Tag Archives: Botnay

BSBI Summer Meeting Day II – Binevenagh

Recently the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) held it’s Annual Summer Meeting (ASM) in Northern Ireland.
This final post will be looking at our trip to Binevenagh, Co. Derry.

Binevenagh is a Northern Ireland Environment Agency owned National Nature Reserve and is stunning area and was the perfect place to finish our botanising trip.

Before we actually got up to the mountain we had to go through some rather nice woodland. The shade from the trees was very welcomed as the temperature increased throughout the day, it was also really nice to come across some Bird’s-Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis), with about 5-6 spikes dotted on either side of the well worn path.

Bird's-Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) - Oisín Duffy
Bird’s-Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) – Oisín Duffy

It was also nice to come across one of my old favourites – Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella).

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) - Oisín Duffy
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) – Oisín Duffy
“The Flower among them all”. Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) – Oisín Duffy

Not long after that we were given some background about the site, we were also told how the management of the area will be adversely influenced in the coming years due to budget cuts.

Getting out site briefing from NIEA workers - Oisín Duffy
Getting out site briefing from NIEA workers – Oisín Duffy

Binevenagh has a truly imposing stature –

Binevenagh
Binevenagh

After our briefing, we started up the mountain in search of plants –

Slow and Steady wins the race!
Slow and Steady wins the race!

It wasn’t too long before we came across some delightful “Burren” species.

Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) - Oisín Duffy
Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) – Oisín Duffy
Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) - Oisín Duffy
Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) – Oisín Duffy

It was really nice to see a species which has a relatively limited distribution in Ireland (especially nice to see it outside of the Burren) but this wasn’t the only case and as the day rolled on we started getting more and more rarities!

Next up was the very beautiful Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) – another first for my species list.

Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) - Oisín Duffy
Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) – Oisín Duffy
Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) - Oisín Duffy
Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) – Oisín Duffy

I noticed quite a bit of excitement around a small green cushion like mound growing on the side of one of the slopes and then when I noticed a few purple flowers I thought I was going to see Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia), but it actually turned out to be Moss Campion (Silene acaulis), which also has a very restricted distribution in Ireland.

Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) - Oisín Duffy
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) – Oisín Duffy
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) - Oisín Duffy
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) – Oisín Duffy

An altogether very different looking plant and also very attractive and almost “comfy” looking, no wonder it’s also known as Cushion pink.

On the slope directly across from the Moss Campion another group was gathering with cameras and hand lenses, so I promptly made my way over (well as promptly as you can over sloped and uneven ground) and again it was a species new to my list. This time it was Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna)

Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) - Oisín Duffy
Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) – Oisín Duffy
Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) - Oisín Duffy
Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) – Oisín Duffy
Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) - Oisín Duffy
Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna) – Oisín Duffy

At this point I was feeling rather chuffed with myself having recorded and photographed a few new species (quite rare ones at that) and to be in the company of some of the best botanists within Ireland and the UK.

Botanists on a Break L-R - Louise Marsh (BSBI Publicity & Outreach Officer), Ian Denholm (BSBI President and Orchid Referee), Con Breen (BSBI Stalwart who took me under his wing for the weekend) and Maria Long (BSBI Irish Officer).
Botanists on a Break L-R – Louise Marsh (BSBI Publicity & Outreach Officer), Ian Denholm (BSBI President and Orchid Referee), Con Breen (BSBI Stalwart who took me under his wing for the weekend) and Maria Long (BSBI Irish Officer). – Oisín Duffy
Botanists making the final push up the mountain - Oisín Duffy
Botanists making the final push up the mountain – Oisín Duffy

The final push up the hill was certainly worth it as we encountered Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) which has only one site within Northern Ireland. Unfortunately though it appeared to have just finished flowering, still amazing to come across and of course new to my species list (although it is a species I’m hoping to come across on Bulbin in H34).

Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) - Oisín Duffy
Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) – Oisín Duffy
Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) - Oisín Duffy
Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) – Oisín Duffy

The view was also spectacular from near the top, especially considering we were looking directly into East Donegal (H34) my homeland and the area myself and Mairéad have been botanising in since last July.

Looking out to Donegal. - Oisín Duffy
Looking out to Donegal. – Oisín Duffy
Looking from Binevenagh over to Donegal. - Oisín Duffy
Looking from Binevenagh over to Donegal. – Oisín Duffy
Looking from Binevenagh over to Donegal. - Oisín Duffy
Looking from Binevenagh over to Donegal. – Oisín Duffy

The best was certainly kept till last as Binevenagh was the highlight of the entire trip. The rare alpine species, so many of them being new to my list and the scenery and atmosphere was just superb.

Botanists searching for more rare species - Oisín Duffy
Botanists searching for more rare species – Oisín Duffy
The descent from the mountain - Oisín Duffy
The descent from the mountain – Oisín Duffy
"The Castle" - Binevenagh - Oisín Duffy
“The Castle” – Binevenagh – Oisín Duffy
Binevenagh - Oisín Duffy
Binevenagh – Oisín Duffy
Me getting a picture of Louise getting a picture of the BSBI Sumemr Meeting Gang - Oisín Duffy
Me getting a picture of Louise getting a picture of the BSBI Sumemr Meeting Gang – Oisín Duffy
One last shot of Binevenagh before the post is over! - Oisín Duffy
One last shot of Binevenagh before the post is over! – Oisín Duffy

Overall a fantastic weekend of learning and lovely people, exactly the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect from the BSBI!