Country Life Today: Bumblebees still reeling after ‘Beast from the East’, and the eagle that broke the internet

2018's crazy weather is still being felt by bumblebees; how getting outdoors for just a few minutes can give you a huge health boost; the RSPB's extraordinary success on Lundy; and an astonishing image of an eagle in flight.

Bumblebees still feeling sting of 2018’s crazy weather

The ‘Beast from the East’ followed by one of the hottest, driest summers in living memory had a huge impact on Britain’s bees, according to a report in The Times. The stats gathered by volunteers recording bee numbers for the Bumblee Conservation Trust suggest that the extreme weather meant that several species — in particular the early bumblebee — were late out of hibernation due to the cold, then suffered from a lack of food on emerging into a hotter, drier countryside than normal.

The full picture isn’t yet known: nobody is as yet quite sure how many queens made it back into hibernation at the end of last summer — best advice from the BCT is to make your garden as bee-friendly as possible.

As ever, there were some winners: chiefly the warmth-loving bees typically found on the south coasts of England and Wales. But if such extremes of temperature become the norm, many of our bumblebees could be at risk.

Read full story (The Times – subscription required) and see Country Life’s piece on nature’s winners and losers of last summer

Enjoying the great outdoors can save your sanity

green lanes

A natural tunnel of trees in the West Sussex countryside near Halnaker. Credit: Paul Mansfield Photograpy/Getty Images

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It’s something we all know instinctively: you feel SO much better when you get out and about. But a fascinating new study shows that the benefits are greater, and the time needed outdoors less, than you’d ever have thought. Just a few minutes can make a big difference.

‘Nature really provides us something unique to allow us to flourish in all aspects of our life,’ says Shilagh Mirgain, a clinical psychologist at the University of Wisconsin. ‘When you go outside, something happens … above and beyond what human connection can provide.’

That news prompted the Irish News to put together a great list of things to do while you’re out and about — perfect for entertaining children in the last few days of half-term.

Read the story (WPR) and try the Irish News suggestions here.

The eagle that broke the internet


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A post shared by steve biro (@stevebiro) on

Canadian photographer Steve Biro snapped this image last week at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy near London, Ontario. Within a few days later it made its way to the front page of Reddit, and from there onwards to news outlets across the world. Including this one.

Steve told the BBC that he’d taken all sorts of images that day and shared them on social media. ‘That was the one that struck me as as little more special than the others. But I still didn’t even know how it would resonate with people.’

Read the full story (at the BBC – who for some reason have cropped the image to remove the bird’s reflection…) – and you can see more of Steve’s images at his Instagram page

Stat of the Day


That’s the percentage increase in puffins after a 15-year experiment on the Isle of Lundy — an almost-untouched haven which sits in the Bristol Channel between South Wales and North Devon. The RSPB has spent 15 years exterminating rats from the island — with the result that the number of seabirds on the island has trebled.

Lundy Island - Alamy

The rise in some individual species has been even more remarkable, as the Telegraph’s report explains: ‘Rats predate the eggs and young of seabirds, especially ground-nesting animals like puffins, as their nests are easy to plunder.’ 15 years ago there were only 13 puffins left on the island; now, there are nearly 400. And Manx shearwater risen from 297 breeding pairs t 5,504.

Read the full story (Telegraph) or skip past that and read Fiona Reynolds’s remarkable account of her days spent on the island of Lundy last year (Country Life)

There’s somebody at the door…

A lovely reminder that for everything modern technology takes away, it does give plenty more back.

And finally… poem of the day

‘You came and looked and saw the view
Long known and loved by me
Green Sussex fading into blue
With just a touch of sea.’

— ‘Green Sussex’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson