Tag Archives: Nature’s Calendar

Red-tailed Bumblebee on Common Knapweed

The Big Bumblebee Discovery Project

In my post earlier today I was enthusing about the importance of introducing our children to nature and helping them to learn more about it.

By chance I received my regular email newsletter from the British Science Association today and one of the articles was about encouraging schools and individual children to become involved in a really important citizen science project this Summer –

“The Big Bumblebee Discovery”

Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Marmalade Hoverfly on Common Knapweed
Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Marmalade Hoverfly on Common Knapweed

This project runs from June 2014 and aims to

“observe the diversity of bumblebees in the UK”

By observing bumblebees and their behaviour, the project is trying to find out more about the numbers of bumblebees and the spread of different bumblebee species across the UK, particularly considering the impact bumblebees have on crop pollination. The project is being supported by the energy company EDF.

We have heard so much sad news about bees and there have been so many bee deaths in recent years, taking an active part in ‘doing something to help’ seems like a good step forward!

I understand the project age-range is 4-14 years. If you have a budding citizen scientist who might be interested in taking part, you can find out more from the Join the Pod website
http://jointhepod.org/experiment-zone/big-bumblebee-experiment-register

We have done quite a few citizen science projects over the years with our children – “Real Science!” as our youngest son calls it! (The bee photos you see in this post are his!)

It really does feel good knowing that what you are discovering or observing is then going to be added to the body of knowledge on that subject. I read recently on a Woodland Trust newsletter that records we and many, many other people have logged as part of the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project provided some of the data for two research papers that formed part of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sadly that report made extremely gloomy reading too. But when we work together we can be very powerful so it’s important for us all to keep caring about the planet we share with such amazing nature!

J Peggy Taylor

Catching up on Nature’s Calendar

Today I was catching up on my Spring nature records – I had my Elder bud-burst to record from Sunday and then today (as I’d anticipated in my last blog post) at lunchtime I spotted our snowdrops had opened their flowers to this morning’s warm sun. Unfortunately, it started to rain at that point so no photos yet … perhaps tomorrow.

Recording  Snowdrops on Nature's Calendar
Recording my Snowdrops on Nature’s Calendar

Phenology sounds like a phenomenally important kind of science I always think – and it certainly is. But the great thing about phenology is that many of us ‘just do it’ in our own small way without even thinking about it. As we go about our daily lives we notice nature’s own events – we spot snowdrops or bluebells coming into bloom, buds bursting on hedges, trees sprouting new leaves, frogspawn in a garden pond, a butterfly … and so on. We comment too on whether it is earlier or later than we saw them last year.

I tend to record my ‘sightings’ in a small notebook and take photos if possible. I’m usually fine with photos as long as the subject can stand still for long enough! So, flowers and frogspawn, yes; birds or deer, no!

As well as keeping my own notes and photographs I also try to share my nature records. Nature’s Calendar is one of the places where I submit my seasonal sightings. Nature’s Calendar is the Woodland Trust’s web-based phenology project and is also a really good source of information for anyone wanting to learn more about nature and the timing of seasonal events in their local area. This ongoing wildlife survey covers the whole of the UK and it’s easy to use and free to register.

As you would guess, currently Nature’s Calendar is recording Spring sightings as they occur in different parts of the country. Here is a quick peek at the key Spring events Nature’s Calendar would like us to record.

Recording Spring events for Nature's Calendar
Spring events for Nature’s Calendar

Together all of these records help to map changes in natural events over the years so every record submitted really does count. We have taken part in numerous ‘citizen science’ projects as a family and as well as being educational we find they are also lots of fun. … and of course grown-ups too can enjoy recording and learning about nature! So if you’ve never tried your hand at something like this before, why not take a look at Nature’s Calendar … beware though, it can become addictive!!

J Peggy Taylor