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Sunday 4 December 2016

Nature is springing into action ... bang on schedule

Grainne Cunningham

Published 01/03/2010 | 05:00

SPRING begins today, March 1, and, compared to its premature arrival over the past decade and a half, the natural world is awakening bang on time this year.

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The coldest winter in almost 40 years is ensuring that the first blossoming of trees and spring flowers is only just taking place, some three weeks to a month later than over the past 15 to 20 years, when climate change ensured it arrived early.

Global warming has been helping to coax the tender green buds and the tiny shoots of crocuses and daffodils out of their winter hiding place several weeks earlier but the past few bitterly cold months have reversed that trend.

According to the Met Office, the low temperatures will have an impact on the natural world.

Forecaster Michael McAuliffe said Ireland had just experienced the coldest winter since 1962 or 1963.

"All three months were colder than average and that will have chilled the ground, ensuring plants are slower to start growing," he said.

Butterflies

The low temperatures are also likely to affect the emergence of insects such as bumblebees and red admiral and peacock butterflies.

"There have certainly been some very mild winters over the last 10 to 20 years," Mr McAuliffe said.

He agreed that would affect the timing of the growing season.

Now this year, we are back to the way things were before the effects of climate change became apparent.

Gardeners have welcomed the freezing winter, as it will have given trees and plants the chance to shut down completely and have a good rest.

Birds are not quite so dependent on the weather for starting their mating season, and some species are pairing up.

But it will be another month or so before most songbirds begin their breeding cycle, and a few weeks more for migrants like swallows, cuckoos and nightingales.

Irish Independent

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