It won’t just be the virtual watchers of a Sun appearing over a pixelated Stonehenge who will have changed their plans this Summer.  All of us to varying degrees will have had to abandon preparations and adapt in the wake of the Covid pandemic. 

Summers are always busy. We spend nine months of the year preparing so we can fit as much into the summer as we can. Whether it’s weddings, holidays, seeing relatives, catching up with friends or just trying to tire out the kids enough to get a half-decent night’s sleep! Even with the tentative relaxing of lockdown, it’s clear that this Summer will not be like any other before. Many of us will be spending more time local to our homes. I believe this offers us a once in a lifetime opportunity to forge a deeper connection with the nature on our doorsteps

Whether you’re in a city flat or a remote cottage, spending a sustained amount of time in one place means you not only start to notice what’s commonly overlooked, but you also see nuanced changes that can in normal times go unnoticed.

The best thing about nature is that it’s everywhere and it’s free! 

Nature from your window… 

Peregrine Falcon in flight
More Peregrines are nesting in high-rise urban areas, giving city dwellers a unique opportunity to watch these spectacular birds of prey

Wherever you live, one of the easiest ways to observe nature and wildlife is through your window. While starling numbers have been declining at an alarming rate, they are still a fairly common sight across the country in both rural and urban areas, and they are a truly captivating bird to observe. Often nesting in cracks and crevices of buildings, roofs and chimneys, they’re also commonly seen showing off their X factor from the rooftop television aerials – If only Mr Cowell could tune in! Listen carefully as these extraordinary imitators impersonate sounds from their local environment… phone ringtones, car alarms and babies crying are just a few recorded examples. As the summer progresses their beaks will change from yellow to black and they develop a smart, speckled coat fitting of any city worker. Watch as they start flocking together and perform mesmerising displays overhead. 

There’s always something exciting to see through your window. The v-shaped groups of geese and gulls, swifts hoovering up airborne insects or gangs of garden birds mobbing a caught-out sparrow hawk. City dwellers may even be treated to the exhilarating sight of a peregrine falcon. These masters of the air are increasingly nesting on the high-rise buildings of urban environments. 

In your garden 

Hedgehog walking on a road
Make room in your garden for one of the UK’s most adored animals

It’s what you do with it that counts! It doesn’t matter whether you have a balcony or a garden the size of a football pitch. If you do the right things to attract the wildlife local to you, nature will reward you. 

Want a summer filled with excitement and new discovery? Then you need to start looking at the mini beasts of the macro world. From ladybirds to butterflies, there are well over 20,000 different species of insects in the UK and no doubt more species yet to be discovered. Every day I venture out into our 5-metre yard, I’m convinced I’ve found a species new to science. That it’s only a matter of time before Michaela Strachan is narrating a clip on the newly discovered “Ricardo Bunceioisus” on BBC Springwatch! Jokes aside, most days that I take the time to explore our very small outdoor patch I’ll see something I’ve never seen before. Whether it’s the stunning ruby tailed wasp or ants farming aphids, once you look closer you’ll never look at your green space the same way again! 

Birds and mammals can also bring a great deal of joy to any garden. Birds can be tempted in with wisely positioned feeders (mealworms are particularly popular in the summer months) and birdbaths. While ensuring access in your garden’s borders can allow the iconic garden visitor, the hedgehog in. In urban areas, foxes can be a thrilling visitor to see in your outdoor space. 

Enjoy them while you can

Swallow struggling to balance on phone line wires
Every year we see less and less swallows returning, will there be a time when none return?

Bats, frogs, newts, spiders, mice and so much more. There’s a plethora of wildlife waiting to be enjoyed locally that I haven’t had the chance to reference here.

Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate and despite all our advances in our understanding, the only sure thing is that the nature of nature can be fleeting and unpredictable. The starlings I mentioned earlier are in trouble, their numbers declining by nearly 70% since the mid-seventies. The alarmingly low numbers of swallows and martins I’ve seen this year makes me really concerned for their future, particularly in suburban areas. Curlew, greenfinch, hedgehogs, stag beetles the list of species steadily diminishing from our local environment goes on, and on, and on. It’s so important to appreciate and enjoy the natural treasures on our doorstep today because we really don’t know what will still be here tomorrow. 

Want to get the most from nature on your doorstep?

Below I’ve included photos and a video of nature I’ve enjoyed from our doorstep. If you’re looking for ways to encourage more wildlife into your own spaces take a look at the following links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/gardening

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/