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Recorder eNewsletter August 2022

Scottish Officer – Retiring!

After 18 years as Scottish Officer, I am retiring at the end of November to devote more time to personal pursuits. It has been great fun being BSBI Scottish Officer / Senior Country Officer and I will miss it - and miss you – BSBI County Recorders and members! However, you are not getting rid of me that easily, as one of those pursuits is being County Recorder for Mid-Perthshire! Also, I'm not planning to retire completely - I'm aiming to keep my hand in with the odd contract here and there.

I've chosen to go just after the Scottish Botanists' Conference as that will be a good opportunity to say goodbye in person, assuming it is face to-face, as planned (see below).

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Correcting records that go astray in MapMate

It is very easy to accidentally enter an incorrect grid reference when creating a new site for a record in MapMate. And it can be tricky to find it again if the error takes it into another vice-county, which is often the case if you get a grid reference prefix letter wrong, for example.

To correct, you will need to change the Defaults in Data Entry > Records > Properties. So, in the Defaults Tab change the “Default to sites in <your VC>” to “Default to sites in <All>”. Now you can use the Data Entry window to search for the wayward site by site name or using the grid reference you accidentally entered. Once you have found the site, left click on the “Site” title and select “View this entry…” and Records > Edit Records and correct the grid reference, vice-county and any other details that are incorrect. Finally, click “Save” and “OK” and that should repatriate the records to your vice-county. Note that all the records using the site will be amended. There is no need to change the Default back to your VC. The next time you open MapMate it should revert to your saved default VC.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Notable records

When entering records that are notable it is always worth adding a detailed grid reference (see below) and a comment about the population size and extent, and any other important details. If you just give the notable species a grid reference with the same accuracy as for common species and don’t comment, then it might lead to doubt about the record subsequently.

Similarly, if you use a microscope to identify a species then you should always say that in the comments field. For example, if entering Utricularia stygia and you have checked its quadrifid hairs using a ×100 microscope, then you should add a comment to that effect. And of course, if you use a referee, you should always include their name as determiner / confirmer and you might also like to summarise their diagnostic feedback in the comments field.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer


Even with a GPS accuracy (or Estimated Position Error, EPE) of 3 m, which is as about as good as they ever get, the chances are a 10-figure grid reference (1m resolution) will nearly always be wrong. So that the grid reference will not describe the intended 1 × 1 m grid square.

However, there is a 98.9% chance that an 8-figure grid reference (10 m resolution) will be correct. Indeed, it is debatable whether it is worth quoting grid references to 10 figures at all and the long string of digits will only increase the chance of a transcription error. I therefore recommend quoting grid references with 8 digits (10 m resolution). Remember though, if converting, do not round up or down - merely truncate the fifth easting and northing digits, respectively.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Acknowledging record contributors

I know everyone is really busy but it would be great if County Recorders could find time to thank people who contribute records. There is nothing more dispiriting for contributors to never get a reply. Helpful feedback and kind words might enthuse and encourage the next generation of botanists! So, it is always time well spent. And, of course, remember to input their records!

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS)

Are you based in the Lincolnshire Wolds, in southwest Wales, northern Scotland, Galloway or Northumberland? Maybe you live on, or regularly take your holidays on, islands such as Shetland, Islay, Jura or the Isles of Scilly? If so, you are ideally placed to start collecting valuable data to feed into the National Plant Monitoring Scheme – all these locations have squares available right now, that are just waiting for volunteers to take them on and help monitor habitat health. Check out this map to see where the unallocated squares are across the UK and then visit the How To Get Involved page to find out more.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Aquatic Plant Project

Nick Stewart's latest webinars on aquatic plant identification have all been uploaded and may be found via the Aquatic Plant Project webpage, including an Introduction to Bladderwort ID and Water Milfoil and Hornwort ID.

You will also find details of the forthcoming aquatic field meetings in Limerick and Mayo on that page:

The aim of the days is to improve identification skills and gather records in a range of aquatic habitats. Everyone is very welcome but booking is essential. Thanks to the generous funding from the Irish National Parks & Wildlife Service the events are free.

Polly Spencer-Vellacott, Aquatic Plant Project Officer

Dates for your diary

  • The Committee for England is planning to hold a Recorders’ Meeting at FSC Preston Montford from Friday to Sunday 28th -30th October for County Recorders, Referees and other recorders. The cost of the meeting will be around £170 per person including accommodation (single room), meals and registration. Day visitors will also be welcome. Although being organised by CfE, those from other countries are welcome.
  • The Scottish Botanists’ Conference will be held face-to-face on Saturday 5th November at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Everyone is very welcome. Our keynote speaker will be Clifton Bain, the Advisor of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme on Peatland Restoration and we will also have an interesting short talk programme, a variety of workshops and an exhibition.
  • The BSBI’s Annual Exhibition Meeting returns as a face-to-face meeting – and a brand-new name! The British & Irish Botanical Conference will be held on Saturday 19th November at the Natural History Museum in London. We are lining up a fantastic programme of speakers and we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to offer a poster or give a 1-minute flash talk!

We are looking into options for recording the conference talks, so those who can’t attend in person will be able to watch them later. We will set up online booking pages for all three events and we will let you know as soon as they go live. But meantime please put the dates in your diary.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

BSBI Photographic Competition

This is a great time to be out and about taking photographs for the BSBI Photographic Competition summer category. The categories in 2022 are flowers in the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. The entries must be of native or naturalised species growing in the wild in Britain or Ireland. You may enter up to one image per category but you don’t have to enter all four categories. The competition is free to enter and open to everyone who is an amateur photographer. See BSBI Photographic Competition 2022 for full competition rules.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Photos of aquatic plants sought for new ID book

There’s a new photographic guide for aquatic plants in the pipeline, and the authors are looking for photographs of nine species (including seven sedges) – can you help? More info, including some background to the book, the list of species and who to contact, here.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Plant specimens wanted!

  • I am researching hybridisation in the British flora and would like samples of Cirsium and Epilobium. If you think you can help (one sample or many – all welcome!) I would be very grateful if you can contact me ( and I will send more information, silica gel, stamps and sampling bags for the leaves to be placed in and mailed back. The species I’m interested in are: Cirsium eriophorum, C. vulgare, C. acaule, C. palustre, C. dissectum, C. tuberosum, C. heterophyllum, C. arvense, Epilobium palustre, E. hirsutum, E. parviflorum, E. montanum, E. lanceolatum, E. tetragonum, E. obscurum, E. roseum and E. ciliatum. Thank you!

Mark Chapman, University of Southampton

  • As it is getting to the season for later grasses, I wonder if people might collect Brachypodium rupestre and pinnatum particularly with anthers; need only be 1-2 stems (with some leaf) and an inflorescence with anthers (yellow if possible). It will be to assess pollen fertility in these difficult grasses. These two taxa need much more work. I continue to look into them.

Michael Wilcox: