A NATURE charity has come up with a way to help people explore and learn about the great outdoors – from the safety of their own gardens, yards or neighbourhoods.

Durham Wildlife Trust’s Wild@Home initiative aims to entertain people during the coronavirus restrictions and help everyone spot plants and creatures in their nearby green spaces.

Every Monday, from today, the Trust will share free resources on its website from tips on identifying plants, trees and garden birds to how to watch bats and survey the mini-beasts emerging after winter.

Children and adults are encouraged to share the information they gather by completing online surveys and on Durham Wildlife Trust’s social media sites using the hashtag #dwtwildathome

The Northern Echo:

Durham Wildlife Trust director Jim Cokill said: “We know that this is an anxious time for many people and keeping the mind active will be vital in the weeks and months to come.

“Spring is a terrific time to spot animals and plants as the world comes back to life and sharing details of what we see is an excellent way of focusing the mind on something other than the virus.

“Of course, gardens are teeming with wildlife, but you can spot wildlife through your window or along any street if you take time to look and if the Durham Wildlife Trust team can assist with identification that will help to keep their skills sharp, too.

“Keep an eye out for house sparrows, blackbirds, the first swallows returning, red admiral and small tortoiseshell butterflies, or, during early evening, bats.

“Alternatively, if getting outside is not possible, ‘kittiwake cam' is now online where you can view the most inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world. These fantastic birds spend autumn and winter out at sea and return to nest on building and bridge ledges along the Tyne in late February through to August. You can visit our website to view the camera live.”

The Northern Echo:

Durham Wildlife Trust, which is active across County Durham, the City of Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Darlington, has 37 nature reserves and supports management of other sites.

Its two visitor centres, at Rainton Meadows near Houghton-le-Spring, and Low Barns near Witton-le-Wear, are closed. Anyone visiting other sites should follow Government guidance on social distancing.

Jim Cokill said: “At a time like this, many people are seeking to get out into the open air, which has always been good for wellbeing. However, people do need to be sensible in these testing times. The quicker we overcome coronavirus, the quicker we can all get back to enjoying our region's wildlife.”

For more visit durhamwt.com/wildathome