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Wild Bunch – Spring in a changing climate

This is Peter from the Wild Bunch.

I’m writing this a day after waking up to Frome blanketed in snow, and today has cold easterly winds. As spring emerges, it is an eternally challenging time of year for many living things! The impatient gardeners germinate seedlings and then desperately try and keep them warm and light enough to survive until it is safe to plant out. Blackbirds in our garden are already collecting nesting material, while singing away to define their territory – but will the food their chicks will need have emerged? And the odd ill-advised bumblebee and early yellow Brimstone butterfly battles with the wind.  

While the bumblebee searches for food fairly randomly, passing under a willow tree a few days ago, I was stopped by a clear buzzing and looked up to see hundreds of hive bees collecting nectar around the barely visible flowers. Where one bee finds food, it returns to the hive and dances both the direction and distance others need to go to find the treasure, in one of nature’s most extraordinary acts of insect cooperation, helping the bees focus on where food has emerged.

In our less predictable climate, the same kind of challenges exist for plants. Again, nature and evolution have equipped most with the most extraordinary dual set of signals. If a flower was to emerge based only on day length, it might do so into a cold period. If the signal is only temperature, then a warm spell in January could equally bring out the flowers, only to be destroyed by later cold. So most plants have a combination of both light and temperature, adding another layer of protection by requiring not just a few days of warmth, but a build up for degrees over a certain baseline.

Climate change is presenting a staggering range of challenges to us all, hopefully millions of years of evolution will enable many forms of life to find ways to deal with the changes!

The next Wild Bunch meeting is on Thursday 21st March from 1.30 to 3pm at The Dippy, during Frome Kindness Festival. The focus will be kindness to the planet, wellbeing and nature connection. A demo on how to take part in the Community Wildlife Mapping project will be the focus of the second part of the session. Book your place at bit.ly/wild-bunch-21st-march-24.

7 March 2024
Last Updated
4 March 2024
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