Thursday, 9 August 2018

BSBI Mayo Recording Event 2018

Botany on the edge:
don't jump Eamon!
Image: M. Long
Today was the first day of the 2018 BSBI Mayo Recording Event and I was privileged to spend time in the field with one of the three recording groups. 

Our group, led by BSBI Irish Officer Maria Long, headed to the north of Clare Island to record as many species as we could for Atlas 2020. We covered four monads and collected a grand total of 321 records. Ok, some were duplicated from one monad to another, but we still felt very pleased with ourselves by the end of the day! Beginner botanist Kate was in our group and I asked her what her "plant of the day" was. She chose Triglochin palustris (Marsh arrowgrass) with its delicious scent - a mixture of coriander and carrots! 


Rory and the Rough Crew
Image: O. Duggan
 
While we were out recording, we ran into media celebrity Duncan Stewart who presents and produces the very popular Irish TV programme Eco Eye. Duncan said it was wonderful to see Maria Long again (they are old pals) and good to see us looking at native plant species (I tried to tell him about our Atlas recording but he already knew all about it!). Duncan also asked "What about the invasive species?" - we had a good chat about Gunnera tinctoria which is being spotted increasingly frequently and Duncan has some very interesting ideas on control - and "What about climate change?". Duncan is hoping to cover these important issues on forthcoming programmes, so we'll keep you all posted about this. 

Salix herbacea
Image: H. Crouch
We caught up with the other two groups in the evening to compare notes over dinner and a drink. BSBI national field meetings like this are social occasions as well as recording events, so we really like to enjoy ourselves after a day in the field!

Robert Northridge's group had covered three monads and made more than 300 records in the west of the island. I asked Robert what their "plant of the day" was and he couldn't decide between Empetrum nigrum, typical of the boggy/ acid grasslands found here, and Crithmum maritimum, spotted at the end of the day on a south-facing cliff. 


Rory Hodd took a Rough Crew group up to the top of Knockmore, the highest point of the island and they recorded two other monads as well, amassing a total of more than 300 records. Rory's "plant of the day" was Polystichum lonchitis Holly Fern, the first time this plant has been recorded here for more than 100 years! Southern English botanists Fred Rumsey and Helena Crouch were in Rory's group and were particularly pleased to see Salix herbacea - check out the BSBI distribution map to see why - and Irish botanist Rory said he'd never seen it growing at such a low altitude (unless you know differently?) or so high (a whopping 5+cm!) - again, if you've seen a bigger specimen we'd like to know!


Planning tomorrow's itinerary
Image: M. Long
A few more botanists arrived on today's ferry, swelling our numbers to 20, so we'll be splitting into four groups and trying to zap all the monads we didn't reach today. Will we succeed before we have to catch the evening ferry? Check this blog tomorrow to find out!