Monday, 16 January 2012

Tracking the Seasons

Lots of the green things I do are linked to the changing seasons. I buy a veg box partly because I want local, organic, sustainable food and partly because I like to see the changes in what veg is growing as I move through the year. I wait with anticipation for the first of the parsnips or asparagus or UK lettuce.
I go for my weekly walk along the canal because it's good for me but also because I like to get outside and see how the world is changing each week. Looking for blackberries, ice, birds nesting or flowers is exciting and makes me feel connected to nature.

People who have been enjoying and keeping track of wildlife for many, many years will tell you that this years bluebells are out early or that the spring migration is later than normal. These facts are interesting in themselves but they're also important for science and conservation. Knowing how the seasons are changing can give us vital clues into how climate change might be affecting our wildlife and whether there are ways we can help to protect important species.

You might think it's just experts who can do this sort of thing, or people with years of records but you'd be wrong. The Woodland Trust have set up Nature's Calendar which is a survey tracking the first events of each season for different species. There is one for spring and one for autumn and they want as many people as possible from around the UK to tell them what wildlife they're seeing in their local area. The website has identification charts, a list of species they want to know about and what events you should be looking out for. You can also look at their results for previous years and see how the seasons are changing.

Judging from their charts I should be looking for snowdrops (saw my first one yesterday!), hazels budding and maybe even some frog spawn soon. I should be listening for rocks and song thrushes singing for the first time too. Have a look at the website and then get outside and see what you can see. I'm going to be taking the recording sheet with me on my walks from now on so I'll let you all know what the seasons are doing in Preston!

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