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Friday, November 18, 2011

The weather's gone quackers! Ducks born six months early and roses bloom in November

Balmy conditions see invasion of Mediterranean moths and a banana tree bear fruit in Cornwall

By Daily Mail Reporter

Surprise! Sarah Beaurain holds Millicent, Margot and Mildred who were born early because of the unusually warm weather. They are now being cared for in a makeshift incubator in her conservatory

These three ducklings are the result of Britain's amazingly warm autumn - as the weather convinced their mother it was spring and therefore time to give birth.

Named Millicent, Margot and Mildred they were born in a pond in King's Somborne, near Winchester, Hants, and are now being kept alive in a makeshift incubator in a conservatory.

Another colourful symptom of the extraordinary weather is the sight of flowers in full bloom. One garden centre near Wolverhampton still has blooming roses in stock.

The balmy conditions have also resulted in an invasion of Mediterranean moths to the UK as well as a banana tree to bear fruit in a public park in Cornwall.

The warm weather is set to continue for the forseeable future with the south of England set to remain at around 60F (15C) for the rest of the week.

We're cute: The ducklings were part of a brood of nine born in Hampshire earlier this month. Sadly, the temperature dropped drastically after they hatched and only these three made it through the first night

The three ducklings were part of a brood of nine born in Hampshire earlier this month.

Sadly, the temperature dropped drastically after they hatched and only three made it through the first night.

The survivors have now been rescued by animal lover Sarah Beaurain, 45, who is keeping them warm in her conservatory.

Sarah, a self-employed tailor, feeds them a varied diet of corn, wheat and mealworms and gives them water to bathe in.

She said it was likely there was only enough room for three ducklings to shelter under their mother's wings when all the eggs hatched.

The 45-year-old said: 'I was astonished when a friend phoned me on Guy Fakwes night to say nine ducklings had hatched in her pond. They usually hatch in spring.

Beautiful blooms: Alice Furness holds a rose at David Austin Roses garden centre in Albrighton, Wolverhampton, which still has flowers in bloom due to the mild weather

Summery: Bernard Williams, 74, from Wollaston, Dudley, at home with his garden full of Begonia's which are still flowering in mid November due to the unseasonably weather

Unseasonal: Sarah Poole, 20, examines a flowering banana in a public park in Cornwall

'We agreed we should let the parents try and raise them naturally but intervene if they appeared to be struggling.

'Sadly six of them failed to make it through their first night so I decided I should take the others in.

'My friend put them in a basket and put it on her Aga to keep them warm until I could collect them.

'I'm now keeping them in a foldable storage box, fitted with a warm lamp. It's like a home-made incubator.

'We have had an incredibly warm autumn and I was even able to sit out in my garden in a T-shirt in October.

'But the ducks do not know what month it is - I guess they were fooled by the warm weather, got a bid broody and successfully had these ducklings.

'The weather then took a turn for the worse and the little ones could not cope. I'm happy to give them a helping hand.'

She added: 'The ducklings are now in fantastic health and squeal with delight when I give them mealworms.'

The mother duck is an Indian Runner and the dad a Khaki Campbell.

Sarah, from nearby Stockbridge, hopes to domesticate them and keep them in her duckhouse, which is currently occupied by a dozen chickens.

She will introduce them back outside gradually, starting with a small run in the day time. They will be brought back in at night.

If the ducklings are female, they may produce up to 200 eggs each per year, which Sarah will use for cooking.

The incredible weather conditions also led to the discovery of a bunch of bananas growing in a public park in Cornwall.

Bizarre: Hundreds of rare moths which are typically found in the Mediterranean, such as this Deaths Head Hawk Moth, are still flocking to the UK just weeks before Christmas due to the unusually warm weather

Amazing: Experts have been stunned to see rare migrant moths continuing to arrive in Britain at this time of year. Pictured is a Palpita Moth

The continuous warm and wet weather has mirrored that of the banana tree's native tropical climate, causing them to bear fruit in an extremely unusual occurrence.

Experts said it was 'virtually unheard of' for bananas to grow in the wild in England, where the fruit would ordinarily freeze and die at this time of year.

But two bunches were spotted sprouting at Rosehill Fox Gardens in Falmouth, Cornwall, which hosts a series of exotic tropical flora.

Claire Vickers, from nearby sub tropical Trebah Gardens said: 'We have had such a mild autumn and those plants that have come from the Southern Hemisphere originally, they get confused, they get amnesia and they think "hang on, this is when we normally flower".

'It tends to be particularly things like banana plants which are native to countries on the other half of the world where they would be going into their summer at this time of year.

'Our climate has given them this false impression that it's actually getting warmer rather than getting colder - It's confused, bless it.'



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