Saturday 21 July 2018

BSBI Summer Meeting 2018: Day Five

Interpretation board at The Curraghs
Image K. Imms
Day five of the 2018 BSBI Summer Meeting on the Isle of Man and if you are in a drought-ridden part of the country, Jon Shanklin's report will make you envious!

Over to Jon:  

"There was a change in the weather, with strange stuff called rain falling from the sky, which was heavier after breakfast. 

"By the time everyone got to The Curraghs the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to get out, although it never succeeded. 

"We were split into blue, green, red and yellow teams, assigned different quadrants of the site and given the challenge of recording as many plants as possible, with a virtual prize for the most wallabies. Everyone saw at least one wallaby, with the winning team spotting 8, including a mother and joey.

Wallaby at The Curraghs
Image K. Imms
"Each team was also assigned a local who knew the site reasonably well, and Peter Davey was our leader who was able to explain the history and geomorphology of the site as well as take us along some little used paths. It is just as well we were one of the "rough" teams. 

"Although much of the site was open 50 years ago, willow carr had encroached and Myrica gale had scrubbed over some of the meadows. 

Our main quadrant was the north west of the site and on our way we passed exotics such as Phormium tenax; a field had been turned into a flax plantation during WWII, but they hadn't managed to ret the flax, so it was abandoned; and Berberis darwinii (of uncertain origin). 

"We sheltered on an old sod wall for lunch, while a  heavier rain shower passed through, then recorded a really nice meadow full of Euphrasia (a difficult one and probably a hybrid of E. arctica and nemorosa) and Dactylorhiza (only some D. fuchsii still identifiable by our team). 

Dactylorhiza cf fuchsii
Image K. Imms
"The relict glacial pond that was our destination was completely relict, with a central peaty area crossed by wallaby trails. However the margin did have patches of Hypericum elodes and semi-tussocks of Carex diandra.  

 "By now it was time to return, although we did a short detour to see an old gateway that had once lead into five open fields, but was now surrounded by willow carr. 

"Our entry into The Curraghs had been via the Wildlife Park, and this had a conveniently located cafe which we took advantage of for tea and cake or ice-cream. 

"Heading back towards the cars Debs and I did a slight detour (we had been warned not to look at the animals) via the fire assembly point, and recorded Gnaphalium uliginosum with Lythrum portula and Rorippa palustris.

Dense vegetation for the 'rough team' of botanists!
Image: K. Imms
"There was plenty of homework when we got back, as the rain mostly precluded ID of difficult species on site. The Euphrasia was particularly difficult, but the sedges, Lousewort, Cotoneaster and others provided plenty of debate. 

"With no talk this evening there was more time after dinner for further ID, and for Philippa and I to become autocratic and assign people to cars and destinations for tomorrow. Some time later everyone was assigned to a car with a suitable destination to provide interest for the occupants. The weather should be fine, so great for botanising".

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