A kind winter thus far in the UK

What a difference a year makes. At this midway point through Meteorological winter 2016/17, the weather so far has been much kinder than last year. December 2015 was horrendously mild, bad for wildlife in that most things were out of sync, the natural world in the UK at least didn’t know whether it was coming or going.

 

It was also bad for farming at this stage last winter, crops and grass were growing vigorously, and diseases and pests were prevalent, meaning more chemical expenditure down the line for struggling farming communities. We need winters like those of former years to return occasionally to restore some balance.

 

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This one thus far has seen a very typical Temperature setup locally with a reasonable tally of Air frosts when skies cleared by night, although precipitation has been somewhat with December proving very dry when compared to the average as the image below states.

 

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Personal Weather Station Monthly Climatological Summary for December 2016

 

As you’ll notice upon reading the above article from the Newbury Weekly News dated January 14th, 2016, phenology events, i.e., those signs from nature bore no resemblance to most years past, way before climate change processes steadfastly took a grip on things. The winter of 2016/17 thus far has been kinder to the farming community and consequently nature itself, as far as I am aware from what I’ve read and heard about in the press. Here’s to the rest of the winter, playing ball too then. I do feel for our European neighbours, though. January 2017, in particular, has so far seen brutal cold in a significant number of places as the following link to a recent BBC article indicates.

 

Icy weather in Europe causes more hardship and chaos

 

A couple of phenology events which need updating to my records database are the 1st instance of flowering Hazel catkins on the 15th January and 1st flowering Snowdrops around about the 13th January.

 

As ever, you can continue to access my Facebook updates by clicking on the Red Admiral butterfly icon below.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

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Maintaining diversity in the countryside. Guest blog by Tony Powell

Courtesy of a fellow LinkedIn connection, Ben Eagle, I would like to highlight a recent guest post I made on his blog at thinkingcountry dot com
It’s entitled “Maintaining diversity in the countryside”.

Ben’s blog is well worth subscribing to, in my opinion, as he covers a great many topics relating to farming, wildlife and conservation matters. After all, he was also one of my original Conservation “Young Guns” to look out for in 2016.

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Here is another guest post written in the light of Brexit (and in this case, the recent State of Nature report as well). Tony Powell is a wildlife surveyor (principally birds) and researcher and runs the naturestimeline website. He has previously volunteered for many organisations including the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Woodland Trust, the British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildlife Trusts, Butterfly Conservation and currently volunteers for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. In his article Tony reminds us how the farming community has a huge role to play in achieving positive conservation results in the countryside.

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Partridge and Pheasant rear and release sites are very much part of the UK landscape. Collectively, these enterprises have planted tens of thousands of acres of woodland over many decades. Woodland, when managed in such a way, boosts the productivity of woodland ground-nesting bird species alongside that of the shoot. Often…

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Getting out and about at Farm Fest 2014

Naturestimeline hasn’t ceased to be, in spite of what some might wish or hope for and on the outside chance that you may have missed me, I’ve had PC issues and well, I’m back.

On the 12th July, I was out and about supporting a local farming enterprise recently, hence the post title* *click on the underlined link for further information regarding the Farm Fest event. Nature and farming practices are inextricably linked so I found this day out, particularly enthralling. As a farmland bird researcher, it is crucial that I continue to learn the link between farmland practices and its effect on the sadly often declining farmland bird species**

Below are some of my own pictures of the event, which is one of many that each and every one of us can attend, so search out an event near you.

The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover
The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover
Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress
Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress
Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover
Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover

Just to add, I have no personal involvement with the farm in question but I do hugely value the farming community. I did however, get to taste some local brews once I had returned home.

Some of Upham Brewery's finest Ales
Some of Upham Brewery’s finest Ales

Let us not forget that even the brewing process of Ales or whatever happens to be your tipple requires a little help from Mother Nature, so much respect to her.

Cheers

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** unless perhaps you’re born a generalist species such as a Jackdaw or Woodpigeon, whose numbers take up the bulk of available farmland bird food biomass