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A wild night out

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 June 2014

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MORWENNA GRIFFITHS from the RSPB in Exeter explains why she’ll be sleeping outdoors in June

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When I took part in the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout last year I gained a sense of just how many different wild lives live on our very doorsteps and rely on our network of gardens and parks.

Sleeping outdoors makes you realise that nature doesn’t shut down like we do as the sun sets – it comes alive. You’ll hear many different snuffles, grunts and rustles with only a thin membrane of canvas between yourself and those night-time beasties. Did you know that as well as a dawn chorus, there’s also a dusk chorus as birds begin to flock to their safe roost for the night.

Sue Westbury, Big Wild Sleepout Project Manager, says: “Some of our best-loved garden favourites are among the creatures shown to be in serious trouble. The Big Wild Sleepout is your chance to take part in the RSPB’s biggest fundraising event to help give nature a home.”

This fundraising event will not only bring people closer to nature, but also closer to each other. It’s only by working together in our local communities that we can make a difference. So encourage friends, family and children to get involved. Recent studies indicate that 80% of UK children are totally disconnected from nature and if these future guardians of our natural world have no passion or understanding of wildlife they won’t feel the urgency to protect it. One of the biggest threats to conservation is our own disconnection from nature. If you don’t have much outdoor space simply pitch up your mattress in the living room and open all of the windows and curtains. Allow the natural light and night air to reset your circadian clock. “I rigged a canopy over my mattress using a bed sheet, two chairs as pegs and elastic bands to secure it – felt like a kid,” grins Sue.

"Nature doesn’t shut down like we do as the sun sets - it comes alive"

For those campers looking for more of a challenge Devon’s Aylesbeare nature reserve is hosting its own Wild Sleepout on the weekend of 21-22 June, promising a day and night of surprises and memories for all.

Steven Henry, Devon Visitor Experience Manager, says: “Aylesbeare Common is part of the East Devon Pebbledbeds and holds a lot of Iron Age history. Heathland habitat is rarer than rainforest and the diversity of species that call Aylesbeare home is amazing. Our event is a unique opportunity for the public to get close to such a special habitat. We’re even setting up camp on a super secret part of the reserve.

“You may see funky birds like the Dartford warbler; amazing plant life like the carnivorous Sundew; and there are more butterfly species recorded on Aylesbeare than on any other RSPB reserve. The highlight of the weekend is when participants build an Iron Age inspired roundhouse. It’s a chance to tune into the archaeological history of the site. As night descends wild sleepers may hear the eerie wing-clapping of nightjar pairs and Aylesbeare even has a supposed haunted beech tree.”

The RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout on 16-22 June, supported by Blacks, encourages people to take part in sponsored sleepouts in their own back gardens. Money raised will enable the RSPB to reverse the devastating truth underpinning the 2013 State of Nature Report – 60% of species surveyed have declined over recent years and one in ten of those species are under serious threat of actual UK extinction.

For more details about Aylesbeare’s Big Wild Sleepout (21-22 June), call: 01392 432691

To order a fundraising pack, click: rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout/

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