Monday 22 June 2015

BSBI Summer Meeting: part 2

Marsh Arrow-grass Triglochin palustre
Image: J. Kirk
Images are starting to come in from the BSBI Summer Meeting: many thanks to Oisin, John and Marc for capturing some of those amazing combinations of people, places and plants that are - arguably - unique to a BSBI field meeting. 

And maybe only the Annual Summer Meeting hits the highest note, bringing together as it does botanists from across Britain and Ireland and transporting them seamlessly from one assemblage of beautiful plants to another. 

And then another...

Marsh Violet Viola palustris
Image: M. Cruise
So, on this page you can see just a few of my favourite plants which we enjoyed looking at together in the field. 

On Day 3 we saw Marsh Arrow-grass Triglochin palustre, one of those plants that you need to 'zoom in' for, whether with a camera or with a handlens, to see how pretty its flowers are. Congratulations to John Kirk for capturing the image above of Marsh Arrow-grass looking fabulous! Click on the images on this page to enlarge them.

If you download a copy of the England Red List, you will see that Marsh Arrow-grass is one of those plants that have declined enough in England that they are now categorised under 'Declining widespread taxa assessed as Near Threatened'. Let's hope this lovely little plant continues to thrive in northern Ireland.

On Day 4, a small group of us went recording a few miles south of Coleraine and found Marsh Violet Viola palustris on a bit of heathy wet grassland. Many thanks to Marc Cruise for the image on the right. This map shows where Marsh Violet is recorded in Britain and Ireland and why botanists based in south-eastern England were so pleased to see it! You will be glad to hear that it is not (yet) declining enough to be assessed as Near Threatened.   

Maria and the Frog Orchids
Image: L. Marsh
On Day 2, Maria was delighted to see this carpet of Frog Orchids on a boulder when we visited Whitepark Bay.

It was so interesting to hear botanists from other parts of Ireland, like Oisin and Mairead (Waterford and Derry), Con Breen (Dublin and Westmeath), Marc Cruise (Kerry) and Maria Long (who covers the whole country!) comparing notes on what grows where around Ireland. 

And the talks we enjoyed on the morning of Day 2 gave us some excellent background info on botany in Northern Ireland, on geology, on habitat management... 

Botanists at Garry Bog cluster round to see Cranberry
Image: O. Duffy 
Thanks to lots of hard work behind the scenes from John Faulkner, we were treated to four excellent speakers. We hope to upload their presentations soon, but in the meantime you can read about our four speakers here

John also arranged that reserve managers were waiting to greet us at each site we visited, to offer some insights into the habitats and species we would see and how the site was managed for nature conservation. 

So, when we arrived at Garry Bog on Day 2, NIEA staff were waiting to offer us an illuminating introductory talk about the site and its management. They also told us which plants we might expect to see and roughly where they occurred. 

Cranberry in close-up
Image: O. Duffy
Botanists fanned out across the bog and with so many pairs of eyes keeping a look-out, it was only moments before somebody called out "Cranberry, one tiny bit of it here". 

Everyone hurried over - not that botanists move very fast when traversing a fragile habitat like Garry Bog! - and clustered round, waiting for a turn to crouch down and admire their first nice plant of the Summer Meeting. 

More to follow on our other Summer Meeting fieldtrips and the plants we saw.

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