FORGET THE SNOW CORNWALL'S SPRING HAS SPRUNG

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:05 30 August 2017

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WTPL/Philip Formby

Conservation charity Woodland Trust's nature calendar reveals Spring has begin in Cornwall and across the South West

With freezing temperatures and snow on the ground in Cornwall, it might be hard to believe that spring is well and truly on its way if Mother Nature is an accurate barometer; as snowdrops, hazel catkins and even ladybirds and butterflies have been recorded on the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar website.

The trust has been monitoring the arrival of the seasons for the last 15 years, with historical records dating back to the 18th century. So far in 2015 the conservation charity has already received sightings of snowdrops at 120 locations across the country, 74 records of hazel catkins and even sightings of ladybirds, and small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral butterflies.

The current freezing weather may temporarily pause the advance of spring but it causes less of a problem than a late cold spell, when many more species may be awake from hibernation or flowering – as happened in 2013.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust Citizen Science Manager, said: “People still seem surprised to see snowdrops and butterflies in January but our warmer climate in recent years means this is now pretty common.

“Records added to Nature’s Calendar by the public have enabled scientists to learn how trees, plants and wildlife adapt to our changing climate. If we can ensure our natural environment is diverse, resilient and interconnected it will make it easier for wildlife to adjust too.”

The sightings follow the warmest year on record1 and three of the last four years have seen some of the earliest spring averages that the Trust has compiled from public records. Over the last 25 years flowers have bloomed up to 12 days earlier than previously2.

Spring activity normally first occurs in the South West of the UK and works its way north in the following weeks and months. In November the charity received a record of frogspawn on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, the earliest such incidence for nine years. The Trust will be working in partnership with the British Science Association to estimate the rate spring progresses this year.

By recording spring signs of species found in woodland and other habitats, thousands of people have enabled Nature’s Calendar to become the leading survey into how climate change is affecting UK plants and wildlife. Find out more at naturescalendar.org.uk

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