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Mild winter turns natural world on its head
Early spring sightings across the UK report a range of flowers, insects, birds and animals blooming, singing, nesting and mating
Spring flowers are blooming, hayfever sufferers are cursing catkin pollen, bats, frogs and hedgehogs have not yet gone into hibernation, and around the country people are reporting the strange sound of the dawn chorus in the normally bleak January mornings.
Once again the natural world has been turned on its head by an unusually mild winter, perhaps accentuated by a previous mild autumn which seemed to prolong spring for most of 2011.
That things are not as they traditionally should be is unquestioned. Ecologists, conservation charities and nature lovers responding to the Guardian's Twitter appeal for #earlyspring sightings report an incredible range of flowers, insects, birds and animals blooming, singing, nesting, mating, or simply being awake when they shouldn't be.
The National Trust, one of the UK's biggest landowners, sent news of frogspawn, wild garlic, snowdrops and daffodils that have passed their prime on the Gower peninsula in south Wales, wood pigeons mating and fledging their young near the charity's headquarters in Swindon, camellias and magnolias in south-west England, hawthorn flowering high in the Yorkshire Dales, and a blackbird singing over the Tower of London just before Christmas.