2023 County Report for North Aberdeenshire

David Elston

The most significant event of the year was the death of senior co-recorder David Welch. An obituary has been written and will appear in BSBI News early in 2024.

The newly formed North East Scotland Botanical Recording Network (NESBRN) paid three group visits to North Aberdeenshire during the year. The first visit, to Forvie NNR, failed to refind its principal target species, Corallorhiza trifida (Coralroot Orchid) but succeeded in collecting many other useful records including two widely separated populations of Dactylorhiza viridis (Frog Orchid, main photo). This combination of target failures rectified by ancillary success became a feature of the year. The second visit collected substantial species lists for the first time from two tetrads near Gartly. The third visit, to the gorge of the River Ythan at Gight, failed to find any convincing Quercus petraea (Sessile Oak) despite the presence of 10-figure grid refs, the many oaks found all being either entirely or predominantly with characteristics of Quercus robur (Pedunculate Oak).

Now that the quest to obtain respectable species lists for all tetrads in Kincardineshire is nearing completion, attention is beginning to turn to North Aberdeenshire. A day spent recording the urban flora of Peterhead, the largest settlement outside Aberdeen, brought the volume of data from this previously under-recorded town up to a more acceptable level. The most interesting finds were all in the vicinity of St Peter’s Church, including Trifolium micranthum (Slender Trefoil) in the cemetery.

A selection of the most significant additional finds in North Aberdeenshire during 2023 is given below.

Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. coccinea (Early Marsh-orchid)

Detailed observations of Dactylorhiza orchids by Tristan Norton at Rattray Head, backed up by high quality photos, led referee Dr Richard Bateman to confirm the presence of the previously unrecorded subspecies coccinea of Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh-orchid) in North Aberdeenshire.

Carex vesicaria (Bladder Sedge)

Exploration of the River Ythan floodplain after examining oaks at Gight led to the discovery of the first likely native site of Carex vesicaria (Bladder Sedge) in North Aberdeenshire.

Lemna trisulca (Ivy-leaved Duckweed)

A large pond by the River Ythan contained a substantial population of Lemna trisulca (Ivy-leaved Duckweed) new to North Aberdeenshire.

Lysimachia europaea (Chickweed Wintergreen) & Cruciata laevipes (Crosswort)

The NESBRN search for Corallorhiza trifida (Coralroot Orchid) at Sand of Forvie NNR led to a detailed search of the heathland on the west side of the reserve. Here we found Lysimachia europaea (Chickweed Wintergreen, photo right), with only two previous BSBI records from the NNR. A follow-up visit led to the discovery of Cruciata laevipes (Crosswort, photo left), the first BSBI record for the reserve.

Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid)

A SHARPP search for Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid) at Cairnhill Moss led to the rediscovery of a healthy population of plants on the south side of the road across this Local Nature Conservation Site.