As the world goes into isolation and we’re increasingly cut off from the outside world (especially those without gardens) it’s increasingly important to find new ways to connect with nature. So as part of our LocalWild campaign we’ve put together a list of 15 ways to connect with nature in isolation. If you’ve got any more ideas please let us know in the comments, we look forward to hearing from you!
#1 Get a window bird feeder
If there’s one thing you do make it this one. You can attach a bird feeder on pretty much any window anywhere – although the best spots are near to trees. You’ll be amazed at how much life they can attract right up to your bedroom window. When we lived in a council block in Brixton we had blue tits, great tits, robins, jays, and even woodpeckers visiting our feeder. We found sunflower hearts and peanuts were the most popular foods but see what works in your area. Just watch out for squirrels, if they can reach it they’ll eat you out of house and home.
#2 Grow something from seed
There is something absolutely magical about growing something from seed. And this can be done on any bright, sunny windowsill. Whether it’s tomatoes and avocados or cactuses and peace lilies there are loads of great online guides setting out how you can grow your own edible or ornamental plants. If you’re loading your bird feeder with sunflower hearts try planting a couple of those. And if you’re struggling for soil, you could always order some coir blocks online and make a plant pot out of newspaper.
While growing something from seed is absolutely worthwhile – it takes time. And if you need cheering up being surrounded by plants is a great place to start.
There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that being around greenery reduces stress, elevates mood, and improves cognitive function – so get shopping!
#4 Binge watch the Attenborough back catalogue
Being trapped inside is a great time to sit down and go through the entire Attenborough back catalogue (other nature documentaries are also available!). They’re an absolutely incredible showcase of the beauty, wonder, and fragility of life on Earth. You can get them on iPlayer or if you’re outside of the UK try Netflix or Amazon Prime. Or you could even go back in time and order the DVDs.
#5 Log on to some live cams
Powered through Attenborough? Try logging on to one of the live cams around the world to see what wildlife is up to while you eat your breakfast. Whether it’s a bald eagle nest in America, an elephant watering hole in South Africa, brown bears in Transylvania, or a virtual safari in Africa, there are hundreds that you can access online for free – let us know what you find!
#6 Get involved in conservation science
If you want to take things further why not actively get involved in some cutting edge conservation science? All from the comfort of your own bed! Just download the free Instant Wild app from ZSL.
As well as linking you directly to camera feeds around the world it allows you to help identify species and directly support conservation monitoring and research. Plus it’s highly addictive.
#7 Do a spider survey
If apps and camera traps are a bit too techy for you, you could always try doing some old fashioned conservation work and take part in the British Spider Survey. The survey aims to better understand the distribution of spiders in the UK and how this might change in future. And your home is the best place to look!
#8 Go wildlife spotting in your local park
If that has piqued your interest you could always get involved in some outdoor surveys in your local park. Look out for the Big Butterfly Count, the Great Stag (beetle) Hunt, and a whole load of others on the RSPB site. But remember you don’t have to get involved in surveys. Just being outside in your local greenspace and looking out for nature is great for your physical and mental health. Don’t forget to let us know what you see with the hashtag #LocalWild!
#9 Do some guerilla gardening
Out for a run and spotted a sad area of bare soil? You could always try some guerilla gardening to help wildlife out in your local area. First, get yourself some seed bombs – you can buy them online or make your own. Then just chuck them onto alleyways, roundabouts, roadsides, or pretty much anywhere where there is a spot of bare soil.
#10 Take a course
If you can’t make it outside or have no greenspace nearby how about taking the time to learn something new? Coursera has launched 100 free online courses including modules on Sustainability, Human-Insect Interactions, and Animals and Wellbeing. While the Open University has loads of great courses on Nature and the Environment. If that sounds too much like hard work how about learning to recognise the bird songs in your local area with wildlife superhero Chris Packham and his Self-Isolating Bird Club?
#11 Read something
Don’t fancy anything that sounds like homework? Try just reading for fun instead. There are loads of great books on wildlife and this is the perfect time to sit down and read one of them. We’ve just finished Wilding by Isabella Tree and would highly recommend it. Also, one of our favourite ever books is The Forest Unseen – both give you a whole new perspective on the natural world. If books aren’t your thing there’s a great resource on Twitter providing a roundup of all the latest academic research on rewilding in easily digestible tweets!
#12 Listen to something
If you’re looking for something to accompany your daily walk/run, or while you’re cooking or cleaning the flat, try an audiobook. Anything narrated by Attenborough is worth a listen and the 30-day free trial on Audible might just get you through your isolation period. Alternatively, there are loads of free podcasts that are worth a listen. We’re listening to the Green Alliance podcast which has an interview with the new Director of the Wildlife Trusts.
#13 Draw something
Another great thing to do when you’re stuck inside is to get creative. Whether it’s drawing, painting, writing, or sculpting, it’s a great way to get inspired by the world around us. Especially if you have kids who like to get messy!
If you’re stuck for ideas there are some great ones here. The only thing that will hold you back is yourself so don’t be afraid to take the plunge and give it a go.
#14 Practice some photography
Another creative avenue you could explore is photography. There are some great guides online to wildlife photography and this is the perfect time to figure out what that aperture button does on your camera. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even start to develop your own prints, try out some solarography, or explore lumen printing.
#15 Listen to the dawn chorus
Finally, if there’s one simple thing we’d recommend that takes absolutely no effort and costs absolutely nothing, try listening out for the Dawn Chorus. With fewer cars and planes and people out on the streets it is nothing short of breathtaking!
Chris & Lizzie