Lockdown on nature? Not really

In our post today Biodiversity Officer, Iain Macdonald, shares his thoughts on Covid-19 and nature, following a pensive lockdown stroll around town…

Where have the cars, the planes, the trains and the people all gone? I don’t know about you, but I find the outdoors a little strange. I can’t get the reasons out of my mind and the reasons are not pleasant.  I watch the same news over and over again, I can’t make sense of it all and I worry about the future.

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I look at nature for distraction, out of the window and when out for my local walk or cycle.  Seeing a robin on a branch or a seagull flying over my head takes my mind to a different place.  What does nature know of Covid-19?  Birds do not worry about its impacts on the present, neither do they care about its impacts on the future.  They live their lives, but surely they must have noticed that something is up.  Nairn, the town where I live is quieter.  It reminds me of Sunday mornings when I was small.

A pair of crows has been building a nest beside what was a very busy path.  This is the first time that I have seen them attempt to build a nest in the three years that I have been in my flat.  Their half-completed effort was blown down last week by gales and they have moved to another tree.  This time a conifer with shelter rather than a tree with no leaves.

Male and female shoveler ducks.©Lorne Gill/SNH

A pair of shovelers, (C)Lorne Gill/SNH

Last night I saw a male shoveler at the mouth of the river, I had not seen that kind of duck anywhere near the river mouth before.  Sure I have seen them elsewhere, but for me, a shoveler at the mouth of the River Nairn was a real “tick”.  I sent a text to my friend Colin letting him know about the duck.  Colin texted back asking if the beach is quieter and then it dawned on me.  It was.

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Sand dunes and saltmarsh at Nairn

Then I considered the rabbits that a week ago had been chasing one another on the road, on it, not beside it.  And the rat down by the harbour beside the carpark, which just three weeks ago had been busy every evening with teenagers sharing stories.  Nature has noticed and it hasn’t taken long for her to move in.


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