The National Trust is delivering a series of live videos from Mount Stewart to connect people with nature as lockdown continues to stop people visiting their places.
“If people can’t come to see our places, we will bring our places to them.” This is the pledge of Heather McLachlan, Director of the National Trust in Northern Ireland which has ramped up its online presence with daily doses of nature content for fans and followers of the conservation charity.
Following government guidance, the Trust closed its parks and gardens in addition to its houses, cafes and shops on March 22, but since then it has remained committed to bringing people closer to nature by sharing films, pictures and live video content of spring unfolding at its places.
There’s plenty of scientific evidence that experiencing nature is hugely beneficial to our health and wellbeing, but recent studies have shown that just looking at images of nature can also help to reduce stress levels.
One of the most popular posts to date has been a live stream from the Red Squirrel Hide at Mount Stewart hosted by ranger Toby Edwards in which three red squirrels can be seen playing and feeding in the background – one even comes right up to the camera for a nosey.
The red squirrel was once abundant in Ireland but has drastically reduced in numbers and distribution over the last 50 years. A priority species for special protection in Northern Ireland there are thought to be 40-45 red squirrels living on the Mount Stewart demesne and around 100-120 across the Ards peninsula.
Notoriously difficult to spot, the live video of the squirrels delighted the audience and has had over 5,400 views to date. In response the team are now posting a daily #MountStewartMoment including regular live streams from the property where a number of rangers and garden staff remain on the estate to carry out essential tasks.
A second live video from the red squirrel hide is planned for May 5 at 11am on Facebook when Toby hopes some young squirrels, or kittens as are they are known, will make an appearance.
Other video themes have included the arrival of the Red Mason Bee, woodland walks, wet habitat restoration, bats and more.
• For a daily dose of nature with the National Trust follow @NationalTrustNI on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
• Search #MountStewartMoment and tune into @NTmountstewart on Facebook for live video details.