We are inviting all farmers to submit sightings of any or all of the natural seasonal events (8 in total that we have listed) that occur in wildlife throughout the year. The species and events chosen span the plant, amphibian, bird and insect worlds and all can be readily identified in the field. Download a printable tick list of the species and events that you can record.

 

What are you asked to observe?

On what date did you first see frog spawn on your farm?

On what date did you see the first Primrose flower on your farm?

On what date did your Blackthorn hedge flower on your farm?

On what date did you see the first Orange-tip butterfly on your farm?

On what date did you first see the Grey Mining Bee flying on your farm?

On what date did you first see a Large Red Damselfly on your farm?

On what date did you hear the first Cuckoo on your farm?

On what date did you see your first Barn Swallow on your farm?

 

Click on any of the images below to report your observation.

 

Frog spawn

Frogs emerge early in the year, and congregate around shallow ponds, ditches or slow-moving streams as well as other wet areas to mate. The males arrive first and set to croaking to attract the females. In favoured ponds many hundred frogs can congregate, year after year to mate. The male clamps on the female and fertilise the spawn as it is laid in jelly-like clumps.

Record the first clumps of frog spawn you see. Normally you can observe this event from January to April.

Flowering Primrose

A welcome sight after the winter, the primrose flower is one of the earliest plants to flower each year. It is a distinctive and familiar plant which displays pale yellow flowers, that can be found flowering in shady banks, damp woods and grassland.

It mainly flowers in March but has been seen emerging earlier each year.

Blackthorn hedge in flower © Natural EnglandAllan Drewitt
Flowering Blackthorn hedge

Blackthorn is a common bush or shrub of hedgerows. It has strong thorns, a feature that makes it attractive as a stock proof. Blackthorn is unusual in that it produces small 5 petal white flowers before the leaves.

Record blackthorn first flowering when the petals for the first flower are open sufficiently for you to see inside the flower. This natural event normally occurs from March onward.

Orange-tip butterfly

The orange-tip butterfly is very distinctive. The male has bright orange tips to its white wings, which are conspicuous in flight. It times its flight period to coincide with the flowering of the cuckooflower, a plant that grows commonly on damp ground, as this is the food plant of its caterpillar.

It is one of the earliest butterflies to emerge each year, flying from late March or early April.

Grey mining bee

Also known as the ashy mining bee, the grey mining bee is one of the earliest solitary bees that is seen each year. It is distinctive black bee but has two lighter whitish-grey bands on the upper body and white hairs on its face. Dandelion is the most important food source for the ashy mining bee when it emerges, so be sure to check out flowering dandelion (gorse and blackthorn too!)

Record the first active Grey Mining Bee you see. It usually emerges in March most years.

Large Red Damselfly

The Large Red Damselfly is a bit of a misnomer, for it is small insect. It is the only red damselfly that is found in Ireland, so it is easily recognised and can’t really be confused with any other damselflies or dragonflies. You might find this in the vicinity of small lakes, ditches, drains, streams and bog pools.

Record the first time you spot a live active large red damselfly. It is the first damselfly or dragonfly to emerge each year, usually from April.

Cuckoo

Found across a variety of habitats such as woodland, peatland and farmland, the cuckoo is more often heard than seen. The females’ song, cuckoo-cuckoo is a very familiar sound to many but it has become increasing less common in some parts of the country. Cuckoos time their breeding to coincide with the egg laying period of small birds, so any changes to the seasons due to climate might have big impacts on the breeding success of cuckoos.

The cuckoo arrives back to Ireland in April each year. Record when you first see or hear cuckoos.

Swallow

Everyone is familiar with swallows; characterised by their distinctly long forked tail, cream underside and dark red throat and forehead. They are a harbinger of summer and usually nest in sheds and outbuildings. Swallows spend their winter in Africa and their return to Ireland coincides with warm weather when there are enough insects flying to feed on.

Record the first time you spot swallows on your patch again. They tend to arrive back to Ireland in April.