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March 06, 2007


I thought the first day of spring was the 21st of March. It's the vernal equinox, and happens to be by birthday, and I thought, the first day of spring.
Joanne x

I don't know about when Spring officially starts, but there must be at least 2 people walking around barefoot in that park!! People with an aversion to red footwear it would seem!

I think they must be parakeets, because parrots (as the only birds) can open the lower part of their beek, like a jaw.
I live in Frankfurt, Germany, and a town near here, called Wiesbaden, has an entire flock of budgerigars in the city park, living and prospering there since many, many years.

Some speak of the state of the weather,
Some talk of the birds that sing,
But to sit down quick on a red hot brick
Is the sign of an early Spring!

I was walking through the streets of London barefoot yesterdy evening and it was lovely - more people ought to try it!

There is an SE9 posse of about 15 green parakeets - they stick together to intimidate the pigeons... they do look strange in ancient english woodland though.

My friends mum lives in Bromley, London and they have a flock of green parakeets that live wild around there. Apparently someone let loss two pet parakeets many years ago and that is how the flock started - amazing!

Parrakeets are everywhere. I heard on the radio (BBC Radio London) that a few escaped from Pinewood or Elstree during the filming of The African Queen with Bogart & Hepburn. They are all over SW London: loads in Richmond and Bushy Parks, and I counted over 30 in a cherry tree at the end of my road in November (Kingston, SW London). They always make me smile when I see them: much nicer than pigeons!

here in leafy Queens Park, North West London, at the moment, my garden plays host to green and striped woodpeckers; a flock of green parakeets (10 in all); a kestrel; 4 wood pigeons who delight in stripping the buds off the primroses and crocuses and one lonely Norwegian redwing who obviously got left behind from the November migration to Norway. Oh! and frogs galore. These are all definite signs of Spring.

Hi Joanne,

Here's the research that Andrew based his findings on (from the BBC)...

"Much of the country is in the grip of icy winter weather but according to the Meteorological Office spring is here.

It classes the first day of spring as 1 March, saying March, April and May are regarded as the spring months. But traditionally spring has started on the night of 20/21 March and a row has erupted over the official date".

It looks like you may have a point. Far be it from us to get involved in a meteorological altercation though.

I used to live near Bromley and first saw Parakeets in the garden at least 30 years ago! The story was that someone locally used to let them out to fly during the day, but some of them decided they were having too good a time so didn't go back! By the way, my birthday is in March and I can reliably inform you that it is always spring for my birthday even if it does fall before the 21st. Love the sound of the new smoothie too!

There's a large flock of parakeets in Peckham Rye park - I've seent hem nesting in holes in the tree trunks. Not sure where they came from, but there are certianly a lot of urban myths out there. I particularly like the African Queen' one!

They're ring-necked parakeets and the feral populations have been around for years. It is strange to see that bright flash of green on a grey London estate (and to hear that loud squawk designed to travel through jungle!) but then we have plenty of animals that never belonged here in the first place. Probably in another hundred years those parakeets will seem as normal as rabbits, or, indeed, the grey squirrels.

i had the most perculiar feeling today...I had an urge to have a picnic!! but i at school im not packed lunch!
um..anyyway...happy spring cleaning!

Imagine what the fight would be like between all those meteorologists arguing over the date...

interesting reply, Ted!

but I'm sure Joanne is right

it's what I've always been told

however, 'they' do seem to change a lot of things these days, don't 'they'?!

My son was born on the 21st of March 12 years ago and I was told that was the first day of spring. I didn't hear anything about it being the 1st until a couple of years ago and I think it's just people who can't be bothered to remember the exact date, they just remember March and it's spread?

If 21st June is Midsummer's day because it is the solstice, then it cannot be the first day of summer.

The vernal equinox on 21 March is the start of spring only for people who believe that summer starts on 21st June.

Spring March/April/May; summer June/July/August etc The Met office is right.

Spring is sprung,
The grass is ris'
I wonder where the birdies is?
The birdies are up in the sky
'cos one has just pooped in my eye!

Happy Spring! I have been wearing green all week to celebrate spring - how about a green smoothie?????


I was in Vondel Park in Amsterdam in 2000, just chilling, as you do, and writing in my notebook when I looked up to see two parrots!! I couldn't believe it! I excitedly pointed them out to a dutch couple sitting beside me and we spent ages coming up with various reasons as to why there were two parrots in the tree. Zoo escapees sounded the most likely. I've still got the journal pages as I'm describing seeing what I thought was only a tropical species chirping away in front of me... I thought it was hilarious!! Ive since realised that they were probably parrakeets and that they're now fairly common all over Europe.

As for the Spring date debate. Historically it was the 21st of March, but a couple of years ago the weather boffins started using a 3 month per season model as it makes it easier for measuring climate changes over time. Makes sense. Imagine having to work out seasonal/monthly averages when one season was 3.45 (or smth!) another 2.65...etc... etc..etc...

I heard that:
Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is, the bird is on the wing they say but that's absurd, I always thought the wing was on the bird!

wow! the new smoothie grows in parks! *rushes off down to the park* i love spring!

Two things: -

1) Ring-necked parakeets (like those in the photo) have been native for some considerable time here - like all our avian 'illegal immigrants' the original pair were part of someone's collection and escaped. Finding the climate in SE England particularly favourable (they're originally from India where they're as ubiquitous as our city pigeons). Mainly found in Surrey, Kent and Sussex, there are pockets of them in other parts of the SE - there is a huge flock of them at my father's golf club. There are estimated to be around 3,000 breeding pairs in this country (RSPB survey). I've even seen a couple in the back garden on the peanut feeder - I'll tell you something, the invading squirrels don't like 'em. You want to make your garden a squirrel-free zone, get a couple of male parakeets. Finally, parakeets /are/ parrots - i.e. they belong to the psittacidae (sp?) like all true parrots.

2) The date of the Vernal Equinox is NOT set in stone, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the "weather boffins" (as Gus Ferguson stated) but to do with the position of the sun - it is very rare for it to be the 21st - usually it's the 20th (don't confuse equinoxes and solstices - the summer and winter solstices are, usually, 21st June and December respectively). In the last decade, it has only fallen on the 21st thrice. It's impossible for it to fall on the same day - our year has 364.25 days - which would throw it off by a day (and ditto for the solstices). Why do most folk believe it to be the 21st? Simple - the Church has decreed it to be so - it's the date used to calculate when Easter Sunday falls (which is the 1st Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox); we've already had a full moon recently (on the 3rd - you all saw the eclipse I trust? Eclipses only occur when the moon is full) and the lunar cycle is 29.5 days (originally our calendars were in tune with the lunar, not solar cycle). The equinox is the time of equal day and night (though the word 'equinox' is actually derived from the Latin 'aequi noctium' as the Romans had a lunar calendar) and we calculate that from the solar cycle, which is never regular. In the US, Mother's Day is an invention of Hallmark and American Greetings; in the UK, however, it's an ancient festival - and was traditionally celebrated on the vernal equinox - to thank Mother Earth (the Earth Goddess - Gaia) for rebirthing the Sun. It's only known as Mothering Sunday now because the Christian Church wanted to 'depaganise' it.

FYI: - VE - 21/03
SS - 21/06 (this very rarely wavers)
AE - 23/09 (this is very rarely the 21st- it hasn't been once in the past 100 years and it is, very occasionally as late as 24/09)
WS 22/12

And, finally, an ode to Spring (and innocent)

Spring it is springing
The birds they are singing
And innocent's bringing
Us a new smoothie - yum!

Fact: Despite being synonymous with all things Dutch, tulips are originally from central Asia.


I shan't be drinking the new smoothie - I've 3.5st to lose and am doing Slimming World where smoothies are very 'syn-full' (though I don't know how many syns there are in any of the cartons or bottles). Whole fruit is 'free' (i.e. no syns and you can stuff it down yer gizzard all day) but juiced or pureed fruit is 'synful' because, according to SW logic (and I can see it) it takes longer to eat a whole apple than it would do to drink 100ml of apple juice (and the apple, being fibrous, would fill you up more).

So I've had to curtail my three cartons a week habit (well, it was becoming expensive, too; I know they're extremely yummy - and I LOVE the new breakfast smoothie and thickie (the latter being more synful than the former) - but I'm on a tight budget. Though I promise I'm NEVER going to stop buying them - I CAN'T!!)

I'm surprised - though more than a little relieved - that you've not jumped on the RND bandwagon and produced an all red smoothie this month (cranberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries and pomegranates, for example).

(even borderer)

Sidetracking, as Hugo did, mid-summer day is actually the 24th June! And I know, because its my birthday and has been for the last 67 years. (Loved the cranberry and raspberry smoothie!) Nicky S.

wow those parrots rule! I would i spy in my park but i would be a bit worried what i might find! I have been told there are sheep that hang around it that general area

shoot them parakeets! they are bullying all our bootiful british birds out of there homes ... we need an immigration policy for them for sure! ;o)

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