Saturday, 21 May 2016

BSBI Summer Meeting 2016: the first fieldtrips

Spot the botanists! Click on the image to enlarge.
Image: Anne Middleton
Botanists were out in Cumbria yesterday for the first full day of the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting 2016 and organiser Jon Shanklin was on the spot to jot down a few notes for News & Views readers. 

His report on Thursday evening had ended with the botanists in the bar after a good dinner and a great talk about the local flora, and Jon himself checking arrangements for Friday and hoping for good weather. Now read on... 

Jon says: “After a hearty breakfast the groups assembled by the coaches - which one was going to Clints Quarry and which to Eycott Hill was what everyone wanted to know. 

Plant-hunting at Eycott, 
BSBI Summer Meeting 2016
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
Then the group going to Eycott decided they didn't want to spend the entire day there so where else could they go - a decision was quickly reached that the north end of Bassenthwaite Lake looked interesting. 

The drivers from Titterington's Coaches were very flexible and said no problem. Off we went, more or less promptly at 9:30am.

“My coach went first to Clints Quarry. Our driver carefully shepherded us across the main road and we headed up the footpath, pausing to admire and taste Sweet Cicely Myrhhis odorata

Marsh Violet Viola palustris
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
The first entry path to the quarry proved a dead end, but the second proved the main way in. Fred Rumsey paused by one fern and explained why this was Narrow male-fern Dryopteris cambrensis – it’s the boat shaped leaves! 

"Then through a bit of woodland into the open grassland of the quarry. We made slow progress as our species list steadily increased. The sun came out, so we stopped for lunch (DIY packed lunches using materials supplied by the FSC centre at Blencathra). 

Botanists at Eycott;
BSBI Summer Meeting 2016

Image: Natalie Harmsworth
Time was passing and we only had another 45 minutes, when we could have spent the entire day there. 

A water-crowfoot was put in a bag for a later look - it turned out to be Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot (R. trichophyllus) - then back to the coach only a little late. Our final total was around 170 species - not bad for a monad!

"Next stop was Dubb’s Moss, where we were met by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve manager who kindly showed us round. The parking place was conveniently next to a farm cafe, which was very tempting. We had a quick look round as a group then split into two to record the two monads in the reserve separately. 

A Lousewort Pedicularis sp.
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
"A few people took the opportunity to abscond and head back to the cafe for an ice cream! But the rest continued looking at the wet meadow and woodland. All too soon it was time to return to the coach, but we waited long enough for everyone to try one of the renowned Wellington Farm ice-creams.  

"The group had some interesting finds, including one which keyed out when we got back as Floating water-plantain Luronium natans.

“After dinner, we enjoyed a talk on the Cumbria flora from Geoffrey Halliday, which took us on a tour round the area and showed us the many delightful species that we were missing thanks to coming early in the season. Then we had to decide where to go on Saturday. 

Looking for plants by Bassenthwite Lake
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
"The maps of under-recorded tetrads did not appeal to everybody, so some groups were delighted when told they didn't have to stick to the plan and could go where they liked. 

"Some have still to decide, so watch this spot to find out what happened on what is forecast to be a wet day, at least in the morning”.

Thanks to Jon for this report and to botanists Anne and Natalie for their images, all of which were taken yesterday at the BSBI Summer Meeting.