Kirkcudbrightshire Botany Group at Castle Douglas, 2nd January 2023

There was frost still on the ground when a group of seven of us met by Carlingwark Loch in Castle Douglas. However it turned into a beautiful sunny morning and we felt extremely fortunate, as all the previous days had been very wet.

Our aim was to find as many plants in flower as we could during a three hour period for the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt, while also recording all other species which we could confidently identify. We recorded within two monads, and within the boundary of the town 30mph limit, so that our data can also contribute to the Botanical Society of Scotland Urban Flora project.

We started by walking along the edge of the loch and were able to identify quite a number of plants from their dead remains. Our first NYPH qualifier however, was a flowering Dandelion Taraxacum agg., closely followed by a Daisy Bellis perennis.  Then, sheltering under a hedge, was a clump of Primrose Primula vulgaris, one flower of which was fully out.

At this point there was a diversion to inspect aquatic plants at the loch edge which had been washed up onto the tideline. Bob pulled out a handful of vegetation which included Common Duckweed Lemna minor, Ivy-leaved Duckweed L.trisulca, Greater Duckweed Spirodela polyrhiza, Nuttall’s Waterweed Elodea nutallii and Rigid Hornwort Ceratophyllum demersum – what a good haul!

David tells me that Greater Duckweed was first found in VC73 as recently as 2020 and has now been recorded at 5 sites. Three of these were found by Bob last year.

Buoyed up by such success, we moved on to the cemetery where, despite the unpromising-looking closely mown turf, we found Common Chickweed Stellaria media, Groundsel Senecio vulgaris and Annual Meadow Grass Poa annua in flower, as well as some beautiful ferns on the boundary walls.

We then moved the cars to the car park at the northern end of the town for a quick lunch break before continuing our search in the industrial estate. Here we found flowering Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, Thale Cress Arabidopsis thaliana, Sticky Mouse Ear Cerastium glomeratum and Blinks Montia fontana to add to the list. This last species caused some debate as to whether or not it could be counted, but eventually a specimen was found with petals just opening enough to convince us!

The final total of 10 species in flower was a satisfying result, and more than we might have hoped after the recent cold weather. Many thanks to Lee, Val, Mair, Catherine, Bob and Ken for your contributions and your company.

A final highlight of the day was to find a beautiful adult Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus which was perched on the Fullarton, seemingly unperturbed by all the people below.

Sarah White 

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