Coping With Coronavirus
Are you fed up with queuing for toilet roll, crossing the street to avoid your neighbours and being stuck at home?
It is important to follow government guidelines, but while you can't go out much during lockdown why not improve your knowledge of local garden wildlife? Here are some tips to improve your knowledge and ideas for activities you can do. We've also made suggestions as to what you might find.
Reading Scientific Publications
This is a great way to learn about natural history topics you want to know more about. Perhaps try finding out how honeybees find their way.
This BBC News article summarises new research published about trends in insect declines and how these might not be as simple as previously thought. You may also want to look at the National Biodiversity Network's 2019 State of Nature reports, which you can find here.
Reading a New Wildlife Book
We can recommend 'The Butterfly Isles' by Patrick Barkham. If you haven't read it, you must! It is full of interesting details with a novel narrative style.
You might also want to try Chris Packham's autobiographical 'Fingers in the Sparkle Jar' which has been very well reviewed.
Observing and Recording the Wildlife in your Garden
Some of our highlights have been: on Easter day watching a pair of Roe Deer strolling up our road, nibbling neighbours' shrubs at intervals; seeing Red Kite flying overhead; and recording butterflies flying in our garden.
We suggest keeping a nature diary to record any sightings, especially noting the first appearance of the year. These are great to look back on in future years. We know from our diary that Large Red Damselflies emerge from our garden pond in early May each year. Knowing this, you can watch them emerge.
So far this year we have seen these species of butterfly:
Orange Tip - known for its sexual dimorphism, we noted both male and female
Birdwatching is a similar activity which is supported by more than a million people across the U.K.
The Big Garden Birdwatch gathers and records observations submitted by the public. You need no equipment for this pass-time, but can put up nest boxes and feeders. If you start feeding birds please keep on feeding them as regularity is crucial for the birds as they become dependent on the food we provide. It's also important to regularly clean and disinfect your feeders.
The top 10 most common birds seen in the 2020 Big Garden Birdwatch were:
1. House Sparrow
3. Blue Tit
7. Great Tit
9. Long-tailed Tit
This year was poor for bird numbers in our garden, and for several years we've not seen a starling.
What Happens in your Garden at Night?
You can find this out with the aid of gadgets like a wildlife trail camera, a moth-trap and a bat detector. Urban foxes are common, and a pair regularly view our pet rabbit! We've seem them as late 8am passing through our garden. Hedgehogs are another frequent visitor to look out for. In good years we've also had over 100 Pipistrelle Bats roosting under our eaves. The bats eat moths - which are also abundant with around 200 species of moth flying through our garden in any year.
Found Out What Others Are Up To
Use the links from our website to explore other websites. A good starting example would be the Aire Rivers Trust and their DNAire Project. Without breaching the government's advice, you can still explore wildlife projects far and wide. You can also check current planning applications through the Bradford Council Website. You will have time to provide comments on planning applications that may affect you and your local wildlife.
Join a New Natural History Group
There are suggestions for local groups in our links page. Bee Positive is also an initiative that you might want to take part in to help support our bee populations. You can find their website here.
Plan Future Activities
Whilst travel is severely limited, why not plan activities and projects you can do at home and locally. A great way to attract new wildlife into your garden is to create a pond if you are able to. We would encourage everybody to do that. Adding details like this to your garden infrastructure allows you to start seeing nature anew.
Other features that will help you achieve this could be adding bat boxes, or bird boxes and feeders to your garden if possible. Designs are easily available online, and require minimal materials or expertise.
Creating routes for hedgehogs which take them through garden barriers, like fences or walls, is also an important activity to allow hedgehogs to roam more freely.
If you have found that you now have more free time on your hands, a useful activity might be to get any nature photos you might have taken into order. This involves labelling your pictures with a location, date and identification which will help you view them more readily in the future. You can also use this time to add identifications to photos of species you are not sure about, which is one of the best ways to learn.
You can also research ideas for places to visit once things have become more normal.
Nature seems to be thriving in urban environments while people are being kept away. We should embrace the opportunity to see and find out about wildlife instead of getting frustrated by the difficulties we are all facing. Hopefully some of this advice can help. Please let us know how you get on using our website's guest book.