Thursday 8 September 2016

Autumn Lady's-tresses found during BSBI Recorders' Conference fieldtrip

Jon Shanklin, Richard & Kath Pryce and
fellow botanists enjoy the September sun.

Llanymynech Rocks, 4/9/2016
Image: Geoffrey Hall
BSBI Welsh Officer Polly reports on the opening and closing days of the BSBI Recorders' Conference, held last weekend in Shrewsbury:

"74 keen botanists were welcomed to The Gateway at lunchtime on Friday and after a warm welcome from Sarah Whild and Sue Townsend the talks began with Mark Charlesworth, who gave us a very interesting talk on recording non-natives. 

"I think the take-home message was: if you are going to record non-natives, especially in an urban environment, status is everything!

Using 3-D specs to aid understanding
of the physiology of charophytes
Image courtesy of Anne Middleton 
"We then had a fascinating talk from Andrew Cherrill about habitat survey (Phase 1 and NVC) and the difficulty in achieving consistent results – he asked if a “Field Habitat Identification Skills Certificate” was needed but we couldn’t quite imagine how one would be implemented. 

"After tea we heard from Colin French about the Cornish Biodiversity Network – which has unfortunately separated from the local records centre but is extremely successful, with a beautiful database system (including some most impressive functions on indicator species).

Puzzling over a tricky Myosotis specimen
Image: Polly Spencer-Vellacott
"Still at The Gateway, there were three options for workshops: charophytes, conifers or eyebrights – I went to eyebrights (Euphrasia spp.) as I had already done one of Chris Metherell’s one-day workshops and wanted a bit of revision! If you haven’t been to one yet, Chris is well worth hearing if you get a chance.

"Back at FSC Preston Montford for the evening, there were sessions with Tom Humphrey on the DDb and John Poland on Vegetative ID, while I had a huge group to revise Myosotis, and ended up hearing a description of M. sicula (Jersey Forget-me-not) from Anne Haden, the County Recorder for Jersey, and discussing a putative M. x suzae (which I shall be sending off to the referee for confirmation)".

At Llanymynech Rocks: looking up!
Image: Sarah Lambert
A report on Day 2 can be found here - it was a great day, prompting Helena Crouch, County Recorder for N. Somerset, to email: "Thank you for a brilliant Recorders’ Conference. It is always the highlight of my year, and I come home inspired to work harder and learn to be a better botanist. I found the QGIS talk fascinating... I would really like more talks on the use of new technologies in recording.

"I thought this Recorders’ Conference seemed a particularly happy and friendly one.  Perhaps the Midnight Salsa Workshop has influenced my memory of the weekend! You should all have been there!"

Communal botanising at Llanymynech Rocks
Image: Sarah Lambert
Anne Middleton had also tweeted about the Midnight Salsa session but although I pleaded for more details and photos (oh, how I wish I had photos for you!) Helena and Anne are maintaining an enigmatic silence. I bet that John 'Party Animal' Poland was involved.... I'll try and worm the details out of him after the next Pubs' meeting!

Polly again: "On the final morning (Sunday), most of the participants headed off for a field visit to Llanymynech Rocks, while a few keen people stayed behind to look at the DDb (with Tom Humphrey) or MapMate (with me)".

Spiranthes spiralis
Image: Richard Aisbitt
Martin Rand, Jon Shanklin and David Earl are working on the records from the fieldtrip – with so many sharp-eyed and skilled botanists present, there are a few specimens of possible hybrids and infra-specific taxa to be pored over by our expert referees

Graeme Kay and Arthur Chater for example recorded Epilobium cf ciliatum x montanum and a specimen has gone to the Epilobium referee for confirmation. 

We can reveal one nice record, of whose identity there can be little doubt and which was shared here on Twitter by Janet Higgins: the group found Spiranthes spiralis (Autumn Lady's-tresses). A perfect end to a perfect weekend!

But... over in the west of Ireland, the Cork Recording Event was also in full swing and botanists were about to make a discovery which would overshadow even Autumn Lady's- tresses. 

We're hoping to share a report with you tomorrow but if you really can't wait, take a look on the BSBI News page here!

I'll leave you with a final image of a happy botanist enjoying the Recorders' Conference - if you want to be smiling like this, finding amazing plants in stunning locations and picking up ID tips from friendly fellow botanists, keep an eye on the BSBI meetings page and come along to our next event. See you there!

Dave and fellow botanists in the field,
BSBI Recorders' Conference 2016.
Image: John Handley

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