2010’s double-freeze, at the beginning and end of the year, brought fears over the plight of British wildlife struggling to adapt to the arctic conditions; birds dehydrating from the lack of running water, berries and fruits inaccessible through inches of powder and chicks unable to withstand the freezing conditions. However, The Times and The Guardian revealed today that over the course of the year, British Wildlife gained more than it lost.
For the first time in ten years, Britain has experienced a year of four distinct seasons, in contrast to the mild winters and overcast summers of the past decade. The National Trust, who has closely monitored Britain’s ecological activities, say that there have been distinct challenges for several species this year but that, on the whole, wildlife has benefitted from the greater contrast in seasons.
The biggest challenges came with January and February’s cold snap, when wildfowl in the fens disappeared in search of open water, and trees were stripped of their bark by rabbits unable to access grasses beneath the snowfall. A late spring in 2010 led to a delayed daffodil season and postponed arrivals of skylarks and bluebells. Sadly, Cornwall’s recently reintroduced choughs saw not one of their new chicks survive early-spring’s harsh climate.
Thankfully, gains later in the year helped nature to bounce back from a tough start. In August, cranes in the Norfolk Broads had one of their best breeding seasons, and both hoverflies and ladybirds flourished. Somerset’s large blue butterfly had its most successful year ever and abundant rains in September encouraged high yields of fruits and berries, giving birds, mammals and insects plenty to feast on.
In addition, the cold winter has now given perfect conditions for animals to hibernate properly and, whilst the extremes of temperature have certainly brought challenges, the overall benefits of a return to a more traditional four-season year have been marked, including an increase in several endangered populations. Let’s hope to see much of the same in 2011!
This article was also published by Responsible Travel News
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