Hull Nats and the New Year Plant HuntThe BSBI's 2019 New Year Plant Hunt which ran from 29th December 2018 to 1st January 2019 was once again well-supported by Hull Nats. Six people turned out on 30th December for a Beverley walk and eight combed Hornsea on New Year's day. Both were new locations for the plant hunt. Our aim was to find as many wild and naturalised plants in flower as we could within 3 hours.
Having spent the summer on a botanical survey of Beverley we had little trouble finding a suitable route for Sunday's walk, which took in the waste ground and industrial area at Grovehill, the river, the beck and Grovehill Road. Beverley is so compact we had no need to go far to find 70 species actually in flower.
Star finds - Greater Burnet-saxifrage on the lane leading to Jacob’s Well; Common Whitlowgrass*, White Melilot, Hazel catkins* on the waste ground itself; Lesser Celandine* and Common Stork's-bill in the industrial area; Snowdrop*, Pellitory-of-the-wall and Water Figwort by Beverley beck; Grasses with exserted anthers: Italian Rye-grass, Wild-oat, Water Bent and Cock's-foot.
It was easy, leisurely and highly enjoyable. A long period of mild weather in December and the sheltered situation probably account for the fact that we took our place on the NYPH leader board, initially placed second, behind a Rare Plants group.
Hornsea was a tougher proposition. Distances were greater. Time was short. Lesley took her duties as host seriously and largely succeeded in keeping us together on a lengthy dash taking in a cemetery, the front, a churchyard, road verges, mere side, old railway line, drain and open allotments… and we mustered a heroic 60 species. Fun, energetic, exhilirating.
Star finds - Sea Mayweed near the front; Small Melilot on a verge; Winter Aconite*, Snowdrop* and Polyanthus in a cemetery; Creeping Comfrey at the back of the churchyard.
Admissible grasses: Annual Meadow-grass, Cock's-foot, Water Bent and Wall Barley.
*Spring flowers blooming early in the mild weather
Irrelevant to our task but noteworthy was John's discovery of Hard Shield-fern by the railway line, a first record for Hornsea.
We returned to find the big hitters from the south coast and Wales well ahead with scores of 120 at Swanage and 118 at Cardiff Bay. Surprisingly, our Hornsea list initially made longest lists board at 17th, before sinking, but our Beverley list finished in 13th place. Statistics: in 2019 during the Plant Hunt 702 lists were sent in, 640 species were recorded and 14 232 unique records made. We found all 20 of the most frequent plants excepting Gorse. As last year Daisy topped the lists.
Thanks to all those who took part. Particular thanks to Lesley, our Hornsea host, and to Helen for sticking with the phone app. Our observations each year provide data for phenological studies. Not just for fun then!
Gabrielle Jarvis, 7 January