For 2 weeks in February we were sparkling white -- it was beautiful.
Only February, April and July were colder than normal -- but that's quite a big 'only'. These are months that are important for the survival and reproduction of many species. February was particularly cold, for an unusually long time. Fortunately late summer was rather warm, making up to some extent for the feeble July temperatures. The only extreme of weather we didn't experience in 2012 was a full on hurricane, although there were some very windy days in October and December, with gusts up to 85km/hour.
A 2012 Winner -- Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris wasn't bothered by the snow and flowered before the hot dry March could dessicate its riparian habitat.
January was unusually mild and dry, but the extremely cold spell in the first half of February meant that we had the coldest weather since January 1987 to begin the year. The temperature didn't go above 0°C for a fortnight. I have been told that it reached -27°C in some of the more exposed places around here, but officially the lowest temperature was -18°C (which is unusual, but not exceptional for here). Despite all the snow, February was even drier than January. Many garden plants were killed, but the blanket of snow saved the young cereal crops and the vines, insulating them so their roots did not quite freeze. A particular plus has been that most of the Pine Processionary Thaumetopoea pityocampa caterpillars were killed in their nests, and the population has not yet recovered.
Winners -- Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera in the orchard in May.
I saw a number of species of medium sized longicorns attracted to flowers, like this Stictoleptura cordigera, from mid-summer onwards.
June continued in much the same vein as May, and into July, which never satisfactorily warmed up. The good news was that the orchids loved these cool, but not cold, rather damp conditions, and had an excellent year. The orchids in the orchard were taller and more floriferous than I have seen them previously. Several of my butterfly survey sites got so overgrown that I had to abandon them. On the other hand, moths and butterflies (both Lepidoptera), bees and wasps (both Hymenoptera) and flies (Diptera) continued to have low numbers and in general pollination of vines and fruiting plants was poor because of the rain and low temperatures restricting insect activity. Finally, August was hot, dry and sunny, with a proper heatwave mid-month (although nothing like 2003 or 2006). Dragonflies (Odonata) were one of the few groups of insects that had a much better year than the previous one. Common wasps Vespula and Dolichovespula spp were in very low numbers, but hornets Vespa spp (both native and alien) did relatively well. The later emerging species of beetles (Coleoptera), such as longicorns Cerambycidae, and flies like horse flies Tabanidae also managed a reasonable year.
Fungi as far as the eye can see on an outing in October.
September presented as a nice normal month, with pleasant temperatures and average rainfall. October, although overall was mild (only a single frost), was also very wet, and there were some very windy days. November and December were mild (no frost!), bringing a lot of rain, with some flooding and standing water in fields. Larger mammals (everything from squirrel size up) seem to have done rather well, being better able to withstand the flooding, even if they were burrow dwellers. It turned out to be an excellent year for fungi too. Bush-crickets (Tettigoniidae) seem to have had a fairly good year, but grasshoppers (Acrididae) a fairly poor year, presumably due to different habitat requirements (bush-crickets live in scrub and low bushes, whereas grasshoppers need open grassland that is not too overgrown). True crickets (Gryllidae) didn't do very well, as it didn't warm up soon enough for them.