Where are all the bluebells?

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They are one of the key signs of spring, but bluebells appear to be thin in the ground so far this year.

The Woodland Trust is asking Sheffield people to visit their local woods to help scientists analyse how trees, plants and birds are coping with changing temperatures.

After the long winter, the trust has only recorded sightings of three ladybirds, three peacock butterflies and no bluebells across South Yorkshire.

The average bluebell flowering date last year was April 4. This time there were only four online records across the UK, said the trust, which relies on reportings to its Nature’s Calendar website.

A spokeswoman said: “Bluebells are very temperature sensitive and only need a few warm days to stimulate flowering so the fact that they are so delayed highlights how prolonged the cold has been. It shouldn’t have any sort of knock on effect. Hopefully now the weather is warming up we should get a good intense burst of bluebells.”

Ted Talbot, Sheffield council woodlands manager, said he had had two reports of emerging bluebells - in Ecclesall Woods and Woolley Woods.

“We had carpets of bluebells at this time last year. It’s due to the very cold weather. But if it we get a little rain and a bit more sun, there’ll be out.”

Natural history experts at the Weston Park Museum, run by Museums Sheffield, say the coldest March since 1883 has resulted so far in a “poor showing” for insects. They will be hidden away until temperatures pick up,” said Alistair McLean, curator of natural sciences.