WILDLIFE is thriving amid the lockdown as animals return to areas where they had fled crowds of visitors, according to nature experts.
Seals, rare birds and other creatures have been spotted along the coast and in the New Forest during the coronavirus outbreak as people stay at home.
Dave Rumble of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said animals were returning to places from which they had been driven out.
He said: “We are seeing what happened during the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 20 years ago that led to a similar lockdown in terms of where people could go.
“As a result, we are seeing ground-nesting birds, which are disturbance-sensitive, building their nests along tracks in the Forest and also in coastal areas that they had all but disappeared from.
“They include birds that have declined significantly in numbers, including the nightjar, the redshank and the curlew.”
Grey seals have been seen on beaches in Milford, Hurst, Mudeford, Highcliffe and Christchurch.
Mr Rumble said this is also probably due to the lockdown, saying: “Grey seals are a lot rarer to see in the Solent than harbour seals.
“The fact that so little traffic is going on out at sea has led to them becoming less inhibited and venturing on shore.”
Mr Rumble said people should “enjoy” seeing creatures such as the seals but should not go near them.
As reported in the A&T, larger car parks have been shut in the New Forest to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In Lymington all leisure moorings, berths and pontoons have been closed to the public.
Regulations brought in by the government, and enforced by the police with the threat of fines and arrests, permit people one exercise trip a day, as well as going out shopping for essentials, and for health reasons.