New Year Plant Hunt 2016 – Donegal

It’s that time of year again to dust off the wet gear and boots and head out searching for plants. The New Year Plant Hunt is a recording initiative run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) with an aim to record any plants which are in flower from the 1st -4th of January.

In 2015 I recorded the first plant of the year, a Daisy (Bellis perennis) just before 1 o’ clock in the morning. This year I managed to be even quicker off the mark (with the help of my recording partner Mairéad) by recording Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) and White Clover (Trifolium repens) just after the clock struck midnight!

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Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) photographed just after midnight – Oisín Duffy
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White Clover (Trifolium repens)  also photographed just after midnight- Oisín Duffy

The next morning myself and Mairéad set out around my local area – Argary, to find what was in flower. I had done a quick reccy of the circuit the week before so I knew exactly where to look for most of the species, which meant I could keep my eyes peeled for new species. The weather in Donegal (as with the rest of the country) has been incredibly wet and windy and a few of the plants which I had noted from the week before didn’t survive the storms. Daisy (Bellis perennis), Ivy (Hedera helix) and Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) were some of the first species on our list. Both Daisy and Herb-Robert are usual suspects for the plant hunt as they seem to happily grow throughout the entire year. Much of the Ivy had gone over, but some pockets of flowers remained and I’m sure the pollinators of the area appreciated it during the Winter. A very fresh looking Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) was next on the list and wasn’t far away from a rather sorry and battered looking Nipplewort (Lapsana communis).

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Ivy (Hedera helix) – Oisín Duffy

One of the surprises of the day was Red Campion (Silene dioica) and this was only found in one location throughout the whole day, in fact there was only 1 flower still hanging on.

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Red Campion (Silene dioica) – Oisín Duffy
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Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) – Flowering beautifully along Ardnasool Lane – Oisín Duffy

Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) was in flower throughout most of the area, along with some other usual suspects, Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua) and Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), while others only occurred in one spot throughout the area Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.) and White Clover (Trifolium repens).

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A rather sad looking Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.) – Oisín Duffy

Overall the amount of species was fairly good as many of the hedges had been cut in previous weeks and being the most North-West county also doesn’t give you any great advantages!

The complete and compiled list for the area looks like this –

Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua)
Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg)
Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium)
Cock’s Foot (Dactylis glomerata)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Dandelion (Taraxacum agg)
Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
Ivy (Hedera helix)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
Red Campion (Silene dioica)
White Clover (Trifolium repens)

I’ll be following this up with a piece about our day recording in Co. Armagh with the BSBI president John Faulkner.

To keep up to date with any other find during the New Year Plant Hunt you can follow me @OshDuffy

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