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February 2020

Well February has well and truly been one to remember. We've had back to back weather warnings week after week, with little relief in between. After all the persistent heavy rain, gale force winds and bursts of heavy snowfall, I as many will welcome Spring with open arms.

My village Newcastleton was hit badly by storm Dennis, as the snow melting down into the valley accompanied by heavy rainfall caused the river Liddle to swell and burst its banks. Homes were left in darkness as high winds and rain caused power cuts. Many families were rescued from their flooded homes by members of our retained Fire Brigade and taken to safety in the village hall and health centre which were opened up specially to give people a place of shelter. The river Liddle flooded the village with such force and caused such devastation, some homes were waist high in water. Some poor souls lost everything and had to be rehoused. One couple were rescued with their dog and given a lift in a tractor to safety and it’s an image I can’t get out of my head. It was frightening to wonder what damage we would discover the storm had left in the morning. Copshaw Holm was at its best that night with people opening their doors to give others a bed and somewhere to get dry and warm for the night. The whole community helped each other. The Liddle has flooded many times before, but I have never seen it flood that badly. The water was right across the centre of the village. My thoughts are with those who were all affected. So what about wildlife?

The flooding had a major impact on many animals. I've seen so many otters on the road and river bankings. They too would have been flooded out their holts. Areas of land have been left covered in a silty sandy residue, and the fencing round countless fields has been flattened.

Many animals would have got away in time and will start making their or rebuilding their homes, but the continuous driving rain really does affect wildife like barn owls who don't hunt and feed in the wild wet weather. Here we've seen owls out during the day when the rain breaks.

Nature is and can be adaptable. Can we?

Hopefully better weather is just around the corner, I've noticed the blue tits in my garden already taking interest in a nesting box, daffodils are bursting through and will flower soon.

Things keep moving forward, I'm just looking forward to a day with sunshine.

Till then - keep Wildlife Watching!

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