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I’m dreaming of a GREEN Christmas

The Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project has been receiving records of spring events such as hazel flowering and elder budburst, up to four months earlier than expected.

The scheme – which asks the public to help track the changing seasons – has received five records of hazel catkins1. The first of these, from Southampton on 27 October, is the earliest recording of this event since the year 2000. The baseline average2 for hazel flowering is 2 March (the average date was 1 February in spring 2017).

There has also been one recording of elder budburst, made on 16 December in Cardiff. The baseline average for this event is 19 March (in spring 2017 the average was 21 February).

Although these are small anomalies, they serve as a reminder that UK seasons are not as uniform as they once were, and that this data is vital in understanding how flora and fauna is adapting to a changing climate.

Records of hazel flowering in October – is spring starting before Christmas?  (Photo: Nature's Calendar)
Records of hazel flowering in October – is spring starting before Christmas? (Photo: Nature's Calendar)

Charlotte Armitage, citizen science officer, said: “Although we’ve only had a few spring records, it illustrates how delicate the balance is for species and the seasons. It’s also a reminder that the start of spring is just around the corner; from as early as January we will start to see species such as snowdrops return.

“The more records we have sent in by people across the UK, the more robust and rich our data is for scientists. If anyone is looking for a New Year’s resolution, there’s nothing easier than becoming a citizen scientist with Nature’s Calendar!”

Nature’s Calendar has recently moved to a new, easier-to-use website. Start recording in the New Year by going to: naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Ends

For further information contact the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or email HollieAnderson@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

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.

1. Details of early records:

Event

Date

Location

Hazel first flowering

27/10/2017

Southampton

Hazel first flowering

21/11/2017

Nottingham

Hazel first flowering

09/12/2017

Isle of Wight

Hazel first flowering

14/12/2017

Unknown

Hazel first flowering

16/12/2017

Cardiff

Elder budburst

16/12/2017

Cardiff

2. 2001 is used as a benchmark year as weather conditions closely reflected the 30 year average supplied by the Met Office

Download pictures taken by recorders here.