Warmer climate creating winners and losers

Thursday 10th May 2007 10:00 pm
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JUST as climate change will hit some nations worse than others, Teignbridge Council countryside rangers are noticing that the warmer conditions are already creating winners and losers at a local level. Ranger Will Wills has said that resident birds are thriving from the earlier spring. Tawny owls and blackbirds have raised young already and all are benefiting from the earlier hatching of insects. The RSPB fears that migrant birds may suffer as temperatures rise, arriving on our shores only to find that they have missed out on the spring feeding bonanza. This could include the swallow family, nightjars, warblers and flycatchers, which all come from Africa. There is already anecdotal evidence this is happening. Mr Wills said that last year the number of pied flycatchers had dropped considerably at Yarner Wood, a favourite nesting site. In Hackney Marshes, rangers have taken steps to help sand martins by creating artificial nesting sites. Sand martins like to nest in river banks, putting them at the mercy of sudden rises in river levels. But the sand martin barrels protect them from flooding. Mr Wills said that butterflies have been having a good spring. Brimstone and orange tips and holly blues have all hatched slightly earlier than usual. Native reptiles and lizards have also been enjoying the warm weather. 'At Orley Common, adders were extremely early this year. All the reptiles and common lizards are earlier,' said Mr Wills. Some native trees are struggling. Mr Wills recently moved from Surrey, which has a drier climate, and said it was awful to see how stressed they were. As Devon dries out, the same may happen here. 'If a beech tree drops a lot of seed masts that is a sign it is stressed – it is madly trying to reproduce,' he said. Climate change will also favour invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and himalayan balsam. Mr Wills said that at Jetty Marsh, rangers could have more of a battle on their hands stopping scrub from taking over the reed beds.

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