On Saturday 22 April I led this year’s spring flower nature walk to Hillhouse wood. The forecast was for OK weather, so we hoped that a decent number of people would come along. As 2 pm approached, numbers swelled, and by the time it was time to start it was clear that Chris Stephenson’s publicity machine had been on overdrive. Forty seven people were present, which was the largest group I can remember. I was going to be doing a lot of shouting (no change there, some would say). Continue reading
The thought recently struck me that the data I’ve been collecting in Hillhouse Wood for the TrackaTree phenology project might enable me to look for any noteworthy differences between years. (Phenology is the study of how the timings of the seasons are affected by variations in weather. Continue reading
As keen readers of this blog, and my Mum, will know, for the last two years I have done field work for this project. This involves visiting some specific trees (four in my case) more or less weekly throughout the spring to record data about what is happening. ‘Happening’ stuff involves the stage of bud burst and leaf break, and the numbers of specific species of flower that are showing underneath the tree. By capturing this data at different sites in the UK, the project enables differences in the timing of ‘Spring’ to be rigorously identified across the country and between years. It ran for two years to support a PhD project at the University of Edinburgh, and I’ve been glad to hear that it is continuing for a third year, at least, even though Christine has gained her qualification. Continue reading
Each Spring the Friends of Hillhouse Wood organise two guided walks – one to look at the Bluebells, and a Dawn Chorus one. These are normally 2-3 weeks apart, to match each one to when its subjects are at their best. However this year things were different, and for the first time ever we ran both walks on the same weekend. Continue reading
So this is my third year as a volunteer recorder for the most excellent and worthy TrackaTree phenology project, which uses volunteers to collect data to be analysed by scientists. It seems to operate at just the right level of data collection demand to suit me – rigorous enough to be meaningful without being overbearing in what you have to record and submit.
But everything has a downside somewhere, and these are not always obvious at the start. Continue reading