March and April Phenological madness

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.


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?

Best Wishes

Tony Powell

8 thoughts on “March and April Phenological madness

Add yours

  1. Hello Tony, I haven’t seen cowslips flowering yet, but I was in Essex at the weekend and the bluebells were starting to flower there, which I’ll be posting about this week. BW. Finn

  2. Tony we have what I think are bluebells starting to flower but I forgot to photograph them today to check to see if they are natives or that awful spanish type that have escaped from gardens. Wild violets were spotted today too along with Lychnis. Thankfully our snowy day just lasted 24 hours but I was up in Highland Perthshire today and there is still lots of snow on northfacing slopes.

    1. It is good to confirm your possible Bluebells and the Violets. I hope too that the snow eases off and does not come back for a while. Down south, we have been fortunate not to have the snow but it is the lack of rain, which is more concerning. My Bluebell sighting was from an ancient copse setting that under my watchful eye each year. Mind you, I was amazed to see them in flower so early on the 21st March down in deepest Hampshire.

      All the best.

      Tony Powell

  3. Tony,

    Thank you for finding my blog and beginner mind phenology in the New Jersey Highlands (US). What a great resource you have created. The last 4 days have brought out the blooms of ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) and violets (Viola soroia) and with them the first of the bumble bees.

    I look forward to learning with your tribe,

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