Help record the arrival of spring

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
"June is bursting out all over," says the song, but these days the flora and fauna we normally associate with flaming June are appearing weeks earlier than in the past. As for daffodils, those traditional harbingers of spring, they have been shooting up in February, which should be the depths of winter.

Because of the increased temperatures associated with global warming, tree leaf buds are bursting earlier, birds start nesting weeks earlier and people cut their lawns all year round.

A Woodland Trust study conducted in spring 2002 found that the first carpets of bluebells emerged 16 days earlier than the previous year, the cuckoo started calling five days earlier and bumblebees and butterflies appeared three weeks earlier.

That survey was conducted by 17,000 volunteer phenologists, students of the timing of natural or seasonal events. Now, for its Spring into Science challenge, which is taking place in the run-up to Science Week, March 12-21, the Woodland Trust, with the British Society for the Advancement of Science, is again looking for budding phenologists to record the first signs of spring.

Every observation logged will help the trust and the phenologists understand more about how plants and animals respond to relatively swift changes in climate. The changes are a threat because some species may not be able to adapt. Even the glorious colours we enjoyed last autumn had a downside - they confused the wildlife that depends on tree leaves.

Everyone, from children to pensioners can take part in the project, whether they live in the city or countryside.

Details at www.the-ba.netnsw

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