|Ragwort blooming on New Year's Day 2021|
in mid-Laois, Republic of Ireland
Image: M. Brennan
|Daisy blooming through the snow in Buxton|
Image: J. Mortin
But here we are approaching midnight on Day One and the Results page shows that more than 200 lists have been received, almost twice as many as on Day One of the 2020 Hunt!
A similar number of species have been recorded in bloom (344 compared to 327 last time) but some botanists in northern England reported very nasty weather which forced them to curtail their hunts for safety's sake.
Once again the first flower of the Hunt was recorded by Ger Scollard in SW Ireland - he recorded Herb-Robert in bloom at 00.07 on New year's Day! Many more records throughout the day of the usual suspects - Daisy, Groundsel, Dandelion and Annual Meadow-grass - once again appeared at the top of the list of most frequently-recorded species.
Up in Heaton in Northumbria, James and partner Matthew also recorded Snapdragon and Mexican Fleabane on a list of 41 species in bloom while a few miles away, naturalist Ryan Clark (who has been a key member of the team behind the New Year Plant Hunt since 2015) and partner Charlotte notched up 40 species in Gateshead before Ryan headed home to put in four hours on the help desk, assisting first-time Hunters with their lists. Great work as always Ryan!
The longest list so far is also from the Republic of Ireland - Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer and County Recorder for Co. Wexford, was out in his local area - Irish botanists must not stray more than 5km from home - and recorded species 72 species in bloom, many of them natives such as Common Centaury, Water Figwort and Scarlet Pimpernel, with a couple of garden escapes such as Snapdragon and Garden Pansy.
White dead-nettle, one of the
New Year Plant Hunt "usual suspects"
Image: S. Harrap
In Norfolk, Simon and Anne Harrap recorded 50 species in flower including Annual Knawel, which you don't see every day - they just pipped Jo and Bob (current and former Secretaries of BSBI's Science & Data committee) in nearby Hemsby, who had 47 species.
Ryan & Charlotte with
warm hats & handlenses
- essential kit for botanists
(some would add cake & gin
to that list!)
Chris Preston's list from Cambridge - following the same route he has walked every year since 2016 - was of 57 species in bloom, his highest ever total, and included Mediterranean Nettle, recorded in bloom outside the Isaac Newton pub.
Last winter, Chris turned his observations on the species he recorded during his New Year Plant Hunts 2016 to 2019 into a paper for British & Irish Botany called 'The phenology of an urban street flora: a transect study'.On the other side of the country, no list from north Wales has yet exceeded 30 species, probably reflecting bad weather there, and further west still, 20 species were recorded by Ciaran in Galway and 30 by Darren in Kerry.
Unsurprisingly, we saw some long lists from the south: 48 species on Alderney, 71 from Hayling Island and in Midhurst, Plant Hunt co-founder Tim Rich and his mum recorded 39 species in bloom, but in the north of Scotland it was much harder to find as many species in bloom: 7 species recorded in Caithness and only three over in Tobermory, although Ian notched up 31 species in Moray, but Sarah reported that snow stopped play on Ben Lawers and she came home empty-handed. Short lists and nil records are also valuable - several people have emailed us with the grid references of locations where they hunted and found nothing.
Mediterranean nettle in Cambridge
Image: C. D. Preston
Ellen Goddard and BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker will be analysing the Plant Hunt data this year: they will be checking Met Office data and looking at how list lengths correlate with temperature anomalies for November and December 2020, to help us better understand how our wild and naturalised plants are responding to changes in autumn and winter weather patterns.
|Feverfew blooming in the Mecca|
Bingo carpark, Chesterfield
Image: M. Lacey
One of Mick's sites for interesting plants was the Mecca Bingo carpark in Chesterfield while in Uckfield in Sussex, New Year Plant Hunt regular Wendy Tagg found the by-pass near the Fire Station to be "the gift that keeps on giving".
|Chickweed growing through artificial turf|
Image: W. Tagg
We missed seeing a photo of Wendy's usual lunch-time pit-stop (a still-life of wine-glass, plant ID book and handlens!) but she notched up an impressive list, 46 species including fennel, a couple of fumitories and, perhaps my favourite find of the day, a chickweed plant growing through artificial turf. As Wendy says, "nature always finds a way".
So, what will Day Two bring?