300-year-old national wildlife record needs British public to help scientists track spring


  • Nature’s Calendar is an almost 300-year-old record of observations in nature across the UK. It indicates milestones in the year, such as when spring starts
  • Nature’s Calendar and British Science Week are collaborating to get the UK public looking out for signs of spring in their local area
  • Science, natural history and wildlife presenter, Liz Bonnin, will co-host a webinar to support people and communities who want to get involved

New volunteer phenologists are needed to update Nature’s Calendar, an almost 300-year-old tradition to track nature’s changing events. Phenology is the study of seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year, such as flowering of plants, emergence of insects and migration of birds.

Nature’s Calendar is made up of 3 million records and is the longest written biological record of its kind. Records date back to 1736 and will help us identify winners and losers in wildlife populations.

Judith Garforth, Citizen Science Officer from the Woodland Trust says:

“Sadly, with increasingly busy lives, and eyes turned more to screens than the outside world, the number of observations being recorded for Nature’s Calendar has decreased in recent years. With a decline in the number of observations recorded each year, we risk missing out on vital signs of the changing climate and the impact on native UK wildlife and the surrounding ecosystems.”

To mark British Science Week’s 30th anniversary, Nature’s Calendar and British Science Week have joined forces to get more of the British public outdoors and to inspire them to become recorders.

Nature’s Calendar and British Science Week are asking people up and down the UK to record:

  • The first flower on a horse chestnut tree
  • The first flower on a hawthorn tree
  • The first time they spot a swallow
  • The first time they spot an orange-tip butterfly

We have selected these seasonal events because they’re widely observed across the whole of the UK in both rural and urban environments, are recognisable and are used by scientists to monitor the effect of weather and climate on UK wildlife.

Recorders should select locations they visit regularly (at least once or twice a week) so that the first time (give or take a few days) the specific seasonal event happens is as close as possible to the earliest occurrence.

Find out more about the species and recording

Tune in with Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin

Science, natural history and wildlife presenter and British Science Association (BSA) Honorary Fellow, Liz Bonnin, will co-host a webinar for the general public and community groups on Thursday 14 March at 6pm.

During this session, Liz and the Woodland Trust will talk through how to observe and record events, spring trends spotted as a result of Nature’s Calendar and the history of the record. This session is suitable for all ages, but it is suggested parents / guardians / supervising adults attend the webinar with under 18s to support children in taking part.

British Science Week is a 10-day celebration of science where everyone is encouraged to get involved in science-related activities and events, and Nature’s Calendar is a fun and easy way for children and adults to do this together, learn about the signs of spring and exploring local wildlife.

Register for the webinar

Liz Bonnin, science, natural history and wildlife presenter says:

“Nature’s Calendar is a fun and immersive way for people to get involved in taking care of the nature on their doorstep, and I’m delighted to see the Woodland Trust and British Science Week teaming up to get us all outdoors to look for the first signs of Spring.

“It’s so very important for us to reconnect with and protect wildlife, and to become better custodians of the natural world, that we rely on to thrive. Contributing to this incredible historical wildlife record is just one way we can all play our part. See you on Thursday 14 March!”