Spring Forward; January 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Daniel Grossman; 8 Page(s)
Growing up in England in the 1950s, Alastair Fitter spent a lot of time wandering with his father through the countryside near their home.
The elder Fitter, Richard, now 90, is a noted naturalist (who has written almost three dozen books on flowers, birds and related topics). As a hobby, Richard jotted down the first flowering date of hundreds of plant species, the spring arrival time of scores of birds, the late-summer departure dates of butterflies, and other signs of the passing seasons. Richard, who insists that he is simply "an inveterate list maker," never thought the records would serve any scientific purpose: "When I was 10, I read I should be keeping notes."