The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has devastated the UK in many different ways. We've mourned tens of thousands of deaths. The country's GDP has fallen by more than 20 per cent. Unemployment has soared. Children have missed months of school, and families have been unable to spend time together.
But if all that bad news has made you desperate for a silver lining, here it is: the Great Lockdown of 2020 appears to have been quite beneficial for UK wildlife.
You've probably seen all the photos of animals venturing into deserted town centres, and while some of those photos are actually fake, there is nevertheless some truth to the much-parodied claim that 'nature is healing'.
Here are three examples from right here in the UK.
The government's 'stay at home' rules significantly reduced the amount of traffic on British roads - excellent news for hedgehogs!
As we mentioned in our Hedgehog Awareness Week blog, UK hedgehog populations are in decline, and since cars are a major cause of death for hedgehogs (it's thought that 150,000 of them are killed by vehicles each year), these past few months must have been a welcome break for our prickly friends.
There have also been increased sightings of hedgehogs mating in UK gardens, as this BBC article explains.
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The coronavirus lockdown has helped Britain's embattled bee population in a number of different ways.
For one thing, there are more wildflowers about. The UK's roadside verges have been allowed to grow freely, creating new habitats for busy bees to use.
And hedgehogs aren't the only animals who have benefited from the recent drop in road traffic - insects are frequently struck and killed by vehicles, so the lockdown may prove quite the boon for British bee numbers as well.
Additionally, car fumes make it harder for bees to sniff out nearby flowers, so the decrease in air pollution has enabled them to make shorter, more efficient trips when foraging for nectar and pollen.
Make Your Garden a Home for Insects >>
The drop in insect-harming practices during lockdown has a nice knock-on effect for UK birds: more food! The warm, dry weather we've seen lately will also have helped to boost the country's insect populations, so bug-eating birds may consider themselves spoiled this year.
We're also hearing that birds have been building their nests in places that would usually be too busy. With fewer people walking around the British countryside of late, ground-nesting birds have had more real estate options than usual - although this could result in conflict now that the country is beginning to open up again!
Food for Wild Birds >>
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Bee photo from Pixabay