Help Woodland Trust put a time on spring’s arrival

Orange-tip butterfly on lady's smock
Orange-tip butterfly on lady's smock

The Woodland Trust and the British Science Association are asking people to observe how fast spring unfolds throughout the UK.

Nature lovers across Northern Ireland are asked to record the first sightings of five different species over the next three months.



The Trust’s Nature’s Calendar survey has been recording nature for 15 years to see how species respond to the changing climate from one year to the next.

Now the charity, with support from the British Science Association, as part of British Science Week (13 to 22 March), will focus on the progression of spring from the south to the north of the UK.

Members of the public, especially young people, are being asked to record the first signs of the following five species:

* Hawthorn first leaf and first flower (two separate events)

Hawthorn blossom

Hawthorn blossom

* Frogspawn

* Seven-spot ladybird

* Oak first leaf

*Orange-tip butterfly

The records will be analysed by Professor Tim Sparks from Coventry University, a co-founder of Nature’s Calendar, to see how each species makes its appearance across the UK.

By relating geographic location to timing, the speed at which spring moves can be found.

Professor Sparks said: “In the past a modest amount of work was done to see how fast spring progressed. But I don’t know of any work on this in the UK during the last 70 years and an update and re-evaluation is long overdue.”

The data will enable the organisations to learn the direction of spring’s progress, whether species react in different ways and even if its arrival speeds up or slows down as it moves up the country.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust citizen science manager, said: “Trees, plants and wildlife are a great barometer for the arrival of our seasons, and the public can help us better understand these wonderful natural events. We need as many records as possible, from right across the country, to enable us to track the speed of spring’s progress with accuracy.”

Imran Khan, chief executive of the British Science Association, said: “We are thrilled to be involved in Nature’s Calendar this year and are keen to encourage everyone, especially young people, to get involved in recording the first sightings of these species. We hope this opportunity to engage with a live science project will encourage people to think about the impact science has on our everyday lives and contribute to inspiring a whole new generation of potential scientists in the process.”

For more information on what to look for, how to record and downloadable resources go to