Thursday, 24 December 2015

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt 2016

Plants in bloom at Glengarriff NR, Co. Cork
 during New Year Plant Hunt 2015
Image courtesy C. Heardman/Glengarriff NR
For the fifth consecutive year, you are cordially invited to take part in BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt, when we go out recording all the plants we can find in bloom over a three-hour period during the New Year holiday: 1st to 4th January. 

The rules are here and this is what is planned for VC55:

1. A New Year Plant Hunt in the city, following the same route as in previous years, so we can compare results. 

The 2013/4 Plant Hunt followed a warm autumn in VC55, similar to this year, and we recorded 66 wild or naturalised species in bloom. We tied with Cardiff for the highest number of plants recorded


James and the frozen nosegay,
New Year Plant Hunt in
Leicester, January 2015
Image: J. R. Clough 
Last January's Plant Hunt followed several weeks of severe weather and we only recorded 36 species in bloom. 
Can we retake the title this year? Maybe we can if you come along and help - here's the Doodle poll so you can vote on which date you would prefer for next month's New Year Plant Hunt.

2. Our County Recorder Dr Geoffrey Hall is thinking of leading a New Year Plant Hunt at a new location, possibly in Rutland. Sounds like fun! Details to follow.

3. We can once again accept multiple lists from within the two counties, so if you are doing a list in your parish, please send it through to nyplanthunt@bsbi.org  

Have a happy Christmas, botanists - hope to see you at the New Year Plant Hunt!

Posted by Louise.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Conifers and mince-pies

Geoffrey teaching conifer ID at the BG in 2013.
Our annual winter get-together is back! Come along to the Coach House at University of Leicester Botanic Garden next month and enjoy:

A conifer ID session led by Dr Geoffrey Hall, BSBI County Recorder for Vascular Plants - many thanks to Geoffrey for offering his time and considerable expertise!

A chance to catch up with what people have been up to this year - and suggest locations for next year's programme of field meetings.

Bring along food and drink to share - tea and coffee will also be provided. 

Specimens collected in the Botanic Garden can be
examined in the Coach House over a cuppa. 
 If you have natural history books/handlenses/old microscopes to sell, swap or give away to beginners, please bring them along too! 

For anyone who Adopted a Tetrad this year to record for Atlas 2020, this is a chance to chat to Geoffrey and Russell about any problems you've encountered or any extra help you would like next year.

There are two possible dates for the meeting, Saturday 12th or Sunday 13th December, so please vote here for which day you would prefer. 

Posted by Louise.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

If you go down to the Eyebrook today..

The Eyebrook Reservoir draw-down zone.
... you're sure of a lovely surprise! Botanically speaking, that is. Although it is rather small, it is significant.

During the last vascular plant field meeting this year at Eyebrook Reservoir, the eagle-eyed botanists Louise Marsh and Uta Hamzaoui found some plants of Frog Rush (Juncus ranarius) lurking in the upper regions of the draw-down zone.

A diminutive species, this is only the second confirmed record for this species in the county, following on from Andy Lear's find in 2011 at Rutland Water. It is similar to Toad Rush (Juncus bufonius), but has rounded to emargintae inner tepals and a capsule with a truncate apex, as long as the inner tepals.

Juncus ranarius
Dr Tom Cope, who works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and who is the referee for this group of  rushes, says: "The species seems to be on the march across the country.  At one time it was strictly coastal (apart from a few records from highly basic soils) but now it seems to be spreading, probably as the result of the salting of roads in winter, and there is a growing number of inland records for it."

So, another seaside plant that we can expect to find in VC55 to add to the growing list of coastal species that are being recorded on salted roadside. No need to take a trip to Skegness any more, the coast (well, its vegetation at least) is coming to us.

Peter Stroh (Cambridge Botanic Garden) recently told me that Sea Barley (Hordeum marinum) has been recorded in Northants (VC32). And I have heard tales of Thrift (Armeria maritima) being found inland on roadsides...

So, keep looking and expect the unexpected. You never know what you might find.

Geoffrey

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

First Bryophyte Field Meeting

It is time to look at bryophytes again and there will be a meeting on Saturday 26th September at Rutland Water to record bryophytes on the drawdown zone and other wet habitats in the Egleton area. The meeting will start at 10 a.m. outdoors and then use the facilities at the new Volunteer Training Centre from about 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. approx., so that we can have a closer look at the specimens using hand lenses, microscopes and books. The meeting is open for everyone with an interest in bryophytes, with a focus on recording and learning together.

Atrichum undulatum
Apart from weatherproof clothes (Wellington boots might be necessary), it is useful to bring a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets or small containers for collecting specimens. The BBS field guide (Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: a Field-guide 2010) is very useful, - the field key can be downloaded from the internet. Please let me know if you would like to take part in the indoor session by contacting me via email or phone (07852 682 790). I will send a further email regarding the exact meeting place and parking.

There will be more bryophyte meetings later in winter. Here are the dates for your diaries: 30th January, 27th February and 26th March 2016. I will sent out emails with more details once they are sorted out.


I look forward to seeing many of you at Rutland Water.

Uta     
--
BSBI VC55 Group
Our email: bsbivc55@gmail.com

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Next Field Meeting

The last meeting of this year will be held on Saturday 29 August from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Eyebrook Reservoir, when we survey the monad SP 8496 (Eyebrook North - mainly the inflow) and also SP8595 (Eyebrook Cental - mostly shoreline), if there is enough time. The boundary between Leicestershire and Rutland runs through the middle of the Reservoir, so you could say that this a two-county meeting.

The group visited the Eyebrook last year and recorded near the fishing lodge and at the inflow and recorded some interesting species, including the pondweeds Potamogeton lucens, P. berchtoldii and P. perfoliatus. The focus of the meeting will be on aquatic plants, both marginal and submerged, but there is also a draw down area, grassland, tracks and a some plantation woodland to survey as well. The meeting is suitable for beginners and more experienced botanists. Bring a packed lunch, a drink and sunscreen if hot. Wellies would be also be useful, but not essential.

Meet at the Trout Fishing Lodge, SP852941
There are 2 means of access:
1. From the lane on the west side of the reservoir take the gate (making sure it is closed behind you) at SK847947 onto a gravel track leading directly to the lodge.
2. From Caldecott, take the A6003 south over the traffic controlled bridge, then first right, Great Easton Road, then first right again on the narrow unfenced road leading directly to the lodge.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Next Field Meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 19th August from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. when we will record in monad SK2811, Chilcote, near the Staffordshire border.

The habitats at this site include arable fields, tracks and paths, ponds and some hedgerows and road verges. There are no records for this monad in the BSBI distribution database, so whatever we find will improve the current state of knowledge. The meeting is suitable for beginners and more experienced botanists.

Park in Chilcote village safely avoiding blocking entrances, and meet near the entrance to Home Farm at SK287115.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Russell

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Next Field Meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 12th August from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. when we will make a second trip to record in monad SP5599, between Enderby and Fosse Park.

The habitats at this site are very diverse, and we obtained a fairly extensive species list the last time we surveyed this monad earlier in the year. However, we didn't have time to survey the pastures (mostly flood-plain meadow), ponds and the River Soar on the eastern half of the monad, which we will be doing this time.

Park on the side road that forms the entrance to Palmer's Garden Centre at SP552994, taking care to avoid obstructing the entrances to houses, and meet at the west end of the public footpath.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Joint Field Meeting





The next field meeting will be held Saturday 8 August at 2 p.m. For this meeting have teamed up with the Warwickshire Flora Group (VC38) and will be doing a joint survey of tetrad SP5379, Shawell-Tripontium, which straddles the two vice-county boundaries. We'll spend half the time recording in VC38 and half in VC55.

There are several interesting habitats on the site; disused gravel workings, arable fields, roadside verges (including the M6 which may yield some surprises) and a dismantled railway cutting, which yielded a lot of calcicole flora when surveyed earlier in the year at Shawell.

Meet in Newton Lane, just south of the A5, at SP532799.

Site Meeting Details If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.
Russell

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Next Field Meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 5th August from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. (approx.) when we will record in monad SK4610, which is in Stanton under Bardon.

This will be the second survey of this monad this year,and it proved a species-rich site, with over 200 species already recorded. How many more will we find? It is another good meeting for less experienced surveyors because the species encountered are largely those encountered in every tetrad in VC55! However, there are a couple of good meadows, some interesting arable weeds, near allotments, and the some fairly recent woodland planting. We'll go to the local pub for refreshment after the meeting!

Park in the street at SK469108 near the junction of Main Street& Cliffe Hill Road.

Site Meeting Details 
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Next Local Group Meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 29th July from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. (approx.) when we will record in monad SK4609, which is immediately south of Stanton under Bardon on Thornton Lane.


This will be the second survey of this monad this year. It is a good meeting for less experienced surveyors because the species encountered are largely those encountered in every tetrad in VC55! However, there are a couple of horse grazed, ridge and furrow fields, some arable weeds and the chance to look at the progress of some fairly recent National Forest planting. There is a choice of pubs for
refreshment later!


Park at SK46570976 on grass at the bend in Thornton Lane/Stanton Lane about 100 metres east of its junction with Main Street. Please avoid blocking the field gates.


Site Meeting Details  If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.


Russell

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Next field meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 22nd July from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. (approx.) when we will record in monad SK3008 at Appleby Parva for the BSBI Atlas 2020 project. We plan to explore some ancient tracks, byways and the village centre, finishing with an optional hostelry visit to work on ID, once suitably refreshed.

Park in Appleby Parva on New Road near its junction with Atherstone Road (A444), opposite the Appleby Inn Hotel at SK309089.

Site Meeting Details 
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Russell

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Next Field Meeting

The next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 8th July from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. when we will record in monad SP5084, at Magna Park, Lutterworth, on the border with Warwickshire (VC38).

Industrial estates have thrown up some remarkable records this year, such as Hoary Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea, a nationally threatened species), but they like to keep their grass short, so we may have to spend a little more time than usual on our hands and knees! There is also some woodland/scrub and a lake to investigate.

Park safely on Hunter Boulevard on the Magna Park Industrial Estate at SP510843, taking care to avoid traffic.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Russell

Friday, 26 June 2015

Next Field Meeting

The field meeting (after Saturday's Bioblitz at Glen Parva) will be held on Tuesday 30th June from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. when we will record in monad SP5599, between Enderby and Fosse Park.

There is a very diverse array of habitats at this site, about half of which is flood-plain meadow. It includes species-rich grassland, mud tracks, a stream and ponds, the River Soar and its banks, urban settlements, roadsides, the Park & Ride and part of the Meridian Business Park, which has a lake. In 2010, Dianthus deltoides was recorded very near here in monad SP5500, so we will try to re-find it as well. This could be a fairly long meeting, as there is a lot of habitats to cover in this monad, so we may split into two groups to cover more of the area.

Park on the side road that forms the entrance to Palmer's Garden Centre at SP552994, taking care to avoid obstructing the entrances to houses, and meet at the west end of the public footpath. Limited parking is also available on roads at the Business Park, but there are a lot of double yellow lines. NB: You can only park at the Park & Ride, if you use the bus service.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Glen Parva Bioblitz Saturday 27 June

Botanists

Our next meeting will be at the Glen Parva Bioblitz, which is taking place from Friday 26 to Saturday 27 June (3:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.). The organisers are hoping to record at least 300 species in the Glen Parva and Glen Hills Local Nature Reserves, an area of woodland, grassland, ponds and hedges, bordering the Grand Union Canal.

If you'd like to help record the plants here, then meet at the Green Flag by the gazebo on the recreation ground at the western end of Dorothy Avenue (SP 56692 99322) at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday 27, and we'll spend a couple of hours in the field. If it's wet, then we'll meet in the meeting room accessed directly from the car park. There are very few records of vascular plants in this area, so the records will be used for the Atlas 2020 project as well (monad SP5699).

This event is suitable for beginners and experienced botanists, as there are some moderately species-rich grasslands, which qualify as Local Wildlife Sites, and some interesting aquatic vegetation to see. For information about the event and site maps see the Bioblitz home page and links from it. Parking is available at in  the car park at the end of Dorothy Avenue, or on street near the site.

Geoffrey

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Monad Recording Meeting at Marefield


Our next field meeting will be held on Wednesday 17th June from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. when we will record as much of the monad SK7507, Red Lodge Road near Marefield, as possible. There are farm tracks, a wood, a stream and a dismantled railway to investigate. This could be a fairly short meeting, as access is poor in this monad, so we'll more than likely go to the pub in Tilton afterwards. Park carefully on verges at SK75880769 or SK75880769 (junction of Hyde Lodge Road and Washdyke Road) so that you do not obstruct entrances to fields, and meet at the Northern end of Red Lodge Road.

Site Meeting Details
If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tetrad Recording Meeting at Shawell



Our fourth meeting will be held on Saturday 6th June from 10:00 a.m. - 16:00 p.m., when we will record as much of the tetrad SP58K, Shawell, as possible. It contains pasture and arable fields with hedgerows, old quarry lakes, a disused railway line, the M1 and its embankments, woods, field ponds and a stream. There are a lot of habitats to examine and also some interesing old records for this tetrad. Re-finding the following species will be a focus of the meeting: Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, Bromus racemosus, Chaenorhinum minus, Glyceria notata, Gymnocarpium robertianum, Hippuris vulgaris, Leontodon saxatilis, Mercurialis annua, Ononis spinosa and Papaver dubium.
Ononis spinosa (Spiny Restharrow)


Park safely in Shawell village and meet at the White Swan pub on Main Street at SP543802. Please ensure that you park so as not obstruct the entrances to fields etc. You can stay for all of the meeting or leave whenever you want. As there is a lot of ground to cover, we will go at a slightly faster pace and won't spend much time checking identifications as we go: instead we will take material to key out later.


Bring sunscreen, insect repellant, hats etc. to suit the weather. If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.


Geoffrey





Friday, 29 May 2015

Monad Recording Meeting at Withcote

Our third meeting this year recording plants in the under-recorded monads that the BSBI have asked us to look at will be held on Wednesday 3rd June from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The meeting is suitable for both beginners and experienced botanists and we will stay until it is too dark to record and then go to a local pub.

Challenging cover crop plants!

We will be recording in SK8005 at Withcote, between Owston and Launde Park Woods. This monad is mostly pasture and arable fields with hedgerows, ponds and a stream. The focus will be on arable field margins, grasslands and old hedgerows which may have some interesting species and challenging cover crop plants.




Hedgerow ground flora
Meet in the wide layby on the bend in the road from Tilton to Braunston (Oakham Road/The Wisp) at SK808059. Please ensure that you park so as not obstruct the entrances to adjacent fields. If the layby is full, the verge opposite can be used, but be careful, as the bend in the road has fast traffic. If you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, please email or phone me: contact details are in the group field meetings document on the menu bar.

Geoffrey


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Dates for your diary

Chinese wild pear at Hammond Arboretum
Image courtesy R. Hall
As well as the local group meetings planned for this year, and the tetrad recording that many of us are doing for Atlas 2020, here are a few more dates next month for your diary:

1. Kate Moore has been in touch to tell us about a garden open day at Long Close, Woodhouse Eaves, on Saturday 13th June 2015 - 10.30am to 4.30pm. This is organised by the Charnwood Group of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and is a Summer Open Day at Long Close Gardens, Main Street, Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire, LE12 8RZ. Kate says "Long Close is a garden of exotic trees, luxuriant rhododendrons, huge magnolias, terraced lawns, lily ponds and herbaceous borders. There are also two unimproved wildlife meadows with orchids and wild flowers.  Please come along to enjoy these beautiful gardens and meadows. Admission: Adults £4.00. Child 50p and must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Sorry, no dogs allowed except guide dogs". She also asks if anyone would be interested in leading a botany walk for the public? If so please email Kate.

Yunnan crab at Hammond Arboretum
Image courtesy R. Hall
2. Rosemary Hall has been in touch to tell us about an event she is organising on behalf of the local branch of the Society of Biology. She says "We are going to visit the Hammond Arboretum in Market Harborough on the evening of Tuesday 16th June and we should like to invite non-members who are interested as well.  Light refreshments from 6.30pm, talk and tour included. I have made a preliminary visit and it is quite delightful there.  It would be so nice to have some keen botanists along!" If interested, there are more details on this flyer on our Google Drive, including Rosemary's contact details.

3. Cath Lovatt and the team at Attenborough Nature Reserve in Notts have been in touch to tell us about their Bioblitz on 19th-20th June. Cath has twisted my arm to venture just over the county boundary and lead a field session at the reserve on the Saturday morning (20th June) to record as many species as we can for the Bioblitz. I'm hoping that a few more VC55 people will join me. Cath says "There will be other experts in bird-watching, butterflies, hoverflies, etc doing their thing too". If interested, just turn up on the day or email me for more info.

Posted by Louise

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Local group meeting to see spring flowers!

Bugle - we should see this on 13th May
Image: R. Parry
Well, we've had a few local group meetings already this year to look at mosses, and some of us have already adopted a tetrad and started recording for Atlas2020, but now that it's May, buds and leaves are unfurling all over the place, so it's time for the VC55 botany group to go out plant-spotting and recording what we find.  

Our first group meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 13th May, starting at 6.30pm and going on until it's too dark to see or we have all had enough! The location has been suggested by BSBI Central as it is in an under-recorded part of the county - it's immediately south of Stanton under Bardon and it's in the grid square SK4609. 
  
Cuckoo-flower should be present too.
Image: R. Parry
This meeting is being organised and led by Russell Parry who says "This could be a good meeting for less experienced surveyors because the species encountered will largely be those encountered in every tetrad in vc55! However, there are a couple of horse grazed, ridge and furrow fields which may offer a few interesting challenges. There will be a few arable weeds and it will be interesting to look at the progress of some fairly recent National Forest planting. There is a choice of pubs for later refreshment!"

Here are the access and parking details: Park at SK46570976 on grass at the bend in Thornton Lane/Stanton Lane about 100 metres east of its junction with Main Street. Please avoid blocking the field gates.

You can email Russell russell.parry@gmail.com if you would like more details or to arrange car-sharing, or you can phone him on 0116 273 7189 or, on the day, 07594 302127.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

RHS Project on Naturalised Gunnera

The Botany team at the Royal Horticultural Society in Wisley are currently undertaking a project on Gunnera,  aiming to better determining which species have naturalised in the British Isles and whether hybrids have formed between these species, as well as looking at plants in cultivation.

The project scientists want to know whether there are any populations of naturalised gunneras in VC55 and, if so, whether we would be willing to collect some samples this year. They only need a small piece of leaf material, approximately 3cm2 per sample plant, for DNA analysis plus locality details and photographs of the plants, including habit and close-up of the inflorescences or infructescenses, so that these can be used for examination and to act as voucher specimens. If you find any naturalised Gunnera (ie not obviously planted in a garden or park etc.) and would like to help, then the team will send you sample collecting bags filled with silica gel and some instructions. Please contact:

Dr Kalman Konyves
kalmankonyves@rhs.org.uk
Tel: 01483 226 562
RHS, Wisley
Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB

Please check your identification so as to not confuse Gunnera (very large, bright green leaves with stiff, rough hairs, flowering late with dense, dark red-brown inflorescence) with Petasites species (Butterburs; large, dark green leaves with flexible stems, flowering in spring with pale pink to purple inflorescence).


Gunnera manicata

Petasites hybridus





Friday, 24 April 2015

Botany for Beginners 2015

A reminder that this year's Botany for Beginners course starts on Saturday 2nd May at University of Leicester Botanic Garden and there are still a few spaces left on some of the modules. Find out more by clicking here.

The course is great fun and an ideal way for beginners to get started in plant ID. Once you have completed it, you will feel much more confident identifying wild plants in the field. You will also be able to identify all the criterion species to designate Local Wildlife Sites. And if you are thinking of joining the intermediate-level Plant Identification course, then you will need to have completed the beginners course (or equivalent) beforehand. 
   

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Field Meetings in 2015

Rutland Water Meeting 2014
The Meetings Calendar has now been updated to show our programme of field meetings in 2015. You can view the calendar on the VC55 webpage. Or, click on the link in the list underneath the photo at the top to download a copy. The site, date and contact for each meeting is given, but not all have a parking location indicated yet - these will be given in the mailing about the meeting, which we will send out nearer the date of the meeting. We thought it was important that you had the dates for your diary as soon as possible.
It is likely that there will be extra meetings throughout the year which will be added and Doodled to select a date, just as in previous years.


Something for later
As you can see from the programme, the emphasis this year is on recording under-recorded areas for the Atlas 2020 project. Most of the meetings are concerned with recording the monads that the BSBI have asked us to record, but there are some longer whole-day meetings and a joint meeting with the Warwickshire recorders, John and Monika Walton, to record a monad straddling the two county boundaries (Reminder: a monad is a 1km x 1km square).



The meetings are open to all: less experienced members and botanical beginners are welcome to attend all the meetings.

Looking forward to some good weather and to seeing you all again.



Geoffrey, Russell, Louise and Richard

Monday, 16 March 2015

Help wanted organising local meetings

As many of you may know, Uta has recently decided to take on the role of Bryophyte Recorder for Leicestershire & Rutland, and has arranged some field meetings for us this year. The demands of this role and increased responsibility in her work at the LRWT, mean that she is no longer able to continue helping to organise the local group meetings. Uta has done a great job and I'm sure that all of us would like to thank her for the effort that she has made for the group over the last seven years, and for giving us lots of tips about plant identification while we have been at field meetings.


The group needs someone to take over Uta's role and help organise the local meetings. It's not onerous work; there are a couple of planning meetings early in the year, plus occasional meetings throughout the season usally in the evening. You need to be able to attend some field meetings and be a contact for some of them, but you don't need to be an expert botanist (don't worry!). As the majority of our communications are electronic, you need to have a reliable email address, and if you are keen, you can learn how to use the group's web account. If you are interested in helping, then please email Geoffrey or speak to him, Louise or Russell when you next see us.


Geoffrey

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Recording in 2015

Attention VC55 Botanists!

Uta & botanists ready to record at Charity Fields, Desford

You may have heard that the BSBI has a major project underway: to record the vegetation of Britain and Ireland for a new Atlas by 2020. This means that there are only five seasons left to do the recording needed. 

While a lot of recording has taken place since 2000, about 140 tetrads (2km x 2km squares) are still under-recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland, so there is still a fair amount of the county left to cover. This is where you can all help by adopting a tetrad!


Russell & Sara show us how to tell our ferns apart!
We'd like as many of you as possible to take on one tetrad (or more!) and record it for the Atlas. It's not as daunting as it sounds! There will be a field meeting to show you what to do and if you don't feel up to taking on a tetrad on your own this year, you can team up with somebody else (i.e. a more experienced botanist) and survey together. 

And there will be some support on offer, as we hope to produce some local keys for difficult groups, and have training sessions, as needed.

If you want to know more about recording for the Atlas, there's some info on the BSBI website and we'd like to invite you to a meeting on Monday March 2nd at the Coach House in the Botanic Garden at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be available and you can find out which tetrads we hope to survey this year and how you can get involved.


Geoffrey leading a Conifer ID session at the Botanic Garden
We are still putting together this year's field meetings programme and will be including some more general meetings, but this year's focus will be very much about recording for the new Atlas. We hope you will all have a go and Adopt a Tetrad!

Geoffrey, Louise, Uta and Russell

Friday, 16 January 2015

Talk by BSBI President: Orchids to Agriculture and Back Again.

Dactylorhiza kerryensis in Co. Kerry, Ireland
Image: I. Denholm
Ian Denholm is coming to Leicester on Saturday 24th January to offer us a talk entitled 'From Orchids to Agriculture and Back Again'. Many thanks to 22 of you who voted in this Doodle poll for your favourite date. 

There is still lots of space in the Coach House at University of Leicester Botanic Garden, where we are holding the event, starting at 2pm, and we have lots of chairs (!) so even if you didn't vote in the poll, you are very welcome to come along anyway.

Ian gave this talk for the first time to the Shropshire Botanical Society last month. Wasn't it kind of him to do a practice run before he heads over to Leicester with the polished article ;-) Apparently the Shropshire botanists enjoyed a quiz as well, so Ian is trying to get that for us too.    

Ian is one of BSBI's two Orchid Referees, as well as BSBI President. You may have seen a paper by Prof Richard Bateman, the other Orchid Referee, in the current issue of New Journal of Botany. This is BSBI's members-only scientific journal.


Ian (left) & Richard hunting for Orchids on the Burren
Image courtesy R. Bateman
If you haven't seen the Bateman paper (or even if you have!) then you may enjoy this review by Ryan Clark, the Co-ordinator of BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt.

Ian and Richard have taken many orchid-hunting trips across Britain and especially Ireland over the years, during which I gather Guinness has also been sampled. We are hoping that Ian will spill the beans on how his and Richard's work on both these areas of research is progressing. 

See you at 2pm at the Coach House for Ian's talk - we'll break up around 4-4.30 and head off to buy our eminent speaker a pie and a pint before he heads back to Hertfordshire - hope you will all join us in the Cradock!

Posted by Louise

VC55 Bryophyte Meetings 2015

For the winter month we have planned three meetings to record and learn about bryophytes. These meetings are open for everyone with an interest in bryophytes. The meetings start at 10.30 and take as long as weather conditions allow, so it is always best to bring a packed lunch. Apart from weatherproof clothes, it is useful to bring a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets or small containers for collecting specimens. The BBS field guide (Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: a Field-guide 2010) is very useful - the Field Key can be downloaded from the internet. Please use the doodle links to indicate if you would like to take part and to organise car sharing, or contact Uta Hamzaoui (email or 07852 682 790). 

31 January, Launde Big Wood

Atrichum undulatum
This 40 ha woodland is a SSSI and managed by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. It will be interesting to see how different management and different soil conditions are reflected in the bryphyte flora. We will meet at SK795035 on the road verge to walk to the wood together.



28 February, Whites Wood

Mnium hornum
Whites Wood is part of Swithland Wood SSSI and mainly consists of wet woodland. The wood hasn't been managed for a while and in places it is difficult to walk through. Wellingtons will be necessary. At the end of the meeting we might look at a stand of ash trees to do a Splash survey (National survey of plants and lichens associated with Ash). Meet at SK537129, Swithland Wood North car park.



28 March, Sphagnum Meeting at Charnwood Lodge

Sphagnum palustre
Charnwood Lodge is one of the best places in vc55 for bog mosses (Sphagnum). In the morning we will do a ca 2 hrs walk through the nature reserve to collect Sphagnum specimens from different habitats (Wellington boots will be useful). The plan is then to use the new study facilities and look at the specimens with hand lenses and microscopes and use the Field Key to Sphagnum. Meet at the 'bomb rocks' car park of Charnwood Lodge Nature Reserve at SK462156. Booking is necessary for the indoor part of the meeting as space is limited.
No doodle for this meeting. Please email me to book a place.
Posted by Uta.

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.  
















Thursday, 1 January 2015

Eyebright ID Workshops in VC55.

An Eyebright, but which one?
Image: C. Metherell
If you would like to improve your skills in identifying Euphrasia spp. (Eyebrights) then this is your chance - especially if you either enjoyed, or were unsuccessful in getting a place on, the 45 minute taster session at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting

Chris Metherell is currently writing a new BSBI Handbook on Euphrasia. He has been speaking about his progress and trying out his ID keys at national BSBI events like the AEM. 

He is now moving on to all-day sessions, just 3 across England to start with, and we are very lucky that Chris has offered a session in VC55.

In fact so many of you have already expressed an interest that he is coming down from Durham, where he's based, for the 20th and 21st of January to give us two bites of the cherry! 

Chris in the Herbarium, Univ. Leicester
Image: L. Marsh
If you would like to request a space, please email us asap at bsbivc55@gmail.com and we can book you in. Please specify if you would prefer one or other of the two dates and we'll try to accommodate you. 

To whet your appetites, you can download the AEM Eyebright presentations given by Chris, Fred & Alex from this page on the BSBI website. 

Even better, you can also download all but one of the other AEM presentations - I'm still chasing the last one! My New Year's resolution is to get the complete the set uploaded for you ;-)