I saw my first snowdrops of the year today. Primroses and celandine are tentatively opening their buds too, though I suspect they’ll soon change their minds if the Beast from the East blows in again this month, as forecast. And who can blame them? It must be extremely confusing being a wild flower when you can no longer rely on the weather being the same this year as it was last year.
To help understand the effects climate change is having on the flowering times of native plants, the BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland) run an annual ‘New Year Plant Hunt’. In its 10th year now, the ‘New Year Plant Hunt’ enlists the help of citizen scientist volunteers throughout Britain and Ireland, to note down, photograph, and record all the native wild plants they find blooming over a 4 day period at the beginning of January. But this is not the only project of its kind – other annual recording schemes take place throughout the year, including Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Butterfly Count’ and RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Birdwatch.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is one of the largest, and by far the most well known, of these annual surveys, and it takes place this year from 29th – 31st January. You don’t need to be an expert to join in; indeed when this survey was first set up back in 1979, it was intended only for children, but anyone and everyone can take part now. If you haven’t participated before, maybe this could be the year you sign up? Not only will you be helping the RSPB track declines and increases in bird numbers and species, but it is also a lot of fun… and a great way to give something back to to our beautiful garden visitors during lockdown.
Joining instructions, downloadable identification sheets, and tips on how you can attract more birds to your garden, can all be found in the link below, together with an option for these to be sent to you in the post, if you prefer: