|It's Time For a Bluebell Hunt|
Have you spotted any near you?
The Woodland Trust is calling for people across London to find their nearest wood and record the first appearance of native bluebells, as it tracks the first appearance of the flowers across the country this spring.
The conservation charity is assessing whether the mild winter and short, sharp cold spell in early February is affecting flowering dates. Just over 50 sightings have been reported to date, almost twice as many as this time last year - with sightings much further north too.
The average flowering date for bluebells in 2011 was April 12, which coincided with the earliest spring recorded this century. However, with the freezing weather experienced in early February this year experts are interested to discover the effects on the flowering of spring species.
The charity, in partnership with the Forestry Commission, National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, is asking the public to use the VisitWoods website, which hosts the largest online database of bluebell woods, find a nearby wood and keep an eye out for the appearance of bluebells. London has 32 sites flagged as being bluebell hotspots, including Gunnersbury Triangle and Richmond Park.
Gayle Wharton, VisitWoods project manager said: "The native bluebell is the quintessential British sign of spring and we need the public to visit woodlands and discover when they are appearing so we can track their arrival.
They are mainly found in ancient woodland, so if you do see them you know you are likely to be in one of our rarest habitats as it covers just 2% of the country's land mass, and is our equivalent of the rainforest."
The public can search from over 1,000 bluebell woods across the UK, as well as add any that are not listed. By building up a more detailed picture of when the bluebells flower and where, the Woodland Trust can not only increase the database of bluebell woods but also see how they are affected by changes in temperature. To find a bluebell wood go to VisitWoods.org.uk/bluebells
The creation of the VisitWoods website has been made possible by funding of £1.2 million from Natural England’s Access to Nature scheme, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, with further support coming from Yell and DoubleTree by Hilton.