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There has been a fair amount of rain and wind this winter across Dorset and southern England. But the warmer than normal temperatures have caused nature to get a jump start on spring, researchers in the area have found.

“Certainly last year there were an awful lot of things in flower, but this year it’s been more pronounced,” said Kevin Walker, head of science at the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI). “When we looked at the normal flowering times for the species, around three-quarters were probably continuing to flower late because we didn’t have any significant cold weather before Christmas that allowed them to carry on.”

In a recent article in The Guardian, a survey by BSBI has determined that just over 600 wildflower species have begun to bloom across Britain and Ireland since the first day of the year. The normal rate of bloom at this time of year is more like 20 or 30 species. At the Dorset Wildlife Trust, local scientists say they have seen the same phenomenon.

Thanks in part to unseasonably warm temperatures, the Wildlife Trust has found that local plants and animals may be confused about what time of the year it actually is. Flowers and greens are growing earlier, frogs are laying eggs earlier, and song birds are singing earlier – all because of the warmer weather.

Nicky Hoar, learning and interpretation officer of The Great Heath, said to the Dorset Echo: “Lesser celandines were in flower by Christmas locally – including on the Broadstone Relief Road. I normally think of them as the first flower of spring after snowdrops but they beat the snowdrops.

“I have seen blackthorn blossom already last weekend and alder, birch and hazel catkins have been out for several weeks.

“Frogspawn this week on January 24 in Wareham Forest – that's the first I’m aware of this year,” Hoar said. “Song thrushes and mistle thrushes are singing, while the winter thrushes – redwings and fieldfares – are still here before leaving to breed in Scandinavia, which embodies how winter and spring are mixed up this year.”

The warmer temperatures and early bloom may be a good thing for travellers looking for an enjoyable cottage holiday in Dorset. Especially lovely in the springtime, Dorset’s natural beauty draws in visitors from all over. For ways to enjoy and protect the local wildlife whilst on holiday in the region, please visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust for more information.

Image Credit: Marilyn Peddle (flickr.com)