Intriguing news from Defra.

As fellow Natural History enthusiasts, what do you make of this latest headline from Defra?

Nature Improvement Areas

On the one hand, this government appears to want to press ahead with concreting over our precious countryside. On the other hand, there is still hope for this country to remain a green and pleasant land.

This leaves me to believe that the United Kingdom government’s policies are in a state of chaos. Then again, who am I to judge as I only possess the right of vote in the first place?


Tony Powell

Late Winter or Spring? more evidence of climatic shifts besetting nature.

Do you remember this?

The effect this upcoming spell of weather will have on Phenology events will be most interesting. Some potentially record-breaking Temperatures could occur in the South of the United Kingdom. Given some sunshine, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms will be the most likely candidates, alongside the early migrant birds brought in by the Southwesterly flow.

As ever when sticking your head above the proverbial parapet, certain things can go awry. However, did any the above happen? Nature as ever, is NOT standing still and I hereby make no apologies for the length of this post.

The 20th February saw the emergence of Seven-spot Ladybirds (Coccinella 7-punctata) and the usual date of occurrence for this bug is now 8th March, albeit based on only 6 records in my dataset.

Come the 23rd February, the Temperatures soared as anticipated and many more events came to the fore. This date saw the emergence of the first Bumblebee in my garden, most probably a queen of the Bombus terrestris variety. The rolling average date for this, based on a sample of 16 records, actually returns this very date. Remarkably earlier than usual however was the queen Wasp, given my 14 records now indicate a date of 5th April. The 23rd February also brought about the appearance of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) which was ahead of schedule by some five to six weeks, the usual date being around the 30th March, based on 15 individual records.

The 24th February provided evidence of first locally flowering Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and this is on record 14 times with a normally flowering date of 6th March. Also in evidence were nest-building Blackbirds (Turdus merula). The 6th March being normal for this event, based on my 15 records sample.

The 25th February proved a date for a First lawn cut which normally returns a date of 13th March based on 6 records. An enlightening observation was of a nest-building Robin (Erithacus rubecula). With weak evidence of this phenomenon, I only possess 4 records with an average date of 25th March. The same day (25th February) produced another wonderful event of a singing Woodlark (Lullula arborea). I have 9 records of this phenomenon, which tends to happen for the first time around the 7th March.

This concludes a busy period of observation and with the United Kingdom’s weather remaining mild; you can safely predict more Phenology events to be forthcoming.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

Some late winter warmth?


Click on the reblogged from Matt Hugo link above for the rest of the post.

The effect this upcoming spell of weather will have on Phenology events will be most interesting. Some potentially record-breaking Temperatures could occur in the South of the United Kingdom. Given some sunshine, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms will be the most likely candidates, alongside the early migrant birds brought in by the Southwesterly flow.

Fascinating times ahead.

Regards, Tony Powell

Originally posted on matthugo:

Well the phrase “In like a lion, out like a lamb” could well sum up February by the looks.  Clearly the first half of the month or the opening week or two experience a far different spell of weather than experience so far through the winter given a continental feed of cold or very cold air across the UK.  The difference between earlier in the month and the coming week will be significant!…

The latest FAX chart for Thursday helps to highlight the reason why;

The synoptic evolution through this week will be characterised by high pressure to the south or south-west of the UK and low pressure systems developing and passing to the north and north-west through the week.  The combination of these two synoptic features later in the week will be for the development of a very mild and moist south-westerly air mass from the Azores.  I highlighted…

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Miscellaneous news and finally some Phenology

I have been organising my life recently, well at least in the sense of some internal admin. Perhaps, it is because winter has suddenly turned into spring and I am in a “spring cleaning” mode. What with logging my old Birdwatch magazines and other valuable reading sources such as British Wildlife magazine, I oddly feel better for it. For easy access to interesting stories and snippets of information, this really was an obvious choice and everything will eventually be stored within Microsoft Excel. From here, I can look for specifics by using keyword searches. How many others do this with their documents or undertake annual “spring cleaning”. Am I the only one?

Anyway, onto other more interesting topics as yesterday I ventured down to Hayling Island to do some birding, alongside a bit of dog walking. The highlight of a reasonable list of species was a Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris). The view achieved was merely of its backside disappearing over a gravelly bank and lasted for what seemed like “half” a second. Moreover, an addition to my birding life list and a tick nonetheless. The weather was also fine with a light cloud covering at times with Temperatures, slightly above normal for the time of year.

    • Now onto the Phenological happenings locally, albeit achieved in two parts. The first appearance of a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) back in its breeding territory was a good sighting. Not only that though, I heard several birds in song for the first time this year.  No doubt, the warmer Temperatures and some brief sunshine triggered this activity.
    • My evidence for a Yellowhammer’s first visit back to their breeding territory returns an average date of 13th February, based on a sample of 8 records. Whereas, for a first heard singing Yellowhammer, the current evidence points to an average date of 19th February, based on a larger sample of 11 records. However, I wonder whether once the birds return, they are quick to sing despite my records indicating a gap of 6 days between the associated phenomenons. If this is the case, perhaps more research is required. Nonetheless, these iconic farmland birds breed well in this location and hopefully in high densities too.

Right then, after a briefly colder snap, warmer weather is forecast to be on its way for late February. With the anticipated rise in Air Temperatures next week, butterflies are likely to be on the wing and all manner of events could well be taking place.

Watch this space!

A Male Yellowhammer, courtesy of Finn Holding's ( website
A Male Yellowhammer

*The above image is from a fellow blogger’s wonderful website – The Naturephile

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

A cold cold February

With not much talk of Phenology, I will attempt to make this post short. Meanwhile, my previous news still applies since the calendar is moving, see here – The Birds, they are a-singing and the daylight hours are 9 hours 38 minutes in length now and increasing rapidly. 

For my locality, this February’s weather has brought 3 days where snow was seen falling. The 5th February produced a day of snow lying. However, the main story is that of the cold and frosty nights. Unusually for my location, I even recorded an ICE day (yesterday) and it is just possible that today will be yet another. By definition, an ICE day is a day whereby the temperature never exceeds ZERO Celcius (32 F). Although it is a rare event, it did happen 10 times during the record-breaking December of 2010. This was the coldest December in the UK for over 100 years and I must say at this stage, February 2012 looks like joining this elite band.

Check out below for some evidence, courtesy of my Davis weather station.

Davis February 2012 daily data to 1216 090212
Davis February 2012 daily data to 1216 090212
Davis annual data up to 1216 090212
Davis annual data up to 1216 090212

Please look closely at the figures enclosed in blue or red ink as these show the figures in question. I am a very keen amateur meteorologist as will have become obvious by now. More of my insights into the UK weather can found at where I post as gottolovethisweather

Now that the secret is out, all I can hope is that this spell does not become too detrimental for our wildlife and as humans; we all take care out there.

Best Wishes

Tony Powell

A wintry weekend in store


So the UK’s winter is finally set to bite. Will I be getting snow or cold rain, come the weekend? Some answers to this being above, courtesy of the professionals.

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

This weekend will see a marked change in the weather as the dry spell makes way for snow and ice in many parts.

Over the past few days we have seen the coldest spell of winter so far, as very cold air has flooded across the UK from the continent. Temperatures have dropped as low as -9.4 °C in Shap, Cumbria, and -10 °C is possible in places tonight.

Snow showers are expected along parts of the eastern coastline today and tomorrow, but most places will continue to see bright, dry and cold conditions.

Things are set to change as we go through into Saturday, however, as an Atlantic front moves in from the west.

Paul Gundersen, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “As this front moves in from the west it will come up against cold air and we’re likely to see a mixture of rain, sleet and…

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