From the day I was first fixated by the wonders of the natural world its been the birds that have dominated my life. More recently with the summer holidays progressing I thought it’d be best to use this vast amount of free time not only to be out birding, but to also indulge myself into a new area of the natural world that I had not yet explored. So, at the beginning of the summer holidays shortly before left the Wirral for a placement at the Bardsey Bird & Field Observatory, I decided to invest in a moth trap from which I began to study the moths that occurred in be inner city garden.
The first of the problem that occurred with this was the fact that I’m in a inner city environment, an area that’s barren for moths due to the lack of breeding and feeding opportunities. That as a result means that on average I catch 8 moths per night, most of which include the likes of Large-yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) and Dark Archers (Apamea monoglypha). As you can imagine over time I began lose my original enthusiasm for the subject, however it’s something I continue to do, so I decided to look else where for an area that I could explore and develop a new set of skills in throughout the summer that would maintain my interest which soon enough landed me at the gateway of botany.
Having spoken fellow north-west wildlife nutter Joshua Style (Founder of the North-west Rare Plants Initiative), he more or less started to rub off on me and I guess you could say that he inspired me to take the leap into the realm of plants, most notably wildflowers. Having met up with Josh one day to go out on a wonder round RSPB Marshside, Lancashire to exchange our vast knowledge in ornithology and botany, it became apparent that we could both come of use to one another. Josh was looking for someone to train him in the ways of the ornithological world, whilst I needed someone to educate me on the wildflowers of Great Britain.
On our following adventure to Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire I found out that there was a lot more to botany than meets the eye, as for the first time I found out that plants could not only hybridize, Goat X Grey Willow (Salix caprea x Salix cinerea), was an example he showed and demonstrated how to identify in the field when at Frodsham Marsh, but also the fact that like in world of ornithology, subspecies do occur with the prime example of the trip being that of the Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), subspecies roseata which happens to be a nationally scarce plant that occurs at fewer than hundred sites in the country.
What I love most about the world of botany and probably why I’m finding it reasonability simple to understand and take in, is the fact that it has many parallels regarding the skills required and areas of interest that I myself use when out making avian observations: Selecting key features to rule out all of possibilities that result in a identification along with hybrids, subspecies & taxa disputes being areas I find truly fascinating. The more time I spend out in the field with Joshua the more I learn and more I become ever respectful and envious of his skills in botany that has resulted in him becoming an FISC Lv.5.
Now coming up to 2 months since my first encounter with botany and Josh, I’m feeling safe to say that this an area I’d like to know more about and with such a good teacher and it being a topic that you can do anytime, anywhere, I can’t find reason why not to continue and expand my knowledge in the field of botany.