Environmentalists say getting a daily dose of wildlife should always be an important part of everyone’s day, but especially so in these unprecedented times.
Studies have shown spending time outdoors and among plants and animals is beneficial to both physical and mental welfare.
That might seem a tricky thing to achieve while we are being told to stay away from each other and avoid unnecessary travel. But there are still many ways we can experience our natural environment.
Catherine Leatherland, people and wildlife officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, has a raft of suggestions for all circumstances.
“If you can get outside for the permitted single daily dose of exercise, you can get involved in many of the same activities you would get at a nature reserve – just on a smaller scale,” she said.
“You can do things like bird-watching and hunting for mini beasts. And you can make little scavenger hunts for the kids with a list of things they have to run around the garden and find.
“There are lots of traditional games to enjoy outside, like hopscotch and skipping.
“Then there are nature crafts – things like bark-rubbing or making collages out of natural items. And outdoor art – you can use chalk or water to make pictures on a patio since they will wash away with the rain.
“Even just taking a book, a sketch pad or school homework outside is good. You’re still doing stuff you would be doing indoors anyway but you’re getting nice fresh air and a dose of nature while you’re doing it.”
Even if entirely confined to home there are still plenty of ways to stay in touch with life outside, says Leatherland.
“You can still have great fun bird-watching out of a window, and you can even share your sightings with other people through social media.
“It’s a nice way to watch wildlife without going out and a great way to stay connected while we’re all separated.
“Even if you live in a tower block or a flat in a very built-up urban area, you can still experience nature.
“Just looking out at the sky is great. You can watch sunrise and sunset, and look at patterns and colours in the sky. Seeing shapes in the clouds is always a good one for kids or playing traditional games like I Spy.
“But if you’re completely stuck and haven’t got much of a view then using online resources and watching nature programmes on television are also great.”
Wildlife webcams are a useful resource, streaming live action from remote sites – though some are currently offline due to the lockdown.
The nestcam at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld is definitely worth a look.
The site has just heralded the return from Africa of the male osprey LM12 and is expecting a female to join him there soon.
The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick also has cameras set up, trained on local seabird colonies.
The RSPB has just begun the daily Breakfast Birdwatch, which allows people to take part on social media from inside their homes between 8am and 9am on weekdays.
“We want to help people remain connected to nature during this difficult time, said RSPB Scotland’s Allie McGregor: “With the signs of spring arriving it makes it all the more exciting. We are hopeful that in the coming weeks we can continue to bring a bit of joy to everyone’s morning and provide advice and ideas for what people can do for nature while at home.”