BSBI's Recorder eNewsletter is a monthly email newsletter full of useful info, links and topical tips for botanical recorders.

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Recorder eNewsletter May 2021

Welcome to Julia Hanmer

We are delighted to welcome Julia Hanmer, our new Chief Executive Officer, who started in early April and replaces Jane Houldsworth who left in January. If you would like to find out more about Julia, Louise Marsh did a great interview with her on the BSBI News & Views blog.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Updated iRecord data

After a long delay, updated data from iRecord have been imported to BSBI’s database. Newly imported records from this source are held in a separate workspace away from the main Distribution Database (DDb). Partitioned records can be accepted into the DDb by selecting them in the search results and choosing ‘move into DDb workspace’. For more information about how to review and transfer iRecord data please refer to this help sheet.

The indicia/iRecord data includes many useful, high-quality records. Of the 1.1 million records, 97% have 1km or better precision grid-references; there are over 100,000 photos, 90% of records have full details of the recorder (the remainder use pseudonyms).

Validation of plant records on iRecord is largely undertaken by BSBI County Recorders, or local volunteers to whom the Recorder has delegated the work. Thanks to the efforts of BSBI volunteers 43% of the records have already been checked and marked as correct. Validation annotations are carried across when the record is transferred to BSBI from iRecord, avoiding duplication of effort and maintaining a link with the original recorder.

Tom Humphrey, Database Officer

Project Manager sought (part-time seasonal post)

BSBI Ireland is seeking a Project Manager for this summer's Aquatic Plants Project and Irish Grassland Project. The post is paid and runs from mid-May to the end of October. More details are available on our vacancies page.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

DDb checklists: Irish Flora Protection Order

In the last issue (in March) we mentioned we had uploaded the latest version of the Red List for GB and also the Northern Ireland Schedule 8 checklists to the DDb. To complete the trio, we have just uploaded the Republic of Ireland’s Flora Protection Order, 2015 species list. (No login required). To see the actual species, click the “items” tab and click the taxon header to sort. To use it as a search constraint, for example to list all records of FPO taxa made in 2020 in the Republic of Ireland, log in and click this DDb query.

Tom Humphrey, Database Officer

Spring Cleaning

After my piece on Spring Cleaning in the March issue, when I suggested that all MapMate users reset their synch and synch to the BSBI Database, it is worth checking that all your records for 2020 have indeed arrived at the Database. If you run this query and click the vice-county header to sort you can scroll down to see how many have arrived for your vice-county. Is it what you were expecting? If it is, more or less, then this query will helpfully categorise records by dataset (change the VC to yours first before running) and will help to identify discrepancies.

Finally, did you back up your MapMate? If not do it now! Guidance on backing up… (Sorry to nag!)

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

How to find Mapmate records with particular field entries in the BSBI Database

John Faulkner asks, I regularly enter “Seedling” or Sapling” of records of tree species in the Stage field in MapMate. How do I find those records in the DDb?

OK it is very simple - when you know how! Enter your VC and any other constraints you require; then click “more options” > attributes > attribute, and start typing (slowly) and select “Stage” in the label field and then enter “Seedling” in the value field. Here is a link to the query which looks for all records with “Seedling” and all records with “Sapling” in MapMate’s Stage field in Co. Armagh in 2020.

As John says, it does show the advantage of recording in searchable fields rather than just adding notes in the comments field.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Field Meetings

The 2021 field meetings and indoor events programme has been published on the website. Our governments are publishing their plans for emerging from lockdown. If everything goes to plan, I am hopeful that most field meetings will take place, but those taking place early in the year are liable to cancellation or may have a limit on numbers. The organisers of the Welsh AGM and the Glynhir recording week have, regrettably but understandably, opted to cancel those events.

When events have to be cancelled at a late stage, we will post this on the webpage, where you can find the latest guidance for leaders and participants. In particular, if you are leading a meeting, you have the authority to refuse participation to anyone who will not follow covid guidelines. Do keep an eye on the webpage for updates.

Jonathan Shanklin, BSBI Hon Field Meetings Secretary

Spring Conferences

Over the past two months we have held very successful online conferences in England, Scotland and Ireland. All the talks were recorded and are available to view on BSBI YouTube, where they each have their own playlist. Or you can see the Scottish and Irish talks on our Scottish Spring Conference and Irish Spring Conference pages along with related resources. Eighty-five members participated in the English AGM and the Scottish & Irish conferences both attracted 120 people – all many times more than we would normally expect at physical meetings. And some of the talks have been watched by even an even greater number since they were uploaded.

The most viewed on YouTube from each conference are Sandy Knapp’s Nightshades - one botanist's tale of diversity, Fiona MacGowan’s Can botany provide a window to our medieval past? and Alan Walker’s Mountain Flowers. All great talks which are well worth a look!

Jim McIntosh, Senior Country Officer

2020 County Reports

Thanks again to everyone who has submitted a County Report. The collated reports appear on the Ireland, Wales, and Scotland Country pages and the Scottish report is also in the recently published 2021 Scottish Newsletter. The collated English reports will appear in the English Botanical News due out shortly and on the England page. This year, for the first time ever, we have also published them individually on county pages – where they exist – which adds interest to those pages.

Jim McIntosh, Senior Country Officer

New county pages

There are new county pages on the BSBI website for West Cork, East and West Mayo, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire and there are four more county pages in preparation. Many other county pages have been updated in recent weeks to feature newsletters, site Floras, lists of rare plants, alerts about online talks, plans for field meetings (restrictions permitting) and much more, including the county reports mentioned by Jim above. Check the Local Botany page to find out more about botany in your area and if you are a County Recorder and don’t yet have a county page, drop me a line to find out how easy it is to set up a page.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer


The latest issue of BSBI News has been mailed out to our members, of whom there are currently 3,168 and rising! There’s a definite theme of nature conservation to this new issue, with a lead article by BSBI Head of Science setting the tone. If you are not yet a BSBI member, this blogpost and this sampler issue offer a taste of what our members enjoy three times each year; if you are already a member, why not send the sampler to a friend or colleague who hasn’t joined BSBI yet? It might be just the encouragement they need to join our growing ranks!

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Broomrapes Handbook

BSBI’s latest Handbook, number 22 in the series, is scheduled for publication on 1st May. Find out more about Broomrapes of Britain & Ireland by Chris Thorogood and Fred Rumsey on this webpage and in this interview, where you will also find details of how to order the book. If you are a BSBI member you will be able to benefit from our special offer which saves you £5 compared to the RRP; the offer runs until 30th June.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Dandelion season!

Dandelions are blooming now across Britain and Ireland and, whether you are a beginner or looking to improve your ID skills, you’ll find everything you need on our Dandelion page. It includes a link to the latest Dandelion webinar, hosted by Caspian Richards and led by John Richards, co-author of the BSBI Handbook on Dandelions. The video of the 90-minute webinar is available on the BSBI YouTube channel.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Online training for beginner botanists

Two online training sessions have been arranged this year to help beginners get started building up their ID skills. Our ‘Identifying Wildflower Families Workshop’ runs for two hours on 22nd May and is aimed at absolute beginners, while the 3-hour Grass ID workshop on 12th June aims to introduce the student to 20 common grass species. Each session is based on one of Faith Anstey’s ID booklets, and a copy is included in the small entry price; the Grass ID session is only available to residents in Scotland as fresh specimens have to be mailed out to all participants.

If you know of anyone just starting out with plant ID, please let them know about these workshops.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer