Thursday, January 28, 2010

Phenomenon and on and on

With (hopefully) a little more time on my hands this year, I've decided to have a go at recording when natural events occur - phenology.

Phenology is the study of recurring natural phenomena*, such as those that occur with the changing of the seasons. The study of these phenomena has been going on for hundreds of years, to a greater or lesser extent. I doubt that I will have the tenacity of Gilbert White or Robert Marsham but it will hopefully make me more aware of the changing seasons and act as a good excuse to get out and about a bit more.

The Woodland Trust have set up Nature's Calendar, for budding (geddit?) phenologists to gather information and submit it to a central point for collation. You can also view data collected over previous seasons, overlaid on a map of the UK. You can join on line and they will send you a guide with handy illustrations to help you identify species.

The sorts of seasonal changes that you can report include bud burst of common trees, the first flowers, nest building of birds, fruit ripening, frog spawn appearing, and so on. All the sorts of things that people out in the garden or walking in the countryside can note.

Kew gardens started a new initiative in 2000, gathering information on the flowering times of 100 plants in the gardens. But it is the long term historical data supplied by Marsham and other keen amateur phenologists that shows gradual changes in the times of first leaf and other signs of spring, a sign of climate change.

So, get out in the fresh air and start gathering data - it could be the start of a life-long obsession with phenology.

* I can't say or type the word 'phenomenon' without thinking of the Muppets sketch below**. Please do not blame me if it gets stuck in your head.

**apparently the music was composed for an Italian documentary about life in Sweden, called 'Sweden, heaven and hell' (except in italian, obviously).


Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Hi Mouffe,

Love the phenomena the Muppet version. I'd somehow managed to miss it so thanks!

And good luck and lots of patience with the recording!

Liz said...

Oh.... Now guess what I'm singing!!!


Arabella Sock said...

Oh no - I've caught the earworm. Didn't Ricky Gervais do something similar in The Office?

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Good for you! One blogger wrote that she promised herself to learn something new each year. I think it's a good idea.

Plant Mad Nige said...

Oh thank you thank you thank you!

Now my Monday morning has been made bearable and I can turn to the pile of readers' gardening questions that awaits me with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Phenomenon, di-dah, de diddy! Phenomenon, de diddy dah!

phenomenal!!!!!! Happy first of Feb!!!!!!!!!

Esther Montgomery said...

It's the first time I've visited since you put up your dazzling new header. It's great!

I told Lucy Corrander about this survey, having read your post - so she's registered to take part. Spring round here (Dorset) seems to be well underway already. It's done that kind of thing before and then got set back so we will see what happens next.


HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Yolanda, yes - I think the problem will be maintaining excitement and remembering to record things accurately.

Liz - sorry! (but you have to admit it cheers the day up).

Arabella - apologies for the ear worm :-)

Tatyana - what a good idea. I love learning new things. Just wish my students did too.

Nigel - glad to be of service. Haven't you railed against the over-use of exclamation marks in the past? One might dare say that your use of the exclamation mark is 'stunning'.

Esther - thanks for the kind comment. I'm glad Lucy will be joining in for the first time too. Spring is a bit behind up here, even compared to last year.