Science & Environment

Spring arrival: Public to capture new season in words

Nuthatch Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption Familiar songbirds like the nuthatch may be building nests at this time of year

Hopping birds seemed a thrill of pleasure to William Wordsworth, while trees' greenness was "a kind of grief" for Philip Larkin.

Poets and writers have been capturing the arrival of spring for centuries.

On 21 March - the first day of spring - people around the UK are invited to contribute their own poetry and prose.

The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council is asking for entries to a "national nature diary" documenting the season's arrival.

The 150-word entries can be submitted via a website or social media.

Image copyright NAtional Trust/Hugh Mothersole
Image caption The aim of the diary is to capture the first day of spring from "dawn to dusk"

Dr Pippa Marland, who studies culture and the environment at the University of Leeds, said: "The crowd-sourced spring diary will give nature lovers across the UK the chance to participate in an event that combines the best traditions of citizen science with the opportunity to produce their own nature writing.

Image copyright Justin Minns/National Trust

Dr David Bullock, head of species and habitats conservation at the National Trust, which is involved in the project, said it was an effort to document "nature starting to wake up".

"This is an amazing time of year. Blink, and you might miss the first bumble bee," he said. "Wherever you are in the country, there is lots that you can look out for.

"From the frogs in ponds to the honey bees finding nectar in the last of the snowdrops; the powerful songster - the mistle thrush - pronouncing its presence from the very top of the tallest tree to hungry badgers excavating lawns searching for grubs and juicy plant roots."

Image copyright Victoria Gill
Image caption If it is not blown away by the storms, blossom should be starting to bloom across the country

There is mounting evidence that climate change is shifting seasonal patterns all over the world, which researchers involved in this project say makes it a crucial time to document.

Dr Marland added: "It will offer a unique snapshot of the beginning of spring this year and mark an important moment in the history of nature writing in the UK."

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