Birdwatching brings comfort to Northern Ireland during lockdown

Pandemic reigniting love of nature and awareness of wildlife, RSPB and YouGov find

The poll of 2,071 adults across Britain and Northern Ireland revealed that 58 per cent said watching birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of Covid-19. Photograph: Fran Veale

The poll of 2,071 adults across Britain and Northern Ireland revealed that 58 per cent said watching birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of Covid-19. Photograph: Fran Veale

 

More than half of the people in Northern Ireland are finding solace in watching birds and hearing their song during lockdown, a new survey has found.

The study by the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) revealed how more and more people have been turning to nature for consolation during the shutdowns.

The YouGov poll for the organisation found that 38 per cent of people in Northern Ireland were seeing wildlife near their homes over the last 12 months that they had never noticed before.

It also found that 57 per cent of people in the North said the pandemic made them more aware of nature around them.

Joy of birdsong

The poll of 2,071 adults across Britain and Northern Ireland revealed that 58 per cent of people said watching the birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of Covid-19.

It also showed that people were not only noticing but acting on their newly strengthened connection with nature. Almost half (49 per cent) of those surveyed in the North actively did something to help wildlife in their area over the past 12 months, including 55 per cent feeding garden birds and more than two in five (45 per cent) doing so at least once a week during winter months.

The RSPB in the North said it is expecting record-breaking participation in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend which runs from Friday to Sunday.

Mental health

It will be hosting a range of lockdown and home schooling events on social media with guests including Chris Packham, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Deborah Meaden plus a live cam feed of the birdfeeders at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife reserve.

“In the past year we’ve seen how important the natural world is to our mental health as we have come to rely on our wildlife for solace in these unsettling times,” said Anne-Marie McDevitt, RSPB NI head of species on Thursday.

“Lockdowns have been challenging, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people. The results of this survey indicate we may emerge from this pandemic a new generation of nature lovers,” she said.

Ms McDevitt said that close to half a million people join in the UK Big Garden Birdwatch every year. Information on how to take part can be found at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.