After one of the coldest and longest winters on record, spring has well and truly arrived. The weather over the past few weeks has been warm enough to put recent summers to shame. Add to that the explosion of flowers in every field, garden and crack in the pavement and you’ve got a spectacular spring in the making.
The extra-long winter has meant that many species that normally flower early in the season have delayed until now. For example the Hazel catkins (‘lambs tails’ to you and me), which flowered here at the end of January in last year were only just starting to emerge in early March this year.
At St Fagans this late flowering has meant that many early and late species are flowering together; Snowdrops and Celandines, Daffodils and Bluebells, so there’s an absolute feast for the eyes at the moment! See here for an interesting article about this year’s unusual weather and what it may mean for wildlife.
Spring isn’t all botany though, and the birds have been getting steadily louder since the weather has been improving. This is the time of year when the feathered folk attempt to attract a mate and defend a territory by singing as loud and as often as possible. Once this task is achieved they have to build a nest and raise a brood (or maybe even two if they have the energy).
This leads me to some rather exciting news that we have a Great Tit nesting in our specially rigged nest box. At the moment she is just building the nest and roosting there in the evening, but once she lays her eggs (fingers crossed) it is going to be extremely exciting! I’ll be keeping a keen eye on events and posting any activity on my Twitter page – so sign up if you want to get tweets about our nest of tweeters on Twitter!
Many birds have flown from the continent or even Africa to take advantage of the glut of insects that hatch here at this time of year. Warblers such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler and Blackcap make up a large number of these migrants and they add plenty of new voices to the dawn chorus which is at its best right now. There are still a few places on my dawn chorus walk this Saturday if you fancy an early start and a walk about St Fagans.
Anyway, best be off. But keep checking back as this is going to be a busy season!
Daffodil Drawing Competition 2010
Pupils were asked to draw and label their daffodils. We received many fantastic drawings!
Professor Plant awarded each school and home educated family with sets of sturdy binoculars and easy to construct birdhouses.
Certificates & prizes for Super Scientists!
Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation this year! Participants completed challenges and kept weather records to earn Super Scientist certificates & prizes. Many thanks to the really Welsh company for supplying our daffodils and the 1st prize - a daffodil picking day at their farm near Bridgend. Also a big thanks to the staff at Kenfig Nature Reserve.
The standard was extremely high this year and Professor Plant would like to thank all the schools that made this investigation a success! Below are details of the schools and home educated participants who excelled.
1st place: Pentrepoeth Junior School, Morriston, Swansea. Lead by teacher Kay Mills. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.
2nd place: Glyncollen Primary School also of Morriston, Swansea. Lead by teacher Ann Richards. Prize: A pair of digital binoculars.
Home educated winners: The Jones family from Llandrindod Wells and the Butterworth family from Carmarthenshire have shown real commitment to their recording. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.
Home educated winners: The Jones family from Llandrindod Wells and the Butterworth family from Carmarthenshire have shown real commitment to their recording. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.Highly commended schools: Ysgol Nant Y Coed, Ysgol Talhaiarn, Howell's School Llandaff, Ysgol Y Ffridd, Ysgol Porth Y Felin, Pembroke Dock Community school, Ysgol Penycae (Ystradgynlais) Prizes: Super scientist certificates and seedlings for their school.
Schools noted for their dedication and good record keeping: Ysgol Gynradd Deganwy Primary, Milford Haven Junior school, St. Joseph's R C Primary, Coleg Powys, Glan Conwy, Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn, Ysgol Pen Y Garth, Bishop Childs CIW Primary School, Murch Junior School, Newton Primary, Oakfield Primary school, Windsor Clive Primary, Ysgol Gynradd Brynconin, Ysgol Gynradd Deganwy Primary. Prizes: Each pupil to receive super scientist certificates and seedlings for their school.
Late flowers = late report: Normally by now we are able to compare this years flowering dates with those recorded in previous years, but as it has been so cold - some records are still being sent in. Over the next few weeks Professor Plant will be working on this report and it will be published on the Spring Bulbs for Schools website www.museumwales.ac.uk/scan/bulbs
Finally, my daffodils opened on the 28th of March. Here are a few pictures. Many more have now opened in the schools across Wales. Happy Easter!