2022 tumultuous weather – including fierce storms, searing heat and deep cold snaps – has devastated some of the UK’s most precious flora and fauna, a leading conservation charity has said. The extreme conditions have made survival very difficult for animals from toads and bats to birds and butterflies, and from great trees to meadowland flowers. One of the most obvious results of the hot summer were wildfires that devastated heathland areas in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, destroying habitats for species such as the silver-studded blue butterfly, rare sand lizards and smooth snakes. The heat also had other unexpected consequences. At the height of summer, rangers in Wallington, Northumberland, found young bats dehydrated and disoriented. They rehydrated the bats using tiny pipettes before placing them in a cooler, dark place where they could rest and recover and fly to rejoin their colony at dusk.
The drought was terrible news for natterjack toads, which need clusters of pools to travel across dune slacks. The ponds at Formby in Merseyside dried up and no toadlets were spotted.
The shorter flowering season caused by the drought also affected pollinators. Many butterfly species had a poor year as a result of depleted food sources over their peak summer period.

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