With “The Beast from The East” chilling the country to its core at the start of the year, to the long dry spell we are currently enjoying, our wildlife has certainly been put through its paces this year.
If you’ve visited Falls of Clyde recently you may have noticed that our wildflower trail isn’t as bright as previous years. We are finding that our flora is responding to the extreme weather conditions, with different reactions from each species. Some have flowered earlier than usual, some are flowering later and some for much shorter periods than we would expect to see. On the other hand, many of our fruit bearing plants are offering much more than previous years. These changes can potentially affect the wider ecosystem and we don’t yet know if this will be positive or negative. It’s possible that our birds may benefit from the supply of fruits, however butterflies and bumblebees may suffer from the changes we see in our wildflowers.
We also know that this warm spell can make life more difficult for our resident badgers, as foraging for their favourite meal – worms – will be more difficult in the dry earth. Luckily there are parts of the reserve that remain wet year round, and it seems that the badgers have been foraging closer to these areas more and more these past months.
There is also a marked difference in the number of kingfishers that we’ve been seeing this year. Instead of the warm weather it is the long, cold winter that could have affected their population. The freezing conditions will have been very difficult for Kingfishers as they depend on ice-free water to sustain themselves, so it’s possible their numbers may have declined this year.
Only time will tell how the weather of 2018 will impact on our flora and fauna over the long term, but we at Falls of Clyde will be keeping a keen eye on all the changes we see.
Jenny Mann, Falls of Clyde Assistant Ranger
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