The Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project has received a wave of reports, which suggest spring events are happening early.
So far, 352 individual pieces of ‘unusual’1 data have been sent in by volunteers. The first of these – hazel flowering in Southampton on the 27th October 2017 – was the earliest recording of this event since the year 2000. The baseline average2 for hazel flowering is 2nd March.
The influx of early records has continued well into February, with 13 records of red admiral butterflies. The earliest of these was 4th January in Salisbury. The baseline average is 7th May – making the occurrence four months early. Other species recorded include blackbirds nesting, snowdrops, frogspawn and red-tailed bumblebees.
Charlotte Armitage, citizen science officer for the Woodland Trust, said:
“We’ve been shocked by the sheer volume of early records received this year. However, they highlight the importance of Nature’s Calendar data. The public are providing us with information that helps us better understand how flora and fauna is faring in a fluctuating climate – and we need more people to sign up.
“With colder weather anticipated over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how some species react, having bred, bloomed or emerged early.”
Nature’s Calendar is a continuation of seasonal recordings which date back to the 18th century. By recording the timings of natural phenomenon, thousands of people have enabled Nature’s Calendar to become the leading survey into how climate change is affecting UK plants and wildlife.