By Heather Norris Nicholson
Keeping connected has never seemed so important as right now as this pandemic continues. When I call my sister, I always hear the wild birds in her garden too. The time difference, five hours now, means she’s outside enjoying an early morning tea. There are so many birds singing; warblers, finches, doves, pigeons and many more. It’s like a party – and a party-line! Does anyone remember those shared telephones where you should hang up if someone else was using the phone?
These sounds of nature conjure up brilliant colours too. Orchids, bougainvillaea, hibiscus, frangipane and spiky bird of paradise flowers, as well as magical hovering hummingbirds, make yards and gardens in warmer climates such carnivals of colour. Restricted by the present COVID-19 crisis, we can’t travel to see any of that first hand, but social media does make it possible to share pictures with family and friends. They’re great reminders of what is special. Here too, spring flowers and blossom bring joy to gardens, patios and window boxes. If you have any photos to share we’d love to see them as well.
With road traffic dropping back to levels not seen since 1955, at the start of the lockdown, bird song seems louder here too. We could hear the robin, blackbird, chaffinches and the tits, but despite the government’s caution over easing restrictions, vehicles are returning to the roads, sometimes with little regard for all the extra walkers. The birds are still singing and every bush, tree, or telegraph wire is a perching post. Even from your windows, you can do your own bit of birding!
For those with a bit of green space nearby, there are other clues – catkins, buds and delicate new leaves unfolding. The driest April on record has brought us a colourful spring even if our farmers and fire-ravaged moors urgently need some rain.
Out of town, lambs are in the fields and moorland curlews and lapwings have returned albeit in small numbers. The first swallows and cuckoos have arrived. Carpets of bluebells bloom in tucked-away spots too, unspoilt by careless feet and overeager fingers. Living under a lockdown that shows little sign of lifting offers an important opportunity to value the small things that we take for granted – until we don’t have them.
As for nature’s pleasures via an early morning phone call, nothing works when the generator’s off (which often happens!). But right now, a call at any social time of day still offers much-needed contact. Don’t delay! Remember what researchers say about Nature too – it can decrease heart rates, blood pressure, the stress hormone cortisol and generally improve our mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing. A daily dose of Nature is no bad thing at any time, especially now.