Living with the coronavirus pandemic has meant many people are having to stay closer to home, but one benefit is having more time to take notice of the natural world around us. From adders in Aberdeenshire to wild clematis in Buckinghamshire, UK and European readers have been sharing pictures and stories of their local flora and fauna.
‘The noise is astonishing’
The frogs had just started spawning and I was lucky enough to catch the one in the above photo in lovely light in my garden pond on 22 February. I built the pond seven years ago but haven’t often seen the frogs spawning as I was always at work. The noise is astonishing as they leap about and the pond almost look as if it is boiling with activity.
I’ve had immense pleasure from my garden and the pond in particular in lockdown and seen much more wildlife in 2020 than ever before. This included emerging dragonflies on the pond plants and a carder bumble bee nest under a tree where I’d let the grass grow. I planted wild flowers in my lawn in the autumn and plan to leave patches of it long this year. Stephanie Chadwick, retired GP, Bristol
‘The pleasure the feeding station has given me is immeasurable’
The photo was taken on 2 March in our garden on the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. I have an office in the garden and having been given a bird feeding station as a 60th birthday present just over a month ago, I moved everything round in the office to give me a better view. The station is adjacent to an owl sculpture and one day, by chance, I looked up and saw this little chap looking straight back at me!
I was absolutely thrilled as the robin has often been my companion when I am out gardening – he has got more and more confident. Although the owl sculpture is very realistic the robin clearly doesn’t see it as a threat. The pleasure the feeding station has given me is immeasurable. I have loved birds since I was child and there are definitely many more coming in to the garden and in the surrounding area now. Every day I look forward to who will visit next. Jacquie Gordon, 60, garden designer, Malvern, Worcestershire
The photo above was taken around sunrise on 27 February from the viewpoint at Grinshill and Corbet Wood, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. The view is looking out towards south Shropshire and the Welsh mountains. It was breathtaking to see the fog and mist spreading across the fields and forests. I felt so lucky to be able to witness such a fantastic view.
It’s a place I have only discovered recently even though it’s so close to my house as now I am working from home and, without a commute to work, it has freed up time to get up early for sunrise and sunset photos which I would not have been able to do before. The location is only five miles away from where I live and I never even knew it existed until I took up photography in March 2020 when we went into lockdown. Jemma M McCarthy, 45, works in insurance, Shrewsbury
‘I was beside myself with excitement’
Being parted from my family during lockdown is painful and photography has kept me going both physically and mentally. I love walking and I’m really enjoying discovering my local environment with my camera. The photo above was taken on 24 February in Hunsdon, East Hertfordshire.
I was beside myself with excitement when I saw two hares boxing in the distance but they were quite a way away so the picture quality is not great. I hadn’t seen them do that before and for a good minute or so they were totally oblivious of my presence. Spring is definitely in the air. I’ve seen more wildlife since lockdown began and I’m totally addicted now. Diane Le Count, 66, retired, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire
‘The patch of crocuses was buzzing with life’
I had just invested in a new macro lens and was excited to go and try it out. I went to the nearest park, which is Roundhay park in Leeds, on 28 February. It was a glorious sunny day and I found a beautiful patch of crocuses which was buzzing with life – the bees loved it. I spent a few minutes lying on my front watching them fly around hoping they would come to the nearest crocus.
It took a few attempts to get the shot as I wasn’t used to using the lens, but the whole experience was great and I managed to get a picture I liked. Seeing them made me smile. It felt like spring was finally coming after a long, hard winter for everybody. I have always been an avid birdwatcher and wildlife lover in general, however I think with everywhere being quieter is has meant the animals have been easier to spot and listen to. Sam Llewellyn, 26, student, Leeds
Adders are such beautiful elusive creatures’
I took the above photo of a female adder emerging from hibernation to sun herself on 22 February in a hibernaculum [a shelter occupied by an animal during the winter], near Banchory in Aberdeenshire, not far from where I live. I don’t want to say much more than that because disturbance is one of the issues that adders face. I’ve known about the site for a while. Adders spend the winter there underground, emerge in the spring, disperse in the summer and return in the autumn.
The thing about adders is that they are such beautiful, elusive creatures. You can see the same individuals as they are recognisable from their scale patterns on the head, and you can tell the sex by the colour so they become personal acquaintances. The hibernacula are communal so there are a few adders in the area, 18 individuals so far this year, in their own special locations. And the final thing is that they are so still, and so well-camouflaged most of the time, even if you know exactly where to look, you still get a wee start when you spot them. Alastair Pout, 55, fisheries scientist, Aberdeenshire
‘It made me feel very happy’
We spotted the green shield bug in our back yard in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland on 26 February. We were closing the back garden gate when we saw a flash of green out the corner of our eyes, and in the gate hinge was a bright green shield bug.
We called him (her?) Cam (short for Camouflage – Morgan’s idea) and took them along to the park that afternoon to hang out with the neighbourhood kids. Cam was very popular and surprisingly tame – enjoying a ride on jumpers and fingers for hours before being released back into the bushes. “It made me feel very happy because I’d never seen a bug like him before,” said Morgan. “He crawled on my jumper for hours, but he is a wild creature so we had to let him go later that day.” Lauren, Morgan and Arwen Roberts, mum and kids aged eight and four-and-a-half, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland
‘Inspiration and comfort can be found in the minutiae of the landscapes in our lives’
The above photo of wild clematis was taken at sunset on 22 February just outside the village of Bledlow, Buckinghamshire. I’m a geography teacher and during lockdown the shed at the end of my garden has become my online teaching base. At the end of each day I have increasingly felt the need to bring myself back to the textured, earthy world of reality away from a computer screen. I have taken to wandering along the lane where I live to a damp and rather untidy copse.
During one walk I noticed the fluffy seed heads of wild clematis within a wickedly-thorny bramble. This particular evening the last rays of orangey daylight were captured, fleetingly, in their feathery convolutions. I am a firm believer that great inspiration and comfort can be found in the minutiae of the landscapes that embrace our everyday lives. Lots of people are currently talking about rewilding but the importance of conservation has always been as much about creating habitats for humans as it is wildlife. Jon Mason, 55, geography teacher, Buckinghamshire
‘Photography helps me escape the harsh reality of lockdown’
I took the photo of a long-tailed tit from a hide I set up in my garden in Podkowa Lesna, just outside of Warsaw, Poland on 28 February. At one point a group of four of them came to the feeder and one of them sat on a beautiful red bush. After a few minutes they were gone, but I managed to capture the special moment.
I’ve only recently started learning about the various species that visit our feeders, which we’ve set up to help the birds through the winter months. I have definitely seen more wildlife than in previous years, and I have discovered a new passion for wildlife photography. It has been the perfect cure during strict lockdown measures, as I was able to escape the harsh reality into the beauty and calmness of the wilderness. Antoni Wende, 29, works for a start-up, Podkowa Lesna, Poland
If you would like to send in photos of the wildlife in your local area taken in the last two weeks, you can do so by clicking here.