Connecting with wildlife from home

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot can seem somewhat uncertain and settling into self-isolation may seem like a challenge. However, there are still many things that you can do from the comfort of your own home to remain connected to nature. Below are some ways that can help you positively navigate through these uncertain times whilst keeping your mind active, improving your mood and contributing to citizen science.

Wildlife Gardening

If you’re someone who cannot sit still and loves to be busy, then why not consider creating some new habitats in your garden? Together, our gardens are a vast living landscape. With an estimated 24 million gardens in the UK, the way they are cared for can make a big difference to the natural world.

So if you have a garden, why not go wild in it! There are loads of things that can be done, even with limited resources:

–        Sow your own wildflower patch; bring a touch of wild to your garden. You can even make your own seed bombs, a great fun activity for children and adults!

–        Introduce more wildlife features into a small space using pots and containers.

–        Transform your fence into a green living boundary.

–        Building a nestbox in your garden can make all the difference to your local birds.

–        Creating a wildlife pond. Introducing a water feature like this is one of the single best ways for attracting new wildlife to the garden.

Large or small, ledge or yard, your garden can be a mosaic in a wider network of natural havens linking urban green spaces, nature reserves and the countryside together. You can consider a whole host of wild ideas and features and wait to see what visits.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Credit – Nick Wood)

Citizen Science

For the time being, our gardens will be the host of our nature fix which presents an opportunity to contribute to citizen science projects. There are a number of projects you can take part in:

BTO Garden BirdWatch: this scheme monitors the amount of wildlife we see in our gardens, with the prime focus on birds. First you will need to sign up via their website and then you can start watching the birds in your garden and report your findings. Other wildlife can also be logged and this data is collected and used to monitor nationwide trends. This project is funded through a small subscription fee.

Living with Mammals Survey: The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) are wanting wildlife watchers to take part this spring with recording the mammals that you see each week and any signs they might leave behind, such as droppings or footprints from your nearby greenspaces, including your garden. This has informed PTES of important stats such as hedgehog numbers falling by a third in urban areas in less than 20 years, which has led to positive conservation action. Take part here

Big Butterfly Count: this is popular survey among families, which is led by Butterfly Conservation where they aim to gain an insight into what butterflies we see and how many of them we log. The count date is later on in the summer, but something to look forward to and an opportunity for you to use their resources to improve your butterfly identification. Take part here.

Comma Butterfly

There are also plenty of excellent apps for you to record your wildlife sightings, where you can input your observations online, which you can simply enjoy in the comfort of your own garden. Here are some to consider downloading onto your iOS / Android phone:

BirdTrack, eBird, Mammal Mapper, iRecord Butterflies and iRecord (for all species).

Nature programmes

There will be times where you may just want to be indoors and watch the TV so we’ve put together a list of nature themed documentaries and films which we would recommend you watching! Also programmes like this have been recognised to boost your mood, so on a wet and windy day you can start watching these.

Our Planet: A breath taking series of episodes that showcase the diversity of habitats around the world, whilst highlighting the effects of climate change on our natural world.

Seven Worlds, One Planet: Revealing the extraordinary wildlife stories and unseen wilderness of our seven unique continents.

Blue Planet: A very interesting and intriguing documentary exploring the wonders of our ocean habitats and species. A great way to immerse yourself in something out of the ordinary.

Japan – Earth’s Enchanted Islands: A fantastic documentary featuring Japan’s extremes in landscape to the abundance of wildlife and their relationships with people.

The Big Year: Get lost in the race between three amateur birders, spotting the greatest number of bird species in a year. A light hearted enjoyable film for all the family to watch from the comfort of your sofa!

Live Webcam Footage

There are some brilliant live wildlife cameras from around the world that you can gain a more intimate knowledge and appreciation for those species.

There are a number of Osprey projects around the UK that have webcam footage, including the Rutland Ospreys and the Glaslyn Ospreys. Both have activity at the moment, so check in to see how their season is going.

Leamington Cathedral has a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons that is observed and run in partnership between Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Warwick District Council. As of this morning (00:53 on 27.03.20) they have 4 eggs. We now have roughly 30 days to wait until we get our first hatching!

Peregrine Falcon (Credit – Warwickshire Wildlife Trust & Warwick District Council)

If you’re wanting a mix of exotic wildlife to observe and appreciate then there is live footage of a watering hole and river at Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya. Elephants, Lions and Gorillas and more to watch!

The Cornell Lab have a fantastic array of live footage of breeding birds, from Barred Owls to White-tailed Tropicbirds. Some of these won’t have active nests so keep checking to see where the interesting footage is. The Barred Owls as of today (27.03.20) are currently incubating their eggs, so it’s only a matter of time before we see some activity from the young!