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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 11:30 GMT
Primroses flower in warm autumn
By Louise Batchelor
BBC Scotland Environment Correspondent

After a rotten summer Scotland has been enjoying a glorious autumn - and nature's not sure what's going on.

Primrose. Picture courtesy of the Woodland Trust
Primroses were spotted flowering in Inverness

The Woodland Trust reports that some plants and animals are behaving as if autumn is spring.

It is taking part in a UK-wide project called Nature's Calendar which records seasonal changes which may be related to climate change.

The trust said that, this autumn, primroses have been flowering in Inverness and roses in Perth.

There are still live tadpoles in Fife and young newts in Edinburgh. Experts are not sure whether these events, which normally happen in the spring, are really late or exceptionally early.

Mild weather

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, of the Woodland Trust, said: "With such mild weather it seems that some plants have been fooled into the flowering cycle for a second time.

"Unfortunately it is unlikely that the plants will fruit again as it will be too cold. Plants react to the current weather and as such aren't aware that winter is just around the corner."

Small Heath butterfly. Picture by Jim Asher
Small heath butterflies are not normally seen in October

Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) director Paul Kirkland spotted the small heath butterfly in Stirling. It is not normally seen after September.

The species took advantage of climate change just as the Scottish Government announced that butterflies and moths will be used as indicators of the health of Scotland's environment.

The BCS said the sighting of the small heath flying in October demonstrates that butterflies are swift to react to changes in climate with many species taking advantage of warmer weather to fly for longer or expand their range.

On track

The Met Office reports that, unlike Anglia and the south east of England, which saw mean temperatures close to average for October, Scotland was considerably warmer and drier than average, with the mean temperature more than 1C above the norm.

However, there were some cold snaps, with Aboyne in Aberdeenshire recording a minimum temperature of -4.9 C on the 25 October.

Children in the sea. Picture by Jim McGinley from Uddingston
October's warm weather saw children playing in the sea in Troon

WWF Scotland said the latest figures put 2007 on track to be one of the warmest years ever recorded in Scotland.

Acting director Dan Barlow said: "The need to scale up action to tackle climate change becomes ever more pressing."

The charity has welcomed some aspects of the Scottish Government's new budget, especially the news that environmental impact will be used to measure many aspects of Scotland's performance.

However, it criticised an increase in funding for motorways and trunk roads.

Meanwhile, at a meeting in Spain, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has agreed a draft report warning that global warming may have far-reaching and irreversible consequences.

It said the aim of the report is to give a massive overview of the global-warming problem, to guide policymakers for the next five years.

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