BSBI Flintshire – the search for Euphrasia pseudokerneri

Euphrasia pseudokerneri is a Flintshire rarity.  Or, it would be, if anyone could actually find it. The plant was last recorded in the county at Penyball Hill by Vera Gordon in 1962, but no-one has seen it since.  Wendy McCarthy looked in the 1990s and, not wanting to give up on it, we thought we’d have another look.  After all, a new eyebright handbook is in prep and it would be great to re-establish our knowledge of the distribution of this species in North Wales.

Euphrasia pseudokerneri photographed by L. Rooney at Lydden, Kent

Euphrasia pseudokerneri photographed by L. Rooney

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BSBI Bramble weekend Denbighshire 2016

Did you know there are over 300 different kinds of brambles in the UK and Ireland?  Here are some that I got to know on the BSBI 2016 Welsh bramble weekend:

Rubus vestitus

Rubus vestitus

Unnamed bramble in the vicinity of Rubus ulmifolius with lovely red styles

Unnamed bramble in the vicinity of Rubus ulmifolius with lovely red styles

Rubus lindleyanus showing off its pleated leaves

Rubus lindleyanus showing off its pleated leaves

Rubus incurvatus.  Note the pink filaments on the stamens

Rubus incurvatus. Note the pink filaments on the stamens

Rubus dentatifolius, the jagged leaf bramble

Rubus dentatifolius, the jagged leaf bramble

Rubus condensatus, new for Wales :D

Rubus condensatus, new for Wales😀

Thanks to John Palmer for organising and to Dave Earl and Rob Randall, our expert batologists.

A slag heap in Lancashire (2016)

Appetising, no ?!  Don’t I get to go to some nice places in this job……

Actually, slag heaps are pretty interesting places if you’re a botanist, often with interesting chemistry quite different from their surroundings – maybe alkaline in an acid area, or with metal contamination, and they always seem to have some ecological oddity.

2016-07-21 12.02.24 (450x800) Continue reading

Ecological appraisal, farm accesses, Cheshire (2016)

One of the smallest projects I’ve ever advised on.  This involved a new farm building access and new car parking area in rural Cheshire.  Usually, something this minor wouldn’t attract the attention of the county ecologist, but in this case the site was in a SSSI Impact Risk Zone as it was very close to a SSSI, and just 10 metres from a Local Wildlife Site, so I was called in to provide Extended Phase 1 habitat survey and advice to the project team. Continue reading

Ecological appraisal on the Migneint, North Wales (2016)

Another small project for Welsh Water, this time appraising some very minor repairs indeed, but in a highly designated location.  The Migneint is a place of legend amongst Welsh botanists, not least for its consistently horrible weather.  It is part of Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt SSSI and internationally important for its blanket bogs and upland bird communities as well as home to otters, water voles and an array of interesting and notable species.

Fortunately the repairs as well as being minor were in locations accessible from an existing track, which meant there was no need for workers to traverse the adjacent semi-natural habitats.  Just as well, really, because our survey found that the ground was rather soft in places, with plenty of Sphagnum and bottle sedge.  Put me in mind of the kinds of stories digger drivers like to tell, the ones which start with them being asked to  “just drive across the river so you can start digging from the other side” and end with them losing a second digger in the mud whilst trying to pull out the first !

Luckily there was no evidence of water vole either, so provided an ecologist is there to check everything again before the works start, there should be no problem with the repair project.

Warrington Plant Group at Gemini East

It may seem strange to hold a botanical meeting on the edge of a business park, but this is a diverse 1km square with woodland, grassland and river and we found 161 species of vascular plant in our day’s excursion without even covering the whole square.  Might even be better than the adjacent square which we covered last year!  Unfortunately it was raining, which cramped our style a bit, but four hardy botanists turned out anyway to explore what the square had to offer. Continue reading

BSBI Flintshire at Prestatyn Meadows

The weather forecast was vile and the trains were cancelled, but that didn’t stop four botanists from assembling to discover the flora of Prestatyn Meadows.  After driving through torrential rain, we were pleasantly surprised to find it stopped just a few minutes after we set out, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our excursion in relatively balmy conditions.

Prestatyn Meadows is an interesting site because it lies on land reclaimed from the sea and has many ditches with a slightly brackish influence.  Interesting species recorded on the day include meadow barley, divided sedge and parsley-leaved water-dropwort, but we were not successful in refinding brown sedge or tubular water-dropwort.

We made a full species list for the day and recorded 142  species – not bad for a 16 hectare site given that we couldn’t get into most of the fields because they were so overgrown.