Naturalists tend to be obsessed with rarities but it’s the common species that are the foundation of all ecosystems. The billions of dandelions flowering now – common and so taken for granted - provide a reliable source of pollen for honeybees and other insects just when they need it most. Rare species are generally those that are at the natural limits of their range of climatic tolerance anyway, and so come and go according to the vagaries of climate, but it seems to me that we should be most concerned when common species that play a pivotal role in ecosystems become less common – that is a symptom of potential catastrophe. Loss of old pastures has led to a rapid decline in cowslip populations in many parts of the country, but this can be reversed. I found this wonderful display of cowslips – deliberately seeded – just outside of Durham city today. This was a patch that was roughly the size of a medium-sized back garden; imagine what a five acre pasture with a population of cowslips like this would look like. They do still exist - I know of a few in the north east, although none are quite as denslely populated with cowslips as this. The wild plant conservation charity Plantlife has a well established common plants survey that anyone can contribute to – take a look, at http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/plantlife-get-involved-common-plants-survey.html
Now is the perfect time to get involved.