The Guardian reports hot summer of 2018 boosted large blue, and black hairstreak, but small tortoiseshell declined. The golden summer of 2018 saw two of the UK’s rarest butterflies, the large blue and the black hairstreak, enjoy their best years since scientific monitoring began.
More than two-thirds of British butterfly species were seen in higher numbers last year than in 2017, but despite the ideal butterfly weather, it was still only an average season – the 18th best in 43 years of recording.
Photo of female Large Blue ovipositing, by Paul Ritchie under creative commons
The OBSERVER reports that the seasons seem topsy-turvy, but this is still a time of new beginnings. Here’s how to help your flowerbeds and veg plots thrive. Flower power – as soil warms, it’s time to plant perennials, but don’t just impulse-buy the first thing you see that promises pretty flowers on the label. If your garden got frazzled by the weather last summer, put drought-resistant plants that double as pollinator magnets to the top of your list.
Hungry hedgehogs breaking their winter hibernation can roam up to 2km in a night in search of food, but only if their path isn’t blocked by fences and walls. Consider cutting a hedgehog hole into existing fences or, if winter storms mean you need to replace panels, fit hog-friendly gravel boards at the base.
Once hedgehogs are in your garden, make them welcome by setting up a feeding and watering station in a sheltered spot: a dish of cat biscuits or specialist hog food are ideal. Dishes of fresh water will help hogs and other wildlife: an old dustbin lid set into the ground will make for easy access; add a pile of stones on one side so bees can come for a drink, too.
The GUARDIAN reports that naturalists are concerned for early-emerging spring species in UK. Spring is arriving early with swallows, frogspawn and unexpected perfume as temperatures soar up to 20C above this time last year when Britain was blasted by the “beast from the east”. Rooks are nesting, ladybirds are mating and dozens of migratory swallows have been spotted along the south-west coast – more than a month ahead of their normal arrival. Naturalists fear for these early spring species if March does turn markedly colder and wetter.
Photo of ladybird pair by Nutmeg 66 under creative commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode
Freezing temperatures brought on by the ‘mini Beast from the East’ just days before the start of spring could have serious consequences for wildlife, experts have said according to the Daily Mail.
Whether sand martins and wheatears returning from long migrations who need to restore their energy, or frogspawn and insects who thought the earlier warming temperatures were a sign spring was coming, the cold and snow this weekend could have a massive impact on our wildlife.
The extreme temperatures caused by the beast from the east resulted in tens of thousands of dead starfish washed up on a beach in Ramsgate, Kent – reports the Independent. Okay, this one isn’t local to Normandy, but such a dramatic and unusual event – relatively close to us – we thought you’d want to know!
We hope you haven’t been inconvenienced by the “beast from the east” as the snow settled in Normandy. Remember, our wildlife friends may struggle in these unusual conditions too.
Keeping your bird feeders filled will mean you could see a large number of birds, but don’t forget the water too! As ponds and natural watering places are frozen, you could really help by filling water dishes for our feathered friends.
And you may see some more unusal visitors to your garden looking for food – fieldfare, redwing and goldcrest, for example. The fieldfares, redwings and thrushes will love any rotting apples you leave out in the garden.