Is spring springing forward each year?

The WOODLAND Trust is asking the public for observations of the effects of milder winter weather on native trees and flowers across the country.

This follows anecdotal reports of flowers blooming and native trees bursting buds weeks ahead of schedule.

South of the border the last three months of 2011 had only four air frosts in a central England zone, compared to 35 in 2010, and an average of 15 in 1878-2010.

The charity has received evidence through its ‘Nature’s Calendar’ website of snowdrops and daffodils blooming, as well as silver birch, oak and hazel buds bursting. Data from the public will add weight to the Trust’s resource of information on how trees and woods play a role in the natural environment, supporting its goal of creating a country rich in native trees and woods.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite from the Woodland Trust said: “Native plants and trees are great indicators of wider changes in the natural world. By recording budburst and flowers blooming the public can help us determine whether changes are having a major effect on how Mother Nature functions. Contrary to popular belief, in recent years it has become more commonplace to see daffodils and snowdrops in late December and early January as the climate warms.”

Early flowering species such as snowdrop and lesser celandine are particularly useful in giving an indicator of climactic conditions.

The Trust is looking for evidence of frogspawn to see whether frogs are being fooled into spawning early, as if this was followed by freezing weather it could lead to frozen spawn in ponds up and down the country.

Sightings can be sent to Scotland@woodlandtrust.org.uk where information can be collated.