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Nature Notes April 2019

Spring is coming, spring is coming, birdies build your nests, weave together straw and feather, doing each your best”.

This is a little ditty that my mother used to quote to us at this time of year when we were very young. I am not sure where it came from. The fact is, I am writing this on 17th March, just 4 days from the Spring Equinox when daylength will equal night length the world over. Nature senses this, and in the northern hemisphere buds are breaking on the shrubs, which usually happens before the large trees. Bulbs such as crocuses, daffodils and tulips are sending up their stems and leaves in that order. Our local jackdaws are building their nest in a neighbour’s chimney and the carrion crows are watching to see if they can steal their eggs. Frog spawn has been laid in the ponds and tadpoles are developing. Also, newts are also in the ponds pairing up and laying their eggs in the leaves of water plants.

Spring can be a very personal experience making people smile and surprising us with its perennial rebirth of nature’s abundant life. This morning, the dawn chorus was particularly loud with numerous local Eurasian blackbirds harmonising with descant singing Eurasian wrens. The blue tits are exploring nest-boxes that people have erected in their gardens, parks and woodlands in order to help them breed successfully. Let’s face it, we do love nature when it is like this. It is even important for our health to visit natural areas regularly for a sense of wellbeing and to breathe the clean oxygen emanating from the green plants on which we all depend. Environmental services often go unrecognised until they start to decline. We have had many warnings recently about Human generated (anthropogenic) climate change causing the death of marine coral and the generation of devastating weather events such as fires in California, drought and floods in Australia and mud-slides in South America. Closer to home, we had record temperatures (c. 210 Celsius) during February. We may experience water shortages later in the year. Let’s also remember that these events affect all nature, not only us Humans. Maybe the time has come to address this issue at a personal level. If all 7.5 billion people world-wide acted to reverse negative our effects on the environment, the problem could be solved?

Dr.Martyn Stenning