The world of Hillhouse wood is getting weirder

On Thursday (24 March) I popped down to the wood to see if the numbers of flowers out around my TrackaTree trees had changed at all, now that the nights are getting less cold.  They had not, but elsewhere in the wood the Wood anemones are starting to come out, with smaller numbers of Lesser celandines.  This is what we would expect to see at about this time of year.

04 Lesser celandine cropped    06 Wood anemone

What should have happened by now, but has not, is that the first Chiffchaffs should have arrived and started singing (which, in truth, is how I tell they’ve arrived).  The arrival of the first Chiffchaff is my ‘official’ start of Spring, as these are the first of the summer migrants to turn up – sometimes a month before anything else.  In a ‘typical’ year (ha ha) the first ones appear around the 17-19th of March.  But, as of the 24th, there were none, and there are few records of them appearing on the excellent sightings page of the Essex Birdwatchers website.  So it’s not just me!

All of which fits with it being a late season, which is no surprise bearing in mind what the weather has been like, especially the low night time temperatures.

Except …. To my amazement on this visit I saw quite a few Bluebell flower heads starting to emerge.  (Not this many, to be fair!)

165 Bluebell cropped

None are fully out yet, but several were starting to show one or two blue parts of the flower head.  Now the thing is that in some years the Wood anemones barely overlap with the Bluebells at all.  But this year the two species appear to be at a similar stage – the anemones are slightly ahead, but not by much.  I can’t remember seeing the two so close together before.

Of course the great thing about the TrackaTree phenology project is that it is collecting consistent and robust data on when things happen.  So it will be able to either confirm, or deny, my subjective view.  It may even identify that I’ve been talking b*&^%$£s – now that would be a first, not.

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