How to record the seasonal changes in your area.

Downy birch has a purple-hazy appearance from afar. Up close the cream-white bark provides brightness on winter days. Photo © Calum Sweeney.

Phenology is the study of the timing of annual events in the lifecycle of plants and animals. When you observe leaves unfolding on a tree, you are observing phenology!

There are already over 50 years of seasonal change observations that have been recorded at Valentia Meteorological Observatory. LIVE is collaborating with Met Éireann to expand the area over which we know the timing of the seasons. This is important as it allows us to keep accurate records and compare changes in the timing of spring and autumn over multiple years. Observing your local trees is also a mindful and fun activity to do during the spring and autumn.

On this page you will find everything that you need to identify three native tree species, observe their seasonal changes, and contribute records of these seasonal changes, using a survey on your phone. For alternative ways to record observations please contact Calum on

The steps to get involved:

Step 1: (indoors)

A. Download the ‘Survey123’ application on your phone.

B. Open the app and continue without signing in.

C. Click on the small square to the right of the search bar and scan and download the surveys using each of these QR codes, one at a time. [If you have this page open on a different device, laptop, tablet etc, it is easier to scan these QR codes straight onto your phone.]

Use these QR Codes to link directly to the survey

Register a tree

Make an observation

You should now have the two surveys visible.

We have created some handy PDF guides to helping you identify hazel, downy birch or the eared willow tree, you will find these below.

Step 2: (outdoors)

D. Find a hazel, downy birch or eared willow tree.

E. Use the ‘LIVE project - register a tree’ survey to register each tree. You should only use this once per tree. It is important to remember the unique name that you give each tree as you will re-enter it multiple times in the future.

F. Visit the tree(s) at least once per week, each time making an observation using the ‘LIVE project - make an observation’ survey. Recording that nothing is happening is also useful information. Information on the stages of seasonal change (phenophases) for each species are available on the back of the species guides. Please use these to help inform when a change has occurred.

Demonstration Video

Alternatively, please see the demonstration video below which explains the above steps in a visual format.

Tree Guides

We have prepared downloadable PDF guides here which can be used to help identify hazel, downy birch and eared willow and define the seasonal change stages (phenophases) that they go through.

Download PDF • 2.37MB

Download PDF • 2.40MB

Download PDF • 1.20MB

Winter buds of hazel, downy birch and eared willow. Photo © Calum Sweeney.

Watching the Seasons Change webinar

On Wednesday 12th January, plant biologist Calum Sweeney presented a lunchtime talk about phenology and this native trees survey. You can view this event here:

Find out more

If you want to find out more about Phenology, you can read Calum's previous blog on Watching the Seasons Change

Project Updates

We will hold an event in the summer to show you the results of the observations so far, so stay tuned and happy observing! If you have any problems or would like more information please contact Calum Sweeney on