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+

6 thoughts on “March madness

  1. Should have read this first before asking the question about sightings patterns! Very interesting. I didn’t see a butterfly until this Thursday and I’ve still only seen 1 bee. It’s still cold up here though, frosted windscreen every day last week.

    1. No worries, over time I hope will all get to see some discernible trends in my data. I am sure the Woodland Trust and CEH would certainly be fascinated, considering they run the Nature’s Calendar survey. I notice you undertake the frosted windscreen too. In fact, in my patch, we are currently in a spell of 15 consecutive Air frosts, even more so if you were to include the non-air frosts the like of, to which you refer. Something warmer will be with most of us in the UK soon but along with it, quite a bit of rain. There’s always something to fascinate us all.

    1. Thanks Rachel. Interesting to see that most of our Butterflies are well behind schedule, which in the long run may well aid their survival chances when the heat finally arrives. I have now seen a Bumblebee at last too. More news on other phenological happenings coming soon.

    1. Many Thanks. I’ve been updating my Google calendar over recent days and have now finally seen a few extra flowering shrubs and leafing trees, even a migrant Bird or two, too. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and likewise, I’ll be watching your updates.

      Kind Regards

      Tony

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s