Leader Rob Randall

This was the first of two meetings to contribute records to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) New Year Plant Hunt. The route was chosen so there was plenty of interest for ornithologists as well as the botanists.

The river was in flood and a young Mute Swan was working hard to cross from one side to the other. The weather was dry but dull and blustery and a large flock of Feral Pigeons were sheltering behind the balustrade of the railway viaduct. Wood Pigeons were undeterred and perched high up in the trees almost everywhere. Below Beechen Cliff a large party of tits was foraging amongst the shrubs: Long-tailed Tits joined by a few Blue Tits and Great Tits. Cock Robins were busy defending their territory and Carrion Crow, Magpie and Jackdaw, were as vocal as ever. There was also plenty of bird-song along the Linear Park, including Blackbird, Dunnock and Blackcap.

Plants in flower were a mixture of those which flower all year round, such as Groundsel and Annual Meadow-grass, some like Hogweed and Smooth Sowthistle, were still hanging on at the end of their flowering season, while others like Grey Field Speedwell and Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill were just beginning to flower. In all 26 species were encountered, but this total was far exceeded by those counted on the second New Year Plant Hunt led by Helena Crouch. The results of this national survey are now available on the BSBI website.