SPRING has jumped the gun in many parts of the country, as flowers blossomed some bumblebees began buzzing months ahead of schedule.
A HUGE bumble buzzed right past my ear the other day. I ducked and swerved to avoid her landing on my rosy red cheek…might have thought me an early flowering spring bloom! I adore bees, even though one stung me, twice, as a child. Yes, twice. I was about 10 years old. Practicing handstands on the front lawn. And yes, shocked the hell out of an unsuspecting busy bee gathering nectar from a red clover. Stung on the palm, as I stood up, she buzzed her way up my long sleeve and then stung me again; just to make sure I didn’t miss her anger the first time. Something magical and mysterious about our bees.
Anyway…more than 64 records of early spring activity has been received by the Woodland Trust – the earliest in November.
The Trust encourages members of the public to send sightings of early spring activity through its Nature’s Calendar scheme.
Below: Photo taken by me
Mild conditions have seen flowers blooming this month (January), with insects temporarily disturbed from hibernation over winter. I have a couple of climbing roses still in bloom, and keep flowering each time I dead head them.
A small tortoiseshell butterfly was spotted flying outdoors on Christmas Day in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and a red-tailed bumblebee was seen on Boxing Day in Somerset.
Meanwhile a red admiral was seen on December 17 in Cambridgeshire, five months ahead of schedule. The average date for snowdrops to appear is February 5, but there are 24 records of them flowering more than a month ahead of this – the earliest of which was in Southampton on November 30: according to local news.
And, though hazel trees (also my favourites) usually flower in early March, there have been 23 hazel records already, with the first on December 1. Even birds are ahead of the times – song thrushes have been heard in 11 places since December, despite the fact that they are expected to start their dawn chorus in March (besides my early morning wake up alarm clock… songbirds…bringing spring into my bedroom – and does help my S.A.D).
This month, snowdrops have already been seen in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Cornwall (I haven’t spotted any on my dog walk in Brixham Bay, as yet). Hazel flowered in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire…I may have to visit my local Garden Centre. Quite fancy a quirky shaped hazel tree. Catkins remind me of lambs tails.
Nature’s Calendar data shows buds are bursting into leaf earlier and leaves falling much later, backing up Met Office research suggesting the plant-growing season has extended by a month. I’ve noticed in my own gardens this to be the case.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite, of the Woodland Trust, said, ‘The more data we have, the better we will understand the effects of warm winters, cold snaps and heatwaves.’ Can’t argue with that.
Memories of an English childhood nursery rhyme I sang at primary school, suddenly flood my thoughts: after more than sixty years:
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row
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This months quote: