Fears for wildlife after driest winter in years

DROUGHT Farlington Marshes
DROUGHT Farlington Marshes
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WILDLIFE could be hit hard by the drought predicted for this summer, say experts.

The local branch of the RSPB says that wetland sites in Hampshire and West Sussex, such as Farlington Marshes, could be affected by the low rainfall over the autumn and winter.

As reported, a hosepipe ban could be introduced in the Portsmouth area unless there is significant rainfall over the coming weeks.

After two successive dry winters, groundwater levels in the Havant area, from which the city’s drinking water comes from, are lower than in the record-breaking hot summer of 1976.

Rob Cunningham, head of water policy at the RSPB, said: ‘The RSPB is in the process of assessing how vulnerable our nature reserves are to future drought.

‘We are taking action to ensure our reserves can hold more water when it does fall and making sure we use it efficiently.

‘A winter flood is good because it leaves pools and a high groundwater table for the spring.

‘We are very concerned that 2012 could be another disastrous nesting season.

Birds are affected by low rainfall as it reduces the amount of food available.

Insects and worms become harder to find as fields dry out. Birds rely on invertebrates to feed their young.

According to the Met Office, there is only a 15 per cent chance of the next three months being abnormally wet.