Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year Plant Hunt 2015: the big freeze

A quick group shot before we start surveying
Image: L. Marsh
Many thanks to everyone who braved the cold and fog today for our annual Plant Hunt to record what is in flower at New Year. 

18 botanists turned out, including John and Monika Walton, Vice-County Recorders for Warks., Brian "Eagle-eyes" Laney, plant-spotter extraordinaire and Dr Geoffrey Hall, incoming  VCR for Leicestershire & Rutland. 

I was there too, but I am listing our four most expert botanists so you will all agree that any plants in bloom on our survey would certainly have been spotted and recorded.


Dr Geoffrey Hall and Gorse in flower
Image: L. Marsh
We followed the same route as last year, from the Rally Bank (taking in a few hundred metres of canalside), along several urban streets, looking into old car parks and bits of waste ground, over to All Saints and back past Vaughan College. Then into cars and over to the old Wolsey Factory site, ending up near the Space Centre, just as we did a year ago.

 So, what did we find in flower? 36 taxa, four of which were not recorded last year, when our total from this route was 66. So 34 (51%) of the taxa flowering at this time in this location last year were not in flower today. 


James with frosted flowering specimen!
Image: J. Clough
The only real variable is the weather, which was much milder in the weeks leading up to last year's Plant Hunt. The few nights of snow and frost we saw last week had quite a dramatic impact on what was in flower - even daisies today were few and far between! 

We have two specimens which need to be checked. One is a Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.) which Geoffrey will probably press and send to the BSBI Referee, and a Fleabane Conyza sp., which needs a closer look than was possible in the field. 

Watch this space and I'll let you know what Geoffrey decides.


Brian spotted Narrow-leaved ragwort Senecio inaequidens in flower and it was interesting to see Water Bent Polypogon viridis (not recorded last year) flowering merrily despite the weather, although it was against a south-facing wall. We checked all grasses carefully for anthers - Wall Barley Hordeum murinum didn't quite make it!

We were as frozen as the plants after 3 hours
Image: J. Clough
You can access the spreadsheet by clicking here and once it has been checked by all of the 18 botanists who came out today, the records will go into the New Year Plant Hunt database. 

2015 records are on page 2, while page 1 shows what we found in 2014, so you can compare results from the two surveys.

You can follow national results of the Hunt here on the BSBI News & Views page.  
















1 comment:

Jack Riggall said...

Didn't beat Cardiff then? ;)