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Weather events and the effect on our wildlife?

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Paul Deane Paul Deane | 19:47 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

Amazingly our goldcrests have survived. Their nest, in a leylandii tree was blown around, even more than usual in the wind, but they seem to be OK.

Meanwhile at the Dyfi Osprey project, we watched a drama unfold on Saturday. Having seen one chick perish in the terrible wind and rain, they chose to help the last remaining chick, which did not have the strength to beg for food. It was returned to the nest 15 minutes later and is now taking food from his parents again.

Ground-nesting and wading birds have been the most affected. The sedge warbler chicks we were following were submerged under 2 feet of water and would not have stood a chance. Meanwhile down on the Dyfi estuary, there are around 80 breeding pairs of lapwings, an important site for these birds in Wales. We saw several young birds who didn't make it. Our hope is that there may just be time for the adults, who could fly to safety, to lay another clutch of eggs.

The common sandpiper we've been following, who'd nested beside the railway line perhaps made a better decision than we though. The train line may seem like a dangerous location but it is high and well drained - the common sandpipers sat out the storm in safety.

Barn owls benefited from their location. When we got our cameras live again, they'd grown, we can really see their adult plumage coming through and they are moving around the nest area.

There is no doubt that this spring has been volatile - from drought, to cold to heavy rain and storms. And volatility in the weather is an aspect of climate change, but what has been the wider effect on our wildlife around the UK?

If you have pictures, video or first hand accounts of how our wildlife has been affected this year by these weather conditions, we'd love to hear from you.


  • Comment number 1.

    was the osprey chick that survived the one which was bullying the other one? (survival of the fittest ?)

  • Comment number 2.

    Junvember - seems a more fitting name for this month! I've no video or photos for you, sorry, but here's how things are in my neighbourhood in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.
    Our Swifts have kept a very low profile over this week. I miss them and just hope they're back screaming in the skies again any day now. Bats have braved the evenings regardless of heavy rain and cold which has really surprised me. They must be hungry and obviously determined to get through it to rear young. Corvids such as Magpie, Jackdaw and Crow seem to be doing best here at the moment, followed by Doves and then Blackbirds. House Sparrows seem OK and are very busy fetching food to the hedges and roofs for young. Dunnocks are just starting to enter the garden with their young and are quite dominant at the moment. Greenfinch are few and far between with just one baby seen in the garden so far, a big difference and a drop in the amount of adults from last year which is a shame. No Chaffinch at the moment but the majority of our Chaffinches migrate after wintering here. I expect and hope we will get more visitors over the coming months however. No Robins! This is most unusual. For years we heave had resident Robin/s who ran territory of our gardens, but this has now been taken over by the Dunnocks. Unfortunately some of the hedges where they used to frequent have been thoughtlessly ripped out by housing developers over the last 12 months so this is another concern in their decline that is not necessarily weather related along with that of our Wrens. We did however have a freak heavy snow fall here in March only a week or so after the Sun was cracking the flags so this could also be a likely cause for decline. Young Starlings are also now starting to feed together, parents watching cautiously from trees nearby and my lovely Goldfinch are still around too which is good news.
    One thing for sure, is that they are all Very hungry! I think the weather blip we had with heavy snow March did not help numbers at all. Then another heatwave only a week or so ago and now, floods. I imagine many birds such as Great and Blue Tits are probably trying again perhaps for a 2nd brood. But, in the face of it all, they never give up the struggle for survival. Foxes have suffered too and if manged have to try seek water more frequently at any time of the day. Tough times.
    It's sad that all our wildlife, birds especially, have such a hard time to adapt to such freak and extreme weather conditions at such a crucial time of year for them.
    Lets just all do our bit to help them where and when we can. Fingers crossed mother nature will give them a break and do the rest.

  • Comment number 3.

    Having walked along the beach between Aberdyfi and Tywyn today, I was amazed and shocked to see the huge amount of seaweed, mussels, starfish etc on the beach. Not only did the storm affect the land but also the seabed - I just wondered whether it might be interesting to investigate further.

  • Comment number 4.

    As you know we had very heavy rains across the Somerset levels at the end of April with rivers busting their banks and many acres being flooded for several days, My first concern was for the ground nesting birds like the Skylarks and Short eared owls, but also many of the local water birds were getting a hammering, one of the Great crested grebe nests I'd been watching was washed out, but I'm glad to say they 'started again' and are doing very well with a new family.

    The other thing I was concerned about was all the animals that are 'lunch' for so many of our feathered friends, the Song thrushes in particular, being mostley ground feeders could well be hard hit .

    Sadly my worst fears were borne out and many of our local birds lost chicks on the ground, or food became so scarce they simply left the area... I spent several days photographing the impact of the rising water levels across the 'peat lands' around Shapwick and beyond... One rather poignant shot I took 'The last Refuge', can be seen here in my Flickr stream:


  • Comment number 5.

    Thank you for such a wonderful programme on Monday evening! After the dreadful weather,(e.g. floods and no webcams) we were probably not the only viewers dreading the outcome?! How fantastic to see a fascinating, informative programme.Thank you so much to the whole Springwatch team!

  • Comment number 6.

    I live in a city near woodland. Saw a buzzard fly in to the wood yesterday and land in a tree next to the main road. Would this be due to weather conditions that it has come in to such a populated area? It had very dark speckled markings. I have seen buzzards before on traffic islands. One off the A40 near Solihull the other was towards the M1 link near Rugby. These 2 were golden coloured and saw many in Cumbria and France which were pale brown speckled.

  • Comment number 7.

    First of all well done the Springwatch team for getting everything together again after the floods.

    Just a couple of observations and about some things featured in the programme.

    Firstly it was good to see the Goldcrest nest survive. Earlier on the thermal camera appeared to show that the Goldcrest nest was not quite as insulated as other nests. But this apparent weakness might be one of its strengths. If the nest is porous to wind it may lose a bit of heat, but it makes the nest less vulnerable to gusts of wind. The energy of the wind is probably dissipated by partly going through the nest, rather than being more completely absorbed by the nest, which would make it more likely the nest would be blown out of the tree.

    There might also be a simple explanation for why the Otters Charlie Hamilton James was filming are feeding more in the day. I've heard of other river Otters now feeding in the day. As Charlie noted Eels have gone into a terrible decline. Not only were they formerly very common, but they were one of Otters main food items. However, having fished for Eels when I was young I know they are far more active at night, rather than during the day, where they tend to be hidden firmly under stones and logs. Hence it paid Otters to be nocturnal feeders. But with the decline of the Eel it may be easier for Otters to catch other fish during the day. In other words the decline of the Eel could produce more day feeding with Otters.

  • Comment number 8.

    A heartfelt thank you to everyone at the Springwatch team for the hardwork, dedication, not to say perspiration! that meant that the Monday Springwatch programme went out live despite the floods and devastation of the weekend. This shows the BBC - and all its workers - at its best and rather puts the criticism of some Jubilee coverage in perspective I think.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am so glad this little chick has made it so far. Just a shame they all didnt make it.but thats nature i suppose. fingers crossed it survives.

  • Comment number 10.

    Inevitably the intervention with the Osprey chick has started a "should they, shouldn't they" debate.

    Humankind is having to increasingly intrevene with our precious wildlife in very many ways to make up for the decades of abuse etc it has suffered at our hands. Mostly off camera and with both short term and very long term help.

    Last night saw a very public, direct and immediate intervention that was very much needed to try and save at least one chick from just two Welsh breeding pairs of Osprey.

    Well done Springwatch. That chick now has at least a chance of survival, when before you took those steps it's chances were zero.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just wanted to give my congratulations and thanks to all the team behind the scenes that made a monumentous effort to get everything up and running again to be on air last night! Very well done indeed! I love SW and AW and would have been disappointed to have the series cut short. More importantly though, it was a relief and uplifting to know that many species managed to survive and overcome these difficulties; but sad also that a few did succumb...
    Keep up the great work one and all! :-)
    Kindest regards


  • Comment number 12.

    If there had been no human intervention at the start ie nest being put up there would be no Ospreys in this part of Wales.Long may this kind of intervention continue

  • Comment number 13.

    Well done to all concerned for getting the programme on again last night. The devastation caused by the floods at the Dyfi estuary was moving and humbling, showing just how fragile life is, and how dependent on the right weather conditions for survival. Also, I agree that intervention was the right decision to save at least one osprey chick.

  • Comment number 14.

    We live in Bognor Regis and feed the birds regularly in the garden, however yesterday the pond overflowed and most of the tadpoles were washed out of the pond into the surrounding garden. The birds had a very good feed. We have a very determined sparrow mother, who continued feeding despite the heavy rain and floods. She is nesting behind a drainpipe in the house wall and we are just able to see the babies beaks when she feeds them We also have three seagull babies on the roof with their parents who seem to be doing fine despite the torrential rain yesterday.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi just like to say my pet rabbit does the same thing as the wild ones, she digs a tunnel and spends a few days filling it with food and nesting material, when she has finished she fills the entrance with earth, then shes goes back it it everyday. Sadly she isnt pregnant but she does this at this time of year. She is free in the garden every day and put away at night. So reaally she is semi wild.

  • Comment number 16.

    Our blue tits just recently fledged on Friday and I was surprised to find three on the grass underneath the nest box. Up close they appeared much smaller than the fledgling that I have saw in the garden with darker, greyer colours and assumed they were the runts of the brood. 2 of them eventually flew to the top branches of a nearby tree but one kept falling onto the ground with us having to keep placing it back onto the branch. Due to the heavy rain and it apparently unable to fly very high we decided to bring him indoors to dry off and keep warm. He eventually perked up and started beating its wings and so we put it back into the tree with an adult arriving within seconds to feed him. I’m pleased to say he survived the night and remained in the tree, eventually making it to the top and into the next garden that evening. The next day to my delight I spotted him near the same tree we had placed him in. I was wondering is it normal for a brood to have 3 “runts” in it and to fledge the same time as the other more grown fledglings and what could have caused their size difference?

    you can see the blue tit on my Flickr page:


  • Comment number 17.

    After the downpour at the weekend I noticed there were quite a lot of bees on the flowers in my garden. Some were dead and others seemed to be very sleepy! Is there anything I can do to help them?

  • Comment number 18.

    Chris mentioned last night that Swifts don't often fly low to catch insects, and indeed, I normally only see them high up. Twice this summer I've been in the middle of a flock of Swifts flying very low, once on Hampstead Heath, and once by the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It was very exciting to experience, as they certainly live up to their name, and flew past very close, just missing my head, and sometimes almost at ground level. How unusual is this behaviour, and has the poor weather had anything to do with it ?

  • Comment number 19.

    I stay in Peebles in the Scottish borders and have Mallards in the river(the Cuddy which runs into the Tweed) outside my back garden.Unfortuneately none of the chicks seem to survive as they are eaten by the Heron and the crows.The Heron stalks them up and down the river bank.Cruel nature

  • Comment number 20.

    Dear BBC Springwatch,

    I have a question that I would like to be put forward to the presenters on the BBC  Springwatch show, that would affect everyone who moves house and feeds birds/wildlife in their gardens.  

    I  have fed the garden birds and hedgehogs in my garden for over 5 years and as a result the population has grown, along with the amount of food being put out.  However, I am now thinking about moving house out of the local area.

    The sudden period of heavy rains and bad weathers' impact on the birds and wildlife featured on BBC Springwatch, has made me think about the impact my own move will have on my own garden birds and hedgehogs due to food and water stoppage.

    Can Chris Packham, Michaela  Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games share ANY advice on how to minimise the impact on garden birds and wildlife  when one moves house, especially when the RSPB state that we should never stop feeding the birds once started???

    I would greatly appreciate hearing an experts opinion!

    Kind regards,
    Iain Fenton

  • Comment number 21.

    Where have all the swallows gone? Mine arrived early May, but there only seem to be two flying about, and not very often.

  • Comment number 22.

    Not directly weather-related, but: we're often threatened with some bird or other fledging during the programme. Is there a particularly good (or bad) time of day for birds to fledge? I'd've thought getting out late in the day, when it might get cold overnight and food won't be available, would be the worst time...

  • Comment number 23.

    We have a " camera " nestbox in our garden in which we had a blue tit with 6 chicks. Sadly 4 died on one partiularly wet day when it was obvious the parents were struggling to bring in food.Then 2 days ago another chick ( almost ready to fledge ) died and again it was raining all day.
    We guess they died of starvation as the parents were only bringing very small quantites of food and spending a lot of time just brooding the chicks.
    Today the surviving chick fledged so we hope he is going to make it !
    This experience has made us so aware of how vulnerable these small birds are and how much their lives depend on the weather and available food.

  • Comment number 24.

    How long does it take for a sea eagle to fledge

  • Comment number 25.

    what is the most stable nest?

  • Comment number 26.

    Once i had blue tits in my bird box. We sore them fledge. it looked amazing

  • Comment number 27.

    I have witnessed an amazing site.. Sunday 10th June at 2 p.m.

    I have never in over forty years seen this.. There were up to fifty swifts flying slowly (almost stalling speed by their standards) in a tight group towards the south-east cost.

    Question: Have they left our shores.

    I wonder is this due to the bad weather we have been experiencing.

    Has anyone else seen this before.


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