Tuesday 28 February 2012

February 2012

It feels like we are already gearing up for spring and serious recording can begin before long. Having said that, there is plenty out there that can be recorded now – especially if you heard Dr Tim Rich of the National Museum of Wales, talking about how many plants were flowering early in January on the BBC. And while the trees are still bare, it would be a great time to try to track down mistletoe (Viscum album) in your area, or to survey snowdrops and other early flowers. We are thinking about how to record plant status, so recording snowdrops and whether you consider them to be planted, naturalised or native could be an interesting exercise.

At the same time, though, I am planning which of the BSBI’s field meetings I may be able to attend this year – an exciting time of anticipation. Many of the vice-county recorders are sending out programmes for local field meetings, so if you are not on your local recorder’s mailing list why not contact them and ask if they are organising anything this year?

I am just back from a monitoring workshop organised by CCW where I gave a presentation about the potential for volunteers to contribute to rare plant monitoring – as the BSBI has been doing for many years. In these tightened financial times there was considerable talk about how volunteers can be best used, and I think we should welcome the chance to cooperate closely with agencies such as CCW. It adds value to the work that we do if we consider how it can be best used in conservation.

Another theme was remote sensing, and although it is fascinating to see what can be done with satellite images, one of the take-home messages was that field botanists/ ecologists will still be needed when it comes to surveying individual species, and even with habitats there will always be a need for extensive field work to provide “ground  truths”.
For your diaries, there is an International Fascination of Plants Day on 18th May, with events in Cardiff (the University in conjunction with the Museum). For more information see the website at:

November 2011

It’s now five months into the job and I’m still enjoying it. I have now visited the vice county recorders in nine of the thirteen Welsh vice-counties and I am amazed at the work they do. Some carry out their recording in addition to full-time jobs, although most of these work in some ecological capacity and will collect some records in the course of their work. Others have been in position for several decades and have collated an astounding body of detailed records. 

Having recently visited Arthur Chater, I was given an electronic copy of his Flora of Cardiganshire. Whether or not you have a hard copy of the book, I can recommend the electronic version. It is searchable so you can quickly find the species you are interested in (no need for the index) and also includes high resolution versions of many of the photographs, which you can enlarge on screen. Unfortunately the file is too large to be easily downloaded, but you can get a copy via Alex Lockton, as detailed on the main website.