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Show the love by recording the signs of spring

Every year for Valentine’s Day, our friends at The Climate Coalition encourage us to show the love for the places, people, and life that we want to protect from climate change. This year, with your help, we’re tracking the effects of weather and climate change on our plants and wildlife by recording the arrival of spring.

(WTML/Amy Lewis) Blue tits nesting is a sign of the arrival of spring
(WTML/Amy Lewis) Blue tits nesting is a sign of the arrival of spring

We can all see the change that’s happening around us, from needing to trim our lawns at Christmas to spotting frogspawn in our ponds in January. Warmer temperatures and milder weather means natural occurrences are happening earlier every year.

This can have serious implications for many of the things we love, from playing football to chocolate to ancient trees. Climate change will impact everything around us, even the smallest details of our everyday lives. We need to see recognition of this in action taken by government. We’re pleased to see the Government’s forward thinking in its recently released Clean Growth Strategy, especially in relation to trees.

There are recommendations for accelerated tree planting to meet the targets set out for 2020. This could result in a 16% increase in tree cover. This would be part of plans to establish a new network of forests in England, including on farmland and for recreation. The strategy also recognised that woods in the UK provide services worth £2.3 billion per year to the economy. Trees are necessary for approaches to climate change as they can play a huge role in addressing the challenges, such as those from emissions and flooding. And of course we support getting more trees in the ground!

The nature we love is at the forefront of the change we are seeing. Flowers are blooming earlier, birds are migrating at different times and insects are emerging ahead of time. This can have catastrophic impacts on the balancing act our ecosystems have to play. If a species emerges too early or late for its food source, it could starve. In our tendency to seek order, we have stamped a date on the official start of spring. But nature doesn’t follow this arbitrary human schedule.

This February we’re asking everyone to help us track the effects of climate change by recording the signs of spring they see around them on our online form. This will help us understand when spring really begins and how we can help our wildlife in the face of change.

(WTPL/Shaun Nixon) Blackthorn flowers bloom before the leaves emerge
(WTPL/Shaun Nixon) Blackthorn flowers bloom before the leaves emerge

What to record?

With help from our Nature’s Calendar team, we’ve identified 10 key signs that will help track the arrival of spring. They are all spring emerging species or events that have been recorded unusually early in the past few years and so are particularly useful to track. They are also easily identifiable and can be seen in a variety of habitats in both rural and urban areas including parks, gardens and woods.  The 10 signs of spring are:

  • Queen wasp
  • Frogspawn
  • Lawn mowing
  • Blackthorn flowering
  • Hazel catkins
  • Snowdrops blooming
  • Lesser celandines appearing
  • Peacock butterfly
  • Nesting blue tits
  • Nesting blackbirds

For photos and tips on how to find and identify these indicators, read our guide or download a worksheet.

Get recording!

Now you know which 10 signs of spring to look for, head outside and get recording. Print out a worksheet to take with you on your travels to fill in, then get online and use our form to record the signs you’ve seen, along with the date and location. Let us know by 14th February.

If recording wildlife isn't your thing, there are plenty of other activities happening this month to show the love. Craft green hearts to wear, give to others or share them on social media with the hashtag #ShowTheLove. Or join in a local event to show the love near you.

Tell us which signs of spring you have seen this February

Record the signs of spring