Staying connected to nature

This is the time of year that I always look forward to. After a long dark winter I feel like I’m finally coming out of hibernation – the nights are now much longer and it’s warm enough to go out without my two layers of thermals on! But the best part is the sudden buzz of wildlife. Bees and butterflies are emerging, summer migrants are arriving and the trees are blossoming. Our three reserves are a hive of activity right now which makes for some great wildlife watching.

However the onset of spring is somewhat different this year. At the moment, as we are following strict Scottish government guidelines to help flatten the curve of Covid 19 infection, only those lucky enough to live within walking or cycling distance of our reserves will get to enjoy them. See here about the latest guidance to accessing the countryside.

For the rest of us who are stuck at home and can’t get to our favourite nature reserves, or explore new ones, there are loads of ways we can continue to stay connected to nature and appreciate the spring awakening around us despite our current situation. SNH and our partner wildlife organisations have been quick to come up with some creative and clever ways to keep us entertained during lockdown and provide some light relief from the news.

Unable to access our beloved reserves, NNR staff have been busy working to guide you through spring virtually. Take a trip around Scotland’s nature reserves by visiting our blogs: Forvie, Isle of May, Muir of Dinnet and Loch Leven, where staff are keeping us updated with wildlife sightings sent in from locally-living volunteers and sharing what they see in their gardens and on their daily walks.

Why not virtually transport yourself to a nature reserve with an immersive podcast – ever been to Noss NNR in Shetland or Rum NNR? How about getting up close and personal with some amazing wildlife with these live webcam streams from the Wildlife Trust and the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine – they are worringly addictive!

If online bird watching has got you hooked and you want to encourage more wildlife into your own garden, balcony or even windowsill then there are some great suggestions of ways to do so on our website, on RSPB’s homepage under ‘Things to do at home’ and at the Wildlife Trust. I was inspired by some bug hotels in my local community woodland and had a go at making my own at the weekend – 5 stars with breakfast included of course.

Complete with an NHS rainbow

Some organisations, like the BTO and Froglife, have turned their courses and events online. Why not sign up if you are new to wildlife watching or looking to improve your ID/survey skills?

Or for a bit of fun join in with some of the many interactive quizzes and games that are being posted on social media at the moment, like the Isle of May’s Seabird quiz.

And of course, no technology can really substitute simply getting out into nature and seeing wildlife for yourself. Take care to slow down and observe what’s around you in your garden, local green space or on your daily walk. Forvie NNR wrote a great blog about how you can be surprised at the amount of wildlife you can see when you just take time to look around.

Now it’s more important than ever that we get our daily dose of nature for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Wildlife provides a welcome distraction from the news and allows us to be mindful and focus on the present moment. Whilst we’re stuck at home, we can continue to stay connected to nature online but for many of us social media also helps us to stay in touch with a wider network of like-minded people, giving us a sense of community that is most appreciated and needed at this time.

Stay safe everyone and stay in touch!

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