Nature diary: share your first day of spring

Close-up of daffodils in the garden at Tyntesfield

Spring signals the start of warmer days and longer evenings, renewed life and returning colour.

To celebrate, we asked nature lovers across the UK to send us their observations of the arrival of the new season.

This year's entries show how nature can bring us joy, comfort and relief during difficult times.

For generations, poets and writers have put pen to paper to express the importance of the arrival of spring and the burst of colour and busyness in the animal kingdom. 

The digital diary aims to capture the start of the season by asking people to document their observations of wildlife, the weather and what spring means to them in no more than 150 words. This year's entries include descriptions of birdsong and blossom by people in self-isolation, sightings of wildlife through windows, and reflections on health and family.

As we all continue to live very differently in the coming weeks, we hope the diary will encourage people to engage with their own natural surroundings, which can offer benefits to both physical and mental health. 

The project is a partnership between the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the National Trust and the Land Lines research project.

pink apple blossom

Writes of spring 

Hundreds of diary entries written during the first official week of spring reveal the nation’s observations and feelings about the natural world in extraordinary times. The National Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council asked people across the UK to capture the arrival of spring and help create a crowd-sourced nature diary.

Song thrush perched in a tree

Nature writer collates diary entries 

Acclaimed nature writer Natasha Carthew has brought together this year's nature diaries into a creative essay Hope's Heart Beats. In it, she describes special moments diarists have observed in the natural world such as dawn, birdsong, blossom and flowers blooming.

Kate Martin

Spring, the very word is full of energy. We “spring” out of bed, we describe someone with lots of energy as “wound up like a spring”. So it’s not surprising that most of us feel a new lease of life as we come out of the long winter months.

For me the first day of spring is more of a feeling than a set date. It’s a heightened sense of the natural world waking up around me. It is the first sight of a sparrow picking up dead grass and moss for its nest building, the gentle kiss of warmth from the strengthening sun on my face, the smell of daffodils as I walk through my garden and the sound of an early bee buzzing around. These simple pleasures remind me that I am part of and surrounded by nature all of the time. And it is now more important than ever that we all take the time to notice the natural world around us. With the UK’s wildlife in serious decline we should not take for granted that these simple pleasures will be there in the future for us to enjoy.

A recent report produced by the National Trust, in partnership with the University of Derby, reported that people taking time to notice nature has benefits to both people and nature. The findings revealed that people who notice nature are more likely to feel happier and are also more likely to take action to care for our wildlife. This certainly rings true with me as I’m never happier than when I’m outside hearing the birds singing or spotting an elusive animal dart past.

Spending time with my Mum as she pointed out what this wildflower was, the best place to hunt for crabs or identifying the bird song I could hear definitely encouraged me to take action and has shaped my future career in conservation. But you don’t need to change your career path to play your part to help nature.

2020 is the 125th anniversary of the National Trust and as part of our celebrations we are asking everybody to just take some time to notice nature. So go on…get outside and immerse yourself in the sight, sound, smell, taste and touch of nature, whether it is on your apartment balcony, in your local park or at your favourite countryside spot.

Noticing nature all year round