Monday, 23 May 2016

BSBI Summer Meeting: the final day

Botanists at the Summer Meeting
Image: Dave Barlow
Here's the final report from this year's BSBI Annual Summer Meeting and it sounds as though it's been a great success. Three cheers for Organiser and Field Meetings Secretary Jon Shanklin, who found time to send through daily updates as well as co-ordinating everything on the ground.

"The final day - numbers had dropped, but there was still a good crowd at breakfast, many saying goodbye for now. Where were the posters? - in the studio (thanks Geoffrey). Had anyone left anything in the communal rooms - yes -  I'd left my box of id books!  

A Dog-Violet spotted during the Summer Meeting
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
So finally time for a bit of morning recording. I had two passengers to take to Penrith, and Phil Brown wanted to see a bit more, so we went to a square half way there. We did part of the village first, picking up several aliens, then along a green lane with a view to making a circular walk. 

Surprisingly there were quite a few introduced species along the track, but we then spied a small old quarry in a field. Phil vaulted over the drystone wall, but the rest of us went a bit further down the lane where the wall had collapsed to give easy access. 

The quarry had lots of nice limestone grassland species, including Rock Rose and Small Scabious. A bit further down the track we had Vaccinium myrtillus, so clearly the geology was quite complex. Around a corner we found a marshy area, then further up a hill remains of a lime kiln and pits. 

Botanists heading home from a
Summer Meeting fieldtrip
Image: Dave Barlow
This seemed a good place for lunch, but Phil hadn't brought any, so was sent off to explore another promising marshy area. By the time we had finished he came back with a handful of goodies, such as Menyanthes trifoliata and Vaccinium oxycoccos. 

Given the time it had taken to get this far, it seemed prudent to return directly if the passengers were to catch the train, however the return was far faster, and we had time to walk down a lane to a beck, where Phil grabbed a new plant for him - Berula erecta. We weren't expecting much from the tetrad and it just shows that even something that looks pretty dull on the map can have a host of nice species.

The workshops were very popular
Image: Dave Barlow
We made it to the station with enough time to spare, and then I journeyed back to Chester for a bit of relaxation (probably a spot of gardening and some more local recording in Flintshire or Denbighshire), before completing the journey back to Cambridge.

For me it has been an exhausting event, with barely a moment to relax, so I never saw the Red Squirrels that live at Blencathra, and only had a ten minute walk round the grounds this morning (but I did add 10 species to the site list that we had been compiling). We were lucky with the weather, with only one wet morning. We had some great scenery as a back-drop to our botanising, and for many a host of new plants to see. 

Leaving behind some great scenery!
Image: Natalie Harmsworth
Everyone learned a lot, from beginners to experts (I must read the keys more thoroughly!) and we all enjoyed the experience. Thanks to all for coming, and for making it such a successful event. A full report will appear in the BSBI Yearbook (LM: this is available to BSBI members only).


Hopefully many members will come to other BSBI field meetings over the summer, to the AEM at Wallingford in the autumn and to next years ASM, which might be in North Wales. If you do, you will meet a great crowd of people and have a really enjoyable time".