Good winters make bad summers

It’s official: it’s not just my imagination. I went hunting today for the duke of burgundy butterfly again. It’s the peak of the flight season and I’m in a place where I’ve seen them before in decent numbers ( and for a butterfly as scarce as the duke, that’s threes and fours, not tens or hundreds. I got a brief glimpse of one. Butterfly numbers are down. The unseasonably mild weather we had earlier in the spring followed by intense cold seems to have brought some species forward, only to hammer them. I bumped into bird ringers in a local woodland who gave more evidence: bird numbers and bird weights are down. It takes 1000 caterpillars to feed a bluetit chick, so even a slight fall in numbers has a big impact on brood sizes. It seems the countryside will be less full of colour and dong this year.

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