An early spring?

Posted: Friday 17 January 2014
by Kate Bradbury

I’ve seen my first queen bumblebee and queen wasp of 2014, and have been woken by a dawn chorus. Is it really January?

In my garden winter never came. Instead, autumn is steadily merging into spring. While snow and frost may still arrive in the next few weeks, the garden looks well on its way to April, with leaf buds bursting and daffodils pushing through the soil like there’s no tomorrow.

Some plants are limping on from summer – a hardy geranium, the perennial wallflower and the honeysuckle are still in flower, while a marigold has shot up and bloomed in the last week. It feels like the garden is trapped in some sort of time warp – half of it clinging on to last year and the other half marching through to the next.

I’ve seen my first queen bumblebee and queen wasp of 2014, and have been woken by a dawn chorus of blackbirds, great tits, blue tits and robins. Is it really January?

According to The Woodland Trust, the spring-like behaviour I’m witnessing is not unique, nor is it uncommon. Volunteer recorders for the Trust’s annual Nature’s Calendar survey (in conjunction with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) have already reported sightings of ladybirds, butterflies and nesting birds, as well as shrubs and trees coming into bud. This latest batch of data confirms that spring arrives much earlier than it used to, and has been doing so for the last 10 years.

While scientists crunch the data and work out how wildlife is responding to climate change, we gardeners can only look on in wonder. Part of me would love a really hard frost to come along and knock everything back where it ought to be. But then any birds that have started nesting may lose their chicks, and spawn laid by eager frogs may be frozen. There are different winners and losers in every year, but after the recent flooding and storms, maybe we should embrace spring, hope it stays and hope the wildlife that has survived so far, continues to thrive and have a successful breeding year.

If you would like to record the changing of the seasons and help scientists learn how wildlife is adapting to climate change, visit

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Talkback: An early spring?
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oldchippy 17/01/2014 at 17:13

I hope it stops raining soon a large hole has appeared next to my soak away,looks like a cove down there,I saw a white tailed bumblebee this week, not sure if it was a Queen,

higgy50 17/01/2014 at 17:26

Hi Kate it is a funny old situation with the weather and I can report a bumblebee and a 7-spot ladybird sighting in my garden last Saturday also!

Unfortunately I'm not privileged with much in the way of flowers like you are at the moment but I think that is down to being on low grazing marsh which is pretty saturated at the moment and probably keeping plant's roots cold at this time of year.

My fish in my Koi pond are still actively seeking food when I walk out on the decking but the wildlife ponds are quiet now.

Bird wise it's been busy but not as busy as this time last year and I have also been awoken by my resident Robin on quite a few occasions recently! On the day that I did my early bird survey for the BTO he was singing an hour before daylight!! I don't mind though!...



happymarion 18/01/2014 at 16:58

Ah, Kate. I have double daisies thinking it is summer and two fresh blackbird eggshells below my ivy thicket where the nests are last week. I have brought ten pots of bulbs into the conservatory as they are so advanced. I feel like I am doing a constant Chelsea. But the garden looks lovely when the sun does daign to shine. The winter flowering heather is a real draw for bumblebees in my front garden. It must have been a great loss to the bee population when heathers went out of fashion.

oldchippy 18/01/2014 at 17:51

I have just finished back filling my cave that appeared under the path,it took over half a cubic metre of material to fill the hole the rain water washed away.lets hope the weather will brighten up soon to go with the extra warmth we are having this winter.

Alfie Bowen 18/01/2014 at 18:06

The plants will get a shock when the weather turns cold in a few weeks. 4 inch do snow is on the way!



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