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Musings from Lincolnshire

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2008 - the year of the rare plant hunt!

Well, having invested heavily in my photography equipment over Christmas (and honestly, a decent crack habit is a cheaper pastime than photography) I've decided that, in 2008, I'd try to get out in the great British countryside and photograph some of our rarest and most threatened wild flowers. Why? Well, some of these species will become extinct if we're not careful - it seems to me that botany is the poor cousin of birds and animals when it comes to nature conservation and any little bit we can do to raise awareness of the state of our natural flora is worth doing. Secondly, they stay still - a not insignificant advantage when your photographic skills are as limited as mine. So, for this year, my blog will document my efforts in seeking out and photographing some of Britain's rarest wild flowers. I'll also try and link this blog to a gallery album so you'll be able to share in the fruits of my labour. Of course, it's still months away from flowering time for most of our wild plants, however as I'm discovering, you can't plan too early or too thoroughly for an expidition like this. Firstly, a lot of these species are closely guarded by organisations or individuals, trying to safeguard plants from vandalism or theft, a dispiritingly common practice even in these enlightened times. Getting information on locations is therefore a difficult and often clandestine operation, with references checked and motives examined. I'm fortunate in that I work for a conservation organisation and have testable references (I'm in the surveyors list for the recent BSBI flora atlas of Britain), but even so, I still have a great deal of research to do and e-mails to write. Things are starting to sure up, however. I've already tentatively booked a weekend in early June based around the Western Yorkshire Dales, Arnside Silverdale and the Southern Lake District in order to visit some of the National Nature Reserves in the area - Ingleborough and Gait Barrow famous for their marvellous limestone pavements, and Sandscale, which has some tremendous sand dunes. This visit promises small-white orchid, coral-root orchid, dark-red helleborine, bloody crane's-bill and grass of parnassus as well as a very, very rare and charasmatic plant that I can't mention...yet. Later, in mid July, I'll be down on the Oxfordshire/Berkshire border, looking for Monkey and Military Orchid, Chiltern gentian, burnt orchids and chalk milkwort. Add to that yet to be arranged trips to Kent, Norfolk, South Wales, North-West Scotland and Cornwall, and summer's looking pretty full. There's still a fair number of site visits to arrange, permits to acquire, local knowledge to tap and research to be done, but it's looking hopeful. Next update will be mid-Feb, by which time I'll be getting ready to start looking for the early season woodland species close to home.

Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn

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