Signs of spring are beginning to show in Manitoba starting with the first big wave of migrating geese.

Fort Whyte Alive president Bill Elliott said hundreds of birds landed on their property Sunday, a week or so earlier than average.

“That is significant because these birds are tuned into exactly what is happening in the environment and they can sense it down there,” Elliott said.

“The snow line starts to move down north with spring melt and boy, they’ll just follow it.”

Elliott said Fort Whyte Alive has collected data like geese arrival for decades, and the three earliest geese arrivals have happened within the last 5 years.

This year’s first goose was seen Feb. 15 at Fort Whyte.

“Is climate change concerning to me? It sure is. I mean, it should be a concern to all of us. These signs, everyone should be aware of them and taking climate change much more seriously,” Elliott said.

Michael Erlanger agrees global warming is real. He has a backyard rink at his Winnipeg home, which wasn’t easy to get up and running this year.

“This year was a struggle and as you know, the season was pretty mild. So, it was hard to get the rink started to get the ice to grab, so I think this year was our most challenging year,” Erlanger said.

“Now that it’s March and we are having a mild spring, the rink won’t last that long this year.”

He registered his rink with a website called RinkWatch. It’s an online logbook created by geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University who collect information from backyard rink owners and use it to track changes in climate.

Robert McLeman, associate professor at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, started RinkWatch.

This year he noticed fewer participants, and those who did take part had a frustrating year. McLeman said a lot of people gave up on their outdoor rinks after a couple of mid-winter thaws.

“This is a good glimpse of the future,” he said. “We will still get the snow, ice and freezing rain we’re used to, but we won’t have the sustained conditions we need to have useable ice in our backyards.”