Wednesday 20 October 2021

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: October report from BSBI President Lynne Farrell

The past month has consisted of many BSBI Zoom meetings- not my preferred activity but essential for keeping in touch with people in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, although I would obviously prefer to be able to meet at least some of you.

However, I have had a few visitors including friends and woodland ecologist George and Sue Peterken. George is writing a new book on Woodlands, so we were on Arnside Knott looking at the different forms of Juniper. This year seems to be a good year for berries (image on right). 

They gave me a copy of their book Art Meets Ecology, published in 2020, which aims to connect people who are happy to connect art with science- which certainly fits my interests. During a walk along the shore we found more black berries, this time definitely not edible, of Atropa belladonna, Deadly Nightshade (image below left).

Some trees have good crops of berries, with those on Rowan and Hawthorn being particularly abundant, whereas Oak and Beech have few fruits this year. The next day the bay was shrouded in mist and it took at least an hour to rise, so trying to capture the different phases meant sitting patiently for some time (image at the end of this blogpost).

Our coastline is very varied and always inspires me, and a short trip to St Abbs Head, Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve, and Marine Reserve, provided a stimulating walk, not only due to the stiff breeze but also for the excellent geology trail, fantastic scenery and the occasional rare plant of Crambe maritima. (image below right). 

A field of pumpkins nearby reminded me it’s time to make soup and chutney again!

Tuesday 12th October was Day of the Scientist, so I hope some of you enjoyed listening to the hour-long special edition of Jim Al-Khalili’s ‘ The Life Scientific’ on BBC Radio 4. There have been botanists on his programmes fairly recently.

Finally, I was very impressed with our new 'student membership' video which you can watch here. Congratulations to our volunteer Andrew Rowley who directed and produced the video, which is all about what student membership of the BSBI can do for you.. Excellent work Andrew. 

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