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hugogo

How Is Nature Coping With The Cold Spell?

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Hi,

With all this cold not seen for such a long time now, I wonder how nature is coping with the severe conditions all around the country. I have taken a close look at the temperatures and it seems like the mins were actually colder during this coldspell than during the January one. Many places reached -15 degrees [scotland with -16.8 in Aberdeen, Northern England, Wales] and almost all places saw temperatures below -10 [even a min of -9 a London Gatwick the other day, which is quite unbelievable, Gatwick been halfway between London and the channel...]. Also, day maximal temperatures are extremely low: many places have had highs under -5 degrees, and most places have seen highs under 0, even London [3 negative highs while there were none last year winter] and usually mild place suche as Cornwall [Highs close to -3 in some places].

Have some species been affected by this cold weather [it might be to early to know]?

I know that in France, when unusually extreme cold splls hit the country [1956, 1963] and lows start falling in the -20s over large parts of the country, many plants, vines and trees die from the cold. During the little ice age, winters of 1709 and 1789 caused massive damage to forests and huge loss amongst animals.

Also, have some parts of the coast or some major rivers started to freeze yet? The cold has been extreme but it might be a bit to early in the season, as the north sea and the channel are still quite mild at this time of year compared to January or February...

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I imagne that the rest of nature as a whole probably deals with extremes of weather very well.Y ou have to consider that the native species of these islands are just that native and as such have lived here and survived here for sometime.They will have survived through various slight changes in climate if they still live here.I take a very ,some may say ,harsh attitude towards the survival of animals .I believe they should be left to their own devices and we should not get involved ,if animals die as a result of cold,so be it ,if they dont ,so be it....i think we should leave them to it ...im sure most native species will be fine after all they are here so their ancestors must have survive d equally cold weather such as we are having now.You ask about major rivers freezing ,well im not sure of the river irwell near me in manchester but i do know that the man ship canal has frozen over and all the small canals [this happens every year though]

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Birds are very hungry and I'm seeing things like Jays, Nuthatches and flocks of Tits in the garden, they're consuming vast quantities of nuts, bread virtually anything I put out. Noticed that a few of Palm Trees that have sprung up in people's gardens over the past few years are looking a bit sad, not too sure how they'll cope if this continues. Still plenty of leaves on our Oak trees, I'm guessing that they're iced on and they'll all fall off once the temperature and wind pick up. There was a touch of ice on the banks of The River Dee yesterday, maybe 4 or 5 feet out into the river itself and the ponds around here are 100% iced over now.

Pete

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The birds are voraciously hungry — very striking. We currently have 4 robins feeding together — their desperate search for food seems to enable them to tolerate each other, just about. Loads of blackbirds and fieldfares (I think) now plummeting the berries on the hollies and hawthorn. Strikingly, the berries have lasted longer this year, several days longer than previous years. I don't know if that's because there are more berries, or less birds feeding off them. Whatever the reason, it is very tough being "wild" right now.

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I have certainly stocked up on bird food with this cold spell and bought extra nest boxes. At the moment the starlings are going mad for food in the garden they are also drinking and bathing a lot. Blue tits, dunnocks and starlings have all been checking out the nest boxes, it amazes me how a starling thinks it can even fit into a blue tits nest box :lol:

The berries are still going strong here. I think Nature can cope with this.I just think the cold spell has arrived a lot earlier this year.:)

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I have certainly stocked up on bird food with this cold spell and bought extra nest boxes. At the moment the starlings are going mad for food in the garden they are also drinking and bathing a lot. Blue tits, dunnocks and starlings have all been checking out the nest boxes, it amazes me how a starling thinks it can even fit into a blue tits nest box :lol:

The berries are still going strong here. I think Nature can cope with this.I just think the cold spell has arrived a lot earlier this year.:)

You must be putting water out regularly, I am most worried about our fish pond, it has been frozen now for nearly 2 weeks and to a good depth I should imagine. In December 1981 we had a pond that froze to the bottom, you could actually see the fish entombed in the ice. Needless to say they did not survive. I have dug this one deep so hopefully we won't have the same problem. As for the water birds I went for a walk by the river Trent earlier today, the steam was rising from the surface and the water felt positively warm in comparison to the air temperature of about -8 so they still have that option.

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As a gardener i have noticed that the highly paid designers have been caught out.In the race to bring in something new all the time,much is from overseas,but its struggling in these conditions,whereas for years,with mild winters the plants were fine.

I specialise in english cottage gardens,not so exciting maybe,but with stock that lasted the 50s and 60s ie hardy.

Lots of rabbits and deer forageing,my bird table,as others have noted,is under siege.They are that hungry that they would eat my girlfriends cooking lol[hides]

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We've stocked up on bird food and also saving any worthwhile scraps, the garden is full of birds digging around for tit bits, the starlings here keep trying to get into out bird house! they just don't fit, will have to get an extension! I have started making my own fat balls too.

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You must be putting water out regularly, I am most worried about our fish pond, it has been frozen now for nearly 2 weeks and to a good depth I should imagine. In December 1981 we had a pond that froze to the bottom, you could actually see the fish entombed in the ice. Needless to say they did not survive. I have dug this one deep so hopefully we won't have the same problem. As for the water birds I went for a walk by the river Trent earlier today, the steam was rising from the surface and the water felt positively warm in comparison to the air temperature of about -8 so they still have that option.

Yes,fresh water daily, first thing in the morning after thawing out with hot boiling kettle water. It's the Starlings that seem to be drinking the water a lot and always fighting each other for a bath.It's quite entertaining watching them lol.

I hope your fish will be ok through this cold spell . I just hope that the fish and birds can handle all this cold.I feel it's going to be a long cold spell.:cold:

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You must be putting water out regularly, I am most worried about our fish pond, it has been frozen now for nearly 2 weeks and to a good depth I should imagine. In December 1981 we had a pond that froze to the bottom, you could actually see the fish entombed in the ice. Needless to say they did not survive. I have dug this one deep so hopefully we won't have the same problem. As for the water birds I went for a walk by the river Trent earlier today, the steam was rising from the surface and the water felt positively warm in comparison to the air temperature of about -8 so they still have that option.

How deep is your pond ? I assume you wouldn't just watch it freeze ??

Birds hungary at the moment.

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We've stocked up on bird food and also saving any worthwhile scraps, the garden is full of birds digging around for tit bits, the starlings here keep trying to get into out bird house! they just don't fit, will have to get an extension! I have started making my own fat balls too.

I have started to experiment with my own lard cakes lol and the Starlings are going crazy for them.The Robin and Blackbirds aren't to interested and are quite happy to eat some suet insect and fruit pellets.

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I'm just saving any melted fat off roast dinners or the grill and putting dried fruit, bits of bread and nuts etc, mould it all together then letting it harden off, they love it

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Small birds mostly need high fat foods at this time of the year - the RSPB's website has lots of advice - but it's also worth putting out cut up apples on the ground for things like redwings and fieldfares and mealworms for robins and blackbirds (bacon rind isn't actually that good for them as it's too salty). Different birds feed at different heights so provide a good variety at various levels - a tray on a couple of bricks is a good compromise.

What is important for feeding birds at or near ground level, though, is that feeders need to be far enough away from cover for the birds to spot cats before they get snaffled but near enough to it that they are confident that they won't be spotted by an aerial predator.

And, as said above, water is a must both for drinking and bathing.

The fish will probably survive if the pond's more than 18 inches deep and thus unlikely to to get frozen right to the bottom (unless you're in an area that's been hit really badly). One theory that I heard was that you shouldn't bash the ice to break it up - apparently the shock of the noise will kill them.

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How deep is your pond ? I assume you wouldn't just watch it freeze ??

Birds hungary at the moment.

Hi,

the pond is just over 2 feet deep, so in theory it should be deep enough. Unfortunately I was away for a couple of nights when it fell below -10 by the time I got back it was so thick I could not thaw a hole on the surface using a pan of hot water- you should not smash the ice you can harm the fish and damage the pond lining. I doubt whether this weekends mild spell will be sufficient to thaw the pond so it will be a while until I can check what has happened.

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Can't keep up with feeding the birds at the moment. I'm a homebrewer and often have many kilos of spent grain on my hands. It usually goes to a guy down the road who gives it to his chickens - apparently they go berserk for it. Decided on the weekend just gone that he'd feed them anyway so I'd give the grain to the wild birds but they won't touch it. Ah well it's their loss and the chickens' gain, back to the fatballs etc!

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All our fish were killed by the cold last year, and our pond is about 18 inches deep. But last winter the waterfall wasn't working so it allowed the pond to freeze easier, this year it is working so hopefully that will work.

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You have to consider that the native species of these islands are just that native and as such have lived here and survived here for sometime.They will have survived through various slight changes in climate if they still live here.I take a very ,some may say ,harsh attitude towards the survival of animals .I believe they should be left to their own devices and we should not get involved ,if animals die as a result of cold,so be it ,if they dont ,so be it....i think we should leave them to it ...im sure most native species will be fine after all they are here so their ancestors must have survive d equally cold weather

Many of the species migrate here to escape the harsher and longer winters experienced further North and East on the continent. So far they will have been finding a similar winter here and many may have continued to migrate a bit further South I imagine.

It is true that these species have survived harsh winters through the past but I would imagine the natural resources present in the country during these times would have been much greater.

We now have many excellent wildlife habitats that have been destroyed by expanding urbanisation. Coupled with intensive farming techniques which have removed hedrerows and other excellent habitats etc. I would imagine that much more of nature will need a bit of help from man to survive these days due to this habitat loss that has happened.

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Many of the species migrate here to escape the harsher and longer winters experienced further North and East on the continent. So far they will have been finding a similar winter here and many may have continued to migrate a bit further South I imagine.

It is true that these species have survived harsh winters through the past but I would imagine the natural resources present in the country during these times would have been much greater.

We now have many excellent wildlife habitats that have been destroyed by expanding urbanisation. Coupled with intensive farming techniques which have removed hedrerows and other excellent habitats etc. I would imagine that much more of nature will need a bit of help from man to survive these days due to this habitat loss that has happened.

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Sometimes people claim that feeding the birds is wrong . But due to loss of natural surroundings the birds really need our help especially in Winter to survive! Food and water together with a few nestboxes represents a modest return for the loss of natural habitat we have inflicted on our wild neighbours.

As we all know in Winter and very cold weather birds do face several problems. The ground may be so hard that they cannot get at any insects or worms in the soil. Worms migrate downwards in dry or cold conditions, days are shorter so hunting time is a lot more limited.

Blue tits are known to take advantage of street lights to work overtime. As long a s the birds plumage is in good condition and we feed them well I think it helps them to withstand low temps.:)

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Well the rabbits have taken up residence in my pile of silage bales, busily making holes in the wrap on dozens of bales (which will lead to rapid spoiling I expect).

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I know for a fact that in France in such cold spells as february 1956 and 1963, nature suffered quitea lot of damage:

In 1956, most olive trees and palm trees in south of france froze and died. Vines were also affected, and many birds were found dead in the woods as temperatures reached -20s several nights in the NE. Wolves were even seen in Central Europe, as very cold weather in Estern Europe forced them to move westwards from Russia (moscow recorded something like -36 that year).

In 1963, the frozen coastline caused damage to fish. Indeed, in northern France, congers froze to death, and some species were amsomst eradicated (octupuss for example, not found anymore in Britanny).

Other great winters like1789 or 1709 saw temperature so low that tree trunks exploded under the effest of the cold, and wolves attacked villages in the country side. 1709 was also the year where no vines survived in north east france, and even the south ouest of France saw massive lost in itsusually protected vineyards. Temps that year reached -23 in Paris, -20 in Bordeaux and -17 in Montpellier. Berlin reported beginning of january a min of -29 and a max of -19 the same day!

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River Avon frozen in Evesham at christmas - saw swans walking from one bank to another so must be a reasonable thickness as a swan is heavy for a bird.. Apparently also frozen in Stratford..

River Evenlode also frozen over along much of its length - small river that runs from Moreton in Marsh to Oxford.

I've had pheasants coming in and feeding from my chicken feeders in the yard, I think the rarest sighting I've had though is a bullfinch - just the one.

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