Wednesday 4 January 2017

2017 - BSBI New Year Plant Hunt - Settle

Fun Botanising and Conchologising

2017: The sixth year of the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt. (BSBI = Botanical Society of the British Isles). 

What is the New Year Plant Hunt?

People go out for a period of up to 3 hours during 1 to 4 January, and count how many wild plants they can find IN BLOOM, and send in the results. It is the third year Craven Conservation Group have taken part.
Here is last year's blogpost (2016) and the previous year (2015)

See our results for 2017 at Settle on the map
on the national BSBI results site. (By 4th Jan, 240 lists had been sent in)
This year they have a new app/website program to enter results direct via IRECORD, So the the results appear straight away. Last year I sent them an Excel worksheet.

We did the walk in two halves this year - Day 1 West of Church Street and the Market Place, Day 2 East of Church Street;  On the second day we briefly went back to tick off species only seen north of Church Street.. especially the Red Valerian

On 1 January for 1 1/2  hours three of us searched some of the same streets and alleyways in Settle as the previous two years.  west of Church Street (B6480) 

 On the 2nd Jan, Melanie and I, and Ruby the dog (see above)  searched on the rest of the streets west of Church Street (B6480) and also found some new corners and back pathways, the land next to the electricity substation near the entrance of Mill Close being especially productive.

After Day 1, having only found 12 wild plants in flower,  I thought "We are going to have a lower score this year - The Ivy was all in fruit, as was the Procumbent Pearlwort and Herb Robert,  There was no sign of Snowdrop flowers, the Rue-leaved Saxifrage was only in leaf, not flower; The Methodist church itself was gone, A weedy garden of 2015 had been tidied up. 

However with Ruby the dog and Melanie's help on Day 2 and a new start and new energy in the sun, we extended the number of back pathways explored.
Score 2015: 19
Score 2016: 19 plus several garden incl Snowdrop
Score 2017: 24. !!

New species in 2017 are: 
Rat's-tail Fescue,
Soft Brome,
Hairy Bittercress (would like to double check that) and
Sticky Groundsel.
Soft Sow-thistle (found on 2 Jan in Settle as well as on Bucker Brow) 
(Note each year I have included the Primrose near the Anglican Church entrance which I am sure was put there.)

Here are some pictures of us at work:

DAY 1:
Red Valerian

discovery of Red Valerian (video coming shortly)

Both days were sunny and cold. On the first day, passage ways behind Church Street and behind the old library site revealed 12 plants in flower, as we grovelled around in the gravel and looked on walls. 

A trip to Settle Parish Church churchyard enabled us to tick off Daisy .. and get sidetracked by lichens on the gravestones.
Looking at the big patches of Porpidia tuberculosa,
and under the ledge is Opegrapha gyrocarpa

 We also found five ferns and looked at two mosses. We ate our packed lunch indoors of St John's Church Hall.

Then we had a complete break and drove up to Bucker Brow (Buck Haw Brow), to the limestone. Here we found one extra flower - Soft Sow Thistle - on the limestone cliff (and lots of plants of Blue Moor-grass Sesleria caerulea, but none in flower)

We searched for the "Heath Snail" - Helicella itala - that used to be commoner Yorkshire 50 or 100 years ago  ( map )  but is now decreasing/rare except along the east coast.

It is easy to recognise as it has a large umbilicus (hole in the centre underneath) and is fairly flat.  The Heath snails are are in the top right half of the picture below.

The two long snails are "Door snails- 
(Clausilia sp), and I think the shiny flat one i the foreground is a  Glass snail (Oxychilus sp)

Within 10 minutes we had found 40 empty shells if the Heath Snail - seen diagonally centre-right below. Then there is a row of the large Garden Snail Helix aspera  on the left of the picure,  and to the right of that the slightly smaller Brown-lipped, (also called Banded Snail) Cepaea nemoralis 

After examining the snails we walked along the limestone cliff top. But there were wild plants here not "weedy/ruderal ones" and we did not see any in flower. Just animals eating them.

The walk back to the road. Settle is in the distance, far right.


On the 2 Jan, after ten minutes of scraping ice off the car wind screen I drove to Settle to meet Melanie. We wandered along the back of Craven Terrace, handlenses in hand for examining Wavy bittercress. 

Here is Soft Brome (Bromus hordeaceous). I dissected a floret later to make sure there were still anthers and that we were not just looking at the fruit.

Anthers of Soft Brome
Soft Brome

Sticky Groundsel

A spikelet of Bread Wheat (or Common Wheat) Triticum aestivum

And the anthers from a floret of wheat

Vulpia myuros Rat's-tail Fescue grass. And Ruby

 Here is some Honeysuckle.- I would like to go back and check the species