Sunday 22 May 2016

BSBI Summer Meeting: Day 3

The view from FSC Blencathra
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
The latest on-the-spot report from the BSBI Summer Meeting is just in from Jon Shanklin:

"Day three dawned with typical lake district weather - grey and wet, however the rain had stopped by the time we finished breakfast and headed off in different directions. Some went to places chosen as having few records, others went to interesting places that still needed more records. Where they went I know not, but it seems that all came back happy with the days efforts, though for many there was more to come in the after dinner ID sessions that are an important part of the event.
FSC Blencathra, base for BSBI's Summer Meeting
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
"My own group headed for the little village of Tallentire, where we briefly joined Lynne Farrell's group to decide the strategy. We agreed to do separate monads and meet back for lunch at 1pm, though of course that didn't quite go to plan. My team headed roughly east and started recording when we passed a mini village green. 

"At about this point the first drops of rain fell, so the choice of waterproof paper for the morning recording seemed a good one (Jon is after all a meteorologist, so he had warned people). 

"Our first oddity was a crucifer growing on a wall, which didn't get identified until later, but turned out to be perhaps our best find of the day - Draba muralis. For the most part after that there was nothing eventful - the odd lost cow being returned to its pasture, a trailer of sheep going past, and a few more plants being crossed off the list. 

View from FSC Blencathra
Image: Anne Middleton
"By the time we were nearing the monad boundary the rain had stopped, with patches of blue sky, and although we pressed on for a short while looking for a lunch spot, it was quite windy, so we back-tracked to the shelter of a quarry that we had decided to do on our way back. 

"This proved to be a nice calcareous site, with Plantago media, Poterium sanguisorba and what we identified on the way back as Scabiosa columbaria amongst others. It was also a good spot for lunch and we phoned a message to the other group that we wouldn't be meeting up, so they should continue with their monad and then go to the southern part of the other tetrad. It turned out that although they never received the message, they did exactly as instructed - telepathy works!

Mystery plant spotted during Day 2:
can you tell what it is?
Image: Dave Barlow 
"After lunch we continued east to record the monad, adding a few species, but nothing special. Returning to the quarry area, we tried the east side of the road, where a young lad had been practicing climbing the 3m high crag. This had more calcareous plants, including something with leaves that didn't look right for the Vaccinium seen earlier and was quickly tied down to Genista tinctoria

"The map showed another quarry across the fields so we thought we might as well give it a look. Somewhat to our surprise this turned out to be completely different with Rumex acetosella and Galium saxatile amongst other acid loving plants. 

"As it was now past 4:00pm, we headed west back along the same road towards the cars, and did manage to spot several things we had missed going in the other direction. A final short detour produced a few more species and we got back to the car to find a ticket on the windscreen - a message from the other group stating their plan.

Another amazing view from FSC Blencathra
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
"Back at FSC Blencathra there was a little ID work before dinner and maps for Sunday were tabled and mostly ignored as the groups decided where they really wanted to go. Later further ID sessions grouped people together working on all the puzzling specimens. 

"For some specimens it was a question of believing the key, for others a question of reading the key, and for quite a lot asking Fred Rumsey and HelenaCrouch. Eventually all was done, record cards updated and time to relax or write the blog...

"Sunday promises to be fine. Some groups are staying close to Blencathra, others going to designated squares. There will be more interesting finds, and quite a few more dots on the species distribution maps for Cumbria".

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