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Tigers, scorpions and wolves in UK gardens

Last modified: 08 August 2013

Family camping

Image: John Terence Turner / Alamy

Hundreds of people across Scotland will discover what really goes bump in the night this week as they take part in the RSPB’s brand new Big Wild Sleepout from 9-11 August.

The charity is encouraging people to spend a night in nature’s home, either in their own garden or at one of four organised sleepout events, and help the RSPB give nature a home by getting their sleepouts sponsored by friends and family.

Participants could be treated to sights of more elusive night-time creatures, such as foxes, owls, bats and toads.

Ghost moths, scorpion flies, garden tiger moths and wolf spiders may sounds like creatures that would be found on a film set or in a rainforest, but they are all species regularly seen in UK gardens.

They could easily be nestled in a log pile, hiding under a stone, sitting on a leaf or even flying around in full sight.

The Big Wild Sleepout is being supported by adventurer and survival expert Bear Grylls, who says: “Spending a night under the stars is a thrilling experience whatever age you are. Big Wild Sleepout is a great way to get children interested in what’s happening on their doorstep and encourage them to look after it and will hopefully spark a lifelong interest in the outside world.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that when its lights out for us, wild creatures shut their eyes too. When we’re in bed many creatures come to life - you probably know what birds come to your feeders during the day and see all kinds of insects and butterflies but do you know which nocturnal residents pay you a visit?

“You could be hosting owls, foxes, bats and lots more. So zip up your sleeping bag and wait to see who appears.”

If you don’t fancy sleeping under the stars in your own back garden, then the RSPB has also organised a number of special Big Wild Sleepout events across the country

On Friday 9 August, RSPB Loch Leven near Kinross is inviting you to sleep wild by camping out on the spectacular Loch Leven reserve. After the sun sets there will be story telling around the campfire as well as moth catching, and for early risers, a dawn walk.

On Saturday 10 August, keen campers can pitch up at Loch of Strathbeg near Crimond, Aberdeenshire to look for bats and badgers and explore the impressive sand dunes before enjoying a good night’s sleep in the wild.

If you are visiting Orkney, experience the sound of seabirds, seals and waves by sleeping by the sea on the uninhabited island of Hunda – a very unique opportunity.

Finally, why not enjoy a night on the bonny, bonny banks of Lagganbeg Holiday Park, Loch Lomond? Here RSPB wants to take you on a magical night-time adventure in one of the most picturesque and wild areas in Scotland.

Louise Smith of RSPB Scotland said: ““It’s a real privilege to be on a reserve or camping in the wild. It’s like discovering a secret world with plants, insects and other wildlife that you might not see in your garden. Whether you pitch up in a garden or sleepout at one of our events we want everyone to share their experiences and surprises on Facebook and Twitter. We’re also asking people to get sponsored to sleepout and raise money to give nature a home at the same time.”

To help encourage even more people to sleep out, the RSPB has joined forces with Blacks, the outdoor retailer. (note 2)

Ken Reeve, CEO of Blacks, says: “Blacks is extremely proud to be part of this tremendous initiative. We are wholly supportive of any campaign that encourages more people to engage with nature and we see the Big Wild Sleepout as an ideal platform to encourage families to experience the outdoors together.”

The Big Wild Sleepout is part of the RSPB’s new Giving Nature a Home campaign which is aimed at inspiring everyone to provide a place for wildlife wherever they live and however big their outside space is. (note 3)

For all the organised Big Wild Sleepout events booking is essential and charges may apply. More information is available at

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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