Slowly, in fits and starts, the U.S. and the world are starting to emerge from a months-long lockdown to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It’s indeed been a spring like no other — or at least no other that most of us remember.
It’s also one that a lot of us would like to forget, but God’s creation always offers lessons, even in difficult times.
Britain’s Got Springwatch
Each year, Britain’s BBC Two focuses on the change of the seasons and the wildlife in the U.K. in three series: Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch (no, there’s no Summerwatch, everybody needs a holiday), available in the U.S. via the BritBox streaming service.
Upside for those without BritBox — the show’s live wildlife cams and even full episodes are on YouTube.
In past years, it’s sent hosts and cameras around the British Isles to watch how native wildlife feed, mate, fight and play in urban, suburban and rural landscapes.
This year, the presenters are self-isolating at their homes and reporting on local wildlife and landscapes in southern England, Wales and Cornwall (one is even in South Africa). But the show has deployed its usual wildlife cameras in different areas to observe the burst of new life among mammals, reptiles, birds and fish (especially birds, foxes and badgers — and, this year, beavers).
In the course of the show, the hosts talk about our connection with nature and how people, stuck at home, have rediscovered the wild world in their own neighborhoods, streets and yards. Whether you’re in the middle of London or in the rolling hills of Wales, nature is always there to be observed, even if it’s just birdwatching from a window.
In Celebration of American Wildlife
We do big nature events on American TV, but usually they focus on charismatic species on other continents, like lions, tigers, giraffes, orangutans, gorillas, pandas and so on. What I love about Springwatch — and wish I saw more of on American TV — is a focus on accessible local wildlife.
I love North American wildlife, and would trade a lion any day for a mountain lion, or a giraffe for a pronghorn antelope, or a panda for a black bear or a grizzly. I love our own bird species, from sparrows to turkeys to bald eagles, and our little critters, from chipmunks to prairie dogs to gray squirrels. The first step in encouraging people to care about wildlife is to remind them that wild creatures are their neighbors, even if they live a concrete jungle.
One episode of Springwatch 2020 dealt with the positive psychological effects of connecting with nature, especially for a stressed population whose entire lives have been disrupted in the midst of a global pandemic (and now, also by civil unrest). Part of that was urging people to step just outside their doors and see the ordinary, extraordinary creatures all around them.
I’ve seen that also with many of my friends, whose social-media posts show they have rediscovered the beauties of their window boxes, backyards, local landscapes and neighborhoods.
But, while we don’t have a show like Springwatch in the U.S. (we’d need several editions, considering the size of this country as opposed to Great Britain), we do have lots of wildlife cams.
Watching Wildlife From Indoors
Even in highly urbanized Los Angeles, you can click here to see deer, birds, bobcats, coyotes, squirrels and even mountain lions in the Hollywood Hills. Here, the LA Times counts down the top 10 animal cams in the state, including zoo views. If you want to range a bit further, click here for the Audubon Society’s rundown of top wildlife cameras.
I warn you, getting involved in the daily lives of wildlife can become addictive. One trouble-beset little stickleback fish became a national sensation on Springwatch a few seasons ego. He even got his own song.
So, when you finally break free from lockdown and roam the country and world again, remember also the natural world just outside your front door.
What have I been up to during quarantine? Check out my Instagram account @kateoharewrites to see how I’ve taken up some very small-scale urban farming on my West Los Angeles apartment balcony.
Take a look at episode one of Springwatch 2020:
Image: BBC Two
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