The last week or so has been rather busy to say the least! As anyone that follows me on Twitter or Facebook will know, I have been very busy with co-ordinating the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s New Year Plant Hunt this year. This project was dreamed up a couple of years ago by Dr Tim Rich and Dr Sarah Whild and aims to engage the public with botany by encouraging them to have fun recording plants in flower over the new year period. I was asked to help with this project this year as it was predicted to be quite popular. Louise Marsh, BSBI’s Publicity & Outreach officer, did an amazing job and before we knew it, around 300 botanists went out recording plants in flower over the four day period of the event.
I managed to go out and complete my own plant hunt and have spent the rest of my time over the last week collating the data from this event. Tim and myself then analysed the data, the results of which are published here . 143 lists were submitted to us, equating to an amazing 2908 records of 368 different plant species. Thanks to Louise’s expertise we’ve managed to get quite a lot of media coverage for these results including articles on the BBC News, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail websites. Tim was also interviewed live on the BBC Radio 4 today program which you can listen to here.
I have lots of other things planned for 2015 too:
Firstly the Garden Bioblitz is taking place again this year on the 30th – 31st May. I am one of the founders of this event and it has became very close to my heart, generating over 30000 records in the last two years! The event encourages people to record as much wildlife as they can find in their garden in a 24 hour period. Some people record a few species, others hundreds of species, none of that really matters. What does matter is discovering that gardens are a fascinating place to look for wildlife and are a great way to get children involved with wildlife too. Although no one ever encouraged my interest in wildlife at an early age, I discovered wildlife through my garden and can always find new and exciting species or observe new behaviors within it.
The New Year Plant Hunt project has shown me how rewarding it is to volunteer for BSBI and how many plants there are out there that I am yet to see. So this year I hope to do more work with BSBI through my work on the new Members’ Advisory Board. We’ll be looking at new ways to encourage younger members to interact with the society, by offering opportunities for volunteering and developing new skills. I will be posting here about the Members’ Advisory Board as it develops and there well also be details on Louise’s News & Views blog. I also look forward to the start of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme , a habitat-based plant monitoring scheme aiming to collect data to provide an annual indication of changes in plant abundance and diversity. The best thing about this project is that whatever your level of botanical knowledge, you can take part and make a real contribution. There is also funded training available in some circumstances. Well worth looking into!
I also look forward to lots more general wildlife recording this year, especially surveys like the Grangelands and Kimble Rifle Range survey that I carried out in 2014. I found this freelance project really enjoyable to do, especially meeting some great naturalists like Brian Eversham along the way. My report is currently contributing to site management plans for this important site! I’m also looking forward to expanding my work with the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society through learning more about this fascinating group of species and convey my enthusiasm for this important group through the Facebook page for the society which I co-run.
This year is set to be a whirlwind of a year and I hope as many of you will keep updated through this journey through this blog and my twitter account.