Thursday, 23 June 2016

Five Island Bioblitz Part Two: Bere & Clear Islands

Bere Island
Image: Clare Heardman
Following on from Mairead Crawford's recent post about the Five Island Bioblitz on Tory Island, we now offer a report from Clare Heardman, Vice-County Recorder for West Cork. 

Over to Clare: 

"In mid-June, I was on Bere Island, Co Cork, the least known and least recorded of the five islands taking part in the first inter-island BioBlitz to take place in Ireland

Marsh Cinquefoil
Image: Clare Heardman
"Joining me were a variety of botanists including the joint vice-county recorder for north and south Kerry (H1 & H2), Rory Hodd, who was focusing on bryophyte recording; Caroline Sullivan, a botanist from Beara who works mainly on High Nature Value (HNV) farmland; and Finbarr Wallace who normally records in Cork city.

"The island (17.68km²) is composed of a ridge of old red sandstone and is located off the south shore of the Beara Peninsula in Bantry Bay. 

However, despite the previous shortage of records it soon became apparent that Bere Island has a lovely variety of habitats, from saltmarsh, shingle and rocky shores, to dry heath, blanket bog, fen, lough and semi-improved grassland. 


Lighthouse on Bere Island
Image: Clare Heardman
"Although with no woodland as such, there were luxuriant hedgerows, patches of scrub and a few small plantations.

"While no particularly rare species were recorded, it was good to see many of the south west Ireland specialities well represented e.g. Yellow Centaury (Cicendia filiformis), St Patrick’s Cabbage (Saxifraga spathularis), Irish Spurge (Euphorbia hyberna) and Large-flowered Butterwort (Pinguicula grandiflora). 

Twiggy Mullein
Image: Fionn Moore
"Most of these are so called Lusitanian species, found mainly in south west Ireland and the north western part of the Iberian Peninsula. 

Also in this Lusitanian group is Kerry Slug (Geomalacus maculosus) and Bere Island is possibly the only offshore island where it’s been found. It took Rory and myself a trip at dusk after a spot of rain to find it during BioBlitz! 

"Another non-plant highlight was dozens of Marsh Fritillary on the unspoilt heath at the eastern end of the island.

German Ivy
Image: Clare Heardman
"New species for me, were two non-native garden escapes: German Ivy (Delairea odorata), a native of South Africa which is scarce in the wild in Ireland and Britain, and Twiggy Mullein (Verbascum virgatum). 

Bird's-foot
Image: Clare Heardman
"It was nice to find some quite scarce or restricted native species such as Allseed (Radiola linoides), Wilson’s Filmy Fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii) and Lesser Skullcap (Scutellaria minor).

"In total, 366 vascular plants were recorded. As with Tory Island, it was interesting to see that some of the common species of the mainland were hard to find or missing from the list e.g. Bugle (Ajuga reptans).

"Meanwhile, Paul Green (VCR for Wexford H12) was recording on the other Co Cork island taking part, Cape Clear in outer Roaringwater Bay. He reports as follows:

Large-flowered Butterwort
Image: Caroline Sullivan
"I had two days recording on Cape Clear with Jim FitzHarris. As Jim knew the island well, he was able to take us to all the various habitats. 

"Virtually all the rare species known on Cape Clear were found.

"Bird's-foot Clover (Trifolium ornithopodioides) was abundant along the grassy centre of a number of the roads on the island. Bird's-foot (Ornithopus perpusillus) was found in one location, on the side of a path on a small area of rocky open ground. 

Irish Marsh-orchid,
Cape Clear, 12/6/2016
Image: Paul Green
"A special effort was made to visit the very southern tip of the island as this was a different hectad (V91) to the rest of Cape Clear. The BSBI Database had no records for this hectad. We found 77 species. 

"On low rocky sea-cliffs, by the east quay, we had (Sea Rush (Juncus maritimus) and Pale Butterwort (Pinguicula lusitanica) growing side by side which must be a very unusual combination! 

Lanceolate Spleenwort,
Cape Clear, 12/6/2016
Image: Paul Green
"Overall some 260 species were recorded for Cape Clear, some of these being new for the island such as Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis) and Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata)".

Many thanks to Clare, Paul, Caroline, Rory and Fionn for their contribution to the Five Island BioBlitz and especially to Clare for telling us all about the day's recording.