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Heather Large: Wildlife a real benefit of lockdown

By Heather Large | Features | Published:

This week I discovered for the first time that a baby puffin is called a puffling.

It doesn't really get much cuter than that, but I thought I should check.

It turns out some young animal names come pretty close in the cuteness stakes. A young frog is a floglet, a baby platypus is a puggle and a juvenile porcupine is known as a porcupette. It's hard to read those names without smiling.

Nature and the animal kingdom really can do wonders for our wellbeing as lockdown has certainly shown.

The benefit of having a pet, for example, is proving to be especially pertinent for many owners during this stressful time.

They are bound to provide a welcome distraction, and, if your a chosen companion is canine, a reason to get some daily fresh air.

Our plans to get a cat had to be put on hold at the same time as a plans to buy a house with a garden so I've been feeling a bit jealous.

But most week day evenings we go for a walk around the park a stone's throw from our flat and I've been amazed at the number of different breeds of dog we have seen from tiny sausage dogs to a great dane.

I've started to recognise some those we've seen before and one of my favourites is a very good-looking pooch that looks like a curly-haired version of the Dulux dog.

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We've also seen cats stalking about on the edge of the green, keeping out of the way of the canine visitors. So I've got my animal fix, albeit from a distance.

We've also seen squirrels playing, what we think was a buzzard and a young goldfinch. I was bit worried about the latter as it looked very young but it soon went on its way so must have just been taking a break.

A lot of people have taken solace from nature during lockdown and the RSPB has seen an uplift in the number of people sharing sightings of birds and wildlife they have never noticed before. The charity says this is simply a result of more people spending more time at home and locally.

In the first couple of months of lockdown, with less humans around in urban areas, some animals are making the most of empty streets around the globe.

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There was footage of a kangaroo hopping around a deserted Adelaide city centre seemingly without care in the world. We can't really blame him for wanting to explore while all the commuters and shoppers were at home.

Police in Adelaide tweeted a video showing the marsupial making his way through the city with the captions: "Protective Security Officers tracked a suspect wearing a grey fur coat hopping through the heart of the #adelaide CBD this morning. He was last seen on foot heading into the West Parklands."

Dolphins were spotted swimming and jumping in one of the world's busiest marine routes in Istanbul, Turkey making the most of the quiet waters without the usual 24-hour activity of tankers, cargo ships and passenger boats.

While in India, a herd of buffalo were photographed walking along an empty highway in New Delhi.

And let's not forget the gang of mountain goats that descended on the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno in April.

Although the residents may not have been so happy to see them as they munched on garden bushes,ate leaves in Trinity Square in the town centre, and slept in a churchyard.

Experts say it's due to these animals losing that “fear response” they have to normally busy places and those that would normally only venture out at night became bolder and explored during the daytime.

This uplift in interest, and of people’s increased connection to nature is really heartening, and it’s to be hoped that it will continue once the restrictions are lifted.”

These sightings have captured our imagination and with us spending more time outdoors and our local area, I think we've learned not to take animals and the natural world for granted.

It's been good that with the exception of a few wet days the weather has been very kind over the past few months. And while it's been hard that we haven't been able to fully enjoy in the some of the ways we normally would, it's meant we've made the most of our time outdoors.

An evening walk with the added bonus of lots of lovely dogs has been a very enjoyable part of my lockdown routine.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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