Sunday, 24 April 2011

Bluebell Woods: West London Getting Warmer

April 24, 2011
It was the open day at Perivale Wood today.

Since the 1970s, the Selborne Society has opened the private gates of the ancient deciduous woodland near Ealing for all-comers to enjoy the thousands of magnificent bluebells on the first weekend in May.

But last year they had to give in to the changing climate and move it a week earlier to the last weekend in April - the flowers were coming out and peaking earlier.

Even today it was clear the bluebells were wilting. Indeed, the wardens said this year they were at their beautiful best as early as April 12 - around four weeks earlier than 40 years ago. There is already talk of moving the open day to a week earlier next year.

It's certainly been an exceptionally warm and dry April this year which has undoubtedly been a factor in  the earlier blooming. But even in the last decade the difference is obvious.

April 26, 2003
The photo of Grace above was taken in the wood on April 26, 2003 - almost exactly eight years ago. The bluebells are clearly fresher and stronger than they were today.

And there's no doubt that the collated data since 1970 in this part of west London points to a trend of warmer springs and earlier bluebell carpets.

The conclusion seems obvious: evidence is growing that global warming is making a steady but significant difference to the flora and fauna of Perivale Wood.

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