2021 County Report for Co. Down

Graham Day

The year was unusual because of covid restrictions and risks, so most of my recording took place locally on the Ards Peninsula. The weather was unusual too - a cold, dry, sunny spring was succeeded by a very dry June and hot July, with a record temperature of 31.2oC for Northern Ireland near Newtownards. These conditions caused plants to succumb to drought on the stony shores adjacent to the Irish Sea and Strangford Lough, impacting identification. The weather became more normal in late summer, but autumn and the winter, so far, have been exceptionally warm.

I took part in the New Year Plant hunt, the most surprising find being Aethusa cynapium in full flower in Greyabbey.

I am now routinely using a microscope for Polypodium species identifications.

At intervals throughout the season, Rubus plants were examined, with both R. ulmifolius and R. latifolius being recorded in several monads. However, wider identifications were problematic, due to the lack of a referee.

I have been trying to re-find species for the Rare Plant Project in Ireland, and have 40 forms completed, all of which are negative.

A revised version of the county rare plant register is in preparation, and I am currently about half way through the species accounts.

Clematis cirrhosa

Noted by Roy Anderson naturalised on walls at Mount Stewart rose garden. A probable first for Ireland.

Erica lusitanica

At Scrabo, Newtownards. Confirmed by E.C. Nelson. A first for H38.

Bupleurum rotundifolium

Submitted by Jake Dalzell on iRecord. From Belfast with supporting photograph. Probable first for Ireland.

Blackstonia perfoliata

From John Wann with photographs. On a redevelopment site in Newtownards. First record for the county that is distinct from the Belfast docks population.