Graham Day, Tel: 028 9181 7710 (home); mobile on meeting days: 07764794687.
Co. Down recording in 2016
Ad hoc field trips and monthly field meetings were organised to make records for the forthcoming new Atlas, and in support of the proposed flora of Co. Down. I also give grateful thanks to Lesley Crawshaw, Margaret Marshall and Ian McNeill who sent additional plant records to me.
The recording year began early on the morning of 1 January when the Stormont estate in Belfast was visited for the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt. Twenty-nine flowering taxa were found including naturalised Geranium x drucei, and Anthemis arvensis which was in a ‘wild flower’ bed.
Margaret Marshall started the spring recording season very well with a ‘first for Co. Down’ of Saxifraga cymbalaria from the recently re-opened but unrestored walled garden by the farm.
The next records were made by the Saltwater Brig near Portaferry in mid-April, when an old churchyard and adjacent roadside were walked. The churchyard had old Berberis darwinii, Veronica salicifolia, V. x francisciana bushes and Iris foetidissima. The roadside produced Valerianella locusta and Geranium lucidum (which seems to have rapidly expanded its distribution in the past few years).
Walking on the shore and roadside between Greencastle and Cranfield produced Lampranthus falciformis, Lycium barbarum, Muscari armeniacum, Sedum spectabile and S. rupestre. Some specimens of Sherardia arvenis, now rarely encountered, were found on a roadside bank. There was no sign of Carduus tenuiflorus, once so abundant around Greencastle, and the village seemed to have been subjected to a ‘tidy-up’.
In late April, the Ormeau embankment in Belfast held large populations of Erophila verna and Saxifraga tridactylites. A few Heracleum mantegazzianum were also seen.
A short section of the Comber Greenway at Dundonald produced Aphanes australis, Myosotis discolor, Rorippa sylvestris and Veronica montana in mid-May. In late May, an adjacent section had Veronica agrestis.
A party of four visited Dromantine north of Newry in mid-May. Numerous introduced species were present along the roadside, but there was also some good woodland with understorey containing Hyacinthoides non-scripta, Lonicera periclymenum, Sanicula europaea, and Veronica montana.
In late May, Lesley Crawshaw sent me a record of Allium roseum from Groomsport. This was the first record for Co. Down. The small patch of plants seems to have been present for some years, probably a discard from the gardens close by.
Mew and Lighthouse Islands (by Copeland Island – hectad J68) were visited in mid-June. Both had large numbers of nesting gulls and thorough searches were not possible. However, Mew may have become drier, as conspicuous marsh and aquatic plants previously recorded were not seen. It is now dominated by bracken with bluebells underneath. Rocky areas have abundant Festuca rubra, Silene dioica, and Rumex spp. On Lighthouse Island, effort has been made to control Impatiens glandulifera, and bracken is now dominant with abundant Heracleum sphondylium, Hyacinthoides spp., Sambucus nigra and Silene dioica. Urtica urens and Carduus tenuiflorus were seen around the old lighthouse and bird observatory.
In mid-June, Polysticum aculeatum and Festuca altissima were relocated at Tollymore, but a thorough search for the filmy fern, Hymenophyllum wilsonii was unsuccessful. On the return journey, Silene vulgaris was noted growing out of a hedge near Dundrum.
The Whyte Estate was visited with the Belfast Naturalists Field Club in mid-July. Dryopteris borreri, Agrostis vinealis, Poa nemoralis, Veronica montana and several species of introduced trees including Carpinus betulis and old Cupressus macrocarpa were recorded.
Chenopodium rubrum, Papaver rhoeas and Veronica anagallis-aquatica were found in a quarry at Skelton’s Cut. Cicuta virosa and Rorippa palustris were noted at Islanderry Lake in mid-July.
The most surprising find of the year was Crassula tillaea on a roadside in the north west of the county at Tonaghmore in mid-July. Previously this species was known only from Murlough and Newcastle in the east.
The land-fill adjacent to the RSPB reserve at Belfast docks was revisited in late July and early August when note was made of Blackstonia perfoliata, Filago minima, Mentha arvensis, Myosotis ramosissima, Ophrys apifera, Senecio inaequidens and Heracleum sphondylium x mantegazzianum. A first county record was made for Stipa tenuissima (identified by T.B. Ryves).
Ground by the Victoria Park bridge to the Harbour Estate produced Heracleum mantegazzianum, Lactuca serriola and Phalaris canariensis in early August.
In early September, recording at Kilkeel produced Crocosmia paniculata, Solanum nigrum, Diplotaxis muralis and Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis. At Wilson’s Point, Pilosella aurantica and Gaultheria mucronata were seen.
Of the 42 hectads in County Down, 21 were visited (7 specifically targeted due to under-recording) in 2016, producing 434 new or upgraded (from previous Atlas) records.
If you would like to record in the county, then you may download the County Down recording card here. Species lists should normally be within 1 km squares where possible (4 figure grid reference), with rare plants preferably recorded to 10 m (8 figure grid reference). Any notes on rare species found would be appreciated.
The Flora of County Down
This is a new project, beginning in 2010, for 10 seasons, to record the flora of County Down for a proposed publication. A new date class will be used, Date Class 5 (2010-2019), as initiated by the BSBI. This would essentially require that there be new complete coverage of the county. Species will be recorded to 1 km or better, with mapping to 2 km squares.
The current status of records held on the database Recorder for County Down is:
Total vascular plant records for county Down: 237, 487
- Date class 1: pre-1970: 6,411
- Date class 2: 1970-1986: 17,520
- Date class 3: 1987-1999: 105,397
- Date class 4: 2000-2009: 71,754
- Date class 5: 2010-2019: 36,405
No. of taxa: 1,872 [all status]
Field Meetings Programme 2017
Sunday 23rd April 11.00 a.m. Newry
Urban and maritime plants. Meet at car park off the Dublin Road at the junction with River Street, J08602595. We will record along the river via the Greenbank trail and around the town. Be prepared to be out all day and take a packed lunch.
Sunday 21st May 11.00 a.m. Dromantine College Estate
Woodland and estate plants. Meet at the entrance to the estate, J084354.
Be prepared to be out all day and take a packed lunch.
Saturday 10th June 10.30 a.m. Mount Stewart National Trust
Woodland and arable plants along the recently opened trails to the south of the House. Meet at the southern end of the car park at J55426942; fee payable for non-members. Be prepared to be out all day and take a packed lunch.
Sunday 23rd July 11.00 a.m. Castlewellan Forest Park
Woodland plants. Meet in the car park at J33473641 near the maze; fee payable. Be prepared to be out all day and take a packed lunch.
Sunday 13th August 11.00 a.m. Ballyhornan
Maritime and grassland plants. Meet in the car park at J59234201. We will walk along the shore towards Sheeplands with the intention of checking the Limonium binervosum colony J588401. Be prepared to be out all day and take a packed lunch.
Sunday 17th September 1.00 p.m. Ballyquintin
Maritime and arable plants. Meet in the National Trust car park at J62504619. We will walk to the west shore at Barr Hall Bay and record along the rough ground towards Carrstown Point.