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Wildlife struggling as heatwave takes its toll on the region’s animals

PUBLISHED: 17:19 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:44 23 July 2018

Dead fish collected from lake at Clare Country Park

Dead fish collected from lake at Clare Country Park

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Nature experts have warned the heatwave is taking its toll on the region’s fish, mammals and birds.

Lake infested with weed at Clare Country ParkLake infested with weed at Clare Country Park

With some parts of the region having gone up to 40 days without rain, fisheries officer for The Environment Agency, Ben Norrington says he and his colleague have already had to remove dead fish, such as pike, roach and bream, from depleted waterways.

He said: “We collected 400 dead fish from a lake in Clare Country Park on Saturday and that was directly related to low water levels.

“When water levels drop because of lack of rainfall, you don’t get the flow coming down the river. Everywhere becomes a pond and with that ponded river you get a build-up of duckweed and pond-like plants that start to dominate - and while these plants produce oxygen during the day, during the night they are sucking it out and when they die they crash the oxygen and that can kill out miles of river.”

Some mammals will also be struggling over this dry period, says Suffolk’s Wildlife Trust’s conservation manager Simone Bullion who points to the water vole as being particularly at risk because their habitat is drying up - leaving them vulnerable to predators and lack of food sources.

Ann Rushbrook at Poppys Creche Hedgehog Rescue & Rehabilitation near Stowmarket,says she has received a record number of baby hedgehogs          Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAnn Rushbrook at Poppys Creche Hedgehog Rescue & Rehabilitation near Stowmarket,says she has received a record number of baby hedgehogs Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

At Poppy’s Creche Hedgehog Rescue & Rehabilitation near Stowmarket, Ann Rushbrook says she has received a record number of baby hedgehogs.

“We’ve had about 50 small hoglets weighing around 60 to 70 grams,” she said.

“It’s probably because their mothers are going further afield looking for water and dying or not coming back in time, so the small ones are having to leave the nest.

“We haven’t had so many hedgehogs of this age in before - it’s just ongoing. We are even taking them in from the RSPCA because they can’t take in any more.”

Water Voles could also be struggling as their river habitats dry up.Water Voles could also be struggling as their river habitats dry up.

At the RSPB Emily Kench said birds like house martins and swallows are also feeling the impact. House martins use mud to make their nests but, she says, the heat and lack of rain means there’s a shortage of the substance.

Ms Kench added: “Our summer swallows could also be suffering - they often nest in outbuildings, some of which have metal roofs. The absorption of the heat by the metal can lead to the buildings becoming very hot, and their chicks can over heat.”

- If you see fish in distress you can report it to the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.

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