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

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+

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+