After what can justifiably be called an 'extreme' summer, biologists and conservationists are weighing up who were the winners and who were the losers.
Throughout the summer, there has been a constant stream of news items on Space for Nature
about the effects of the warm, dry weather on our wildlife. While some animals were reported to be thriving, e.g. many insects (see, for example, 11th June
and 25th August
), others, such as badgers (Meles meles
) were reportedly suffering (see 3rd September
). In an excellent piece in the Independent
on-line, David Randall summarises how the major groups of animals have fared.
It is no surprise that a large number of insects, most conspicuously butterflies, moths and dragonflies, have benefited. Emperor dragonflies (Anax imperator
) were recorded as far north as Northumberland, indicating to me that the dragonfly I saw in my garden on 31st August
may well have been one of these magnificent creatures. Other insects, like craneflies, which prefer damper conditions have not fared so well.
Many birds have thrived in the conditions, particularly some of the summer migrants. Most mammals (badgers being a notable exception) are also thought to have done well. In many cases, particularly for small mammals, this may also be attributed to the string of mild winters we have had over recent years.
Reptiles and amphibians, on the whole, have had a bad year. Frogs (Rana temporaria
) and thought to have had a bad year in the dry conditions and our native lizards and snakes have suffered badly from the many heath and moor fires that came with the dry weather. If you are lucky enough to harbour any of these animals in your garden, you are in a position to make a significant contribution to their conservation.