Friday, 31 May 2013

Welland Valley Bioblitz at Market Harborough

Victoria says:

"This year The Welland Rivers Trust is holding its first ever BioBlitz event and we would like to invite every recorder and enthusiast in the County to join us. Bioblitz events are held over a 24-hour period at the chosen location, and aim to record as many individual species as possible. We have set a target of "250 species living in Welland Park" and need your help to reach this goal!

Our event will commence on Friday 31st May at Welland Community College on Welland Park Road, Market Harborough. The evening’s activities will focus on bats and moth trapping, accompanied by tea, coffee and hot chocolate. We will restart early on Saturday morning with a morning bird chorus in Welland Park the remainder of the activities commence at 10:00. Welland Park was awarded a Green Flag award for its high standards in 2007 and has continued to receive the award in all subsequent years since. The River Welland creates a border for the park and on the Saturday we would like to focus the activities around the aquatic invertebrates and higher plant species but would also be interested in recording mosses, liverworts, lichen, algae, spiders, fungi, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, bees, wasps, mammals, birds, dragonflies/damsels and all other groups of terrestrial invertebrates. All the records will, of course, get submitted to the records office and our intention is to produce an easily accessible baseline of data for future recording events as well as our current project to restore the River Welland as it runs through Market Harborough."

Hope some of you can go.

For further information see The Welland Valley Newsletter

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


There are three fields that are a Wildlife Site in the parish of Desford, one in particular is good for grasses and flowers. It was surveyed in 1970’s by Ian Evans and more recently by Steve Woodward and later by Katie Field. We want to update the records. Please meet at the library to walk to fields.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Green-winged Orchid Count at Muston Meadows NNR. 

Thanks to all of you who voted to join the Muston Meadows Orchid Count and especially to the eleven people who carried out the count yesterday. Thanks also to Nick for sending this photo of the orchid counters, with Chris Hill (LRWT) showing us their grand total of 26,918 flowering spikes.

BSBI & LRWT members counted 26,918 Green-winged Orchids at Muston Meadows NNR.
22nd May, 2013. Photo: N. Crowley. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Free opportunity to learn about Grizzled Skippers.

Mark Woods from the Notts BSBI group has just been in touch. He tells me there are still a handful of places left on a Grizzled Skipper Training Event to be held in Bingham, Notts. on the 26th May. The training event is free of charge and will be led by Bill Bacon, Chair of Butterfly Conservation, East Midlands. 

If you are interested in a place on the course, please enquire asap to Chris Jackson, Biodiversity Officer, Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group. Contact him on 0115 969 6519 or 07753 850760.

Thanks for the tip-off, Mark!

Posted by Louise

Saturday, 18 May 2013

BSBI VC55 Group at Aylestone Meadows Bioblitz. 

A good day at Aylestone Meadows Bioblitz today. We did a quick field count at the end and it looks like we recorded 185 plant taxa. A few were more difficult plants (like willows and sedges) that we need to check carefully to get the species - and we got some hybrids and naturalised garden cultivars, so we can't say 185 species. Taxa is a good word, if you don't want to be too precise!

Nice to see Sir Peter Soulsby, our Elected Mayor, at the LRWT stand, appreciating the contribution the Trust has made to nature conservation at Aylestone Meadows. As he looked at our poster (which you can view here), Geoffrey and I told him about the wildlife surveys that Neill Talbot had carried out at the Meadows last summer, helped by BSBI members like Uta Hamzaoui, Paul Stevens, Diane Mattley, Geoffrey and me, and the resulting LRWT report which you can see here.

Around a dozen grown-ups and children joined us for a wildflower walk through the Meadows and along the towpath, and there were some very sharp-eyed children - one was very good at telling the different speedwells apart, and another heroically rescued a frog, which was hopping into the busy carpark, and carried out a translocation to a more suitable habitat. Destined to be an ecological consultant, perhaps?

After the walk, we carried on recording and of course we visited the famous field with Eleocharis uniglumis - check its national distribution on the BSBI map here, and you will understand why jaws dropped and eyebrows were raised two years ago when this plant was recorded here for the first time.

Many thanks to Russell, Diane and Jack for all their hard work towards reaching our grand total, which will make a huge contribution towards the day's total. The specimens we brought home and the records we made will be properly checked this week and then go to Mike Jeeves, our VC Recorder, for scrutiny. Nothing dodgy gets past Mike so, once he is happy, we'll put the official total up here on the Blog of all the plant taxa recorded today at Aylestone Meadows.

Congratulations to Helen, Richard and the LCC team on a very successful Bioblitz!  

Friday, 17 May 2013

Aylestone Meadows Bioblitz: update.  

Uta showing AMAS members some plants.
Aylestone Meadows, June 2012
Photo: R. Parry
Latest news and gossip: I hear that Uta (right) is planning to lead a Bryophyte Walk at the Bioblitz on Friday evening. Also that Nathalie is co-ordinating the Wildlife Trust's stand, which Geoffrey will be helping on throughout Saturday. So there should be some familiar faces at this Bioblitz, whenever you arrive. Nathalie did a great job organising the VC55 Recorders' Conference in February, so if anybody arrives at the Meadows and can't see the rest of the BSBI group, please head for the Wildlife Trust stand. Nathalie will know what is happening - she always does! 

And of course there will be an AMAS stand - I hear that Jack Riggall and his team have put some excellent display boards together. Jack is also a student on the Botany for Beginners course, so he can give you an honest account of how it's all going. And I hope to see Anne Hayto of AMAS on Saturday - the woman who led the struggle against the football development two years ago - more about all this on the AMAS display - it makes fascinating reading.

BSBI55 at Aylestone Meadows, 2008.
Photo: G. Hall
The LRWT stand will have copies of the new Recorder journal for sale: essential reading for any naturalist in VC55 and a snip at £3. I should declare an interest here - I am lucky enough to sit on the Editorial Board - but I honestly think that Editor Steve Woodward has done a fabulous job with reinvigorating the journal. You can judge for yourselves at the Bioblitz, or click here for more info and to download a free pdf sampler of this issue of Recorder, the first with Steve at the helm. 

The photo (above) shows some founder members of the BSBI VC55 group surveying at Aylestone Meadows in the summer of 2008. It will be interesting to compare the list we made then with what we record this weekend during the Bioblitz!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Aylestone Meadows Bioblitz.  

This weekend sees the first of four Bioblitzes scheduled for the Vice-County this year. The Aylestone Meadows Bioblitz has been organised by Richard Kelly at Leicester City Council. Click here for more information, and go to the foot of the page for the Activity Schedule. 

The wildflower walk is scheduled for 11 am - 2 pm on Saturday and the local BSBI group has offered to show visitors around the meadows, so I hope that lots of you can come along and join us. We should see some nice plants and can show visitors how to ID them. 

We also need to do some recording before and/or after the wildflower walk. Please get in touch if you would like to do this, and we can arrange some teams. 
Posted by Louise

Dates for your diary: part two. 

We have put together a calendar for the local group, with dates for BSBI meetings (national and local), local Bioblitzes and both the Plant ID course and Botany for Beginners courses. 

I've filled in dates until September, and we can keep updating it. Hopefully this link is now working ok: 

Please let me know if the link still doesn't work, if you spot any errors or if you would like to add anything.


Dates for your diary: part one.   

This year, alongside our usual, impromptu Doodled meetings, we are planning some fixed meetings too. Here are the dates for six evening meetings over the coming weeks. They all start at 6.30 pm. We will add the links asap and give map, parking details and any site info for each field meeting. I've done the Owston one already. Please post a comment if you need, or can offer, a lift to Owston.

  • Owston Big Wood, Friday 17th May; map here and click on the compartments for site info; park on the road verge, SK778064 at the western end of this FFC site. 
  • Mountsorrel: Meadows and Mousetails, Tuesday, 21st May; park at SK 545 179. Coming from Loughborough:
    From the A6 just south of Loughborough, pass the crematorium / cemetery on your right and go over the railway bridge over the great central railway line, then turn right (west) on to the minor road and park on or close to the railway bridge. There is room for approx 6 cars in the parking area although the spaces may be taken by railway enthusiasts who film the steam trains from the bridge.
    Please feel free to indicate here if you would like to attend and to arrange lifts.
  • Allexton, Friday, 7th June. Meeting 6.30pm by the church at Allexton, see map and please  doodle here. 
  • Bagworth, Tuesday, 18th June, meeting at 6.30 at the car park at SK45800676. There is a website with more information about the site. Please doodle if you would like to come and to arrange lifts.
  • Charity Fields, Desford, Tuesday, 25th June. Details here. And here is the doodle link.
  • Great Bowden Borrowpit, Tuesday, 2nd July. The meeting point is at SP74158989 and marked on the map. Please doodle here. This is a SSSI with a tall fen vegetation on base-poor soil where we will see bog moss and cottongrass. Wellington boots are recomended.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Botany for Beginners.

The first module of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden's new botany course started on Saturday at Attenborough Arboretum, with a tuition session. Five beginner botanists tried out a range of botanical equipment (handlenses, wildflower keys) on some wildflowers of woodland and glade, both in situ and from specimens we had collected earlier. One thing we looked at was bluebells, and how to tell the native and Spanish bluebells apart. There's also a piece about this on the Plantlife Blog here  

The five students are now on our mailing list and will be invited along to local botanical meetings - they are all really nice, as botanists tend to be(!) and I know we will all enjoy sharing our botanical expertise and passing on ID tips - and so will the eight students booked onto the second module. 

Beginner Botanists learning field ID skills,
Attenborough Arboretum, May 2013
Photo: R. Parry
More info about the course here - you can still sign up for any individual module and none is fully booked yet, although enough people have signed up already that we have just about met our minimum attendance requirements for the entire course, so it will run right through to September, finishing shortly before the Plant ID course starts up again.

The 'Botany for Beginners' package is only viable because of the contributions of so many local botanists who are supporting the course by coming along to one of the 5 field ID sessions (the first one is next Sunday at Cloud Wood). If there is a date on the flyer here when you might be free to join us, please email me - the more of you the merrier! If we could achieve a 1:1 ratio of student to local botanist, that would really help people get going with field botany and start to feel more confident. 

A big thank you to all of you who have already offered to come along and especially to four people (and their support teams) without whose huge (unpaid) contributions, 'Botany for Beginners' would never have got off the ground:
Dr Richard Gornall who initiated, guided and oversaw the entire caboodle, and his team at University of Leicester Botanic Garden - Ruth and Jenny have been incredibly helpful in so many ways. 
Co-tutor Russell Parry, who contributed so much time and energy in prep for the session and then helped beginner botanists work through keys for the first time - many thanks to Russell and his fabulous "support team" aka Jennie Parry. 
Mike Jeeves (on whose Flora the selection of species is based) and Beverley Heath, Neill Talbot, Andy Lear and Uta Hamzaoui at LRWT for all their help and support. 
Dave Nicholls and his team at NatureSpot - great to see three of you (and two wives!) at Croft Hill on Friday :-)   

Thank you all for supporting beginner botanists in VC55.