By Judy Paul, Newbattle Abbey Forest College Co-ordinator
Never before has nature been so highly valued for its positive impact on our mental and physical health with so many of us having appreciated time in nature as a way of dealing with the difficulties of lockdown. As we start to emerge out of lockdown, there is no need to stop, we can hold onto this precious time in nature. Spring is such a special time and there is no time like the present to experience some magical moments in the natural world…
Sounds of Spring May is the month of birdsong. National Dawn Chorus Day was on May 2nd (for information and recordings click on this link www.wildlifetrusts.org/dawn-chorus-day) and from now on, throughout May and June we can enjoy the beautiful songs of our neighbourhood birds as they sing to attract mates and hold onto their territory. An hour before sunrise and before sunset is the best time to hear them. For the dawn chorus, getting up early and going for walk to hear this symphony is really worthwhile but you can just open your window and listen from the comfort of your bed. It will inspire you for the day!
During the day you can still hear birds singing, just not necessarily all at the same time. If you can, find a quiet spot in a local park or woodland or your garden if you have one, and just stop and listen. Take a mat to sit on and wait for 5 minutes or so and just absorb the sounds. You may see the birds flitting through bushes or trees, perhaps you might even spot a nest with parent birds bringing food for their chicks.
Blackbirds and robins are usually the first birds to sing in the morning and last thing in the evening, you will be treated to the melody of the blackbird as it rounds off the day. Listen out for it and you will probably see its evening perch.
If you would like to know what to listen out for and what to look for see the link above or this one www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/identify-a-bird/
Spring Sights While you are out listening to the birds, take some time to look at the trees and plants which are bursting into life. In shadier parts of woodlands and parks, you may well come across a carpet of bluebells adding some colour to the forest floor and some much needed food for bumble bees which have emerged from hibernation.
Other plants are just starting to flower or bud and you will see the colours of the woodland change each week. Some plants like the fern, take a while to uncoil themselves. They look pretty exotic; rain forest like and yet here they are in our local woods. They are an ancient species which have remained unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.
So whether you hear some sounds or see the sights of spring when you are out, you are sure to boost your wellbeing by just being in nature and experiencing some of its wonders.