It’s pretty hard to see things in the dark, and that’s most probably why some of our incredible night time wildlife goes unnoticed as it hops, snuffles and flaps around our neighbourhoods.


I love to snuggle up cosily of an evening. As dusk empties our skies of colour, blue fading slowly to black, I can invariably be found closing curtains, shutting blinds and allowing the cheerful glow of lamps and fairy lights to illuminate my evening.


I only realised quite how much I was missing by shutting out the darkness when one evening I left a window open and my curtains ajar. As I brushed my teeth I was enchanted by a pale lemon yellow creature, delicately positioned on my bathroom wall, pointed wings fully extended. After a bit of research I discovered I’d been lucky enough to have welcomed a swallowtail moth into my home. Like a beautiful beacon for night time wildlife, this wondrous beast ushered in thoughts of the incredible wild world going about its business right outside my windows every evening.


Now, I try to keep my eyes and ears open for the sights and sounds of wildlife as I make my way through the neighbourhood as night falls. Even in my city location, bats swoop, owls hoot and foxes forage. The other evening I almost tripped over a hedgehog as it scurried quickly across the road in search of a juicy slug filled dinner or perhaps a bed for the night. And now I know that the small grey nuisances that chomp holes in all of my clothes give moths a bad name, there are actually beauties all the colours of the rainbow out and about feeding in moonlit gardens every night – what a lovely thought!


As the summer holiday’s get in full swing and alarm clocks are resigned to the bottom drawer until next term, there is no better time to immerse your family in the wonderful world of nocturnal nature. This July, the RSPB are hoping to encourage 100,000 adults and children across the UK get closer to wildlife by spending a night out under the stars during our Big Wild Sleep Out event.


There’s something special about spending a night under canvas. For us adults, it provides a much needed tonic from our busy, electronic lives (yes, be brave, leave that mobile phone indoors!) and for children, well, camping is just magic isn’t it? The idea of staying up late, hunting for nocturnal beasties and spending the night in what is essentially a homemade den is about as exciting as it gets for a summer holiday adventure! Think Swallows and Amazons, the Famous Five and Huckleberry Finn, camping out is a rite of passage for all youngsters, the first taste of life outside the family home and the perfect time to ignite a passion for wildlife that will burn as bright as the campfire throughout adulthood.


So, whether you are hungry to spot a hedgehog, barmy about bats or like me, you love to marvel at moths, swapping your home for nature’s home this July will be an unforgettable adventure which will give your family even more reason to love nature. Happy camping!


Register now for the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleep Out - 29-30 July


In preparation for your big night the RSPB are providing activity packs with loads of ingenious ideas and tips to make your wild night under the stars one to remember.

Register to take part in the Big Wild Sleepout out and download your free Night-time Passport!