Author Archives: Tony Powell

January and February datasets

As promised, how is the phenology looking against a backdrop of a very wet but reasonably mild Winter. One notable thing for me were the number of Thunder days, four in total, all of which occurred before the 16th January. This is quite exceptional under any circumstances and as a consequence there is a notable shift towards earlier day numbers.

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

Now onto the flowering plant and shrub species. The flowering plant species witnessed for the first time in Winter were Woodland Snowdrop, Winter Aconite, Daffodil (cultivated type), Primrose and Lesser Celandine. The flowering shrub species were the Hazel with its catkins and the Blackthorn in blossom.

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

Several of the above events are generally regarded as not suitable for accurate phenological tracking by certain well-known naturalists, can you guess which ones?

Two insect species were seen on the wing for the first time before the end of February and these were the first Bumblebee, presumably of the genus bombus terrestris as well as Brimstone butterfly. Below are the respective day numbers and rolling averages over a succession of years for those seasonal treats.

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

There were some other bird related sightings occurring for the first time this year, some of which will be apparent when looking at MY NATURAL EVENTS CALENDAR. I hope to blog about these over at ukbirdingtimeline soon, in the meanwhile, I will leave you to ponder any determinable trends in the data alongside some images of the above phenomena.

Blackthorn flowering

Blackthorn flowering

Bumblebee species

Bumblebee species

Hazel catkins flowering

Hazel catkins flowering

Click on the following underlined links in the blue text for other folk’s images of Primrose and Lesser Celandine in this previous posting.

Best Wishes and more updates soon

*the warmer start to March has accelerated some events yet further, keep watch on the events calendar for updates

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So long Winter, see you in nine months time

After the Winter we have witnessed here in the United Kingdom, I think most would welcome a human type gestation period of calm before the rebirth of a Winter anything like the one we’ve just witnessed. By way of example, just how wet was it? Here is the view from the UK Met Office. To add a personal perspective, here’s the Davis data for my locale from Berkshire in England.

December 2013 precipitation

December 2013 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

When viewing the above charts, I have put in a false red line which shows in my view at least, the days you would normally describe as soakers, i.e. those producing 10mm or more, which is the equivalent of approximately 2/5ths of an inch. In actual Meteorological terms, a “wet” day is where precipitation exceeds 2mm and a “very wet” day is classed as a day on which 20mm is exceeded. So yes, you can safely say Winter 2013/14 has been wet in my patch with only 20 out of the 90 days registering as a day without precipitation*. However, it wasn’t necessarily my region which made the headlines. The attached link from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) shows the devastating effects of the flooding from Somerset. On there you should be able to view other reports, complete with video clips, from other UK regions which were affected by the odd Winter weather. We should not forget that it was also very windy on occasions, although my own readings are lower than most, you can see from the attached images, where winds have exceeded the 38mph mark as indicated by my red line. This dates can be described as Gale days, although perhaps not strictly under Meteorological definition. Any wind gusts which exceed the green line shown would normally represent a windy day for my location, based on my own experiences of past events.

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

As for snow, well, Scotland nicked it all, this article again from the BBC being typical of highland Scotland’s Winter in 2013/14. For the rest of the British Isles, it had been a very poor one for those who wanted to see some wintry ice crystals, in fact I barely saw two days of sleet throughout the whole Winter. The Air Temperatures weren’t especially noteworthy with the mean for the Winter as a whole, somewhere around 1c above the long-term average, based on the 1981-2010 CET series. The lack of Air Frosts was notable for my location however, with only nine (9) being achieved in total and not all of these were before dawn due to my 24 hour reporting periods. As for the effect on the Natural World by way of phenology, more reports on that are forthcoming.

*only one dry day in January and this fell within a period of 33 days with only the one dry day in total

and

Inspiring the next generation – a random post

Why not inspire the next generation to care about our natural environment by participating in citizen science. In doing so, you can provide a data source of immense value and it truly is fun.

http://ow.ly/tFQo6

#science
#nature
#citizenscience
#birds
#education

There are so many options out there, get searching for citizen science projects you can participate in.

Observations about and from Nature

There are certain things which make me tick when it comes to following events from the Natural World. One is the enjoyment of being out in the wider countryside or even in the garden and observing nature in the raw. After all, I am a keen tracker of natural phenomena and how they interact under specific climatic conditions over a number of years (phenology). A few recent highlights are shown below.

These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.

Woodland Snowdrops (Galanthus_nivalis‎) – These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.

These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) – These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.

The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) – The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.

The above sightings represent just a tiny fraction of recent phenology events. Another topic which enthuses me is how we can all learn from other’s tales from the world of nature conservation and even its politics. Much of this information can be gleaned from online sources and below I will share with you some of my personal favourites. *in each circumstance, if you hover over said link before clicking, it will reveal the owner of the blog

http://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/about/

http://gailqb.wordpress.com/

http://ecologyescapades.com/about-me/

http://biodiversitygatwick.blogspot.co.uk/

http://manuelinor.wordpress.com/about/

http://solitaryecology.com/about/

http://writingfornature.wordpress.com/

http://freshfromthefield.blogspot.co.uk/p/about.html

These are simply a select few and I will have to revisit this post in future and bring your attention to the many other hard-working ecologists and conservationists or put simply nature lovers that are out there for us all to discover, go follow them!

What I find fascinating about us conservationists, is the fact that we won’t always see “eye to eye” on matters pertaining to effective nature conservation, in spite of this we all share one united passion. We care, we each possess amazing knowledge of our core subjects and we have an unrivalled will to succeed for the creatures with no tongue or voice with which they could communicate their story. Back to us, what’s your story? Please tell.

and

Bird Science as a career

Tony:

#science
#birds
#birding
#education
#youth

Originally posted on UKbirdingtimeline:

It is about time this blog received some input, the birding element is actually a huge part of my current career activities. In fact, I’ve been a birder and general naturalist for more years than I care to remember. However, in recent times, I have matured into a more inquisitive individual, always on the search for answers to nature’s riddles.

A fascinating article I recently read was in Animal Conservation from The Zoological Society of London entitled “How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork**

*official doi is listed at the bottom of this post, however you can view here for full free access to the above article

Well, I can proudly say I am a keen advocate of both. The recent Bird Atlas is a fine example of data gathering at its very best. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 contained some 19 million observations of 502 bird…

View original 224 more words

Bird Science as a career

Originally posted on UKbirdingtimeline:

It is about time this blog received some input, the birding element is actually a huge part of my current career activities. In fact, I’ve been a birder and general naturalist for more years than I care to remember. However, in recent times, I have matured into a more inquisitive individual, always on the search for answers to nature’s riddles.

A fascinating article I recently read was in Animal Conservation from The Zoological Society of London entitled “How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork**

*official doi is listed at the bottom of this post, however you can view here for full free access to the above article

Well, I can proudly say I am a keen advocate of both. The recent Bird Atlas is a fine example of data gathering at its very best. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 contained some 19 million observations of 502 bird…

View original 224 more words

Wildlife Conservation – complex and controversial? Assessing the naturestimeline poll findings

I apologise for the inactivity surrounding this particular Blog and without further ado, I will attempt to address the poll’s results.

Firstly, as an aspiring conservation professional, I produced the poll, solely for the reason that I believed it would be a unique way to engage with my readership. Judging by the responses I received, it seems to have worked. Now, after the participation, there is the analysis. For me, the Blog header, says it all. Understandably, being that Wildlife Conservation is complicated, the poll results, as you can see, are mixed.

Attempting to break things down a little, one can find that just over 50 per cent of voters, believed that processes of Habitat loss and Habitat mismanagement were key reasons behind wildlife/biodiversity decline. According to my pollsters, intriguingly, ecological imbalances between the Prey and Predator and the processes of Climate Change were deemed to have minimal impact on the state of our wider environment. Prior to other’s involvement, my view, on which I voted accordingly, was that Climate Change and Predation issues were key indicators driving wildlife declines.

Moving on then, you may ask what do the poll findings prove and where can we take things from here? Here are some of my evolving objectives for this Blog, whilst keeping wildlife observation as a central theme.

  • I want to be able to find answers to everyday questions about Wildlife Conservation practice!
  • Based on the current scientific evidence, what can be done to improve Wildlife Conservation?
  • Are we collaborating enough with other parties
  • Are we utilising the evidence base, when making decisions at a local level?
  • Is there one key message** which could be taken from the poll which could serve to halt the declines in biodiversity?

As a Birding Professional who is keenly awaiting his copy of the 2007 to 2011 United Kingdom Breeding Bird Atlas to drop through his door, I’ll finish this post with a quote* from the 1988 to 1991 Atlas.

Breeding Bird Atlas for the British Isles 1988-1991 front cover

Breeding Bird Atlas for the British Isles 1988-1991 front cover

Courtesy of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh

Quite apart from the influence of human activities, nature is a dynamic process and the success of species has always depended on a number of natural variables, including climatic conditions throughout the year and the relative abundance of prey and predators

**Even twenty years ago, looking for answers on an effective way of managing habitats for wildlife, it was complicated. I just hope we are progressing on the right path now, as we look ahead a further twenty years.**


Google+naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell

Current conservation practice – not fit for purpose, why might that be?

It is an undeniable fact that as a nation, or even across the globe, we are largely failing to look after the Natural World. With this in mind, here is a chance to engage in conversation about conservation. What do you believe to be the biggest reasons for the demise of many wildlife species*.

To kick things off, please would you be so kind to participate in a poll, as laid out below. Please vote for the options which you consider are the most relevant. You are allowed to supply multiple answers, should you wish. In turn, I will let you know my thoughts and will search for appropriate topics to comment on in the future of this blog.

Best Wishes


naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

*as evidenced by the State of Nature report, see below.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/science/stateofnature/index.aspx

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/2013/05/22/state-nature-60-uk-species-decline-groundbreaking-study-finds

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/22609000

A change of direction

Followers of this blog are aware my passion for Natural History “knows no bounds”, many other blogs, several of which are listed on My Favourite Blogs section, also share this overwhelming desire. However, since the inception of both naturestimeline and UKbirdingtimeline, my professional career has also evolved, as has my quest for knowledge on the State of Nature. See what I did there? Anyway, below I outline some of the changes you will notice as I intend to develop these pages.

Naturestimeline and UKbirdingtimeline will broadly stick to its original principles. However, I aim to make the place more engaging, scientific, informative and above all else, entertaining. As anyone who follows my Facebook page will know, I like to be kept “in the loop”, the place acts like a kind of newsfeed. So much so, that when it comes to the Natural World, I care, because you care!

Let’s bring impassioned debate on conservation and environmental issues to the table. Please interact and share your thoughts on how you would like to see the blog develop, it’s mine as much as it’s yours, the readers. What do you care about? Do you work in conservation? What kind of future do you think the UK’s and the wider world’s wildlife faces?

*I have no shortage of ideas myself, more about these in time. There is no hiding place, so Bee kind and we can bee in this together.

No hiding place

No hiding place


naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

March madness

Before I venture into the mayhem of March 2013, I must apologise for missing out the first Butterfly emergence of the year. This appeared in the form of a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Find a splendid example of this beauty below, from Finn Holding’s The Naturephile Flickr account. *Finn Holding’s website is one of several, my readers might find of interest under My Favourite Blogs link on the main page. 

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

My 19th February sighting came about whilst undertaking a Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) survey at a local woodland. Indicated below, you can see the trend of first emergence dates of Red Admiral over time.

Red Admiral Butterfly (locally) as of 2013

Red Admiral Butterfly (locally) as of 2013

The United Kingdom’s mad March weather was well documented by the media and the official climate statistics are below.

March is joint second coldest on record

I won’t bore you with my personal weather station’s data, other than reproduce the following chart.

Monthly Climatological Summary for March 2013

Monthly Climatological Summary for March 2013

I have highlighted in red and blue, the figures that stand out the most and these were the Mean Temperatures of 2.8c, the precipitation amount of 108.6mm (largely from two heavier interludes, some of which fell as snow). Finally, the dominant wind flow from the Northeast with very little coming from the West. In spite of this, I documented 11 phenology events throughout March and I will now refer to these below.

March 5th brought about both the first Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) and the first Queen Wasp from the genus (Hymenoptera).

March 7th saw the first attempts at nest-building by Blackbirds (Turdus merula).

The 9th of March saw us venture out into the local countryside for the first time in weeks, having endured another bout of illness. It was to prove a good decision with 4 events being logged that day, which were as follows. A first heard singing Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) sadly lacking the usual close correlation with their return to territory dates, as emphasised in previous posts. The same day also produced further yellow natural indicators with first Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) in flower and Flowering Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) only one day behind their 2012 emergence dates. Lastly, it was wonderful to hear the first song of Woodlark (Lullula arborea), a sound clip of which is available here. *It is just possible that I could have included a probable singing individual from the 19th February.

The 13th March provided a rather late Lesser Celandine (Ranuncula ficaria) in flower, which made sure we continue the yellow theme of spring.

Two Thunder days were to follow with the first of the season on the 16th March and the 2nd Thunder day, coming courtesy of the 19th March.

A final March phenological indicator arrived courtesy of a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). This witnessed on another local trip to our hillsides on the 29th March. This species, at least according to my records is seemingly bucking the trend of earlier arriving migrants, as illustrated by comparison of actual dates against rolling averages, see below. Furthermore, based on evidence from elsewhere, I am fortunate to have witnessed at least one migrant bird species as they appear to have been held up on the nearby continent, no doubt partly due to the persistency of the wind direction aforementioned.**

Let’s get graphical and photographical, firstly a few images (not the best quality, as I’m no photographer).

Queen Wasp

Queen Wasp

Coltsfoot flowering

Coltsfoot flowering

Wild Daffodil flowering

Wild Daffodil flowering

And now onto the charts, please refer to past calendars in order to understand the individual actual day numbers, against which you may recognise a developing trend over time, when making comparison against rolling averages. In order of appearance, I give you the following.

Queen Wasp (locally) as of 2013

Queen Wasp (locally) as of 2013

Brimstone Butterfly (locally) as of 2013

Brimstone Butterfly (locally) as of 2013

Blackbird Nest Building (garden) as of 2013

Blackbird Nest Building (garden) as of 2013

Wild Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Wild Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Coltsfoot First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Coltsfoot First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Yellowhammer First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Yellowhammer First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Woodlark First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Woodlark First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Lesser Celandine First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Lesser Celandine First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2013

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2013

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2013

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2013

Northern Wheatear (locally

Northern Wheatear (locally

Some events are starting to show remarkable consistency, with rolling averages either slowing down their descent to earlier dates (recent cold winter impacts) or remaining similar over recent years.

** Yes, I haven’t even achieved a singing Chiffchaff (usual date, 11th March) yet alone an early hirundine or something along similar lines. Perhaps, not so amazing, considering the bizarre weather and the fact, 10 days were witnessed as snow falling days, alongside 19 Air Frosts.

naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+