Monday, 15 August 2016

Tim Rich on the hunt for Hebridean hawkweeds

Report in from Paul Smith on a very special addition to this year's Hebridean Recording Team - none other than Dr Tim Rich, author/co-author of several BSBI Handbooks, acknowledged national expert on hawkweeds (Hieracium spp.), co-author of the celebrated Plant Crib, co-founder of the New Year Plant Hunt, the man who found and described Attenborough's Hawkweed and an all-round good egg. 

Over to Paul:

"We finally persuaded Tim Rich to visit the Outer Hebrides, mainly to collect Hieracium seed for the Millennium Seed Bank. But of course he never stands still, so straight off a flight to Stornoway he zoomed down to Harris and found a new county record in the process - Hieracium virgulatorum. 

Then the next day a short excursion to Carlabhagh (Carloway) to search out an old record for H. maritimum instead turned up H. strictiforme (the picture above shows Tim with specimens from two sites 100m apart...and, wouldn't you know it, cunningly in two hectads).

A further day saw Tim and Paul yomping over bits of Uig parish in the sunshine, looking for Hieracium scarpicum (a vc110 endemic named after the island of Scarp). But we started with some gorgeous habitat (see picture on left, with Tim contemplating a dive down the cliff past the sheet of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), and some Hieracium in the H. argenteum group. 

A quick stop on the bridge at Brenais to see H. subscoticum and gather seed, and then to Mealasta to find ravenous (whoops, sorry, ravinous!) habitat of Abhainn Stacageo and refind H. scarpicum; actually the ravine was stuffed with it, and another species, possibly H. hypophalacrum (which you can see staring back at Tim in the photo on the right). 

Altogether a grand haul of Hieracium records including several other records during the day".

Many thanks to Paul for this report and for the photos of Tim, also taken by Paul.