My latest Phenology news and the cold weather incoming

As nature’s circadian rhythms seem somewhat uncoordinated, here was I, hoping for colder weather come February. Well, some normality at last appears to be on its way, but first, some phenology.
  • My latest phenological event was yesterday, 27th January, in the form of a First heard drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker – Dendrocopos major. This event matches closely to the mean date of 28th January, based on 12 individual records.
Great Spotted Woodpecker, courtesy of BWPi
Great Spotted Woodpecker, courtesy of BWPi

However, alongside this, there have been other odd sightings. From various sources, I have heard of early/late Barn Swallows – Hirundo rustica, Honeybees on the wing and nesting Eurasian Blackbirds – Turdus merula to name but some. So, what of the weather hinted at earlier? To find out the latest, click on the attached link below.

Cold weather brings risk of snow to the UK.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

The Birds, they are a-singing

The birds have been most vocal in recent days on my local patch and in the nearby countryside. To break down the detail, let us look at the birds that have been singing more or less every day since the autumn.

  • Great Tit (Parus major) has been a joy to hear with its “tit-su, tit-su, tit-su” lilt.
  • Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) with its repetitive three or four noted phrases rendered by myself as “did you do it, did you do it, did you, did you, did you” is a species which has been singing for many a week now.
  • European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) whose sweet notes delivered at an effortless pace something like “too de le, to de lu, swee, swee” is another species to have defending its territory since October or even before that.
  • Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) with the monotonous undertones of a weary football fan singing “united, united, united, united” has been singing since about late November.

Please notice that I have now given up on my pathetic renditions of the songs, which you access via places such as the Archival Sound Recordings  link at the British Library. However, I do also possess many semi-professional standard sound recordings myself, which are a joy to listen to.

Now, in January, one can add a whole multitude of other bird species to be heard singing. If you are an early riser, only the early mornings will likely provide you with a Blackbird (Turdus Merula). My first recorded date for Blackbird, being the 9th January is my earliest date on record, based on a series of 14 individual dates. The only thing I will say, is that along with the aforementioned Robin, they can be fooled to sing by the street lighting and may well be heard singing, even on a mild Christmas day. I did actually hear the Blackbird on one day in December, however now that it has started, it will sing every day right through to late June.

Another bird, which I keep records for, is the Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and again, the date on which I heard it, the 13th January is my earliest on record based on a series of 9 individual dates. My two most amazing records this year must however be the Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) and Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). Both of which I heard on the 15th January during a WEBS count at a local gravel pit. Needless to say, the first heard singing Chiffchaff is again, my earliest date on record, this time, by nearly two months. My average date of 11th March for a singing Chiffchaff and based on 18 individual records shows the oddity of this date. As for the Blackcap, I do not keep individual records as we often get these winter visitors come to our feeders in the garden.

As you can see from the above, I do not note every bird species that I hear singing for the first time, but from memory, you can additionally add the following species, as having been in song since January 1st.

I have also heard three good woodland dwelling species in form of Coal Tit (Periparus ater), Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) and Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) on occasions since early January. In addition, today – 18th January, I was surprised to hear the Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) in song, for the first time since last summer.

The above is not exhaustive and there may well be others to add to the avian songsters list as upon browsing the internet, other folk have reported the following.

  • Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes), Dunnocks (Prunella modularis) and even Great-Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) drumming and of course, there are always those darn Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus).

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

Another sign of seasonal shifting?

I, for one would not argue against this latest evidence. See my Natural Events Calendar link for a personal slant from last year.  It is pure conjecture as to whether there is a definite trend but these events are thought provoking, to say the least.

Butterflies move faster than birds in response to climate change

Kind Regards

Tony Powell