Monday, 2 January 2017

#NewYearPlantHunt 2017

It was a beautiful frosty morning this morning as we set out on our New Year Plant Hunt. The hunt is an annual event organised by BSBI to record as many wild plants in flower as possible over the New Year period. Data is collected from all over the country so that it can be analysed to see how our wild plants are responding to changes in weather patterns.

Some of us were hunting for flowers harder than others!
We decided to go back to Pyrtle Spring, the place we hunted for flowers last New Years Day, so we could compare this years finds with last years. Last year we found 15 plants in flower, so we had quite a lot to live up to this year, especially as we've had some hard frosts recently. The chalk in the fields had a layer of ice on it and you could see where the water in the chalk had frozen and cracked it open.

At the start of our plant hunt we found very little, just a few rapeseed flowers growing on the edge of a field that had previously been planted and some ivy that had really gone past flowering.
Rapeseed in flower

The spring had no water in it, but still looked lovely in the sunshine. We looked hard but couldn't find any violets or celandines this year. We couldn't even find a daisy, dandelion or dead nettle. Things weren't looking too good for this year's plant hunt.
A very friendly robin joined us as we hunted and seemed very curious about what we were doing.

Robin (bottom right) and BMG
We found lots of other cool things, including fungus growing up one of the huge trees in the spring and a tiny frosty toadstool growing on the edge of the field. There were plenty of buds starting to show, some beautiful lichen on the tree trunks and a large huddle of snails in one of the bushes.

A frosty fungus
Sticky buds

Elder buds


A huddle of snails bedded down for the winter
Back to the plant hunt ... we cast a little spell to help us find some flowers and headed for home.

Three generation spell ... guess who's been watching Harry Potter over Christmas!
The magic seemed to work (or perhaps we no longer had the sun in our eyes) and found field pansy, groundsel, speedwell (could be either germander speedwell or common field-speedwell), hairy bittercress and grass in flower.
Field pansy


Grass flowers

Hairy bittercress

So not as many flowers as last year's hunt, but still a very enjoyable morning. We'll log our findings on the BSBI website later today.

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