Nature’s best is not always beautiful


The Slow Worm — a type of legless, slug-eating lizard — is the unlikely star of the RSPB's Make Your Nature Count survey this year. People are asked to keep a look out for Slow Worms in their garden or local park as part of the RSPB's annual summer wildlife survey, as well as a variety of other wildlife including Hedgehogs, garden birds and their chicks. The survey takes just one hour to complete, and can be done any time between 2nd and 10th June.

Slow Worm (RSPB).

Slow Worms feature in the survey for the first time this year. They are most at home in the compost heap, where they keep warm and find food such as slugs, snails and spiders. Or they might be found hiding between rocks and other garden debris, meaning spotting them is not always easy. However, the RSPB wants this year's survey to provide a baseline count of Slow Worms in Britain's gardens, against which they can measure in future years.

Mark Eaton, Principal Conservation Scientist with the RSPB, says; "Most of us are easily drawn to pretty species like Robins, Hedgehogs or Hares. Getting enthusiastic about the things that slither or crawl amongst the compost takes more effort. But the natural world doesn't divide itself into the loveable and the unloveable, so neither should we. Slow Worms are a fascinating and intriguing species in our parks and gardens, and just as worthy of our attention as more attractive wildlife."

Last year, around 80,000 people stepped up for nature to take part in the Make Your Nature Count survey, which saw a 15% increase in sightings of baby birds compared to the previous year. But the RSPB is unsure what effect the UK's wet spring weather will have had on wildlife this year. The rain may have provided better feeding conditions for thrushes, Robins and Blackbirds, or it could have been so wet that many garden birds have failed to nest successfully.

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Mark continues: "It'll be interesting to see what effect the rain has had on garden and park wildlife this summer, or how that varies around the country. The more people that take part, the better picture we'll be able to build of how wildlife is faring across the UK."

To take part, simply spend one hour during the week of 2nd–10th June counting the birds and the other wildlife that visit your garden or green space, record the highest number of each species seen at any one time, and send the RSPB your results before 2nd July. For further information visit Make Your Nature Count, where an online survey form will be available from Saturday 2nd June. Or ring 0300 456 8330 to receive a form in the post.

The table shows the percentage of gardens where other wildlife (non-bird species) was recorded in 2011:

Species% seen regularly (at least monthly)
Stag Beetle2
Grass Snake2
Great Crested Newt2
Written by: RSPB