Preview: TNoT’s “Nature’s Big Year” explores what happens when a pandemic sends humans inside

Do you recall those first few weeks into the pandemic, when humans were told to stay home and animals were seen more frequently outside? I remember the cellphone videos posted on social media of coyotes trotting down residential streets and sheep galloping around neighbourhoods overseas amid jokes of nature taking the land back.

Were these just a handful of coincidental instances, or something that was really happening while we sat inside, looking out the window? And, was nature better off?

“Nature’s Big Year,” airing Friday as part of The Nature of Things, aims to find out.

Writer, director and producer Christine Nielsen and producer Diana Warmé tell an incredible story spanning 11 locations around the globe—during the pandemic—of nature doing a reboot.

In Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, wildlife ecologist Jason Fisher and his colleagues were delayed by COVID-19 from accessing trail cameras they’d set up before the world shut down. What they saw in the footage was surprising.

Meanwhile, in Juno Beach, Florida, research manager Sarah Hirsch relates how the lockdown helped loggerhead turtles nest more successfully in an area humans usually trampled around in. And, in Nottinghamshire, UK, wildlife biologist Lauren Moore investigates whether or not a drop in traffic during the pandemic would cause the endangered hedgehog to rebound.

And, not surprisingly (I know this first-hand from observing my feeder), birds were more plentiful during the lockdown. What was a surprise for researchers was that birdsong became louder, more varied, and birds were attracted to areas where there were stricter lockdowns.

Beautifully filmed, “Nature’s Big Year” is the well-told tale of what happens to nature when we interact with it less.

“Nature’s Big Year” airs as part of The Nature of Things, Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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