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RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout

PUBLISHED: 09:58 22 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:14 28 July 2016

Sleep under the stars. Photo Rahul Thanki (rspb-images.com)

Sleep under the stars. Photo Rahul Thanki (rspb-images.com)

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RSPB Somerset volunteer Becky Hughes is encouraging us to be inspired by nature during the charity’s fourth Wild Sleepout event

Get a feel for the outdoors. Photo: Frank Herholdt/Image SourceGet a feel for the outdoors. Photo: Frank Herholdt/Image Source

July is when summer hums with an array of wildlife on the Somerset Levels. From marsh frogs cackling in boggy pools, to bumble bees busy pollinating flowers, and grasshoppers chirruping in the meadows, this is a great time to discover the wildlife in the county. The RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout event, from 29-31 July, encourages everyone to get out there and be inspired by nature at night.

From the beautiful Coast Path to the stunning Quantocks and Exmoor and the unique Levels and Moors, Somerset has a lot to offer. On a summer’s evening at Greylake my son and I have seen a family of water voles swimming, heard snipe ‘drumming’ above our heads and watched a common darter dragonfly land on his arm to rest! Ham Wall is also home to barn owls with their ghostly silent flight, hunting for voles and other mammals. At sunset, marsh frogs become deafening - a cackling chorus amongst singing warblers. Daubenton’s bats can also be seen feeding on insects just above the surface of water.

At home in my son’s tent, we listen to the nocturnal wildlife in our garden. Pipistrelle bats swoop close, picking off moths in flight, while Silver Y moths are heard humming in flight, while they nectar on red campion flowers. Snuffling sounds in the flowerbeds reveal a hedgehog seeking slugs and snails for its evening meal. I move a flower pot to show my son what the hedgehog is eating, but in the process disturb a toad from its hiding place, so quickly return it. There’s plenty of nature at night, even in our little garden.

Try camping out in your garden during the Big Wild Sleepout Weekend, you’ll be amazed at what you find. This RSBP fundraising event brings people closer to nature and closer to each other. Encourage your friends, family and children to get involved too. Shocking studies show that 80 per cent of UK children are disconnected from nature. Let’s help future generations have passion and understanding for wildlife and learn to protect it.

Sign up for a Big Wild Sleepout pack and register to take part at rspb.org.uk/sleepout

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