Mild winter conditions have confused many animals into thinking that spring has already arrived. Bird have started nesting and tadpoles have even been spotted in ponds.

Woodland Trust volunteers have been reporting sightings of animals and plants that are unusual for this time of year for the Nature’s Calendar survey.

Early sightings include:

Hazel catkins on December 9

Snowdrops in flower on December 10

A red admiral on January 6

A peacock butterfly on December 31

Kate Lewthwaite of the Woodland Trust said: ‘There are a lot of early sightings, such as active ladybirds and butterflies out and about. The natural world is giving us clear year-on-year indications that things are changing. The timing of natural events is one of the most responsive aspects of the natural world to warming.’

The mildest spring on record was last year, when the season started about 23 days earlier than average.

‘It’s sunny and the snowdrops are out,’ said Dr Lewthwaite. ‘Spring has sprung for me.’

To comment on the possible arrival of spring, or any other article, use the comment box below, or email us at clonews@ipcmedia.com. Read more about the countryside.