Diary 2007

November 14th

Further progress with naming Australian plants means that there are now 340 named with different degrees of certainty. This means there are about 570 photos of European, Australian or UK plants yet to add to the site. Unnamed species total nearly 300.

November 2nd

October was Australia month with 31 photos published. This month will be devoted equally to European, UK and Australian species but with 302 Australian species now identified and probably another 40 to add, the total in the named species library is over 500. There are over 200 unnamed species photos from both Europe and Australia.

October 16th

Identifying the flower photos from Australia is proving to be a time consuming business. So far there are 160 flowers named with different degrees of certainty in the library and about 90 unnamed. I'm going through the collections in date order and haven't yet reached the five days of our Wildflower Society of Western Australia tour where there were many new plants. The library has never been so full except at the beginning before I started the site. There are 88 UK wildflowers, 202 European and will probably be 250 named Australian photos all to add to the site. Too much for one winter's work!

September 27th

I have now returned to the UK and am sorting and trying to name the 1,000 plus photos of Australian flowers seen over the last 6 weeks. The last few days of September will be dedicated to adding UK and European flora to the site but October may well be Australia month.

September 16th

There are now an extra 200 plus named species in the Australian plant photos library but I'm still in Australia until next week. It's too difficult to update the site with photos from here so the site will probably remain out-of-date until then

August 13th

I've set up a blank Australian images page hoping to be able to add photos while I'm actually in Oz.

July 5th

Following the wettest June since records began here in the UK (wasn't April the hottest?) July follows on by trying to break another record for rain. Still it makes a change from hearing about hosepipe bans. In the library there are now about 250 photos waiting to go on the site and with the prospect of still more to come from various excursions and a trip to Australia, I expect that there will be many in the pending tray for several years.

The problem now is backing up so many photos. I have just installed my first 0.5 Tb (500Gb) disk to cope with this demand for space but fortunately hard disks are cheap at the moment. Burning DVDs and CDs are poor way of backing up data because a disk created on one writer isn't necessarily readable by another although it should be.

June 19th

Added a few bird photos today including my favourite one of swallows feeding.

June 4th

As usual the web site takes a back seat in the good months for botanising. It has been much harder to find new plants this year but a Wild Flower Society trip to Kent in early June yielded 20 or so new photographs including quite a few rarities.

May 1st

The Geranium genus index has been added in Sub Indexes. This allows the user to scroll through the Erodium and Geranium genus without going back to the main indexes. Many of the photos have been revised, improved or even retaken.

April 13th

The absence of any additions to the site was because I have been in Crete for the Spring flowers. This has led to an additional 83 named European plants (and over 1,000 photos of plants) for the site which means that not counting ones not yet named, there are nearly two hundred photos to add to the European section of the site.

I still do not have a photo of a new UK plant and would expect to add a maximum of 100 plants this year at most. Still the total number of new photos which could be on site by next Spring should increase by over three hundred with the European site beginning to show a reasonable total.

April 1st

The Spanish collection is now at 114 named plants with 40 unnamed and about 20 of which are too poor and lack sufficient detail to be named. It wasn't obvious how many new plants there would be to photograph but this total exceeds my expectations by some margin. A few will be added to the site at the beginning of April and some more towards mid April but there will be a gap of 7 days while the computer systems are down.

I have yet to add a new plant to the British Isles collection for 2007 and have missed Leucojum vernum (Spring Snowflake) and Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) both of which which flowered earlier than I had thought.

March 24th

Having just arrived back form a trip to Southern Spain, I now have over 100 photos to process for the European section of the site. Four of us (all botanists) went for four days to look for the special flowers of the Almeria (semi desert) region of this part of Spain. While we were wearing hats and rubbing in sun cream, the UK was enjoying an Arctic blast which brought icy winds, snow, hail and rain. There's something very satisfying about jetting off to a warm place when your own country is suffering winter weather. It still amazes me that in March you can go to a site in Europe where you are too late for orchids! We found only one plant of the fan lipped orchid (Orchis collina) with any florets.

Because the UK site now has over 1,200 species photographed, the addition of British species will slow down - I expect to add no more than 100 this year and none at all in early Spring.

The Spanish trip was a late decision by a few of us who go on one botanical trip per year but had noticed that cost of a trip to spain in Spring was not much greater than we were paying for our British excursions. Of course one's Carbon Footprint increases doing this and the guilty feeling which I have perhaps lasts less time than it should.

Later in the year (August/ September) we visit relatives in Australia - the longest trip and time I will have been away from home ever I think.

February 8th

Determined to get used to the thousands of settings on my new camera, I've ventured out locally and to The Great Orme desperately looking for anything remotely like a wild flower. The various folk who have appeared on T.V. with tales of the unexpected flowers in their gardens have all been lying. In the countryside in this part of the world it just looks like a normal February - not even the Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) was showing any interest. To make matters worse we've just had our first taste of winter proper with temperatures falling to -4 Celsius at night and scarcely rising above 3 celsius during the day. Today it snowed almost everywhere covering the south of the country with a devastating 4 inches of white stuff. Of course we couldn't cope - we're British. Far better to moan about the weather than to be prepared.

The site itself has had a bit of an overhaul. The main index page looks different and many of the indexes which we're rarely used according to the stats provided by my web hosting service, have been relegated to a sub indexes page. In addition I've made a start on the first of the genus indexes. The Veronica index allows you to page through the Veronica genus (Speedwells) without returning to an index between pages. That should help identification a bit.

I'm also planning two visits to the Europe in 2007 and so I hope to be able to add as many new European plants as British this year. The European flora is much richer but it's harder to identify plants and even this week I've managed to identify and publish photos of plants originally photographed in 2004 and 2005. Because of the anticipated increase in European plants I've created http://europe.ukwildflowers.com as a sub domain (which means effectively a separate site). There is now an A to Z index of plants photographed in Europe although this does include some plants which grow here in the British Isles as well.

February 2nd

Today I went to North Wales on the first bright and reasonably warm day of the year (about 10 Celsius). There has been much TV comment about how quickly things are flowering this years as we have had only a couple of days of frost here in the North West of the UK.

Garden flowers are well on the way as you might expect but out in the countryside it isn't necessarily such an early season. Today in Coed Cilygroeslwyd there were plenty of Primula vulgaris (Primroses) rosettes with new leaves and with tight buds but no flowers - no violets or Moschatel either. The Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops) were in full flower as they usually are in February and the Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore) was also well out. Again that is what you'd expect. There were a couple of Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celandine), plenty of Mercurialis perennis (Dog's-mercury) and the expected Corylus avellana (Hazel) catkins but not much else. Judging by this wood, which is well inland, there is little to suggest that we are having a particularly early Spring.

On the next good day I will try the Great Orme where the milder climate tend to allow early flowering and the wind batters the resulting blooms.

Now the site has over 1,200 plant photos it will be much harder to increase the total by large numbers and so this year there may well be many more flower photos from outside the UK published.

This year I am also trying new camera equipment: a Nikon Digital SLR D200 with 60 mm Micro, 80-400 Zoom and 50mm standard lens. The disadvantage of the these cameras is that they are heavy with bulky extras and no screen with which to compose the photo (The screen is used to look at the photo after it has been taken). The big advantage for me is the manual focus. Like the days of old, you look through the view finder and focus on the subject which is exactly what is needed for ferns, grasses and sedges where contrast is too poor for auto focus to cope.

The photos from this trip can be seen in a Photo Dairy (look in indexes).

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