Sunday 28 July 2013

Botanising in the Outer Hebrides: Part Three. 

Some of the BSBI Team.
Photo: Island News & Advertiser.
Today we went along to the Howmore Bioblitz on South Uist and had a very enjoyable and productive day. 

BSBI botanists recording by the sea.
Photo: L. Marsh
Congratulations and thanks to Susy Macaulay for organising today's Bioblitz, which she hopes will become an annual event. We hope so too, because we'd really like to come back next year! 

Susy is thinking of holding next year's event on Lewis or Harris, which would suit us very well - Paul Smith, the VC Recorder for the Outer Hebrides, is already considering where to go for next year's Hebridean Recording Extravaganza and the words "Lewis or Harris" have been mentioned... 

We recorded 146 species of wildflowers during the day, including some very pretty plants like Field Pansy Viola tricolor ssp. curtisii, Stork's-bill Erodium cicutarium and Bugloss Anchusa arvensis.

It was great to meet standholders (whether from national bodies like RSPB or from local naturalists' groups) and local visitors keen to find out more about wildflowers. 

Paul Smith (left) and Bill Neil (right)
Photo: L. Marsh
A highlight of the day was seeing children's faces light up as they examined the butterflies they caught in their sweep nets. And the sun shone and there was lots of cake! 

At the end of the day, Paul told Bill Neil, Chair of Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, how many species he thought we had recorded. The Bioblitz continues tomorrow and everybody is welcome to come along and take part - see if you can add to our running total of 146 taxa.  

Saturday 27 July 2013

Botanising in the Outer Hebrides: Part Two.  

We are now on Eriskay (where we have an internet connection - hurrah!)The machair is looking fabulous in the sunshine and only the local corncrake and the mountain of specimens to process are keeping us awake at night. Fortunately, our VC Recorder Paul Smith has the stamina of a marathon runner, the agility of a mountain goat and the patience of a saint so we are hitting those tetrads and recording those sub-species. Pity the poor referees - Paul is sending off lots of specimens of the most difficult taxa, so they can be checked by BSBI's botanical experts. 

Thursday 25 July 2013

Botanising in the Outer Hebrides: Part One. 

Claudia, Martin & Sally on the Shiants
Image: L. Marsh
We are halfway through this summer's Hebridean Recording Extravaganza and are recording some really nice plants. 

It's all pretty intense - we are out recording all day and checking and pressing specimens every evening - so apologies that I haven't been posting much here over the last few weeks.

The first week was spent on the MV Cuma (no internet or phone on the boat!) so we could sail out to uninhabited islands and record in remote places...

Many thanks to Skipper Murdo on the MV Cuma and his crew (Michaela and Gary) who looked after us so well and took this group photo as we returned safely to Stornoway.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Thackray medal awarded to two NJB editors

Chris Preston (left) and Philip Oswald (centre) receiving their
medals from Hugh Torrens. Philip is holding a copy of the book
for which they were awarded the Thackray medal.
Philip Oswald has sent me this photo of him and Chris Preston receiving their Thackray medals from Hugh Torrens, the President of the Society for the History of Natural History.

The Thackray medal is awarded for outstanding contributions and significant achievements in the history of biological sciences. Philip and Chris were being honoured for their book, John Ray's Cambridge Catalogue (1660).  We are delighted that their work has been recognised in this way, and that the Ray Society has extended its special offer to BSBI members, who may buy a copy of the book for a reduced price of £45 (normally £75). 

Philip and Chris both sit on BSBI's Publications Committee, and New Journal of Botany (NJB) is fortunate to have Philip as our Latin editor - he checks the Latin descriptions in NJB and provides Latin translations where necessary. 

Chris is a member of the NJB Editorial Board, and has contributed a short article to the NJB Journal of the Month webpage. Click here and scroll down to read what Chris has to say about BSBI's influence on distribution mapping and how the society has spent decades mapping the British and Irish flora. And look out in the August issue of NJB for a paper on 'Biogeographical patterns in the British and Irish flora' - co-authored by Chris and colleagues Mark Hill, Colin Harrower and Trevor Dines, the paper is based on a presentation given at the BSBI/RBGE Mapping Conference last September. 

You can read reviews of Philip and Chris's book here and also here - it was, of course, reviewed for New Journal of Botany! Throughout July, you can view all NJB content free of charge, including our Book Reviews. Or scroll down the Journal of the Month webpage to read a short article by NJB's Book Reviews Editor, John Edmondson. John also sits on both BSBI's Publications Committee and NJB's Editorial Board. 

Monday 1 July 2013

BSBI President on local radio.

Our new President, Ian Denholm, is to be interviewed on local radio twice this week. 

At 7.30 am tomorrow, 2nd July, Ian will be on BBC Three Counties Radio, talking about Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum: how much of a threat does it pose to the public? By coincidence, today I was copy-editing a paper on this very subject for publication in the December issue of New Journal of Botany, so do look out for that. If you are not able to tune in at 7.30 tomorrow morning, the programme will be available here on Listen Again. 

Southern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Photo: I. Denholm
And at 9.30 pm on Thursday, 4th July, Ian is being interviewed by Herts.-based Radio Verulam. They are keen to talk to him about BSBI and his plans for the next few years. The programme is called Environment Matters, and here is the link to it. Scroll down to see the Listen Again button. 

Even though Ian is in such demand from the media, he is still managing to get out in the field. Last week, he was in East Anglia looking at orchids (he is BSBI's co-referee for all orchids apart from Epipactis) and he photographed this stunning albino Dactylorhiza praetermissa. 

NJB is Journal of the Month.

New Journal of Botany is our publisher's Journal of the Month, so our entire back archive is available to view and download free of charge throughout July. We also have a special webpage, which you can access by clicking here and on which you can read more about the journal and its editors. There is even a short video in which NJB Editor-in-chief Richard Gornall talks about the journal, the BSBI and how he got interested in botany. 

So, if you are not a BSBI member, this is your opportunity to read papers published in NJB. If you are already a member, you can now send this link to any non-members who may be interested - much better than handing over your precious copy of NJB, which all members receive by post three times a year. Copies lent out rarely come back, once people have seen the mix of original research papers, opinion pieces, short notes, colour images showing key diagnostic features, reviews of the latest botany books and of course our Plant Records section, which lists all the plants, alien or native, that have been recorded for the first time in a vice-county. Many of NJB's editors have contributed to the Journal of the Month webpage, so please have a look and let us know what you think.

NJB Editor-in-Chief praises Herbarium volunteers.

Herbarium volunteers, University of Leicester.
Photo: L. Marsh.
When the NJB Journal of the Month webpage goes live this afternoon, you will be able to see a short video in which NJB Editor-in-Chief Richard Gornall talks about the journal, the BSBI and how he got interested in botany. He also tells you about the Herbarium volunteers at the University of Leicester and how important they are in helping him as Curator. Let's hope this inspires more people to volunteer in their local Herbaria. It's not only essential work, it's also great fun!