Friday 15 July 2022

BSBI Summer Meeting 2022: the prequel

Round-leaved Sundew in Flintshire 14/7/2022
Image: J. Shanklin
Today the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting (ASM) starts at FSC Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales. After two years of no ASM due to Covid, botanists are delighted to have a chance to meet up and enjoy four days of communal plant-hunting in lovely surroundings. BSBI Field Meetings Secretary Jonathan Shanklin has been leading on organising the event and he has recruited various attendees to write up daily summaries from the field, starting tomorrow, but today we bring you Jonathan's 'prequel' report, sent through late last night, after leaving his Cambridgeshire base and heading northwards and westwards towards some very different plants. 

Over to Jonathan:   

"Having done as much preparation for the ASM as I could and dealt with the morning's emails, I headed for the Clwydian hills to get in some practice on upland botany. I was targeting two species in particular that hadn’t been seen in the Flintshire part of the area for over 20 years and also doing some general recording. The two species were Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaved Sundew) and Jasione montana (Sheep's-bit). The latter fell at the first hurdle, when the comment in the BSBI Distribution Database gave a description that the plant was on a forest road. Modern GIS mapping puts this in the neighbouring county of Denbighshire

Into the valley of sundews; Flintshire 14/7/2022
Image: J. Shanklin

"Having arrived on site, I climbed up and over the hills to the marshy area indicated on the map. No luck with the Drosera, but there was a good display of Lysimachia (Anagallis) tenella (Bog Pimpernel). Back up the hill and down the next valley, which was a lovely glacial u-shaped valley, with no trace of any water in the upper part. However towards the bottom I encountered a flush full of more Lysimachia and at the base, there was the Drosera. I had lunch here, then climbed back up to the hill-fort of Penycloddiau, where a lake was shown on the map. It was bone dry! I then headed north on a circuit for general recording. As water usually indicates a different flora in the uplands, I headed for the next stream and found some Narthecium ossifragum (Bog Asphodel), then Oreopteris limbosperma (Lemon-scented Fern) and finally Equisetum sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail), which are all rare plants in Flintshire. Most of the upland streams had plenty of Myosotis secunda (Creeping Forget-me-not), which might need to come off the Rare Plant Register

Sheep-s-bit in Flintshire 14/7/2022
Image: J. Shanklin

"I eventually completed the circuit and thought that as I had a little time left over I might as well try the forest road to see if I could find the Jasione. It clearly wasn’t where the approximate map reference indicated, but I thought I’d go on a bit to some gorse bushes and call it a day. Exactly at my turn-round point there was the Jasione! It turned out that Martyn Stead had seen it there in 2017, but a nice end to the day. 

"So the moral for the ASM – we’ll make some accidental interesting finds; we should keep hunting in likely habitat beyond the expected locations and we’ll have a great time looking".

Well said Jonathan - that's exactly the spirit needed by our intrepid botanists, boldly going wherever they think there might be some interesting plants to enjoy, to identify and then to record! Watch this space for more reports from the Summer Meeting.

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