All unusually quiet, even somber, group on the minibus this morning as Dr M drove students to Kynance Cove for their assessed National Vegetation Classification (NVC) assignment.
The first taxonomic challenge, was more zoological than botanical: some very fine brown cows were sitting across on the path, Edwina Higginbotham let out a loud sneeze and all bar one struggled lazily to their feet.
The lazy cow eventually got to its feet but there was something about its thick set head and mean expression. Then as it rose grumpily to its feet, certain large dangly items confirmed that this cow was in fact a bull!
Moving swiftly on past the bull and his harem, to the task venue – the majestic Horse Rock, north of Kynance Cove.
The student assignment task: to describe the vegetation using the NVC, with 5 hours for the fieldwork and an evening to write it up ready to present to assembled tutors after breakfast the next morning.
Having delivered the task brief, Dr M left his students to their work and, after checking a few rarities: Herniaria ciliolata (Fringed Rupturewort), Minuartia hybrida (Fine-leaved Sandwort) and Trifolium occidentale (Western Clover), settled down all comfy like for a snooze upon the H7b Calluna vulgaris–Scilla verna heath, Viola riviniana sub-community.
While Dr M dozed in the sunshine, the students quickly got to work, walking the area checking for different vegetation types and the magic “homogeneous stand” then they commenced quadratting in the cliff crevice and maritime grassland and then after lunch moving up into the maritime heath.
End of afternoon and the task over, Dr M guides the students to some solution hollows with the Lizard “vegetation community” speciality OV34 Allium schoenoprasum-Plantago maritima community, mostly bare rock with a few weird plants!
And it was during which time that Dorothy, quite overcome with botanical enthusiasm, located a sizable population of Isoetes histrix (Land Quillwort).
So large and luxuriant were they that Dr M was concerned they might constitute a trip hazard and so amended the risk assessment accordingly.
Fortunately the Isoetes rescue helicopter was on hand to remove some of the larger specimens from the site.
Walking on back to the minibus and back to the camp and data analysis and presentation preparation ensued, interrupted only by delicious dinner cooked by resident botanical magician and chef: Wizard Carter.
Much MAVIS and pouring over the NVC volumes into the night, tomorrow will see the after-breakfast student presentation of their results and the verdict from the tutors: will the students be hired or fired by Dr M and Wizard Carter and guest tutor Hermione in this latest episode of eXtreme botanical apprentice?
Check back tomorrow to find out!