Things to do in the summer holidays: Take part in RSPB's Wild Challenge

This summer the RSPB is inviting families to enjoy its free Wild Challenge activities.

The aim is to help children connect with nature on their doorstep and have fun outdoors.

By completing the RSPB’s Wild Challenges children can achieve bronze, silver and gold awards and help give nature a home along the way.

Rosalind Allen, RSPB education and families development officer, said: “Many parents are worrying about the increased cost of living and how they will be able to afford to have fun and quality family time over the long break. Fortunately, the RSPB’s free Wild Challenge scheme includes 30 nature-based activities, inspiring families to get closer to nature, discover ways to help it, and earn awards at the same time.”

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    Young boy holding a large amount of seaweed.

    Gardens, window-boxes, parks, and even washing-up bowl ponds, are teeming with wildlife. They are alive with hundreds of weird and wonderful creepy crawlies, bugs and beasties, secretive moths, showy butterflies, and underwater critters – so it’s time to start exploring.

    Rosalind said: “The free RSPB Wild Challenges are really flexible, and you can do many of the low or no cost activities in your local area or your garden, so no need to cover the cost of travel. By completing three Wild Challenge activities to ‘Experience Nature’ and three to ‘Help Nature’ you can progress through a Wild Challenge Award level. Whether you achieve bronze, silver or gold, the most important thing is to have fun together as a family discovering and helping the incredible nature living around you.”

    Here are our some of the Wild Challenges you can do to help you achieve the awards, discover more for all year round on our website.

    Make a hedgehog cafe, to start find a safe cosy place for it. It should be in a quiet, sheltered and safe spot.

    Make a bug hotel.

    Get a sturdy box (wood or plastic) with a removable lid for your feeding station. It needs to be big enough for a hedgehog to fit through, but small enough to keep any curious cats or foxes out.Create a hedgehog-sized hole at the base of one of the sides of your box. It should be about 13 cm square so the hog can get in and out safely. If your box is wooden, you’ll need a saw. If your box is plastic, carefully use a sharp knife - remember to get an adult to help with this bit.Cover the edges of the hole with duct tape to make sure there are no sharp bits that could hurt your hedgehogs.

    Add your grub. Line the box with newspaper and dry leaves. (Hedgehogs prefer small-sized leaves such as birch, oak and hazel.) As the sun goes down lay shallow dishes of hedgehog-friendly food, wet cat or small dog food (not fish- or beef-based), crushed cat biscuits or specific hedgehog food, and water inside the box.

    Make sure you don’t put out too much food, as it’s not good to have leftovers lying around. Put out a little to start with, and if your cafe is popular, you can gradually increase the amount on the menu.

    Never feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They can't digest them - it upsets their stomachs.

    Children taking part in bug hunting.

    Add your roof. Put the lid on top of the box and place a brick or two on top of the lid. This will stop a hungry fox from tipping the box up or dragging it away.

    Clear away any leftovers in the morning and refill your dishes every evening. If you think that anything other than a hedgehog is eating the food, stop feeding. As the sun goes down, go out and sit somewhere quietly within view of the box and hopefully you'll spot a hedgehog.

    Don't forget to tell the RSPVB when you have completed the activity. When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo to help earn your award.

    Rockpools are home to fascinating and bizarre creatures and getting up close to them is a real treat. As the tide goes out, it leaves behind a world of amazing sea life. You may spot sea anemones, fast-moving shrimps, or feel the prickly texture of barnacles or the slimy squelch of seaweed under your feet and hands.

    Pond dipping activities.

    Why not create a bug hotel full of different natural materials to provide hidey-holes for creatures galore. The size and construction of your bug hotel is only limited by the materials you have available and your imagination. Just make sure to include some nice rotting bark for your tenants to munch on.

    Pond dipping is great fun and reveals all sorts of interesting creatures that live in even the smallest of ponds. What’s lurking in the depths of a pond near you? Maybe a mysterious alien-like dragonfly nymph, or a great diving beetle. Set off on an expedition to your garden pond, totter to a local park or visit an RSPB reserve (reserve entrance fees may apply) and take part in an organised pond dip.

    Go on a bug safari and see if you can spot a wolf spider, dragonfly or tiger moth. You can find invertebrates everywhere – under logs and rocks, beneath pots, on leaves, in the grass and on walls. Just remember to them you’re a giant, so be very gentle to avoid hurting these tiny creatures.

    Ponds are a fantastic addition to any garden and a great way to give nature a home. Birds bathe in it, dragonflies lay their eggs there, and the lifecycles of amphibians (frogs, newts and toads) also rely on watery habitats. It doesn't matter whether you've got a small balcony or a tiny backyard, you can bring a little bit of water into the lives of the wildlife around you using a washing up bowl.

    Nature really needs you and we need your help to inspire others with how amazing nature is and what they can do to give it a home.

    Many RSPB nature reserves will also be running family events this summer, prices vary.

    To find your nearest, visit: bit.ly/NearestRSPBReserve

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