The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout returns this weekend
The RSPB's popular annual Big Wild Sleepout takes place this weekend (29-30 July), with thousands of families across the country expected to spend a night under the stars.
Warm July nights have led to a surge in sightings of nocturnal garden wildlife such as owls, bats, Hedgehogs and moths. These are among the many creatures that the RSPB is encouraging children and their families to keep an eye out for this weekend as they take their first steps on their own wild adventure by taking part in the event.
For the fifth year running, thousands of children and their families across the country will be pitching up their tents, rolling out their sleeping bags and gathering round the campfire, as they get closer to nature by spending a night out under the stars. Taking part will count towards the 'Wild Challenge', the RSPB’s new free year-round adventure for families.
Tawny Owl is the most likely owl species to be heard or even seen on a suburban or woodland sleepout. Photo: RSPB.
The RSPB is also encouraging campers to keep an eye out for nocturnal garden wildlife after the warm, dry weather throughout June and July saw an eruption in sightings of moths and other invertebrates, bats, Badgers, owls and Hedgehogs.
RSPB Big Wild Sleepout co-ordinator Paul Birmingham said: “Whether you’re a child or just a big kid at heart, a night under the stars is always exciting, and night time provides some of the most exciting wildlife to explore. From Hedgehogs and Badgers snuffling around the lawn to bats and owls flying over head, gardens transform into another world after dark.
“Whether you’re a seasoned camper, occasional 'glamper' or just fancy an evening exploring before returning to home comforts, there’s no better time to get together and take a closer look at the nocturnal nature in your outside space. You can take part anywhere – big, small, urban or rural – it’s free and we have loads of activities, hints and tips to help families make the most of their adventure. By taking part, you’ll be taking your first step on your own Wild Challenge, the RSPB’s new, free, year-round nature adventure for families.”
Wild Challenge is the RSPB’s new online award scheme encouraging children and their families to go out and get closer to the natural world. By completing activities ranging from 'mini-beast safaris' to creating a compost heap and planting for wildlife, families can log their achievements on to the RSPB Wild Challenge website and collect their rewards.
Why not get your kids' schoolfriends to join your family sleepout? Photo: RSPB.
Paul added: “With the amount of time children and their families are spending outside in nature declining, experiences like the Big Wild Sleepout provide a perfect opportunity to get out and discover the wildlife that surrounds us all. The chance to take a step closer to the wonders of nature should be a part of every child’s life and the RSPB Big Wild Sleepout is here to help every family start their own wild adventure.”
The RSPB is also organising sleepout events in some truly inspiring locations across Britain, for those who want a wilder time. With special night-time activities from food and stories around the campfire to after-dark nature walks and stargazing, this is the ultimate summer sleepout experience. A full list of events is available on the RSPB website.
Outdoor clothing company Rohan is once more supporting the RSPB Big Wild Sleepout, which is expected to be the biggest yet: over 11,000 families are expected to spend a night in the wild tomorrow.
For lots of free fun activities, ideas and tips to help you have a wild night out under the stars, go to www.rspb.org.uk/sleepout. To start your own Wild Challenge adventures go to www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge.