The first Spring Full Moon (meteorologically speaking) has been and gone and our distant planet is on the wane once more. I have found it intriguing over the years how the moon phases, more especially the Full Moon, alter the flora and fauna around us. Maybe it is my overactive imagination but with the lengthening of daylight also increasing, are there not observable changes? Let us recap the first ten days of March, phenologically speaking.
On the 2nd March I first observed the emergence of leafing Elder (Sambucus), the mean date of this event returning 4th March, based on twelve records. Come the 3rd March my brother confirmed a Thunder day (Thunder heard or lightning seen). Personally, I was away at a B.T.O conference so could not confirm this event. The very first Thunder day, based on sixteen records also returns a mean date of 4th March. Weather wise, the 4th March was a wet day, hoorah! Of the 12.6mm, which fell during that day, a small proportion was actually melted wet snow. Between the 5th and 7th March, things calmed down once again until the arrival of the Full Moon 8th March.
A Siskin (Carduelis spinus) visited our garden feeders for the first time in ages, although if you are lucky they may be heard calling in the vicinity. On this day (8th March), the raptors were very noticeable with two Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and two Red Kites (Milvus milvus) circling above our suburban patch. A Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) visiting us on the very next day. The phenological indicators were not overlooked with the following being witnessed. The first emergence of Flowering Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), Flowering Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and the first leafing of Hawthorn (Crataegus) all observed during the busy 8th March. Looking closely once again at the dates of average occurrence of these events, they return the 5th March, 9th March and 12th March respectively.
Breaking news for today (1oth March) has been my first garden Frogspawn and first emergence of Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni). Once again when looking at the averages, the returns are the 9th March and 12th March, both being based on a healthy sample of records.
As to the future, many more phenological events will be likely as warmer weather is in the forecast. In fact, even as I type this, the warmest day of the year is happening with the Air Temperatures approaching the mid-60’s Fahrenheit. Oh how I love this time of year!
Today has been a mix of wet snowflakes and cold sleety rain. Temperatures, which had been falling earlier, are now on the rise, so I am somewhat glad to be indoors.
Now that the official winter climate statistics are in, it is time to have a look back at how the season fared. This is achievable courtesy of this link – here. My figures tie in nicely with the actual C.E.T. Temperatures, with my anomaly being approximately 0.6C above average. The rainfall figures continue to show their undeniably downward trend, with a deficit of 43mm or so. According to my figures, we have received only 73% of the average precipitation across the winter season with 82% officially reported for England as a whole. After the warmth and dryness of autumn, I do hope spring brings us much-needed rainfall. With plans locally for yet more urban development (many thousands of new houses), our natural ecosystems will face damage beyond recognition.
On a lighter note, the spring equinox, is approaching fast and migrant birds are on the move. I like to track this phenomenon online and there are many ways to do so. A website that I would highly recommend is The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society. The aforementioned website can be an excellent resource for tracking the incoming and outgoing African migrants due to its global position. In addition, from a UK perspective, I use reports from birdguides and it is from here, that I will quote a few recent highlights.
Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) have possibly overwintered in the UK once again, with more recent coming from Cork and East Sussex.
Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) are being quite widely reported in low numbers. Yorkshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Manchester and Pembrokeshire, has reported this species so far.
Reports of Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) received from Devon and West Sussex and a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) from Nottinghamshire are interesting. I am also aware of two reports of Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), one being in January from West Yorkshire and a February sighting from Gloucestershire.
I suspect there are other tales of interesting sightings and it shows the build up to migration changeover is gathering pace.