Tag Archives: phenology

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

and

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

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+

February catch up

Fellow bloggers, here is an overdue update of my findings from the final winter month of February 2013. As you can see, at least in my patch, it ended up both on the cold and slightly dry side. 

February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows

February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows

February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 rainfall

February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 rainfall

When looking back at February 2012 it did not differ that greatly. A Temperature mean of -1.0c below normal was less cold than this time around, which registered -1.8c below the 30 year mean. In fact, the main difference climatically speaking, was the ongoing drought which faced many last February. My statistics for February 2012 showed a precipitation deficit of 36.9mm, whereas the deficit this time around was only 11.7mm. Away from the statistics, there were still some stirrings coming from the Natural World.

Daffodils were first witnessed in bloom on 7th February, whilst in 2012 it was to be the 2nd January. *It is just possible that this sighting may have been slightly off target, due to your resident blogger suffering from a bout of flu. The ongoing trend given off by sightings of first flowering dates for Daffodil is represented below. However, it is the truly wild variant (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) which comes into bloom later and provides us with a more reliable phenological indicator.

Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Next up was my first sighting of a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) back in its breeding area, coming on the 13th February. This once again provides us with an area of debate, as to how easily you can readily interpret the bird’s return as a correlated to its willingness to breed. Moreover, the data does tend to show a short timeframe between its arrival back in its breeding territory and the more significant activity of the bird’s actual first seasonal song. As before, the ongoing data range is provided below.

Yellowhammer back in breeding area (locally) as of 2013

Yellowhammer back in breeding area (locally) as of 2013

Just three days later on the 16th February I was to hear a first drumming Woodpecker species. The candidate we are tracking here in the United Kingdom is the  Great-Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), a personal sound recording of which can be accessed by the following the link below.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker Drumming

The 17th February went on to produce two phenological firsts by way of locally flowering Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), a week earlier than last year’s date of the 24th February. Also, well ahead of 2012 was the first leafing of Hawthorn (Crataegus). Unbelievably, in spite of a colder February this year and a rather ferocious March which followed, last year’s 5th March confirmation of first leafing of Hawthorn was very late in comparison.

Blackthorn flowering

Blackthorn flowering

Hawthorn leafing

Hawthorn leafing

For information purposes, you can view the ongoing trend in these two aforementioned phenomena below.

Blackthorn First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Blackthorn First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Hawthorn First Leaf (locally) as of 2013

Hawthorn First Leaf (locally) as of 2013

As to how nature’s events were to unfold in March, please stay tuned for updates in the near future.

naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

January catch up

Looking back at January 2013, were my local climatic conditions much different to that of 2012?

Firstly, in the United Kingdom, 2012 began as “the year of the drought” * with recorded precipitation totalling 32.8mm in my neck of the woods. By comparison, January this time around looked like this.

January 2013 rainfall

January 2013 rainfall

In total, we received 61.6mm, which is still below the revised 1981 to 2010 mean by approximately 25% or so. What about the Air Temperatures?

January 2012 was mild in comparison with some 11 double-digit Fahrenheit Maximums being achieved back then and unsurprisingly a mean of 0.8c above the long-term average, mentioned previously. This time around, January 2013 saw the following daily Air temperature trend.

January 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows

January 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows

Due to almost two-thirds of January 2013 being in the cold to very cold category, it is unsurprising that the mean return of 4.0c was below the long-term average by 0.6c. As a result of the above, can you guess which phenological indicators were to show themselves amidst the cold of January?

The first Primroses (Primula vulgaris) were witnessed in bloom on 5th January. However, before we jump for joy at seeing them so early in the year, one should perhaps, read an excerpt from Richard Mabey‘s wonderful Flora Britannica. In there, Richard states that they are not the most reliable of indicators when it comes to tracking climate change. Oh well! They are however, beautiful to see and always brighten up a dull day.

An early songster is always nice to hear and one of the first to embrace the New Year was the Blackbird (Turdus Merula). I first heard the 2013 song of this particular species on 7th January, whereas last year it was 9th January. A personal sound recording of a Blackbird can be heard below. This link will take you to another website, which upon opening, you should click the orange icon on the Left Hand side of your screen to allow playback of the sound recording.

Blackbird song

The next phenology indicator of interest came courtesy of First Hazel Flowering (Corylus avellana) on 11th January. This compares favourably with the 7th January sighting from the previous year. A record shot of which, I have attached below.

Hazel catkins flowering

Hazel catkins flowering

The final phenologically related event of any consequence came about on the 21st January. This revealed itself in the form of a Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) first heard singing. The corresponding date last year was the 13th January. A personal sound recording of a Chaffinch singing is available via the link shown below.

Chaffinch song

A final way to view the ongoing trend in my datasets is to observe them in graphical format. Good news! 

Represented below are the aforementioned sightings in such a manner. Please note each event recorded annually is represented as a day number and not in date format. The events have been logged, only during years, in which I managed to achieve a meaningful result. Please make what you will of the data.

Primrose First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Primrose First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Blackbird First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Blackbird First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Hazel First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Hazel First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Chaffinch First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Chaffinch First Heard Singing (locally) as of 2013

Given the cold conditions of January and the fact that I have often been preoccupied in my personal life, things have been rather slow to unfold. February was to prove a different story.

* The year of ongoing drought quickly became the year it never stopped raining, officially 2nd wettest in Met Office recorded history.




naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell
on Google+

Late 2012 winter stirrings

Just what has been happening in the world of phenology………………. could nature be stirring already?

It may only be the 1st January but just as last year, there was some unseasonal activity. Firstly, in the form of flowering Woodland Snowdrops and secondly, flowering Winter Aconite, blooming around the same dates as in 2012, see here and also here

Again, this time around, these sightings will closely correlate to the  local weather conditions. One being, a general lack of Air Frosts over recent days and perhaps, the incessant rainfall, as shown below.

December 2012 Air temperature highs and lows

December 2012 Air temperature highs and lows

December 2012 rainfall

December 2012 rainfall

Intriguingly, looking at their expected emergence dates, both events have now moved forward to the 11th January consequently. Woodland Snowdrop captured below, emerged on the 28th December.

Woodland Snowdrop (Galanthus_nivalis) in bloom

Woodland Snowdrop (Galanthus_nivalis) in bloom

With Winter Aconite emerging on the 30th December 2012.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis_hyemalis) in bloom

Winter Aconite (Eranthis_hyemalis) in bloom

As we head into 2013, I wonder what delights the year will hold.

*should you wish to join, I now have a dedicated Facebook page for, accessible via the following link - facebook.com/naturestimeline




naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell
on Google+

I’m not the only one

I am glad I am not the only one.

The following reblog speaks of the role of Citizen Science from the viewpoint of a Nature’s Calendar Researcher.

Citizen science data: addressing important questions on the future of UK woods and trees.

Should anybody be interested in my records, they are accessible via the link shown below.

here




naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell
on Google+

Sort your life out……………………………………

Naturestimeline is back, I hear you gasp. Cue rapturous applause…………………………..

Where has our venerable host been and why were there no updates! Well, sometimes life’s chores tend to overwhelm but hell; I am not to be defeated by what seems a never-ending list of tasks. Besides, I have a responsibility, as a blogger to inform and educate (at least to my knowledge) so here is a brief rundown of what I meant by my “Sort your life out” comment.

As a relative newbie to the Conservation/Ecology sector, like most of us, I must devote time to career expansion. Much reading, studying and attending courses, webinars and the like has taken place during this time. For example, I attended a Dragonfly workshop back in early August. Additionally, I have met up with or have been networking with important work colleagues. As a requirement to add skills to my CV, I am also currently undertaking a Project Management course and have other ventures in planning. Aside from this however, there were occasions when nature did acquire my full attention. To this end, I will now enlighten you with a select few natural events.

Today has seen most of the additional Phenological events logged onto My Natural Events Calendar. As usual, you can best access this via the Agenda option and from there you can view past dates for any action missed, since my last post.

Ten weeks can be a long time for the natural world and since my hiatus; many phenological events have taken place locally and non-locally. For example, many young birds have been flocking to my busy feeders and for the first time, I have added an immature Carrion Crow to the records, not bad for a semi-suburban locality. Alongside this, during this time, various finches, tits, a Great-Spotted Woodpecker, daws and corvids had been raiding the feeders and fat balls with a summering Blackcap on the latter mentioned. Only in recent weeks, has this feeding frenzy decreased and I suspect the reason for this is simply moulting activity. Who says we shouldn’t feed the birds all year round? In fact, many of the youngsters were finding the bird table and its feeders, useful sheltering positions during the wetter periods.

Looking back

On the 10th June, it was most pleasing to witness a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden during a sunnier interlude. By the 30th June, the Buddleia was noted in bloom, which it still is to this day.

July continued the overall weather pattern (often cool and wet) of the previous few but briefly relented, come the final week. It was during this period, in which I most probably saw my final Common Swift of the season. The 27th July date for this event being significantly earlier than the normal date of 14th August, albeit based on a limited sample size. The first harvesting locally and predictably a couple of Thunder days during July were to be expected. Also on a local level, I witnessed the first Ringlet on the 13th July, Marbled White and Meadow Brown on the 19th July and a first Gatekeeper butterfly on the 24th July. Only the Meadow Brown butterfly showed up as being well behind schedule with the rest within a week or so of their usual emergence dates. Birds of Prey were well to the fore over my neighbourhood with a gathering of seven thermalling Common Buzzards on one special day.

August has so far proved to be a very busy period for personal reasons, whilst it has been a quiet month phenology wise. Only the Thunder days of 15th August and 25th August being especially noteworthy. Both dates occurring pretty close to their usual positions in the calendar year.

*It seems that tomorrow also marks a happy anniversary for a certain blogging adventure

Cheers, I’ll drink to that.


Baby birds galore

My regular readers will know that I painstakingly (too strong an emotive really) update my phenology calendar to reflect on the natural events taking place in the United Kingdom. So, now that the mixed spring has passed, what effect did it have on nature, more especially our familiar breeding garden birds?

When it comes to young birds, my garden attracts many different species and these are a few examples. Bear in mind, this list is not exhaustive and further additions may become apparent in time.

When I first witnessed a juvenile Dunnock and a juvenile Chaffinch on the 18th May, the weather was still grim with winds from the northeast as can be seen below. 

May 2012 Climatological Summary highlighting May 18th.

Juvenile Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Juvenile Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Juvenile Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Juvenile Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

However, when compared to the average, where were these two aforementioned sightings in the scheme of things? The average date for Dunnock, based on 7 records is 25th May and on a smaller sample, Chaffinch would have been around the 3rd June. It seems highly probable that both species took advantage of the warmer end to March and thereby emerged earlier. Moving on to my next two observations, these being juvenile Great and Blue Tits, a more intriguing pattern appears to show itself.

Young Great Tits were seen for the first time on 21st May and with a reasonably healthy sample of 9 years, these birds were well ahead of their average date. My statistics are however, not unusual for Great Tits and they remain a cause for much research into trophic mismatching. The first observation of young Blue Tits was on the 22nd May. Their emergence was only 5 days earlier than would normally be the case. A mere coincidence, these birds were fledging at the start of the heatwave, perhaps? Frankly, the Air temperature hovered at no higher than 10.9c (52f) on the 20th May but by the 22nd had maxed out at 26.3c (79f). Put simply, an amazing transformation of local climate within the space of just 48 hours.

Juvenile Great Tit (Parus major)

Juvenile Great Tit (Parus major)

Juvenile Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus or Parus caeruleus)
Juvenile Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus or Parus caeruleus)

As we were now fully into our heatwave period, the next events taking place were fledglings of Robin and Nuthatch. Both of these sightings occurred on the 29th May and were ahead of schedule, perhaps not surprisingly. The 4th June and 16th June being expected averages from datasets of 10 and 4 records respectively.

Juvenile Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Juvenile Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Juvenile Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

Moving into June, I have since recorded first fledgling sightings of House Sparrow and Goldfinch at our feeders on the 4th June. These emergences closely match their expected dates of 1st June and 7th June.

Juvenile House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Juvenile House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Juvenile Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Juvenile Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Other phenology of note was a very late (12th May) first local Cuckoo for me, in fact my latest on record.  For further details on forthcoming phenology expected from my patch or even your own, please view my calendar link as mentioned at the start of this post.

*all the above bird images come courtesy of Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive DVD

The vital role of citizen science

Tony:

The best way to observe nature is to follow the changing seasons. I subscribe to many blogs, of which the Woodland Trust is one. Their latest post reblogged above, illustrates how many folk are becoming highly valued citizen scientists.

Originally posted on Woodland Matters:

Dog rose – one of many species recorded by Nature’s Calendar enthusiasts

For the past 14 years, enthusiastic volunteers have been helping track changes in seasonal natural events through Nature’s Calendar, adding thousands of records to the UK Phenology Network database. Faithfully, they have observed and recorded when trees come into leaf or flower in spring, when migrant birds arrive and leave, and have spent their autumn days noting when leaves change colour, then fall, or when fruit ripens. The data is being used by students and scientists across the UK, and even further afield, to research the implications of climate change for our natural world.

These recorders are part of a tradition that goes back much further, starting with Robert Marsham, who began recording his ‘Indications of Spring’ back in 1736 on his family estate near Norwich, Norfolk, and continued to record for 62 years. From 1875…

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