Discover the wildlife wonders of your own garden
Being stuck at home during lockdown could be a golden opportunity to reset your connection with nature. If you’re lucky, you’ll still have access to a garden.
Gardens provide a tremendous resource for biodiversity, and they’re perfect places to observe and reflect on nature. Start with birds. Globally, around a fifth of all bird species are found in urban areas, and they are the entry drug to a world of natural history wonder. Take time to just sit, watch and learn.
Most of us learn the names of common species but why stop there? Citizen scientists collecting data are often central to research. Indoor bird watchers have helped reveal the inner lives of garden birds, and there are ample opportunities for budding urban naturalists to do the same for butterflies, hedgehogs, toads and frogs.
- If you have bird feeders, observe and record the number of bird species (there are online guides that can help) on the different feeders. Try to track when they feed and for how long. You can easily build a nature diary that can be shared online too. If you don’t have bird feeders then simply watch what’s flying overhead – I spotted a hundred pink-footed geese over my garden.
- When darkness falls, try night-watching for hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, deer, bats and owls. The first three can easily be enticed down the garden path with a little cat or dog food. Daytime grey squirrels may be non-natives but they are still entertaining and easy to spot.
- More exciting still, if you have access to remote cameras then you can bring close encounters with nature indoors. But even if you don’t have a garden or local park, you can watch live footage of wildlife from your own home - try the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB. You can even install a nest box cam to watch small birds like blue tits.
- Get hold of some easy-to-grow flower seeds. With these, children can see springtime nature first hand. If you can’t obtain seeds then carefully transplant soil with young seedlings from the garden to a flowerpot. Even a few handfuls of garden soil, if kept moist in a pot or maybe a jam jar, will soon produce seedlings, fungi and mini beasts – just the stuff to keep young minds active.