A WILDLIFE watchdog is reporting signs of spring following the unseasonally warm weather.
The Woodland Trust has received a surge in records of birds nesting, shrubs coming into bud and snowdrops flowering across the region as Mother Nature takes advantage of the mild weather, consistent with a long-term trend identified through data on its Nature’s Calendar website, suggesting spring is advancing earlier.
The trust has received sightings of hazel blooming and snowdrops flowering.
The early sightings conform to a long term trend in which spring has gradually arrived earlier in the UK, highlighted by data recorded on Nature’s Calendar since 2001.
Over the last 25 years flowers have bloomed up to 12 days earlier than previously.
However, species fooled by warmer weather into early activity, blossoming or breeding, such as frogs, could be vulnerable to the sort of freeze common in February or March.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite, spokesman for the Woodland Trust, said: “People may be surprised to see such spring-like activity in January but Woodland Trust data confirms that it has become more and more common over the last decade or so.
“What this highlights is the importance of having diverse, inter-connected habitats which allow species to react to any changes in climate and adjust accordingly.
“With habitats coming under ever greater threat and fragmentation the pressure on our native flora and fauna will only increase.”
The trust recently launched a campaign urging the government to increase protection for ancient woodland in England and safeguard its future, believing that it should be preserved for the benefit of the many species which rely on it for survival.
More information is available at www.naturescalendar.org.uk/survey