What a difference a year makes. At this midway point through Meteorological winter 2016/17, the weather so far has been much kinder than last year. December 2015 was horrendously mild, bad for wildlife in that most things were out of sync, the natural world in the UK at least didn’t know whether it was coming or going.
It was also bad for farming at this stage last winter, crops and grass were growing vigorously, and diseases and pests were prevalent, meaning more chemical expenditure down the line for struggling farming communities. We need winters like those of former years to return occasionally to restore some balance.
This one thus far has seen a very typical Temperature setup locally with a reasonable tally of Air frosts when skies cleared by night, although precipitation has been somewhat with December proving very dry when compared to the average as the image below states.
As you’ll notice upon reading the above article from the Newbury Weekly News dated January 14th, 2016, phenology events, i.e., those signs from nature bore no resemblance to most years past, way before climate change processes steadfastly took a grip on things. The winter of 2016/17 thus far has been kinder to the farming community and consequently nature itself, as far as I am aware from what I’ve read and heard about in the press. Here’s to the rest of the winter, playing ball too then. I do feel for our European neighbours, though. January 2017, in particular, has so far seen brutal cold in a significant number of places as the following link to a recent BBC article indicates.
Icy weather in Europe causes more hardship and chaos
A couple of phenology events which need updating to my records database are the 1st instance of flowering Hazel catkins on the 15th January and 1st flowering Snowdrops around about the 13th January.
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Posted by: Tony William Powell on and
Thanks for the likes, everyone.
Definitely another funny old winter so far. It’s always a bit worrying when wildlife gets going early in the year – you just hope they don’t get caught out by more wintry weather later on in February or March.
Nicely written Tony. The mild weather has got everything going over here in East Sussex. I would not be surprised to see our local Hedge Pigs before long!
Thanks, Paul. I think winter is set to bite once again before Mid-February with snow in the offing for a few of us too. The local Blackbirds clearly aren’t aware of my tales of doom and gloom, as they’re singing lustily each day now.
I’m currently in Germany and the winter here was incredibly cold this year. We had a few weeks in which the temperature was consistently around -10c and at one point as low as -16c! It’s good for keeping diseases under control but I do wonder what the impact is on song bird populations. I would imagine that a lot of birds would die in such harsh conditions.
Thanks for the response, Sam. Yes, it is often said that the smallest species like Wrens, Goldcrests and Dartford Warblers (they are tiny minus the tail) are the most susceptible to freezing weather. Given that they are the real specialists of the bird world, being primarily insectivorous, they will undoubtedly struggle. Whereas, the generalist corvids, pigeons, doves and several of the scavaging Raptors can usually make it through without much trouble afflicted on their overall populations. Now we are officially arrived at meteorological Spring, looking back at the 2016/17 Winter it does seem to my mind to have been a kind one in the UK but far from it, in most of continental Europe.
Winter was very kind here in the south of Spain but also unkind as there has not been the usual and much needed rain. It was interesting to read the news article and Nicola Chester about Newbury.
Thanks, navasolanature. I’m sure you’re aware Nicola also runs a blog at https://nicolachester.wordpress.com/ which you may like to follow.
I assume the current winter will not be considered a good one.
Thanks, Tanja. I really ought to get around to doing an update based on the 2017/18 winter then. In terms of latter part of winter and into early March, the well-advertised “Beast From The East” certainly made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. I’m thinking, aside from some unfortunate sheep-farmers losing their lambs to the snow; the cropped lands might have benefitted from a few hard frosts, which halt sporadic early growth and lessen the need for heightened disease control. The problem is, as, with anything too prolonged, the impacts can be long-lasting, and I suspect insects and invertebrates and a few wild creatures, perhaps our rural bird communities will have suffered somewhat. The latter benefitted from garden-feeding and birds, typically seen in the UK countryside were flocking to our gardens. All will be revealed in the statistics publicised later in the year.
Thanks for commenting and taking an interest.
Thank you, Tony. I look forward to the analysis.