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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 16:54 UK
Summer's wildlife in the rain

Jim Cokill
Director, Durham Wildlife Trust

Honey bee
The honey bee is already in dire straits - it doesn't need heavy rain too

Durham Wildlife Trust Director, Jim Cokill, shares his knowledge and observations through the year as the County Durham and Wearside countryside unfolds through the seasons.

Many species of butterfly, including some of the most common, are reported to be down in number.

The rain can affect them in many ways, disrupting breeding - as there are fewer sunny periods for the adults to take to the wing, or simply washing the caterpillars from vegetation and reducing their chances of survival.

The wildflowers around Rainton Meadows as well as across the region, have yet again been repeatedly battered by rain this summer, so perhaps available nectar is a factor as well.

Many bees and other insects are similarly disrupted by wet weather, particularly any species that live under the ground where nests can be flooded.

Our mining bees and ants must be able to tolerate rain or they wouldn't be found in the UK, but there must be a point where the disruption caused exceeds the ability of the species to withstand it.

Mammals suffer too

Water vole
Despite being a water-born mammal, the water vole can suffer too

Prolonged periods of wet weather are also difficult for many mammals - witness some of those around the lakes at Low Barnes.

And perhaps surprisingly, it is often the semi aquatic species that experience the biggest problems.

Otters and water voles live by water and are well adapted to that environment, but when rivers and streams are in spate, burrows and holts flood and have to be abandoned.

Small mammals such as the water vole are very vulnerable to predators when forced into the open, particularly if they are trying to move young to a safe location.

The otter is more at risk from cars than predators, and road casualties always increase when rivers are in flood, as the otter is forced from the river at choke points such as bridges.



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