Wednesday, 18 July 2018

BSBI Summer Meeting 2018: Day Two

Arriving  by coach...
Image: M. Sheehy-Skeffington
Another report by organiser Jon Shanklin from the Isle of Man where the 2018 BSBI Summer Meeting is in full swing. 

Over to Jon:

"Day 2 of the ASM dawned with the threat of rain on the weather radar, however none of it fell where we went. The party mostly travelled by coach to Ayres NNR in the far north of the island, with our coach driver pointing out sites of tourist interest as we went. 

Botanists head off
 into the undergrowth...

Image: M. Sheehy-Skeffington
"Ayres is a coastal dune site, and it was mostly dry and brown, however there were things to record, though some needed a certain amount of homework when we got back to the College. 

"The area with most identifiable species was a dune slack where there was a drying pond.  This had an exciting species for the bryologists on its margins - Riccia cavernosa. Other plants around the pond included Veronica scutellata and Gnaphalium uliginosum, new to some of the party. 

"A sedge was identified as Carex elata, but was it? Close inspection showed stomata on both leaf surfaces raising the possibility of the hybrid with C. nigra. Homework suggested that this conclusion was probably correct.  

"A couple of other odd plants that we found nearby also proved to be hybrids, with clumps of the hybrid Viola canina x riviniana and creeping trails of Potentilla anglica x erecta. An Eyebright was taken back for further inspection and appeared to key to E. ostenfeldii, however that didn't appear to grow on the Island. 

Exploring the meadows...
Image: M. Sheehy-Skeffington
"A re-reading of the BSBI Euphrasia Handbook (always a good idea before reading the key) showed that long hairs meant really long hairs, and that then eventually lead to the more likely E. arctica

"We could have spent all day in the dunes, however there was a good series of hay meadows to visit so we had to march back to the coach and onwards.

"The coach driver did a precision bit of reversing into one of the meadows, where the hay had already been cut and baled, and we saw that several other of the meadows had also been cut. However our guide for the afternoon, Aline Thomas, assured us that some had been held back for us by the farmer. We decided to head for the furthest one, then work back.  

Carum verticillatum
Image: M. Sheehy-Skeffington
"One of the first plants to look at was another Eyebright, which Eric Greenwood and I agreed was E. nemorosa. Next was a first for many - Carum verticillatum. Overall we recorded nearly 50 species in the meadow, but ran out of time to complete others that we had walked through.

"We got back in time for a bit of the homework after dinner - several specimens were checked through, both by botanists and bryologists, mostly coming to firm conclusions on the likely ID of the species in question.

"Tomorrow is a change of format where groups are going to travel by car to a couple of tetrads and then split up into "easy" and "rough" groups to record the individual monads.  The first site is Glen Roy, where the rough group will do the Glen and some meadows, whilst the easy group will do a plantation with forest roads and many aliens. 

"If there is time it is then on to a second tetrad, but at the pace we usually travel there may not be time for that".