Saturday, 20 July 2019

BSBI Summer Meeting 2019: Day Six

Botanists assemble ready for  the day's excursions
Image: D. Morris
We're in the home stretch now of the week-long BSBI Annual Summer Meeting and the last report we heard was from Chris, reporting on Day Five

We haven't heard from David Morris, BSBI County Recorder for Oxfordshire, since Day Two but he's back today to give us his final report.

Over to David:

"We don’t get hills in Oxfordshire, so for the recording outings this week I have been making the most of being up here and getting up onto the fells. The rougher terrain has not been well recorded and my efforts have been rewarded so far, e.g. a long day’s recording on Tuesday gave us re-finds of Dryas octopetala (mountain avens) and Sorbus rupicola (rock whitebeam) in historically known sites and new sites for rare plants such as Polygala amarella (dwarf milkwort).

Purple saxifrage
Image: D. Barlow
"For the last full day of the meeting, Dave Barlow and I headed up the famous local hill Pen y Ghent, well known for rarities like Saxifraga oppositifolia (purple saxifrage). The rest of the flora of this fell has not been surveyed for the Atlas, and with four tetrads covering the summit plateau it provided the opportunity to collect lots of useful data.

"Dave and I slogged up the hill in good time, finding Saxifraga oppositifolia on the band of Carboniferous limestone that runs around the middle of the fell. There were also some good hawkweeds on the limestone cliffs, like the endemic Hieracium brigantum, and we found a few plants of Minuartia verna (spring sandwort) still in flower. 

"We spent a while recording the moorland on the top and the flanks of the hill, picking up typical montane plants like Carex bigelowii (stiff sedge) and Rubus chamaemorus (cloudberry), both growing in abundance.

Cloudberry
Image: D. Morris
"Records from the BSBI Distribution Database (DDb) directed some of our efforts, pointing us to a precarious area of fellside to look for Salix herbacea (dwarf willow). We looked but could not find it, and admired the grit of the botanist who originally found it there.

"Heading down from the fell the flora became more varied with decreasing altitude and increasing influence of the limestone. 

"A lovely gully had lots of hawkweeds, including Hieracium coniops. I’ve been enjoying learning more about Hieracium in the company of Dave and using the excellent book by Vincent Jones on the hawkweeds of Yorkshire. 

"With permission of the author, Dave has digitised the book to make it available to as many botanists as are interested in hawkweeds – if you would like a copy I’m sure Dave would be delighted to be contacted about it".

David Morris looking for hawkweeds
on Pen y Ghent
Image: D. Barlow
If you're keen to learn about northern hawkweeds, you could try Tim Rich's online key. For southern hawkweeds, you'll have to wait for Mike Shaw's BSBI Handbook to southern hawkweeds, due out next spring. 

For more news from this year's BSBI Summer Meeting, you could check out this blogpost by David Broughton, County Recorder for both mid-west Yorkshire and Huntingdonshire, and this blogpost by Colin who reported here on Day Three. Huge thanks to all the people who sent reports and photos over the past week so that everyone could follow the action from this year's Meeting!

For the final report, we'll have to wait for organiser Jonathan Shanklin to count up all the squares bashed and all the plants recorded for Atlas 2020. Watch this space for an overview of the entire week!

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