Northern Ireland news

National Trust: Mixed picture for animals & plants in 2015

The National Trust's review of the year's weather and wildlife reveals a mixed picture for the plants and animals

THERE have been "unprecedented" jellyfish invasions and another bad year for wasps as wildlife faced weather highs and lows in 2015, according to the National Trust.

An annual review of the year's weather and wildlife has revealed a mixed picture for plants and animals - from a superb apple crop to a difficult year for breeding frogs and toads.

The charity, which looks after almost 250,000 hectares of land across Northern Ireland, England and Wales, warned there was also a huge challenge in reversing long-term declines of around 60 per cent for the UK's wildlife.

It said the year began with the sunniest winter on record, but spring was late and summer migrant birds were held up by northerly winds.

The summer saw huge swarms of barrel jellyfish, particularly around the south west of England and Wales, which experts say may be due to overfishing and warming seas, leading to huge plankton blooms and fewer predators.

An "incredible number" of dolphins, porpoises and sharks have also been seen.

But it was another bad year for wasp with two species of common wasp very scarce in many areas and fears of wider declines in insects.

Some seabirds, including little terns at Norfolk's Blakeney Point and guillemots on the Farne Islands, had great breeding years.

But puffins were placed on a "red list" of threatened birds.

Nature and wildlife specialist Matthew Oates said: "This summary illustrates how our wildlife has fared over the last year, but long-term trends show the enormous challenges we face to reverse the worrying rate of decline".

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