Nothing is more frustrating for wildlife lovers than being robbed of a regular nature fix. Non-essential trips like those to wildlife hotspots are banned by government decree and most nature reserves closed anyway including the Abbey Wood-based Crossness reserve.

Yet there’s much to discover locally as the battle against Covid-19 continues. The government encourages physical exercise walks from your front door so investigate your nearest park or wood.

Builders left plenty of open space when they constructed the housing development where I live and touring this daily has banished lockdown blues.

Wild Things: An aural treat to lift your spirits in dark times

I would like to share with you two events during one day in the life of a wildlife hermit who has not ventured outside his local patch since March 17. You could walk around it in half an hour at full speed but I allow an hour to include observation time. There’s an old orchard, thick hedges, a copse, brambles, nettles and many native and foreign trees.

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Nuthatch by Tony Dunstan

A bird shadow moves across the grass. Looking up I see a male sparrowhawk gliding silently into an oak tree. Moments later the bird abandons stealth as it drops suddenly and violently in a noisy whirr of wings through the branches. It is chasing a blue tit which darts into the sanctuary of a holly bush. Ignoring the threat of injury from prickly leaves the brave hawk plunges after it. Feathers fly. Seconds tick by in silence then the hawk emerges and flies past with the blue tit gripped firmly in his talons.

Wild Things: A fond memory of being outdoors

Immediately I hear the high-pitched call of nuthatch nearby. Able to climb and descend trees, nuthatches nest in tree holes. I locate a pair and see one of them busily dismantling a nest. It disappears inside a hole repeatedly, emerges with a bill full of nest material and discards it. A constant stream of grass, leaves and feathers float down until the bird is satisfied. It was probably the nest of a rival bird the nuthatches wanted to evict from their territory.

I have never witnessed such bird behaviour in my life before. Amazing what’s on your doorstep.

Stay at home, stay safe, study your local patch.