Ireland’s mild winter has the birds and the bees confused – and the plants are none too certain about what time of year it is either!
Technically it is still winter time in Ireland but a year on from the arctic conditions of 2011, there is a spring feel to the air.
The snow ploughs are sitting in cold storage and the gritters are back at bay thanks to the above average air and soil temperatures.
The birds are making the most of it after two horrific winters in a row threatened many species while the Irish Times reports that plants think it is already Spring.
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Birdwatch Ireland spokesman Niall Hatch told the paper: “We’ve had phone calls from people saying they have fewer birds than normal, like robins, blue tits and starlings coming into their gardens.
“People are worried that something has happened to them but natural foraging is easy for them at the moment thanks to the weather.”
The paper reports that stocks of Ireland’s smallest and second smallest birds, the goldcrest and the wren, were hit by two harsh winters in a row but Hatch says that this year’s milder winter should herald a population boost after bitterly cold winters in 2009 and 2010.
“There were lots of babies around in the autumn of 2010 but then a cold winter hit again and it killed most of them off; the sad reality is that most of them don’t survive,” added Hatch.
“This winter, however, has been so mild that a higher proportion than usual of these babies survived and we are seeing these species bouncing back, which is good news.”
It’s a similar story in the plant world, according to the Irish Times. Records taken at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin show that plants are now putting out their leaves two weeks earlier than they did 40 years ago.
The native cowslip is already in full bloom, cow parsley is flowering also and strawberries are in full flower.
National Botanic Gardens director Matthew Jebb said, “As far as these plants are concerned, it’s spring. To have strawberries flower two months ahead shows what an odd year we’ve been having.”
Weather forecaster John Eagleton from government agency Met Éireann confirmed to the paper that ground temperatures are at their highest for two years.
“The mean air temperature in January would normally be five degrees for Dublin and Cork and now it’s seven for Dublin (46 fahrenheit) and 7½ for Cork, that’s 2½ degrees above normal. It will be an early season for daffodils if it goes on like this, that’s for sure,” said Eagleton.