Spring may be bursting out all over but, with the coronavirus lockdown confining people indoors for much of their day, everyone is at greater risk of losing touch with nature.
The Canal & River Trust charity has responded by launching an online wildlife quiz so everyone can imagine they’re strolling along a waterway towpath listening to nature.
The Trust, which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways, commissioned a survey that showed young people are less likely to be able to identify wildlife than older generations.
According to the findings, only 59% of people aged 16-24 could identify a duck’s quacking sound, compared with 78% of the over 55s.
The survey also discovered 76% of parents believe they are less knowledgeable about nature than the previous generation, with 68% of parents also believing that their own children are less knowledgeable about nature than they were at the same age.
Some people are lucky and able to enjoy wildlife as part of their daily lockdown walk – more than eight million live within 1km of a canal. But to keep everyone in touch with nature, the Canal & River Trust throws down the gauntlet for families to join in a national intergenerational test of knowledge.
Name that Nature Tune is a simple, fun, multiple choice quiz, suitable for any age. Ten questions feature a wide variety of wildlife sound recordings from bats and blackbirds to geese and deer.
Peter Birch, environmental policy adviser with the Canal & River Trust, said: “Waterways are a wonderful place to enjoy the great outdoors and get closer to nature – particularly in our towns and cities where green space is at a premium and not everyone has a back garden.
“They boost our health and wellbeing – which is why we’re all missing them so much at the moment. Our new online nature quiz is the next best thing – a fantastic way for families to come together across all generations in different locations and share in a fun game.
“The survey, commissioned by the Trust in 2016, showed that young people are increasingly becoming disconnected to nature. This wildlife sound quiz may be online but hopefully when the lockdown is lifted, it will have whetted people’s appetites to make the effort to explore their local waterway, put down their phones and really listen to wonderful nature sounds all around them.
“Anyone lucky enough to have a canal or river on their doorstep is still able to go for a short walk there each day but at the moment we are asking people to limit their use and stay local. Everyone should abide by the government guidelines, share the space along the narrow towpaths and respect social distancing.”
The sound recordings were made by members of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society (WSRS). John Paterson, of the WSRS, added: “The society was founded in 1968, since when we have been recording the sounds of nature not only in Britain, but increasingly elsewhere throughout the world as well.
“Particularly at a time of national crisis, we are pleased to be able to share these sounds with the British public as a link to the big outdoors, which offers us much to look forward to when the lockdown lifts.”
To test your nature knowledge on the Canal & River Trust wildlife quiz go to: canalrivertrust.org.uk/ear-for-wildlifeEnjoy more Towpath Talk reading in the monthly paper. Click here to subscribe.