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🔊 Listen: Birdsong in the city

Podcast transcript April 5, 2020

HELLO and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast, showing kids that there’s a lot more to world news than bad news.

I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I spent years bringing people bad news from all over the world. Now I realise that if we’re really going to fix our problems, we need a bit of hope and inspiration too. And so I get together with my podcast buddy Clarisse to talk about what people are already doing to come up with solutions.

Right now, our big problem is corona virus. Clarisse and I are keeping you up to date with the good news and we’ve got more coming right up. So if you want to cheer up a friend, do send them a link to this, WoW! News, the positive podcast.

C – Hi Alastair !

A – Hi Clarisse. You’ll never guess what I just saw from the window here at the WoW ! studio in Brussels.

C – Hm. Well, probably not a plane, right ?

A –  Yep, you’re right. Not a plane. Usually I can see a plane pretty much any time I look out the window. But with most people staying at home to stop the corona virus there are almost none.

C – So…. what? You saw a bird?

A – That’s it. Clarisse, And not just any bird. Of course, I usually see plenty of pigeons and the like. But a little while ago I spotted a huge, lanky thing perched on a roof across the street. I recognized it as a heron – a bird you might normally see lurking on a riverbank, waiting to pounce on a fish.

C – Wow. I haven’t seen anything like that here in Paris. But since we’ve been staying at home I have noticed something new here.

A – What’s that?

C – Birdsong! It’s amazing how much more we can hear birds singing from our windows. It really cheers me up!

A – Ah, yes, Clarisse. Here too we’re hearing more birds singing. It’s all part of this extraordinary flourishing of wildlife in our towns and cities because of the COVID virus.

C – Hm, do you think that there are really more birds around in the city?

A – Well, Clarisse, maybe the first thing to say is that with billions of human beings shut away in their homes around the world, not zipping around in buses and cars and generally rushing about everywhere, is that we can simply hear, and smell and see more clearly the Nature and wildlife that surrounds us in our towns every day.

C – You mean the birds are not singing more than usual?

A – Well, no, I think you’re also right Clarisse. Lots of birds get shy when people are about and making them scared. So the birds in town are singing more than usual. And then there are more birds and other animals coming into town because we are giving them the space and the quiet to enjoy it.

C – Like your heron?

A – Yes, exactly, Clarisse. Like the heron I just saw taking a look around Brussels.

C – But there are also lots of amazing animals coming out on the streets.

A – Yes, it’s fantastic isn’t it. You’ve seen the videos of dolphins swimming around harbours, bears strolling into cities, even a puma in the capital of Chile.

C – And the goats…

A – Ah, yes, those brilliant mountain goats. On the WoW! news website – www dot wow dash news dot eu – we’ve got the video of that herd of goats trotting around a town in Wales, nibbling on the hedgerows and generally looking like they own the place.

C – I guess you could say that Nature is taking back her space from humans?

A – Well, I think that’s right in a way Clarisse. Of course, this shutdown isn’t going to go on forever. In a few weeks, we’ll be able to start getting back to normal. But it would be a shame wouldn’t it if we just completely forgot about what we’ve seen and heard during this time where we are all keeping unusually quiet.

C – What do you think we should do about it, Alastair?

A – Well, don’t you think it will be good if what is happening helps us all to remember that we share Planet Earth with millions of other species and that we should take better care of it – and them. In the meantime, we can sit by our windows and watch the show. We can look out for birds, but also, who knows for hedgehogs or even foxes. Let’s get to know our natural neighbours a bit better.

C – Do you think there are any other positive things for wild creatures because we people are all staying at home?

A – Well, Clarisse, quite a lot of nature experts say that there could be a real boost for birds and animals and fish. In Europe and the rest of the northern hemisphere it’s spring right now of course. That means the grass and other plants are growing fast and, unlike a normal spring in the city, they’re not getting trampled on by our big feet or having to breathe air that we pollute with our traffic. So more plants and flowers, means more insects – and that means more food for the birds.

C – Great. So it could be a really musical summer with more birds to sing to us?

A – That’s what the experts are predicting, Clarisse. They’ll have more food. And there’s another thing about spring. This is also the time when lots of birds and animals are having their babies. Just having so much more peace and quiet to lay their eggs or look after their youngsters, may mean that families of birds and animals around town have a chance to be bigger than normal. It could be a noisy summer!

C – Hm. I look forward to that. Do you know… having more time to think about things while we are staying at home means that I have learned a lot of new things. For example, do you know that here in Paris there are more than one thousand six hundred different species of animal? I mean just the ones which live here all the time. I really need to get to know more of them!

A – That’s a great idea, Clarisse. I tell you what, you go off and start drawing up a list of what Parisian animals you would like to see and I’ll set that as a challenge for our listeners.

C – Good idea, Alastair. See you on Wednesday!

A – Yes see you on Wednesday Clarisse when we’re going to be sharing top tips on how to make the most of having to stay in and not go outside. We’ll be hearing from sailors, astronauts and all sorts of people who know what it’s like to have to stay in one place for a long time. Even me! But more about that in the next episode.

A – Until then, folks, here’s Clarisse’s challenge. Why don’t you make a poster of the most exciting wild animals and birds that you’ve seen near your home – or that you know live around you and that you hope to see one day. We’d love you to share them with us. Post them on Instagram and mark them with the hashtags mywowtime and nature and we’ll look out for them. Check out our Instagram at mywowtime.

Thank you for listening – and thank you for spreading the word about the wow! news podcast. More and more of you have been tuning in in the past few weeks. We’re really grateful. Here at WoW!, we want to make sure everyone knows about the good things that are happening in the world, even when times are tough. Our problems have solutions. Cheer up a friend – tell them about WoW!

That’s it from me. I’m Alastair. I’ve been talking with Clarisse. We’ll be back on Wednesday with more from WoW!, the positive podcast. Until then, stay at home, stay safe and keep… positive!

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