Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Seasons greetings - and New Year coming up

Once more it is time to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Once the main festivities are over, it will be time to get out for the BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt. This is now an annual fixture, and we expect more people than ever to be involved - for more information on the requirements, see the BSBI website. This year there are special apps to download, to enable the data to be collected and collated more efficiently, so please take note - and this is an interesting opportunity to dabble in "mobile recording" if you haven't yet. If you don't have a smartphone, don't worry, we are expecting a desktop version of the app which will hopefully be available from the website very soon. For more information, see the BSBI's News and Views blog, or follow on Twitter or Facebook.

If you want to join me, and Delyth Williams, in Denbighshire, we hope to go out on the last possible day - Wednesday 4th January (fingers crossed the weather is ok - might have to go somewhere on Monday just to get a list in in case it pours on Wednesday).  We will meet at the beach carpark in Llanddulas at 10.30. Please contact me (email/ mobile phone) in advance in case the plan changes - bring warm clothes and perhaps a thermos in case we need to warm up. Last year's was wet - see my blog post here. And if you'd like me to post information about your plan, please email it - John Crellin is the only other Welsh one I've heard, meeting on Monday 2nd January at Ystradgynlais - but please contact John for more details. For their last year's hunt, see John's blog.

Denbighshire 2016

Before I wish everyone a Happy Christmas, I was sent a report from Delyth Williams, the Vice-County Recorder for Denbighshire. Delyth asked if I would like to put this on the website, or on my blog - and why not? I'd be happy to share reports from any or all the Welsh counties, perhaps more to come over the next few months.

Delyth writes:

Denbs Group 2016 - some recollections. 

The year started off on 6th March in the Ruthin Rugby Club for an update of progress and plans for the season, followed by a much-needed look at plants in the Llanfwrog tetrad. Even though it was bitterly cold we set off, but when the sleet and snow took over while we were in the church yard we decided to call it a (very short) day.

Thereafter there were about 15 advertised Denbs Group meetings over the season, plus a few short-term weather dependent arrangements. Add that to several independent recorders who have contributed considerably from their respective tetrads and the total comes to over 20,000 records from VC50 Denbs for 2016.

The main thrust of this year’s selection was to visit previously recorded tetrads at a different time of year to ensure best possible coverage. On the whole the weather was kind to us with the notable exception of a day of monsoon scale in June in Pentrellyncymer SH9752. We persevered though and were well-rewarded with new sites for Sedum forsterianum Rock stonecrop, Melica nutans Mountain Melick, Vicia orobus Wood Bitter-vetch, Carex pallescens Pale sedge and some lovely specimens of Araucaria araucana  Monkey-puzzle trees scattered through the village.
Sedum forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop)
Sedum forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop)

On 1st May a visit to the far west of the vice-county to Llanrwst SH7962/3 added 219 new taxa, most noteworthy some lovely estate planted trees such as Sequoiadendron giganteum Wellingtonia, Cedrus libanii Cedar of Lebanon, Abies grandis Giant Fir and Carpinus betulus Hornbeam. The origin and history of the trees in this area would merit further study. Asplenium ceterach Rustyback fern, although not rare, is always pleasing to find and it is common in these parts in the mortar of walls.
We went south in early June to Moelfre SJ1828, adding 199 new taxa. It was a lovely day in these gentle unspoilt hills yielding Saxifraga tridactylites Rue-leaved Saxifrage new to the hectad and Jasione montana Sheep’s-bit, Luzula pilosa Hairy Wood-rush and Myosotis discolour Changing Forget-me-not which are not uncommon, just pleasing to see.

A few hardy souls yomped for many hours in July over the Migneint looking for Carex magellanica Tall bog-sedge, which we re-found and Carex limosa Bog-sedge, which we didn’t.

August took us to Nant-y-Rhiw SH8258 where we confirmed two locations for Carex laevigata Smooth-stalked Sedge, which is by no means common and where Aphanes arvensis Parsley-piert, Lepidium didymum Lesser Swine-cress and Odontites vernus Red Bartsia were new to SH85. There was a surprising find of Thalictrum minus Lesser Meadow-rue doing well in the mortar all over the walls of the old chapel.

Stunning views of familiar places from a different angle made a September meeting to Ty Nant, Dinmael SH9944 enjoyable. We topped up more records for the tetrad, finding Vicia tetrasperma and Chenopodium rubrum Red-footed Goosefoot, both new to the hectad.

John Palmer organised a successful Bramble recording week-end in July with experts Rob Randall and David and Joyce Earl based in Llysfasi College. A full report will be in the BSBI Yearbook.

The season ended on 30th October along the limestone of Offa’s Dyke Path at Llandegla SJ1952/3, adding 145 new taxa and showing promise of a place to re-visit next Spring.

Very many thanks to all those of you who came along and let’s look forward to another good year in 2017. If you weren’t able to make it this year, there’s always next!