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Signs of spring update: Snowdrops everywhere

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 14:16 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

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?

Frog spawn
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 [14] 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.

The birds
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!


  • Comment number 1.

    on a walk this afternoon in nottinghamshire, herons nest building,goldeneyes displaying, a song thrush singing,plenty of snowdrops and hazel catkins and a beautifull calm day for once!!

  • Comment number 2.

    As I posted previously, despite the very cold December the Snowdrops are much earlier this year than last year. In Feb 10 there were no Snowdrops anywhere near opening for the Imbolc celebrations on 2nd February, whereas this year they are opening. This is in Bedfordshire and may vary in other parts of the country.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    my garden feeding birds showing mating signs sparrows noisy male birds displaying feathers in front of females. starlings singing louder and longer to attract hen birds.my regular hen blackbird now flying around cock blackbirds to attract attention .blue tits looking into my tit nesting box the wildlife signs are here

  • Comment number 5.

    I have primroses and snowdrops in my garden in Edinburgh, The primroses started to appear as soon as the snow melted!

  • Comment number 6.

    Not forgetting the signs from one of nature's most important members, mankind. Overheard this morning as we got out into the open street from Holborn tube station, "Oh, how I love warm mornings for a change."

  • Comment number 7.

    My old Victorian light in the garden used to work but because a tree sparrow made a nest in the cowl last year we had to remove the light bulb in case of fire, this year the wrens have taken over the old nest.Last night I counted 11, tonight I managed to count 8 and get some film whilst I sat in the car in my drive. I am so excited I felt like a child in a sweet shop or should I become up-to date and say like a child in a computer shop.

  • Comment number 8.

    I spotted my first wild snowdrops in Perth, Perthshire on Thursday 9th Feb though they are between 10 and 14 days late compared to last year flowering in that spot but there's still no sign of them flowering in my garden yet.

    I had a little flock of lesser redpolls in my garden for the first time ever yesterday but no sign of any ladybirds and normally I would have had my first sightings at the end of January.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have a Plantation of 300 English Oak trees planted in 2000. They come into leaf at various times in April or May, but I've found I can predict this date from Maximum daytime temperatures in Feb, March and April. Last year I was only 1 day out. The earliest (ie warmest) year was 2007, and the latest year was 2006 (21 days later). 2011 may be a warmer year over Feb-Apr, so the budburst may be quite early.

  • Comment number 10.

    I saw several ladybirds whilst I was gardening yesterday on the sussex coast and the bluetits have already been popping in and out of their nest box.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just to say that snowdrops have appeared over the past week both in our garden and down by the shore near where we live, a small village called Evanton on the North shore of the Cromarty Firth about 20 miles North of Inverness in the Highlands. A few bulbs are starting to appear in the garden too, but only the tips are showing - tulips and crocus mainly. Still pretty cold here with frosts most nights and sleet showers in the afternoon and the hills white with snow.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hampshire. On Feb 4 Blue tits were back checking out their nest box on exactly the same date they started to check it last year. Feb 14 Great tits were back checking out their nest box as well. Last year both families nested successfully. Feb 18 Song Thrush back on my bird table Collared doves and sparrows chasing their females and blackbirds paired up already. 18 different species of birds this week in my garden. Snowdrops are in bloom, daffodils and primroses in bud.

  • Comment number 13.

    Here in the south west corner of Ireland we are seeing the first sign's of spring all over from greenfinches in the garden to crocus growing in another garden and the green grass shoot's coming up all along the hedgerows. It certainly is looking georgous here. Cant wait to see how it all look's in the summer as it is my first year in Ireland.

  • Comment number 14.

    i have snowdrop in flower in my garden and bluebells braecking through the soil here in cambs

  • Comment number 15.

    Here in my Essex garden, snowdrops have been out for 3 weeks. Crocuses are out too and daffodils are showing green. Bluetits are rearranging grass & straw in the nestbox. There are buds on my cherry tree.

    Primroses have been in flower for at least a week in the hedgerows, and 'lambstail' catkins have been out for 3 weeks or so.

  • Comment number 16.

    My son found a ladybird in his room this morning(the first i've seen this year). To me this is the first sign of spring :))

  • Comment number 17.

    I saw my first Bumble bee today, in fact I saw two. Also a squirrel with a mouthful of leaves, maybe starting to build a drey.

  • Comment number 18.

    I have just seen my first butterfly for 2011. I could not identify it as I was not quick enough and rather surprised, but it landed on some purple crocuses. I am in the Isle of Man.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've just been in St. James' park in London and not only are the Snowdrops and Crocus in flower but the Daffodils are flowering and there is blossom on the cherry trees too. A lovely spring day.

  • Comment number 20.

    Saw my first bumble bee for the year! Bit early, no?



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