As the snow finally starts to thaw in Somerset and Christmas's Sloe Gin hangover dulls, I stumbled across an interesting and apposite report from the National Trust
today, which pointed out that dry summers and cold winters are more good news than bad for our wildlife:
For the first time in a generation we have experienced a traditional year of weather and our wildlife has mostly responded favourably. A cold winter enabled wildlife to hibernate properly while a warm spring and early summer created ideal conditions for insects and led to bumper autumn berry crops in our orchards, woods and hedgerows.
As a beekeeper I don't need to be told how problematic warm winters are for them too; if they are active throughout the winter months they use up their winter honey stores early and starve, particularly if we then have a miserable spring. There are, of course, plenty of animals which enjoy mild weather now - but, like the flora that does, many of them are non-native. Readers of our national organs might be surprised to hear this. There seems to be a simple reflex among news editors; if it snows for a bit run a story about how difficult conditions are for birds. Start with Wrens, and if it stays snowy you can move on to starving Barn Owls. A while later and you can throw in some pictures of other larger animals, like dead frogs under the ice in ponds - which have had an oxygen deficency anyway. Yes, it's true that some animals will struggle in extreme weather, but it's not just an over-simplification to point out the victims, it's downright misleading in terms of the bigger picture. And if it helps delay the spread of jolly non-native species like the Asian Hornet, then so much the better. So I for one am enjoying (certain aspects of!) this reminder of winters past.