Lockdown is unlocking the magic of nature on Kildare doorsteps

Senan Hogan

Reporter:

Senan Hogan

Email:

senan.hogan@iconicnews.ie

Lockdown is unlocking the magic of nature on Kildare doorsteps

A swallow on a wire in Kildare after making the journey from Africa

Availing of short, daily walks due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the summer-like weather has awoken everybody’s interest in the wonderfully diverse nature around us, according to Wild Kildare.

People have had the time and space to explore local areas they might normally speed past in a car on the school-run or going to the shops.

The Wild Kildare nature group on Facebook has reported a surge of interest from members of the public wanting information on new species of bird or varieties of flowers they have discovered.

Paddy Sheridan of the group told the Leader: “The onset of Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on people’s lives. Gone are the hectic daily routines of work and school. Socialising and recreation has stopped completely. Add in the current lockdown restrictions and it doesn’t leave the public with much to do.”

Paddy added that people are out walking off the beaten tracks which is good for our physical and mental health.

“This less hectic activity has afforded us with more time to look around us and notice nature. It seems to seasoned nature lovers that the nation has suddenly awakened to the joy of a bird singing or a butterfly fluttering past.

Curious

“People are curious when they see something for the first time and want to know what it is. In the last few weeks we have been inundated with pictures asking us what species it is.

“Somehow looking and listening to the natural world has brought some peace and sanity to the public in these uncertain times.”

Owing to the postponement of National Biodiversity Week, Kildare people are being urged to take part in the Backyard Bioblitz from May 22 to May 24, which is a weekend of exploring your local nature.

The Irish Environmental Network (IEN) is encouraging everyone to step outside and see what plants, animals and insects can be found.

Document your garden residents, or visit the local park or nature trails within the 5km distance.

Backyard Bioblitz

Karen Ciesielski, CEO of the IEN said: “Because Biodiversity Week is all about people getting together and enjoying nature we have decided to move the main celebration of Ireland’s Biodiversity to later in the year.

“However we can’t let Biodiversity day go by without marking it, so we have created a family friendly event that can be held whilst observing social distancing.

“Thanks to the support of the National Parks and Wildlife Service we will celebrate international day of Biodiversity and we will have a full week of our usual events later in the autumn.”

The IEN said that connecting with the natural world has been proven to reduce stress and improve mental health and that with movement restrictions still in place, positive actions for mental health are vital. The Backyard Bioblitz is something that all ages can get involved with to give themselves some time with nature.

Paddy Sheridan also commented that with less people and traffic out, wildlife has taken advantage of being left alone and are being given the opportunity to thrive somewhat.

He added: “The vast reduction of vehicles on our roads has surely led to there being far fewer animal and bird fatalities.

“Reduced cutting of grass verges in both urban and rural settings has allowed wildflowers to bloom providing much needed food for our pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies etc), many of which are in serious decline and on the brink of extinction.

“This in turn provides food for other species further up the food chain such as birds.

“There have been many comments on how noticeable bird song has become over the last few weeks. Some even suggest that it is louder. The simple answer is that with the reduced noise of traffic and businesses, they can be heard. If anything, they are singing less loudly because they don’t need to overcome these noises.

“If we are to learn anything from this experience is that mankind needs to work in tandem with nature for us to survive on this planet.

“Instead of putting pressures on habitats by destroying them, we must start restoring them on a large scale, creating space for these species to live and breed as nature intended.

“Will all these observations and appreciation of nature continue after covid-19? Only time will tell.

“Perhaps people will be more sympathetic to our wildlife? Maybe they will turn their garden into a wildlife haven? Will they log their sightingws at the National Biodiversity Data Centre http://records. biodiversityireland.ie? Will some join a nature and conservation group like Wild Kildare and actively help us record and conserve species and their habitats in Co Kildare?

“We really hope there will be a new generation of nature lovers to come out of the mayhem that we are all suffering right now.”

Get in touch

Paddy urged people with questions or comments on the nature around them to get in contact via wildkildare@gmail.com.