petasites fragrans (Winter Heliotrope), which has been recorded 26 times so far during the New Year Plant Hunt. 

Kidney-vetch blooming in Kerry
Image: Sara Rubalcava
Three generations of wildlife lovers were out in the Chilterns and although they only found 7 species compared to last year's 15 - and no violets! - they did spot robins, lichens and some "cool fungi" and had a "very enjoyable morning".  

Terry, on the other hand, was out hunting in Oxfordshire bemoaning the measly 11 'weeds' he found compared to last year's 21. He blames a colder, drier December (and has the stats to prove it!) and an over-enthusiastic village warden. 

But we are only halfway through and who knows what remains to be spotted in bloom out there? Keep an eye on the new website to find out, and another summary will appear here tomorrow evening.

Fingers crossed the weather stays fair for day three of the New Year Plant Hunt 2017.

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