Here is a little nature game that can be played on a daily basis, by all ages, in any type of garden or balcony or outside space as an absorbing distraction from everything going on in the world.
I call it the Game of Firsts.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to find something new every day in nature in your outdoor space. It could be something you haven't seen before, heard, thought about.
I don't mean that you have to find a brand new creature every day, although very exciting if you do! No, it could be the first time a particular flower has opened this year, or the first time you've seen a particular behaviour from one of your wildlife visitors. It could be a wild sound you haven't heard before, the first chicks emerging from a nestbox or even the first time you've seen a particular type of cloud or the first time this year you've really felt the warmth of the sun soaking into you.
Each discovery can then be marked onto a calendar on the kitchen wall, or you can take a photograph or sound recording or make a drawing of it.
Over time, it builds up a diary of the changing seasons, an emerging jigsaw that brings you more in touch with nature - with YOUR nature. It is something to look back over with fond memories, and for me at least it gives a sense that the world is still turning.
I hope you can see its potential for kids, a chance to set them a little task of the day to turn detective, to observe closely and be in the moment.
Here are the results from my Game of Firsts over the last five days, all duly marked on the calendar on the kitchen wall:
Sunday 5 April. The First Cowslip bloomed in my Square Meadow, which is the grand name I give to a square of lawn I let grow long. I sowed the Cowslip seeds two years ago, but it takes a year for the little seedlings to establish themselves. I can now see little rosettes of Cowslip leaves dotted everywhere in the meadow, so next year I think it is going to be full of them. They really are exquisite in their pastel yellows.
Monday 6 April. I couldn't believe it - I found my First Large Tortoiseshell butterfly in my garden. I talked about the Small Tortoiseshell in my Spring Garden Butterfly Guide last week, but this is its ultra rare cousin from Europe, of which only a handful are seen in the UK each year. I checked in with a national butterfly expert who said there had been a flurry of sightings this spring, so keep your eyes peeled. Unlike the Small Tortoiseshell, the inner half of the upper hindwing isn't black, and the stripes along the front of the forewing aren't black-white-black-white. It is also rather duller in its overall orange colouring.
Tuesday 7 April. A male Wren has been building a nest near the base of a tree outside my kitchen window. Each male Wren will typically build a number of nests and then his female will choose the one she likes. I don't know where his other nests are, but today there was so much activity at this one that I think she has moved in. It is my First active Wren nest, and a good note to self to give that area a wide berth so that I don't disturb them and they can get on with raising their brood. With so many families spending so much time in gardens this year, making sure we consider our nesting birds is so important.
Wednesday 8 April. The First time this year I have seen two bats at one time. For a week or so there has been one bat over the pond at dusk, but today the duo was dashing and twisting and playing what seemed to be the wildest game of Quidditch.
Thursday 9 April. The first blossom on my two Pear trees opened on the same day. And it seemed that almost every flower opened in one go, in one big 'Ta-dah!' explosion.
I hope this has intrigued you enough to give it a go. To lose yourself in the detail of nature is one of this world's free delights.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654