Occasionally there comes a time to reflect on past knowledge of a subject and then to test it further as new evidence comes to light, some months or years later. I’m not having a Google “Right to be forgotten” moment, but it could be suggested that most people will on occasion, make a judgement quite naturally or unnaturally with or without intent and then upon reflection, realise they were misguided on a certain topic. This would of course simply be human nature and I guess we all need to accept this fact as new thoughts and ideas come to the fore. We are often told to assess the past, in order guide our future prospects. At risk of rambling, where exactly am I going with all this?
Well, could it be that these same thought processes, applied to our relationships, career prospects, friendships etc. might actually also apply in a debate about nature conservation? If I also put it to you, that our country’s wildlife future is in your hands, could you as an individual truly make a difference?
Let me now remind you of two naturestimeline postings from a year ago (click on the links to access original content) which once again poses the age old question of how best to conserve this nation’s wildlife.
So with yet still unanswered questions and *in light of many of the latest incentives coming out of the scientific community approach to nature conservation, are we now making the right kind of progress for our non-human inhabitants of this good earth at last?
naturestimeline Media/News/Publishing “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”
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.
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 Blogssection, 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.
Here are my latest offerings from my Phenological sightings.
I first witnessed a Pendunculate Oak (Quercus robur) in budburst on the 3rd April. This matches quite closely to last year’s date of 7th April but is well ahead of 2010’s date of 24th April. The average date on which this bud bursting happens is 14th April, based on a sample of 11 records. Another similar observation being European Larch (Larix decidua) seen leafing. Being the 6th April, it matches 2011’s date and is four days behind 2010. The average date for European Larch leafing comes out at 1st April. As to the reliability of the aforementioned sighting, it is often difficult to separate leafing from budburst, when it comes to European Larch. *However, my keen eye also allowed me to witness Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in budburst on the 8th April.* This particular event was very early when compared with other years. 2011 being the 24th April and in 2010 it was later still at 6th May. If compared to the average, Ash budburst normally takes place around the 23rd April, albeit based on only seven personal records. A final tree related offering, arrived in the form of European Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) budburst, which I observed for the first time on 9th April. This event ties in nicely against the average observation date, also of 9th April. Now on to some insect related phenomenon.
The 6th April saw a further two annual butterfly sightings with Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Orange-tip(Anthocharis cardamines) being seen. The Speckled Wood sighting tied in nicely with last year with the 8th April. The average date of first emergence returns the 15th April. As for the first Orange-tip sighting, this year’s emergence is remarkably consistent with last year’s date, the 7th April. Once again, the average date of first emergence returns a date very similar to that of the Speckled Wood in that it is 16th April. Both samples are very healthy at 16 and 18 years of data respectively. News on flowering plants and bird activity to follow. Interestingly, I have not to date, noted Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in flower which happens to be the food plant for the caterpillar of the Orange-tip butterfly.
Flowering Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) was to be in a very early state of emergence in the gloomy weather of yesterday (9th April). This particular event occurred on the 17th April last year and not until 9th May in 2010. I have noted the first emergence of flowering Wild Garlic on nine occasions and this year’s date is the earliest in that dataset. The more usual date for flowering Wild Garlic returns the 24th April. Now some birding activity at last.
Firstly, the birds are a-singing more and more each day now. Mind you, it is not just the singing, which is increasing, so too is the breeding activity. I am pleased to report that on the 5th April, I was fortunate enough to observe a Blackbird (Turdus merula) with food in its beak. The significance of this event of course being that it is most probably feeding young. If this is to be the case, this event is actually behind schedule with the 31st March being the more usual date, albeit based on a rather poor sample of garden records of 6 records. With Red Kites (Milvus milvus) appearing each day above our estate and a flyby Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) being recently added to the garden list, things ornithological wise are very good. Further news from a local woodland patch of mine were groups up 10 Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) seen feeding by other birders but personally, a new migrant arrival pleased me the most. The first returning Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) heard singing came about on the 8th April. This event closely matched last year with 6th April being the date and the average returns the 8th April too.
I have recently updated my natural events calendar to reflect all the activity since Mid March. So where are we now?
Unseasonably warm temperatures and a continuing drought have dominated the UK weather headlines from the past couple of weeks. The drought area recently increased in size to cover a larger area of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, snow and rain is imminent and as I type this, it is affecting large parts of Northern England and Scotland. Here is further news, which illustrates the impressive climatic differences between late March and early April. So what of the phenology?
Being an interested observer of natures ways, I have managed to add a further sixteen events since my last post on phenology related matters. Rather than go into the specifics of each one, it is possible to see these events by looking at the aforementioned calendar. However, I will also provide some evidence below.
9 events were insect themed with a further 6 differing butterfly species witnessed on the wing, either locally or further afield. The non-butterfly event was a local Red-tailed Bumblebee, the subspecies of which was unknown.
A further 3 events were three differing tree species in bud or full leaf. These again all coming from my home area.
2 bird related activities were a nest-building Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and a brand new migrant for the list, a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) seen on a local trip to the nearby downs.
Finally 2 final phenological highlights arrived in the form of flowering Cowslips (Primula veris) and Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).
Spring is most certainly springing into action and for a little more detail of my sightings; you should look no further than at the attached.
PHENOLOGY UPDATE NATURESTIMELINE
When you analyse the data more precisely you will see of these latest sightings the following becomes apparent. 8 events are earlier than 2011, 5 are either later or on the same date and 3 were unobserved last year. However, an entirely different pattern becomes apparent, when compared to the long-term averages. There is an amazing tally of 12 of the 16 phenological indicators being ahead of the long-term averages. So it does seem on albeit early evidence, that 2012 is so far hinting at another dose of climatic shift for the natural world. What will the weather do next I wonder?
I love life. I wish to fathom what makes our natural world tick and how and why species interact the way they do. We need to cherish our natural world and not plunder it. Amongst all my differing interests, I would include blogging, participating in citizen science, ornithology, scientific study of biodiversity, climate change activities and so much more. The list goes on.