Monday, 15 May 2017

Midweek Botanical Meeting

We will be visiting the Hammond Arboretum (Burnmill Road, Market Harborough, LE16 7JG) on Thursday 18th May. The Arboretum is in the grounds of the Robert Smyth Academy, and was established by Francis Hammond, a former headmaster of the school, which used to be called the Market Harborough County Grammer School. Francis began planting the Arboretum with rare and exotic trees in 1913 and continued until a few years before his death in 1937. The Arboretum has a documented collection of its contents and has been managed by volunteers for the past 25 years, who have worked hard to maintain the trees and to raise funds for the Arboretum's restoration and maintenance. You can find out more information from the website. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Academy Reception, where we will meet our host, George Marshall, and sign in. Parking is available on the road, but may be in short supply, as it is term time.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

This year's Leicester City Bioblitz will be held at Knighton Park, Palmerston Way from 7.00 p.m. Friday 12th May to 5.00 p.m. Saturday 13th May 2017. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event format, it is a 24-hour race against the clock to identify as many wildlife species as possible. This year, "An ambitious target of 500 species has been set to challenge experts and beginners alike in a quest to find wildlife ranging from bats to butterflies, trees to toads and many creepy crawlies." Knighton Park has a good mix of habitats, including brooks, grasslands, species-rich woodlands and formal gardens.

Activities with schools will be held on Friday, plus guided walks and talks for everyone on Friday evening, and also during the day on Saturday, when there is a wild flower walk at 1:00 pm. If you are interested in the walks and talks, which are free, you can book them via the Bioblitz website (click on the 'Register' button). Someone from the Botany Group will be on site from 10:00 a.m. all are welcome to come and help find and identify plants, or to just enjoy the wildlife in the park.

Last year's Bioblitz was held in Welford Road Cemetery and several members of the Botany Group attended and helped to record species. It was a successful event and a report was produced by Helen O'Brien, which you can download here (pdf document; 2.77Mb).

Helen says that, "...the staff who help to manage the sites are often amazed at the species-richness, even though some have been working there for many years and for others it adds a greater depth of understanding of why they are asked to manage the sites in the way that they do." So, your contribution will help to inform the future management of the Park.

The event is being organised in partnership between Leicester City Council, Knighton Wild, The Conservation Volunteers, NatureSpot, University of Leicester and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, not to mention the many experts, volunteers and public who make the day special and without whom it would not be possible.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Field Meeting in Mkt Harborough

The first vascular plant field meeting of 2017 will take place on Saturday 8th April in Market Harborough. We will be recording in the monad SP7487 which is half in Leicestershire and half in Northamptonshire (vc32), with the help of Brian Laney. We will be concentrating on early flowering species, especially ruderal herbs in the industrial estate. As we will record the species in Leicestershire and then repeat the recording in Northamptonshire, there will be plenty of opportunities to revise what you have just learnt. Meet at the junction of Rockingham Industrial Estate with Rockingham Road at SP746874. Parking is available in nearby streets.

The meeting is suitable for beginners and more experienced botanists, and will be a fairly leisurely day with plenty of time to discuss what we find. The meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. and continue until around 3:00 p.m. You're welcome to stay with us for as long as you wish, and to leave at any time, provided you tell us when you go. Please bring sunscreen, rain gear etc. to suit the weather, and lunch and a drink, if staying all day.

If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please phone me on 0774 548 7766.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Bryophyte Field Meeting at Stonesby Quarry

Our next bryophyte meeting will be on Saturday, 25th March at Stonesby Quarry. This is part of a worked-out quarry on soft Jurassic limestone, and contains some of the best remaining limestone grassland in Leicestershire. It is part of a SSSI and a nature reserve managed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. During the last bryophyte survey in 1993, notable species such as Seligeria calcarea and Weissia longifolia were found. Since then, a lot of conservation management has been carried out, including scrub removal and exposing of limestone bedrock, so it will be interesting to find out how this has influenced the bryophyte flora.

We are meeting at SK81112530 (see marker on map below) at 10.30 a.m. and the meeting will last until about 3 p.m., so please bring lunch. I will leave at 9.20 a.m. from Knighton and am happy to give lifts.

I hope to see you on Saturday,


mobile: 07852 682 790

Stonesby Quarry

Monday, 13 March 2017

vc55 Group Field Meetings 2017

Here are the details for most of our 2017 meetings, starting with our 'get into surveying mode' session at the Botanic Garden. You can see them as pdf or a Word table. Although there will be a good effort to record, we will have time to talk over ID and other relevant fun topics, so botanists of all experience levels welcome. It would be great to see you. All meetings should be warmer than this photo!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Report on Bryophyte meeting at Cossington Meadows Nature Reserve

Middle Marsh
The first areas surveyed were rough pasture, hedgerows and trees on 'Middle Marsh' and 'Lower Marsh'. The main species in the grassland is Calliergonella cuspidata, which is abundant where the grass is short. Mixed in are smaller amounts of Cratoneuron filicinum as well as Drepanocladus aduncus, which became more abundant in and around water-filled depressions, where it was growing with long flaccid stems. D. aduncus is a  lowland species of wet places often growing submerged. It is tolerant of eutrophication and has only been recorded from 30 tetrads in Leics. These species benefit from the rough grazing and wet conditions. Brachythecium rivulare was frequent and seemed to replace the otherwise ubiquitous B. rutabulum on the wet ground. Amongst the rush tussocks, it was associated with Oxyrrhinchium hians, which was also the dominant species along the river banks.

Most bryophyte diversity was on trees and scrub. We found many epiphytic species on a recently fallen willow in a ditch along the main track, including Cryphaea heteromalla, Orthotrichum pulchellum and extensive patches of Metzgeria fruticulosa.

Orthotrichum pulchellum
These species belong to the group of species that area spreading due to reduced atmospheric sulphur dioxide concentrations. Willows are a particularly good habitat for epiphytic bryophytes, because of their basic and rough bark, and they usually support a good range of species, particularly in humid conditions.

The tree trunks in the flood zone are a special habitat. We found two species typical of this habitat (Leskea polycarpa and Syntrichia latifolia) in abundance, especially on large trees along ditches and the river, as well as the rarely recorded Scleropodium cespitans (recorded from 11 tetrads in Leics). We also found the rarely recorded, and possibly under-recorded Bryum moravicum (= B. laevifilum) on rotting wood.

The gravel tracks are rich in small acrocarpous mosses, of which we were only able to identify some to species level. The tracks and pool margins, which dry out in summer, would be worth a revisit later in the year.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Bryophyte Field Meetings in January

These two meetings are open to everyone and a chance to meet people from other counties. Booking isn't essential, but it would help, if you could let us know who is coming.

Saturday 21 January to Warren Hills

Gail Quartly-Bishop has kindly offered to lead a field meeting to the Warren Hills of Charnwood Lodge NNR with lowland heath, volcanic rock outcrops and stubble fields. The site is likely to be muddy and wet in places, so come prepared. You will also have to bring your own lunch and drinks. If you are interested in taking part, please let Gail know.
Parking and meeting: at the 'Bomb Rocks' car park at SK462156, which is at the end of a track off Abbey Road between Whitwick and Shepshed. You will have to go through a closed gate with a sign saying 'Wildlife Trust members and permit holders only'.
Start: 10.30 a.m.
Heath grassland at Warren Hills/Charnwood Lodge NNR

Sunday 22 January to Jubilee Wood and Beacon Hill

Jubilee Wood is part of the 'Beacon Hill, Hangingstone & Outwoods' SSSI and managed by Leicestershire County Council. It is ancient woodland which includes wet alder woodland as well as small remnants of sessile oak woodland on Precambrian outcrops.  The site was last surveyed for bryophytes in 1989. If time and weather allows, we can also visit the adjacent Beacon Hill Country Park to have a look at heath and rock outcrops. If you are interested in taking part, please let Uta know.
Meeting: at SK51011650 on Woodhouse Lane. Parking is on lay-bys along the woodland.
Start: 10.30 a.m.

View from Beacon Hill across the Charnwood Forest

Old alder woodland in Jubilee Wood