Spring equinox: could we be in for a hot summer?

National Trust experts have predicted a hot summer could be on the way, as winter finally ends.

The spring equinox, which occurs today, formally marks the end of winter.

Matthew Oates, nature specialist at the National Trust, said: “We’ve had an unusually mild winter – yet again.

“UK-wide it has now been rather dry since mid-August. Perhaps a long, hot summer is brewing?

“Spring, by contemporary standards, is running just about on-time, though its progress will be slowed by cool, wet weather this week.

“However spring performs, the truth is that at spring’s beginning winter can be instantly forgotten.”

Longer, warmer days have seen wildlife begin to wake up at National Trust places across the country.

Rangers and gardeners from the conservation charity have taken to social media to share pictures of spring flowers, leaping lambs and nesting birds.

 

PICTURES: Ice petals flower in woodland at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire

Rangers and volunteers at Hardcastle Crags, west Yorkshire, were treated to a rare spectacle last week as ice “petals” covered branches in woodland on the National Trust estate. 

Frost sculptures

Rangers and volunteers stumbled across these ice sculptures on dead wood at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire. Credit: Natalie Pownall/National Trust

Natalie Pownall, 25, National Trust Academy Ranger at Hardcastle Crags, said: “We were walking through the woodland at Hardcastle Crags with our conservation volunteer party, when we saw all these glittering white gems littered on the woodland floor. At first I thought they were fungi – but on closer inspection they turned out to be ice. 

“The ice formations are caused by water in the wood freezing. The water expands out of the logs, creating the beautiful ice ‘petals.’ 

“Most of these ice petals formed on the dead logs that we’ve left on the woodland floor after our woodland conservation work. One tree, which we felled last year, was covered in the ice fungi. Dead wood can also be an important habitat for invertebrates like beetles, birds and fungi. 

“You’ll often see these ice formations if the conditions have been below freezing and clear for a couple of days. Normally they melt away as soon as the sun comes up, but because our wooded valley is north facing and doesn’t get much sun we can enjoy the frost flowers all day long.”

Blooming Valentines set to beat the winter blues with 17 per cent more flowers

This year’s milder, calmer and less wet winter has been much kinder to gardens as gardeners and volunteers have found in the Trust’s annual Valentines Flower Count. Continue reading

A review of 2014: the year of the biting fly

Extreme weather in 2014 created an unpredictable rollercoaster of a year for our beleaguered wildlife and saw a raft of migrant species visiting our shores, say experts at the National Trust in their annual wildlife and weather round-up.

As a result of the warm, often wet summer, this year’s wildlife winners include biting flies, slugs and snails. More positively, many resident birds, mammals and amphibians also had good breeding seasons, although the picture is patchy and localised.

Birling Gap, Credit National Trust

Birling Gap, Credit National Trust

The year, however, will be most remembered for the winter storms in January and February; indicating the challenges that the natural world could face with the growing extremes of weather some of which may be caused by climate change.

National Trust rangers looking after the 742 miles of coastline cared for by the charity across England, Wales and Northern Ireland witnessed several years’ worth of erosion, while inland many of the Trust’s gardens and parklands suffered their greatest tree losses in almost 30 years.

Little terns along the Norfolk coast at Blakeney had to nest in low areas as a result of severe tidal surges which changed the beach profile. High tides followed in mid-June and flooded the seabirds’ nests resulting in a very poor breeding season.

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Weather and wildlife – a review of the year so far

 

Matthew Oates, Nature and Wildlife expert for the National Trust, reflects on the weather so far this year and looks at how it has affected our wildlife.

“This winter was one of the stormiest on record and the wettest since 1766. Despite this, it was also the mildest winter in more than 100 years

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100 Days later: Lessons from this winter’s storms

The coastline in the South West of England saw more drama than Coronation Street or EastEnders this winter. Dramatic pictures made for a compelling story as the coast was hit hard by the worst weather in living memory. National Trust coast and marine adviser Tony Flux reflects on some of the lessons from the storms 100 days after the last big weather event on Valentine’s Day:

It can be quite tricky to get your head around coastal change. Often the stretches of coast that we love to visit will appear to be changing very little during our lifetime. We think of the coast as a constant; a place that we know well.

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Stormy weather and a blooming spring: a review of the year so far

Matthew Oates, the National Trust’s National Specialist on Nature, looks back at the year’s weather so far and asks what’s in store for us this summer:

“This winter was one of the stormiest on record, with a succession of powerful storms hitting our shores from 23 December right through until 24 February. So much so, in fact, that in England and Wales it was the wettest winter since 1766.

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