Sunday 6 January 2019

New Year Plant Hunt 2018-9: Day Four

This year's New Year Plant Hunt is now over and it has been a real record-breaker! 

Thousands of you took part, from Stromness on Orkney to Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney in the Channel Islands; from Bayfield in north Norfolk to Three Castle Head in south-west Ireland, from St. Margaret's Bay, Kent to the Isle of Doagh off the coast of Donegal. 

You submitted more than 14,000 records and told us about 638 species that you had spotted in bloom. 

It has been astonishing watching all the red markers appearing on the Results map and seeing all the photos and comments across social media. This year, more of you than ever before seem to have opted to go out in groups, either small groups of family and friends or larger organised recording groups, so the Hunt has been a very social occasion. 

The photo above shows recorders at Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve in west Cork and some of the flowers they spotted. This is the sixth year that there has been a New Year Plant Hunt at  Glengarriff, organised by County Recorder Clare Heardman (who took the photo) and people always seem to have a great time!

Members of recording groups such as the Cumbria Botany Group and the Darlington & Teesdale Naturalists' Field Club have been out, both en masse and individually, and have submitted multiple short lists while the Devonshire Association Botany Group went out just once but notched up an impressive 88 species in bloom during their Hunt in Goodrington.  

On Day Four of the Hunt, we saw some interesting and/ or unexpected plants, especially in southern England, such as fiddle-neck Amsinckia micrantha, spotted in bloom in East Hants. by Cathy Wilson (above left). In Sidmouth, Karen Woolley was surprised to find meadow crane's-bill, Geranium pratense (on right), blooming on a road-verge. 

Tom Forward and friends spotted small scabious blooming on Malling Down and Kelli Imms found Bacopa Sutera cordata, a garden plant originating from south Africa, blooming in Worthing. It isn't frost-hardy, so is unlikely to naturalise, but it was interesting to hear of it growing as a casual.

In Cambridge, ace botanist Chris Preston recorded Chinese mallow, Malva verticillata (on left), while over in Co. Wexford, Paula O'Meara found dwarf mallow Malva neglecta (below right) blooming in Belview Port. The last record for the county was in Kilkenny more than 50 years ago! 

Paula tells us that the security guard at the site came out to speak to her as she was leaving but rather than telling her off , he said that he'd realised what she was up to and did she have the app? The fame of the New Year Plant Hunt is obviously spreading far and wide! But now that the Hunt is over for another year, and while we are waiting for Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science, to analyse the results (his analysis is due out here on 29th January) what other botanical treats can we look forward to? 

Well here are a few things for you to consider: 

If you are new to plant-hunting, have you checked out our 20 Helpful Hints to help you get started in botany? They include things like a review of wildflower ID books in print, support available on social media, and much more.

For the next step, how about the National Plant Monitoring Scheme: it's fun to do, it provides valuable data about how our plants and habitats are changing, and there is lots of support available (training meetings and videos, local mentors, a free ID book). 

Mary from the NYPH Support Team,
out hunting on the 4th and final day of the Hunt
with the Cumbria Botany Group
If you haven't already registered, please take a look here for some background and then head over here to find out if there's a square available near you. 

If you feel ready to undertake a training course to sharpen up your ID skills, check out the BSBI Training page with links to all the courses we know of and a range of training grants of up to £250 to help you pay for them.

And if you're already an experienced botanist, maybe undertaking research, the Training page also has details of Plant Study Grants and Science & Research grants to apply for. 

So whatever your skill level, there will be some botanical treats for you to explore this month. Meanwhile all of us on the New Year Plant Hunt Support Team - Brian, Ciara, Ellen, Ian, Kevin, me (Louise), Mary, Natalie and especially Tom our technical whizz-kid - would like to thank you for making this year's Hunt the most successful ever - THANK YOU! 

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