AS MANY country folk predicted, spring is getting earlier - a fact confirmed by 150,000 TV viewers who volunteered information for Bill Oddie's Springwatch TV programme earlier in the year, the current issue of the English Nature Magazine reports.
The success of the programme shocked TV executives - it drew a bigger audience than trashy reality shows like Big Brother - and 150,000 viewers took part in the biggest public participation nature survey ever staged anywhere in the world.
They reported the first sightings of key landmarks like the arrival of the first frogspawn, bumble bees and swifts from Africa, proving that the seasons are getting earlier - although just how much earlier has yet to be analysed.
Another major success of the programme, which many critics say has proved that British TV viewers are not the dim couch-potatoes that some programme makers believe, was the launching of the Breathing Space Campaign, to be run jointly by the BBC and several nature conservation bodies.
It asked for volunteers prepared to give up some of their spare time to work on various environment regeneration projects - and no fewer than 200,000 people signed up!Anyone interested in the Breathing Space experiment should log onto bbc.co.uk/breathingspaces