July 28, 2020

Has lockdown encouraged us to protect our native species and reconnect with nature?

Alice Macmillan, 30

During the global pandemic of Covid-19, lockdown in the Outer Hebrides has produced some interesting, possibly beneficial results. I currently live in the house I was raised in on the Isle of Lewis. I have seen the population of my village fluctuate through the years and witnessed the changing environment due to the decline of crofting. As a child, I was encouraged to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the Hebrides. I could recognise the calls of various native birds but rarely, if ever, heard the unmistakeable call of the corncrake until recently. In the past few years, there have been occasions when the rasping croak of the corncrake has broken the summer evening silence. This year however, barely a night has gone by without the persistent creaking calls of the male corncrakes trying to attract mates. The corncrake population went into decline in Scotland in the 20th century and by the 1990s they only bred in Outer Hebrides and Orkney. They are now protected and appear to be repopulating our village grasslands. Lockdown has forced us to spend time at home and take notice of our natural environment and hopefully, encouraged us to value and protect it.

Corncrakes and Cuckooflowers, 2020Linocut48 x 64 cm