Diary 2006

September 2nd

Occasionally I go on a trip to find plants and have a poor day when only one or two are found but today I broke all records. With two other experienced botanists we set out with very specific instructions to find the very rare Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern) and both Wilson's and Tunbridge filmy ferns (Hymenophyllum wilsonii and Hymenophyllum tunbridgense) all of which grow at this site (allegedly).

After two hours following the very specific instructions we found nothing at all and had to give up and go to the next site. At the next site there are marshy areas where both Eleocharis parvula (Dwarf Spikerush) and Limosella australis (Welsh Mudwort). I had looked up the tide tables and when we arrived it should have been the lowest point of low tide. The tide was half way in!! The mud flats were inaccessible so we couldn't even begin a search for either plant. We checked the tide tables at the local information centre and our information was correct - low tide was at the time we thought. Time and tide wait for no-man except botanists looking for plants apparently.

The third site was always going to be the most difficult and when we tried to tie the intsructions with what we saw we couldn't find the entrance to a wood where the plants we wanted were supposed to grow. On the beach we did find some semi procumbent horsetail in the right place which could have been the hybrid Equisetum x robertsii (E. arvense x E. telmateia) but it wasn't convincing looking much like a tatty E. arvense (Field Horsetail) which had been blown over by the wind.

400 miles round trip and we saw nothing. The ice cream at the second site was quite nice though.

As though that wasn't enough I've just received an email pointing out in an oblique way that the title of this page is Dairy 2006 rather than Diary 2006. It's been like that all year no doubt.


August 25th

Much less achieved for this site as I have done a lot of time consuming report writing for the Wild Flower Society site which I now manage:WFS

The photographs still accumulate in the library to be added at a later date and the current total including some non flowering examples is 1246 still short of the 200 I had hoped to add this year. The countryside has a real Autumnal look at the moment with many species often in flower at this time of year, completely finished.

A holiday in the North of Ireland didn't yield very much but I found a few late flowering spikes of Spiranthes romanzoffiana (Irish Lady's-tresses) and four other escapes which I couldn't at first identify. We travelled in County Donegal for the first time and were very impressed by the naturalised fuchsia hedges and frequency and size of montbretia.

July 3rd

This last month has been a busy one for botanising in the field so much less has been added to the site. A recent Wild Flower Society trip to London has yielded some 50 new species most of which had flowers or fruits and should be Ok for adding to the site. This means that the total of plants photographed although not yet added to the site has just reached the 1,200 mark.

June 14th

I really am no sort of a birder much less a bird photographer but occasionally I see a bird which poses long enough for me to get my hand held camera and take a recognisable photograph. Having accumulated no less than six such photos I've put them on the site but all photos are taken hand held with a compact digital Nikon 8800 usually using some ridiculously high zoom setting.

June 10th

June is usually a busy month for botanists but after a short holiday on the Isle of Wight where we found Orobanche rapum-genistae (Greater broomrape), and carpets of the nationally rare Gentianella anglica (Early Gentian), I was due to rendezvous with some WFS friends from the Inverness area for an expedition to find Diapensia. We were lucky with the weather, we had an excellent guide and the flower was at its best. This plant occurs on this one plateau in Scotland but there are literally thousands of clumps most bearing flowers.

The next trip is to the North West of Scotland to Assynt with a Wild Flower Society "Come and Find" meeting and after that to London so no doubt the site will stagnate a little while I collect photos for addition at a later time. At present there are about twenty waiting to be added.

As I write this note the full summer sun is heating the UK and temperatures of 25 deg C or more are expected.


May 10th

Warm spring weather is here and today in the White Peak (Derbyshire) the countryside was in top show condition. Wild flowers, butterflies and bird song were everywhere.

It still looked to me as though this upland area was about 2 weeks behind with trees like Prunus Padus (Bird Cherry) still in bud. Allium ursinum (Ramsons) wasn't yet flowering much and the Orchis mascula (Early Purple-orchid) was only showing hundreds of spikes instead of the more usual thousands at this time of year. Butterflies were everywhere though in spite of the gloomy news about their year on year decline. I noted large white, small white, Orange tip male and female, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Brimstone and my first close sighting of Green hairstreak. There were plenty of orange tips, peacocks and green hairstreaks to be seen.

The UK can be a dull place with cold wet weather seeming to dominate but days like this are just perfection with clear fast flowing streams, scented air and a temperatures just right for shirtsleeves and a picnic lunch sitting on a warm rock in the middle of nowhere.

And I even found a site for Cardamine impatiens (Narrow-leaved Bittercress), Polemonium caeruleum (Jacob's-ladder) and Trollius europaeus none of which have I yet photographed in flower.

April 18th

On the first Wild Flower society meeting I've attended this year led by Julie Clarke on April 15th, we were lucky to have warm sunshine. I thought that with luck we might see the Viola rupestris (Teesdale Violet) on Arnside Knott - a plant I've searched for at this site before and failed to find. In fact not only did we see this rarity but a further eight plants were new for ukwildflowers.com.

April 10th

More Scenery photos have been added and categorised into Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland for easier access. Because there is far less likelihood of finding new plants to photograph now that 1,073 are already illustrated, I've started a photo diary which will have recent smaller photos of common plants already on the site and an account of the trip.

March 31st

Today was sunnier than expected with temperatures near or above 15 Celsius - proper Spring weather. I went to find Ruscus aculeatus in a wood where I had last seen it 15 years ago. Things change of course and I was expecting the wood to look different but the big problem was that this Nature reserve was surrounded by a fenced topped with barbed wire. Eventually I found a way in and found the plant, managing to take a few shots before the heavens opened.

Moving on to my next site where I had failed to find the Giant Butterbur last year this time I was successful although access generously provided by the owner, was via a private garden. It took so long to finish off the various indexes in the new format that by the time the plant were loaded it was April 1st. A new low record for new flowers seen in any month just one: Gagea bohemica.

March 22nd

Today was sunny all day - the first time in March 2006. Temperatures still didn't rise much above 8 or 9 Celsius though as the cold wind still blows. I went to Great Orme to look for Hornungia petraea (Hutchinsia) and Scrophularia vernalis (Yellow Figwort) (neither of which could I find but there were flowers on Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine), Erophila verna (Whitlowgrass), Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage), Rhamnus alaternus (Mediterranean Buckthorn), Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) and Mercurialis perennis (Dog's-mecury) and some very nice fruits on Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree). The grass was hardly growing and the general scenery still looked as though we were still in December.

March 17th

I've stopped putting on the European flowers because I want to keep a few photos in reserve for quizzes and so on. The weather has turned to mid-winter with temperatures regularly at freezing or just above. We had one day where Spring came and the scorching heat of a 12 degree day was enjoyed for a few hours but now we're back to winter again. March 1st is always a date to look forward to because the first flush of daffodils has usually started by then but even now 17 days afterwards there are very few fully out here in the north west of England. We put the clocks forward in less than two weeks because it will be chronological summertime - what a joke. This could be a foretaste of the consequences of global warming of course because in this part of the world global warming would eventually lead to local cooling with the diminishing of the gulf stream (already down by 30%). Cold as it is though it isn't quite Alaskan yet. I've spent many hours rewriting The Wild Flower Society's web site (WFS) to be compliant with strict XHTML standards but I've done very little in the way of botanising.

March 1st

Tried to find the Gower Flower last week in Swansea but it wasn't out. Today the snow swept in and block roads all over the UK. In spite of the cold wind, the sun shone and Gagea bohemica (Radnor Lily) was out (four plants in flower only) at its only site in the country. Not a bad start to the new botanical year!

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