Sunday 22 July 2018

BSBI Summer Meeting 2018: Day Six

Stunning scenery on the Isle of Man
Image: L. Gravestock
Revived by a little rain yesterday, attendees at this year's BSBI Summer Meeting are entering the home stretch. Organiser Jon Shanklin tells us more: 

"I had opted for two tetrads for my "rough" group, the first a coastal sliver. We had a short walk in, then set to with the recording along a footpath. 

"An Elm didn't really match any seen previously - perhaps this was a "Guernsey Elm" (Peter Davey the Islands Elm expert later suggested Dutch Elm). 

"Then a sedge - not Carex spicata or divulsa, so it must be C. muricata (and confirmed as such during homework). 

Botanists in Laura's team head for the dunes
Image: L. Gravestock
"Finally down to the beach where a stream ran in, and this required the book again just to be certain that the small Apium really was A. nodiflorum (it was). The beach was faced by cliffs of glacial lacustrine sediment, and there had been some cliff falls overnight after the rain, so we kept an eye out for Giant Deer, though didn't find any bones. 

"We did however find some seaside plants such as Atriplex glabriuscula, Salsola kali and Crambe maritima. Having walked perhaps 500m, the cliffs ahead looked exceedingly recent and barren so we turned around and followed a different footpath back to car where we had lunch on a convenient track overlooking a field. 

"Tetrad 2 was only a short distance away and we parked at a picnic spot marked on the map. We didn't actually go into the picnic site as it looked far too manicured and brown. We walked up and down a lane, and a freshly resurfaced sod wall gave us a wonderfull selection of arable weeds, including Stachys arvensis, Spergularia arvensis, Fumaria capreolata and Fumaria bastardii

Erica cinerea and a harebell
Image: L. Gravestock
"We then tried an old railway track, now a footpath, where the map showed a pond. This was fenced off with barbed wire, but having passed it on the way to the edge of the tetrad we climbed over on the way back. This hadn't had much draw-down and on the edge we found the other Apium - A. inundatum, initially looking a bit like a terrestrial water crowfoot. 

"Back at the car we had a little time left, so we drove in search of some different habitat. Finding the road in Kirk Michael was easier said than done, but once found we drove to the end and parked. Beginning our walk up to moorland we heard the sound of bikes and a gang of scramble bikes came pouring down the track. 

Botanists in their element
Image: L. Gravestock
"Once passed, peace returned and we continued upwards, stopping at a gateway where there were tiny plants of Ornithopus perpusillus. The other side was moorland, with Western Gorse c10cm high, and we were able to add Erica cinerea and Calluna vulgaris. An inviting quarry face beckoned, but it turned out to be in the next tetrad, so back to the car and dinner.

"We managed a little homework before and after, then Philippa gave us a talk about some of the recent post glacial studies of pollen on the island and how it illustrated different plant communities over time. She also showed some pictures of the Curraghs taken before they had scrubbed over. Then more homework and planning for tomorrow..."

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