Woodland Trust – Nature’s Calendar




Help record seasonal changes in plants and animals for the Woodland Trust.

Nature’s Calendar has been set up for volunteers to record the signs of the seasons where they live. Recording the changing seasons is called Phenology.

It could mean noting the first ladybird or swallow seen in your garden in spring, or the first blackberry in your local wood in autumn.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

You don’t have to be an expert to take part and lots of help is given, including a nature identification booklet that you receive when you register.

The Wildlife Trust even offer a number of forms and guides to help you discover and identify what you see.

Phenology

Phenology is the study of the times of recurring natural phenomena especially in relation to climate. It is recording when you heard the first cuckoo or saw the blackthorn blossom. This can then be compared with other records.

In Japan and China the time of blossoming of cherry and peach trees is associated with ancient festivals and some of these dates can be traced back to the eighth century.

Robert Marsham was Britain’s first phenologist and started recording his ‘Indications of Spring’ as early as 1736.

The first individual records  found so far are from a Weather Diary from Egioke (near Redditch) from March 1703.

In 1875 British phenology took a major leap forward when the Royal Meteorological Society established a national recorder network. Annual reports were published up until 1948.

Aware of the vital importance of continuous records, Tim Sparks, research biologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Cambridge, started a pilot scheme in 1998 to revive a phenology network in the UK that would be both compatible with historic records and current international schemes.

In autumn 2000 the Woodland Trust forces joined with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology to promote phenology to a far wider and larger audience. Almost 50,000 people across the UK are now involved with the UK Phenology Network.

In 2005 the UKPN joined forces with the BBC to launch the Springwatch and Autumnwatch surveys, the biggest ever surveys into the timing of the arrival of the seasons. These are available at  http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/survey

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