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06 February 2005

27 indications of spring

First blossom
Originally uploaded by Jill.

Evidence of spring is blossoming in my Flickr feed; an unintended, casual phenology.

There has been an upsurge in news about climate change recently - from reports of the collapsing ice shelves in Antarctica, to the discovery that the sun is dimming - but I think it's instead these everyday observations of spring-coming-early that make the change comprehensible.

There is a British tradition of studying the times of recurring natural phenomena, initiated by Robert Marsham who recorded his 'Indications of Spring' in 1736. The indications of spring include the first snowdrop you see, the first time you hear a bumble bee and signs of returning newts. There are now at least 12,500 people across the UK actively involved with the UK Phenology Network, which recently launched a new site for children, Nature's Detectives, with identification guides, report forms, graphs and live maps.

According to the BBC's Radio 4:

Thanks to a Victorian craze for recording the first signs of spring, scientists are proving that our springs are coming earlier. What were once apparently random records of the first frogspawn, the first swallow or the first leaf-buds to burst on oak trees, are now fuelling the efforts of thousands of amateur and professional phenologists across the UK.

Posted at 02:51 PM | Permalink


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