The ‘stop-start’ spring, with temperatures warming then plummeting in February and March, before warming again, brought migrant species such as butterflies to our shores. But the changeable summer, with short, sharp rain storms, proved to be challenging for some wildlife, including water voles, puffins and terns. The end of the year was warm and wet, with few cold spells, but more deluges of rain particularly in November resulted in flooding in many parts of the country.
Success for migrants
Warm spells of weather in the early half of the year saw migrant species of butterflies, moths and dragonflies from the south and east arrive in the UK.
Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation and restoration ecology said: “Sightings of migrant insects and birds are becoming more common. This is a result of our changing climate. Although this can seem exciting, the obvious flipside is how these changes will start to affect some of our native species already under pressure from intensive land use, habitat fragmentation and climate change. More mobile species might be able to escape unfavourable conditions, but they’d have to find similar conditions elsewhere. The biggest threat is to less mobile species and those that are specialists. This brings home the importance of doing all we can to ensure that we protect our remaining habitats and ensure they are in good condition to support our threatened species. By improving the condition of our remaining habitats and increasing patch size it is easier for species to move across landscapes in response to our changing environments. It also means that when they arrive in their new location there is habitat to support them. If our wildlife doesn’t have anywhere to move to as temperatures rise and the weather changes, over the coming years we will inevitably see more and more species at risk of becoming extinct.”
Resident species that did well
Farmland birds such as starling, skylark and lapwing are one of the fastest declining groups of birds in the UK and particularly vulnerable over the winter due to a loss of feeding habitats. However, this year the National Trust’s ranger team in Pembrokeshire recorded 64 different species and 23,000 birds in their first winter bird survey.