WIRRAL wildlife has had to cope with a year of unusual weather that saw “two springs and no summer” but many species have fared well, the National Trust has said.
The hot early spring was a boon for insects, while the autumn’s warm temperatures and sunshine saw something of a “second spring” with shrubs and plants such as dandelions and white dead nettle flowering again.
But the polarised weather, which saw the summer months hit by wet conditions, caused species such as the purple emperor butterfly to suffer.
The purple emperor laid hardly any eggs, while drought conditions hit species on a localised basis including frogs and toads which require shallow water for breeding and some birds such as waders which saw their food supplies affected.
But the dry conditions meant herbs and plants which get crowded out by coarse grass in wet years, including orchids, did extremely well, the trust said.
Matthew Oates, wildlife adviser at the National Trust, said the year’s weather had been “fantastically quirky”, confusing native wildlife, but that some species had done well.
“It was a mixed year. The overall winners were spring insects – not just butterflies and moths, but all the other things like mining bees and bee flies, many of which have done really well.
“But the late summer insects fared very badly and there will be knock-ons for them in 2012.”
The spring that promised so much gave way to a poor summer, but an Indian summer in the autumn months with spring-like temperatures led to second appearances of wild and garden plants, an abundance of berries and migrant species of birds and insects to UK shores, he said.
“It just demonstrates how reactive and strongly influenced wildlife is to weather, and how it can exploit good weather windows like those in the spring and again in the autumn,” Mr Oates added.
But with erratic weather dominating the year, Mr Oates said it was now a question of “what next?!”
The last good July and August were in 2006, and according to the law of averages, the UK is due a fine summer, Mr Oates said, suggesting 2012 could be the year to holiday at home.