Last Friday was a scorcher. Anything above 22 degrees celsius and I start to wilt, so the 37 degrees endured that day was certainly too much for me. According to the Met Office the warmest temperature on Friday was 37.8°C, the third hottest day on record in the UK. I am fairly sure the top two hottest days on record were also recorded in recent years, which make me wonder about their impact on wildlife.
On Friday I tried to work in the shade as much as possible, while remaining hydrated (cooling techniques also used by mammals and birds). Like humans a few animals perspire to cool their bodies, namely primates and horses. These mammals also pant to keep cool (enabling cooler air to replace the expelled hotter air). Other mammals and birds use this method as well. In fact on extremely hot days I have often observed Magpies (Pica Pica) and Corvids walk around with their beaks open.
In the past, I have even witnessed Magpies lie forwards on the ground wings spread out, allowing colder temperatures to reach a greater surface area. Having access to water, especially on hot days, is also important. Along with drinking the water, it allows them to have a dip; fluffing up wet feathers to enable a breeze to cool them down.
It is important to leave fresh drinking water out for hedgehogs (Erinaceinae) too. Of course hedgehogs also wonder about in the evenings and night time when it’s generally cooler.
Unfortunately last week some negative news about hedgehogs was reported; they have been added to the Vulnerable to Extinction Red List of British mammals produced by the Mammal society (please read the report on their website).
These snuffling garden helpers need our help, whatever the weather. For information on how to help them check out the websites below
Lastly, I went to check on the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) on the allotment at the weekend but there was no sign of it. Therefore I will assume it was a male moth and had flown away safely into the night.