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  1. ITV Report

Wildlife reclaims National Trust sites in London closed due to lockdown

Wildlife is making itself at home in National Trust properties empty of visitors in lockdown, with some species returning to places for the first time in decades.

The National Trust closed its historic houses, castles, parks and gardens in the pandemic, and now rangers and gardeners are reporting that wildlife has become emboldened by the peace and quiet to reclaim many sites.

Even flowers such as bluebells and wood anemones are enjoying the lack of disturbance.

Gardeners at Ham House have noticed little owls venturing further into the garden from nearby river meadows.

And jackdaws which are valued at Ham House for their appetite for eating box moth caterpillar, and also enjoy feeding on scraps of food dropped by people, have not returned to the historic property since lockdown started.

But some wildlife is making a comeback to sites after long absences, such as the cuckoo which was heard calling Osterley for the first time in 20 years.

A display of 500,000 bulbs at the National Trust's Ham House

With the site the quietest it has ever been, the great curtain walls are an ideal spot for these powerful birds, which look for isolated and inaccessible places to build a nest. Amongst all the uncertainty, it has been heartening to see nature colonising the landscape in our absence.

It has only been eight weeks but wildlife seems to be enjoying the breathing space.

With less traffic and fewer people, we’ve heard deafening levels of birdsong and seen famous monuments and formal gardens colonised by wildlife.

Nature’s recovery is still a long way off, but the fact that people are noticing what’s around them is something to be celebrated.

– David Brown, National Trust ecologist at Corfe Castle