Some Jersey residents are happier with lockdown...

JERSEY’S under-threat wild animals seem to be enjoying life under lockdown – and there are tentative hopes they could see a mini baby boom.

With Islanders largely confined to their homes and traffic levels significantly down, animals have been seen out and about enjoying the new-found safety of roads, lanes and hedgerows.

And the effect of the coronavirus restrictions can be seen by the absence of dead wildlife on the side of the road during the crucial spring breeding season.

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (28141090)

‘One definite sign that the shutdown is having an effect on wildlife is the decrease in the amount of roadkill that I have seen,’ said Bob Tompkins, the JEP’s nature writer. ‘At this time I would have expected to see many more hedgehogs, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional barn owl having been hit by vehicles.

‘With evening and night-time traffic greatly reduced at crucial times, numbers of roadkill are noticeably down.

‘Another possible knock-on effect may be that due to less human disturbance all wildlife may have a much more successful breeding season,’ he added.

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However, it may prove difficult to find evidence of whether the breeding season has been better than normal, as many wildlife-monitoring projects have been cancelled during the lockdown.

‘One downside will be the lack of data collected on a wide range of wildlife projects, from bats to butterflies and barn owls to toads. Perversely, this will mean that a wide range of possible benefits that the shutdown may have will go unrecorded,’ said Mr Tompkins.

Naturalist and JEP writer Mike Stentiford said that birds were benefiting from a lack of human activity.

‘One very noticeable point is that with noise now at a low level, birdsong is probably being noticed as never before.

‘The almost bare carparks on areas at the Waterfront, for instance, are currently awash with the songs of blackbirds and goldfinches.’

Mr Stentiford said that it will not be known until later in the year whether it was a successful breeding season for all types of wildlife.

‘It’s difficult to judge if there will be a wildlife baby boom. But it would be nice to think there’s going to be a high point later in the season,’ he said.

‘There is a general air of peace and quiet, which is to wildlife’s benefit, but it will be the end of the season when we’ll be able to gauge any changes. With lockdown everything is less frantic and that is of benefit to all wildlife generally.’

Mick Dryden, chairman of the ornithology section of the Société Jersiaise, said that he was hopeful that the Island’s birds would enjoy a strong breeding season.

‘All the hides are closed so it’s not easy to tell if there’s been a change.

‘But I think the birds will benefit from fewer people being around and generally there’s been less tree cutting, so that all helps,’ he said, adding ‘it’s a bit early to tell if there’s a change as the birds are in the middle of breeding – we might get reports of them breeding in odd places, but not yet!’

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