Wild weather leads to the ‘Year of the Slug’

The unsettled, unpredictable and at times chaotic weather made 2012 a challenging year for wildlife.

2012 had a spring of two halves with the warmest March since 1910, and the implementation of drought orders across England, followed by the wettest April on record. This resulted in what Matthew Oates, a Naturalist at the National Trust has described as “A highly polarised year, with wildlife in the places we look after doing either remarkably well or incredibly badly”.

Some British wildlife was hit hard as they struggled to deal with the very wet conditions and a distinct lack of long dry summer days. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies particularly suffered a set back this year, becoming generally very scarce. This impacted flower pollination and fruit harvests in the autumn, resulting in not only it being a very bad year for English apples and autumn berries, but also having a knock on affect for birds and animals that depend on these crucial food sources.

Many mammals and birds have had a very mixed year with water vole holes and otter spraints being washed away in the heavy floods, bats having an incredibly difficult time and many bird’s nests being abandoned due to bad weather and/or shortage of food.

Wasps did not do well this year ©William Warby

Wasps did not do well in 2012 ©William Warby

However it has to be said that it’s not all doom and thunderstorms. Whilst this year’s picnickers may have rejoiced with the lack of common wasps this summer, there were many other species that have gone against the flow and thrived.

A big winner in 2012 has been the slug with reports of a giant Spanish super slug invading our back gardens. Another impact of the damp conditions has been rapid grass growth. Orchids have also had a great year with reports of stunning flowerings from all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland including here at the Trust.

We are looking forward to see what 2013 will bring for British wildlife and the impact that it has on our special places.

Blog by Jamie White, Media and Communications (Press Office) Intern.

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