I know I am not the only one to have been seeking solace by watching nature over the past few months and working from home in spring this year has given me an opportunity to take time to enjoy the wildlife on my doorstep.
A high point for me was spotting a yellowhammer in my garden, hopping beneath the bird feeders. These sparrow-sized buntings are mostly yellow with brown upper parts and the male in my garden was recognisable by his bright yellow head. I have often seen yellowhammers in South Norfolk, where they like the tall, traditional hedgerows; in summer they sometimes fly just ahead of me along a lane, perching in the hedge and singing a distinctive song – it really does sound like someone saying ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’!
Watching garden birds is just one way to connect with wildlife over the summer months and each year. The Wildlife Trusts run 30 Days Wild
encouraging people to take ‘random of acts of wildness’ to enjoy the natural world; this doesn’t necessarily mean trying to identify species or learn long, scientific names – just being outside and appreciating what is around you.
Here are a few I am going to do as soon as I can: stargazing on a summer night (look out for shooting stars) and watching webcams
of nature reserves as young birds fledge and take to the skies; I want to try the ‘race to find a rainbow’ in the garden – finding natural things, from sticks to petals, that match all the colours of the rainbo; and finally I will be inviting a friend into nature by sharing our wildlife photos and sightings online.
I think I will make a start now by going outside to see if I can see swallows and swifts, those elegant emblems of summer days, soaring above my house, although I doubt I will be quick enough for a photo.
Helen Baczkowska is a Conservation Officer at NWT.
Header image: Swift, by Nick Appleton