Thursday 19 July 2018

BSBI Summer Meeting 2018: Day Three

Isle of Man Cabbage - a
local speciality!
Image: K. Imms
Here's the latest report from Field Meetings Secretary Jonathan Shanklin on the Isle of Man, where this year's BSBI Summer Meeting - a joint meeting with our friends at the British Bryological Society - has reached the halfway mark.

Over to Jonathan:

"Today we had car trips out to sites of interest. The first task was to divide participants into "easy" and "rough" groups, brief them on where they were to go (in each case a separate monad in two tetrads) and then get them into cars. Easier said than done, but ultimately successfull. Next step was to get to the designated parking place (which involved a slight navigational detour), and then confirming that we were in our correct monad and weren't going with another group.

"As is often the case our group took a long time getting out of the parking point, finding a much larger number of species than expected. 

 Bryologists Chris Preston
and Liz Kungu
Image: A. Haden
"One particular "notable" in a disused cattle trough was the flat form of Lemna gibba, which has large central cells. We did eventually leave the area, then headed down a country lane lined with a diverse variety of mostly native species. We then came across a giant plant, with similarities to a Valerian. The Vegetative Key didn't quite take us to the right place (was the stem round or square?) but we eventually agreed on Valeriana pyrenaicum.

"Passing some houses a parking area added several species, including some uncommon on the IoM such as Urtica urens and Vulpia bromoides and a Lolium. This generated some debate - the young leaves were rolled and it had awns, however counting the florets showed the number less than 11, so the hybrid Lolium x boucheanum. Pushing onwards I decided that it was time to stop recording and head for a lunch spot, so with a bit of persuasion the others did just that.  

"After lunch we meandered through our target meadows. Several were not very exciting, but I thought one looked a bit more interesting though protected by a barbed wire fence on one side. Micheline gave it a go and this proved worthwhile as she found Carex pallescens so the hunch was correct. From here we dropped down to the river, where we finally earned our "rough" badge by dropping down to the river, in the process spotting an pretty looking moss, which proved to be the liverwort Trichocolea tomentella. A search for Hymenophyllum proved fruitless, despite Debbie wading half way into a pool and already up to her knees. In some wooded marshy areas just above the river Eric found Carex laevigata and Dryopteris cambrensis

BSBI Finance Officer Julie Etherington
 recovering from a long day's plant-hunting!
Image: I. Denholm
"By now the clock was ticking and we had no chance of getting to our monad in the second tetrad, so we just headed back towards the cars, adding several species along the way. We addded a couple more in passing from the car window (Erica cinerea can be done at a low speed). 

"Back at the College there was a bit of time to help others with their homework (we managed all IDs in the field), then dinner, some more id, then a talk from Aline Thomas about the designation of ASSIs on the Island.  Most of the botanists had finished their IDs by 10pm, but bryologists Liz and Matthew are still going as I type this at 22:45.

"Tomorrow is back to a coach, so everyone bar the bryologists will be on board.  The weather should remain good, so watch out for another round of exciting finds".

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