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Hot summer this year helps wildlife recovery

Library picture of a bumblebee. Photo: PA

After six consecutive poor summers, a hot July and August helped to turn around the fortunes for much of our wildlife.

The winners of the year were warmth-loving insects, particularly butterflies, moths, bees, crickets and grasshoppers, many of which fared really well, according to the National Trust.

The distinctive tree bumblebee, which only started to colonise in the UK in 2001, expanded considerably, crossing north of Hadrian's Wall for the first time.

This year's boost marked a distinct change for many insects that had become generally very scarce in 2012 due to the poor weather.

Peacock butterfly Credit: PA

Matthew Oates, the National Trust's national specialist on nature and wildlife, said:

We were more than overdue a good summer, and eventually we got a real cracker, although it kicked in after the slowest of possible starts.

Importantly, we have seen more winners than losers in our wildlife year, which is a tremendous result, considering where we were last year.

2013 made itself into one of the most remarkable wildlife years in living memory.

The cool spring provided a long flowering season for spring flowers such as snowdrops, primrose and bluebell, while the rare pasque flower benefited from flowering before the grass started to grow.

Later in the year, there was an explosion of berries, nuts and seeds. The heavily-laden boughs were a legacy to the fine start to June when the trees and bushes flowered much later than usual.

Autumn colour was boosted further by the excellent array of fungi, which thrived on the hot summer conditions that arrived without the accompanying drought. Honey fungus was particularly abundant, while field mushrooms also thrived.

Trees on Derwent Reservoir in the Peak District Credit: PA

However, the year also had its losers with the cold, late spring proving to be a very difficult time for a lot of wildlife.

Many summer migrant birds, such as swallows and martins, and residents like the owls, especially the barn owl, suffered badly.

This extended cold period was also a difficult time for breeding frogs and toads and for many mammals coming out of hibernation.

Despite this poor start, however, many birds and animals picked up well during the summer months.