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Frequently asked questions

The opening times are given for each reserve. Opening times for visitor information centres, hides, car parks and toilets on some nature reserves may not coincide with reserve opening hours.

Our nature reserves are important areas for wildlife. The RSPB welcomes responsible access, in line with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act  and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. You are welcome to enjoy these special places but to avoid disturbance to wildlife we request that you keep to the marked trails and paths. To get the most from your visit please refer to on-site guidance.

While we appreciate that exploring wild places can be even more fun with a dog bounding at your side, we also want to protect the special wildlife living on our nature reserves.
 
Of course, you can walk with your dog on any land in Scotland, and areas designated as 'open access' (under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act in England and Wales) as well as on public footpaths and bridleways.

In these areas, we encourage responsible dog walking, and ask you to keep your dog close to you, preferably on a lead, especially between 1 April and 30 June, the season many birds nest on the ground.

A few reserves have dedicated areas or paths for dog walking – please check the information for individual sites. At all other nature reserves, we ask you not to bring your dog (except registered assistance dogs).

Yes. For those who want to use public transport to visit our nature reserves, the nearest railway station is given. In most cases, a bus or taxi will be needed to complete your journey to the reserve.

To help us maximise the amount of VAT we claim back from HM Customs and Revenue, we need to keep track of how many visitors come to our reserves. On reserves where there are staff and volunteers present, you'll be issued with a biodegradable ticket - that way we can spend more money on conservation work. So whether you're a member or not, please pop into the visitor centre to say hello and collect your ticket.

Even in the summer, be prepared for a sudden change in the weather, particularly on exposed and upland reserves. Carry warm and waterproof clothes just in case. On some reserves the paths may be uneven and rugged, so stout footwear should be worn. Wellington boots are recommended for some wetland reserves.

Yes. All members of the family can find something of interest on our reserves. The reserves with visitor centres are particularly suitable for families. Some paths on some reserves may be unsuitable for pushchairs and young children will need to be carried.

Where possible on our most visited reserves a member of staff or volunteer will be available to answer any queries you may have. However, on some of our less visited reserves a member of staff or volunteer may not be available. Many reserves have some form of information centre. These range from purpose-built visitor centres with teaching facilities, shops and toilets to more low-key outdoor interpretative displays. The centres' opening hours may differ from those of the reserves.

On most nature reserves there are specially laid out nature trails and way-marked paths. Some reserves have trail leaflets, while on others there may be path-side display boards. To avoid disturbing wildlife we ask you to keep to the paths.

Where appropriate we are introducing refreshment facilities on nature reserves. Some, such as Pulborough Brooks and Leighton Moss, have a tearoom where you can get a light meal or snack; other, such as Lochwinnoch and Ynys-hir, have more limited facilities, such as vending machines. On some reserves it is not possible to provide refreshments, but picnic tables are often available.

For each reserve we give you an idea of the birds you might expect to see and the time of year that they are there. Because of their very nature, we cannot guarantee that you will see any or all of the birds listed.

We always welcome volunteers to work on our nature reserves. You may want to do practical management work or will be happy helping in one of the shops. If you would like further information on how you can help, please contact the Volunteer Unit at The Lodge or email volunteers@rspb.org.uk. If you do not want to work on a reserve, but would like to help us, there are many other things you can do, from helping at one of our offices to joining one of our 170 local groups.

Yes. Lots of other wildlife, from mammals to insects, from fungi to flowers, can be found on our nature reserves. For each reserve, we give you a brief description of what other wildlife you might see.

Many of our reserves have programmes of events throughout the year, including guided walks, bat evenings, dawn chorus walks and talks. For more information on these events, contact the reserve direct or look on the reserves' online events pages.

Yes. The RSPB offers a comprehensive service for schools on many nature reserves. The education programmes are designed to complement the relevant national curricula. The programmes are run by trained RSPB field teachers and the emphasis is on a hands-on approach to environmental education. For further information, please contact the Education department at the Lodge.