Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Year Plant Hunt 2020: Day One

Sandy and Leif use 'Baby Stace' for plant ID
Image: J. Wright
The first day of the 2020 New Year Plant Hunt was only 9 minutes old when the first plant records pinged onto the Results map and were shared on Twitter

Ger Scollard, who also recorded the first flowers of 2019, submitted date-stamped records of winter heliotrope and smooth sow-thistle blooming in Co. Kerry. 

It was half an hour later when Sophie Leguil, on her way home from London fireworks, submitted records of Mexican fleabane, annual meadow-grass, daisy and Serbian bellflower. And so the 2020 Hunt was underway...


Small scabious blooming in Horncastle,
 NYPH 2020
Image: R. Scopes
Wednesday morning saw a team of plant-hunters including Sandy Knapp, Head of Plants at the Natural History Museum, and Orchid Hunter Leif Bersweden out in Chelsea where they managed 41 species in bloom; they also ate a lot of gingerbread and made at least one visit to the pub! 

New Year Plant Hunting often has a very strong social element to it - the Warrington Plant Group tweeted nearly as much about the delicious roast lunch and the great company they enjoyed as they did about the 37 species they recorded. 
  
Members of James' team on the north-east
New Year Plant Hunt-off
Image: J. Common
Up in Northumbria, the north-east New Year Plant Hunt-off kicked off with James Common's team exploring (sub)urban habitats in Heaton, while former BSBI President Chris Metherell led his team to Holy Island. James and co notched up 40 species... and so did Chris & co - a great relief to declare a draw for the Hunt-off! Chris's team found dense-flowered fumitory, a nice record. 

Meanwhile two teams of plant hunters were out in Norfolk and also enjoying a friendly competition to see who could notch up the longest list. They each recorded 50 species so again, fisticuffs were averted and they all sat down to eat pizza together at the end of the day!


The Glengarriff team and some of
the flowers they spotted
Image courtesy of C. Heardman
Current BSBI President Lynne Farrell went out hunting with three friends around Arnside and they managed 43 species in bloom including tansy, goat's-beard and sea radish. That's three more than her predecessor as President. Not that it's a competition...  

Group Hunts took place in Devon, Nottingham and Whitby; 20 eagle-eyed botanists met up at Glengarriff Woods and recorded 51 species in bloom; and County Recorders Oisin and Mairead (who recently got married, aaahhh!) found 10 species in bloom on Inch Island, Co. Donegal.


Seaside daisy naturalised in Folkestone
Image: D. Steere
Arthur Chater recorded 60 species in the Aberystwyth area; members of the Orkney Field Club were out hunting (list not yet submitted) and at the other end of Britain, Rosemary and Liz on Scilly notched up 32 species including rock samphire and Bermuda-buttercup. 

Seaside daisy was blooming in Folkestone, small scabious was out in Horncastle and across England people were spotting the tiny red flowers on hazel. 

As in previous years, daisy, dandelion, annual meadow-grass and groundsel were among the most frequently recorded plants. 


Paul Green's montage of some of
the flowers he recorded in Co. Wexford 
The longest list of the day - 85 species - came from Paul Green who was out recording in Co. Wexford

But equally important were the people who braved the elements to hunt in northern and upland parts of Britain and found nothing at all in bloom. Those nil records are also important if we are to get a true picture of how our wild and naturalised plants across Britain and Ireland are responding to changing weather patterns. 

By the end of Day One, 115 lists had been submitted via the recording app and 327 species had been recorded in bloom. A great start! Watch this space to find out what happens on Day Two...

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