Nature and Lockdown for Me words and pictures by Sarah Hoyle

I’ve lost track of the number of days and weeks I’ve been at home now as my uni closed its doors roughly a week before the Government brought in lockdown. As you can imagine this involved many rapid changes for me to adjust to a new way of learning, working in a supermarket has also meant that I’ve had new challenges to face there each day due to the rapidly changing situation. Sadly, lockdown has also resulted in suspension of the volunteering I do with the RSPB as a Ranger and Reserve Assistant. At this point of the week I’d normally be looking forward to my Saturday spent wandering around St. Aidan’s birdwatching and talking with visitors as a Ranger.

Nature has always had a soothing almost healing effect for me, so it seemed logical to me to spend more time enjoying the garden and the many feathered visitors and residents we have. There’s a rather territorial Wren who tells anyone off who enters her space which seems to include the whole veg patch and the front of the house. We’ve got a pair of House Sparrows which are nesting in a hole in the house wall, and have been for as long as I can remember as my mum and dad refused to block it up when they moved in, which should hopefully have some fledglings appearing soon that I hope to photograph. We’ve a mob of Starlings that like to raid our feeders and get insects in the grass on the lawn. The wider cast of characters includes, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin, Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tits. Some birds prefer to be heard than seen such as our Greenfinches, Song Thrush, Tawny and Little Owls. Others merely prefer to fly over like the Red Kite, Kestrel, Mute Swans, Canada and Greylag Geese. There’s also a cheeky little mouse that seems to be getting bolder by the day that I’m trying to capture on a trail cam to identify the species, but I fear it may soon be dispatched by the neighbourhood cats. As the beekeeping year has got underway in the last few weeks that gives me another reason to spend more time in our garden too.

I also consider myself to be extremely lucky that I am within walking distance of RSPB St. Aidan’s where I can go for my daily exercise, which is currently about twice a week, birdwatching and practicing my other love of photography. When I’m in nature I instantly feel myself relax and some of the tension of the week ease which is why I’m thankful that our garden is as busy as it is with wildlife and I have a beautiful reserve on my doorstep at the moment, it means I can still get my nature fix and watch as the garden changes daily as spring slowly moves into summer. I can also watch as the birds on the reserve hatch and raise their young which has to be my favourite time of year.

  • Hello Jan, you certainly have a variety of birds to watch both in your garden and when you go out walking. It is nice to have a reserve so near to your home. Nature is a lovely thing to help us unwind and relax, especially in these difficult times that we all find ourselves in. You will be missing you Ranger duties but at least you can still get out and about and enjoy what there is too see. I live in the country so can have my excercise out and about, in the local woodland, or over the road on the golf course, there is always something to see. Working in a supermarket must be very daunting for you, take the precautions necessary and keep safe. One day all will be well, and as we are told we will be meeting our family and friends again and getting back to our day to day routines, maybe not as things were before, but a new way for us all to be experiencing. Take care.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Hello, beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder and I consider myself lucky that we have a nature friendly garden and a couple of different walks we can enjoy when I take my infrequent exercise. Working in a supermarket is daunting so I appreciate my down time all the more at the moment which is giving me lots of photos to look through and edit and an opportunity to try and improve my bird call ID too. Keep enjoying the woodland and take care.