Photo: Washademoak Lake
Getting Into Nature During COVID-19
These are uncertain times we find ourselves in. So many aspects of our lives have been impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic; businesses are closed, employees are working from home, special events (including our own Festival of Nature) are being cancelled, and more. In this world full of unknowns, there is one constant that we can rely on to help us escape: nature.
Whether it’s doing something as simple as going for a walk, or as involved as birders working on their life lists, there is truly something for everyone in the great outdoors. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourites.
1. Become a citizen scientist with iNaturalist
Check out iNaturalist, a website and mobile app that allows users to log the species in their areas. As one of the largest citizen science platforms in the world, the information that you upload could one day be used by researchers for conservation work!
Head to inaturalist.org or download the free app through your phone’s app store. Once your account is set up, all you need to do is take photos of the species you find, upload them to the site or through the app with some basic information, and wait for other members of the community to confirm your identifications.
Want to know what Nature NB staff are up to? Follow our Species at Risk Program Director Lewnanny Richardson on iNaturalist! Just search for the username lewnanny_richardson.
2. Participate in PlantWatch
Citizen science activities are low-risk during times of social distancing, so here’s one more for you: spring means it’s time for PlantWatch!
It’s still snowing on and off in parts of the province, but if there’s one thing that we know about this time of year, it’s that the snow won’t stick around for long. So why not take note of the plants in bloom in your neighbourhood and upload your findings to PlantWatch!
3. Get into birdwatching
Always been interested in birdwatching but never knew where to start? Great news: now is the perfect time to learn what it’s all about!
Birds Canada has compiled an online resource to help you get started. They outline the basic gear, apps, and websites that you should check out, along with tips on what to look for and listen for. Check it out here.
Nature NB has also prepared birding checklists to help guide you in your birdwatching! Whether you’re an advanced birder or someone looking to go birdwatching with your kids, we have a guide for you.
4. Organize a neighbourhood clean-up day
With spring on our doorstep, all kinds of things are being revealed as the snow melts: litter, debris, lost mittens, and more. It’s a perfect time to organize a neighbourhood clean-up!
There are many ways to reach out to the people in your neighbourhood without going door to door: posters on utility poles, mailboxes, and community boards; a sign in your front window or on your front lawn; a post in your neighbourhood Facebook page; or even just calling and texting your neighbours.
Let them know that you are organizing a neighbourhood clean-up and encourage them to participate on the same day at the same time by cleaning their own yards. You could call your elderly neighbours and offer to tidy up their yards for them as well. You could even get people to volunteer to tidy up around common areas, like parks, trails, catch basins, and culverts. Just make sure groups are not gathering in these areas.
Nature NB member Carmella Melanson cleans up around her neighbourhood.
Please note: Once trash is collected, please consult your municipality websites, as there may be changes to trash and recycling collection during this time. If recycling has been halted in your area, we ask that you hold onto the recyclables until they can be sent to a recycling facility in the future.
5. Activities with your kids
With New Brunswick schools cancelled for the remainder of this school year, it is important to continue to supplement their learning as best as you can with hands-on activities that you can do at home and in your yard. Check out the following links for some ideas:
6. Check out YouTube
The therapeutic benefits of nature can also be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home thanks to local content creators on YouTube! Here are two of our recommendations.
i. Special Spots
As many parks across the province close to encourage social distancing, the amazing views and vistas in New Brunswick are becoming harder to access. Matthew Dickson has created a YouTube channel called Special Spots, where you can take in the sights and sounds of some of these places.
If you have a video that you’d like to add to the channel, contact Matthew at [email protected].
ii. Nature With Rusty
Michael Bennett — or Rusty, to his Otter Scouts in Sussex, NB! — has started a YouTube channel to help his Scouts continue with their activities even during social distancing. These videos are perfect not only for Scouts and Guides looking to continue working on interest badges while at home, but also to anyone looking to learn more about the birds that can be observed right here in New Brunswick.
What else are you doing to get into nature during COVID-19? Send us your photos anytime on social media, and feel free to send photos and stories to us via email at [email protected].
Please note: This article had previously stated that all Nature Trust of New Brunswick preserves were open. As of April 3, 2020 they are closed.