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The big picture
Just another day for wildlife...
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Josh Loeb discusses how he and others have been admiring nature from the safety of their homes.

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The nationwide Covid-19 lockdown might have put numerous aspects of people’s lives on hold but the natural world marches on regardless. In fact, with spring in full swing, nature seems to be busier than ever, even as the UK’s cities have become ghost towns.

For the truth is that another weird week for people was just another week for wildlife. With tadpoles swimming in ponds, butterflies fluttering about and birds in full song, nature charities have been encouraging people who are self isolating or feeling anxious about the pandemic to find solace in the rhythms of the natural world – meaning more are noticing the wonders around them.

Here we present a selection of the images sent into us by readers or snapped by members of our staff, in a bid to inspire others to chronicle the changing of the seasons from their homes too over the difficult weeks and months ahead.

Among the vets who sent in pictures was Sean Wensley, a senior vet at the PDSA and past president of the BVA, who lives in County Down, Northern Ireland. His photographs of a bumblebee and frogspawn are included opposite.

Wensley said: ‘Like many, I find solace in continuing to notice and experience nature at times like this. There’s clear evidence for the mental health benefits of contact with the natural world, including reductions in stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. I’m always uplifted by spring’s buds, bees and birdsong.’

Robin Hargreaves, another BVA past president, took the photograph of ducks ‘having a conflab’ under his cedar of Lebanon tree, while Alick Simmons – a former deputy chief vet and avid birdwatcher – sent in the image of a slow worm, which he is lucky enough to have living in his garden, and the hoverfly.

As for Vet Record staff, the picture of the red squirrel on the window ledge was taken by our assistant editor Arabella Gray, who is in lockdown in Cumbria; the robin was snapped by our production manager Georgina Mills; and the frog was photographed by yours truly.

The RSPB has launched a ‘breakfast birdwatch’ from 8–9 am every day (using the hashtag #BreakfastBirdwatch on social media) for people to share what they can see in their gardens, on their balconies or on rooftops and spaces from their own homes during the lockdown. It has said that people often report being surprised by the diverse range of wildlife that can be watched from home.

‘With the arrival of spring, there is so much incredible nature returning, blooming, growing and thriving outside, and while we are in the midst of an unparalleled crisis, we must not forget the power of nature, including how watching nature can be so positive for our mental health and wellbeing,’ the RSPB said.

In a similar vein, the National Trust, which has temporarily shut down access to many of the places it owns, launched ‘Blossom Watch’ to try to lift the nation’s spirits by celebrating trees in bloom through the combined mediums of photography and social media.

The trust says the move emulates Hanami, the ancient Japanese tradition of viewing and celebrating cherry blossom.

• If you have taken any photographs of wildlife during the lockdown period that you would like to share, please email them to jloeb@bmj.com and Vet Record will tweet a selection.

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