How to enjoy nature and stay positive during the coronavirus pandemic

We have collated some of the different ways to enjoy and engage with nature whilst at home or staying local due to the coronavirus.

Robin on post Getty

With the UK and devolved governments announcing various local restrictions, and the prospect of a ‘pandemic winter’, many people are beginning to feel burned out with their mental health after months of coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

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Studies have shown that connecting with nature can improve mental health, so we’ve rounded up a few of the ways you can still engage with and learn about wildlife during autumn and winter, whether it’s in your garden, a local nature reserve or park, or virtually.

If you are planning to see wildlife, please follow the latest government advice regarding coronavirus, and bear in mind that there are different restrictions in place between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in more localised areas as well.


Wildlife in your garden

With autumn underway and cooling temperatures, some wildlife is beginning to hide away for the winter. However, there are still plenty of species to look out for in your garden:

Add the tubes. © Sarah Cuttle

Wildlife further afield

Check out your local nature reserves or parks, or head further afield (if restrictions allow) to see a wider variety of wildlife.

A red deer stag calling to females, in Richmond Park, Surrey. © Mark Bridger/Getty
A red deer stag calling to females, in Richmond Park, Surrey. © Mark Bridger/Getty

Foraging

Autumn is a wonderful time for foraging, with trees and hedges laden with berries and nuts. Always remember to leave some for wildlife, to never uproot a plant (except with the landowner’s permission), and to be sure of the identification of what you’re picking.

Rosehip syrup. © Gloria Nichol/Getty
Rosehip syrup. © Gloria Nichol/Getty
Sloe gin with a wedge of stilton cheese. © Getty
Sloe gin with a wedge of stilton cheese. © Getty

Virtual escapes

Kaieteur Falls. © Megan Shersby
Kaieteur Falls. © Megan Shersby

Travel virtually around the UK and the world with guides from BBC Wildlife and BBC Countryfile.


Test your wildlife knowledge

We have a range of identification and general knowledge quizzes for you to try out, including crosswords from our magazine.


Podcasts

There’s plenty of amazing wildlife, nature and science podcasts to listen to. In our guide on how to listen to podcasts, we share a list of podcasts that you might be interested, including ones from our sister magazines BBC Countryfile and BBC Science Focus.

BBC Countryfile Magazine podcast

Hashtags / social media accounts

Some organisations and individuals have set up new hashtags or social media accounts as a way for people to share their wildlife sightings.

Wildlife From My Window

In 2015, Elizabeth Guntrip set up #WildlifeFromMyWindow with the BBC’s Springwatch, for people who are housebound due to illnesses and disabilities.

RSPB

The RSPB has set up the #BreakfastBirdwatch, a daily hour on weekdays between 8-9am where supporters and the wider public can share photos and videos of their garden birds. There will also be different species and themes to focus on, such as drawing and poetry.

The Self-Isolating Bird Club

TV presenter, author and naturalist Chris Packham has set up The Self-Isolating Bird Club on Twitter and Facebook, so that birdwatchers can share their local sightings virtually.

Natural History Museum

On Fridays, the Natural History Museum is running the #NatureDrawingClub on Twitter, which began with the theme of ‘birds’ on World Sparrow Day.


Livestreams

Watch wildlife livestreams

There are lots of webcams of wild animals around the world, and we’ve searched high and low in order to create an extensive list of them.

From Eurasian eagle owls and and golden eagles in Latvia, to white-bellied sea-eagles and northern albatrosses in Australia, to bald eagles and manatees in the USA, there’s plenty to watch from the comfort of your own home.

Chris Packham

Alongside the Self-Isolating Bird Club, Chris Packham is hosting daily livestreams with his step-daughter Megan McCubbin in the New Forest. They often include special guests, and sometimes Chris’ poodles.

For those with an interest in punk music, Chris Packham is also sharing #punkrockmidnight.

Online talks and training

Many wildlife societies and charities have turned to online meetings instead of their regular field meetings and talks. The talks cover a wide range of topics, including interviews with scientists, conservationists and photographers, training on species identification or recording schemes, and general lectures on species and wildlife. Many of the online courses and talks are free.

Here are some of the available and upcoming sessions:

Upcoming virtual conferences:


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Main image: Robin. © Mark L Stanley/Getty