BSBI Summer Meeting Day II – Umbra Nature Reserve

Recently the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) held it’s Annual Summer Meeting (ASM) in Northern Ireland.
In this post I’ll be looking at our trip to the Umbra Nature Reserve in Co. Derry.

Umbra Nature Reserve
The Umbra Nature Reserve is a duneland site which is managed by Ulster Wildlife. Leading the walk was Dave Riley (V.C H40) who also gave an informed talk about the site before we entered.

The group listening to Dave give a history of the site. - Oisín Duffy
The group listening to Dave give a history of the site. – Oisín Duffy

We weren’t at the site for more than five minutes before I came across a plant new to my species list.

Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum) - Oisín Duffy
Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum) – Oisín Duffy

It’s always nice when you come across species which are completely new to you and this wasn’t the only occasion during the Umbra (and in fact Day II was full of firsts).

Marsh Arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris) - Oisín Duffy
Marsh Arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris) w/ a good helping of Cuckoo Spit. – Oisín Duffy
Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) - Oisín Duffy
Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) – Oisín Duffy
Fern Grass (Catapodium rigidum) - Oisín Duffy
Fern Grass (Catapodium rigidum) – Oisín Duffy
Dave Riley leading the groups through the different habitats in the Umbra. - Oisín Duffy
Dave Riley leading the groups through the different habitats in the Umbra. – Oisín Duffy

It was nice to come across some familiar plants also.

Close up of an emerging Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) - Oisín Duffy
Close up of an emerging Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) – Oisín Duffy
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Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) – Oisín Duffy
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) - Oisín Duffy
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) – Oisín Duffy
Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) - Oisín Duffy
Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) – Oisín Duffy

As we entered new areas and habitats Dave would give us a run-down on the species we were likley to encounter.

Dave giving a quick talk on some of the plant species found in this particular area. - Oisín Duffy
Dave giving a quick talk on some of the plant species found in this particular area. – Oisín Duffy

Another species of significance was a rare moss (Rhytidium rugosum) which has only one sight in Ireland, which of course was the Umbra. What an attractive moss it turned out to be.

Rhytidium rugosum - Oisín Duffy
Rhytidium rugosum – Oisín Duffy

The atmosphere at the Umbra was very relaxed and it was nice to dander about and look for species, unfortunately plants are slightly late this so many of the orchids that we came across were just about emerging or hadn’t even emerged.

The scenery was fantastic and it brought back some great childhood memories of being on Downhill Beach, plus it was also pretty neat to be near a Game of Thrones filming location.

The Umbra look towards Downhill Beach.
The Umbra looking towards Downhill Beach.

However a few things of a winged variety broke my botanical concentration (well everyone has their vices).

First up was this beautiful Wood White butterfly, myself and Mairead along with Julia Nunn and Graham Day (BSBI recorder for Co. Down) had noticed ones flying earlier in the day, so it was nice to find one at rest and be able to get a picture of it.

Cryptic Wood White - Oisín Duffy
Cryptic Wood White – Oisín Duffy

Shortly after that I noticed something else fluttering by and it turned out to be the very flighty Small Heath.

Small Heath - Oisín Duffy
Small Heath – Oisín Duffy

To be honest it was nice that the Umbra had a relaxed pace as later in the day we would be going up Binevenagh and well as you’ll see tomorrow, the pace was steep going!

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Final group of botanists coming over the dunes on the way back to the bus – Oisín Duffy
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