Little April Shower

If March is the month of winds and the last snows, April is certainly the month of showers. So far this year, in my little corner of Sussex at least, it has been a cold, wet spring. Following the thaw that swelled the ditches with melt water and liquified within the ground to create sodden muddy conditions, it began to rain. The forecast for the first week of April shows rain every day; just another reason for everybody to grumble about the weather. At least the temperatures are increasingly mild. Rain is less treacherous than ice for wildlife, at least now drinking and bathing water is not locked up, and nighttime temperatures are above freezing. Heavy rain however, does knock insects and caterpillars from the trees making them harder to find, and there is a substantial risk of flooding for the creatures that make their homes along the river banks. Small song birds can seek shelter in garden shrubbery and woodlands, but for some birds the constant rain could spell disaster. Owls traded waterproof feathers for silent flight at some distant point in their evolution; excellent for hunting but a potentially dangerous compromise. If the wet weather continues, chick mortality could be high this year, as the adults struggle to provide enough food. They are unable to hear their prey over the sound of raindrops and can’t risk a soaking. On the plus side however, a wet spring means plenty of earthworms for the badgers. In dry seasons, many badger cubs struggle to find enough food once they begin to venture from their sets. An abundance of moisture loving worms in the pastures and woodland edges at least means that the family groups will not have to travel so far and wide, reducing the risk of collisions on the roads or the destruction of crops and gardens by strong jaws and digging paws. Whatever the weather there are winners and losers; that’s nature’s way.

 

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