Value of this recording scheme and your records
The Farmers’ Wildlife Calendar aims to record 9 key annual events on Irish farms to see how they are being affected by climate change.
Farmers used to use a rhyme to predict the summer weather:
If the Ash comes out before the Oak,
There’ll be a summer soak.
If the Oak comes out before the Ash,
There’ll be a summer splash.
While it may not be a fool-proof way of predicting summer rainfall, it does show the long-standing interest of farmers in seeing how species react to the weather and what it might mean for the coming months.
We are looking for records for the first occurance of some seasonal events. This information can help us answer questions like:
- What effect has recent weather had on wildlife?
- How is climate change affecting timings in nature?
- Become familiar with the 9 key annual events and the species identification features ID card
- Identify habitats on your farm that you are most likely to find the species in Farmland Habitats
- Record the date and location of the first time you see the species Recording form
- Submit your record via Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal
*All the pdfs can be downloaded or printed for use.
Categorising dates into seasons is for us, not nature
Many people are familiar with the human urge to categorise everything into nice and neat
arrangements such as our seasons and the dates upon which they fall. However, it’s well understood that nature doesn’t tend to follow the same rules that we apply to ourselves. For instance, some believe that the transition from winter to spring occurs on the 1st of February, whereas for others it’s the 1st of March. But for nature, a particular date on the calendar does not signal the time to bud, or the time to breed.
For species of plants and animal that occur in our grass verges, our small ponds and
our hedgerows, factors such as temperature changes or the length of daylight indicates to them that it is time to progress to the next stage of the life cycle. We recognise the study of these phenomena as the study of phenology, which centres on the timing of naturally recurring seasonal activities of
plants and animals such as for example frog spawning or plants flowering. Crucially, the timing of these natural events are highly sensitive indicators of climate change.
See our interactive image below to see the first records for the country of the seasonal events in 2022
Records from all over Ireland, not just farmland
You don’t need to be a farmer to take part in the recording initiative and we are delighted to get records from across Ireland from anyone. Similar to the old rhyme, we need the very first occurrence of these seasonal events. You can choose as many or as few species to record.
Results so far
The Farmers’ Wildlife Calendar began recording in 2020 and to date, we have three years data. This is only sufficient to understand the changes in weather is having on phenology and not climate change yet.
Isolated early sightings of events are limited in what they can tell us about climate/ phenology.
The challenge will be to generate a large number of sightings spread across the country so that any significant changes to phenology can be detected over time.
Below is a table on the first records for the country for each year.
|Barn Swallow||1 March||30 March||19 March|
|Blackthorn flowering||14 February||17 February||11 February|
|Common Cuckoo||16 March 2020||2 April||13 April|
|Frog spawn||26 January||28 January||10 January|
|Grey Mining Bee||22 March||25 February||27 March|
|Large Red Damselfly||25 April||6 May||21 April|
|Marsh-marigold flowering||NA||24 February||7 February|
|Orange-tip||16 March||2 April||28 March 2022|
|Primrose flowering||23 January||2 January||6 January|
Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Farmers’ Wildlife Calendar: Climate Tracker is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
None of your personal information will be disclosed to any third party. The location of the sighting will only be shown on a small scale, national map. The purpose of the mapping is not to get details of the location, but rather to see if there are significant difference to timing of these natural events across the country when they are plotted on a national map.