“Last year many of us probably missed out on our Valentine’s hearts and flowers because it was difficult to spend time with the people we love and care for during lockdown,” says Morwenna Alldis, spokesperson for the RSPB.
“Relationships of all forms – friends, family, partners and even with ourselves, have really been challenged.
“So, this February the RSPB are encouraging everyone in Greater Manchester to let nature be their Valentine – because we think by taking some time to reconnect with nature, you can help your physical and mental wellbeing and show yourself some much-needed love too.”
Here are three ways in which nature will win your heart this February, the RSPB suggests.
Explore local parks and nature reserves
Winter’s cold can make us want to hibernate under a blanket with our favourite boxset or a good book.
But February brings the promise of spring and beckons us to shed some layers and explore local parks and nature reserves, such as RSPB Dove Stone nature reserve, right here in Greater Manchester.
How many first signs of new life can you find? Look out for drifts of snowdrops, the first yellow flashes of primroses, and hazel catkins, which are the male flower of the tree.
With a shift to home working, gifting yourself just 20 minutes away from the kitchen table office to loop around the block and investigate the nature on your doorstep can give you the physical and mental breath of fresh air that you deserve.
Find your nearest RSPB nature reserve here.
A Valentine’s Day in nature isn’t just for couples; families can also enjoy coming together to have fun with the RSPB’s Wild Challenge.
Listening to birdsong
Since medieval times, folklore has suggested that Valentine’s Day is the date when birds start to sing and attract a mate.
By the end of February, the volume is amplified in the bird world as they start to defend their territories and pair up.
Listening to birdsong can be incredibly uplifting, it can cut through the noise in our heads and ground us in a special connection with nature.
It’s a chance to pause, take a deep breath, and savour a moment just for you.
Here are some to listen out for:
Robin – gurgles and trickles, with a watery feel.
Great tit – sounds like ‘teacher teacher teacher’, see-sawing between two notes of the same pitch.
Chaffinch – 10 notes dropping down the scale and finishing with a theatrical flourish.
Song thrush – Loud and confident, with a ‘repeat and move on’ structure that is so different from any other common bird.
Because the trees are bare at this time of year it’s easier to identify the different songsters, so it’s a great opportunity to start learning birdsong.
A cosy home for two
After nature has put all this effort into wooing you – long walks, live music, even flowers – show some green love in return and make a little space for nature in your heart and home by installing a nestbox.
National Nestbox Weeks runs from 14th-21st February and it’s a fantastic way to help your garden birds as they gear up for a busy breeding season in March.
A rough idea of which species visit your patch is useful, as different birds need different types of holes in their nestboxes.
You don’t need a lot of outdoor space or even a garden, just the right positioning and clear flight paths to the nestbox.
To find out more and to make your own nestbox, a fun activity to do with friends and family, click here. Or take a look at their ready to go nestboxes online, or pick up one from your nearest RSPB shop.
“Happy Valentine’s Day from the RSPB,” says Morwenna.
“We hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship between yourself and nature, which lasts a lifetime.”