Rollercoaster year for wildlife

The annual survey of wildlife in Britain by the National Trust has demonstrated that the rollercoaster of weather extremes in 2018 are an indication of how our future climate could look like and feel.

Many species suffered in the extreme heat of the long hot summer, and others suffered when we were blasted by the ‘Beast from the East’.

Dr David Bullock, head of species and conservation at the National Trust said: “This year’s unusual weather does give us some indication of how the climate change could look and feel, irrespective of whether this years was linked to climate change. It’s becoming less predictable every year to gauge what sort of weather we are likely to experience, and what this means to wildlife.”

While the freezing icy blast saw sea birds suffer, the scorching summer was a boon for other kinds of wildlife such as bats and butterflies. Deer fared well due to the strong growth of grass and vegetation.

However, nettle feeding butterflies such as the small tortoiseshell and the red admiral suffered despite the good weather.

The better warmer January saw bats coming out of hibernation to feed at dusk and they were still on the wing in October. Fungi were out in abundance after the rain that followed the long dry summer.

It was a bad year for goats; many kids were lost to the ‘Beast from the East’ as they were born between January and March. May saw a large movement of swallows and swifts.

Migratory locusts were seen in Cornwall in July. Warm weather saw a bumper blackberry harvest in August. In November there was an influx of rough-legged buzzard.

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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