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Do you love the early signs of spring? Or do you prefer that first crisp autumnal morning? If you enjoy watching the seasons change, you can help the Woodland Trust and become a Nature’s Calendar recorder.
What is Nature's Calendar?
It's all about recording the signs of the seasons near to you, from seeing the first ladybird in spring to the first fly agaric toadstool in autumn.
There are thousands of volunteers who send in their sightings, providing crucial evidence about how wildlife is responding to our changing climate. This is called phenology - it's the study of natural events in relation to weather and climate.
Our records date back to 1736, making it the longest written biological record of its kind. It has become a powerful tool in assessing the impact of climate change and is highly valued by research scientists.
Why not join in?
You can record some really familiar indicators of spring and autumn, like leaves first opening, butterflies and frogspawn.
You don’t have to be an expert to take part
Our recorders spot the signs of the seasons where they live. The number of records we are receiving each year is decreasing, so your help is even more important than ever.
Many people enjoy spotting the first signs of a changing season and everyone has their favorites. We have some volunteers who only record frogspawn - over many years, those records are invaluable.
How is the data used?
Nature's Calendar has 1200 recorders and their sightings provide scientific proof that things are changing. Each passing year makes the set more valuable.
Is spring getting earlier?
There's a definite trend, and evidence also points to autumn being gradually pushed back. Early botanists thought seasonal events always happen in the same order, but our data shows oak responds differently to temperature than ash, for example, so some species may cope better than others.
A great tit might rely on winter moth caterpillars that feed on young oak leaves. If leafing is late, how does that affect this food chain? We don't yet know the full impact.
In 2015 we calculated that the speed of spring spreading across the UK was 1.9mph. Victorian data suggested spring travelled at 1.2mph, so that's a big acceleration. In 2016 we've had some exceptionally early records, including bluebells in February.
Warming is modest so far, but by the end of this century it will be far greater. Recording won't change things, but it will help us prepare.
Nature's Calendar is a collaborative project between the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).