Monday 24 June 2013

BSBI AGM 2013: a new orchid record.

Ian Bonner photographing a southern marsh orchid.
Image: Tim Rich.
Many thanks for all the images you are sending in, taken at the AGM in Anglesey (VC52) last week. 

Also great to hear about a new site record:
Dactylorhiza praetermissa, the Southern Marsh Orchid, was recorded for the first time at Plas Newydd Coronation Meadow. 

Coronation Meadow, Plas Newydd, BSBI AGM 2013.
Image: Tim Rich
Outgoing President Ian Bonner was keen to photograph the Southern Marsh Orchid, which Tim Rich tells me had not been recorded before at this site. You can check the distribution of this plant - and any other - on the BSBI's Distribution Database.

Tim is Head of Vascular Plants at the National Museum, Wales, and is also a member of New Journal of Botany's Editorial Board. You will be able to read more on the Journal of the Month webpage about how Tim got started in botany.     

Sunday 23 June 2013

NJB Maney's Journal of the Month II. 

Members of the Editorial Board of New Journal of Botany have been sending in some interesting contributions to the Journal of the Month page, which is due to go live on 1st July. 

Devil's Bit Scabious.
Image: Claudia Ferguson-Smyth.
Professor Richard Bateman (Kew) tells us about the various papers on Orchids that he has co-authored for NJB. Professor Joachim Kadereit (University of Mainz) and Dr Quentin Groom (Botanic Garden, Belgium) talk about their areas of interest and papers they have authored.

There will be a video of NJB's Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Richard Gornall (University of Leicester and a past President of BSBI), talking about the journal and about his work.

And all NJB articles will be free to view throughout July. So if you know any non-members who might be interested in NJB, do invite them to take a look at the Journal of the Month webpage - link to follow.

Exhibition of botanical prints. 

There is a final chance to see illustrated prints by Dutch botanical illustrator Pieter van Kouwenhoom, before the exhibition closes next month. The prints are taken from the Royal Horticultural Society's collection, and the species illustrated were grown especially for the C17th garden. 

The exhibition, called Garden Flowers by Pieter van Kouwenhoom, runs until 7th July at Forty Hall Estate, Enfield, and admission is free. Directions here and more info here

The prints have been hung in the Inner Courtyard of Forty Hall, a Jacobean mansion situated in extensive gardens and parkland, which offers education activities and exhibitions. 

There is also an exhibition of contemporary crafts inspired by flowers, called Bud to Bloom, in the Long Gallery at Forty Hall, and the Beauty of Botany exhibition is still running.  

More details here about all three exhibitions.  

Saturday 15 June 2013

BSBI AGM 2013: in the field.  

Photographing the South Stack Fleawort,
BSBI AGM, Anglesey, June 2013.
One of the nicest things about the AGM field trips is rubbing shoulders with expert botanists who are happy to point out interesting plants and show you how to identify them.

The trick is to look out for a cluster of botanists peering at something, and you can bet that at least one of them knows the plant well and can show you how to be equally confident about its identity.

The South Stack Fleawort,
Tephroseris integrifolia ssp. maritima
Ian Denholm (left), Arthur Chater, Jane Houldsworth,
and a Poplar Hawk-moth.
Newborough Warren, June 2013.
picked up some helpful ID tips from some of the best botanists in Britain and Ireland - many thanks for the free tuition (!) to John PolandBob EllisArthur Chater and Con Breen (VC Recorder for Westmeath).

Our new President, Ian Denholm, was in great demand! As Orchid co-referee, he could help us interpret the field characters of the various orchids we spotted, and work out which species, sub-species or hybrid we were looking at.

It was great to catch up with botanical friends from previous field trips and also to meet new people like Jane Houldsworth, who has just become BSBI's first ever Head of Operations. 

Jane seemed right at home walking around the lovely Anglesey sites like Newborough Warren, seeing what was growing there and chatting to all the members. And we all really enjoyed meeting her and sharing our mutual love of the natural world. 

We saw some other nice wildlife - not just plants - like the Poplar Hawk-moth Ian is holding in the photo on the right. Click on any of the photos to see more detail.

BSBI AGM 2013: Anglesey. 

Pale Dog-violet, Viola lactea;
Cors Goch NNR, June 2013.
Just back from the BSBI AGM and, as predicted, outgoing President Ian Bonner steered us smoothly through all the official business on Wednesday, so we could get on as quickly as possible with the real reason we'd all travelled to Beaumaris: to see some lovely plants in beautiful places and in the company of Britain and Ireland's friendliest botanists.

Ian had everything laid on for us to see some of his favourite places for plants on Anglesey, his home patch. It was also great to have so many local guides and experts who had kindly given up their time to show us around and interpret the sites.

Very interesting to hear something of the history and past use of places that are now National Nature Reserves, like Newborough Warren or Cors Goch.

Enjoying one of the AGM's after-dinner talks.
Beaumaris 2013.
And thanks to Ian's fabulous support team - headed by Pippa Bonner, Joanna Robertson and Delyth Williams - we didn't have to worry about transport or making dinner when we got back each evening: more pictures to follow of what we did when not out in the field...

Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard towards such a successful AGM and especially to Ian Bonner. This past week has been a great opportunity to see the plants and places he loves and now we all know the secret of Ian's success - he comes with added Pippa! 
At Cors Goch NNR

The society is indebted to both of them for all they have done for us during Ian's Presidency. The presidential workload is pretty hefty and hopefully, now Ian Denholm has taken it over, the Bonners can enjoy a well-earned break. We wish them all the very best and hope they enjoy some sunny days out botanising on Anglesey this summer.

Monday 10 June 2013

BSBI's Two Ians. 

Over recent months, our incoming and outgoing Presidents have been working closely together to ensure a smooth changeover when Ian Denholm takes over from Ian Bonner on Wednesday as BSBI's President.

Sir David Attenborough and Dr Ian Denholm at Rothamsted, 2008
Dr Ian Denholm spent thirty years as an agricultural scientist at Rothamsted Research, heading their Plant and Invertebrate Ecology Department, while remaining very active in field botany and within BSBI. He now combines a Visiting Scientist role at Rothamsted with a part-time academic position at the University of Hertfordshire

As the society’s co-referees for Orchids, Ian and Richard Bateman are the botanical experts to whom BSBI’s 3,000 members, and the wider botanical community, turn for advice on correct identification of these difficult plants. As Chair of BSBI’s Meetings Committee, Ian's team was responsible for our highly successful Mapping Conference last year at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and he was also the driving force behind our recent initiatives in publicity and outreach. His presentation to journalists and conservationists at the recent launch of the State of Nature report showcased BSBI as a key partner in this new coalition of conservation and research organisations supporting British wildlife.

Dr Ian Denholm
Outgoing President Ian Bonner told me, "I'm delighted to be handing over the Presidency to Ian Denholm. Under his careful leadership, I am confident the Society will continue to expand and flourish." 

Under Ian Bonner's Presidency, New Journal of Botany was launched and our Plant Unit flourished. Click here to listen to Ian being interviewed on BBC Radio Wales yesterday. He told me "It has been a privilege to have worked with so many enthusiastic and hard working volunteers and our small dedicated staff in recording plant distribution information, developing a better database and making the information available to those that need it." 

Halso pointed out that, as well as a name, the Two Ians both share a connection with North Wales. Ian D comes from that Welsh town with the really long name and Ian B. is VC Recorder for Anglesey, so it is fitting that, this Wednesday, the changeover will happen at our AGM at Beaumaris on Anglesey. Photos to follow...

Friday 7 June 2013

Countdown to some big changes...

BSBI is gearing up for its Annual General Meeting next week - it's in Beaumaris, Anglesey this year. We have some serious stuff to do, like welcoming in a new President, thanking an outgoing President and changing our name (!) and then we have several days of fabulous field trips planned.  This is exactly the sort of thing a botanist needs: an annual opportunity to see some rather special plants in beautiful places and in great company.

Spotted rock-rose - Anglesey's County Flower.
National status: near-threatened.
But first the serious bit: our current President, Ian Bonner, and incoming President, Ian Denholm, have been working closely with a hand-picked team to put the society on a footing which is more appropriate, legally and financially, to the way we operate in the 21st century and the sort of contract work the society is increasingly asked to do. So, we remain a charity but become a company limited by guarantee - apparently we were an "unadopted society" before which does sound a bit bleak. All this legal stuff necessitates a name change, and BSBI members voted last year to adopt the name Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, but although our name may change slightly, we remain the same botanical society that has been around since 1836 under several different names.

Our aims are entirely unchanged: BSBI aims to promote the study, enjoyment and understanding of the vascular plants and charophytes of Britain and Ireland, and to use our society's combined knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm to help support the conservation of wild plants in Britain and Ireland.

Ian Bonner at Abermenai, North Wales. 
The "enjoyment" bit is important to all botanists, so we are grateful to outgoing President Ian Bonner for offering us such a packed week of field trips to enjoy after the AGM on Wednesday, 12th June. The 100+ BSBI botanists intending to gather at Beaumaris next week are looking forward to visiting sand dunes, sea cliffs, fens and meadows, each with a characteristic array of plants. 

This part of North Wales is Ian's home patch, and he is grateful to all those who have agreed not only to welcome BSBI members onto their land for the day, but also to help lead the walks themselves and add another dimension to our understanding of each site we visit. So, many thanks to the Meyrick Estate, North Wales Wildlife Trust, National Trust, National Resources Wales, RSPB and the University of Bangor - we are all looking forward to visiting you next week.

I have a new camera so am hoping to get some great images of BSBI botanists on the field trips and of the presidential handover between the two Ians. Knowing botanists, we'll be doing all the official stuff as quickly as possible so we can get out there and enjoy those beautiful plants in beautiful places... will keep you posted!

Thursday 6 June 2013

Natural migration of British plants II: Quentin's results. 

Quentin told me: "I use BSBI data to investigate how populations of British plants have moved, but I don't find any obvious influence of climate change. In fact, the most obvious environmental change that is causing plants to migrate is road salting, but that will come as no surprise to BSBI members".

BSBI map showing spread of Danish scurvy-grass
Cochlearia danica along roadsides in Norfolk.
Nor to anyone who watched "Wild Things" on Channel 4, where BSBI maps were also used to show the spread of Danish scurvy-grass, a halophyte (salt-loving plant). 

Quentin's paper points out: "Even though many wind-dispersed species were among the top migrating species, halophytes - with no obvious morphological dispersal strategy - moved just as rapidly. Halophytes have the advantage of an uninterrupted habitat, free from competitors as they spread along roads where salt is strewn in the winter".

Ok, so habitat availablility is important. But what about climate change?  

Quentin's paper is titled 'Some poleward movement of British native vascular plants is occurring, but the fingerprint of climate change is not evident' and he concludes: "The fingerprint of climate change is not yet obvious on the migration of  plants in Great Britain [although] climate change is affecting British plants in other ways... however, its traces in Great Britain are obscured by other manmade changes to the environment and will require more sensitive analyses to uncover."  

He just emailed me to point out, "I do expect changes due to climate change, but the consequences on our flora might be quite unpredictable". 

Next month, the two papers Quentin has written for New Journal of Botany will be available free to download from our special Journal of the Month webpage. Quentin has also just agreed to write something for the webpage about a botanical subject currently grabbing his attention - I'll let you know the subject as soon as he tells me what is intriguing him most right now!

BSBI President on BBC Radio this weekend. 

Ian Bonner in
typical botanist's pose...
Our President, Ian Bonner, has just been interviewed by Radio Wales for 'Country Focus', a half-hour weekly programme about rural matters. 

If you are an owl rather than a lark, you may be enjoying a lie-in when the programme goes out at 7 am this Sunday, so will be glad to hear that it will be available on iPlayer straight afterwards and you have all week to listen to it. 

Click here from Sunday to listen to Ian on Country Focus. 

Monday 3 June 2013

New Journal of Botany is Journal of the Month for July!

Next month, BSBI's scientific journal, New Journal of Botany, is to be made Journal of the Month by our publisher, Maney.

Wild carrot Daucus carota.
Image by Claudia Ferguson-Smyth.
Considering Maney publishes over 100 different journals, we are very pleased to have been selected for a month of special promotions, during which there will be free on-line access to loads of New Journal of Botany papers. Usually, only BSBI members can view NJB content in this way: on-line access and three print copies of NJB each year are among the benefits of membership

There will be a special Journal of the Month webpage for NJB during July, with links to lots of nice stuff. Here is the webpage Maney set up for our sister journal, Journal of Bryology. This is the journal of the British Bryological Society, the leading society for mosses in the same way that BSBI is the leading society for vascular plants and, like us, they have a lot of helpful, free resources on their website to help you improve your ID skills.  

The cover of New Journal of Botany features four images by Claudia Ferguson-Smyth, who also took the gorgeous image at the head of this Blog. Click on the picture (above) of Wild Carrot Daucus carota to see Claudia's image at greater magnification. An ID tip for beginner botanists: that red bit in the middle of the head of tiny flowers is a big help in telling this plant apart from other members of the Carrot Family. 

I'll keep you updated about what will be on offer during the Journal of the Month promotion, and will post a link here to the special webpage when it goes live on the first of July.