Signs of spring update: Snowdrops everywhere
Whisper it quietly, spring is on its way. Since I last blogged about spring sightings, the snowdrops are well and truly here, frogspawn is very slowly spreading from the west, the bluebells are beginning to awaken and song thrushes are starting to sing.
If ever there's a flower to give hope it's the snowdrop. It's there in all its glory to remind us that even tender, delicate beauty can flourish in the cold and rain.
The Nature's Calendar snowdrop map indicates that they're pretty well right across the country now. Your tweets and blog comments suggest a similar picture.
We've had sightings from Devon to Glasgow and from Sussex to West Yorkshire and pretty well everywhere in between. But, so far, nothing from the very north of Scotland. Have you see them there? Or perhaps more significantly, have you not seen snowdrops somewhere where you'd normally expect to see them?
So if they're pretty much everywhere when did they first start appearing? Back to Nature's Calendar. According to their data (aside from a rogue sighting at the beginning of December), the real flourish began in mid January. This tallies with our correspondents from north Wales and Devon who first spotted them in the middle of January.
If snowdrops signify the hope of spring, then bluebells signal its arrival. We'd expect to see woodland carpeted with them in late April/early May but the National Trust are reporting that this year's cold winter might delay them for a few weeks. (Plantlife is likewise predicting that all the wildflowers at its Kent farm reserve will be flowering three weeks late.)
Let's keep an eye out and see if this prediction turns out to be correct.
Mid May seems so far away. If you're desperate for any sign that winter is on its way out look for bluebell shoots. We've sightings of them from Warwick and Essex already. And I'm sure there's plenty more out there.
Another flower that likes to get in there early is the primrose. Judging by your reports, the season is just about getting underway. We've had sightings in Dorset, south Oxfordshire and west London. Have you seen them further afield?
On Sunday Jeremy Biggs from Pond Conservation blogged about what he thought might be the first sighting of frog spawn this year - spotted 5 February in west Wales. Turned out it was far from the first. That honour goes to a Nature's Calendar participant who saw it 3 January in south Wales.
The NC frog spawn map is a great illustration of how it arrives across the country, starting first in the far south-west of England and the west of Wales and gradually spreading eastwards. We could well see them on the west coast of Scotland before they reach on the east of England.
All this talk of frog spawn, however, got some of you worried. As I posted a few weeks ago, Pond Conservation is very concerned about the potential impact of the freezing winter on frog numbers. For some of you at least it appears these predictions are coming true.
"We are worried about frogs in west Yorkshire," tweeted jenonevoice. "We have had about 50 dead in out garden pond since December." A similar story for Susan Wise, who reported on the blog: "as we were thinning out the pond plants we discovered many adult frogs  in fact were dead." Poor jojosh23 had found no frogspawn but "only dead frogs after the cold spell!"
Although from Cambridgeshire more positive news arrived. "Frogs have started mating in my pond," said Chained. And on the blog, chickenzown predicted frogspawn in his garden pond any minute now. Keep us posted.
Time for a nice photo from the Winterwatch photo group: another classic sign of spring, the seven-spot ladybird. This one was taken on 1 February.
For many, spring is sprung by the birds. Child of Herne in Bedfordshire has, by the sound of it, been having a great old time. At the end of January they reported: "Have seen and heard Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Great Tit singing."
Over on the Winterwatch photo group, blackcap1000 says she heard her first blackbird song yesterday, while on blog TedGourmet heard his first on the way to work this very morning. "The great tits in our area have been singing for weeks," he also says. "And a pair of collared doves are building a nest in the bush at the end of our garden."
On 3 February OckViewer heard his first song thrush. "Could this be the start of spring?" he asks.
Possibly, but for me spring is when the chiffchaffs start singing. Do please let me know if you hear this or indeed any other natural sign that spring is on its way. Post a comment right here or if you're on Twitter, tweet with the hashtag #ukspring. If you have photos, share them on our Wintertwatch group over on Flickr.
Thanks for all who've taken part so far and don't please forget to send your sightings to Nature's Calendar. Right now, they're after elder budburst, frog spawn, flowering hazel and snowdrop and song thrush singing.
I'll leave the last words to _purpleprincess: "It's not officially Spring until Springwatch starts! Don't make us wait until the end of May!" Sorry, you'll have to take that one up with the BBC schedulers!