What is phenology?


Nature's Calendar or phenology is not a competition to find the first event. It is important that your observations note the general pattern of events,

rather than the 'odd' event. If in doubt leave it out. In other words if you are unsure of an observation, then don't record it to the web site.

Spring in Ireland
March is important month for many Spring events in Ireland. Keep an eye out for the opening of the Horse Chestnut leaves. This is called 'budburst'.

Bud burst is identified the moment you see the green of the leaves pushing out of the bud.

All the Horse Chestnut trees in Ireland should have their leaves out by mid April. If a tree in your area is late, just be patient.
The Hawthorn is found mainly in hedgerows. Tiny white flowers will start to open on the Hawthorn bush in April but mainly in May. It is often called the May Bush. By the end of May the Hawthorn will be in full bloom.
The Primrose is common near hedges and at the edge of woodland. The flowers appear any time from February to May. Record them on the map even if you missed seeing the first ones appearing this year.

Swallows travel from South Africa to Ireland every Spring. They enjoy spending the summer here feeding on insects. Their tails are forked. Don't confuse them with Swifts or House Martins. Remember the 'forked' tail and the word 'swallow'.
The Silver Birch is a beautiful tree. Its beauty lies in the slim trunk and the silver-white bark. It often grows on damp ground. Its leaves and catkins open in March and April. Research the word 'catkins'.
When bluebells open, the darkest woodland is transformed to a sea of blue. They open in April and May. Ireland used to have the finest bluebell carpets in the world, but now due to decreasing biodiversity, they are dying out. Research the word Biodiversity.
The Orange Tip butterfly is often ignored as being simply a Common White. However the splash of orange on the wing tips make it easy to identify. It is a sure sign of the end of Spring and the beginning

What is an Event?
An event is some biological activity related to the weather that can be seen in natural world. For example, the first opening of leaf buds, or the first frost of autumn are events. The Spring and Autumn events are described in the column on the right.

What is Phenology?
It is the study of the relationship between the weather and the behaviour of living organisms, specifically the seasonal timing of natural cycle events such as bird migration, plant budding and flowering and hibernation activity.

For example, Bullfinches may depend on some local trees producing buds, say in March, for their young. If the weather has been too cold for the buds to form, there will be no food for the Bullfinches' young. The young may die of starvation - and two weeks later the buds arrive! The synchronization of the cycle of the seasons with living things has evolved over many years. When it is interrupted or offset, it can have a catastrophic affect on the lives of plants and animals. Nature's Calendar keeps an eye on this relationship; by entering your data you contribute to its understanding. In summary, phenology is the study of the timing of natural events.