The Clee Hill Botanical Group was established in 2012 by Shropshire Wildlife Trust with the help of John Handley. The principle aims of the group are to: conduct plant surveys of local wildlife sites and other local sites of interest; and to train local people in plant ID skills and botanical surveying methods. Wildlife Sites are islands of ecological diversity which are of huge importance in providing refuges and mobility links for species in a fragmented landscape. Setting up a botanical survey group in the Clee Hills meant that local sites which had little information could be surveyed properly and that interested local people could have a chance to sort their Forget-me-nots from their Speedwells. The group was led by John Handley for the first two years, since then leadership has been handed over to Andrew Heideman and Kirsty Mackirdy.
Botanical Surveying in the Clee Hills
This summer saw a mix of sites surveyed: County Wildlife Sites, potential Wildlife Sites and local farms. All surveys took place at weekends (some very soggy) with training, mapping, recording and monitoring all thrown in. John Handley from the Shropshire Botanical Society lead the merry band of volunteers who traipsed through woodland, grassland, heath and mire collecting a few hundred species records. A brilliant site they ‘discovered’ was at Cleeton Vallets, a wonderfully rich mix of habitats with loads of uncommon plants. Nickless Coppice and Milson Wood were also great sites with rich ground flora and good structures. Sadly though, one or two sites appear to have declined quite seriously in terms of their conservation value.
The group has 11 members that attend when they can – Andrew Heideman came out on all 11 visits and has become extremely skilled not only in botany, but also in birds and butterfly identification.
A summary of the Clee Hill Botanical Group’s activities and findings in 2012 is included in the Clee Hill Community Wildlife Group’s 2012 Annual Report.
This was again a very successful survey year, with 10 sites surveyed, a good number of volunteers taking part, and survey work of a very high standard achieved. Although four sites were found to be in poor condition, three new sites will be adopted as county wildlife sites. The training was again very successful too with everyone increasing their knowledge of survey and recording techniques.
A summary of the Clee Hill Botanical Group’s activities and findings in 2013 is included in the Clee Hill Community Wildlife Group’s 2013 Annual Report.
This was the first year in which Andrew Heideman and Kirsty Mackirdy led the botanical surveys. The survey season went very well: a diverse range of local sites were visited, members of the group improved their plant ID skills, and we enjoyed some decent weather most of the time. 17 individual sites were surveyed this year and a total of 2113 plant records were made by the group (including bryophytes). 69 Shropshire axiophytes (uncommon species) were recorded. 8 volunteers attended the surveys, 5 of whom were newly recruited this year. An interesting local site near Cleeton St Mary was discovered and permission was gained to survey it next year.
Some highlights from this survey season include: A botanically-rich, grassland site on Catherton Common called ‘The Bogs’ – 33 axiophytes were recorded there, as well as a Marbled White butterfly; also two monads (1x1km²) of the Whatsill and Magpie Hill county wildlife site were surveyed and found to be very botanically-rich – the scarce plant Viola lutea, Mountain Pansy, was recorded in one of the monads and this is possibly a new location for this plant.
A full report on the Clee Hill Botanical Group’s activities and findings in 2014 is available here.
The Clee Hill Botanical Group will be undertaking more site surveys in 2015. If you are interested in taking part then please contact us.
Page updated: 04/01/2015 by AH