After weeks of being locked down in our homes, with limited access to the outdoors and extended trips off the cards for some time, learning to appreciate the little things has become more important than ever. We’ve also become more acutely aware of the natural world around us, but how do we make the most of that when we are still social distancing? Stephen Moss and Brett Westwood authors of Wonderland give us their top tips for enjoying wildlife during and after lockdown.
Look out of your window – in a city or the countryside, there are likely to be birds flying by or overhead. Binoculars are useful but if not, try taking a photo on your smartphone and then use that to identify the species.
If you have a garden, put out bird feeders – ideally with high energy foods such as sunflower hearts.
If you have a medium-sized or large garden, you may have birds nesting. Sit quietly and watch for them as they come and go with items of food for the young – but make sure you don’t get too close and disturb them.
If you take a daily walk or bike ride, try getting up early when there are fewer people about – most wildlife is more active in the couple of hours after daybreak.
If you are a late riser, take your exercise an hour or so before dusk – again, a time of peak activity.
Listen to birdsong – which again peaks at dawn and dusk. Try to learn a song a day – ideally by tracking down the bird that is singing to check its identity.
In the middle of the day, in your garden or exercise place, look out for insects such as butterflies and bumblebees, especially on a warm, sunny day.
Use a field guide or online resource to learn how to identify different creatures. Take photographs or videos of whatever you see so that you can identify them at leisure when you get home.
Don’t forget plants: springtime is the perfect season to get to know common wild flowers in your local area.
Keep a nature diary – just write down whatever interests you: where you saw the creature, what it was doing and most important of all, how you felt!
Brett Westwood is an award-winning producer, presenter and naturalist. He presented the radio series of Natural Histories. His other acclaimed radio series range from Tweet of the Day (winner of Best Radio Series 2014) to Brett Westwood’s Diaries. He is also a consultant for Springwatch and Autumnwatch.
Stephen Moss is a TV producer and best-selling author whose books include Wild Hares and Hummingbirds and The Bumper Book of Nature. The book of Tweet of the Day (which he co-wrote with Brett) won the Thomson Reuters Prize 2014. His TV credits include Birds Britannia, Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival and Springwatch.