Webcams help connect people at home with nature

Nature lovers can tune into webcams to get a boost from watching wildlife while observing official advice to stay home, conservationists have said.

A number of nesting spots for some of the UK’s most charismatic birds have live cameras which allow people to watch wildlife such as snoozing barn owls and chatting kittiwakes.

Wildlife trusts around the country have also put webcams on buildings where peregrine falcons nest, next to lakes, islands where puffins breed, “a badger bar and restaurant” and even trained on a garden bird feeder.

The trusts are encouraging people to maintain a connection with nature where they can in the face of the UK’s shutdown, as it helps with mental health and wellbeing.

Dom Higgins, head of health and education at The Wildlife Trusts, said that with “the Government’s important advice to keep our distance from one another, it is a challenge to maintain connections with nature and each other”.

But simple steps will deliver mental health benefits, he suggested.

“Try to spend time looking at nature – if you can’t get out to somewhere wild, watch it through a window, in a book or on television – it all helps.

“If possible, try getting outside for just five minutes to see local wildlife – this will help you to feel calm, uplifted and even inspired.”

He also suggested things such as sitting or reading outside, even if it is only on a balcony, watching and feeding birds, doing some exercise on the patio or by an open window, or planting things for the windowsill or garden.

And he said: “The Wildlife Trusts have come up with lots of easy ways to connect with nature online – from craft activities to a webcam page giving you live views of peregrines, barn owls and puffins as the nesting season progresses – fascinating glimpses into wildlife action as spring progresses which will soothe and entertain.”

Among the most dramatic of the webcams are those trained on the nests of migratory ospreys, which have returned to the UK to breed at this time of year.

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, which with Anglian Water has pioneered a scheme to reintroduce ospreys back into England since 1996, has had to shift its plans to mark world osprey week with schools.

With schools closed, the trust is now encouraging families to access free resources and daily activities on its website this week, as well as checking out the webcam – where a pair of ospreys nest by the water.

Jackie Murray, osprey education officer at the trust, said: “Each year we go into schools to teach classes all about the migratory journeys of the Rutland ospreys and encourage schools to run their own world osprey week events.

“This year, due to the Covid-19 crisis and resulting school closures, we have developed ‘osprey home school’; we hope that families everywhere will be able to celebrate world osprey week from home and follow along online.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ webcams can be found at: www.wildlifetrusts.org/webcams

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