Crowd-sourced Spring Nature Diary 2020

The deadline for contributing to the 2020 Spring Nature Diary has now passed– read the current list of entries, curated by Pippa Marland, here!

by Pippa Marland, Land Lines Team

As I stepped out along an urban street in the early evening yesterday, the clouds were clearing after a bout of heavy rain, and the dusk was full of birds: goldfinches and great tits flitting and dipping from tree to tree; gulls passing overhead; and all along the road, blackbirds and robins, in high branches silhouetted against the sky, pouring out their music, so that the air was thick with song. In spite of the sombre mood of the day, I felt my heart lifting, and the advent of spring working its old magic on me. As George Orwell memorably argued in his 1946 essay, ‘Some Thoughts on the Common Toad’, ‘Life is frequently more worth living because of a Blackbird’s song’. This is all the more the case when that song is accompanied by longer days and the promise of new life all around us.

Nuthatch at springtime
Nuthatch in the Spring (Credit: National Trust Images)

These are anxious times, not only in light of concerns about climate change and species extinction, which the recent Australian bush fires brought home to us so urgently, but also, of course, in relation to the current COVID-19 crisis, which is changing our lives by the minute. It is in such exceptionally difficult circumstances that the return of the light and the resurgence of our flora and fauna, as the winter reaches its end, become all the more important to us – as symbols of hope and regeneration and as a source of much-needed comfort.

Ecologists Jonathan Cox (from Natural England) and Graham Poynter at Hambledon Hill, Dorset.
Ecologists Jonathan Cox (from Natural England) and Graham Poynter at Hambledon Hill, Dorset. (Credit: National Trust Images, Ross Hoddinott)

TODAY – the official first day of spring this year – the National Trust, in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Land Lines nature writing project at the University of Leeds, are inviting you to join an online community of nature lovers all over the UK. We would like you to submit a piece of nature writing – of no more than 150 words, in prose or poetry – that captures the first day of spring wherever you are, whether you live in a rural, urban, or suburban location. It could celebrate your first sighting this year of a brimstone butterfly, or wood anemones, or tadpoles wriggling in your garden pond. It could record the moment you notice that the horse chestnut trees in your local park are coming into leaf, or see dunnocks busying themselves in the hedges, or hear the curlew calling in one of the UK’s wilder places. You are also welcome to upload a photograph that you have taken to illustrate your words.

Visitors in and around the South West Outdoor Festival, Heddon Valley, Devon
Writing on the South Downs (Credit: National Trust Images, Chris Lacey) 

If you’re self-isolating, or unable to leave your house for any other reason, you can still take part – tell us what you can see through your windows, whether it’s new growth in your garden, or a tree on an urban street covered in blossom.

A view across the gardens at Hill Top, Cumbria, home of Beatrix Potter
You can even write about what you can spot from your window…A view across the gardens at Hill Top, Cumbria (Credit: National Trust Images, James Dobson)

Your submissions will form part of a growing, living archive, recording the arrival of spring across the UK each year, and building on last year’s inaugural crowd-sourced spring nature diary. You’ll be contributing to a centuries-long tradition of nature diarists who have combined citizen science with creativity, to tell us about the natural world and what it means to them. We can’t wait to read your entries!

Mallard ducks amongst daffodils in the garden at Erddig, Wrexham, Wales
Mallard ducks amongst daffodils in the garden at Erddig, Wrexham, Wales (Credit: National Trust Images)

You can upload your diary entries and any accompanying photos via https://springnaturediary.com/ and share them on social media using #springnaturediary. You have until midnight on Monday 23rd March to submit your entries! If you need some inspiration, take a look at the collection of last year’s wonderful entries, The Writes of Spring, curated by the fantastic Abi Andrews.

– Pippa Marland, Land Lines team

Featured Image: Hawthorn in Flower (Credit: National Trust Images, John Miller)

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