On Thursday, myself, Martin Harvey and Neil Fletcher took part in the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s New Year Plant Hunt. We spent three hours wandering around the Bearbrook and Fairford Leys areas of Aylesbury recording any plant species that we found in flower.
We had barely parked up and got out of the car when we noticed a patch of Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) and Dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) in flower. Neil then noticed a naturalised Viburnum species alongside the bridge we were walking over. Using the App of Stace Neil identified it as Viburnum tinus , a species that none of us had recorded before (All 3 of us are avid pan species listers so always get excited about finding new species).
We then proceeded along a path between a river and a railway line, hoping for some interesting species. We only really found red and white dead nettles (Lamium purpureum and Lamium album). Next we walked alongside a fence to an industrial estate, it was time to get out the binoculars and see what we could see. I could see a species far away which looked to be in the mustard family. There was no way we could get closer without trespassing though so that species had to remain off the list. Finally we came across a large patch of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and a hazel tree (Corylus avellana) possessing catkins, unfortunately these were still closed so weren’t counted.
We then explored an area of industrial estate which happened to come up trumps with Daisy (Bellis perennis), Shepard’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua), Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus), Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) and Field Speedwell (Veronica persica) all found.
Martin also found Sticky Groundsel (Senecio viscosus), a plant which was new for both me and Neil and is rather rare in Buckinghamshire.
We then wandered through an area of industrial estate to an area of allotments, on the way we came across Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris) and some Hazel in flower. We also found a patch of reeds which distracted us from the plant hunt by coming up trumps in terms of specialist invertebrates. This included a cool spider Clubiona phragmitis, some tiny flies Elachiptera cornuta, and my personal favourite, the European Chinch Bug (Ischnodemus sabuleti).
We then proceeded to the allotments where we found some more Hairy Bittercress, Red Deadnettles and Common Chickweed (Stellaria media).
The final hour was spent walking through some fields, across a laying field and back along the road to the car, unfortunately this did not yield any new species in flower. All in all it was a very enjoyable walk with two great naturalists which more than made up for the lack of plant species in flower. There is still tomorrow the 4th January to take part in the New Year Plant Hunt. Please send your records to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do decide take part.