Sunday 14 January 2018

BSBI President and New Year Plant Hunt Support Team join the Hunt!

We estimate that more than 1000 people took part in this year's New Year Plant Hunt, from first-timers and beginner botanists to BSBI President Chris Metherell. Chris followed the Hunt on Twitter and the volunteers on the Plant Hunt Support Team were delighted to receive a message of support saying how much he appreciated our hard work!

Hannah and I were so pleased to find this
Lady's Bedstraw blooming in rainy Leicester!
Image: C. Sugrue
I asked Chris to tell us what he thought about this year's Hunt and he said:  

"I had a great time doing the New Year Plant Hunt this year. For the first time we went out on two consecutive days. Day one was just a walk round our village - 27 species. But on day two we went up the coast to Alnmouth expecting to see rather more plants in flower. Surprisingly the totals were almost the same - in fact just 24 for Alnmouth. However perhaps equally exciting was sitting in the warm with a glass of mulled wine when we got back and watching the results roll in and dots appearing on themap. Can't wait to see this year's analysis".

We hope to publish the analysis here very soon and members of the Support Team are just as keen as you are to find out what BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker makes of it all! 

Ellen was delighted to get outdoors and find
Gorse in bloom after 4 days on the
New Year Plant Hunt enquiry desk!
Image: C. Sugrue
Ellen, who joined the Support Team this year, told me: "Working with the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt team this year has been a great experience! Seeing the amount of enthusiasm people had for finding wild flowers across Britain and Ireland has been really inspiring for me to get more involved in citizen science and outreach projects. 

"Helping on Twitter was really exciting, seeing how motivated people were and the range of people that got involved with the social media (from families joining for the first time to life-long botanists). There were even some cases of people battling the elements in order to complete their Plant Hunt - witnessing such dedication really inspired me to get out and join the Hunt too! We finally made it out on 5th January and found 7 species in bloom on our rural Hunt compared to 44 species in bloom in Leicester city centre - interesting contrast there which we hope Kevin's analysis will help explain!

Ciara had to look really hard to find
Hazel in bloom in Leicester at New Year!
Image: E. Goddard
"Volunteering behind the scenes on this year's New Year Plant Hunt has made me want to communicate with a wider plant community about how they can get involved with other research projects that BSBI is undertaking. Everyone on the Support Team and involved in the Hunt was so welcoming that it made volunteering with them a really fun experience!

"I hope to have the opportunity to get involved with them and the New Year Plant Hunt again next year and maybe help train up other volunteers? If more and more people keep joining the Hunt each year, we'll need more volunteers to support them!"

Ciara, now in her second year as a volunteer on the New Year Plant Hunt Support Team, is being interviewed about the Hunt today for the latest #wildflowerhour podcast so keep an eye on this page to hear Ciara's report.

And watch this space for some very exciting news about media coverage of the Hunt!

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