Wednesday, 14 June 2017

BSBI Welsh AGM and ASM - part II

Last Wednesday evening at the Stamford Gate we were treated to a talk about Flintshire from the Emeritus Recorder, Dr Goronwy Wynne.
Dr Goronwy Wynne, the BSBI's
Emeritus Recorder for Flintshire
Goronwy has lived most of his life in Flintshire, and was recorder for over 40 years from 1963 to 2009. He spoke of the geology of the county and the altitude, and also talked of the way geology affects the vegetation on every scale from large to small. He also described some of the botanists that have worked in Flintshire, including anecdotes about Thomas Pennant. He finished off by telling us a few of the most common and rarest species in Flintshire. Goronwy was a colleague of my grandfather, who also contributed records to him for the Flora of Flintshire. He spoke without any PowerPoint or slides, but managed to hold the meeting's attention completely. 

On Thursday I joined the BSBI President John Faulkner, and Gillian Faulkner, and Oxfordshire VCR David Morris (see David's blog). We were allocated a square and delighted to find Maes Hiraddug SSSI (a Wildlife Trust Reserve). This grassland was lovely to see with many orchids: Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted Orchid) and Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade). Then, as a special treat, we found a few fronds of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder's-tongue) and then a few more. 
Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder's-tongue)
Having explored these meadows thoroughly we went on up a cycle track, into an old quarry, and down some lanes finding Fumaria capreolata (White Ramping-fumitory) in a hedge, we then eventually found access onto Moel Hiraddug, a limestone outcrop where we saw Helianthemum oelandicum (Hoary Rock-rose) over large areas near the summit. By this time the weather was threatening again, although we only had a few showers, and I failed to take any more photographs. 

I was unable to go out botanising on the final Friday, but it was wonderful to see so many botanists enjoying Flintshire, and to spend a few days in the field in good botanical company. I know Flintshire will be grateful for the extra records, which must be several thousands! 
David Morris and John Faulkner with Adder's-tongue

Friday, 9 June 2017

BSBI Welsh AGM and ASM - part I

This week has been a busy week although I for one did not have to stay away from home in order to join the BSBI Welsh AGM and Annual Summer Meeting, as both events (rolled into one) took place in Flintshire this year.

Monday afternoon was wet and I had no childcare available so I remained at the Stamford Gate hotel to meet new arrivals, watch Jonathan Shanklin's fascinating talk and then even with my young proto-botanists in tow joined Lynne Farrell for dinner.
The most junior attendees!
Tuesday was notable for gale-force winds, but we boarded a coach and spread the day between Gronant Dunes and Graig Fawr. There was very little rain but the wind made reaching the summit a struggle. However, after making our way over the summit where non-flowering plants of Veronica spicata (Spiked Speedwell) were spotted by the most intrepid, we returned along the bottom of the crag, where various special plants including Silene nutans (Nottingham Catchfly) were easily seen.
Photographing Geranium sanguinum (Bloody Cranesbill)
Tuesday evening was occupied by the Committee for Wales meeting (before dinner) and the Welsh AGM (after dinner). However, a most pleasurable moment was provided by John Faulkner presenting the Presidents' Award to Tom Humphrey for his work in developing and maintaining the BSBI's Distribution Database. This was warmly applauded by the audience which included many vice-county recorders who have benefited from this powerful and informative database.
Tom Humphrey being presented with the Presidents' Award by John Faulkner
On Wednesday I joined Laura and Graham to record a tetrad along the coast near Mostyn, where we spent a significant amount of time keying out various species (and improving our knowledge) while adding to the species list. There were 136 taxa listed for the square since 2000; hopefully (subject to analysis) we will have improved this significantly. It was a lovely sunny day although still windy enough to keep our coats on.
Keying out a tricky specimen with Graham - photo Laura Gravestock