Tuesday 14 August 2018

BSBI Mayo Recording Event 2018: Days 2 & 3

Mark, Eoin, Clare & me (with my 
trusty copy of Poland!) 
in Ciara's woodland on Clare Island
Image: O. Duggan
Day 2: On our second day on Clare Island we split into three groups again.

I was in a group led by Rory Hodd, legendary leader of Ireland's Rough Crew. We visited the only bit of woodland on the island where we spotted plants typical of ancient woodland, such as Sanicula europaea and Oxalis acetosella. After yesterday's coastal heath I felt I was back on home territory, being based in the English midlands! 

To kick off the woodland visit we had a short talk by landowner Ciara about which species she had planted and which were there already. Mark, who is volunteering on Ciara's farm this summer, and part-time resident/local historian Malachi, both joined us for the day and we benefited greatly from their local knowledge and enthusiasm.

Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaved sundew)
Image: F. O'Neill
After a few hours we emerged from the woodland into some bog with a fabulous view across the bay to a range of mountains and I knew I was definitely in the west of Ireland and not in Leicestershire! 

Rory was on superb form identifying spike-rushes without even bending down because he knows the plants and the habitat so well. He also managed to spot charophytes and Utricularia spp. in a bog pond (I would have trotted past and not even noticed them!) and took specimens of both to look at more closely later on.

After lunch we headed down to the saltmarsh and spotted Aster tripolium, Bolboschoenus maritimus, Tripleurospermum maritimum and lots of things I never see in Leicestershire. 

A purple patch: Pinguicula vulgaris
Image: L. Marsh
After a great day's botanising we just had time for an ice-cream and then we headed for the ferry back to the mainland. Most of us set off on the drive to Castlebar, our base for the next few days, while Rory and botanists Roisin and Kate Marie sailed off to Inishturk for a day's recording before rejoining us.

Day 3: Today on the mainland I joined a group led by Eamonn Delaney who recently took on the mantle of County Recorder for East Mayo. We managed to cover five monads to the southeast of Knock and notched up 227 taxa in all. Highlights of the day were Sparganium natans, Parnassia palustris, a gorgeous patch of Pinguicula vulgaris in flower, another mystery Utricularia, Galium uliginosum which we don't see much of in VC55... actually the whole day was one great big highlight!

Pale Butterwort Pinguicula lusitanica
Image: F. O'Neill 
Another group led by Maria Long were recording a little to the north of  Eamonn's group. Their first monad was so rich, with 115 taxa within 100m of the car! They moved on to a boggy area after lunch and found six carnivorous plants within a few meters of each other: both Drosera species and the hybrid between them; 2 Pinguicula spp. and a Utricularia!

We caught up with the third group for dinner. Leader Robert Northridge had led his team to a coastal square with a river flowing through. They recorded 183 taxa in their first monad, including three Droseras, both Triglochins, Hypericum humifussum, Lythrum portula, Utricularia minor and Radiola linoides. On the way back, they visited a stony lake shore which Robert and his wife Hannah had visited decades earlier and found Parnassia palustris and Spiranthes romanzoffiana. Would they refind the Spiranthes? Yes: botanist Fiona was in Robert's group and spotted several spikes.

From left: Rory, Russell, me, Eoin, Mark, Sunniva,
Mary-Kate, Peter, Hannah, Robert, Sinead & Val:
just a few of the 27 people who signed up for the
2018 BSBI Mayo Recording Event
Image: M. Long
Rory, Roisin and Kate Maria also joined us at dinner, fresh off the ferry from Inishturk. I asked Rory how he got on and he explained that he'd been out on Inishturk earlier this year so was really just going back to add a few more species. He's a modest chap so Maria, sitting next to him at dinner, explained this actually meant that 100+ species were added and Rory had found Euphorbia hyberna, a new record for the whole of Mayo, before 9am.   

So, another fabulous day with the delightful and incredibly modest Irish botanists!

Tomorrow is our last full day of recording. It will be hard to top the three amazing days we've already enjoyed - catch up with us here to find out how we got on. To find out more about the 2018 BSBI Mayo recording Event, check out this #BSBIMayo2018 hashtag.

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