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(Credit: NaturePlay WA)

Okay team – we feel you. We too are getting tired of the social distancing, home-schooling the kids and the getting dressed to go from the bedroom into the “office” you’ve set up in your living room (am I alone on that one?)
The ONLY way I’ve been able to stay sane is by getting into nature – and I’m not alone! Visitation in the sanctuary has steadily increased since the COVID-chaos hit. It’s well known that nature reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as good for the body by moving more (Cox, D. et al. 2017). Seeing as exercise is one of the few reasons we can head outdoors, why not do it in nature?
Now is as good a time as any to get your daily dose of nature.
I’m Millie the sanctuary ecologist and I’m going to help you get into nature.

Audio Tour
If you’re heading into Mulligans, why not download our app before you go? Take a tour throughout the sanctuary on one of three pre-recorded audio tours: Woodland Walk, Wetland Walk and the Ground to Sky Walk.
There has been such a high download rate of this app we are looking into adding more walks to it, as well as creating one for our sister sanctuary: Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Stay tuned!

Canberra Nature Map
Find an interesting beetle on your walk? Or that plant that you used to remember but have forgotten the name? Take a photo and upload it to Canberra Nature Map. A group of experts go through the images and help identify what species is in your photo. You can go online or now there is a great app called NatureMapr.
To learn more head to: https://canberra.naturemapr.org

Animal identification apps
Field guides are great, but who can possibly carry all the field guides you need on a walk without slipping a disc?! Here’s where a few key apps come in handy. My favourites are:
Spidentify – I have a soft spot for spiders 🙂 To identify a species the app takes you through a fun little quiz by breaking down where you are, what habitat you found it in, what body shape it has and how it moves. This is also a great one for the kids!

PK Birds – a complete bird field guide in your pocket. Pizzey & Knight have a well-renowned field guide in book form, but I find the app all I need. An added bonus is to listen to the calls in the field – I find it the easiest way to confirm a bird identification.

Great free apps:
– ACT Field Guide (a handy field guide for the invertebrate and vertebrate animals found in the ACT. There is also an equivalent app for each state.)
– FrogID (It’s Shazam for frogs calls!!)
– Australian Birds & Sounds (fairly self-explanatory).

Nature scavenger hunts are the bomb.com and the best one I’ve come across is from NaturePlay. Print out this guy before your next walk with the kids and let them loose! https://www.natureplaycbr.org.au/library/2/file/Nature%20Play%20SCAVENGER%20HUNT.pdf

But Millie – I hear you say – I’m in lockdown because my mum peer-pressured me into seeing her, only to find out the very next day that she was being tested for her symptoms. Don’t worry girlfriend, I got you!
If you can’t get out into nature – let me bring the nature to you:

Bringing nature to you
– Digivol
We have a thriving online community of volunteers helping us identify what species are appearing on our camera traps we have stationed around the sanctuary. Simply create a login, search for the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and get identifying!
– I do not want to toot our own horn, but our YouTube channel has had a massive revival. Okay, maybe I do want to toot our horn! Check out our Quoll Den episodes and other videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJh1yfX_1_Mi2x2WcqqnHvw
– While I am working at home, my new favourite thing to have running in the background is live bird cams! By far the most comprehensive collection of live feeds comes from the Cornell Lab in the US. Check out their fantastic streams here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

In these tumultuous and uncertain times, it is so important to focus on the positives. Video call your loved ones, daily dance parties in the living room and exploring nature will help get us through this. I hope you have been inspired to channel your inner Sir Attenborough and explore the glorious nature we are so lucky to have surrounding us. I look forward to seeing you (from a safe distance of 1.5 metres) in the sanctuary soon!

Millie Sutherland Saines
Ecologist & Outreach Manager
Fan of loungeroom dance parties

Reference: BioScience, Volume 67, Issue 2, February 2017, Pages 147-155, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biw173 Published: 13 January 2017