Saturday 22 September 2018

BSBI Training Grants Helping Botanists in 2018: Sharon & Julie

Botanists at Scar Close
Image: S. Yardy
In July, we heard from botanist Falgunee about the course in 'Identifying Higher Plants' which she was able to attend thanks to a BSBI Training Grant. Now we hear from Julie and Sharon about the Limestone Flora course they attended at FSC Malham Tarn under tutor Dr Ian Powell, again thanks to a BSBI Training Grant.

Over to Julie and Sharon:

"We attended the Limestone Flora course at Malham Tarn FSC in June/July 2018, being lucky enough to have received part funding from the BSBI. Julie undertook it as part of the MMU Certificate in Biological Recording, and Sharon partly as preparation for taking the Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC).

"The weekend was spent in perfect summer weather and we explored a range of habitats around Malham including grasslands, rivers, quarries, woodlands, bogs, fens and limestone pavements. Although the bogs and fens around Malham were looking quite dry, the group managed a couple of pub stops to keep hydrated! 

Scar Close
Image: S. Yardy
"Saturday involved a 10+ km walk in the blazing sunshine around Grassington at 'botanist’s pace', taking in the variety of limestone grasslands in Lea Green where we found brittle bladder fern Cystopteris fragilis, spring sandwort Minuartia verna and limestone bedstraw Galium sterneri among remnants of blue moor grass Sesleria caerulea.

"The shade of Bastow Wood and Grass Wood SSSI sites provided some relief as we encountered ancient woodland indicators along with limestone specialists such as stone bramble Rubus saxatilis, deliciously scented chalk fragrant orchid Gymnadenia conopsea, buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica and wild privet Ligustrum vulgare. Bird’s-nest orchid Neottia nidus-avis camouflaged itself well, but we located it eventually.

"Finally, we headed back along the course of the River Wharfe to Grassington, where thankfully the ice cream shop was still open and doing a roaring trade!

Limestone pavement, Southerscales
Image: S. Yardy
"On the Sunday we visited limestone pavements at Ingleborough NNR, with sites showing varying levels of grazing. The variety of flora was interesting with species seen including saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and lesser meadow-rue Thalictrum minus. Ferns such limestone fern Gymnocarpium robertianum and rigid buckler fern Dryopteris submontana were found in the grikes. Frog orchids Coeloglossum viride were found in nearby grassland and just coming into flower.

"Many other species were enjoyed during the weekend including bird’s eye primrose Primula farinosa still in flower, bloody cranesbill Geranium sanguineum and rare sedges. I had not visited Malham or the dales before and felt I really benefited from this course, I saw many new species that I hadn’t seen before and some calcareous habitats and species that I am not that familiar with.

"Thanks to the BSBI for part funding it!"

And thanks to Sharon and Julie for telling us about the course! If you are hoping to attend a botany course next year to sharpen your ID skills - maybe one of the short courses listed on our Training page? - don't forget that you too can apply for a grant towards the cost of the course.

Grant applications open on 1st January every year and all grants have always been snapped up by the end of the month. So try to do your research in advance, find a course that's right for you and then be ready to apply for a grant on 1st January. Details of how to apply will be on our Training page.

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