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

Observations about and from Nature

There are certain things which make me tick when it comes to following events from the Natural World. One is the enjoyment of being out in the wider countryside or even in the garden and observing nature in the raw. After all, I am a keen tracker of natural phenomena and how they interact under specific climatic conditions over a number of years (phenology). A few recent highlights are shown below.

These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.
Woodland Snowdrops (Galanthus_nivalis‎) – These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.
These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.
Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) – These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.
The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) – The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.

The above sightings represent just a tiny fraction of recent phenology events. Another topic which enthuses me is how we can all learn from other’s tales from the world of nature conservation and even its politics. Much of this information can be gleaned from online sources and below I will share with you some of my personal favourites. *in each circumstance, if you hover over said link before clicking, it will reveal the owner of the blog

http://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/about/

http://gailqb.wordpress.com/

http://ecologyescapades.com/about-me/

http://biodiversitygatwick.blogspot.co.uk/

http://manuelinor.wordpress.com/about/

http://solitaryecology.com/about/

http://writingfornature.wordpress.com/

http://freshfromthefield.blogspot.co.uk/p/about.html

These are simply a select few and I will have to revisit this post in future and bring your attention to the many other hard-working ecologists and conservationists or put simply nature lovers that are out there for us all to discover, go follow them!

What I find fascinating about us conservationists, is the fact that we won’t always see “eye to eye” on matters pertaining to effective nature conservation, in spite of this we all share one united passion. We care, we each possess amazing knowledge of our core subjects and we have an unrivalled will to succeed for the creatures with no tongue or voice with which they could communicate their story. Back to us, what’s your story? Please tell.

and

February catch up

Fellow bloggers, here is an overdue update of my findings from the final winter month of February 2013. As you can see, at least in my patch, it ended up both on the cold and slightly dry side. 

February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows
February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 Air Temperature highs and lows
February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 rainfall
February 2013 to 3rd March 2013 rainfall

When looking back at February 2012 it did not differ that greatly. A Temperature mean of -1.0c below normal was less cold than this time around, which registered -1.8c below the 30 year mean. In fact, the main difference climatically speaking, was the ongoing drought which faced many last February. My statistics for February 2012 showed a precipitation deficit of 36.9mm, whereas the deficit this time around was only 11.7mm. Away from the statistics, there were still some stirrings coming from the Natural World.

Daffodils were first witnessed in bloom on 7th February, whilst in 2012 it was to be the 2nd January. *It is just possible that this sighting may have been slightly off target, due to your resident blogger suffering from a bout of flu. The ongoing trend given off by sightings of first flowering dates for Daffodil is represented below. However, it is the truly wild variant (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) which comes into bloom later and provides us with a more reliable phenological indicator.

Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013
Daffodil First Flowering (locally) as of 2013

Next up was my first sighting of a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) back in its breeding area, coming on the 13th February. This once again provides us with an area of debate, as to how easily you can readily interpret the bird’s return as a correlated to its willingness to breed. Moreover, the data does tend to show a short timeframe between its arrival back in its breeding territory and the more significant activity of the bird’s actual first seasonal song. As before, the ongoing data range is provided below.

Yellowhammer back in breeding area (locally) as of 2013
Yellowhammer back in breeding area (locally) as of 2013

Just three days later on the 16th February I was to hear a first drumming Woodpecker species. The candidate we are tracking here in the United Kingdom is the  Great-Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), a personal sound recording of which can be accessed by the following the link below.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker Drumming

The 17th February went on to produce two phenological firsts by way of locally flowering Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), a week earlier than last year’s date of the 24th February. Also, well ahead of 2012 was the first leafing of Hawthorn (Crataegus). Unbelievably, in spite of a colder February this year and a rather ferocious March which followed, last year’s 5th March confirmation of first leafing of Hawthorn was very late in comparison.

Blackthorn flowering
Blackthorn flowering
Hawthorn leafing
Hawthorn leafing

For information purposes, you can view the ongoing trend in these two aforementioned phenomena below.

Blackthorn First Flowering (locally) as of 2013
Blackthorn First Flowering (locally) as of 2013
Hawthorn First Leaf (locally) as of 2013
Hawthorn First Leaf (locally) as of 2013

As to how nature’s events were to unfold in March, please stay tuned for updates in the near future.

naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+